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…
Let’s see… last week was the 2021 Dutch elections. After that, talks started to form the government. Since there are so many parties in the Netherlands, you usually need more than one (or two or three) to get a majority in the Tweede Kamer (House of Representatives).
The two largest parties, VVD and D66, appointed one person each to speak with the remaining parties to see which party would be the best fit with the largest two parties. Fun fact: the word for this person is verkenner, which literally translates to “scout”. So good so far.
On Sunday the Junior economic affairs minister Mona Keijzer tested positive for corona (dutchnews.nl). At the time the cabinet was not required to go into quarantine because there was enough distance between the members. However they were strongly advised to get tested after 5 days.
This morning one of the scouts, the D66 home affairs minister Kajsa Ollongren, tested positive for corona just before she was supposed to have a meeting with Prime Minister Mark Rutte (VVD) and Sigrid Kaag (D66) regarding the progress they had made on the initial cabinet formation talks. However, right before the meeting she heard that she had tested positive for corona so she immediately left to go into quarantine.
However, in her haste to leave she accidentally showed her notes to the reporters outside:
Among other things, the notes talk about a minister who was critical of the outgoing cabinet, suggesting he should seek another position. It also talks the parties on the left acting independently of each other versus trying to band together. Within hours both of the verkenners resigned their roles and new verkenners were appointed (dutchnews.nl).
Questions also started to pop up about why the cabinet was still meeting in person and not holding more meetings digitally due to the positive test result over the weekend. Technically the cabinet is exempt from any advice to work from home, but now cabinet meetings will move online for the time being to reduce the risk of getting infected (nltimes.nl).
Last week I took another photo of the Ridderzaal, this time from behind. Mainly because I liked how the trees looked. Although I started to imagine how nice it would be to have leaves on them when Spring arrives…
In other news: Unilever woos diverse clientele by deleting ‘normal’ from packaging from dutchnews.nl. Unilever (English Wikipedia) started as a Dutch company all the way back in 1929, and had dual headquarters in both London and Rotterdam. However these days they are officially a British company. I think it is a good move to stop saying ‘normal hair’ or ‘normal skin’ since ‘normal’ can mean different things for different people.
Imagine: you are walking past the Hofvijver last week Friday when all the sudden a truck appears, backing up into the Hofvijver:
They back up slowly. Beep, beep, beep. As the hose is automatically lowered into the water, you start to wonder if they should even be there or if it is some evil plan to poison the water supply. Should you tell someone? The side of the truck reads Kaweco, but a Google search doesn’t give much help. Unless maybe it is a slurry tank from kaweco.com? Who knows. It is one of life’s minor mysteries.
This area is also public, of course. Not many people end up on this side, though. The Ridderzaal is most well known for Prinsesdag (Little Prince Day, English Wikipedia) in September where the King gives a speech from the Ridderzaal. You can read more about the Ridderzaal at the English Wikipedia page.
First off, the Dutch court of appeals have ruled that the curfew is indeed legal (article from nltimes.nl in English). Not that it mattered, since the Dutch government also pushed through a curfew law “the legal way” while waiting for the appeal to be heard. For the moment the curfew lasts until 15 March, though the number of cases has been going up for over a week so it might not be lifted at that time.
Today I decided to take a walk past the Tweede Kamer (Dutch House of Representatives). This is actually a very ordinary action to do, as the Tweede Kamer is right in the centre of the city and a lot of it is publicly accessible.
At the moment I’m standing on the Plein, with the statue of Willem of Orange behind me to the right (I wrote a blog post about him last week), looking at the one of the entrances to the Tweede Kamer. You can see a few military police agents and vehicles – this is perfectly normal. There are always military police if the Tweede Kamer is in session.
For the photo above I zoomed in. I assume you are allowed to take pictures but it is seems kind of rude. At least this way you get a sense of how they look without being able to recognize them. Normally I (and everyone, really) walk right past them, with the only difference being in corona times I try to keep my distance a bit more to be polite. But it is a public area and a public street, so it is fine to be there.
I also noticed that there was going to be a press conference in the Binnenhof, although I didn’t stick around to hear what it was about. There were gates set up and public waiting.
Normally I would walk from left to right (through the pictured gate) but since there was a potential press conference about to start I took a rarely used entrance instead to avoid people. I blogged about it some time ago.
