Monday, June 25, 2012

Glassblowing: Eyes of the Beholders

Two weekends ago I was "on assignment" at the glassblower's new-shop Open House.  HA!  On assignment.  I quite like that.  :)

Truth be told, I've been spending almost every spare minute for a full week, plus 2 weekends, processing 500 images.  The processing is done...and now comes organizing them and getting a YouTube ready for Mart Martorell.  Remember him?!

In the meantime, here's something to whet your appetite.  Impressions.  Impressions of old and young alike, all mesmerized by the glass blower!

 How can you resist the kids who are in wonderment!

Did you ever see a glass blower at this age??  
Neither did I.

Did you ever blow glass at this age?
Neither did I.

Boys and girls alike got the chance of a lifetime.
The thing is...Mart is MADE for this.  He is soooo good with the kids.... well as with the adults (like with Astrid in February).
During the 2 weekend days, 3 other glassblowers were also helping out.
If you wanted to blow glass, you really could!

Did I blow glass, you ask?  No.  
I was satisfied with watching everyone else, just like these fellas.
(click image if you want to enlarge)

And besides, I was the photographer, on assignment...remember?
I asked Mart what he expected from me those two days.
He wanted expressions amd impressions from and of those who came.

And that's what I hope he'll get once I put the whole thing together this week.
I have my work cut out for me....

Monday, June 18, 2012

A 2012 Amsterdam Outing

When we found out blogger friend Tor was going to be in Amsterdam for a week visiting his "sister" Sylvie, we knew we'd accept his invitation to join them for a day.  Which we did a week ago Friday!  Remember Tor from Norway?  Yes, that Tor.

[To add to the excitement, I'm trying out a new collage program passed on by blogger-friend Victoria.  All the images that follow today are from PicMonkey.  After one time, I really like added option to PhotoScape!]

Anyway, our rendezvous spot in Amsterdam was the Rembrandtplein.  

So we drove to the Amsterdam AJAX soccer stadium where we parked for the day with 2 roundtrip tickets to Rembrandtplein for €8 total.  Unbeatable price if you know anything about European parking!

Rendezvous time was noon but since we were early,
we walked around and took lots of pictures, of course.
We caught the sun on his back when we arrived...and on his face when we left!

There he is, my twin brother (born 2 months early).
Sylvie is originally from Chile but has lived in Amsterdam for 25 years.
Now we're all brothers and sisters!

Both before and after spending most of our time in Vondelpark,
we walked around Amsterdam spots I almost knew by heart.  So fun.
We even ate lunch over by the Leidseplein, near the apartment from my past life...

...just a hop, skip, and a jump from Vondelpark, Amsterdam's 120-acre urban park. 

 And that was the beginning of all kinds of photo ops!

(click any image to enlarge, of course)

Don't you love being a little kid?! 

I couldn't resist the "toppers," of course....

 Or the gevelstenen, as we walked from here to there.
This city holds so many memories from so many years and Astrid said,
as we headed home by ourselves, that we now need to go back to Utrecht!

Some of your know we're in the middle of the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship
 right now, hosted by Poland and the Ukraine.
That Friday, June 8, was the first game of the tournament,
decorated to the nines both in Amsterdam and back at our apartment complex.
Since then Holland has played and lost 3 games...and is finished!  Boo Hoo.
But as Astrid says, they're more EGO than TEAM and deserved to lose!
Hup Holland!  Zo was het.

Monday, June 11, 2012

ENGLAND 2012: A Bath Nature Walk

Bath as in Bath, England, that is.  And it happened our last full day before flying back home in early May, a month ago.  Time does fly, doesn't it.

All Chris told us was we were going on a walk and that Lisl would be joining us.  Little did we know what was in store for us!

 Let's start with the ubiquitous English narrowboats which we have grown to love!
It was a great way to start the day...

...and still have time to meet Lisl at 10 a.m.

We even had other views along the way,
including finding out Bath's Dutch sister city is Alkmaar,
approximately 55 miles north of us here in the Netherlands.

We were in for a surprise when we met up with Lisl at 10 a.m. (top right).
She and Chris are part of a nature group and we were joining them that day!
The leader of the gang that day was the gentleman in the middle-left image (above)
with his super-sized telescope for bird watching.

The birds happened to be perigrine falcons, nesting in the box of the upper church window 
What a way to start our nature walk!

 Continuing on...we wound our way around some of the Bath Locks
and actually watched a narrowboat passing through.  Lucky timing.
While we see this all the time in Holland, it was different here...much more narrow.
Astrid was in heaven!

Suddenly we were really out in nature.  Open fields.
Passing scenes that are soooo English, especially on a misty-rainy day.

Can you imagine anything more idyllic than this!  Buttercups everywhere, soaking up the mist.

At this point, we were ready to enter the first of two cemeteries:  Smallcombe Cemetery.

