Utrecht’s Light

Utrecht Sky
I was looking through some of my photos and trying to come up with a theme for some of them, but I didn’t have much luck, so instead you get a post of random photos around town.

While Charlie and I were out on Sunday to see the pope (statue), we ended up wandering around a bit more of town. We didn’t really go far, as the light wasn’t all that inspiring at the start. There wasn’t a lot that made me want to get out my camera. However, after a coffee break at one of the cafés along the Oudegracht, things started to look a bit better. Or maybe it was just the hit of caffeine. Charlie convinced me to head over to Neude to see if the oliebollen stall was open. It was. And as I juggled dog and a bag of warm oliebollen, I happened to glance up and see the impressive sky overhead. It had been dull and overcast for much of the morning, but the sun was making an effort to break through. As you can see, the result was a wonderful silhouette of the Domtoren and the Utrecht flag over Neude, with some amazing clouds.

We then walked back through Janskerkhof to smell the Christmas trees for sale and take a few more photos along the Drift. The sunlight was starting to come through and one of the beautiful buildings by the canal was starting to turn ever so slightly golden in the light.
Golden Drift
This is the view of the other side of the canal where you can see the sun starting to really glow.
Light and Shadow
Even Charlie caught the light to show off his lovely brindling.
Charlie by the Drift

Autumn Colors Along the Maliebaan

maliebaan herfst autumn colors trees changingFinally, there was no fog on our walk this morning. Just lots of sunshine and beautiful colors. We took a stroll along the Maliebaan. The Maliebaan is a historic and scenic street that has walking paths along both sides of the street, and even some pieces of sculpture along one side. This is also where the first bicycle path was created in the Netherlands in 1885. There’s a sign post that commemorates what would be the first of many cycling paths in this country.
eerste fietspad first cycle path in the netherlandsBut for a girl and her dog, it’s just a great place to take a walk on a crisp autumn morning.

DSC08706

 

Morning Light

Morning Light
I remember taking a similar picture not that long after moving here, when I would take Pippo out in the mornings. The light on this section of the Wittevrouwensingel is often like this in the morning. Slightly misty and dreamy, with sparkles of sunlight. If you have to get up early in the morning to take a dog out, at least it’s nice to have such pretty scenery. I’m enjoying getting out and enjoying the view once again.

Charlie and the Golden Calf

Gouden Kalf
The annual Nederlands Film Festival is going on right now, and since the Stadschouwburg is undergoing renovation, the Gouden Kalf (Golden Calf) statue has been moved to Neude this year. Neude has always been one of the spots for the film festival. Pippo and I used to go check out the setup in years past. This year, the old postkantoor (post office) is also being used for some of the festival events. Charlie and I took a walk over yesterday morning to see the sights.
Gouden Kalf
Nederlands Film Festival
Nederlands Film Festival
While the Gouden Kalf was one of the things I wanted to see on the walk, my main destination was the square behind the Stadhuis. I had seen mentions on Twitter about 3D chalk art and wanted to see it for myself, especially before the festival was over or before the rains came again.

We were fortunate to have come at it from the correct angle, so it was fairly clear to see the image right away. But as we stood there at the official viewing spot, we saw people coming from the opposite direction and actually standing on the piece and not having any idea of what it was. It wasn’t until they got to the viewing spot that they realized.

Here’s Charlie sitting in the viewing spot (though getting distracted):
3D Chalk Art
3D Chalk Art
The piece depicts some of the symbols of Utrecht and the festival, with the Domtoren to the right, the Golden Calf in the center, standing in the Oudegracht, and the Inktpot with the UFO shown on the left, among other items.

As I said, if you come at it from the right angle, it’s easy to see. But when you see it from any other side, you realize how unusual and impressive it is!
Nederlands Film Festival
I’ve seen photos of work like this before, but this was the first I’ve seen in person. Definitely worth seeing, and a nice addition to the decorations around town for the festival.

