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Het Elfde Gebod

It was cold this weekend, but we still fancied to go to the beach for a stroll. With a friend of ours we took the car to Noordwijk, and walked into the wind. It did not take long for us to get cold, really cold. After some pictures of sea gulls, and the beach, we turned around and walked towards the boulevard - in desperate need of some warm chocolate... So a stop at the Elfde Gebod became a necessity... The interior with stain glass windows is very nice, the food is usually great, and this time the warm chocolate after our cold walk was delicious.

In 2008 we were in Washington DC, and had the opportunity to visit the Smithsonian National Zoo. The Smithsonian Institution includes many museums and the zoo, in the DC area and New York, and all have free entrance - we visited the Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of the American Indian, and of course the zoo. We would have liked to have more time to visit others as well, but that gives us a good reason to go back some day. And if you do get the chance to visit Washington, please add some time to your schedule to visit these museums - they are well worth it!

SONY DSC

Yesterday one of the pandas in the zoo made headlines and was trending on the internet, because he was rolling around in the huge amount of snow that was dropped on the East coast. What a contrast with the Tian Tian we saw in 2008! Back then he was really lazy and relaxing in the shade and would hardly lift a paw. Admittedly, it was 28 C when we were there, and hardly the time to run around and play... 

Texel Lighthouse

Two weeks ago we spent the weekend on the Texel, the largest of the Wadden Islands, in the north of the Netherlands. Not just did we see the arrival of Sinterklaas and his Zwarte Pieten, we also visited Eveline. The weather was bad, with lots of wind and rain, some hail and snow... Really cold at moments. But overall we have a wonderful stay, with a nice dinner, good company, and beers from Texel.

However, the cold(er) weather did not stop us from a 10k hike across the west part of the island on Sunday, through the dunes of the Texel National Park, and along the Slufter - an area that has an open connection with the North Sea, so the tides regulate the water level in the slufter. We were very lucky to have a couple of hours with very little rain. Climbing one of the dunes, gave this great panoramic view of the slufter.

The slufter - Texel

I was asked to present some of my photo's, for a small exposition, next November - very exciting, of course, but also a lot of work... Browsing through my library of photos I am making a larger selection, and am now filtering - not sure how I will end up with just ten photos... :-).

It is interesting to go through your work and revisit images, think about the shots, the way you initially processed them, etc. Should do that more often!

Old MannThe Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye.

One of the photos that I know I will have in my final selection for the exposition, is the one below - I still like the dramatic cloudy sky and scene, suitable for one of the oldest castles in Scotland. Just tweaked it a little now, but this is more or less the way it was after processing a number of years ago...

Eilean Donan CastleMost photographed castle of Scotland

Since its first edition in 1975, SAIL Amsterdam has grown to become the largest public event in the Netherlands and the largest free nautical event in the world. Every five years, in excess of 600 ships navigate along the North Sea Canal before mooring in and around the IJ-haven in Amsterdam. The ninth edition of SAIL Amsterdam takes place from 19 to 23 August 2015.

Today, the first day of the event, was the so-called Sail-In parade: a line-up of all ships sailed from IJmuiden to Amsterdam through the Noordzee canal. From the Hostnet office we had a wonderful view of all the ships passing by.

SAIL 2015Largest nautical event in Europe - Amsterdam, Netherlands

A few weeks ago we were surprised with a real summer storm... Gales of 9 Beaufort tipped a lot of trees, and damaged a lot of houses, cars, etc. That day we had planned to visit friends, who were staying on a camp site near Idzega, Friesland, up north in the Netherlands. We were looking forward to a lovely day, with some sightseeing, and drink some beers. Instead we were hanging on the poles of their tent, trying to prevent it from going sky-high. For over three hours had a great time together :-).

Other people were not so lucky to get through the storm without damage, with a number of tunnel tents being blown to the ground, poles broken, and everytime being wet... Once the storm settled down a bit, they were forced to pack their stuff, and leave for home.

With the storm more or less gone, the clouds opened up, and we were presented with a beautiful sunset. 

Frisian sunsetAfter the storm, near Idzega.

