Monday morning i worked. In the afternoon, after i was done and had e-mailed a pdf file to the client, i went out for a walk. It was cold, sunny. Not that much wind. It was still quiet in the center. Mondays usually are.
I walked to the Euromast park. The zooming of the cars is all around it. On one side the cars go into the Maastunnel. Another side is the Vasteland, a busy street. Zoom. I heard it while i sat for around ten minutes at the water. There were quite a few other people in the park. The sunshine gets people out. And many birds flying about and walking to pick up food from the ground. A heron was standing right besides the wooden board at the end of the garden.
I picked up some Euromast entrance cards lying on the ground. Some plastic bottle caps were lying in the grass. I picked those up too. With a bit of a sigh. I couldn’t clean up the whole park. No way.
I walked back home. Through the center once again. The thought of getting something to eat, like a Vietnamese egg roll did come up. But i guess Monday is their day off. So no. I thought about the apple and yogurt and cottage cheese and walnut mix i had in the fridge back home. Good for an afternoon snack.
I do feel quieter. A lot more quieter than yesterday. My phone’s glass broke yesterday. I let it fall. In the garden. Today i did go to a mac store to ask for the price of fixing it. They don’t, they simply replace it. For 199 euros. Pffff. Since i don’t really use my phone to look at that much, i’ll let it pass. Maybe one day i’ll take a new phone. Depends.
Another cold day. I went out for a walk through the Kralingse Bos. This week i had looked up gardens on the other side of it. I planned to visit them.
The view on Rotterdam, with the partly frozen Kralingse Plas, the birds all huddled up in the few bits of clear water, the whiteness of the trees and the sky, the low hanging sun shining was magnificent.
I visited the Venhoeve. This is a collection of separate allotments, mostly grass and flower gardens. Since it was freezing cold, there was nobody around to talk to. I went on.
Further along are the Educational Municipal Gardens Prins Alexander. Mainly school gardens. Quite a large area really. I was lucky, since there was somebody there. We talked a bit. The man, maintainer of the gardens used to work in the Kralingse Bos. Cutting cost did come up in our conversation a couple of times. I will be sad if these school gardens will be let go. Not sure what i can do about this. If ever i got loads of money, setting up a foundation for these gardens will be high on my list of things i want to do.
A lovely great garden. Cold, yes. Nothing growing there, everything covered in frost, sure. But still, everything seems to be waiting for the first spring days in a couple of months, and everything is preparing itself almost unseen to burst into leaves and flowers and fruits and vegetables.
Today i went to the market. It was cold! I had my thermo T-shirt and socks on. That helped. My intention was to photograph as many people as i could. Some worked good. But still, others simply walked on minding their own business. I couldn’t help but photograph buildings and other things around too.
Yesterday’s weather was changing from hour to hour. When i walked to the garden to empty my compost bucket, it was windy, blue sky with clouds racing through it. When i walked to the dietician shortly after that, it was still windy, but a blue clear sky.
After the appointment with the dietician i walked back another way, it was a grey cloudy sky and a bit of rain. And still windy.
Inconstant Dutch winter weather.
It’ll be colder the next week. No snow i hope, but the cold i’m looking forward too!
2017-01-11 13.36.25.mov – created in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, 51°55’35.04″N 4°29’29.04″E
The main department store in Rotterdam is the Bijenkorf, the Beehive. My mother used to bring her three daughters with her separately to the big city close by, Rotterdam to get each one of us new clothes. We usually spend time in the C&A, the Hema, the V&D. I do remember having lunch in the Bijenkorf at those times. The chicest biggest store in the whole of Rotterdam.
I remember the Bijenkorf in all its phases over the past forty years or so. The great cloth department, gone for like twenty years or so. The separate coffee corners on each section. The big one remained, with the open window on the rest of Rotterdam. The bit on the side, for the young people. Gone, another shop is there, with apartments above it. Today i noticed the coats section is gone, or moved to downstairs maybe? The books were above, moved from downstairs, so that is possible. The MAC section, where i bought my eye shadows. The kitchen section on the top floor. The lightning section there gone for a couple of years now.
I walked past the bag section. Only a couple of Fred de la Bretonniere bags remained. His newer brand Shabbies is more visible than his older brand. I won’t get my next bag here, i will need to go to Amsterdam to get another one.
I’ve shopped here so many times. Sometimes alone, sometimes with friends. Other brands used to be available. A bit cheaper. That red dress from Karen Miller looks lovely on the skinny model. The Prima Donna bra is in the collection for a couple of years. It is my main bra.
The le Creuset pans i love. The Iittala ones too. I have three. From when i had more money.
I did go to the restaurant and treated myself to a cup of cappuccino and a dark chocolate and truffle filled pastry. Lovely. I read the Vogue magazine and looked through a cooking book from Heidi Swanson. Which i already have myself, in english.
On my way out, past the Chanel counter once again. The nail polishes. Wonderful!
I had a few talks in the Bijenkorf. One with a woman in the Iittala shop. About the pans, which i do have, use every day and truly admire. Another with two girls sitting on the kitchen section on the ground. San was the name of one. I had made two photos of her. Not the best! She did give her permission, but i won’t show the photo anyway. Too private. And another talk when i left the restaurant, with two people leaving at the same time. I remarked about the cream they left over. We had a good talk about the pure luxury in Western Europe. The totally obscene extravagance of this commercial capitalist culture we have formed all together. I talked about the garden i work at. They told me about their time in Southern Europe, where things are simpler.
