Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Halloween Tale from The Netherlands

For our last Halloween pic, we're in the eastern part of The Netherlands in the town of 's-Heerenberg. It's a sleepy little town, most famous for the Kasteel Huis Bergh which dates from the 13th century.

On the darker side, it's said that this little village in 1605 hosted one of the last witch burnings in The Netherlands. Poor old Mechteld ten Ham didn't pass the "water test" -- which means that she floated instead of sank after being thrown into a body of water. Conclusive proof of being a witch, in those days.

She's remembered by this statue ... to me it looks like she's forever cursing her accusers.

On that note, we wish you a Happy Halloween! We hope you've enjoyed the various spooky pics from our travels in Europe.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ghastly Battle

A monumental bronze work commemorating the 1288 Battle of Worringen stands in the old town area of Düsseldorf, Germany.

The battle, which is said to have claimed more than 1100 lives, led to the granting of Düsseldorf's town charter.

The sculpture (Stadterhebungs-Monument) was created in 1988 for the city's 700th year jubilee.

Spooky features abound, like the skeleton and this fellow, his face frozen in fear as the battle rages on around him.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sands of Time...

In the graveyard of the Church of the Holy Rude in Sterling, Scotland, there are many graves with the skull and crossbones motif. What caught our eye on this stone were the date (1696) and the hourglass (see it -- right in the middle of the date). I guess time was up for Mr. John Foreman!

Were it not in such a pretty setting, this would rank as a pretty spooky graveyard.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Trying to get in or out?

One of the many artistic gravesites in Paris' Cimitiere du Pere Lachaise. If you browsed the CDPBs on October 1 theme day, you might have seen some of the more famous graves like Jim Morrison or Chopin. The combination of eeriness and pathos caught our eye on this grave.

In yesterday's comments, JoAnn asked what fascinates us about Halloween and all the scary imagery. For me, it's a couple of things. First, I think that making fun of scary things makes them a bit less scary. Some cultures even celebrate death (in the states, we learn a lot about the Dia De Los Muertos celebrations in Mexico). Second, there's a bit of a rush to being scared. Third, it's just plain fun when you're a kid and you get to dress up, go trick-or-treating, get loads of candy, and get sick eating said candy. Fourth, even adults celebrate ... we were woken up at 5:30AM this morning with a phone call from our friends at their annual Halloween bash (thanks alot, Bob, Lynn, Joan & Jim). Anyway, we do miss the Halloween celebrations.

BTW, here's a fuller, color shot of the gravesite. I don't know why, but I prefer b/w for many of these "grave" photos.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Shivering Timbers

In the Normandy town of Rouen, there's a courtyard tucked away behind some shops on a street. It's so inconspicuous that we missed it the first time we passed the entrance.

And if you walked through it without really looking, the courtyard of Aitre St-Maclou might look like any other courtyard; not much going on, a couple of nice trees, some half-timbered construction.

But if you look closely at the timbers, you'll see some pretty spooky imagery. The building was used as an ossuary during the time of the plague, and the timbers are all carved with macabre symbols of death.

So macabre, in fact, that it is said that these carvings inspired Camille Saint-Saëns' Danse Macabre.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Very Grave Grave

Detail from a gravestone in the Sint Jans-kathedraal in the town of 's-Hertogenbosch (luckily, normally referred to as "den Bosch").

The grave is dated 14 October 1380 and as you can see, it has a large vertical crack in it. Still, it's not in bad shape for being over 600 years old.

I like the bird (heron? stork? eagle?) in the coat of arms.

St Jans is a beautiful church; like many such churches, during gothic times it was transformed. This stone dates from the period when the major gothic construction began (1340).

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Flat (and slightly punctured) Stanley

Continuing on our Halloween theme...last year we had a visit from Flat Stanley (click on the name if you're not familiar with his story).

He picked a great time to visit, as we toured The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, and London. One of our stops was the Bouillion castle in Belgium.

At the castle, Stanley found himself in a precarious position on one of the torture devices in the dungeon.

Even though Stanley survived the ordeal, in the end we decided that this pic should not be included in the report back to the elementary school students.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Brugge, Belgium: Where?Wednesday

Two themes in one today: our Wednesday travel feature and leading up to Halloween.

We're in Brugge/Bruges, the picturesque town in Belgium Flanders. This scary gargoyle doesn't spit water from the roof of a church or castle. Instead, he sits guard in one of Belgium's fantastic chocolate shops. In fact, he is carved not of stone but of chocolate. Warding off evil spirits with the threat of a heckuva stomach ache, perhaps?