Every now and then, either with friends (from abroad) we go and enjoy sights in our own country. A while a go, we took some very nice peep's from the 'Burgh to Volendam. Even though this is a very touristy place to go to, we went there off-season, so it was not that crowded - still, they insisted on going to one of the local photographers and put some of the local costumes on and have their picture taken... And the sun was out, so what else could we wish for, on a day in February...?

Enkhuizen is a lovely city up north... Yesterday we took our friend Tim W. sightseeing through a part of the Netherlands. After stopping at Muiderslot, and seeing the castle, we decided to drive through Flevoland, the land we claimed from the sea, and across the dike through the Markermeer towards Enkhuizen, were we stopped for a walk and some icecream...

We walked along the harbour and towards the famous 'Dromedaris' (dromedary). No clue why the beautiful tower is called like this - will have to look that up... During our stroll around the old city, we spotted a few street and alley names, we found difficult to translate to English to Tim... Not sure what Google Translate would make of this, but you may try it yourselves... :-)

A few weeks ago we went hiking in the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen, in the dunes south of Haarlem and Zandvoort, created to supply drinking water for the city of Amsterdam. With a size of 34 square kilometer it is the largest hiking area in the Netherlands. To protect it only hikers are allowed, but instead of having to stay on the trails, they can freely wherever they want.

We walked for a couple of hours and were surprised by the number of deer and other wild life running freely through the park. And closer than you would expect: these deer above, however were very anxious when we came closer, and in the end ran away scared.

It is fun to have friends from abroad, visiting and staying for a while. Not just because they are here and their great company, but also because you more or less become a tourist in your own country, by showing them what our country has to offer. So, you go places you have not been for a while, or as this past week, to a place we had never been before - or even did not know it existed...

Never seen castle de Haar before, and never knew we had such a wonderful castle in the Netherlands. 

We ended up taking a tour around the castle, and learned about its history, the way people used to live here, and that it actually still being used today. Every summer the family who used to own the castle stay here for a couple of months... 

Who knew today was Bald Eagle Appreciation Day...? Not me, until I read it this morning. Brings back memories of a birds of prey photo shoot a few years ago... Up, close and personal with these beautiful birds... What a great experience.

Bald EagleAfter having his lunch, posing for a picture

After a few days with lots of rain, and cold winds from the East, today was a beautiful day, with clear blue skies for most part of the day. Sunset was early around 16:27, while we took a detour home across the Markwaarderdijk towards Enkhuizen. It was already dark when we got home, but the night's sky was clear, and the full moon was shining bright down on us. So, after dinner it was time to get the camera out of the bag...

MoondanceWell, it's a marvelous night for a Moondance... (from Moondance - Van Morrison)

These past few days we have been on a brief holiday in Norway. We were invited to stay with friends in a mountain cabin, a couple of hours driving northwest of Oslo. With a great view on the mountains, and lakes in the area, we immediately were in awe of this country. These few days have been so amazing, with nice discussions, wonderful wines and the tastes of great Norwegian food like rakfisk, rømmegrøt and lefse. Without internet access, television, it was so quiet and peaceful up there, that you could really hear the sound of silence... At night the stars were out and we had a clear view of the milky way. The weather has been exceptionally, with sunny skies, and just a couple of showers, that we were able to enjoy the country on all days. The landscape is spectacular, the people are so friendly, that we already decided that one day we will go back :-).

Church in UlnesAfter a somewhat cloudy day, the sky cleared up, and when we drove past the lake, looking back, we had to stop to take this picture of the church.
View towards Helin lake
Borgund stave church

This past Sunday, friends of ours invited us to attend the 28th Day of the Romantic Music, a free open-air one day festival in Rotterdam. There was lot's of music, dance, and of course good food and drinks. After a week of autumn-like weather, this afternoon temperatures were high, and we enjoyed the sunshine. Our friend was asked to bring his beautiful Lipizzaner horse Neapolitano "Nap" Elvira, for a demonstration. Nap really seemed to enjoy himself, and the crowd showed their appreciation by applauding loudly after the show had ended - a well deserved applause, I would say! It was too bad that we had to leave early - the atmosphere in the park was great, and we would have loved to stay a bit longer...

