Early Morning in the Park


I thought I’d take advantage of the panoramic option on my phone this morning and get a shot of the park where I take Charlie (he’s in the midground on the path on the left, by the way). The sun was shining and casting a beautiful warm glow, and everything was peaceful, with just the sounds of students on bicycles going past.

We had the park to ourselves, so I took advantage and let Charlie wander around on his own, sniffing whatever caught his fancy. I also try to work on getting him to come back when called. That’s hit or miss, though he’s getting better. He doesn’t run away from me, like Pippo did, but he does take his time getting back to me sometimes.

Unfortunately, if he sees something he’s interested in (mainly another dog), he’s likely to ignore me and go running over to see if the other dog wants to play. That’s why I only let him off lead if there’s no other dog in the park, unless that dog wants to play, too. I know Charlie isn’t aggressive, but the other dog could be, or it could be afraid. I don’t want to upset any dogs or owners. Fortunately, he ignores most people in the park, unless they have food. Basically, I try to keep an eagle eye out at all times for any approaching dogs or food. That’s also why I tend to pick certain times to hit the park, when I know it will be fairly empty.

The Art of Nature

Trees and Shadows
This little park area is a favorite of mine. As well as being next to the Nieuwegracht, it’s also the home of my beloved Spoetnikkijker statue. It’s also home to some really beautiful trees that are sometimes even more interesting when their branches are bare. They have some fantastic textures and shapes.

On this day, my eye was caught by all the shadows I was seeing everywhere, thanks to the bright sunlight. In particular, I found myself drawn to the shadows of the trees on the modern apartment buildings next to the park.
Trees and ShadowsPlenty of buildings in the Netherlands take advantage of their large side walls to serve as canvases for some attractive and sometimes thought-provoking artwork. In this case, the building seemed a perfect canvas for a bit of art from Mother Nature. The shadow of this one tree in particular was a brilliant bit of graphic art with strong lines and swirling curves, moving your eye up and around the whole image.

Mother Nature is definitely an artist to keep an eye on.
Trees and Shadows

Signs of Spring in the Griftpark

Spring in the GriftparkA picture of two little lambs curled up together seemed appropriate for today. They’re some of the animals that live at the Griftpark, which we visited the other day. We went because I’d heard there was an International Market taking place through the 21st and I was curious to see what they had. Plus, the Griftpark is just a nice little park located nearby, at the end of a picturesque walk along one of the canals.

When we first got to the park, I realized that the kermis (fair) was also there. We were there pretty early in the day, so nothing was in operation yet and staff were getting some of the rides ready for the day.Spring in the GriftparkSpring in the GriftparkSpring in the GriftparkThe International Market was also just getting started, with a few stalls still shuttered. The offerings were mainly food, but there were a few stalls with clothing, handmade baskets, and the somewhat random stall selling necklace chains by the length. There were a number of nations represented, including Spain, Germany, Britain, and France, but the Italians seemed to be out in force. There were a number of Italian stalls selling cheese, meats, olives, nuts, and sweets. Spring in the GriftparkSpring in the GriftparkSpring in the GriftparkHowever, it was the animals that we spent the most time watching, particularly the pigs. They have a lovely curly, wiry coat that I was dying to touch, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had that urge, so they sensibly put up a warning sign telling people to be careful, because the pigs can bite. Duly noted! Spring in the GriftparkSpring in the GriftparkThere were also a few swans and a mix of ducks hanging around the small pond, as they often do, enjoying the sunshine and perhaps hoping for a few bites of pretzel from one of the market stalls. In all, it was a lovely little outing on a beautiful spring day.Spring in the Griftpark

Weekly Photo Challenge: Near and Far

Vet Hé
We took a walk over to the Griftpark this morning to enjoy the weather and take a quick look around De Utrechtse Fabriek, a bi-annual small indie vendor market. We also wanted to finally try some of Roberto’s ice cream, since there was a small cart set up at the market. Lekker!

I love that the Griftpark is technically right outside the old city center of Utrecht, but it’s easily reached from where we live. A short walk along part of the canal that rings the city center, and we’re there! There’s a skatepark in the front of the park, along with basketball courts and open fields for other sports. There’s another canal that crosses through the park, separating the sports fields from a pond, nature trail, playground, and general areas to enjoy.

I took this photo from the bridge over the cross canal. Nearby is the view of the skate bowl. In the far distance is the Domtoren, the 14th century bell tower. It’s the tallest bell tower in the Netherlands, and its huge height — 112.5 metres (368 feet) — is one reason why it looks much closer than it actually is. According to Google maps, it’s 1.5 kilometers from the restaurant in the Griftpark (which is next to the bridge where I took the photo) and the Domtoren. It’s roughly a 20-minute walk, to help put it in perspective.

Besides being a great illustration of atmospheric perspective, I love the fact that the kid who was skating was stopped for a moment so that it looks like the thought bubble in the wall painting behind him is coming from his own head! It looks like he’s thinking, “Vet hé”, which ultimately translates to mean, “Cool, huh”. It could refer to the trick he just did on his board, or to the way the Domtoren rises up over the city center. Vet hé.

Atmospheric Perspective

See other people’s interpretations of the weekly photo challenge here.

Vote for Utrecht’s Griftpark

Twisty Bits
There’s a Dutch magazine called Roots that has been conducting a search for the best city parks in the country. After an initial round of inspection and voting, they’ve narrowed down the choice to 12. One of those is the Griftpark here in Utrecht.

It’s a park I visit often and I can see why it has made the list. It sits on land reclaimed from an industrial site, creating a large green urban oasis just outside the old city center. As well as the traditional open green spaces, it has numerous other amenities, which probably influenced its choice over other parks. It has a restaurant/café, an area for skateboarding, basketball courts, a children’s playground, a city farm with a variety of animals, ponds, a wealth of vegetation and a nature center, art, and even a man-made hill that gives you a panoramic view of the city.

Voting is easy and doesn’t require a great deal of signing in/registering. In fact, if you have a Facebook account, it’s as simple as clicking the “Like/Vind het leuk” button on the park’s page. The photo on the park’s page shows some of the nature walk pathway. I’ll share a few other photos of things to see and do at the park. So if you like Utrecht’s Griftpark, please vote for it! Voting ends 31 August.

The Mountain

Eten en Drinken

One Big Pig

Orlando and the Pond

Bridge and Canal

Fluffy Neck