Category Archives: Ramblings

Just my thoughts on paper; about what I am trying to do, to people watching and observations

Orchids

Remember those orchids I bought, the one or two…………….. well here are some photos of them

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Miltonia

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Zygopetalum Louisendorf

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Paphiopedilum (slipper orchid) pinocchio

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Brassia (spider orchid) summer dream

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Ok so my maths is a bad as always and I bought 5, BUT they are more than 1/2 the price of those back home so the cost of 1 or 2 – well that’s my excuse.  The only problem now as pointed out by my daughter is where they are going to go once home amongst the 20 or so others! Yes this is my latest obsession.

Amsterdam

People who know me well, know that I am not very good in crowds and therefore cities.  To overcome this so that I look at some of the wonderful architecture, museums and other things of interest I tend to limit our trips to half days (normally mornings) as by 2 o’clock I have had enough!

Yesterday we set off on the free water bus across the IJ river passing the abandoned submarine (probably some modern art thing) that was pumping out bubbles!

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Having got our bearings the day before we quickly walked down the lovely side streets and roads of the west side of the city towards Anne Franks House.

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We arrived before our allotted time and were amazed at how many people ‘just turned up’ in the hope of buying some tickets.  I am a great planner and one of my many vices is lists! I bought the tickets for Anne Franks House two months ago whilst in Bavaria – well Larissa did to be exact as the internet in Bavaria was so poor.

The building is just how she describes in her diary, something I have read whilst we have been away.  There is the warehouse doors at the bottom, and a front door leading to the offices. On the first floor there is the famous bookcase behind which is the ‘secret annexe’. The rooms were larger than I expected, much like a modern day apartment.  There is no furniture in the rooms, it was all removed after the war years but the walls have fortunately remained the same and you can see where Anne glued her Hollywood pictures to the room that she slept in.

It was as to be expected very busy and even though we had time slots it soon filled up and there were many holdups to what in theory should be an easy walk through of the building.

Seeing the building and the photos of all of the 8 who were hiding really brought the diary to life.  My lasting memory is of her words in the diary in which she many times has written how she would like to be an author when the war is over, not just a normal housewife, and how she doubts anyone would be interested in her diary!

If you haven’t read this book DO – you need to read quickly some of the teenage girl emotional bits and really concentrate on all the other wealth of information.  It really is thought provoking.

After this we sat outside and ate our sandwiches before walking further into the city to the Flowermarket.  I must admit I was a little disappointed.  I had expected there to be many more cut flowers on sale but I should have realised being Holland it was going to be all about the tulip!

The flower market consists of several traders stalls that are partly on the pavements and partly floating on the canals, with basket upon basket of tulip bulbs for sale.

It was very busy and so we didn’t stay long and soon headed back to the relative quietness of Boris – just as well as it rained all afternoon and night along with some thunderstorms.

Today we set off again to go on a canal cruise.  This time we got the tram from Central Station as it was a much longer walk to the departure point.

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We meandered the many canals before going though the sea locks onto the IJ river, passing the massive cruise boat that an American lady who was sat with us arrived on.

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The sea locks

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Cruise Ship

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Nemo building

We had an audio commentary, and the Nemo building above is a science museum that has a beach on the roof so that the Amsterdamers can sunbathe!

Back onto the canals past the Dutch East India Spice Company, lots of house boats, the skinny bridge and lots more.

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Dutch East India Office

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The skinny bridge

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Toll locks

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Posh hotel

 

With the trip over we got the tram back to central station and then the water bus back to the jetty.  Before I leave you for today I will show you some more ‘modern art’ that surrounds the area we are staying in.

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I must admit I have found Amsterdam to be a beautiful city if you stay away from the main streets. It is busy as expected, easy to get around on foot or by bicycle.  However the tram system is difficult, you need a form of oyster card or buy tickets by the hour/day which works out expensive. We didn’t visit the ‘red light district’ but we did see many of the ‘drug cafes’ and it was alarming to see so many young people the same age as my two stoned out of their heads, sat in the window – it broke my heart.  Not sure I agree with the drugs culture of the Netherlands.

Larissa has reminded me that they put weed in the Brownies therefore my comment about ‘having a brownie a day to keep the frownies away’ being a good idea is now null and void!!!!!!!! unless they are proper Brownies.

Gouda

We left the very hot weather of Alblasserdam and entered the even hotter weather of Gouda.  We were parked in car park that was for motorhomes and ventured into the town, we got as far as the bakery and the heavens opened along with thunder and lightning.  It was a quick dash back to Boris!

In the afternoon we decided to try again and this time got to see the lovely town square where they would be auctioning cheese the traditional way on Thursday morning (today). Of course you cannot go to Gouda and not buy cheese especially if you are a big mouse like me and you have an even bigger mouse in the form of Larissa at home!

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One of the cheese shops

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Town Hall

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Cheese weighing hall and now tourist information centre

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Marc’s next transport

It took me a while to decide which cheese to buy especially as there were so many to try, Gouda with basil, Gouda with peppers, matured Gouda (like a parmesan), with truffles………you get the picture.

