THE GUGGENHEIM IN HOLLAND – Cobra Museum

Karel Appel's playful sculpture outside the Cobra Museum, Amstelveen.

Karel Appel’s playful sculpture outside the Cobra Museum in Amstelveen.



I feel well disposed towards artists who admit they really don’t understand what they’re doing.

“I just mess around a bit,” said Dutch artist Karel Appel; and it became the most famous thing he ever said in his life.

Appel’s work and that of his 1950s contemporaries from COpenhagen, BRussels and Amsterdam is celebrated in the COBRA Museum in Amstelveen, just outside Amsterdam. The museum’s permanent collection is one of the Netherlands’ greatest treasures.

This year, Appel and his fellow Cobras have been joined in Amstelveen by work from New York’s Guggenheim. Pollack, Rothko, de Koning, Poliakoff and others splashed, dribbled and daubed colour onto canvas, apparently at random, yet by some magical process the effect is wonderful. We thought the exhibition was fabulous, and highly recommend it to anyone who’ll be in Amsterdam over the next few months. Continue reading

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AMSTERDAM TO NAARDEN – a fine spring cycle

By the Amstel River. 'Amster-dam' = 'Dam on the Amstel', remember?

By the Amstel River. ‘Amster-dam’ = ‘Dam on the Amstel’, remember?

We’ve just arrived back in Holland, the breeze is gentle and the rain won’t be with us for two more days. So what better way to fight the jetlag than a ride through the Dutch countryside?

One of the most hit-on posts on this blog is my brief list of Holland’s Prettiest Villages. I decided I’d see how many of them I could manage to ride around in a day. My route took me through Ouderkerk aan de Amstel, Abcoude, Weesp, Naarden, Muiden and back to Amsterdam. A respectable 72kms, plus a few where I forgot to switch the computer back on.

If that seems a bit energetic for Day 1 in the saddle, let me confess up front that Mevrouw T kindly offered me use of her electric bike. I know, that’s cheating, but we thought the beast should be tested again, before we take it farther afield.

It was indeed a lovely ride, and the bike’s electric booster left me energy over for photography. Continue reading

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Filed under Cycle touring, Cycling, Holland

LOOK WHAT’S ON THE ROAD AHEAD

Of course there's some hiking coming up.

Of course there’s some hiking coming up.

We’re in pack up mode, leaving Sydney next week to head back to Europe, sad to be leaving family and friends here for a while, but looking forward to the adventures we’ve planned for the next few months.

Continue reading

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BIKES ON DYKES – planning a Dutch cycling tour

Cycling in Holland is a family affair.

Cycling in Holland is a family affair.



We’ll be back cycling in The Netherlands in less than a fortnight, so we’re planning some interesting routes.

Coincidentally, my correspondent Lianne just sent me a few questions (with attached compliments – flattery will get you everywhere!) about how to arrange a cycling holiday there.

So here it is – info on bike hire, route planning, weather, all the essentials to get started on planning a bike trip through Nederland. Continue reading

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PORTUGAL COMES TO PETERSHAM – Festival in Photos

"It feels like I'm in Madeira, mate."

“It feels like I’m in Madeira, mate.”

It’s on again, the annual Biarro Portugues – the Petersham Food and Wine Fair.

I was there with the requisites – a camera and an empty stomach. Continue reading

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THE LEGO MOVIE – it’s okay to play

This could be the start of something very big.

This could be the start of something very big.

Hundreds of people have spent a good part of this decade in dark, windowless rooms, doing tedious, repetitive, painstaking, frustratingly detailed work. Our son was one of the captives. The result is The Lego Movie.

So it was a moving experience to sit in a dark, windowless cinema crowded with hundreds of those people, the staff of Australian production company Animal Logic that made the film, as for the first time they shared the show with their families.

The Lego Movie is already taking the world by storm, but it will be next month before it is publicly screened in Sydney where the work was done.

We loved it. No, really, we did. Continue reading

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MY NEW RUNNING TOY – road-tested on wheels

The Garmin Forerunner 110.

The Garmin Forerunner 110.

My son thoughtfully gave me a heart rate monitor for my last birthday.

I was touched that he was concerned about his old dad’s ticker, but wait, there’s more… In the package with the heart monitor was a Garmin Forerunner 110, a GPS device designed for runners. It was a generous present, which I’ve been putting to good use, hoping to keep my heart going for several more birthdays at least.

The Forerunner 110 is really intended to adorn the wrists of athletes who care about their personal bests, their lap times and indeed, their heart rates. I’ve been trying it out on my cycling expeditions, on most of which I’ve left the heart monitor at home. Continue reading

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Filed under Cycling