Introducing Charlie

CharlieSo, a few of you noticed that I haven’t blogged in quite a while. I appreciate you reaching out and apologize for not responding directly. I’m ok, but various things meant that I had no desire to blog and didn’t really want to talk about it all. I’m still not sure how much I want to get back into blogging. Right now it feels like a lot of work on top of my actual work. But I do have a reason to get out and about a bit more now, so if nothing else, I’ll hopefully have photos to post!

I’ve missed having a dog to go on long walks with regularly, so a couple of months ago, I started searching for a new canine companion. It was surprisingly difficult, mainly because of our two cats. Finding a dog that could live with cats, get along with other dogs, and stay home alone for a few hours was a surprisingly big ask. A few times, we thought we’d found a dog, but it would either be adopted before we had a chance to see him or it turned out he wasn’t ok with cats or something or other.

Finally, last week, on my daily searches of various dierenasiel (animal shelter) websites, I came across a Staffordshire terrier who sounded like he would be a good fit. After exchanging a few emails with the shelter, it seemed like things could work out, so we asked them to reserve him for us until we could get there on Monday. (They’re all closed on Sundays and our weekends are Sunday and Monday.)

So yesterday morning, we headed out to Rotterdam to go see about a dog. I’m going to give you the condensed version as he’s currently trying to use my arm as a chew toy and sticking his big head up under my arm. Obviously, we got him. He’s only one year old, so he’s still got a lot of puppy enthusiasm. But he’s wonderful on walks! Not so great in the car, though. We knew he had the potential to be car sick, but we managed to get all the way to Utrecht, just minutes before we were home before he decided to be sick. Of course. Since then, we’ve been to see a few sights around Utrecht, though his selfie game needs work. He found a Nijntje yesterday. Charlie
He took a tour through the Pandhof at the cathedral.
CharlieCharlie

And today he took in some 3D chalk art by the Stadhuis (more on that tomorrow). 3D Chalk ArtAfter that mini wrestling match a few minutes ago, he’s now passed out on the sofa next to me, snoring away. He’s a big snorer.

As for the cats, he’s been fine with them, just curious. They, on the other hand, are not happy. Luna’s dealing better than Lola, which is funny, since Lola is the one who used to follow Pippo around everywhere. Oh well, I’m sure she’ll come around.

A Cat in Every Window

Cat AlleyToday is what is referred to as rokjesdag (skirt day), due to the fact that the sun is shining and the temperatures have begun to warm up considerably. In other words, lots of skirts are likely to be worn.

However, I think a better word for days like today is katjesdag, because today is the kind of day where you’ll see a preponderance of cats in windows. The whole country becomes like a kitty red-light district with cats on display in almost every window. Our two have been baking themselves silly all morning.

On Sunday, it was a similarly sunny day, as you can see from the photo above. At first, it looks like any charming little street in the sun. Yet as we got closer, we couldn’t help but notice multitude of cats, upstairs and down. The first one to catch my eye was this sneaky fellow who seemed to be testing the waters of a fish bowl.
Kitty in the Fish Bowl
Kitty in the Fish Bowl
The next was this black cat who looks just like my lovely Luna.
Luna's Twin
This next charmer managed to find a spot amid the foliage, like a true jungle cat.
Basking
And finally this cat was doing a good job of camouflaging, by picking his own perch among the birds. Though he may have been in too much of a torpor to do more than eye up the birds.
Cat and Birds
Cat and Birds

RIP Sheriff

Distracted
I woke to horrible news yesterday. A neighborhood icon, Sheriff the cat, had died. Even more tragic, his death came as the result of some vile person kicking him. The animal ambulance came, but there was too much internal bleeding to save him. The psychopath who kicked him has been arrested.

It’s hard to imagine the neighborhood without Sheriff. Although he called Café Tilt home, he could be found wandering throughout the immediate neighborhood and among the many bars and terraces. A friendly cat, he seemed to take his name seriously, often walking with us as we returned home, as if making sure we made it safely. Once we were in our house, he would then continue his patrols, vigilant, but often with a friendly meow.
Wittevrouwen Muur Kunst
He is one of the stars of a wall mural just off Wittevrouwenstraat behind Café Tilt, along with other icons of Utrecht. The mural is a nice reminder, but it will never make up for losing the real Sheriff. The loss has been felt by many, with outpourings of horror and grief throughout social media. He was such a frequent sight that losing him really does feel like losing one of my own beloved cats. It’s hard to believe we’ll never see his battered ears and beautiful black and white whiskers again.

