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.

Beijing

It’s been almost 5 years since I vistied Beijing. It is still one of my favourite journeys that i have taken. It was great because I was sent by work, therefore my expenses were taken care of and it was great because I spent a couple of weeks after the work being a tourist. I saw many amazing things that changed my view of China. 

The Great Wall of China.

The Great Wall of China.

I was amazed at how modern the city was and how vast the contrast was economically with the surrounding countryside. I visited so many tourist spots that I basically lost count but I still remember getting up at 4am to visit the wall and the 13 tombs of the Ming dynasty. Of course I remember getting up at 4am because to me this is a crime against humanity. 

So what prompts me to write this short post?  

I have noticed over the past few months that my readership (of this journal) is increasingly coming from China, and Beijing in particular. It makes me wonder why and it pleases me that I am not blocked by the great firewall of China :-) 

So, if you are reading from this region of the world, drop me an email or comment below :-) 

 

Cambridge

As I write this in Cafe Nero, across from Cambridge Train Station, I feel a little melancholy. It may be the almost five days of (mostly) solitude that has passed or it may be that I am actually a little sad to be leaving. My trip here has been successful having passed the FME training course and having learned more than I hoped about the application. I also spent a lot of time in the early evening wandering Cambridge and taking photographs, primarily to see how the camera in the iPhone XS Max performs (admirably).

Cambridge is an interesting city, a combination of medieval buildings, colleges, modern science & business parks with everything in between. The River Cam which runs through the city was delightful to spend time at. I managed to get coffee in a cafe near the river bank and watch tourists on boats being punted along it and hearing a hundred different languages being spoken as people walked by. 

Some of the architecture blew me away. I have seen photographs of the buildings before but to actually see them in person is so much more. The buildings of Queens’ College and Kings’ College were amazing, I literally don’t have the adjectives to describe how impressed I was. I have never before seen such an amount of buildings that impressed me in such a small amount of geographical space.

I also visited the Wooden Bridge that joins two parts of Queens’ College, also known as the Mathematical Bridge. Nicknamed the mathematical bridge due to its arrangement of timbers arranged in a series of tangents, creating an arched bridge rom entirely straight timber. I will not try to explain it any further as my lack of engineering knowledge and maths would be all to evident. A popular myth around about the bridge is that Sir Isaac Newton designed and built the bridge without the use of nuts and bolts and that at ‘some time’ in the past students attempted to take the bridge apart and put it back together. They were unable to work out how to hold the structure together and had to use nuts and bolts to finish it. Of course, when it was first built, iron spikes were driven into it to hold it together and could not be seen from the inside which is why the bolts were thought to be an addition to the original. More to the point though, Newton died twenty two years before the bridge was constructed.

I have added a few photographs of my trip below, all taken on the iPhone Xs Max. I decided not to take my 5D purely out of the interest of saving weight and to push me into using the iPhone (the best camera you have is the one you have with you).

FME

Off to Cambridge this week for training on FME. FME is a product by Safe Software that allows you to connect different applications, transform spatial data and automate workflows. Am particularly excited about this as I think it will be able to help with the GIS strategy that I am currently working on for the Central Scotland Green Network.

Also, it’s Cambridge, so its full of interesting places to take photographs. I am only taking my iPhone XS Max (of which a review will be posted this week) so I hope to test out the new camera. A fun week ahead.

Look out for the review of the new iPhone at the end of the week.

Punta Cruz Watchtower

One of the great things about touring the Philippines was the numerous historical stops that could be made. This was one of my favourite stops, even though the temperature was over 32 degrees that day! While I was walking about the beach @geraldineyoga at least had the sense to take some cover from the sun.

Officially known as the Fort of Saint Vincent Ferrer, the Punta Cruz Watchtower is an isosceles triangle shaped fort located in the western tip of the municipality of Maribojoc on the island of Bohol in The Philippines.

It was seriously damaged after the 2013 Bohol earthquake but has recently been renovated to its previous state and looks as good as it probably did when it was completed in 1796.

The Punta Cruz Watchtower was declared as a National Historical Landmark in February 2009. Its historical marker was unveiled by the municipality of Maribojoc and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines in May 2009. Together with other watchtowers in the region the Punta Cruz Watchtower is being considered to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List since 2006 under the collective group of Spanish Colonial Fortifications of the Philippines.