0668/Dutch wineyards

Wine from Dutch soil: there are very good ones.

The number of wine companies from Dutch soil is still modest, but due to the experience and the good weather, the quality improves. The Dutch wine sector is not very popular on a global scale: vineyards were planted on 157 hectares of Dutch soil, Statistics Netherlands counted last year. The regional agricultural figures came out yesterday. In comparison, in France, all vineyards cover about 800,000 hectares. Nevertheless, we do not do badly as a mini player. “The quality is getting better and better,” says wine writer and expert Harold Hamersma. According to him, that is mainly because the experience is growing. “The wineproducers work fanatically on small plots, which often have no football field yet. They know the grapes personally, so to speak. Moreover, they often hire consultants for advice. And the climate seems to be better and better. We are starting to become a wine country. “

We come from far, outlines Hamersma. “The Romans took the vines in their hand luggage back then, but Napoleon has ended the viticulture in our country. Now it picks up again. But compared to other countries we are a mini producer. We have fewer than ten companies per province and the total number of bottles produced is 1.2 million. Only 30 million bottles have been made from Lindeman’s Chardonnay. What we do fits in the backyard of an Australian wine company.” Sometimes Hamersma sometimes tastes ‘cold potato juice’. “Then a maker will know that he is not there yet.” “But there are really good wines. In the business class of KLM, travelers get a Zeeland wine. “And not because it is dirty. You have such nice companies. De Linie in Made, Frysling in Friesland, Apostelhoeve in Limburg. ”
His company has a lot of experience, explains Mathieu Hulst from the Apostelhoeve. ,,We are the oldest commercial wine company, that counts.” Another advantage: the location. Limburg has more hills than the rest of the country so that the vines catch more sun. Classic grape varieties such as the Riesling, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc do well on that soil. What is in the ground can also help: lime, marl, iron.

Red wine remains difficult in our country, thinks Bernard Nauta of Anderewijn.nl. “Fresh white wine and sometimes rosé.” “That has everything to do with the grape varieties: the classics need a lot of heat, while the new varieties are crossed so that they can withstand the cold better. The Johanniter for example. “Winemakers are becoming increasingly smart to make acceptable wine in this climate.”

Heat waves
Still, the classic grapes will eventually take over, thinks Hulst of the Apostelhoeve. “The turning point came in 1985. From the year after we see more peaks in temperature, more heat waves and day temperatures above 25 degrees Celsius.” This summer is extreme, which could well result in good wine. ,, We will not know until next year, but we are already going to pick on September 10 this year. A month earlier than usual! “” The wines are getting better, “said vinologist Jeroen van Mierlo. “Besides the fact that almost all Dutch wines are ‘technically correct’, we see that more and more progress has been made in recent years on the flavor richness and complexity of Dutch wines. You can say that quality of Dutch wine is getting better. The wines become more interesting, tastier and better used for gastronomy. A nice addition to Dutch regional products. ”

The pride in their own, local products boost sales, Hamersma sees. “There is a growing respect for products from the neighborhood. People like to drink a wine from Noord-Holland with Texel’s lamb and a Zeeland wine with Zeeuwse samphire.” “That enthusiasm does have a solid price tag, because of the small-scale production. “A bottle is often 10 to 20 euros,” says Hamersma. ,,And that does not matter to people easily. There is only one small group that is willing to spend such an amount.”




Edy Jakobs from Elst sent us the photo above. She spotted a dragonfly that is ready for some rest. After a tiring flight, the little beast rests on a flower stick.



Mating butterflies.

A picture of Theo Brink. In his garden he spotted a couple of mating linden-tail-tail butterflies. “A kind of reward for my small wild garden,” he writes.


Apparently frogs like fish as food.

The picture above is from Willy Nijland from Oud-Zevenaar. He spotted a big frog in his own pond, which was fishing at his leisure. “I think this is very special,” he writes.

0664/Less warm and a bit of rain

Four days ago we had temperatures of 36 degrees Celsius during the day. Yesterday the weather changed in a dramatic form: flooded railwaystation at Haarlem, nearly two thousand camping people near the coast had to be evacuated, an occasional thunderstorm. Today we have a comfortable 19 degrees Celsius, bit overcast, but two nice views to share with you:


From a terrace on the Grote Markt: deep blue sky with towering clouds.