Rest in peace, our dear friend.
My Hero!
SherrifSuperstar [Day 43/365]

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Caturday: Box Edition

No Lolas Allowed
Cats and boxes go together like peanut butter and jam. In our household, if there’s a box, there’s a cat either in it or on it. That’s pretty normal, as even wild cats, such as lions and tigers, have shown a fondness for boxes. There’s just something about boxes that cats love.

Well, it turns out a couple of veterinary medicine researchers at Utrecht University have been studying this special relationship. Ruth Van Der Leij and Claudia Vinke have found that boxes significantly reduce a cat’s stress levels. In their studies, they looked at the behaviour of cats who were in a two-week quarantine at an animal shelter. Half of the cats were given a box and half were not. Those who had a box were significantly less stressed than their boxless counterparts and the box cats adjusted to their new environment more quickly. They also tended to remain healthier, due to reduced stress levels.

It was a month or so before we got a lot of boxes after we moved here, since the bulk of our boxes came much later. But we did pick up a few items in boxes when we first moved. Luna was appreciative. Lola sulked, while waiting her turn.
Poezen!
As you can imagine, Christmas is a good time for the cats with the arrival of lots of boxes. A little over a year ago, Luna and Lola got a particularly nice box. The perfect size to sit in and survey the surroundings, while still feeling kind of cozy. Add in a little catnip and it’s pure love. Here’s Luna rubbing on the edge, as if saying, “I love you, box!”
I love you, box!
Both cats liked it so much, I couldn’t bring myself to toss it. So I gussied it up a bit. I trimmed off the lid and then wrapped it in fabric and cut a fleece liner for it. We still have it, more than a year later. First up is Luna, followed by Lola. Luna does typically sit upright in it, while Lola tends to hunker down.
cat in a box
cat in a box
But don’t even think of getting rid of the box. The wrath of the cats will be rained down upon you!

However, some more catnip sprinkled in would be appreciated.
cat in a box
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The Dog Days of Christmas

I am irresistibly drawn to dogs and regularly find myself admiring the many dogs we see while out and about. Occasionally I can get a quick snap or two of some of them, but dogs being dogs, most photos end up like this:
utrecht dogsFortunately, I did manage to catch a couple of dogs at the kerstmarkten the other weekend, and on this second day of Christmas (Tweede kerstdag, as it’s called here), I thought I’d share a couple of the photos. Because, dogs.
Domplein KerstmarktOne of the first dogs we saw was this giant Newfoundland dog, AKA a Newfie. I knew these dogs were big. I’ve even seen them before in person, but it’s still easy to forget just how big a dog they can be. I don’t think the picture even gives the true sense, as he’s sitting down and fairly relaxed. I just wanted to throw my arms around him and burrow my face into his fur. He looked like a giant teddy bear you just want to cuddle!
Stadhuis Kerstmarkt
This next dog was all too familiar to me in his straining enthusiasm to lick some fallen morsel of food off the ground. Well, I say food, and in this case it probably was, but often it just has to be something that smells good to a dog. Imagine walking an enthusiastic six-month-old dog through the streets of New York and all the inevitable stuff that littered the ground, edible or not. I still remember the game of tug of war when it came to keeping my Pippo away from a dropped slice of day-old pizza on one of our morning walks through Manhattan.

This little fellow managed to lick up whatever had fallen, as seen by the round wet mark just to the right of the dog in this next photo, before continuing his scavenging.
Stadhuis Kerstmarkt
It’s been just over two years since we lost our sweet Pippo, an enthusiastic scavenger and licker. Our dishes just aren’t as clean as they used to be.
Lekker!