Neapolitano "Nap" ElviraDay of the Romantic Music, Rotterdam, with Atjan Hop and Nap

This past month (and a bit more) our family from Vancouver stayed with us for their summer holiday. Talking to them, brought back many memories of our own visits to BC, and the wonderful sights there. Earlier this week, while talking to a colleague, we talked about the trip we made driving north to south through the Canadian Rockies. The mountains, the rivers and lakes were truly spectacular. A good reason to review some of the images captured there.

Athabasca FallsOne of the most powerful waterfalls in the Canadian Rockies, AB, Canada

What also was spectacular to see, was the (still) huge Athabasca Glacier. Even though it is currently receding over 5 meters each year, the massive amount of ice was something I had never seen before. Driving towards the glacier, it was sad to see the road signs with years on them, indicating where the tongue of the glacier stretched in what year - the fact that the road signs started with years on them, that were decades apart, up to signs that were merely years apart, clearly showed us what global warming is doing to our planet...

Athabasca GlacierIn the middle of the Canadian Rockies, we stopped to see the spectacular Athabasca Glacier.

During the Word Cup Soccer in Brazil, while on one channel you could watch soccer all night, one of the other TV channels broadcasted detectives, for those people not fond of soccer. Especially the Swedish detective series were excellent, and we watched many. Yes, you may conclude that we do not like soccer that much :-).

One of the series was Inspector Huss, about a female Detective Inspector Irene Huss, solving the murders in Goteborg, Sweden. In each episode there was one or two occasions, where a helicopter or plane was used to get some aerial shots of the city. In many of these shots the harbour was shown, and immediately recognisable was the red and white harbour building, that I photographed a number of years ago, while in Goteborg for a conference.

About to sail away from the harbour in Goteborg
In front of St. Paul's CathedralLady at the base of the statue of Queen Anne, in front of St. Paul's Cathedral.

While in London, I was walking along St. Paul's Churchyard, towards the front of St. Paul's Cathedral, when this lady looked down on me. With three other ladies, she was sitting at the base of a larger statue, which I learned later was (a replica of a statue of) Queen Anne. The figures at the base, the four ladies represented England, France, Ireland, and North America, all countries Queen Anne thought she was queen of. I am not sure which of these countries this lady represents though...

It had nothing to do with the reason for me being in London, last Saturday, but on previous visits I have never seen so many bicycles in London! And everyone was clearly dresses for the occasion...

The Tweed RunLondon, May 17th, 2014. While walking through London, i came across this bicycle ride

What I learned later was that this bike ride was called The Tweed Run: "A Metropolitan Bicycle Ride with a Bit of Style", as the participants label it themselves. Over five hundred bikes, from old to new, and the etiquettes state that "proper attire is expected". Typically British, but great fun to watch, blocking traffic as they passed by through the streets. Prized were available for the participants - Best Vintage Bicycle, and of course Best Moustache prize – "open to both men and women, of course". Haha, don't you love British humour! 

Night time in the PittDowntown Pittsburgh PA, USA, shot late in the evening

On May 22, it will be 5 years ago that our good friends in Pittsburgh got married. It was a privilege for me to shoot their wedding - thinking about the wedding brings back great memories of a beautiful day. We have been there a number of times, and during one of our visits I could not resist the opportunity to take a few shots from a viewpoint near Fairview Ave. The location was perfect for a great view of downtown Pittsburgh. What a night!

Castlerigg Stone CircleIn Cumbria, close to Keswick, this stone can be found - one of 40 stones, making up the Castlerigg Stone Circle

Last summer during our holidays in the Lake District and Wales, in the UK, we visited Keswick and the surrounding area. On our way back to our rented cottage, we stopped at the Castlerigg Stone Circle - according to some the most beautiful stone circle in the UK. These 40 stones were supposed to be set up around 3200 BC, and the tallest stone is about 2.3 metres high. The heaviest stone weighing about 16 tons. 

It was a beautiful day and the views of the area were spectacular. It was impossible to get the complete circle in one shot - not just because of the size of the circle and not one location to get a good view of the whole circle, but also because of the number of people walking in and around the stones. So getting one or just a few stones in a shot was the best option.