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The Netherlands

The ferry left Harwich late firstly due to “a cruise ship in the next berth” and then to the fact that they couldn’t get the engines to start. (Cue cries of, “They cannae take it, Captain.”) It was an electronic problem apparently. As a result we were an hour late arriving at Hoek van Holland.

Almost the first thing that happened after we got off the boat was we got lost. Our intructions said to take the second exit from a roundabout. It should have been the first. After a slight detour we got onto a road on the top of a dyke, which was pretty intimidating as there didn’t seem much room if there was any sort of traffic problem or accident. I missed another turning, found myself in the wrong lane and had to enter the A 20 motorway to Rotterdam. I was able to get off and pull into a petrol station where I consulted the map I had bought and worked out a way back onto the route I needed. Dutch motorways are brilliant, very well sign-posted.

Unfortunately the delays meant we hit Amsterdam at rush hour. Four north bound lanes more or less jam-packed. Fun. I wasn’t quite sure of which junction to come off the Amsterdam ring motorway but I spotted a sign for Leeuwarden and Heerenveen and took it. This route meant we drove over what used to be part of the Zuider Zee – on the Afsluitdijk, with the IJsselmeer on our right and the Wadden Sea hidden behind the dyke to our left. This was a weird experience but the dyke is a fantastic piece of civil engineering. At each end it has a set of huge sluice gates to allow the IJsselmeer to drain into the Wadden Sea. Presumably this only happens at low tide.

North of Amsterdam the traffic became very much lighter. Most of the way was motorway and the journey passed very quickly.

At certain junctions the motorway regulations stop a few hundred metres before the roads meet. This happened just west of Heerenveen where there is effectively a roundabout between the A 6 and A 7 motorways. (In Groningen two motorways meet at a set of traffic lights.)

I was struck by the number of smallish industrial units near the motorways and at the edges of towns – way more than in the UK. Old Dutch buildings tend to be traditional with pitched roofs. The industrial buildings all looked modern and were either rectangular boxes, some up to seven or eight stories, or else replete with curves.

The towns seemed tidy and prosperous looking. That may be due to the brickwork pavements and cycleways. I can’t say I noticed any litter.

Where Did You Say You Were?

Five posts now and we’ve still not made the ferry.

After Melton Mowbray we travelled through Rutland and saw a bit of Rutland Water. Not the most scenic lake I’ve ever seen. The good lady spotted a sign to Barnsdale. This was the garden of the late lamented Geoffrey Hamilton (so it goes) of whom the good lady was a fan and it is still running as a commercial concern in the shape of the gardens – for which we had too little time to visit – and a plant centre. Two plants were duly bought.

Then it was a long haul down the A 14 and M 11, then along the A 120, where we stopped at Braintree and shopped at an outlet centre we remembered from three years ago. Once more we dined at the old Embassy Cinema in Braintree.

Along the A 120 once more, then the A 12, stopping for petrol on the outskirts of Colchester. The service area was directly opposite a stadium – which of course I had to photograph. As I suspected it turned out to be Colchester Community Stadium, home of Colchester United FC (since 2008.) Situated at the delightfully named Cuckoo Farm it’s a good, tidy example of the modern stadium style.

When I lived in Braintree I never made it to Colchester’s old ground at Layer Road. I never will now.

Finally along the continued A 120 to Harwich for the night and the morning ferry.

Melton Mowbray (iii)

Yet more deco style in Melton Mowbray – mainly in the horizontals and verticals. This is The Mall:-

Just to the right in the picture above you can see the building below whose gable end and central feature suggest deco:

The doorway has strong deco styling. Inscribed above it is Harwood House and round it is, “By Farmers for Farmers” but I think it’s a solicitor’s now.

Higher still the detail shows a cow’s head and a stylised human one.

There was another shop with deco styling, Townrow. The window styling here argues for deco, and the horizontal and vertical stepping, but this part may be pre-deco.

The extension on the right hand side has had its windows mucked up.

The brickwork on yet another shop also argues for deco. If the original windows had been retained that might have clinched it.

And there’s more…. Iceland. Deco stepping over main door:-

Side door detailing:-

Upper portion detailing:-

Round the corner is taken by Boyes:-

Detailing on Boyes’s portion:-

I make that twelve Deco buildings for Melton Mowbray – all packed into a small area.

Melton Mowbray (ii)

As I spotted the Regal Cinema I looked down a side street and saw a Deco roofline. I made a mental note but when we worked round to the main street I saw it again. Right beside the building which houses Lloyds Bank.

This building isn’t really curved. The picture is a stitch of two photos to show it all. Good frieze here above the circular feature. At the extreme right in the photo above is the building with the roofline I’d seen earlier. It has a strong corner element:-

Even before those two I’d already photographed Middletons. Good windows and the detail on the roofline at the angled frontage is pleasing:-

Melton Mowbray’s Bargain Buys might be deco. Nice brickwork, whatever.

