A couple of days after Christmas, Gerrit and I had a bit of a drive around and, with winter tyres firmly attached to the car, crossed the border for a brief and fairly aimless trundle around the part of Germany that butts up against the Dutch province of Groningen. It was very wintery, snowy and bleak.
|as you can see.|
|While I was there I got the golden opportunity to visit the Groninger Museum. I have been to many wonderful exhibitions there and love the way art and other objects are set out. This year was an exhibition of art works from Russia's hidden Orient. And it was great. I have to say, not as good as the one a few years ago about Russian art inspired by folk tales and legends, but really good all the same. |
|A dayglow bike, impossible to lose in the snowy conditions.|
|Another day Gerrit and I went back to Friesland. During exceptional winters there is a skating race in Friesland, the Elfstedentocht, that follows the canals that link all of the province's eleven recognised cities. Some of those cities are big, like Leeuwarden, while others are tiny, never having developed since the Middle Ages. That in itself is fascinating, but if you throw in the race and the fact that it is only held after as much cold weather as is necessary to make the ice thick enough to have thousands of people skating on it, and you have quite an event. The race last took place in January of 1997, and it now doesn't look like happening again this year. While I was there lots of people were getting, sort of, twitchy about it, but I suppose that has eased now that an impressive thaw has set in. |
We were not skating it, but following the prescribed route as best we could by car. These pictures come from various places we stopped along the way. I have to confess to not remembering all of them, though I could find out, but I hope they give you a flavour of what these places, big and small, are like.
|Of course, the ice was fine for the odd few skaters to use, but it has to be rock hard for the thousands that take part in the race.|
|I was amused by this. This is a man on a quadbike, using a power-driven brush to sweep the snow off the ice of a lake joining canals together, so that people could skate on it. So, to recap, he's on a quadbike on a lake, sweeping off the snow.|
|This is my very favourite of all the eleven cities, Sloten. It is a tiny place no larger than a small village, but is designated as a city. It is a gorgeous place to be and to look around. |
|This is a typical Friesland farmhouse. It consists of a head, neck and body. The house, on the right is the head, then the neck is a small building that links the head to the body, the farm buildings themselves. |
|The harbour at, I believe, Workum, or it might be Hindeloopen. Wherever it was, I nearly fell over there on the ice covering the walkway by the harbour. I would probably have broken a hip but would have done everything in my power to save my camera!|
|Redundant fishing nets next to a frozen river.|
And there you have it. I hope you have managed to get a feel for Friesland.