Wordless Wednesday: Golden evening light over Oxford

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Orange clouds and red sun

It was the strangest of sights yesterday. From daybreak onwards, the clouds had an orange hue to them. As if a thunderstorm was continuously looming. Around midday, the sun was briefly visible and it was as red as you would expect it to be around sunset.

Apparently, the orange sky had to do with hurricane Ophelia raging over Ireland. In England, we had certainly no hurricane-like storm, but it was quite windy.

RedSky-3According to the BBC, dust particles in the air cause blue light to scatter, leaving longer-wavelength red light to shine through. The dust travelled a long way before it reached the West Midlands: it was brought in from the Sahara and the forest fires sweeping over Portugal and Northwest Spain.

RedSky-2Around 3 pm the clouds broke and the orange tint disappeared. But it returned in the clouds around sunset.

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Concrete cathedral

How rare a sight this is: A big, bold industrial building surrounded by nature. And these two not clashing, but creating something truly remarkable.Radio Kootwijk-1Radio Kootwijk is such a site I think. The radio station in art deco style -nicknamed The Cathedral- was built in the early 1920s and rises like a monolith from the open field. The grey concrete and purple heather shrubs create a strong contrast, especially by the end of August when the heather is in bloom.Radio Kootwijk-6

 

 

I took these pictures on a warm summer evening. The rays of sunlight were filtered by thin clouds. You could look right through the building. In the glass pane behind the wrought iron door, you can see the reflection of the nearby water tower.

On Open Monumentendag, the Dutch equivalent of England’s Heritage Open Days, the radio station is open to the public (free entrance). I find the inside of this building designed by architect Julius Luthmann (1890-1973) just as striking as the outside, especially the tiled floor in the main hall.

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From the tower, you have a wonderful view of the surrounding heath and woods.

 

 

The architect had a sphynx in mind when he designed the radio station. Especially from the back, the building gives the impression of a resting animal.

 

 

 

 

 

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Water as a weapon

It is well known that the Dutch have been trying to keep water out of their low-lying polders for centuries. At times though, they used water as a weapon against enemies.

The Dutch intentionally flooded polder sections via an intricate system of sluices, dykes and canals. The water level was carefully maintained at 40 centimeters: deep enough to hamper advance on foot and make sure canons get stuck in the mud, but shallow enough to prevent the use of boats (other than the flat bottomed gun barges the Dutch used in defence).

FortbijVechten-7The first ‘Hollandic Water Line‘, a continuous area of land that could be flooded lined by fortresses, was build in the first half of the 17th century. It provided an important line of defence against the French and protected the wealthy cities in the province of Holland, such as Amsterdam, Leiden and Delft.

FortbijVechten-6The ‘New Hollandic Water Line’ included Utrecht and Gorinchem, amongst others, in the area protected by water. Fort bij Vechten, south-east of Utrecht, is the second largest fortification in this extended line of defence. In 2018, the Dutch Government will put forward The New Hollandic Water Line for Unesco World Heritage status.

Since 2015, the barracks house the Waterliniemuseum.

 

Fort bij Vechten is a wonderful area to roam around for an afternoon. You stumble on a number of hidden buildings that have been used primarily for storage.

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Part of the central fort has been restored, part was left dilapidated. You can see this divide over the main entrance.

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The main corridor of the fort.

Two models of Fort bij Vechten – one lost its central stronghold…

 

At the advent of World War II, a large number of pillboxes were added to the earth and brick fortifications of the Water Line. But this line of defence proved outdated: German planes just flew over the fortresses and bombed the city of Rotterdam.

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Beautiful and deadly cliffs

Beachy Head is famous for its white chalk cliffs extending over 150 meters above sea level. They are beautiful, and deadly. Crosses near the cliff edge remind visitors of that fact.

Some people slip because they get too close to the edge. There are warning signs and a negligible fence made from a single wire, but only at the highest point.

Unfortunately, Beachy Head is a well-known location for suicide attempts. Organisations such as the Samaritans and the Beachy Head Chaplaincy patrol the cliffs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They reach out to people, encourage them to seek help, and often succeed in preventing suicide.

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