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Een koelreuteria paniculata (Chinese vernisboom) op het Leuvehoofd in Rotterdam met op de achtergrond de Erasmusbrug en De Rotterdam

Trees in Rotterdam in the Autumn of ’21

Once again a Rotterdam plane tree finished second in the Tree of the Year election. After the Lijnbaan plane tree, two years ago, this time it was the Breytenbach plane tree on Westersingel canal that was defeated by a competitor from the southern provinces. Those Rotterdam plane trees are like the Dutch men’s football team of the tree competitions: always loosing the final. Nevertheless it’s an impressive sight, this Breytenbach tree, on its own little peninsula in the canal. The tree owes its name to the South African poet Breyten Breytenbach, who declared it a “monument to free thoughts” in… Read More

Brienenoord Island in Rotterdam, the Netherlands with tidal nature and trees in autumn colors on a sunny day in October

The Transformation of Brienenoord Island

There are few cities with a nature island within their borders. Both in the Netherlands and abroad I don’t know many examples. Rotterdam does have one. Okay, not really in the middle of the city, but well within the municipal boundaries and even (largely) within the Ringroad. We are of course talking about Brienenoord (pronounce breen-a north), separated from the rest of the city by a river channel named Zuiddiepje (which translates as Little Southern Deep) Van Brienen The island is 1400 meters long and about 200 meters at its widest point. It has been around since the early 19th… Read More

Detail of the Koningshoeven abbey near Tilburg, The Netherlands, with statue and proverbs

Hiking to La Trappe brewery

I once had the idea to publish a booklet: The Best Beer Hikes in the Benelux. With hikes in the 20 kilometer range, and one or more craft beer breweries included in the route. When the printed version of that booklet will be published remains an open question. But untill that day I’m going to publish the hikes one by one as a blog post. And there is no better destination imaginable for the first episode than Koningshoeven Abbey. It’s the place where the most famous Dutch Trappist beer is brewed: La Trappe. So on a beautiful Saturday in October… Read More

Marathon runner seen on the back with a blurry background of hundreds of other runners during the Rotterdam marathon in 2021

The Rotterdam Marathon in October

The fortieth edition of the Rotterdam marathon, on Sunday 24 October 2021, was a very special one. To start with, it was the first Rotterdam marathon in two and a half years. Quite a long interval for an annual event, but we all know what tiny brat of a virus was responsible for that. Autumn But also the season made this marathon unique. The event always takes place in the first half of April; this was the first and probably only time 17,000 runners ran these 42,195 meters in autumn. Seasonal Since many thousands of photos of the marathon are… Read More

The parking garage entrance near Erasmus bridge in Rotterdam, Holland on a foggy day in autumn

A Misty Morning in Rotterdam

Autumn is the season of special effects par excellence. In addition to beautifully colored trees and spectacular cloudy skies, fog sometimes creates a special atmosphere in these months. On October 8, the conditions in Rotterdam were truly sensational. The day started with thick fog but at about nine o’clock the sun slowly started to break through. From my balcony I first saw the Parkhotel, the Boymans museum and the Depot building emerge from the mists. After that, the Euromast and the twin towers of the Erasmus MC slowly appeared. Apocalyptic Beautiful images quickly appeared on the internet, shot from high… Read More

Detail of a digital painting depicting the landing of European space probe Huygens on Saturn's moon Titan in 2005

Seven Digital Space Art Paintings

Space art as a genre is older than you might think. As early as 1301, a certain Giotto di Bondone from Florence made a painting depicting Halley’s comet. But the big breakthrough didn’t come until the late 1800s, when science fiction writers like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells started writing books that needed to be illustrated. Space art pioneers like Chesley Bonestell, Pat Rawlings and Don Dixon used the tools available to them in their days: paint, charcoal, chalk, pencil. Today, space artists, not to mention filmmakers, use digital tools with which nothing is impossible. Miles long spaceships on which… Read More

Dramatic sky over a farm under spectacular lighting conditions in the polder along the IJssel river near Zwolle, The Netherlands

The wet and chilly summer of 2021

Is summer over yet? According to the meteorologists, summer ends on August 31; according to the astronomers it goes on for three weeks more. So at the time of writing, September 3, we are in a kind of twilight zone, a transition phase. Autumn is in the air, most summer flowers have finished blooming, the first trees are starting to change colour. It’s time to look back at the summer of 2021. Slutty It was a summer that turned out to be just a little less beautiful than hoped, because on closer inspection the pandemic appeared to be not quite… Read More

Digitally generated satellite image of the Earth, with Europe, and more specifically the Netherlands, in the center

Is There Really No Planet B?

It’s a popular theme in science fiction: the quest for a new Earth, because the old one is becoming uninhabitable, usually due to human interventions. Sometimes the idea is elaborated in a somewhat ironic manner, like in the unsurpassed Dutch series Missie Aarde (Mission Earth), in which the Netherlands take the lead because it’s the only country not under water thanks to its dykes. Sometimes it’s dead serious, as in the movie Interstellar, in which drought, dust storms and crop failures make the need for a new world urgent. Spare world When you realize how much effort it takes to… Read More

Pavement tile on Dutch railway platform asking to keep 1,5 metre, or vijf tiles, distance, because of covid-19

Eighteen Corona Hikes in the South Wing

Before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, traveling companion A. and I made hikes all over the Netherlands. But then, in March 2020, public transport was suddenly declared “for strictly necessary journeys only”. For a while we dutifully adhered to that rule. But at a certain point it started to feel uncomfortable. Car owners merrily drove all over the place, but consciously carless people like us, suddenly saw our environment limited to a radius of a few kilometers around our own homes. And since A. lives in Leiden and I live in Rotterdam, joint walks were prohibited according to the… Read More

Detail of a piece of digital botanic art, entitled Hocus Crocus, based on a photograph of crocusses in springtime

Four Seasons of Botanic Digital Kaleidoscopic Art

Apparently I needed some extra color during the past lockdown winter. That’s the only way I can explain the explosion of colorful works of art that sprouted from my laptop during those months. I already wrote about the Icelandic impressions; also the European flag project and the Rotterdam paintifications were given a nudge in the right direction. But the greatest avalanche of new work came from the domain of Kaleidoscopia. Beautiful shapes The kaleidoscope was invented in 1815 by the Scottish physicist Sir David Brewster. He devised a tubular instrument with pieces of colored glass on one side, a viewing… Read More