Netherlands

it has been almost a week since I have from the Netherlands and I have spent much of that time contemplating my future. At least once every year I have to visit The Hague to take care of various pieces of administration and almost always visit for longer than I really need to, it provides a welcome break from work and the madness of Brexit.

I haven’t posted much on this journal this year primarily because I have very few positive thoughts as most of my thinking has been swallowed up by the constant noise that the current political situation is providing in Britain. It has been unbelievably polarising and I cannot remember any other time that I have been so embarrassed for British politicians when I have travelled. It seems that much of the western world is lurching to the right and it feels like a course correction is required.

Still, a week away from that madness in a place where I can't read the news, or can at least escape it, provided some much needed relaxation. As The Hague is an ever evolving city with new buildings going up and older buildings being renovated. Even Den Haag Centraal Station has been finished (after around ten years of reconstruction). It is always nice to wander around and see what is different or new. One of my favourite discoveries was Kaafi, a new brasserie on Prinsestraat. Apparently it has been open since 2017 but I have somehow missed it on previous trips. Shockingly I have to say that it has the best coffee (and selection) that I have tasted in The Hague.

I was resenting carrying my camera around in the heat so most of my photographs were taken on my iPhone. I am sure that I have taken these photographs many times over the years but these are still some of my favourite places in The Hague. Holland Spoor has changed so much in the past few years it is now completely pedestrianised and has lots of restaurants to eat out in, it has become really pleasant to spend time at when I compare it to when I first moved to The Hague.

Of course no visit to The Netherlands would be complete without a visit to a windmill or two (in this case seven). My companion for the week ( @catwith8lives ) took me out to Sevenuizen which is situated between Zoetermeer and Gouda.

Two of the Windmills at Sevenuizen

I also visited Amsterdam Pride when it was parading through the canals, I was apprehensive about going as I could only imagine the carnage that would be Amsterdaam Centraal Station but to my surprise it wasn’t so bad. The pride march makes a route through some of the canals on boats that have been turned into floats, it was amazingly well organised and was a lot of fun to watch.

So I have returned to Scotland for the moment and am still enjoying the stroopwaffels that I brought back with me and if I close my eyes I could almost be back there, if I block out the rain and the politicians.

Sheds

I have been taking photographs of the Sheds at the new(ish) attractions of the Kelpies and the Falkirk Wheel the past week. At this time of the year these attractions are crazy busy with tourists, even at night. The shot at the Kelpies was taken just after sunset which was around 10pm. I must have counted at least 40-50 people there.

Cargo Yard Sheds at the Falkirk Wheel

Sheds at the Kelpies

Summertime trips

Summer, this year, has stalled several times. Most days are a mix of everything, hail, rain, sunshine and cloudy can be expected anywhere at anytime!

With a friend (@catwith8lives) visiting last weekend we were lucky to at least get a day with some sunshine and managed to visit a few of the local attractions along the John Muir Way and later drove north into the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.

I live close enough to the Falkirk Wheel to be able to walk there along the canal tow path, a walk that can be extended along the John Muir Way via Rough Castle and back into Bonnybridge at the Forth & Clyde Canal. The Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat lift that connects the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. It opened in 2002, reconnecting the two canals for the first time since the 1930s as part of the Millennium Link project.

Driving into the Trossachs is always a bit arduous, the amount of traffic that is in that area on such tight roads is amazing. Making it to Loch Katrine was worth it though, there is a great walk around Loch Katrine that has splendid views of the surrounding hills and if you are lucky you will also see the Sir Walter Scott steamship. Trips on steamships have been going since 1859 and the Sir Walter Scott has been cruising Loch Katrine since 1899.

Visiting the Trossachs was also a great opportunity to eat at Venachar Lochside Restaurant, which I highly recommend and as luck would have it they were able to host us after our visit to Loch Katrine. Usually it’s very busy at the weekends and during the summer they close for wedding receptions, so it’s worth checking their website beforehand. Have added a photograph that I took before in winter from the garden of the restaurant, it is a great location to take photographs of Loch Achray and the surrounding countryside.

Loch Achray, winter 2017/18

Sparkling trail for you to follow

I visited the Carron Dams Local Nature Reserve this afternoon with the bright and sunny weather providing an ideal time to get some photographs of the recently installed sculptures. The reserve is a unique, wetland environment and is a legacy of the Carron Company which dominated the local landscape for over 200 years. 

Carron Company was founded in 1759 and in many respects drove the industrial revolution in Scotland. It acted as the mother ship for 100 years developing expertise around it, and providing the spark that prompted Glasgow to become the industrial giant it was. It’s national and global impact was remarkable, and its products remain widely known. Carron Dams was once the reservoir that powered Carron ironworks’ blast furnaces. It is now a wetland with several routes through the surrounding woodland.

There are many activities going on around the area but the reserve is well known for (dog) walking and cycling (especially mountain biking), but on a sunny day it is a great reserve to wander around and take in some clean air, now that the industry of the past has gone. I have added a fewof the pictures below, if you are local to this area I highly recommend a visit.

The snail has trail behind it with the words “Leaving my sparkling legacy. A trail for you to follow”.