Last week, I posted a series of photo’s from Dordrecht’s historic harbours. Here some pictures of a lovely shop front I came across on my way from the water ferry to the harbours. The sign ‘Vleeschhouwerij’ indicates that this antique shop used to be a butcher shop. The current owner kept the little sign by the entrance stating that dogs are not welcome. The law does not allow for them to enter a butcher shop.
With all their travelling abroad, the Dutch sometimes forget how much their own country has to offer. The historic harbours of Dordrecht are definitely among those gems.
The combination of waterways and old buildings is captivating, I think. It is probably what draws so many people to the Dutch cities of Amsterdam, Leiden, Utrecht, Delft and Dordrecht.
Be sure to look up every now and then: the facade of the old buildings often has beautiful decorations.
This warehouse on the Kuipershaven (Cooper’s Harbour), dating from 1658, is (still) looking magnificent.
Kuipershaven (Cooper’s Harbour).
Wijnhaven (Wine Harbour).
Some nautical details.
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).
The 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.
The ‘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.
Part of the central fort has been restored, part was left dilapidated. You can see this divide over the main entrance.
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.
You can find this little lane sheltered by old lindens in Vaassen (The Netherlands). It’s called ‘Kersendijkje’, Cherry dyke. (No idea though where that name came from. You won’t find any cherry trees along this dyke). The lane is right next to Cannenburgh Castle. I was told many teenagers in this village share their first kiss under these trees. It does make sense: the lane is totally sheltered from spying eyes. I just love the way the trees are leaning.
A single pine tree in a sea of heather creates a strong contrast. It’s a great sight, even in spring, when the shrubs are not in their prime.
Heather fields, little lakes, forest, and blue skies: great ingredients for a hike around the Renderklippen, a nature reserve in the Netherlands.
Trees with young leaves display a range of colours.
Fields full of tulips are a joy to behold. In several provinces in the Netherlands, the colourful fields stretch as far as the eye can see.
At the beginning of a row, you’ll often see a knotted net. The tulip bulbs are planted in nets as this makes it easier to harvest them, especially in areas where the soil is more clay-like than sandy.
Sooner or later a stowaway shows its true colours.
Around the end of April, farmers are taking the flowerheads off: they are topping the tulips. In this way, the bulbs grow bigger before they are harvested during the summer months. Not all flowers are chopped off, though. Between the green stems, a fair number of tulips come into bloom. They were too small when the others were topped.
This morning I wanted to open the curtains to a snowy white world. My sister did, in the Netherlands. But no luck here in Oxford.
So, I went back to a day in February 10 years ago when I had a wonderful walk from my house to Paleis het Loo. While it was snowing.