So that was my time in the Bijenkorf today. It wasn’t my intention to go there, but when i lied on my couch, looked behind me and saw the blue sky, i had to go outside. I did take my phone with me. And halfway the walk i decided i would go into the Bijenkorf. And write my post about it.
A wonderful winters day in Rotterdam. I went for a walk around the Kralingse Plas. I walked past the golf track, sat for a short bit at the lake, looking out on the view on the skyline of Rotterdam and the ducks and swans enjoying themselves in the water. I went back and took the Naaldbomenpad, the Conifer Path, and walked between the trees with the low hanging sun shining through. Beautiful.
Many people walk through the forest with their dog. I stopped and said hi to almost all the dogs i met. Some were a bit shy, sniffing quickly and running away, only to return and sniff again. Some rubbed themselves at my legs and almost jumped at me. Others almost completely ignored me. Some bosses explained their dogs behaviour to me. Others said a quick hi.
No map this time. I have done this walk many times already, and made maps many times before. A good walk today. Excellent!
Since April this year, 2016, i have been working in the Peace Garden. I got to know the people already working there, first and foremost Daniel and Rutger. But also many other people working there, other people making a film in Europe and Asia about urban agricultural projects. I try to wave as much as i can at people walking past and looking down on the garden. Sometimes there is room for a small chat. People stop and enter the garden and talk with us. I love it.
I have also made a couple of walks to other gardens.
Making these walks was a good combination of walking, which i love, getting to know this town a bit better, in which i have lived for the past thirty years, and getting to know the gardens, especially the vegetable gardens and allotments. In some gardens i met some of the people working there. We had a casual talk usually, but it felt good. It was good.
I never lived in a house with a garden. Not when i lived with my parents, and not when i lived on my own. I didn’t miss it terribly much, no, but my experience has changed me. I see now what i have missed. The simple knowledge of gardening, maintaining the garden, the ground, the earth. Having a compost heap, eating what you are growing yourself; i love it. And now i do gain the knowledge i could have gotten so much earlier.
I started to think about education. Especially primary education. For me personally, i loved school. I loved learning, i loved mathematics, chemistry, physics. I loved to learn how to read, how to add and subtract numbers. I never had any difficulty with any of those subjects. The only difficulty i had was with languages, which to me were very illogical and mystifying subjects which i dropped as soon as possible. I did have swimming at school. I liked that too. And sports. Which i didn’t like. But never did i have any gardening lessons. No cooking lessons. Nothing so practical. One thought did pop up, schools should have a vegetable garden. Communal or single, doesn’t really matter. Kids should learn about plants growing, about the earth feeding the plants, about compost brewing into usable earth with enough nutrients for plants. The simple facts of everyday. Which of course today are not so simple anymore.
A few weeks ago i came across a post on facebook of all places about Henk Oosterling. He was one of the participants on the special evening for Sexposition, the exhibition Annemarie and me organized in 1992. Oosterling has started a project on a primary school, combining judo, philosophy, cooking lessons and gardening to be taught to children. This all is combined under the name Rotterdam Vakmanstad Skillcity. This project is trying to function in the world of rules and regulations of primary schools. Outside of this experiment i read about rules forbidding primary schools to hire cooks, only money is provided for educational staff. (Source: Rotterdam Vakmanstad als voorbeeldmachine). I don’t know the ins and outs of this project and i don’t know much about current primary education, but this does worry me.
I do find this project Rotterdam Vakmanstad/Skillcity very interesting. On the site there are many books, articles and videos linked.
Today, Wednesday 30 November 2016, there is a referendum in Rotterdam about the Woonvisie 2030. The main focus in that document is that Rotterdam wants more higher earning people living in the city. Therefore it is the wish of the current Rotterdam government to demolish or sell social houses. I do have to confess, this hardly registered with me. I got the envelop a few weeks ago. I put it on a shelf unopened and didn’t really think about it. I did come across a advisory check, the versbeton.nl Kieswijzer, through facebook and found out i was completely opposed to the document. I read an article about it Jaagt Rotterdam de armen weg? and i was even more in disagreement.
Last Saturday i was in the second hand bookstore the Slegte, i watched outside and read a sign high up. This is what it said.
Op 30 november 2016 mogen de inowners van Rotterdam stemmen over de Woonvisie 2030. De gemeente formuleert hierin ambities waar niemand tegen kan zijn, want wie wil er niet leven in een kwalitatieve en energiezuinige woning en in een stad waar iedereen zich thuis voelt?
On 30 November 2016 the inhabitants of Rotterdam may vote about the Housing Vision 2030. The municipal shapes ambitions where nobody can be against. Because who doesn’t want to live in a qualitatively and energy saving house and in a city where everybody feels at home?
Well, i was stunned into quietness for a moment when i read this. “Ambities waar niemand tegen kan zijn“, ambitions where nobody can be against. I don’t know who wrote this piece of self promotion, but to me it is completely wrong. This board is the entry board to twelve ideas and designs by architecture bureaus about Rotterdam. Some of these ideas i liked, others i didn’t. But to me the main issue was that introduction text and the assumption that anybody reading it would agree with it. And yes, i would love to live in a qualitatively high standing and energy saving house for sure. I would love to live in a city where everybody feels at home. But i wouldn’t want to live in a city where poor people are treated harshly, where people on a downturn are snubbed aside, where people who meet difficulty are not listened to and are treated like everything they come up against is their own fault.
Today, Tuesday 29 November, i was at the same place once again. I didn’t have my camera with me, so i decided to write this text in my notebook. I stood on the side, while people were walking by. I noticed two people standing still and reading the same message. I talked to them a bit. I told them how i disliked the message. I was happy they did agree with me.