Sunday, 22 August 2010

Now, Where Was I...?: Dutch Things

the hague, 1600

In with the new, out with the old...  erm... well, no.  In with the old and out with the...  No.  Ach. See, the trouble with moving back to a place where you've lived previously is that you presume you already know about the area and the art, architecture, and other pretties that you're moving back to. Then you realise you the extent of your knowledge is based on either 12 year old memories of your very first visit, or blurred remembrances of places seen whilst whilst singing on tour.

Memory 1: Grote, of Sint JacobsKerk in Den Haag.  Dubbed 'The Place With The Longest Curtains In The World', The Great, or Saint James' Church was a highlight of my first visit to The Hague in 1998.  It seems it was only open a few days of the year, but we found it on one of those rare days.  I didn't remember anything of the interior except for a pair of the longest white curtains I had ever seen in my life, separating the choir from the rest of the church! Going back with my LS last month, I was pleasantly surprised - yes, the long curtains were there, now changed to a fetching mustard yellow colour, but there was so. much. more!

Well, yes, for me that did mostly mean mmmm-scrummy stained glass, but I have to say it was a beautiful space and very peaceful.

Of course, there are many more things to see in The Hague, and no doubt I shall be showing them to you in the future, but I had to include the visit to one of my favourite Dutch towns here: Delft.

delft, 1580

Memory 2: The Great Delft Tea-Shop Hunt.  Rumour has it that there's an absolutely amazing tea-shop in Delft that serves the most delicious scones with cream and jam that you've EVER tasted.  Yes, in Delft.  And on my numerous visits to this beautiful town, I have never found it.  I've found numerous shops selling antique Delft tiles and Delftware, even more numerous tourist shops selling modern (and somewhat tacky) 'Delft' ware, some lovely little cafés and restaurants, and several beautiful churches, but no sign of the Tea-Shop From Heaven.  But hey, the churches aren't really a booby prize!
oude kerk, delft
The Old Church of Delft is a charming, charming building, dating from the 13th century.  The most charming of its charming aspects has to be the leaning clock tower, which was begun in 1325.

And the stained glass wasn't bad, either!

Sister church to the Oude Kerk, is the Nieuwe Kerk.

Set at one end of the market square, and begun in the late 14th century, it's really only new in relation to the other church, though!  This is the church that's related mostly to the House of Orange, the reigning royal house of the Netherlands, and inside can be found the recently restored, and rather austere, tomb of Prince William of Orange (d. 1584).

And of course, there is a multitude of stained glass on offer, too...

I'm also a fan of antique maps.  Can you tell?!

Friday, 13 August 2010

Now, Where Was I...?

... the last time you heard from me was yonks ago.  Between then and now Things Have Been Happening.

Oh yes.  Things.  

But before I bore you with exactly what Things, we'll take a commercial break.

Abbaye de Villelongue, Longuedoc, France

Come and visit the beautifully kept ruins of the Abbaye of Villelongue.  Resting at the foot of the Montagne Noir (Black Mountain) in the Languedoc Roussillon region of Southern France, this ancient abbey of Villelongue is one of the few cistercian abbeys left in Europe.

You may even happen across a concert of English Baroque music in the beautifully restored Refectory...

And welcome back...

Things indeed.  Things like moving to Holland.  Such a little statement for such a huge undertaking.  Details of finding said flat, deposit, removals (movers, for you non-UK'ers) firm and pick-up and delivery by said firm shall be spared, worry not, but I shall divulge some more pleasant happenings which include covering up the repulsive peach and red earth walls in the living room with a nice clean white and cheery sunshine yellow (although I have to admit that separated as they are in the hall and the bedroom, they aren't horrific at all), purchasing my very own fridge-freezer (and discovering a plethora of fabby second-hand shops into the bargain) and the compulsory visit to IKEA for things I didn't really need, but had to have, anyway.  

I shall only add that I don't intend to stray from this new flat for a Very Long Time.  (It's very nice, though, so I don't think I'll mind too much...)

Things.  Yes,  Other Things like singing in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam with The Orchestra of the 18th Century.  Rameau, no less.   With a live radio broadcast thrown into the mix!  Oh.  And if that wasn't nerve-racking enough, I was covering one of 2 roles of one singer who developed some mystery throat infection one day before the concert.  But, OH, how enjoyable!  I mean - Rameau, Concertgebouw, Orchestra of the C18th?  And all over my birthday week.  SWEET!  (Apart from Ill Singer, but one mustn't look a silver lining in the... erm, stitching...)

Things like travelling back off to France for concerts with Le Petit Ensemble in the Abbaye de Villelongue, and with Ensemble Jacques Moderne in the Loire region.  (I find it moderately amusing that I decide to relocate back to Holland, only to get asked for a Summer's-worth of music in France - the exact inverse happened when I moved from Holland to France in 2003!)  

But that's all we have time (and patience) for this post...  Do join us again for the second and last episode of Now, Where Was I: Dutch Things 

:: cue cheesy music and cut to commercial ::

Hidden Chateaux of the Loire

The Chateau de la Chatonnierre lies near Azay-Le-Rideau in the Loire Valley.  Nestled in twelve gardens dedicated to Science, Intelligence, Elegance and Silence, amongst others, this Renaissance chateau also plays host to a Summer music festival, where you may find an international cast of singers and musicians.  
Within a stone's throw of this garden delight, you will find the grand manor house of Les Douves, which was built on the remains of the Chateau of Onzain.  Surrounded by its own moat and gardens, the house, which is privately owned, is home to exhibitions and small music festivals the year 'round.

This post was brought to you by The God Thor, his Thunder Bolts and Lighting Sticks, Lack of Sleep, and Much Coffee

Mair Bloag Weejits

Footerin' Aboot

Footerin' Aboot
Heh! I'm so funny!

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