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Holiday Snaps

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Removal – Amsterdam style!


Begin the Beguine

I was in Amsterdam for a break recently.

Just off one of Amsterdam’s busiest streets, the Kalvestraat, is the Begijnhof which was originally a beguinage and is one of the oldest parts of the city. To this day it houses both a Roman Catholic and an ‘English Reformed’ church. The latter is also a Church of Scotland.


The Beguines /bəˈɡnz/ and the Beghards /bəˈɡɑrdz/ were Christian lay religious orders that were active in Northern Europe, particularly in the Low Countries in the 13th–16th centuries. Their members lived in semi-monastic communities but did not take formal religious vows. That is, although they promised not to marry “as long as they lived as Beguines” to quote one of the early Rules, they were free to leave at any time. Beguines were part of a larger spiritual revival movement of the thirteenth century that stressed imitation of Christ’s life through voluntary poverty, care of the poor and sick, and religious devotion. (Wikipedia)

We discovered the Begijnhof on a previous visit to Amsterdam quite by chance and sought it out once again on this visit. The city’s oldest house is here – the Houten Huys 34 Begijnhof, the black timber building photographed here by my daughter.


This is the small but ornate chapel in the Begijnhof.


And the rather more plain kirk.


I’m not religious in the least but there is a need for places like this in a bustling city and I can’t deny the presence of some kind of spiritual calm in the Begijnhof. It is incredible that the Kalverstraat with all its trams, cars, people, barrel organs, buskers and the like is a mere few yards away. And yet the only sounds in the Begijnhof are the respectful hushed tones of the visitors and birdsong.

In the chapel, a lady was lighting a whole host of candles:


If my understanding was right, I think they would, for a small fee, (50 cents I think) dedicate a candle and say a prayer for a departed loved one. A nice gesture if you believe in that kind of thing and pretty businesslike given the amount of visitors and the costs of keeping the building.

Photo (thought) stream

I love this photo on several levels. It’s of Amsterdam which is one of my favourite cities and not just for the chips and salad cream.

There on the other side of the road is what looks like my dad’s first ever new car, a 1965 Volkswagen Beetle.

Java green it was.

Basic as basic could be; the only extras were windscreen wipers. There was a wee luggage bit behind the back seat where I could hide under a tartan car blanket. I used to do that when my dad took the car on the Erskine or Renfrew Ferry and he would give me the 3d (3 old pence) that this saved on the fare.

Fairly mild dishonesty I’d have thought. I don’t think there was a danger of my becoming a Craigie Whyte.

I remember touring the highlands several times in that excellent wee car. We even went camping with that as our transport to Ullapool and Nairn. The tent and all essentials packed into the boot (in the front of course). I still have the wee meths stove that we had and I still use it sometimes on my loch island day trips on the canoe.

It didn’t have a radio so maw, paw and I would sing songs or I’d play moothie……..(seriously – how my parents suffered!)

Look at the way the building is reflected in the bonnet of the other car.

Oh! and is that a coffee house?

Funny, any time I was ever in one it was usually followed by chips and salad cream……….

Thanks again to this tumblr site for the inspiration.

Parklife in Amsterdam

I love Amsterdam. I remember the first time Sue and I went there we booked in to a Hotel called the “Cok Superior” (I kid you not) near Vondelpark which was a nice City Park with a lake. There was a weird and wonderful selection of park users. One guy we saw roller bladed past us wearing nothing but a posing pouch, a g-string and a baseball cap! This story from Ananova caught my eye, where it would seem that one section of Vondelpark users are being penalised at the expense of another group. Presumably those indulging in one activity don’t wish to accidentally roll over on to result of the other one! Read on.

Dog owners angry at public sex plan

Dog owners in Amsterdam are angry after the city legalised public sex in one of the city’s most famous parks. Councillors agreed that heterosexual and gay couples could have sex in the Vondelpark which has ten million visitors a year. But they promised to clampdown on dog owners who let their pets walk in the park without a lead. One dog owner protested: “As long as the park has existed, we’ve been allowed to let our dogs run freely. It’s outrageous that we will be punished from now on but public sex won’t.”

A spokesman for the council which runs the southern part of Amsterdam said: “When the dogs are not kept on a leash they pee on whatever they see and they cause a lot of nuisance for other visitors.”Alderman Paul Van Grieken defended the decision to allow public sex in the park from September. “Why should we oppose a rule on something you can’t oppose a rule on. Moreover it isn’t a nuisance for the other visitors and gives a lot of pleasure to a certain group of people,” he said.

“There still are rules,” he added. “They must take their garbage with them afterwards and never have intercourse near the playground. The sex must be limited to the evening hours and night.”

Of course whilst not officially endorsed or approved of, Alfresco Nookie takes place on a regular basis here in Scotland e.g. “How do you know when a Drumchapel girl has reached orgasm?” “She drops her chips!”