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Kiddie in a candy shop

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Decision made!!! I not need to remind myself not to eat it all before I get home or I will have a very upset daughter.

After a night of intense heat, a smattering of rain and a few claps of thunder we awoke today to yet more heat and humidity.

Just as we were about to set off for the cheese auction this morning the thunder storms came again.  We waited until the rain cleared and set off to the market square where there were many stalls selling cheese – no surprise there and some other bits and bobs including clogs and siropwaffels.

The men carried out their bartering being egged on my the crowd but to my disappointment they didn’t carry them off in the traditional manner I thought.  Nevermind I did get to try a siropwaffel which as the name suggests is a wafer biscuit filled with syrup sandwiched together. Yum.

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What do you mean ‘I have to give it back?’

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Siropwaffels

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Like this idea!

After our cheese marathon we left Gouda and are now at a lovely AIRE in Arbennes, not far from the famous Keukenhof gardens which unfortunately are not open.

We are on the edge of a working arable farm, and within spitting distance of Schipol Airport and have been busy plane watching.

Tomorrow we head to Amsterdam.

 

The Oosterscheldekering

Today we got out the bikes and cycled along the dyke to the Oosterscheldekering. This is the dam that shuts the tidal estuary of the Oosterschelde.  When the area was hit by floods in 1953 the Government decided to shut off all the tidal inlets along this coast either by dams or dykes to avoid such a disaster again.  When the floods hit over 1800 people lost their lives and over 18000 livestock.

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The Government set about closing the tidal inlets, however when it came to the Oosterschelde there were protests due to the environmental impact a large dyke would have.  In the end it was decided to build a barrage type dam so that sea water could still go in and out of the delta but could be stopped in the event of a storm surge.

In order to construct such a structure they built an artificial island in the middle and named it Neeltje Jans and that was where we headed.

The dam supports a roadway which has two lanes, one for normal traffic and one for works traffic and bikes! Fantastic a road all to ourselves!  The views along the cycle path were fantastic with the Oosterschelde delta on one side and the North Sea on the other.

We arrived at Neeltje Jans and the Theme Park of the same name.  This is a fantastic place, with so much to do you could spend easily a couple of days here.

Just inside the entrance was a display of art made out of the rubbish found in the sea.  It was really thought provoking.

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I really wanted to see the dam/barrage and so we paid €3 for a guided tour of the dam structure.  The dam is made of 62 concrete pillars each weighing 83,000 tons.  The artificial island was made so that the pillars could be constructed on site and then move to their final position by a specially made barge. The pillars support all the hydraulics of the gates and the gates themselves as well as the road.

We walked through the road as it is hollow and were able to see the structure of the hydraulics on the inside.  The oil to operate the pistons of the hydraulics is a massive 7000 litres at each end of each gate!

Next we were able to walk out onto a walkway along the edge of the barrage gates and up on top of the pillars themselves.

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The gates are left open so that the delta has fresh sea water into it every day supported the wildlife of the estuary. The gates close only when the tide is expected to raise by 3m.  The pillars are marked showing the height of the water at 3m and the much higher height of the 1953 flood. So far the gates have closed approximately twice a year to protect the land of this area of the Netherlands.

After some lunch we went into the Delta Experience, a room that is set up like a bedroom with a big clock on the wall and windows to the outside.  It is the night of the storm and with all the sound effects you could really imagine being there – it was quite frightening.  We were then led into another room with an animated film of a farmstead next to a dyke with the sea water battering the top of it.  Mum and Dad are trying to put sand bags on the top and the girl is crying from the window of the farm for her parents.  Next a siren sounds and all of a sudden water pours in from a broken dyke in the distance and is soon up to the second floor level with half of the brick work of the house missing.  Mum and Dad are still on top of the dyke clinging to each other.  This story ended with the girl climbing across the gap from the house to the dyke via someone else’s roof that got stuck in the gap.

It was a very stark reminder of the power of the seas.  Next we had many pictures of the aftermath of the event of 1953 and you could understand why this barrage needed to be built.

After this it was time to take a boat trip onto the Oosterschelde. The views were amazing but the highlight for me was seeing a seal in the water!

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The boat

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One of pillars – they made an extra one just in case!

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The edge of part of the artificial island

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Not only does the park have access to a section of the barrage and boat trips but it also has a full size water park of slides and things for children, sea lion, seal and birds of prey shows, an aquarium, and a hurricane simulator. Like I said plenty to do and this was just some of what I can remember!

 

On our way out we noticed that next to the bike park is a plug for you to charge your electric bikes; pity we didn’t have a 2 pin plug

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As we cycled back we crossed on the sea locks that allows the boats access to the sea and delta.  By pure chance a yacht was passing through the massive lock after a trip out on the ocean.

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Tomorrow we leave this wonderful sight and beautiful area of the Netherlands with a promise to ourselves to return and head for the windmills.

 

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