Finally, we're getting around to the fact that over the last week or so we've been tagged by no less than four CDPBs: Inverness, Mainz, Hilo, and Rotterdam.
The "rules" of tagging:
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.
2. List eight (8) random facts about yourself.
3. Tag eight people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them).
4. Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving them a comment on their blogs.

So here goes, 8 facts you probably didn't (and might not want to) know.
  1. RandR refers to Rich and Rochelle. He doing most of the SLR photography and writing, she wielding a mean point & shoot and art directing. That's why I'm very sloppy with our personal pronouns in blog posts.
  2. We met by bumping into each other during college marching band practice. No musical instruments were harmed in the incident.
  3. We were married in Charleston, SC, in the home of the 2nd Supreme Court Chief Justice, Governor of SC and signer of the Constitution. In case you're wondering, all of that happened much earlier than our visit.
  4. If we were super rich we would probably spend our time touring all of the world's wine regions.
  5. We're living in The Netherlands because Rochelle works for an extremely large multinational consumer goods firm headquartered in Rotterdam.
  6. What we miss living here: family & friends, good mexican food and fancy maki rolls. And buying good tequila here really breaks the bank ... doesn't anyone in europe want to grow blue agave?
  7. What we like about living here: the ability to travel, the history, the inquisitive people, inexpensive wine and half naked TV commericals (not necessarily in that order).
  8. Our first plane ride was on our way to tour Germany with our college musical group. That's probably where our love for travel (among other things) blossomed.
As part of the tag, we're supposed to tag 8 other blogs. I'm going to exclude those who've already written a tag or haven't responded to a previous tag request, so there are less than 8 listed here. I'll start with a challenge for our adopted home of Chicago: Inverness has already been tagged, so how about the other 3 blogs from the Windy City: Chicago Flair, Chicago Daily, and Nunda/Crystal Lake. And recent commenters North Bay, Brienne-La-Ville, Texel, and of course JoAnn. You're it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Evidently, Death is fluent in Latin

Leading up to Halloween, over the next week we'll break with our usual format to show you some of the more macabre sights we've seen during our travels throughout Europe.

At right we see Death inscribing the name of Sophie Charlotte, Queen of Prussia, into the book of eternity.

This moment is immortalized (can I use that word when speaking of Death?) at the base of Sophie's monument by Andreas Schlüter in the Berliner Dom.

BTW, thanks to the multiple bloggers who've tagged us; we need a day to recuperate from our travels, so check back tomorrow.

UPDATE: To see this pic in color, click here. Although the gold-plated original is striking, I thought the b/w version is better for the season.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Münsterland Sphinx -- Where?Wednesday

A much different sculpture from yesterday's post. This is from the sculpture garden of the Schloss Nordkirchen, also known as the "Versailles of Westphalia."

We've jumped over the German border again, into the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen.

This sphinx is enjoying the fall colors, as we hope you do while we travel some more. See you back here next Tuesday.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Surreal Scheveningen

This beach sculpture probably isn't technically surreal art, but that's how I'd describe it.

I believe it's a permanent exhibit from the sculpture on the sea museum.

For some reason, it seems to show best on cloudy, moody days.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Local Gardens

In a country where space is at a premium, community garden plots make a lot of sense.
The styles vary: some specialize in one type of plant, some grow fruits and vegetables, and some tend full-blown leisure gardens. Many of those you'll find in Wassenaar are quite beautiful.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Pears - Peren - Birnen

I'm cheating a bit here ... I normally try to keep this blog confined to The Netherlands.
But, given the fall season and the fact that we'll be in Germany three times this month, I think it's OK to share this shot from the village of Steinfurt in the Münsterland region, just over the border.
These pears are all grown in the Kreislehrgarten, founded in 1914. Unfortunately, the store was closed when we visited, so we weren't able to bring any samples home.
From the European Garden Heritage website: This educational garden covering an area of 3 hectares provides valuable information on ornamental and kitchen gardens. Visitors are offered numerous ideas on how to design, maintain, and use their own green realms. During harvest time, visitors can buy the many fruits of the garden directly here. The central school garden aims especially at teaching children a careful approach towards nature. The beehives in the orchard and the herb garden are a valuable help in this regard.
Have a great weekend; see you on Monday.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


A few days ago, Abe Lincoln published pictures of some american chickadees on his bird blog.

