Thursday, June 25, 2015

A few snapshots of the Nederlands

No wasting of elastic bands by the Dutch Posties. For many years I have followed behind the Filey ones and retrieved  bands from the pavements , much to the horror of my husband . 

We have taken our lives into our hands here in Amsterdam. I have had to lead spouse by the hand so that he would not be the cause of a bicycle pile up by standing right in the paths of the thousands of vehicles here. If you can call them vehicles that is. From our window we can see the ferries in tandem  crossing the Rhine east to west and west to east. As soon has they dock, hundreds of Dutch cyclists look like vast  spidery rivers of ants flowing into the roads. Yes the metaphors are mixed but I just can't find any better way of describing the sight. It has been  a huge worry for us. C lost part of his vision after a stroke, and Amsterdam is the most dangerous place he has ever negotiated. I have had to steer him out of the paths of Trams in Basel,Old ladies with dogs in Paris , prams in Filey , and now Bicycles.

The churches here all seem to tower above the city, like the landmarks of its  twin in Lincolnshire and my own native Holderness .We have only managed to visit the Westerkirk , whose bells could be heard by Anne Frank hidden  nearby. It is remarkable inside for its blatant Protestantism , but manages to have one of the most elaborate votive candle racks I have ever seen, whose inspiration , so they could get away with it was the Burning bush.  I do love exuberance.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Next time I escort my spouse around Europe I shall be all prepared . Thanking God for universal signage is my first Gloria . The most welcome signs are
  • Lift.      I urge all fellow travellers to learn this one and the next one as

    they are both welcome and necessary . Who remembers the station at York before lifts were obvious and for public use. Years of carrying luggage up the steps after the demise of the Porter used to make me dread a journey before it started. How could I as an able bodied under 60 even justify the need for Assisted travel. It was great when my sister Sue and I took our Aged parent to Iona in her wheelchair and used this service, it took all the angst out  for us. I marvel at the way 21st C travelling in Europe has been greatly helped by LIFTS, and even the smallest towns now seem to have them at the Barnhof.
  • WC     This sign is linked to Lift as the 2 go together . For those with Additional needs, wheelchair or pushchair or walking frame , just finding a loo on the flat is a human right in  my mind. In Switzerland we have learned quickly to have a supply of 1 or 2 CHF ready for the entrance fee. We do not mind paying this at all as the WCs in Heidi Land are far better than the best of Scarborough. The free ones in the courtyard of Basels Town hall were welcome , and thanks to the signage we were able to have coffee in the Market Place sitting in the sunshine without worrying .  
  • Wheelchair Friendly  
    Speyer Cathedral
     this is the  new sign that I have been looking out for. It goes with the previous 2, but means no steps for my beloved, and in the case of the wonderful Speyer Cathedral , no heavy doors to open .  I did actually have to push C in a wheelchair for the first 3 days of our Rhine River trip . It was a learning curve for me , used only to pushing aged parent who weighs 6 Stone.The pushing was ok , but quaint cobbled streets defeated me , tram lines bewildered me and the prospect of rain made me realise I had not brought my own waterproof.
So Ive just managed Basel's tram system   .I didn't need signage . I knew where the trams were because I saw the tram lines . The numbers on the front of the trams referenced the map for me. It took me a little while to know which side of the track to stand .  I am now trying to find out where a bus stop is .

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Xylem of Nations

I have been travelling this amazing water system for 4 days now. The scenery on each bank of the Rhine is fascinating and in some places spectacular, and in some places it could just as well be the Thames or the Humber without the junk of course. No polythene bags here hanging from water level branches, no plethora of graffitied signage. For here on the German stretch of the river there are just enough signs for all the Mariners and voyagers to make sense of environment and its logistic possibilities. I wish I had known on Day 1 that the large numerals displayed were actually a Km apart, (should have worked that one out ) and tell of the distance from the source of the Rhine in Switzerland .
Sign 555
This one  555 is more interesting to me than the actual landmark it referenced for me( We had been told that after 555 was the Lorelei, the biggest damp squid of the journey ). I liked this sign with the triangles and am glad it was explained. It shows that on the narrow bend approaching that no other craft are near. 
So here I am aboard a river cruise with spouse who has gout and so can't go anywhere further that 50 m except in a wheelchair. He is so much better that he was 2 days ago. What an unexpected blessing really as he awaits major heart surgery and we are only on the trip by the Grace of God and the Ok from the cardiologist . The gout has made him rest, so thats how I am looking at it . There is so much to enjoy from sitting and looking , and as most of the other passengers are on the excursions we have the pick of seats in  all the public areas and unlimited food and  drinks and the kindness of strangers.
The river traffic is simply astounding . Just watching the barges full of grit , coal , sand and , wood and metal coils makes me realise how this is such an efficient way of transport . Bring back the better use of canals in the UK says I .
I look like my well travelled aunt and Godmother Alice Susan Bruce (1905-1986) in this photo, But it is my Aged Parent in Beverley who is the map person like me, and my late father Harold Gower Bruce(1910-1975) who would have liked the symbols on the maps,especially that all the Km number marks are on the Michelin Rhine ones. He would have loved the whole transport system . He would have been looking at the signage on all the river craft and working out where they were registered, where they were going and what they were carrying . My Master mariner forebears were Ocean goers, but I'm finding the river just fine Thank-You. (Bonus is that spouse is not queasy as he was on North Sea Ferries .This is gentle , with just the occasional back wash from fast boats. )So much is he enjoying himself that when he awoke this morning he said , Look we've got to 434!