From the same spot: the Saint Stephan Church.

0663/Brideshead Revisited


Yesterday, with temperatures over 35C the whole day and a great deal of the evening, there was no soul in the street or gardens. Staying home, with a fan, was the best way to pass the day with watching long British TV-series, like Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth and Brideshead Revisited with Jeremy Irons. The last one is in eleven parts, the first 10 parts about 50m each and the last part, when Lord Marchmain (Sir Laurence Olivier) returns from Venice to Brideshead Castle to die, lasting 1h 20m. About  an odd 10 hours of a delightful insight in English nobility at home, at college, in the very complicated famly relationships. And this all through the eyes of a “common” young man, Charles Ryder (Jeremy Irons).

Below a quotation of an article by Dirk Musschoot, dated 26 June 2016.

Castle Howard

Castle Howard

I was there a few weeks ago for the umpteenth time and I feel that I can keep returning. Castle Howard in Yorkshire is one of the most beautiful castles I know. When Charles Howard, the third Earl of Carlisle, wanted a residence in 1699 on the edge of the North York Moors (about 30 km north of York), he called in the help of architect John Vanbrugh. He designed Castle Howard, which is amazingly similar to another creation by Vanbrugh: Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill near Woodstock in Oxfordshire.



When writer and politician Horace Walpole visited Castle Howard in 1772, he wrote that it was one of the most beautiful places he had visited in his life. Castle Howard, which is still inhabited today by the Howard family, is still a landmark of size. Stately furnished rooms and halls, art to lick your thumbs and fingers, a heavenly chapel and an incredibly beautiful dome hall (destroyed by fire in 1940 and now completely restored). But perhaps Castle Howard is still the most impressive of the outside. The castle stands in a beautiful landscape garden with, among other things, a large Atlas fountain, here and there a folly, and a mausoleum where the members of the Howard family are buried.

Film and television


There is another reason why you should definitely visit Castle Howard. The castle became world-famous as the backdrop for the television series Brideshead Revisited, after the book by Evelyn Waugh from the same name. The TV series from 1981 with among others Jeremy Irons, Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud in the lead roles, has now reached cult status. In 2008, the film was also made into a cinema film (with, among others, Emma Thompson) and that was also shot at Castle Howard. In the castle an exhibition is devoted to both the TV series and the film.


0662/North Curry GP

MBE for heroic North Curry doctor James Hickman

James Hickman

A HEROIC doctor who rescued a woman who fell 30ft from Wells Cathedraland was first on the scene of the November 2011 M5 crash tragedy has been awarded an MBE. Dr James Hickman, a GP in North Curry and pre-hospital emergency care doctor, was commended for his services to health care, particularly emergency medical care, in Somerset and abroad. As a member of the Somerset Accident Voluntary Emergency Service he has attended hundreds of incidents in support of the ambulance service, including rescuing a patient by amputating his arm high in the roof space of an industrial complex. Dr Hickman said he was “delighted” to receive his MBE, adding that it was “a great honour to be singled out”. He said: “It’s not just for the personal recognition, but also for the charities I work with and the work all our members do in the field of pre-hospital emergency care.” In addition to his 24/7 voluntary work as an emergency on-call doctor in the county, Dr Hickman is a member of the UK International Search and Rescue Team, and was deployed to the 2009 Sumatran earthquake, and the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011. In October, 2013, he was elected chairman of the British Association for Immediate Care. He said: “There are so many deserving people out there – I’m touched that somebody, or some people, have thought to put my name forward. “I’m grateful to my colleagues in SAVES and BASICS, the doctors and staff in my practice, my patients for supporting my emergency work, and particularly my long-suffering wife and daughters for all their support in putting up with me disappearing on calls at a moment’s notice and going away for courses and meetings.”

23rd June 2014, Somerset County Gazette.

