Monday, August 20, 2012

A Saturday Out-n-About Joy Ride

After day-in and day-out of working, without any photo hunts in between, Astrid and I will sometimes decide to just go out-n-about on a Saturday, just for the halibut.  Especially if that's the Saturday we're planning to visit our favorite pannenkoeken restaurant out in the middle of nowhere!

So, a week ago Saturday, that's exactly what we did.  And what follows, in order, is exactly as it happened.  I should first mention that Astrid drove one of her Sunday bike routes to show me what she sees.

This is the Scheiwijkse Molen in Hoornaar from 1638, also someone's home out in the polder.
It's a hollowpost/wipmolen mill used to drain the polder of the Netherlands doesn't drown!

We so happened to have parked our car next to a canal where this guy was fishing.
Did I ever tell you Astrid loves to fish?  Well, so do I.
We just haven't done it together yet!  One day....

No sooner did we get back in the car, we saw this ice-cream cone at the side of the road.
There's no better ice cream than what you can buy at a farm in the Netherlands.
Astrid says they are very highly regulated and inspected!
All ice creams we buy are €1 per "one-ball" cone.  How can you say NO!  (We didn't!)

Our eyes were peeled as we drove slowly so that Astrid could stop on a dime when we saw something,
like these neighbors who came visiting with their Shetland ponies...
and graciously allowed that strange woman with her long lens to take pictures.
This is what you do on Saturday, of course, here in the Netherlands out in the polder.
Do you visit your neighbors on Saturdays?

That's also when we saw these dogs on the boat and I exclaimed:
"This is the Life of Riley!"
(click any image/collage to enlarge)

Don't you just love roadside produce stands!
No, we didn't buy anything...but we should have.

I've shown you the Meerkerk water tower before from 1936,
but the sundial was new to me, as were the girls playing in the field!

That's when we stopped and ate lunch at Onder de Pannen in Leerbroek.
If ever you come visit us, we will take you there.  We promise!

Back in the car and on our way home...we HAD to stop on a dime.
This man and cow were coming towards us in the middle of the road.
Since we had to stop, we watched him take Bessie to the barn to do his/her thing...
while that strange woman with her long lens snapped away from the car window.
Then we waved, said dank je wel, and were on our way.

As we drove into our city, Gorinchem, and passed the Jewish cemetery (for the umpteenth time),
I said to Astrid (for the umpteenth time) how much I wished we could get in to see it up close.  
It is always locked at the front gate when I pass it to my bi-weekly grocery store.

And just like that, Astrid stopped on aother dime, we got out of the car and found a back gate open.
The cemetery was founded in 1814 and has 134 tombstones.  I sure wish I knew Hebrew!

Remember the military vehicles we went to see awhile back?
A guy who lives on the edge of the cemetery tinkers around with them.
Like with the fisherman earlier in the day, Astrid had a nice chat with him.
Don't you love it!  Saturday neighbors.

And of course, here's all the weathervanes from just one out-n-about.
I'm in love with them.  I call them the cherry on top of a great day!

All on a Saturday's joy ride through the countryside while out-n-about!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

On Wednesday Astrid and I fly to America, first to Michigan for nephew Peter's wedding on The Farm (remember his sister's wedding there 3 years ago?) and then to Atlanta for my kids, grandson and friends.  Back on Saturday, 8 September.  Astrid is so ready for a loooong vacation, and I with her!  

Travel mercies to one and all...and stay cool!

Monday, August 13, 2012

On Time, Clocks and Gearing Up

As we speak, Astrid and I are gearing up for our annual trip to America next week.
And that's what my post is about at Vision and Verb today.

It so happens the above image is from the Broekhuis Klokken store in Steenbergen, Netherlands, from our day trip back in April when we also visited the Moses Bridge.  As often happens, we kill several birds with one stone!

I'll get to the rest of Steenbergen later but as we were walking around the city center, we came upon the Broekhuis store and were immediately drawn in by the clocks in the window.  Once we entered, we were gobsmacked!  I have never seen so many clocks and different varieties in one place ever.  
The showrooms are endless.  To work there you'd have to memorize the maze.

