Friday, October 17, 2008

Light vs Dark

This is the kind of thing I love about being Out and About, those strange coincidences you come across that flash by in a car and you never reach when on foot like this little chapel in Huissen. I love the fact that the street on which corner it is set is called Duisterestraat which translates as Darkness Street. Not being religious there's something that makes me curious about it. Was it put there to comment on the name of the street? Is the fight between good and evil, light and dark being played out on a level I have no awareness of? Or is it just a strange coincidence? You tell me.

The Chapel was built in 1954 and dedicated to the Virgin Mother, it was restored to it's former glory in 1996 and according to the commemorative plaque outside the sculpture (in Huissen's dialect) the artwork is by a local artist, Kees Berendsen.

Lovely isn't it?

What a difference a day makes

Sundays pics

Me being me I needed the get away of a spin on the bike on Sunday.
Having spent the morning and afternoon couped up waiting for the fine autumn weather that was predicted to begin for that day which never came, I finally ventured out into the grey misty late afternoon and following dusk and the solitude of misty greyness on a chilly day.

As usual I just followed my nose or in this case I went along the Linge.
The Linge is the longest river in the Netherlands. It's only about 100 kilometres and one day I want to cycle it's entire length. Sunday was not 'one' of those days or was Monday for that matter.

As cold and damp and misty as Sunday was, Monday was one of those glorious, warm
autumn days. The light was golden, Indian Summer I believe a day like that is called in the Americas and I took the opportunity to travel the same route I took the day before but in opposite direction.
Sadly I missed the last rays of sun as I stopped off my bike on the way through the
neighbouring town of Huissen to take some pics. I also didn't take any pics of the Linge near Elst where I'd started my journey the day before.

I will have to do it all again another day and leave earlier in the day as well. As the holidays have started I might get another chance if the weather holds up later on in the week. For some reason the towns of Pannerden and Millingen aan de Rijn are beckoning and I'd like to cycle in that direction. The Pannerdens Canal btw is where the Linge begins it's journey.
The Linge, canal-like in some parts and very well behaved, gentle meandering curves and bends in other parts, its gentle steady flowing through the landscape is why I love the Linge.

Nothing like the river I grew up next to (mind you that river is nothing like the river I grew up next to anymore - and in case you're wondering, for a brief but important part of my life I lived next to the river Mulcair in Ireland in the house my mom grew up in. Sadly gran's house is no longer in the family).

The Linge. No great cascading of water, no stretches of white water, no rocks to be canoe-wrecked on, no boats or barges transporting goods to the harbours near the sea or further inland into the wilderness called Europe.
I suppose if you really wanted to be dismissive about it you could argue the Linge doesn't really qualify as a river as such as it has no spring or other source in the landscape where water bubbles to the surface. The Linge is in fact an off-shoot of the Pannerdens canal at Doornenburg. The Pannerdens Canal connects the Rhine and the river Waal.

The Linge, a gentle, calmness that's a mirror in a flat landscape. Every couple of kilometres or so it drops about 50 centimetres into a slightly lower landscape and continues it's journey futher west for a 100 km where it flows into the Boven-Merwede at Gorinchem and adds itself to other watery travelers to the sea.

Mondays pics

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Still retaining much of its village characteristics Elden has become part of the county of Arnhem. Known around town for a number of reasons one of them being a magnificent 258 year old Sycamore just behind the dyke near the picturesque white Bonifatius Church and the Horseshoe which was part of the Dutch Water Line, a system of defenses that would allow the Dutch to stop or slow down any enemies attacking by flooding the lands behind the dikes. This line of defense ran from Pannerden near the German border all the way up to the former Zuiderzee (now known as the IJsselmeer since the 20 mile long Afsluitdijk - a closure dike - was built connecting the two northern provinces of North-Holland and Friesland together, turning an inlet of the North Sea into the largest fresh water lake in Western Europe). Fort Elden was an earthen fort built in 1860 and demolished in 1877. All that remains of the fort is the moat in the shape of a horseshoe which has become a favourite spot for carp fishers.

Interested in reading more about this Line of Defense?

Dutch Water Line




Friday, August 22, 2008

A typical Dutch landscape?

