Tag Archives: Holland

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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AMSTERDAM TO HAARLEM – with bike and smartphone

Bring it on! Trucks and planes are no bother.   I have my own cycle path.

Bring it on! Trucks and planes will not bother me. I have my own cycle path.

The joys of living in Amsterdam. It’s a fine day, I need some exercise and I have the afternoon free. One of the most beautiful small towns in the world is an hour away by bike.

I don’t need a helmet, I’m not wearing lycra and this time I’m not even taking a camera. The phone in my pocket will do the job. Continue reading

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Filed under Amsterdam, Cycle touring, Cycling

LEFTOVER LOWLAND LANDSCAPES – my favourite shots

Behind the town of Zaandam is the area known as De Gouw, 'The Shire'. It's not large and there's not a lot there. I can see why shires appealed to J.R.R. Tolkien.

Behind the town of Zaandam is the area known as De Gouw, ‘The Shire’. It’s not large and there’s not a lot there. I can see why shires appealed to J.R.R.Tolkien.


We’re entering ‘Year in Review’ mode, so it’s time to publish photos that didn’t quite fit into any other stories.

Landscape photography suits me well. Unlike friends and relatives, birds and bikes, landscapes stay relatively still while you fiddle with the camera settings. I’m coming to appreciate Dutch scenery more and more. There are no spectacular snow-capped mountains, towering waterfalls or breathtaking desert canyons. Instead everything in little Nederland is on a small and manageable scale.

The English word ‘landscape’ is derived from the Dutch word ‘landschap’. Remember that! Now you can say you learned something by visiting this blog. Continue reading

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SIX BEAUTIFUL BRIDGES – for bikes

Melkweg ('Milky Way') Bike and pedestrian bridge, Purmerend. Architects: Next. Photo: Velo City, published Prestel 2014.

Melkweg (‘Milky Way’) Bike and pedestrian bridge, Purmerend. Architects: Next. Photo: Velo City, published Prestel 2014.

I’ve been on a quest to find the best-looking examples of Dutch bike bridges.

My inspiration has been Gavin Blyth’s book Velo City, with its collection of great photos of impressive cycling infrastructure around the world, including the photo above of the bridge over the North Holland Canal. It was a thoughtful present from the Dutch children’s book SCBWI group – thanks!

Mr Blyth’s book concentrates on the newest and hippest. I like some of the old cycle path bridges too. I’ve been trying to do them justice with the camera. Continue reading

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LOVE YOUR WORK, TOM – though shooting that dog was wrong

Tom Otterness's sculptures take pride of place by the esplanade in Scheveningen, near The Hague in the Netherlands.

Tom Otterness’s sculptures take pride of place on the esplanade in Scheveningen, near The Hague in the Netherlands.

We’re very sorry to be missing the always wonderful Sculpture by the Sea event in Sydney this year, but the Dutch have sculpture by the North Sea too.

Googling the American sculptor Tom Otterness, after seeing his work by the beach in Scheveningen, I read that he once filmed himself shooting a dog, for an art film. It cost him some lucrative commissions. He apologised. Not good enough, say some of his critics. He killed the dog in 1977, when he was 25. Is all forgiven? Is it okay to enjoy his work now? Continue reading

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WHERE DUTCH ARCHITECTURE IS A JOKE

The gable of the Zaandam Stadhuis (Town Hall) enters into the playful spirit of things.

The gable of the Zaandam Stadhuis (Town Hall) enters into the playful spirit of things.



Dutch architects have been hard at work in and around Amsterdam, inserting colourful humour into some very public buildings, and it’s remarkable that, in the Zaanstreek, local planning authorities have been happily going along with the joke.
Continue reading

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A TOP CITY FOR EXPATS – who don’t need friends

Millions want to visit, so why wouldn't you want to live here?

Millions want to visit; why wouldn’t you want to live here?


According to an article on the BBC website, I’m living in the one of the best places in the world to be a foreign resident.

But on delving further into an HSBC survey comparing countries’ liveability for expats, I was disconcerted to see that while the Netherlands scored well on things like job opportunities, health services, ease of transport, culture, language (meaning widely-spoken English) and good schools for expat children, it was near the bottom of the list on various social criteria.

The country rated very low for expats in ‘making local friends’, ‘social life’ and ‘integrating into the community’. China and Germany scored much higher in these categories. Continue reading

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