Monday, February 28, 2011

Our Own Backyard

It's the last day of February and just like that, 1/6 of our new year has come and gone! And since our 5 February anniversary weekend (the last 3 posts!), we have not been out-n-about anywhere...except here in our own backyard.

So. Let's take a gander to see what exactly is here at our fingertips!

The sidewalk you see in 2 of these images above goes all around the citadel part of our city center, inside of which we live. There is water surrounding us, in rivers and canals...thus the boat harbors and the cannons, stalwart memories from days past...and our Grote Kerk and the sheer loveliness of towering trees.

I take these walks with my camera...45 minutes if only for a complete, brisk circuit.
Astrid runs the 4 km in 25 minutes and feels like a 'newbrand' person.

If I start off in one direction, I almost immediately pass the canal with its 'museum' of barges against one side of the city wall. This red-and-green beauty is the Hoop op Welzijn barge.
Hope for Well-Being.
I smile every time I see it, especially on a sunny day.

Then I pass Old Sannie who fishes off his own little island in the Paardwater (= horse water pond).
Usually I see him on the street side when I walk to my my semi-monthly grocery store, as seen here.
Sometimes it's good to get a different perspective on your friends, you know!

And then, just before I get to De Hoop (= Hope) windmill, there he stands, this handsome brute of a fella.
For all my love of water towers, I wonder if I have ever shown you ours, now converted into apartments.
It's one thing to live in a windmill. What about a water tower!
Hmmm, wonder if there's such a thing as a water-tower B&B???

In this post, I am showing you images only from these first 2 months of 2011. It's kinda like seeing our city again for the first time.

Twice a month when I walk to my bank, converting dollars from my American bank to euros for deposit here, I walk across one of our many drawbridges. This is the Korte Brug (= Short Bridge) and is up almost as often as it is down, for the many barges that pass through the canals.
I think of all the people I know who would be totally fascinated by the technology!

When I get to the geese and the art sculpture sitting in the pond (which you can see here from last year), I know I'm almost at the bank. These geese LIVE there. They let you know it belongs to them.
There's another place, inside the citadel, where the geese own the place and cars have to stop for them
here (quick scroll). They tickle me to death.

One morning as I walked back from the bank into the citadel, this gentleman was hanging a banner for a winter concert across the street. That's how close the buildings are.

Remember, these are images just from this year so far.
One day perhaps I'll combine them with impressions from last year. You know how it is when you see some things for the first time, even after you've been there for awhile.

One of my mottos as a photographer is "Always Look Up!" And this is why.
These 4 fellas grace the façade of the above building. Don't you wonder why!

These lions just a couple of façades away are not nearly as scary.
The crooked lines of the building scare me more and make my eyes dizzy!

Now, an update on my Rummikub Fridays here at our senior complex...even closer than our backyard:

I love this game and can't believe I had never heard of it before now. After all, it's been around since the 1930s, combining elements of rummy, dominoes, mah-jongg and chess, games I love.

There are 8-10 of us who are in the 'club,' for which we pay €2/month (for a party at the end of the year!).
Halfway during each Friday's 2-1/2 hours of play, with 5-6 games per table of 3-4 players,
we all get a coffee/tea break...or in my case, Spa Rood (mineral water).
after the games are over, between 4-5 p.m., we all sit around the tables and have a Happy Hour.
That's when most of the women have an advocaatje drink
(and the men a glass of wine, a beer, or a jenever...all €0,75
OMG! Why hadn't I ever heard of that either: advocaat!
I've highlighted Sophie (above) because her smile is to die for.

That's my glass on the right (above) after I'm done.
Invariably someone will tell me to use my finger...they won't care!
HA! How can you not love this kind of cammaraderie.

Did I ever tell you that I treat Astrid and me to a meal out every Saturday, whether we're home or on the road! It's a break for both of us. If we're here at home, we have our favorite 6 or so places to visit, 2 of which are farther away than a walk but still what I'd call in our backyard. This past Saturday we went to our favorite pannenkoekenhuis, 7 miles away through the back roads of the polders.

This restaurant is out in the middle of nowhere and yet has so much charm.
How's this for a welcome at the front door. Wooden shoe feel welcomed? :)

Did you wonder what pannekoeken were? Now you know.
Dutch pancakes but loaded with toppings like you'd have on pizza, something we sometimes crave.
We always swap halfway through and then lick our platters clean, trust me.

I'm such a glutton for the accoutrements wherever we go.

This house is clean enough to be healthy
and dirty enough to be happy.

And just to emphasize why our own backyard has its own treasures, just look at what we saw both coming and going:

Not counting all the ducks, geese and seagulls...we spied a pheasant, a stork (above right), a Great Cormorant...and an ever-faithful swan pair. We see swan couples all over the or two pairs per field. Astrid says they mate for life and stay put where they are, growing their young.
If one of them dies, the other dies soon thereafter of a broken heart.

Three more weathervanes!

And then one last thing to delight me to no end...