I have been pondering this question and so far I haven't really been able to say with any certainty that such and such a landscape is a typical Dutch landscape. I suppose if I asked a foreigner what comes to mind when they think of the Netherlands they could tell me what such a landscape is and in a sense that cliché of Holland is true. Yes it's a country that is very much below sea-level, flat, has dykes and windmills, filled with tulips and tall blond people. And yes all of that is true to some degree. However there is so much more to the Netherlands than just the picture perfect postcard images of the country. Take Arnhem where I live which has a countryside with a lot more to offer. Not far, in fact on the edge of the national parks the Veluwe and Veluwezoom which has a range of landscapes within a relatively small area. Built next to the river Rhine which has something completely different to offer. There you will find the flat pastures surrounded by dykes (called polders) with cows and land reclaimed from the (once) mighty river which by the way is fast becoming a landscape of the past. The trend nowadays is to allow the river some lee-way allowing certain areas to be flooded which in true Dutch style means that people will learn to adapt to the circumstances. In the coming years Arnhem will develop floating houses which will rise with water levels and this trend will be seen throughot the whole country. Climate change and rising sea-levels will have to be taken into consideration if the nation is to survive the worst.

So what is it I want to share today? Well I want to share a few winter scenes I took last December when I spent x-mas at my mom's in Doetinchem. Ths part of the country is known as "de Achterhoek" has what is known as a "coulissen" or hedgerow landscape where wooded areas make way for fields and lanes that are surrounded by trees. And yes even there you'll find a windmill.

More info on dikes and polders and how the Dutch created their country can be found here

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Road to Terlet

After my brief stop at Zonheuvel the road took me past fields and field of corn (which reminds me so much of Quebec, Canada), the former army barracks before the landscape turned into that of the Veluwe, a forest-rich ridge of hills in the province of Gelderland that has many different landscapes including woodland, heath, wetlands, small lakes and the largest sand drifts in Europe.

Kings Heath, in the north of Arnhem, on the edge of the Veluwe

The Veluwe, which begins on the other side of this motorway is approx. 1000Km2, the largest lowland nature area in Europe and home to the largest national parks in the Netherlands: the Hoge Veluwe and the Veluwezoom. It has miles and miles of excellent paths to cycle on or walk along.

This trip however I let the park for what it was and travelled along the motorway to Terlet, a small airfield near Arnhem which is home of the largest glider flying association in the Netherlands. The airfield has 5 airstrips for gliders and one for light aircrafts.

Off in the distance you can see the communications tower in Arnhem

Sadly no gliders up in the air that day. I'll have to go back when there's more thermal activity. Btw if you ever get a chance to go flying in a glider, do it. It is a phenomenal experience!
As there weren't any hang gliders in the air I decided to walk up the hill to the wind sock and look down into the valley instead.

Storm clouds and heavy rains on the horizon, time to head back home.

More info on the veluwe can be found ---> here

Monday, July 28, 2008

Come to the Netherlands....

where the woods are green in summer and trees are bare in winter. Farmed for generations the lovely musky smell of wooded areas now have a new and improved smell. No more dead leaves, leafmould and compost. No more damp, cool shade, pine or undescribable rotting scents for you. No, we can proudly present our new and improved woods for you.
Fancy a stroll in the vanilla forest? Soon to come: Flower Meadow Breeze, Fresh Sea Air and Lush Lavender!


As usual I have no idea where I'll end up when I go off cycling and this Saturday was no different. I tend to go in whatever direction my nose is travelling (translation of a Dutch saying) and stop off on the way if there's anything that catches my attention. So this time I went off in a northerly direction past the zoo, Schaarsbergen (a small village that borders on Arnhem and is part of the county), and then headed east. On the way I could see the storm front approaching that would end in a great big thunderstorm and lots of rain.

My first real stop was at Zonheuvel, a wooded farmland area. Just in time to see the farmer and his wife collecting the straw for this winter.

I've only been in this area once before and didn't even know there was a small woodland area there but the peace and quite and the coolness amongst the trees was very much needed on a hat, humid day like saturday.

Images like this in I suppose you cold say the middle of nowhere I find infinitely intriguing. Who put it there, what's behind the 'roadblock' and why?

I just love being out & about, discovering the beauty around me, landscapes that have been manmade and managed for centuries, where nature somehow still finds ways to thrive and survive. Nothing spectacular maybe but definitely something you never get to see when you go there by car. More soon I hope.