While others were finding all kinds of flora and fauna...
Astrid, Chris and I were off wandering.  Astrid and I LOVE old cemeteries.

Some of it was pretty treacherous, actually.  M U D D Y.
At one point, Astrid slipped and fell...after which we thought we had had enough.

 Except for the fact we were now at the entrance to the Bath Abbey cemetery.
As in FAMOUS CHURCH cemetery!  How could we say NO to that!

See what I mean?  With views overlooking the die for.  HA!

We wound our way back through town...
(yup, that's Bath Abbey in the large center image above)

...and past one last, idyllic narrowboat, rounding out our little day's excursion.

Back was clean-up time!
See Astrid's jeans?  She really did slip and fall.
But what a trooper, cleaning up even MY shoes.

How's that for a day in the English countryside!  See why we have fallen in love with England!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

There is still one more post to do on the 2012 England trip...of things on the farm....

AND a post to do on a trip to Amsterdam this past Friday when we met up with blogger Tor from Norway and a new blogger friend, Silvie....

AND the weekend we just spent in Laren (Gelderland) doing the photo shoot for Mart Martorell's new glassblowing shop's Grand Opening....

AND my early birthday celebration in Giethoorn the weekend after we returned from England!  Giethoorn is Holland's Venice...but more on that when I get to it.

I guess you could say I have my work cut out for me, yes?  See why I call this my job!?!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

  Oh yes.  All that and it's my turn at Vision and Verb today,
on WTMI = Way Too Much Information.  :)

Monday, June 04, 2012

ENGLAND 2012: Ledbury and WALES

A year ago when we were out-n-about with host Chris, and saw a bridge out on the landscape that took you to Wales (yes, we were that close!), I immediately said I wanted to go to Wales one year!  Truth be known, I really wanted it to be this year...this trip.

And so it was!

Thus, the day after our Blists Hill blogger meet-up (last post), we drove all over tarnation for about 6 hours, getting from Bath to...eventually Wales...and then back home again.

We first stopped in Ledbury, a town in Herefordshire, known for it's timber-framed buildings.  See what I mean about how Chris knew exactly what we'd want to see without even asking!

The Market House from 1617, standing on its 16 pillars, is the most notable.
I love architecture like this!

A stone's throw away, across the street, is Ledbury's library clock tower.
It's dedicated to poet Elizabeth Barrett-Browning who lived and wrote in the town.

We didn't stay long but...long enough to get a taste for this quaint little English town.
Notice I said English and not British.  Chris often had to correct my...English!

Once back in the car, and within minutes, still within the Ledbury district, Chris then stopped at this little gem:  the Church of St. Michael and All Angels in Castle Frome, Herefordshire.  And it was open!

It was out in the middle of nowhere..."at the end of a farm track well away from the village."
When we arrived it was sunshiny (left side); when we left a storm was brewing (right side).

The font from c.1170 is one of the wonders of the church (top-right image)..
When I walk inside these quaint churches, I always wonder what my preacher dad would think!

And speaking of out in the middle of nowhere...just off the church property is this rapeseed field.
Astrid had been talking all trip about getting good pictures of the rapeseed in bloom everywhere.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Back in the car again, towards our "final goal" of stepping foot inside was time to stop and eat lunch.

Leave it to Chris to have picked up some lamb meat pies for us in Ledbury.
What a host with the most!

It so happens we stopped to eat just after crossing this private toll bridge.
To avoid delay, have coinage ready.  80p.
It still blows my mind that such a bridge can be owned by a private family.
They operate it and maintain it via the toll that comes in.
See all the debris at the bottom of the pilings?  Hmmmm....

Once again, we were out in the middle of nowhere.
Sometimes those are the best places for photography!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Then suddenly...we were in WALES!

 Hay on Wye, to be specific, right on the Welsh-English border.
All signage while in Wales was in both English and Welsh.
It's a good way to learn another language, right?

 Wiki says Hay on Wye is known as the town of books.
It has a literary festival every June that draws approx. 80,000 visitors.
(The town itself has a population of only 1500 people!)
This particular bookshop in the Hay Castle is Europe's largest secondhand bookstore. 

 And YES, it was open!
Can you imagine trying to find a specific book there???? 

We couldn't leave, of course, without our favorite treat.
I scream, You scream, We all scream for ice cream!

By now it was time to head back to Bath!  My feet had touched the very land of WALES and I was a happy camper.  My day had been filled to the hilt!  I was short of eyes....

But Chris was not yet done!

 What to our wondering, short-of-eyes should appear but...Tintern Abbey, from 1131!
It is probably the most spectacular ruins of an abbey we will ever see in our lifetime.

 It, too, is in Wales, just over the River Wye border from England.

Wouldn't you want to do a photo shoot there?!

So you see, in one swell foop, we had such a fabulous day in the life of our 2012 England trip.  Are we lucky or what!  And I'm not even done yet....