Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Annals of learning (1).... schools of art

One of the favourite new destinations of outdated school buildings seems to be the reuse as artists' ateliers
At a tour in Leiden some of these buildings could be visited. Some were almost unchanged from the times as i remember when i first went to school
decorations in the staircase
and of course motivating biblical citations....

Annals of the dead (6) .... the forgotten sign

Between Leiden and Voorschoten, along the canal called Vliet, is an abandoned industrial building. Next to the rusty door is a sign "Hans van Niekerk, Oud 7 jaar, 1. juni 1966". There is no other explanation. What happened? Was a child killed in an accident or drowned in the nearby canal?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Annals of transportation (8).... truely lifeless

Remember 1984? One of the view places truly devoid of any life is probably the latest container terminal in Rotterdam harbour. All the cranes and trucks are moved automatically by sensors in the ground and chips in the containers. Even for maintenance, the trucks go to shed automatically. The only thing done by hand is to drive the trucks which deliver the containers into a siding where they can be reached by the cranes. And there the misfortune starts: on average three times a day the truck driver forgets to uncouple the containers from his truck and the truck is lifted up together with the container and - if he stays in the cabin - the mindless driver himself ....
And other unforeseen things happen.... the barrier visible in the water behind is for blocking oil form MSC Nikita. The container ship collided with another one in the North Sea and was so badly damaged that it had to be towed into the harbour, carefully unloaded to prevent it from breaking apart (lower picture on the right) and is being scrapped later

Sunday, September 13, 2009

annals of justice.... (5) dordrecht city hall

On the top floor of the city hall of Dordrecht, Netherlands, these cells were used in the 18th century to detain culprits. The famous Houdini, chained naked into one of the cells, however, managed to free himself in only a couple of minutes....
Unfortunately, the cells also did not detain these members of the magistrate, who decided, in 1962, to sacrifice big parts of a more or less completely preserved medieval city to the automotive folly. One of the buildings to be destroying would have been Dordrecht's biggest church or at least its steeple, which was in a state of disrepair. With 36m, its ship is only one meter shorter than Notre Dame in Paris and the space would have made for a nice parking lot....
The church contains the last completely preserved choir stalls of the Netherlands which are beautifully carved after etchings of Albrecht Duerer, Hans Sebald Behaim and others
The churchmen were seated on chairs carved with children fighting each other or a drunk imprisoned in a wooden block Fortunately, the madmen were stopped in 1972. Although a lot of damage was done by then, 1000 registered monuments and countless other historic buildings survived. 59 of them were open to visit last weekend. The magistrate now fights with the legacy of the damages planned in only 10 years between 1962 and 1972. Cornelis and Johan de Witt can look down on their city with pride

Friday, August 21, 2009

Annals of the dead (5)..... The forgotten dead

This cemetery near Pembroke, Wales, is slowly recovered by nature
Why are these people forgotten?

annals of transportation (7).... Dartmouth lower ferry

The River Dart lower ferry connects Kingswear Station with Dartmouth It is one of three ferries crossing the Dart estuary close to DartmouthThere are records of ferry services at this point of as early as 1365
The ferry is a floating platform which is connected to a tug boat.
At each departure from the slipway, the tugboat has to disconnect and turn around
All the traffic has to pass the narrow streets of Kingswear and Dartmouth before reaching the ferry.
The higher ferry was recently replaced by a new, efficient boat. The old paddler rusts at its mooring upriver
A third ferry takes pedestrians to the other side

Monday, July 6, 2009


Arm of a lifting bridge, delft, netherlands

Friday, June 19, 2009

Never trust airline food....

Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam

the benefits of green energy (3)..... moorish fridge

The mountains in the Sierra Transmuntana on the Spanish Island of Mallorca are full of these former snow-houses built by the moors. They were used to collect snow, compress it and afterwards bring it down to be used for cooling. Of course they were abandoned long before these mountains ran out of sufficient amounts of snow....

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Annals of the dead (4).... Johannisfriedhof Dresden

Unlike the majority of other German cemeteries, the Johannisfriedhof in Dresden boasts of a lot of impressive grave monuments which are testimonies of the fact that this once was one of Germany's richest cities
A sculpturer's grave...
The images of respectable dead men are so serious that they seem to contradict the statements of love and affection left by the descendants
But the most remarkable is this grave, which actually features the relief of a half-naked woman
And I discovered that there actually is a kind of cemetery tourism of people travelling to cities to look and collect photos of graves of famous people.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Reminders of the great days of railroading (5) ..... the last Saxonian narrow gauge railroads

In 1884, the German kingdom of Saxonia started to built a network of narrow gauge railroads, that with a length of 561 km eventually connected the remote little towns to the main railroad lines
At the time of German reunification, six lines were still operating... in a state not very much different from when they were opened
Two of the remaining lines are just outside Dresden. They operate daily and can be used by regular passengers for their daily needs
Although reconstructed several times, this type of engine first was a big progress when first introduced into service in 1899....
On my trip, the engine had to stop and use its water pump to extinguish a bush fire caused by an earlier train. If it is a nice day and you prefer to travel on the open platform of the coaches, you will find back the cinders all over you - and in your eyes if you did not watch out.
Working a steam engine is hard, dirty work in a hot, narrow cabin. Nevertheless, on the old pictures you will never find an engineer not wearing a white shirt and tie!
First the coal has to be shovelled onto the bunker of the engine, and later another time onto the fire.... Bigger engines are loaded by crane
After work the ordeal is not finished: the ashes have to be removed, the many moving parts have to be oiled, the fire has to be rearranged. Imagine the air in those times when in some places 100 of these engines were in one depot....