 Old clocks. New clocks.  Antique and Modern.
Dr. Seuss would have a heyday there, coming up with a jingle.

A face for any personality or mood.
Guess how much these clocks cost?
The top middle clock will set you back only €72K ($89K).

Are you as fascinated with clockworks as I am?
With all those gears, aren't your surprised they don't break more often!
Oh, but if they do, this is the place to get them fixed.

All these clocks are made at Erwin Sattler in Germany.
Dick Broekhuis happens to be the only Dutch retailer and with the largest shop in Europe, if not the world.
He graciously gave us free rein in his store.  We were like kids in a candy shop.
And we didn't even visit the watch store next door!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

As I mentioned earlier, we were in the city of Steenbergen in the North Brabant province of the Netherlands:  pop. c. 23,000.  We weren't there for long...just a wee pass-through....

 ...but had plenty of time to see the Catholic St. Gummaruskerk, with history back to the 13th century.
Too bad it wasn't open!

 Impressions.  Always time for impressions...

...all making up the Steenbergen we saw that day.
No weathervanes or gevelstenen...but we did see the water tower from 1950 (top left).
And the Reformed Protestantkerk is in the bottom-right corner.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Here's another reminder about my Vision and Verb post today.  We really are geared up for next week's trip to America!  But more on that next week, just before we leave.

Monday, August 06, 2012

A Wijk aan Zee Meet-Up

Chalk up another face-to-face blogger meet-up!  The WWW keeps getting smaller and smaller...or bigger and bigger, depending on your viewpoint.

A week ago Saturday we drove 100 km to Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, on the North Sea coast, to meet up with Mr. and Mrs. Lifecruiser from Sweden.  HA!  Don't you like how we're known by our blogsite names!

So, the plan was to meet up at the Hotel Villa 'de Klughte' where the Lifecruisers were spending the night.  They're on a month-long trip of Europe now, north from Sweden to France in the south, and this was their stop for the day.

It so happens this charming hotel has been honored twice with a visit from Queen Beatrix.
But it has no lift, so Astrid helped Mr. L carry up the huge suitcases to the top floor.  UGH.
See the red Skoda and the Swedish licence plate?  Yup.  The real deal.

And the Lifecruisers themselves are the real deal and true lovebirds.
Like Astrid and me, they, too, met via the internet, but from the same country and town!
(click any image to enlarge)

It so happens Astrid and I arrived at the hotel an hour before they did,
so we went on our own photo hunt...first up into the dunes next door.

From up on high, we could see the Hoogovens steelworks on one side...
and the North Sea with its wind turbines on the other (see them, top right?).

And then, still rotating to the right, we saw the wee village of Wijk aan Zee in front of us...
with its two big churches.  Population 2,400.

But before heading down into town to see it up close and personal,
we chatted with another photographer, planning a scavenger hunt.
How fun is that!

Once down the dunes into town, we headed straight to the Dorpskerk...the protestant village church.
You can see it from almost anywhere in town.

And as with so many of these churches, the adjacent cemetery is visible to all.

 As we walked through town, we had to stop for an ice cream, of course.
We knew we'd be eating lunch once the Lifecruisers arrived so eat dessert first is our motto.
Astrid had already decided it was too late for our normal koffie break.  HA!

After ice cream, we were ready to see the catholic Sint Odulphus church.
Sadly, neither church was open to visit inside.

But the village-center fountain was, once the Lifecruisers joined us!

By then, around 1:30 p.m., it was definitely time for lunch.
How can you not love a wit bier (white beer) that sports a windmill glass,
especially when you get acquainted with bloggers you feel you've known all your life!

After lunch we headed to the beach, for which the town is known.
The only problem is if the sun isn't shining, the tourist business is way down.
But WE were there and didn't care.  Can you imagine owning a beach house there?

 As we left, we got some parting shots.
We had 3 very special hours with 2 new and very special friends.
THANK YOU, Mr. and Mrs. Lifecruiser!

And while we're at it, we saw one gevelsteen (gable stone)--bottom center...

...and 4 weathervanes.

All in all, it was a great photo hunt, blogger meet-up, and a day's car trip!
It really doesn't get much better than that!