...these 5 fishermen fishing the canal while it rained!
Astrid says they often have a contest to see who will catch the most fish in 5 hours, for instance.
Most of the fish they catch are carp, rudd, perch or bream...which, no, they do not keep.
It's just the fun of fishing, even in the rain, with your buddies sitting nearby.

That's enough for anyone's backyard, don't you think? Enough to keep you home forever. Don't worry, we'll never stay home forever, if we can help it. But neither will we forget what's here at our fingertips!


  1. what a lovely place you live in!!! i have just learned that one of my best friends is moving back to holland, just outside amsterdam, after 20 years of living in africa. she has a broken heart, which is so sad, but i know a return to the country she still calls home will help her to heal. and she will have such a wider world to see, africa can be far too insular. so...i will definitely be visiting your country sooner rather than later, and this more than a airport fly-through, and will let you know when :)

  2. Eliza: I am delighted to no end to hear this news...that we may meet here before we know it. I lived in Amsterdam 2 weeks of every month for 2 years and am familiar with the area. Do you know where exactly she’ll be living? Amsterdam is about 1 hour’s drive from us here in Gorinchem…which is not far for me (it took us an hour to get to the airport when I lived in Atlanta!).

    Do keep me updated...!

  3. Looks like there is a lot of beauty to be seen from your own backyard. You are indeed blessed! I enjoy playing Rummikub with my Dad and family members fairly frequently.

  4. Oh my... so many things to see and photograph so nearby your home. I think it would inspire me to 'go walkabout' (as the Aborigines do and the Australians say) every day and I'd be in better shape than I am right now.

    I always enjoy all of your images and hesitate (sometimes) to tell you my favorites for fear the other images will get jealous... I love the "4 fellas" images and do agree they are a bit scary... the images of the red wooden shoe and bicycle outside the restaurant are particularly pleasing... the thought of apartments in a water tower... amazing and wonderful images to show for it... and last, but not least... the umbrella covered fisherman on the canal!

    Have a great week!

  5. Tim: I saw the Rummikub on your last post and almost said something about it. I LOVE that game. Astrid and I play it almost every day and I have told her I know my parents would have loved it. :)

    Victoria: I need to go out and 'walkabout' every day, to be honest. Seriously. It's so easy to stay inside and do everything else but once I'm outside, I always love it. I'm talking about when Astrid is at work, of course.

    You never need to mention any of the images specifically, you know, but thank you when you do. It's all part of my 'record keeping' of what's happening here. I don't want any of it to fall through the cracks, if that makes sense?

  6. beautiful neighborhood, Ginnie!

    Do you carry your big camera every day even during your normal routine jaunts?

  7. What a lovely town this is. I enjoyed taking the tour with you. If I lived there I would do a lot of walking too but here, there are no sidewalks and it is 7 miles to the Square, 3 miles to the Confederate Park with SUVs zipping by. The water towers in Holland are very picturesque – it would be fun to stay in one converted as an inn or B&B. The members in the senior center look like a great bunch of fun people - do they speak only in Dutch? I really like the picture of the fishermen with the umbrellas – and all of them being green. I don’t think I would travel as much if I lived in such a pleasant town where I knew people - it makes a difference.

  8. Mad: I LOVE where we live. I really do. I'm still exploring it all. And yes, when I go out with my camera, I take the big lens because it does the wide angle AND the zoom both (28-300). I have learned how to carry it without problems all day long. I just wish they could make such a lens, quality-wise (it's a Canon Red-Ring) a lot smaller so its not so conspicuous!

    Vagabonde: It really is a lovely place here. I know what you mean about the Atlanta area, though. No way to ride your bike from one neighborhood to another. I hated that while I was there. I'm glad you DO travel as much as you do because you show us so much of the world. And just think: we will be doing the Hurtigruten cruise in Norway partly because you did it first and showed us your wonderdful images! So, thank you.

  9. Once somebody told us, our town is big enough to have 'everything' and small enough to 'know' everybody.
    I love living in this town, when I run around the citadel in the morning, I love seeing the sun rice, to see the fog, to hear the engines of the boats, to see the big boats heading either to Rotterdam and Germany.
    Thank you for this wonderful overview of where we live.
    The Pannenkoekenhuis is always a delight to drive to, it does not matter what season.
    erm.... B&B in a watertower..... ;)

  10. Glorious!

    Don't you just love living near the water? The boats, the fisherpeople, the birds. The water! :)

    So good how you look up, and see so much. I bet you see something new every time you walk your circuit.

    Precious Rummikub! The lady in light blue reminds me of Auntie Sue!

    That restaurant is adorable. Wow. We used to loved going to the Original Pancake House, a couple of them in Chicago, one in Detroit. You wait in line an hour, but it's worth it for the pannekoeken. They cook a big apple pancake in a black iron skillet, in the oven, and turn it out upside down on your plate, with the apple on top. Oh yum. I've made them at home a couple of times.

    The pheasant! And don't I love that row of green umbrellas! I thought they might be sculptures.

    It is brilliant that you showed us your backyard. I am so happy.

