Category Archives: Holland

DUTCH CANALS, RIVERS AND LAKES – cycling the Vecht

The Vecht at Loenen.

The Vecht at Loenen.

It’s our last week in Amsterdam for this year. Time for one more bike ride, this one with my friend and guide Hans, down the Rhine Canal to Loenen, between the lakes to Ankeveen, along the winding River Vecht to Weesp, and home again.

The wonderful thing about cycling here is that even after years of exploring the area around Amsterdam on two wheels, there are still new routes for us to discover, all of them with quiet, safe, all-but-car-free cycle paths. Continue reading

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CYCLING THE GREEN HEART – Holland’s most beautiful

The oldest town in the Netherlands. Not so many people know about it.

The oldest town in the Netherlands. Not so many people know about it.

‘This landscape always reminds me of Holland,’ said my mother, years ago, somewhere outside Melbourne, on a road between Springvale and Frankston.

She’d never seen Holland and neither had I, but we both knew what she meant. What I only discovered recently was that the image we had of classic Dutch landscape came from 19th century paintings. Even the word ‘landscape’ comes from the Dutch ‘landschap’. Continue reading

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EISE EISINGA’S INVENTION – a Friesian marvel

You may think this is just another old living room with a bed in a cupboard. You'd be wrong.

You may think this is just another 18th century room with a bed in a cupboard. You’d be wrong.

‘I know we’re a bit cramped for space, darling, what with the kids sleeping in a drawer under our bed, but I have a new hobby. I want to build a planetarium in our living room ceiling.’

Without the aid of a computer, electricity or an education past primary school level, Eise Eisinga did just that. It took him from 1774 till 1781 to build a wooden, clockwork-powered working model of the Solar System. It’s now World Heritage listed, and it’s easily the most extraordinary thing we’ve seen in Friesland, in the northern Netherlands. Continue reading

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ABOUT THESE UGLY, NOISY WINDMILLS…

A Dutch wind farm. 'Too noisy,' says Mr Abbott. He must have extremely acute hearing.

A Dutch wind farm. ‘Too noisy,’ says Mr Abbott, who must have extremely sensitive hearing.

Dear Mr Abbott (Prime Minister of Australia) and Mr Hockey (Australian Treasurer),

I’m following your pronouncements online while spending some time in Holland, and I understand that neither of you like windmills. They’re ‘visually appalling’ according to you, Mr Abbott, and ‘utterly offensive’ in your opinion, Mr Hockey.

I read that your government has gone so far as to order the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to cease funding new wind farms.

You may be surprised to hear that many people over this side of the world seem to enjoy them. Continue reading

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THE BIESBOSCH, HOLLAND – does this tale ring alarm bells?

Once upon a time, there was a place of fertile fields...

Once upon a time, there was a place of fertile fields…

Everybody knew the dykes were in poor repair. Extra taxes were raised to pay for urgent maintenance work.

But the dukes of Holland, the Hoeks and the Kabaljauws, were squabbling among themselves. They spent the tax money on weapons and armies and no doubt told their subjects it was essential for ‘security’. Fixing the dykes was important, just unaffordable right now. It could wait till the threat from the enemy subsided and the economy improved.

Then came St Elizabeth’s Night, November 19th, 1421. Continue reading

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FESTIVAL DER AA – Drente rocks!

Amarins. An eclectic collection of instruments, intelligent lyrics, engaging presentation.

Amarins. An eclectic collection of instruments, intelligent lyrics, engaging presentation.

This is the fifth edition of the annual arts festival in the nature area Drentsche Aa, in the northern Dutch province Drente.

It’s my first crack at photographing bands. Continue reading

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FOOD PHOTO TIPS – no, not from me, from a pro

Kyonne Leyser shows us how it's done.

Kyonne Leyser shows us how it’s done.

Put a plate of food in front of the modern diner and before the presentation is disturbed, out comes the smartphone and the meal is shared with the world. With a few simple changes, most of those shots could be a whole lot better.

At the fabulous Food Unplugged event in Ede*, Nederland’s ‘City of Taste’, a workshop on smartphone photography with professional food shooter Kyonne Leyser was possibly the most popular event.

I picked up some tips and tried to put them into practice immediately. Continue reading

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