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