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So here, finally, is part 2 of my report (part 1 here) on the couple of weeks I spent with [personal profile] scribblesinink last autumn. (Changing to a new computer and taking a long time to get my photo management system back in place was one reason for the delay. Spending way too much time learning languages was another. Plus, you know, boring things like work....)

On to the photos and some details on the rest of the places we visited.


As it was promising to be another lovely day, we went for a walk around the Paterswoldsemeer, a large lake to the south west of Groningen (created as a result of peat extraction in the 16th/17th century) that's a focus for recreation.

Having caught the bus that runs out to the new housing developments near the edge of the lake, we were almost immediately confronted by a large number of geese chilling out under the trees near the lake.

Walking anticlockwise around the lake, we came to the internationally acclaimed Wall House (text in Dutch) which is... pretty weird looking. (Actually, the Netherlands has lots of interesting architecture. I've been impressed by how adventurous their housing and other building developments seem to be compared to the very timid approach to design and planning in the UK.)

The local sailing club were having a race (it was Sunday), making for a very pleasing view for those on the shore.

On the eastern side of the lake, there's a working windmill. This is a very Dutch scene, with a windmill, a sailboat or two, and people on bicycles.

From the far side of the lake, almost back to where we started from:

Altogether, I think we walked around 12km on a very warm and sunny day, so we were quite tired at the end of it all!


After such an energetic day at the Paterswoldsemeer, we took the next day very gently. In the afternoon, we went for a wander round the central part of the city of Groningen. No photos this time, but there's plenty from my previous visit when we very comprehensively wandered all over the city. It was also my birthday and [personal profile] scribblesinink took me out to dinner at a lovely Vietnamese restaurant, where she made me cry! (The delicious soup that was the second course had very hot bits of pepper that caught the back of your throat – the waitress warned us! – and I had to break out the tissues for us. :-) )

We went to visit [personal profile] scribblesinink's parents, who then drove us on a visit to Giethoorn. Nicknamed "Venice of the Netherlands", the village is mostly only accessible by water, though they do have a cycle path now.

Many of the houses are on their own little islands, connected to the mainland by bridges (the mainland, with cycle path, is on the right):

The houses are all subject to preservation orders/listed status and reflect the traditional building styles in this part of the world, with hipped roofs and a barn to the rear of the house.

While we made the rounds of the canal on one of the many motorised tour boats, this is a typical sailboat—almost certainly built locally—that the residents use to get around.

There are a couple of small museums and some very nice restaurants and cafes, and it really is a very lovely and peaceful day out when it's not heaving with tourists....


After another energetic day and with the weather not quite so good, we went for a fairly leisurely afternoon walk in the Kardinge nature reserve to the north east of Groningen. This is next to a newish and very impressive sports complex (which they were building more of when we visited). The route we took started off by climbing a man-made hill that gave views back over the city, over the sports centre and over the reserve. This is a view looking away from the city and over part of the sports centre – the leaning red tower is a very challenging climbing wall.

A lot of the nature reserve is very open grassland, but there is a wooded area in one corner with this lovely secluded pond.

This is the main lake in the centre of the nature reserve, which includes a couple of islands. We spent some time watching a group of swans, including some cygnets, on here.

This was taken from very close to where I took the previous picture, showing the climbing tower and futuristic sports centre. (I think the climbing tower was even weirder and more eye-watering in real life.)

Although the nature reserve and the lakes weren't exciting in an obvious way, they were very peaceful and relaxing. Definitely worth another trip to try out a different route.


We took a train trip down to Utrecht, another provincial capital and another very typical Dutch city. Exhibit 1: the obligatory mediaeval bell/clock tower (the Domtoren):

Plus lots more handsome buildings from later eras, like this one (also on the Domplein, near the tower):

The tower was meant to be joined to the Domkerk (St Martin's Cathedral), except due to various financial issues and building difficulties, it never was. The Domkerk does have a lovely cloister, though. Here's the rather magnificent entrance:

And here's inside the cloister, with a rather more modern statue

A notable feature of Utrecht are its two-tier city centre canals, which have lower wharves providing access to the basements of the street-level buildings. As in so many Dutch cities, the combination of water, trees and limited vehicle traffic (if lots of crazy cyclists) make the city centres very nice places to visit.

One of the nicest places we visited was the Oude Hortus botanical garden, which used to be the main botanical garden of the University of Utrecht, but is now the garden of the university museum. (The university's botanic gardens have moved to two sites outside the city.) The gardens and greenhouses have been restored to a state close to their earliest form—right down to recontructing the door into the pharmaceuticals laboratory that now leads to nowhere!

The greenhouses—at different temperatures and levels of humidity—were full of strange and wonderful plants, like these waterlilies and some very odd succulents!

Once it grew dark, we tried following the Trajectum Lumen, a series of "light art" installations. These were pretty hit and miss: some of them were very effective and beautiful; some didn't seem to be working; and some seemed to be working but... really weren't very impressive.

And then back home on a late-ish train....


We took a short trip out by train to Menkemaborg, which is a moated stately home with very pretty grounds.

This is the lovely avenue up to the house:

And at the end of that avenue is a bridge over the moat to the front door.

To one side of the house are some immaculate formal gardens (although they had some amazingly tacky statues and garden ornaments). You can see the front of the house and the side (with the three gables) in the rear of the photo.

The topiary and planting were absolutely delightful, though.

And I loved the giant sundial!

There was a lawn to the rear of the house, with a maze on the far side of that We made our way into it, got to the centre of it, and then successfully escaped – but it wasn't very photogenic. ;-) And beyond that, on the other side of the house from the formal gardens, were the kitchen gardens, which are always a part of a stately home that I enjoy visiting. Very envious of all the fruit trees espaliered over the arched trellises!

As you can see, we had very lovely weather again – this was first week in October!

Walk on edge of Groningen

On my last day, we caught a bus out to the western side of Groningen and made our way back on foot to the neighbourhood where [personal profile] scribblesinink lives. There's a "make your own walk" site that allows you to string together short segments of routes and this was a good way to test how accurate it might be without heading out into the middle of nowhere. It tried to send us wrong a couple of times, but we'd already figured out it might be wrong in those places when we were planning the route at home. So I think the verdict on the site is "useful but use with caution".

I don't seem to have taken any photos of this walk – it wasn't really that sort of walk – but it was a nice wander through some pleasant neighbourhoods.

And then, alas, I had to fly home at the end of a lovely trip during which [personal profile] scribblesinink was a marvellous host. (Thank you for having me to stay, S!)

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