That reminded me that I had some pics, albeit not well focused, of the most common chickadee we see here. Here in europe, chickadees aren't called chickadees (I'm assuming that's an american english term). This is the parus major (great tit in english, koolmees in dutch).

Those of you with a keen eye will see that, given the buds on the tree, this picture isn't recent. It was taken last March.

Although this shot was taken in the Meijendel dunes, these little guys are very common around our house. Their chatter is a welcome change from the loud cackles of the crows and parakeets that wake us up every morning.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Reflections on Edam: Where?Wednesday

Today we take you back to the town of Edam, in the province of North Holland about 70km from Wassenaar.
We guessed that these nice little structures are a type of boathouse. Whatever their purpose, they reflected nicely into the calm waters of the canal.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Wild West Wassenaar?

These beautiful horses are lucky enough to graze in the Wassenaar dunes. We've seen them in several locations; this is an area called De Kuil.
According to the coastal guide website, grazing was introduced in 1990 and is seen as a successful technique in dune management.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Wassenaar war monument

Last in our series on graves & cemeteries that began with this month's theme day. But don't worry, this is a favorite subject so there'll be more in the future.

On the Wassenaar beach stands this monument, in memory of French commandos killed during WWII. I found the following information from the commemoration in 2004:

On Friday (27 February) a military ceremony was held at the Trépel monument on the Wassenaarse Slag in memory of the six French commandos killed there during a reconnaissance action in February 1944. Veteran commandos, marines and former crew members of the motor torpedo boat involved in the operation gathered at the monument, named after the unit commander, Captain Charles Trépel, at the beach in Wassenaar to pay tribute to the men killed in action.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Garden Graves

We've previously posted pictures of the Dorpskerk cemetery in Wassenaar. Many of the gravesites are mini-gardens. Here's another shot of some of these "garden graves," along with a view looking from the graveyard to the church.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Ghostly Image

From a tombstone in the church (Dorpskerk) cemetery in Wassenaar.
This image really jumps out at you as you walk through the gravesites. It looks best in b/w (it's a grey stone with the dirty white image anyway). It's so strange --it almost looks like a reverse/negative image -- but in fact this is what it looks like in person.
Tomorrow we'll see more of the Dorpskerk cemetery.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Ter Navolging

In the busy beach town of Scheveningen you'll find an unsigned, unpaved alleyway, almost hidden between buildings along a busy street. If you walk up that alley, you'll come to a tiny little oasis called Ter Navolging.

This little oasis is, in fact, the first cemetery in The Netherlands to be built (at that time) outside city limits. In 1778, most people were buried in churchyards, but hygiene and crowding were becoming issues. So this little cemetery was built in the (then) unpopulated dunes outside of The Hague.

It's a simple place; inside the brick courtyard are simple, flat stones. Some of them new, some hundreds of years old, some scoured flat over time. Outside, the walls are ringed with newer graves, and opposite the walls you'll find the tiny markers shown in the theme day post by The Hague Daily Photo.

Incidentally, according to the Wiki post (in dutch), the cemetery was named "for imitation" in the hopes that more cemeteries would be built in this manner (at least that's what I get from my limited translation abilities).

I thank the "theme day" for leading me to this interesting place. It is so hidden that I wouldn't have found it if I hadn't been researching local cemeteries. Now I know a little bit more of local history.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Thorn: Where?Wednesday

Today we take you to the town of Thorn, in the province of Limburg, about 190 southeast of Wassenaar.

We were struck by this tombstone in the church graveyard. It is a memorial to a former priest who served from 1921 to ??? (the dates and his full name unfortunately have not survived).

You can see the wonderful influence of what we'd call art deco/arts & crafts in the design of the stone.

Thorn is nicknamed "the white town" because of its whitewashed buildings. The town started as an abbey in the 10th century. The church dates from the 12th century but has been changed many times since. At right is the view looking up to the church.

If you're interested, you can see more from our quick trip to Limburg on our personal travel blog.

Tomorrow we return to Wassenaar to revisit the local cemetery.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Royal Tomb

Above you see the likeness of Prins Willem I (Prince William I) of Orange, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg, known as William the Silent, founder of the House of Orange-Nassau (the dutch royal family). His mausoleum stands in the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) in nearby Delft, the city where he was assassinated in 1584.

The monument was constructed 30 years after his death. The front is flanked by statues representing Liberty and Justice (Religion and Strength/Valour are at the back).

There are two likenesses of the prince; the bronze statue seated at the front (left), and the marble tomb (above). At the base of his tomb (below) lies his dog; legend has it that the dog refused to eat or drink after his master's death, and so he lies eternally cast in stone at Willem's feet.

