Two Dutch Girls on a Road Trip to Wiltshire

Road Trip 2017 (2) - Richmond to Chawton to Salisbury.

Good afternoon! Would you like to join me for the second part of my road trip in the South-West of England? A long time wish of my daughter...

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Haikus - Ancient Japanese Poetry Gone Modern

Dysfunctional mess

Sad brown eyes beseeching me

Do NOT judge me, please

If you follow me on Twitter (@ReneeRays) you'll know that I tend to post Haikus on all kinds of subjects.
Many of the poets I follow or whose tweets I come across do as well. Some stick to the ancient art form (nature).
But for me the challenge is to catch my thoughts and put them in a 5,7,5 scheme, making the haikus follow my thought patterns.

There is another poetry form from Japan, called Tanka. It has a similar rhyme scheme:
So far I have not tried this, but today my gut tells me I should. So: can I bend my Haiku into a Tanka? Let's find out.

Dysfunctional mess

Sad brown eyes beseeching me

Do NOT judge me, please

I too have my pride, you see

and I will pretend I am strong
That wasn't too hard.
Perhaps I'll switch to Tankas from time to time.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Goedereede - Sleepy Little Gem on Goeree

As a cycling enthusiast I frequently take myself on a trip - and yesterday I visited our neighboring island of Goeree and a charming little town called Goedereede.

Goedereede means 'good place to moor your boat', not unimportant when you live on an island... Nowadays this part of Goeree is sleepy and still largely agricultural, and something tells me this was no different a century, or centuries, ago.
To get to Goedereede from Hellevoetsluis, you need to cross the Haringvlietdam, part of the Deltawerken which protect the (my!) island of Voorne from the water.

This means your leg muscles get a proper workout, as there is always wind and it usually blows straight in from the North Sea... But despair not! Just across, down below from the dyke and cycle path on your left, there is a fish&chips shack selling wonderful fries (open on a Sunday too, which is rather special on this predominantly Dutch Reformed island)!

To get to Goedereede, take the cycle path towards Stellendam, and just across the draw bridge veer to the right, and go under the motorway, follow the path to Havenhoofd and then left along the canal. It is only 5 kms and you have the sturdy church of Goedereede to guide you.

Just before you enter the village, you pass this house on your right, on the Kinderdijk. Intrigued by a plague on the wall I stopped, and found out this was the local Dyer's Madder mill.
The what??? It's 'Meekrap' in Dutch, and I had vaguely heard about it, but had to look it up. Here goes: Madder, or Rubia tinctorum, is a plant with tiny yellow star-like flowers (hence  Rubia), originally from Asia, but (and this is the part I really like!) stolen around 1747 from dyers in France and brought to Goeree. Apparently the Goeree soil was perfect for growing it, and an entire industry evolved. First they used horses to extract the alizarin (red dye) from the roots and later a machine (steam, probably). And then, suddenly around 1880, the entire industry collapsed because this gorgeous red dye could be produced synthetically.

Goedereede is lovely. It is dominated by a huge church tower, its design typical for this part of the Zuid-Hollandse islands (there is one just like this in Brielle, in Nieuw-Helvoet and again in Veere in Zeeland). There used to be a lighthouse glass on top, for warning the ships about the treacherous sand banks which still litter this coast.
But it also has a quaint little harbour, a nice market place with some restaurants and narrow practically unspoiled streets.

If you are, like me, the Bourgondian type, make sure you taste the local Stellendam shrimp. They are the best in the world!!! Tiny, but tasty. And fresh from the sea. I had some with a nice glass of dry white and enjoyed myself tremendously before pedaling on.

Don't let my photos fool you as to the number of tourists who have found their way to this part of the Netherlands. I chose my moments to take them! Especially older folk are on the cycle paths on a Sunday, and sometimes this can test your (at least my!) patience as they seem to think they own them. But hey, when the sun is shining, and you enjoy the gorgeous Goeree landscapes, who is complaining?

 This last photo is from the cycle path on my own island of Voorne, by the way. It illustrates my own private name for my part of the Netherlands - The Wetlands. Wet as in 'lots of water everywhere' and wet as in 'plenty of rain all the time'. So when you come for a cycle tour, do as us locals do: never mind the weather and bring a mac. You won't be sorry!!!

* All photos ©RenĂ©e Koopman
* Stellendam shrimp enjoyed on the terrace of 't Sas.
* Cycle Tour maps available from the local VVV (approx. €7,00) or use Google maps and use my route for free (I would): Hellevoetsluis - Stellendam - Havenhoofd - Goedereede and then back to Hellevoetsluis via de Kwaade Hoek. Signposted everywhere!