Foto’s

Puffed up and nowhere to go (Or: Pigeons basking in the sun)

Today’s photo is from Marco, taken earlier this month. It shows a flock of pigeons enjoying a bit of sun in The Hague:

He said they didn’t really move. They just sat there, puffing out their chests and (presumably) enjoying a rare moment of sunshine. By the locks of it they were smart enough not to go into the street and smart enough to stay out of the bike path (marked in red).

Just sitting there. Doing nothing. Sounds nice, right?

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Plans for het Spuiplein (Or: Lots of green)

The Hague has presented its tentative plan for how the Spuiplein will be transformed once all of the construction is complete in a few months. First, here is a reminder of how much area the construction is taking up in front of Amare, the building in the back:

It will be good once we can have all that space back. If you are less familiar with layout of The Hague, here is a look at where Spuiplein is in relation to city hall and the central library. The Hague has released an artist’s impression of how the area will look:

Translated it reads: “A plaza with green, water, sitting areas, benches and places for small events. This is how the Spuiplein will look occurring to the first proposal”. Between the green and the benches will be a long water basin (pictured above). There will also be open places to allow small events like street theatres, musical performances from university students, ballet or a movie in the open air.

Of course, the building (Amare) still needs to be delivered. Haags stadsbestuur dreigt met boete als bouwer Amare opleverdatum niet haalt from omroepwest.nl. In other words, The Hague is threatening to fine the builder of the Amare if they don’t deliver the building on time to the city (1 July 2021). …opps?

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Thorbecke monument (Or: 2021 adds a face mask)

The Thorbecke monument on the Lange Voorhout has recently received a new addition:

Interesting that only one of them is wearing a face mask…

This monument is actually made up of two parts: the modern stainless steel part (pictured above) and a marble part (not pictured) where J.R. Thorbecke, a 19th century Dutch statesman is actually shown. The two parts are supposed to represent the 19th century Thorbecke’s influence on our times. See also this page from angloinfo.com for more information in English.

In other news – what does the main train provider (NS) do when storks (a protected species in the Netherlands) build their nest above the train tracks? Answer: not much once the eggs are laid. Ooievaarsnest op bovenleidingportaal vormt brandgevaar, maar mag niet weggehaald worden from omroepwest.nl in Dutch. The same thing happened in 2020 in a different part of the Netherlands (article from dutchnews.nl in English).

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Hail with a bit of snow (Or: Crazy weather in The Hague)

Cold weather is definitely on the menu the last few days. Days after historic warmth, Europe braces for shocking blast of cold, snow from washingtonpost.com.

I wouldn’t call what we got “lots of snow” per se, more a mix of hail and slush. Heavy on the hail part.

It is sort of weird weather where it is dozens of tiny storms flashing across the country, so you might have 2 minutes of hail, then 45 minutes of nothing and grayish skies, 5 minutes of vibrant blue skies and then another 2 minutes of hail. I was woken up early this morning at 03:45 to extremely loud hail smashing against the window. Marco slept through it all, of course!

The cold arctic blast also means that when the clouds disappear, you get to see lovely blue skies. Briefly. For a moment. See also this tweet:

Kind of cool if you ask me.

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Stone work by the Binnenhof (Or: Art at every corner)

Here is a look at one of the stone decorations in the Binnenhof:

You know the Netherlands has a lot of rain when even the art references it. (I kid, I kid. It doesn’t rain THAT much.)

And a zoomed out photo:

Unfortunately Binnenhof will be undergoing renovations later this year that are projected to last 5 years (article from nu.nl in Dutch). Five years of not being able to walk in this area seems rather long. The other option was to do the construction in stages so that the Tweede Kamer (House of Representatives) wouldn’t have to temporarily move elsewhere. While that option might have been cheaper it would have meant construction would last 12 years…

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Keep to the right (Or: Spray painted measures in The Hague’s city centre)

The Hague has replaced the “keep to the right” stickers on the Grote Markt with spray painted versions. Well, the old stickers are still there but most of them are half torn off or trampled. So “replaced” is probably not the most accurate description.

The photo above was taken at the Grote Markt, just before Bijenkorf (so just before this photo which I posted over the weekend).

In other news…

Groninger Museum to celebrate stolen Van Gogh painting a year after the theft from nltimes.nl. The special website (with facts and background information about the painting) will launch tomorrow.