Prince Willem is a national hero for his battles against the Spaniards, who during his time controlled the country and persecuted dutch protestants. Following Willem's death, all dutch royals have been buried in the royal crypt at this church. The House of Orange crypts in Breda could not be reached at the time of Willem's death because that part of the Netherlands was under Spanish control.

A big "thank you" to all who visited and commented on yesterday's Theme Day blog. Like me, a number of bloggers are continuing the theme this week; check back for more cemetery/grave postings.

Monday, October 1, 2007


8,301 is the number of American soldiers buried at the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial.

For October Theme Day (Cemetery or Tombstone), we take you to the southern part of The Netherlands, to the town of Margraten in the Limburg province.

Among these graves are the remains of 106 unknown soldiers. In addition to the gravesites, the walls list the names of 1,722 soldiers who were missing or whose remains were never recovered.

Inside the chapel is a lighting fixture presented by the Dutch people in the shape of the Royal Crown of The Netherlands.

In front of the chapel tower is the "Mourning Woman" statue. The moving words are quoted from General Dwight D. Eisenhower (click to enlarge any picture).

Most of these soldiers lost their lives during the airborne and ground operations to liberate the eastern part of the Netherlands and during the battles as troops advanced into Germany across the Ruhr and Rhine rivers. American forces were but a portion of the Allied troops here; many more soldiers, particularly British, Canadian and Polish forces, lost their lives in battles such as Operation Market Garden.

I'll continue the cemetery/tombstone theme throughout the week, so be sure to check back for some other interesting posts. And visit the over 100 City Daily Photo Blog sites participating in the October theme: St. Louis (MO), USA - San Diego (CA), USA - Cleveland (OH), USA - New York City (NY), USA - Boston (MA), USA - Mainz, Germany - Hyde, UK - Arlington (VA), USA - Cape Town, South Africa - Saint Paul (MN), USA - Toulouse, France - Arradon, France - Menton, France - Monte Carlo, Monaco - Montego Bay, Jamaica - Ampang (Selangor), Malaysia - Joplin (MO), USA - Cottage Grove (MN), USA - Bellefonte (PA), USA - Mexico (DF), Mexico - Seattle (WA), USA - Baziège, France - Baltimore (MD), USA - Chandler (AZ), USA - Sequim (WA), USA - Stayton (OR), USA - Stockholm, Sweden - Austin (TX), USA - Singapore, Singapore - Anderson (SC), USA - Orlando (FL), USA - Greenville (SC), USA - Wassenaar (ZH), Netherlands - Nashville (TN), USA - Tenerife, Spain - Manila, Philippines - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Jacksonville (FL), USA - River Falls (WI), USA - Chateaubriant, France - Quincy (MA), USA - Rabaul, Papua New Guinea - Buenos Aires, Argentina - Crystal Lake (IL), USA - Inverness (IL), usa - Lubbock (TX), USA - Phoenix (AZ), USA - Moscow, Russia - Norwich (Norfolk), UK - Crepy-en-Valois, France - Minneapolis (MN), USA - New Orleans (LA), USA - Montréal (QC), Canada - West Sacramento (CA), USA - Toruń, Poland - Philadelphia (PA), USA - Christchurch, New Zealand - London, England - Paderborn, Germany - The Hague, Netherlands - Selma (AL), USA - Sunderland, UK - Kyoto, Japan - Tokyo, Japan - Stavanger, Norway - Fort Lauderdale (FL), USA - Weston (FL), USA - Portland (OR), USA - Forks (WA), USA - Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation - Maple Ridge (BC), Canada - Boston (MA), USA - Sydney, Australia - Wellington, New Zealand - Montpellier, France - Jackson (MS), USA - Wailea (HI), USA - Petaling Jaya (Selangor), Malaysia - Evry, France - Saarbrücken, Germany - New York City (NY), USA - Santa Fe (NM), USA - North Bay (ON), Canada - Melbourne, Australia - Port Vila, Vanuatu - Cypress (TX), USA - Saint Louis (MO), USA - Paris, France - San Diego (CA), USA - Wichita (Ks), USA - Haninge, Sweden - Prague, Czech Republic - Zurich, Switzerland - Budapest, Hungary - Paris, France - Saigon, Vietnam - Grenoble, France - Zurich, Switzerland - Port Angeles (WA), USA - Naples (FL), USA - Toronto (ON), Canada - Sequim (WA), USA - Chicago (IL), USA