Bailey’s definitely fits the bill though. Good strong horizontals and verticals:-

Melton Mowbray (i)

We spent the first night away from home in a hotel just outside Derby. On our way there from the motorway we travelled along Brian Clough Way, a nondescript, even dowdy, dual carriageway. Surely there’s a better way to commemorate the man. In the morning we drove into Derby but didn’t know of any suitable parking space so gave up after a drive around the inner ring road and skedaddled back along Mr Clough’s memorial road, taking a right towards the South at Nottingham. (A curiosity was we came across two roundabouts that had roads through their middles, something I’ve never seen before. Is it a Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire thing?)

We stopped at Melton Mowbray, “the Rural Capital of Food.” (Well, 3 years ago we went to Bakewell.) Unfortunately it was market day and the place was heaving. As a result I couldn’t get a photograph of the Pork Pie shop (there was a stall in the way) but we did buy a pie and very nice it was too. Enough for lunch that day and the next. We passed on the Stilton cheese though.

What I didn’t expect was Art Deco. The place is liberally strewn with it. Remarkable for a relatively small town.

The first thing I saw on leaving the car park was the brick side of what looked like a school building but is (now, at any rate,) the King Street Building of Brooksby Melton College.


A bit rectilinear but nice iron work protecting the small windows flanking the entrance. The fan light above the door is good as is the frieze on the portico. Amazingly the windows don’t seem to have been mucked about with.

The next building along is also Deco! The Regal Cinema is a stunner. The decoration on it is sublime. It’s still a working cinema.

See more here.

Superb!

Geese on the River Wharfe, Wetherby

We made a further stop on the first day on the way down to the Holland ferry. At Wetherby.

There’s a nicely situated car park hard by the River Wharfe.

There were geese on the river.

Berwick Upon Tweed War Memorial

On our way down to the ferry for Holland we stopped in Berwick upon Tweed. (Mainly so that the good lady and I could look into that bookshop we found there when I went to the Cup game last December.)

This also gave me a chance to photograph Berwick’s War Memorial.

This one is surmounted by a winged angel holding a wreath. World War 1 names are in the plaque, an inscription for World War 2 (with no names) is below.

From the Scottish War Memorials website I see that an inscription for war dead later than 1945 is hidden by the wreaths.

And Now I’m Back

I’ve been in Holland.

Well, strictly speaking, since it was on the borders of the Friesland and Groningen provinces, make that The Netherlands.

The good lady’s eldest brother lives there. We had been supposed to visit for years but life got in the way.

We needed to renew our passports first. I sent the applications away late in July. Despite all the talk on the news about delays we got the new ones inside a week. (As I remember it was four days.) Maybe the Glasgow Passport office is more efficient than down south.

So another country visited. Apart from the constituent parts of the UK (though I only just made it into Wales) I’ve been to Sweden (Stockholm,) the Soviet Union (Leningrad as was) and Denmark (Copenhagen) on a school cruise when I was at Primary School, Portugal (the Azores, Madeira, Lisbon) and Spain (Vigo) on a Secondary School cruise, and as an adult to Germany (near Stuttgart) and France twice (Normandy for the D-Day beaches and Picardy for World War I battlefields.)

Since the good lady didn’t fancy being on a RoRo ferry overnight we drove down to Harwich (with an overnight stop) and the same on the way back. I’m knackered.

Kinlochleven

On our way back home we stopped briefly to walk on to the bridge over the mouth of Loch Leven at Ballachulish. The good lady bagged these two photos first.

Looking back towards Loch Linnhe from Ballachulish bridge:-

Loch Leven from Ballachulish bridge:-

Having time to spare and it being a lovely evening we decided to take the long way round the loch through Kinlochleven.

There used to be an aluminium smelter at Kinlochleven for which its own (hydroelectric) power station was required. As a result Kinlochleven became the first village in the world to have every house connected to electricity, coining the phrase “The Electric Village.” The smelter shut down in 1996. The photo below is of the power station outflow.

Hills (and bridge over the River Leven) at Kinlochleven:-

From the bridge above I could see a chippy with an Art Deco style frontage. The photo was taken from a distance so it was difficult to tell if the business is still going.

Situated on the outskirts of the village on the southern edge is the War Memorial; a simple Celtic cross on a stepped pyramidal base. Dedicated to the men of Kinlochleven who gave their lives in the Great Wars, 1914-18, 1939-45:-

Fort William Memorials

Fort William’s War Memorial is situated in a green space just off the north end of the High Street.

The reverse of the memorial includes a name for the 1990-91 Gulf War.

A bit further south is a Peace Memorial. “Erected to celebrate the bond of friendship between Dudley, Hiroshima and Fort William and to commemorate the International Peace Cairn on the summit of Ben Nevis raised by the youth of these three communities.”

The other side reads, “A memorial from the youth of Hiroshima in the hope that the experience of 6th August 1945 will strengthen our search for a peaceful world.” January 1st 1968.

Still further south is St Andrew’s Episcopal Church on whose wall a sign says “Commonwealth War Graves here.”

The (one) grave is of Second Lieutenant H M Stapleton, Royal Tank Regiment, 1942.

In the West Highland Museum, off High Street, Fort William – which also has a fine exhibition on the Commandos (whose training ground was in the Lochaber area) along with Jacobite memorabilia – is a memorial mainly to the men of the Fort William Post Office staff who fell in the Great War. The wreath covers the wording for the Second World War.

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