Posts Tagged ‘Netherlands’

Who's helping Who?

Who’s helping Who?

Yesterday we had ‘packed packets evening’ in the Netherlands, also know as Saint Nicolas‘ evening. At the end of the evening we are used to sing: Thank you ‘Saint Nicolas’ and ‘Goodbye Saint Nicolas, goodbye Black Pete’. Rumors go Nicolas freed Ethiopian Boutros from slavery, back in the 3th century. He died 6 December 342.

After our children went to bed, I played one of their new videogames. Cleaning up the livingroom, I turn on the news and found out another Saint had left us, namely: King Mandela.

There are a lot of things to say about this man, but I sure had to mention him in this Category: Transformational Leadership. We have a said: ‘about the deceased, nothing but good’.

I’d like to add U2 newest song to that: Ordinary Love



Mandela Soccer Trophee

World Cup 2010

The sea wants to kiss the golden shore / The sunlight warms your skin / All the beauty that’s been lost before / Wants to find us again

I can’t fight you anymore / It’s you I’m fighting for / The sea throws rocks together / But time leaves us polished stones

We can’t fall any further / If we can’t feel ordinary love / We cannot reach any higher / If we can’t deal with ordinary love

Birds fly high in the summer sky / And rest on the breeze / The same wind will take care of you and / I will build our house in the trees

Your heart is on my sleeve / Did you put it there with a magic marker / For years I would believe / That the world couldn’t wash it away

‘Cause we can’t fall any further / If we can’t feel ordinary love / We cannot reach any higher / If we can’t deal with ordinary love

Are we tough enough / For ordinary love

We can’t fall any further
If we can’t feel ordinary love
We cannot reach any higher
If we can’t deal with ordinary love

Read more: U2 – Ordinary Love Lyrics | MetroLyrics

the bigger picture

the bigger picture

“So you dug all the crooks, restored all the sprengs … why you got no running water?” “Well … a couple kilometers away, they’re building a new city quarter on high grounds. It stops the rain from going into the ground and form a waterbuble down below or got transported this direction.”

Sounds like a ‘third world problem’ isn’t it? It isn’t … it is a ‘breaking ground’ problem which needs a groundbreaking solution.

And let’s face it: I’ve lived in a beautiful villa in Fèz, Morocco. When I asked my landlord what he did with his rainwater. The answer was: “I just flush it away.” Why? He didn’t want it on his property.

biggest picture

biggest picture

Last decade of the century this was common practice from the Netherlands all the way upstream untill Switserland. Everywhere more concrete and pavement is used and farmers drain their soil for economic reasons. Their machinery got bigger and sunk into the soil, that’s why …

So we need to look at the bigger picture …

Since people want to sit in their garden and drink their coffee outside, the newest trend is to cover the whole place with slabs. The municipality faces a new challenge because these gardens don’t absorb rainwater. And so invented new systems to gather these waters and slowly let them sink into the ground. 

Strange … using less pavement in gardens would do the trick anyhow. One would expect people would surround themselves with plants and nature once living in urban area’s. More and more people surround themselves with desertlike environments.

Modern Zen Scenery

Modern Zen Scenery

Their inspiration is the Japanese Zen garden, but they replace its fine gravel by pavement. Which is the exact opposite of its original design. Built to absorb water.

in Dutch

example: one needs 25 liters for every m2 of water collection; a terrace of 10mand a roof of 40m2 =50m2, needs 1250 liters of collection space.  One can lower a part of the garden 3×4 m with 10cm.  And … most households do not sit the gardens in front of their houses.

Back in the sixties people used conversation pits for these reasons. During rainy seasons people didn’t sit outside anyway.

new era, new approach

new era, new approach

With all these wadi’s in the city, people start up city gardening … and city quarters get transformational. Not mentioning the people of Green Guerilla, they revolutionize public spaces by throwing ‘bombs’ of flowerseeds on several location in urban area’s. They’re pretty serious about it, I like them very much for their funfactor.


Royal Water

Last summer I visited Royal Brewery Grolsch in Enschede with my brothers in law. [not mentioning them will fill the comment box below…] They were proud to pronounce producing environmental friendly. They rebuilded the factory in 2004 on a different location, so they could make it ahead of the future.