  11. Astrid: How many times have we told each other how much we love it here! I never tire of this place and really think I could live here forever, if that were in the cards for us. :) We really are very, very lucky!

    Ruth: You've picked up on the many things that thrill me to death here, sister. Sometimes I have to pinch myself. Really. Sometimes I picture you and Don with us and taking you to all these places that are so special to us. One day! I'd like that.

  12. your backyard has more than enough entertainment and sights to keep you on your toes and your finger on the shutter.

    that restaurant's interiors are homey; you can't find that here. and the umbrella'd fishermen - that's one for the books. i didn't read the text purposely and figured what these two images were about and gave up and that's when i read your text. hah!

  13. I love the red & green barge! and the bike with leaning against the brick building with the flower and red wooden shoe... The water tower beautiful. Such a treat for the eyes, wherever you walk. I can't wait to see it transpire throughout the year!

  14. PC: I have a feeling there was a lot I missed in my backyard from years ago, Maria, everywhere I've lived. It's made me really want to pay better attention to what's around me!

    Margaret: Astrid and I never tire of our out-n-abouts, near or far from home. We both feel very lucky to be alive and planted where we are. I'm sure it's the same for you in your gorgeous neck of the woods!

  15. Ginnie, Ive been so many of the places you have posted about and visited, you tell a great story about them all and your pictures are so beautiful. I can really relate to them even tho Ive been here since 1999, I(we) never tire of our travels over such a beautiful country. We are lucky arent we? Greetings to Astrid... Julie

  16. Julie: I love it whenever I find someone who has been here and knows what I'm talking about! Thanks for stopping by and commenting again.

  17. I can hardly believe you have green grasses so close to where we live at this time of year, when we still have white Snow all over.
    And host the World Championship in Nordic Ski...

    I've said before, we just have to pop down for a weekend visit.
    Holland is for discover the details, which you so eminently do with both text and photos.
    While Norway is, with it's landscape, yeah more full view, so to speak.
    But I will bring you to paces out of the normal tourist path;-)

    btw. This Saturday some Norwegians will plan your stay....
    A secret until you arrive;-)

  18. I would kill for a "appel/spek pannekoek" right now, chased with an "advocaat". Smullend!

    You are quite the tour guide, Ginnie. That water tower takes the cake!

    I'm so glad you looked up because I would not have wanted to miss the gargoyles that look like they just stepped out of a Brueghel "schilderij".

    I'm still smiling about your wooden shoe pun :-)

  19. Tor: You have snow, we have green grass (though still at freezing point), and Atlanta had temps in the high 60s yesterday! It's amazing, isn't it.

    Most of the time I go for the big pictures with my images, so being in Norway will suit me just fine. We will love seeing what you have in mind for us. Trust me. :)

    DB: Isn't it funny what we crave after we've been in a country and then are gone! Any chance you'll come back to visit one of these days? We'd love to show you around, of course. :)

    You always delight me with you comments. Thank you.

  20. No plans at this time. We were in A'dam a couple of summers ago when we were on our way home from Africa. We wish to take a break this summer and maybe travel only domestically. Thanks for the enticing invite!

    Have you guys done Madurodam yet? That was my favorite "schoolrijsje" from elementary school.

  21. I miss too much in just one week!!! Wow - so much to see and I just can't wait for the spring moments to spring up because well that is my favorite time of the year and I know you will capture it all.

    I still can't believe how much you see!!! It's amazing.. But you had me laughing at the last part with the fisherman.. haha so funny!

    Love the bike pic the best!

  22. DB: Sometimes you just have to take a break from traveling, I know. Today was our first day trip since our anniversary weekend a month ago. Gouda. Loved getting back into the swing of things but the break was good. I understand.

    Astrid and I have both been to Madurodam before...years ago. One day we'll go back together to see it again for the first time. :)

    ET: So you're still with us, I see! :) Hang in there, Mommy! Thanks for stopping by...again.

  23. Ah, Ginnie, how lovely! I'm sure it's a thrill each time you get to see that colorful barge, it's beautiful!
    Your whole backyard is! I really love the fishermen with their umbrellas ...
    and you know, Larry & I swap plates about half way thru, too! That's when you know you have the right partner!
    All the best to you two,

  24. WS: I definitely have the right partner, Susan, no doubt about it. I love that you 'know' these things. :) Thanks for stopping by to see our backyard. It reminds me of how you feel about yours!

  25. I like that fisherman statue, too!

  26. Tim: I smile every time I pass that sweet fella. He's a true fisherman...totally addicted. :)

  27. Hi Ginnie, I am just catching up on a few of your posts. (I don't seem to read blogs as much anymore since Bloglines changed ownership.) We are big fans of Rummikub in this house and man, don't those Dutch pancakes look delicious! Thanks once again for all your gorgeous and informative images.

  28. Karen Bloglines changed ownership? Wow. I learned something new. Hmmm. I hope it's been for the better?! Anyway, thanks for catching up with me here. It's the place where I still try to keep track of everything!