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.

The Hague

I travelled back to The Hague last week to take care of some administration and to catch up with friends. It's getting harder to meet with friends there of late primarily because they keep leaving to pastures new.

The city is changing, every time I visit I notice these changes, cafes disappearing, new shops appearing and of course new tram routes just to confuse me. It makes me wonder how much changed during the time I lived there that I didn't notice. Change, it seems to me, is more evident when you don't look for a period of time.

I had a lot of time to think while walking around the city (roughly 16km each day I was there) and I was able to bring my attention to the present instead of rooting around in my mind at things I have experienced in the past in The Hague. It was nice to be there and to have a still mind.

I still love this city. It almost defies explanation. I feel so comfortable there. There is no single thing that I can say that makes it such a great place for me, but when it is all combined there is no place I would rather be. Perhaps, I just haven't travelled enough. Of course, there is always a difference between travelling to new locations and living in new locations.

I didn't get much time to take photographs but these are the ones that I like when I did manage to get time. These photographs are from Scheveningen, a modern seaside resort with a long, sandy beach, an esplanade, a pier, and a lighthouse. Click on them for the full size if your on a desktop or tablet. Oh, the photograph of the fishing vessel, I have almost this exact shot from 2013. I think I like the shot below more as you can see the industry of Rotterdam in the background.

So much change, yet so much the same.

 

Giethoorn; finally.

It has taken me since Sunday to actually getting round to writing and editing the photographs I like from my trip to Giethoorn. Giethoorn is a mostly car-free village in the northeastern Dutch province of Overijssel. It’s known for its boat-filled waterways, footpaths, bicycle trails and centuries-old thatched-roof houses. It borders a section of the Weerribben-Wieden National Park, a marshy area once popular for peat and reed harvesting. Needless to say much fun was had with @catwith8lives in a rented boat on the canals and lake.

It was my second trip to this village and the weather was much more cooperative, it was mostly sunny and cloudy which which made for impressive skylines. This trip was also much more relaxing without the time constraints of being on an organised tour.

I have added my favourite photographs below. As always, click to enlarge if your on a desktop :-)

 

Return to The Hague

A knee jerk reaction to a water leak in my apartment in The Hague last weekend also provided an opportunity to catch up with friends, take coffee and shoot photographs in the glorious sun! The leak turned out to be a five day long saga that is way to boring to go into here, but it was eventually resolved by a drainage engineer from Glasgow (obviously).

The weather was great which was much to my surprise, sunny every day and a little cool which provided me with ample opportunities to take photographs in between appointments with plumbers/buying washing machines/drainage engineers/clients.

I was also reminded how much I miss The Hague and the atmosphere around the city. I am never surprised now by the crowds of tourists and the happy go lucky "niceness" of the Dutch. The owners of my favourite places still remember me and ask when I am coming back. My answer to that question raises some uneasy feelings from within. Especially when 'something' is leaking to your downstairs neighbours apartment.

As always, I have collected together a few shots from last week below. The bronze sculptures are from the Museum Beelden aan Zee (Museum at the Sea) and the outside exhibition of  (by Tom Otterness). It's really worth looking around if you are ever there. Click the thumbnails for the large images :-)

 

 

 

Landscape Photography

While drinking my morning tea and sifting through my RSS feed I came across a very good instructional post from PetaPixel this morning:

"10 Ways to Become a Better Landscape Photographer in the Next Year"

At least two of the ten tips struct a chord with me:

#4 Stop caring about success of other photographers: For some reason I find validation in the number of likes I get on Instagram. Finding validation on any form of social media is quite possibly the most moronic thing that I have ever done and will be something that I will be working on getting away from in the next year! 

#10 Always try to find something extra in your photograph: It's not always something I do and I think I have become a bit formulaic in the way I have been shooting of late, taking photographs that could have been taken by anybody instead of shooting something that I see.

The post is written by Albert Dros (a Dutch photographer) and his shots really are amazing and definitely worth aspiring to. He also has tutorials and a blog on his site that is well worth spending time with.