0661/North Curry – Somerset

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor north curry somerset

North Curry is a village and civil parish in Somerset, England, situated 5 miles (8.0 km) east of Taunton in the Taunton Deane district. The parish, which includes Knapp and Lower Knapp has a population of 1,640. North Curry sits on a ridge of land, 7 metres (23 ft) above sea level. North Curry is a fairly large village, but is quietly tucked away on the southwestern side of the Somerset Levels, well away from the main highways. The buildings, history, and village life make North Curry a surprising gem amongst the winding, hedgerow-bordered  country lanes that tie it to  surrounding  villa-ges. North Curry Meadow is a 1.3 hectare (3.1 acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest, notified in 1989. The parish was part of the North Curry Hundred. North Curry was settled in Saxon times and was a royal manor in the 11th century. Around 1194, Richard the Lionheart (Richard I of England) deeded North Curry over to the Bishop of Wells, along with other possessions, in exchange for cash to pay off his ransom to the Austrian Emperor, Henry VI. North Curry parish traditionally included the hamlets of Helland, Knapp, Lillesdon, Moredon, Newport and Wrantage. In 1231 Henry III granted a Afbeeldingsresultaat voor north curry somersetlicence for the Bishop of Bath and Wells to deforest the manor of North Curry and enclose the lands as parks. Reclamation of the surrounding moors before 1311 allowed the village to expand. A market village since the 13th century, North Curry’s sources of wealth have included hunting, fishing, and wool trade, with access to other markets via the nearby River Tone. Evidence of the prosperity of the village can be seen in the exemplary architecture, including 68 listed buildings. The parish council has responsibility for local issues, including setting an annual precept (local rate) to cover the council’s operating costs and producing annual accounts for public scrutiny. The parish council evaluates local planning applications and works with the local police, district council officers, and neighbourhood watch groups on matters of crime, security, and traffic. The parish council’s role also includes initiating projects for the maintenance and repair of parish facilities, as well as consulting with the district council on the maintenance, repair, and improvement of highways, drainage, footpaths, public transport, and street cleaning. Conservation matters (including trees and listed buildings) and environmental issues are also the responsibility of the council. The village falls within the Non-metropolitan district of Taunton Deane, which was formed on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, having previously been part of Taunton Rural District.

Gerelateerde afbeeldingThe district council is responsible for local planning and building control, local roads, council housing, environmental health, markets and fairs, refuse collection and recycling, cemeteries and crematoria, leisure services, parks, and tourism.

Somerset County Council is responsible for running the largest and most expensive local services such as education, social services, libraries, main roads, public transport, policing and fire services, trading standards, waste disposal and strategic planning. North Curry is in an electoral ward called ‘North Curry and Stoke St. Gregory’. Whilst North Curry is the most populous area the ward stretches through Stoke St. Gregory to Burrowbridge. The total ward population taken at the 2011 Census is 3,226. It is also part of the Taunton Deane county constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election, and part of the South West England constituency of the European Parliament which elects seven MEPs using the d’Hondt method of party-list proportional representation. North Curry Parish 201612030844ZonsopgangChurch, dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul, is nicknamed ‘The Cathedral of the Moors’. Parts of the large, airy church date to the 14th century, and the church was erected on the site of an earlier church. Episcopal records in Wells mention a church in North Curry as early as 1199. The church has a good view of the Levels and moors, with benches placed for walkers and other visitors to enjoy the view from the slightly higher grounds of the churchyard. To assist visitors tracing their ancestry to North Curry, the church has posted a map of the graves in the cemetery. In August 2007, North Curry Church was incorporated into the Athelney benefice of the Church of England. The vicar of the Athelney benefice covers the parishes of Burrowbridge, Lyng, The_Old_Brewery2North Curry, and Stoke St Gregory. North Curry has an active history society, village hall, playing fields, primary school, doctor’s surgery, Women’s Institute, cricket club, gardening club, musical and theatrical groups, and a luncheon club. In 2006, villagers opened a coffee shop, staffed by 70 volunteers, in a converted barn. The coffee shop offers artwork and crafts by local artists, along with hot food, homemade cakes, and good cheer. Proceeds from the coffee shop go to charity. The coffee shop is part of the refurbished Town Farm Barn, in the loft of which are housed the North Curry Archives. Apart from artefacts from the past, the records of people and places going back centuries are being sourced daily for those seeking Family Tree Information. In 2009 the Parish Council opened a new 12-acre (49,000 m2) Sports Field in White Street with cricket and football pitches and a pavilion. 201605011035DAY115Portrait Lady Mary Stewart-Wilson