It might be well known the Netherlands has no shortage of water at all. It’s in our name and gravity makes water run to lower parts. But … Grolsch didn’t want to waste water. In 2015 Grolsch wanted to reduce 25% of it’s water consumption. Not including the water to make beer from, most likely the want these results up with 25%. Grolsch sat its target for 7 years.

Since it was a rainy day, I asked the tourguide what they did with rainwater? Although he knew all the ins and outs of his factory he couldn’t give me an answer. They just let is flush away?

Made me wonder … what do factories with sky water and since we were talking about the topic earlier this blog what does the paperindustry do with all its water? They claim to be enviromental friendly but how do they use their biggest gift of nature: water?

Case studies show that in Renkum’s township there are two main purchasers of water: Vitens and Parenco. Vitens is the water company and Parenco a paperfactory. Do not be mistaken: the factory is allmost as big as the town itself.

So this weeks quest would be; what do they do with their rainwater?

Because the other grazy thing is: the municipality of Renkum transformed its underground water infrastructure completey. They opened up streets to set other parts under water during rainy days, so called wadi’s. Kids started complaining for it was their playground and parent thougt is was sewage water…

Which it wasn’t, it just got a little dirty from running over the streets.

So they opened up the wadi’s and made an underground sedimentation system.

The idea was as very old, the implementation quite new. From the first days of using water as an energy source, the millers dug out brooks and springs. [AnnO 1600]


dig, duck, dug

The Dutch language provides words for these: Spreng or Sprang, these are menmade wells.

Although the Netherlands have enough water the land will dry out if all water effluxes.

What if we build factories which not only use rainwater, but purify it as wel? Take Ford for example, they drain water cleaner than it lands on their roof.

 Related articles

Wolfheze's Stream

nice trails

Where ever one looks online, a huge piece of the MTB trail is missing. And it might be the best part as well! It ads a couple of kilometers extra to the route and it is completely marked too. When looking on MTB-routes, nobody seem to know. The strangest thing is, it starts at one of the official parkingplaces.

Wolfhezer Brook Postcard

It is a circle around of what we call: Old Wolfheze [AnnO 800]. Wolfheze was one of the oldest villages of the Netherlands but the Spanish Army burned it to the ground in 1585.  The only building remaining was the wild forsters house but was destroyed by flames too. So no one knew were the village was until mid 1800’s.

Nowaday’s a beatifull gate marks the entrance towards the area. The area is so beautifull there was an paintersvillage situated compared to Barbizon. The place were Vincent van Gogh grew into being.

One can find Vincent van Gogh at the Kröller-Muller museum on the National Parc Hoge Veluwe. One of the entrances is on the other end of the MTB trail at Schaarsbergen. This is the best entrance for cyclists, for it takes another 10Km through the park towards the Museum.

same place

same place

Oosterbeek and Wolfheze developed themselves into artist colonies. Its landscape contrasted to the rest of the country. Their painting was a combination of the Old School and English aquarel style.

The museum at Castle Doorwerth has a lot of these paintings. Doorwerths Castle is situated at the most southern point of the Mountainbike Track Oosterbeek. - MTB Route Oosterbeek (2)

Castle Doorwerth

Although the newest trend on Mountain Bikes are tubeless tires, the standard remains wheels with innertubes. At first bicycles came with solid rubber or wooden tires, later on John Boyd Dunlop developed the pneumatic tire and its valve, also named after him: the Dunlopvalve. Until the late ’80’s it was the standard valve used in bicycles in the Netherlands. For that reason we called them Dutch valves. The other ones were called French or Belgium valves.

Dunlop Valve

Dutch Valve

Presta Valve

French Valve

Dunlop invented the airtube because his son got headaches riding his bicycles on the bumpy roads of Scotland.

Couple years later Édouard Michelin invented the detachable tire. It was held on the rim with clamps, instead of glue, and could be removed to replace or patch the separate inner tube.

In the entire history of tires, these were big inventions. Charles Goodyear invented vulcanized rubber in 1839.

Until today, these are big names in Tire Industry.

To me Vredestein Tires are my favourite.

Vredestein took over Hevea, its biggest concurent inside the Netherlands.

