Monday, September 20, 2010


First of all, it's my turn again at Vision & Verb where I talk about What We Collect. If you go there, you'll see why this image fits into two of my collectibles. Lucky me. Two for the price of one.

We saw that weathervane, by the way, on our way home from Wageningen two Saturdays ago (last post) we did this delightful nature reserve called De Blauwe Kamer ( = The Blue Room) on the banks of the River Rhine. We had heard about it and decided to check it out:

Before entering the reserve, just as you are driving by, you first of all see the impressive chimney of the factory where bricks were produced until 1975 and from which the reserve gets its name. Then you walk in down a long path through the woods and Voilà!, there it is...all the nature you could ask for with surrounding marsh: a sanctuary for Konik horses and Galloway cattle, wildflowers, a windmill, and enough different species of birds to shake a stick at.

That Saturday we saw several groups of field-trippers. It's a well-known reserve in Holland. The blue observation tower out in the field gives a vantage point for birdwatching, with posters hung on the walls for identification. Well worth the visit, even though we didn't have our binoculars.

That was Saturday two weeks ago. The very next day, Sunday, the weather was glorious, so we decided to take a short ride outside town to see the apple and pear orchards. Seriously. They aren't what I'm used to.

This is how they grow their fruit orchards here. They start out with rows of stick trees with the apples climbing poles. The mature trees after a few years are kept low and thin so that workers can walk around them and pick the fruit without using ladders. After 15 years the trees are cut down and a new batch is planted.

BTW, in case you don't know, the Elstar apple (above) was first cultivated here in The Netherlands in the 1950s by crossing a Golden Delicious apple with an Ingrid Marie apple. It's a crisp, crunchy apple...the kind I like and which I buy when in season, which is now. Did I tell you how much I love autumn!

The same with the pears.
Do you know how tempting it was to reach out and pick one to eat on the spot!

Even Granny Towanda was dying to try an apple or two...for all her horse power, you know!

That was two weeks ago.

We stayed home the next Saturday, a week ago, in order to take advantage of the Open Monument Day here in Gorinchem, Netherlands. Every year, on the second Saturday of September, "approximately 3000 monuments across the Netherlands, normally closed or only partly open to visitors, open their doors to the public free of charge." We could have taken this offer more seriously and packed the day solid, but instead, we visited only two churches that we always wondered about, both within a short walk from our apartment:

The first church is the relatively new Rehoboth Church that was built in 1909 and houses the Christian Society. The gate to the courtyard off the street is usually closed so you can't get a good shot of the church front except from above, as we did awhile back while up on the fire-engine ladder (above bottom-left). You can see the back of the church from a nearby alleyway (bottom-right). But to finally go inside the courtyard and get these angles was a real treat. For the last 9 months I had only seen the spire hovering over Gorinchem.

Inside the Rehoboth church you face the simple altar and the above words (translated):
"Who has the Son has life." (I John 5:12)
It's a bright, simple, wide-open meeting room, more than a santuary, but with wonderful side windows and a fabulous ceiling. Well worth the visit.

From there we walked the couple blocks to the "hidden church" from Evangelical Lutheran church:

See why this is called the "Hidden Church!" I didn't even know it was there till Astrid told me about it one day. The gate is always closed and the sign is inside. If you don't pay attention, you never see this little gem down in the back of the side buildings.
"A great Fortress is our God" is the translated sign over the doorway.

This was the real treat of the day, just a tiny, narrow church with hardly enough room to turn around in. Quaint. Cozy. So "old country." It made me wonder what the congregation looks like each Sunday at 10 a.m.

And that was that! So as you see, beetje bij beetje (little by little), stap voor stap (step by step), we are seeing even what's here in our own backyard.

Which reminds me:

This paint can hangs over a paint shop just two blocks down the street from us. I've wanted you to see it since forever. The middle-right art (above) is on one of our storefront buildings nearby. And the statue at bottom-right sits out in the grass at one of the intersections not far from town.

All in a day's wander from here and there while out-n-about where we live in The Netherlands!

Next post I'll show you the before and after of our new dining set, which Astrid has already refinished. She is sick right now, however, with a sinus infection and maybe even the flu, out from work since last Thursday. No fun. We'll organize the dining area once she gets back on her feet.

In the meantime, don't forget my turn again at Vision & Verb where I talk about What We Collect.


  1. Blogger hasn't been cooperating for me this morning. But at last, I can leave a comment here!

    I am very surprised and intrigued about the methods for growing these fruit trees and orchards too. They are beautiful, aren't they? The apples look like just the kind I love too. I think when we visit you it will have to be in September!

    Too cute about Granny dying for an apple. :D

    The pink pews just slay me! What a pretty little secret that church is.

    Love love love your outings.

    I hope Astrid is well today!

  2. Very very beautiful pictures of the fruit trees! So we have autumn here, time for fruit cakes, at least)

  3. Hello my friend! Beautiful images once again and you know my favorite, I'm sure, the paint can with the red paint spilling forth!

    I hope that your Astrid is feeling better today and will be back to her hearty self very, very soon.