Press conferences happen pretty frequently, so I don’t pay much attention. I do try to keep my distance and make sure I am behind the cameras, since it is possible to accidentally end up on the 20:00 national news in the background of a shot if you are walking around The Hague’s city centre.
My suspicions about a possible press conference were confirmed when a Red Bee media van pulled up. Although to be honest I have never heard of that company.
While browsing through NOS when I got back I saw that the press conference was with the Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate, reminding restaurant owners that they would not be able to open terraces and would be fined €4,000 if they did so. They are closed under the current corona measures (article on nos.nl in Dutch). The original image of the minister giving the press conference was replaced with a more generic image later, however.
And that’s a normal walk through The Hague’s city centre. Happy Friday, all.
Marco took some photos yesterday of the Hofvijver (the pond outside the Dutch parliament) beginning to freeze over.
Cool photo, huh?
Here is a look at the Hofvijver from the side of parliament:
Technically you’re allowed to ice skate on the Hofvijver (and a lot of people do), but it does raise some security concerns.
To prevent people from getting too close to the parliament, the part of ice next to the buildings is always deliberately broken.
Of course, a lot of people went through the ice yesterday. Check out this article in Dutch from regio15.nl (including photos and a video): Meerdere mensen door ijs gezakt Den Haag. In the afternoon, someone went through the ice and was rescued. Shortly thereafter a few more people went through the ice, so the rest of the skaters were told to wait on the island in the middle. Eventually they were led away by the firemen, mostly using ladders. Today The Hague has put fencing around the Hofvijver to prevent people from ice skating, but that really hasn’t stopped most people.
Today I took a walk in the area of Buitenhof and Plaats (English Wikipedia and Dutch Wikipedia, respectively). The city is currently in the middle of a two year redesign of the “Plaats” area (which literally translates to “Place”).
I must admit I was slightly confused by new stone walkway area extending from the pedestrian area into the road (and bike path):
It’s a bit hard to see with the wet stone, but the entire area is now the same height, with the road and bike path disappearing. Here is a look from a bit further away:
But that is the city’s plan for the area. The official page which mentions the work that is going on and how long it lasts (denhaag.nl, in Dutch) states: “Hiervoor wordt het straatniveau overal gelijkgemaakt en […] de route langs de Hofvijver blijft wel te gebruiken voor taxi’s en bestemmingsverkeer (bijvoorbeeld om winkels te bevoorraden, parkeergarages te bereiken of te laden en te lossen).” Or, in English: The street will be made the same height in all places and the street pictured above will only be opened to taxis or local traffic (to supply stores, to reach parking garages or to unload or load supplies).”
Therefore at some point there will be fewer cars in the area so it will be less of an issue. But it looks a bit weird at the moment.
However, why do they have to use stones that don’t dry as quickly? You can see the difference in the second photo, with the old stones already drying after the latest rainfall (which makes them less slippery).
It will be interesting to see how it looks once the construction finally finishes later this spring.
Have a look at what Marco and I had on Friday evening (the fries were self supplied):
Doesn’t that look delicious? That was one of the FOAM @ home options last Friday (Facebook link). The best part? The burger was actually a giant portbello mushroom. The rest of the ingredients were Asian inspired (an Asian guacamole, shredded carrots, and a coleslaw).
The bread rolls were from Lekkerbrood (Facebook link again) which translates to “Tasty bread”. And that it was.
Mysterie: Daarom staan er geen prullenbakken op het Binnenhof from indebuurt.nl. Mystery: Why are there no trash containers at the Binnenhof? Okay, I’ll admit I knew the answer before even clicking on the link – Binnenhof is s a complex of parliamentary buildings. There are no trash containers there for safety reasons; who knows what someone would stuff in them. (For the record, I’ve almost never seen the Binnenhof that dirty.)
After what felt like three straight weeks of rain, we finally had a few (relatively) dry weeks. However, autumn definitely snuck in while no one was looking.
This photo is of the Binnenhof, exiting out onto the Plein (where the statue of Willem van Oranje is, and where demonstrators love to congregate outside the Tweede Kamer). That’s the Dutch House of Representatives. The only thing that is missing is red and orange leaves, to bring out the autumnal colors even more.
I am looking forward to an extra hour of sleep tomorrow morning. Daylight savings ends. Bring on the even darker mornings… we’re working from home anyway.