Hevea means ‘rubber’, before Goodyears invention it was the only thing one could do with the natural material; to rub pencil lines away.

In 1915 Hevea started his company and builded a complete village named after the fabric. And so Heveatown was born. The blocks were named after Islands of Indonesia: SumatraJava and Borneo. That’s were we had our plantations. The houses were build in English landscape style with thatched roofs.



Airphoto Heveadorp 1925

Airphoto Heveadorp

The Fabric was build on a hill, which was not very practical. The first thing Vredestein did was move the factory towards Renkum’s industrial area.

The same area which recently was transformed back to nature.

Bicycle tires are now manufactered in the far East. Giving ‘Indian Rubber’ a complete different new meaning, the other name for Ficus Elastica.

Somewhere in the eighties all houses were renovated, since they did not belong to the factory anymore, no one felt responsible. Builded together with 199 new houses this project was done.

Rubber Tree

Rubber Tree – Living Bridge

There is a lot of things to say about Cross Country Cycling and Mountain biking, one of the things is its guidelines towards nature.



Since I grew up in the woods I allways hated offroad bikes for their overload on noise. We’d love to help the forester to keep watch over his domain, so we could play peacefully in our illegal treehouses and underground huts. We felt like we were the good guys because we ruined the wildlife in silence. Off course we were affraid of the forester too, but maybe he liked us more if we betrayed the older guys with their mopeds.

Cross Country Cyclists and Mountainbikers have the same relationship towards offroad motorists. Most forests in the Netherlands are forbidden area for those guys. The woods are simply to small and overpopulated with animals for noisy machines. We love our deer dearly and have organisations who buy land in the countryside and restore those pieces into historical paterns.

More and more people start living in the countryside and take public transport or drive towards their workplaces in the big cities. Good market for folding bicycles of all sorts.

A couple remarkable things happened during the last decade in Renkum’s municipality. Industry made place for what we call natural infrastructure. So the animal kingdom got it’s rightfull place in our monarchy. Wildlife got it’s freedom and could walk freely passing by bio industrial complexes. It is complicated I know …

One of the big guys was Vredestein, a well known producer of bicycle tires

Vredestein Renkum

to pieces

Former Factory Vredestein

Former Factory Vredestein

But … the Transformational Architects did a pretty good job …

Beekdal Renkum

Brook Valley Renkum



Bert and Tina

A well known Dutch song is about two friends who went out on their Motorbicycles towards the Motorcross at Hengelo. One rides a Norton and the other a BSA. Since they drunk and drove, nobody heard anything about them anymore … It might be the reason I never wanted a motor on my bicycle.


Inteligent Design

Let’s not forget the human body is a far more efficient machine, so not the best there is. Can’t beat God’s intelligent design.


old and new

So at the end of World War 2 the guys from BSA developed a Folding Bicycle, also known as the ParaBike. Although a common error has been made, the ParaBike is not the same as the BSA folding bicycle.

For it is only foldable by scrap press machine. It is the same model, but developed for the civilian market.

It looks a lot like the Dutch ‘Grandma Model’. Invented in the 1890 is it still going strong and very popular among youth. Though the ladies’ version of the roadster largely fell out of fashion in England and many other western nations as the 20th century progressed, it remains popular in the Netherlands; this is why some people refer to bicycles of this design as Dutch bikes. In Dutch the name of these bicycles is Omafiets (“grandma’s bike”) though in Frisia they often call them Widdofyts (Frisian for “widow’s bike”).


Granny Bike

The classic Omafiets conforms to the traditional ladies’ roadster design and comes with a single-speed gear, 28 x 1½ (ISO 635) wheels, black painted frame and mudguards (with white-blazoning at the back of the rear one), and a rear skirt guard. Modern variants, be they painted in other colours, with aluminium frames, drum-brakes or multiple gear ratios in a hub gearing system, will all conform to the same basic look and dimensions as the classic Omafiets. (The Dutch gentlemen’s equivalent is called the Opafiets (Dutch for “grandpa’s bike”) or Stadsfiets (“city bike”) and generally has the same characteristics but with a “diamond” or “gents'” frame, thereby much the same as the gentleman’s English roadster.)