We’re entering ‘Year in Review’ mode, so it’s time to publish photos that didn’t quite fit into any other stories.
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.
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
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
Bringing people and food together.
I bet it isn’t always a picnic running a Michelin-starred restaurant. Ron Blaauw’s Ron’s Gastrobar is just down the road from our place in Amsterdam, though we’ve never eaten there, assuming it was out of our league and beyond our budget.
So it was an unexpected bonus when our friend Carla suggested we visit Mr Blaauw’s Oogstfeest (Harvest Festival) at providore/farmer Edwin Flores’ farm in the village of Ressen, an hour’s drive east of the capital. For a knockdown EUR12.50 all-inclusive entry fee, Ron Blaauw generously turned on a super picnic.
150 lucky visitors were invited to join celebrity chefs and their students to share a ‘lazy Sunday’. Continue reading
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
Is there any safer place to ride?
I confess I was shocked to read the figures in the recent post on Mark Wagenbuur’s excellent website Bicycle Dutch.
Cycling fatalities in the Netherlands fell last year, from 200 per year in 2011 and 2012 to 184 in 2013. This in a country of 16.8 million people. The 8% fall is good news, but that still sounds like an awful lot of tragedies.
Of course any one of those 184 deaths is tragic, but if we’re talking statistics we need to consider other figures too.
The estimated total distance cycled by Dutch riders was a staggering 14.8 billion kilometres in 2012. That’s about one death for every 740,000km* ridden, making the Netherlands one of the safest countries in the world in which to ride a bike.
More concerning to me is that 67% of the cyclists killed were over 60. We ageing pedallers are probably less likely to be riding recklessly than young gung-ho immortals, so we have to recognise that our bodies are more vulnerable and that our balance, eyesight, hearing and reflexes are not what they once were. We need to ride accordingly.
On the other hand, having so many older people still riding must overall be good for the nation’s public health.
Helmets are not compulsory in the Netherlands and in practice few cyclists wear them when riding around town.
To read Mark’s full article CLICK HERE.
(*suspect figure – should perhaps be much higher. See Glen’s comment below. )
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
Of course there are windmills along the route.
6000 Dutch cyclists, some very expensive road bikes, an awful lot of bananas, boxes of krentenbollen (currant buns), thousands of litres of sports drink, several tonnes of penne bolognaise at the finish and, for us, a little over five hours in the saddle…the 6th annual Classico Boretti ride. Continue reading