    Sending healing light and love ... always love.

  4. Ruth: You will love September time here...or any time, to be honest. So much to see all the time. Here, there and everywhere. Astrid finally turned the corner today, Tuesday, but will be off work all week, doctor's orders. I'm glad for her...time to get really well.

    Ola: Thank you. It feels good to be around the fruit trees, to see them growing. Back to Mother Earth.

    Linda: I should have known what would be your favorite. :) Why does that not surprise me. Astrid turned the corner today, Tuesday, and will be off work the rest of the week, per doctor's orders. It will hopefully give her time to really get well! Thank you for your healing light and love!

  5. If this is what one can expect of retirement, I'd like to retire now!

    Would pop in over the other side to see what else you collect.

    Say hi to Astrid.

  6. PC: Oh yes, Maria...this and I'm sure so much more. :) I love retirement. Now if only we can get Astrid to the point where she, too, can retire, and I can finish with school, we'll have it made. :)

  7. Sometimes I just forget what we have done in one or two weeks, I love seeing the Netherlands through your eyes, but than, I always did.
    I was happy that I could show you the new apple orchard where I use to work, he has planted new trees over the years and I am thrilled to see how those trees look and the apples are just amazing.
    Ruth is right, September can be a perfect month to visit us and have a taste of those apples.
    De Blauwe Kamer was a treat to walk there, we are so lucky to discover these small treasures.

  8. I have been waiting to savor this post and you didn't disappoint. I enjoyed my visit along with my glass of wine. The first photo is breathtaking with the mist or fog obscuring the branches of the trees. The apple and pear orchard is very different than in America and your photos of the three green pear-like apples makes the fledgling artist in me want to grab my paintbrush. And the pipe organ in the last church you showed us - what a hoot. John, my husband, said it must blow the congregation away in that tiny space. What fun "people watching" to sit outside one day and watch the people that exit this church. Is my mind accurate in stereotyping them? What an interesting place it is where you live.

  9. Astrid: We were lucky you had worked there so we could walk right in and not feel like we were trespassing. That was fun. But I sure did want to pick one of those apples. You really did have to restrain me, I know. :) I love September. It is the beginning of my favorite time of the, too, don't forget. :D

    Margaret: You're such a sweetheart. Thank you. That glass of wine made things seem even better than they were, I'm sure. :) Go grab your paintbrush. I can see you sitting in these orchards with your easel and paints. You would be in heaven. And yes, I'd love to hear that organ in that wee church. Maybe most of the congregation has to wear hearing aids so maybe it doesn't matter! :)

  10. You lost me at the apples. They look incredible!!! Wow, how much fun learning about them! And the rest of your post, sounds like you had a more relaxing weeking!... :)

    We finally get a vacation soon so hopefully I'll be in the mood to post a few pics or two.. :)

    Still dreaming about those apples, might need to make applesauce!

  11. These apples look so yummy. I’d love to eat one with Cheddar cheese on the side. When I was teaching French in Philadelphia (privately) to rich patrons, one of them used to give me for lunch a large apple and a piece of Cheddar cheese. Since then I often eat that for lunch. I don’t know if I can find the variety of apple you show. That paint can is very realistic – I am sure it makes many people look at it (with apprehension.)

  12. ET: These Elstar apples are some of the best I've ever eaten, Jen. I'm always glad when they're back in season. You'd love them, too. I'm sure I'll hear about your vacation soon...will you be on yours while we're in Atlanta in October, I wonder??

    Vagabonde: You would love these Elstar apples. They are so crisp and crunchy…and refreshing. I LOVE the idea of cheddar cheese with them as a snack or lunch. My kind of eating. How fun. And yes, that paint can does give a second look, every day. :) Thanks again for commenting…you who are so busy reading a thousand different blogs.

  13. Every day is Christmas for you, Ginnie! Or at least it seems that way when I read your posts.
    I want to live in the blue observation posts - because it's got a view, a thatched roof and suits my vision of minimalist space to hold only just what I need :).
    Had to laugh at the apple orchard - trust the Dutch to be so efficient. The French are very particular about pruning their olive trees with the same end in mind - to reduce the work involved at harvest time - but it's nothing as neat and tidy as this.

    The little church is a jewel - how very kind of the higher ups to set aside a day for you to finally track it down and explore.

    Laughed also at the paint can - this reminds me a little bit of the kind of irreverant art/sculpture you see in Brussels. I love the whimsy in this photo!
    Damnit, Ginnie, your posts make me restless and the south of France seem so yesterday!

  14. If Granny Towanda ate an apple, would that be like ... cannibalism?

    I love, love that paint bucket!

  15. Deborah: You are so right, or almost, about every day being Christmas. I love my life here. What a gift! You'd love that blue post...though it might be a bit too small for everyday life. Not a bad weekend hut, though. :)

    You always bring a smile to my face, Lady. Thank you!

    DB: HA! Too funny, Diana! That paint bucket, BTW, will be on my SC blog tomorrow, 1 Oct. :)