Since 11 Januari 2016 North Curry is also a part our lives (Pierre & me), as Lady Helen Mary Stewart-Wilson lives there. On the cruiser we were soon considered to be a couple, although living in different suites: Lady Mary in 8802 on the bridge deck and me in 7004 on the Lido deck. Starting at leg 2 of the 5 leg cruise Lady Mary joined me at the dinner table. There was a “Florence Nightingale Incident” in the night leaving Oman. Visits followed:


  • August – North Curry,
  • October – Nijmegen,
  • December – North Curry (nursing),


  • April – North Curry,
  • April – North Curry (nursing),
  • August – overnight with daughter Alice in Amsterdam,
  • December – overnight with dayghter Belinda in Amsterdam (this time in a hotel),


  • May –  North Curry for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
  • September – Nijmegen, this time with a two day trip to the city Maastricht.


August 2017, Mauritshuis, The Hague. From left to right: Pierre Bormans, Alice Young, Luke Barkhuis, Lady Mary Stewart-Wilson.

LOP-NCB3741136 - © - Nick Cable

Harvesting in Somerset 🙂 🙂 🙂

0660/Big Ben

Charity founded by Prince Charles in ding dong over maker of Big Ben’s bells


The silencing of Big Ben’s bongs caused protests in the streets and now the the original maker of its bells has found itself at the centre of another ding dong. A battle has commenced to stop the struggling home of the famous clock’s bells, the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, from turning into a luxury hotel. The UK Historical Preservation Trust, originally founded by Prince Charles, is fighting its owner, a US investor who helped fund Soho House for council approval to transform the business to fit the modern age. The Whitechapel Bell Foundry has been operating since the 1740s, having made some of the most famous bells in the world including the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, bells in Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. But despite its extraordinarily long history the fourth-generation bell-founder Alan Hughes and his wife Kathryn decided to sell the site last year.

big ben 

The decision was due to financial pressures as the industry is in decline, Mr Hughes told the FT, as orders had dried up so badly in late 2016 that “we literally couldn’t pay the wages”, he said. Now the UK Historical Preservation Trust has teamed up with Factum Arte, a high tech art business, to fight to stop the site’s owner, US investor Raycliff, building a hotel at rear of the building while restoring the most vital parts of the grade II listed structure as a public attraction. Its owner, Bippy Siegal, is investing in a plan to preserve the parts of the building with historic value as well as building a 95-room hotel, with a shop selling hand bells produced by Kathryn Hughes. The design also features a grand public café which would aso be bell themed, with bell-making equipment on the walls. Customers would be able to sit and admire a three metre deep glass-covered bell pit, in which the Liberty Bell was cast.


Factum Arte produces sculptures and uses cutting edge digital scanning and 3D-printing techniques to create art and replicate ancient artifacts. It is most well known for making a copy of the burial chamber of Egyptian pharoah Tutankhamun, which is now installed at the Valley of the Kings. It wants to turn the building into a high-tech art business and historical site which aims to maintain the foundry as a functioning business. Factum has partnered with the UK Historic Building Preservation Trust in a bid to turn its vision into a reality. It has already proved how it can turn a struggling historic business into a thriving tourist attraction through its involvement in the £9m regeneration of Middleport Pottery, a historic industrial site in Stoke-on-Trent. The business was on its knees but was revived by the scheme, which will serve as inspiration for the Whitechapel Bell Foundry revivial, according to a trustee of the charity. According to British cultural historian Saumarez Smith, the revival of the site’s bell making facillities is absolutely crucial to retailing its full historic value. “My view is that the historical fabric of the building is meaningless without its use,” he told the FT. “As an 18th-century building it’s not of architectural significance. What’s important is its role as an example of industrial heritage.” The Factum Arte faces a major spanner in the works, however. It does not own the building and its owner has its own plans in motion, meaning it does not wish to sell. Its success is now riding on the local council siding with its view that maintaining the site’s historical value is most important for its future. It also provides creative education and training, which is thought to be likely to appeal to the council. Bell-making could be up and running within a year, once emergency repairs to the roof have been carried out. But as the battle between corporate investor and charity-backed artist continues, Mr Hughes is concerned that the £7.9m site, which requires rennovation, will be left to further deteriorate.