Ever Given sets course for Rotterdam after six-day Suez blockade ends from dutchnews.nl. 400 meter ship gets stuck in the Suez canal at a part that was only 300 meter wide. 6 day blockade occurs. Opps? Interesting fact: most of the ships that were stuck behind this one were also destined for the Rotterdam port, meaning there are three delays: waiting for the ship to get unstuck, waiting to get through the Suez canal, and waiting to get unloaded at the port in Rotterdam.

No more free plastic bags in fresh produce section of Albert Heijn from nltimes.nl. That makes sense. I am only surprised it took so long. I already have a reusable bag for fruits and vegetables – Albert Heijn has sold them along side the free plastic bags for a few years now – but sometimes it is easier to use a plastic bag (especially when you get two types of things that both need to be weighed).

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Appointment required (Or: Line to enter Bijenkorf)

This morning I took a photo of the line to enter Bijenkorf, a high-end department store. There weren’t too many people in line yet – it was only 11:00 – but there was a large amount of space roped off on the Grote Markt shopping street.

The not-quite-readable sign says “Welcome! Access only allowed with appointment. Scan the QR-code to make an appointment.” (QR codes have definitely become more popular during the corona crisis.) In the Netherlands you need to make an appointment at least 4 hours in advance. Non-essential stores can have 1 person per 25 square meters, with a maximum of 50 shoppers in the store at one time.

The sculpture is called “Veelhoofd” (Many heads) and it was created by Joep van Lieshout. The art in The Hague’s city centre moves around a lot – the sculpture was initially installed on the Spui (stroom.nl, in English) around the corner back in 2010.

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Fridays for future (Or: Demonstration in The Hague’s city centre)

Marco took a photo of the “Fridays for Future” demonstration last Friday in The Hague’s city centre. Fridays for Future is an international climate movement (English Wikipedia).

The demonstration took place in the Hofplaats, right next to the Constitution bench I have blogged about a few times.

The Hofplaats is really close to both the Tweede Kamer and the Binnenhof. Off in the left corner of the photo is the “secret” entrance to the Binnenhof which I blogged about earlier this year.

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A new use for the PostNL location (Or: Amazing Oriental)

The last independent PostNL (national postal service) location closed in October, here in The Hague. Nowadays PostNL locations are kiosks within larger stores, usually managed by that store’s employees. After a while Amazing Oriental moved in. Amazing Oriental is a national Asian grocery store with a handful of locations in The Hague and surrounding area. They have a lot of great stuff – we’re usually there at least once a week. Marco is like a kid in a candy store in that shop…

Yesterday we visited the old PostNL location, across from the Grote Kerk (“Big Church”). While I was waiting for Marco to finish his shopping inside I snapped this photo:

As usual, lots of bikes. Also an orange post drop off box on the left. Even if PostNL doesn’t have a location here anymore, it is still a drop off point for mail. Although even those are disappearing or getting consolidated these days.

Fun fact: there used to be a 48 meter lang painting by Escher (Metamorphosis III) hanging in the PostNL location from 1969 until 2018, when it was moved to Schiphol airport. See also Escher in Het Paleis, the official Escher museum (website in English). The page also includes a film about moving the artwork to the airport.

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Random news for a Monday (Or: Brexit and cars stuck on train trucks)

From last week: Demand for gardeners shoots up as coronavirus turns gardens into refuges, dutchnews.nl. Makes sense, since most of us are spending all of our time at home these days. Apparently gardeners are already fully booked for April and May. Of course you first need space for a garden…

Brexit deficit: Dutch shops in a pickle over British favourites, also at dutchnews.nl. I have seen this first hand, with empty fridges at Kelly’s Expat Shopping, over on Zoutmanstraat in The Hague. Their fresh meat and cheese options have definitely been hit hard since Brexit went into force at the beginning of the year.

But I did snag some liquid French Vanilla coffee-mate for Marco. That stuff is like gold – it’s only in stock once or twice a year, so you have to be fast.

Apparently a minor was waiting in the car and somehow it went into reverse, crashing through a gate and ending up directly on the train tracks. Opps?

And, not really Dutch related at all, but if you want to try your hand at choosing the next set of Monopoly community chests cards, Hasbro is running a contest to refresh the set: Monopoly cards get complete new makeover from nltimes.nl. You will see two community chest cards at a time. You pick the one you like more and then another set appears. Here is a direct link to the contest at monopolycommunitychest.com. Think of things like: “You rescue a puppy–and you feel rescued too! Get out of jail free card” versus “Your friends video chat you through a tough day. Get out of jail free card”. In honor of these strange corona times I went with the second option.

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