Fairytale on Voorstraat

The sound of horse hooves rang out along the street and heads turned to catch a glimpse. Like me, most of us probably expected to see a pair of police horses patrolling the street. Although not a daily sight, they aren’t completely unheard of, either, and can be seen in various spots throughout the binnenstad (old city center).

Suddenly, as we rounded the bend in the street and the cars passed, we realized that today’s equine amblers were a little bit different. Four white horses suddenly appeared, drawing behind them a storybook carriage.
Fairytale on Voorstraat
Fairytale on Voorstraat
With a line of autos and bicycles forming behind them and signs for sushi, Saigon, shoarma, and tattoos, surrounding them, it really did seem as if a fairytale carriage had been plucked from its story and dropped into the middle of modern Utrecht.

The horses moved at speed, unbothered by shifting scenery. The carriage itself was empty. Perhaps this is just the beginning of the fairytale, with the villain magicking away the carriage sent to reunite the story’s amorous pair. Or perhaps the drivers and footman are our heroes in disguise, magicking themselves away to avoid some rogue character.
Fairytale on Voorstraat
Fairytale on Voorstraat
The end of the story remains a mystery as the horses and carriage soon disappeared from sight. Was a cruel deed victorious or was there a happily ever after? Make of it what you will.

Ringing In My Ears

All Aboard
The other night, while cooking dinner, I suddenly heard this loud noise that seemed to be getting louder and nearer. The next thing I know, I spot two large horses out the front window, and they were pulling an old-fashioned beer cart. In fact, it looked a lot like this, at least from the quick, half-view that I had.

What struck me was just how loud it was! Between the clomping of the horses and the rattle and weight of the cart, it was surprisingly loud, especially echoing off the walls of our relatively narrow street flanked with tall buildings. We complain about modern noise levels, but if you stop and think about how loud it must have been here in the old city center when horses and carts were standard forms of transport, the modern noise levels seem downright quiet! That scooter that just went past as I was typing was kind of noisy, but it’s also faster, so the noise is quickly gone. Those horses take a bit longer. We could hear them as soon as they turned onto the street, and probably heard them most of the way down the street. Imagine if there were multiple carts, I think we’d have to yell to carry on a conversation in the house!

When you stop and think about the fact that cars, streetcars and horse-drawn carts were all in use at the same time, at least through the mid 1900s, it must have been madness! The past is an interesting place, but I don’t think I’d want to live there.

As Strong as a Small Pony

We went to the Maliebaanfestival today — more to come on that — and while there we saw ponies! They had a variety of sizes, from ponies to small horses. Sadly, I didn’t get many good shots, since it was particularly crowded, but I did get a few shots off. Of course, we also saw a couple of dogs who gave the smallest pony a run for its money when it came to size!

Pony Rides

Street Patrol

Street Scene
I was sitting downstairs this afternoon when I suddenly heard our dog start barking upstairs. Beneath the din of his woofing, I could hear some other clattering noise from the street. Eventually, the sound registered as horse hooves, so I grabbed my camera and raced upstairs, where I knew I could get a better shot. The weather has been clear and sunny, but not that crisp, sharp-edged clear, and from the distance, things got a bit hazy. I liked this shot in black and white, but I also like the splashes of color in some of the color shots I took. Either way, it’s nice to see life returning to the streets. I’m sure the horse police patrols are out other times of the year, but it does seem as if they’re out more as the weather improves. Just another sign that spring is on its way!