The World Championship of Living Statues, Arnhem, 2015

This year’s edition of the festival was pushed even further later in the calendar, but it enjoyed nice weather and no delays by the Dutch Railways as I’d anticipated a few weeks ago.

The Statues by Night section was presented this year in Ede the previous night, so I missed that. In its place, I can start with the children’s section, which was very nice this time. I can’t resist but begin with a very naughty little fella. I wish you enjoy the rest as well.

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Performance at the World Living Statues event in Arnhem in 2015

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Hope you’ve enjoyed it so far. I’ll soon follow with the adult event.

by. P.S.

Castles in the Netherlands 13 – Slot Zuylen

This relatively small and nicely rebuilt palace is easy to reach near Utrecht and has a number of nice features to it.

P1110421P1110423Yes, that dark line is a snaking wall, with a lot of fruit trees on its inner side facing South, soon to be reached …


On the positive side, the garden and park, which are also quite small, are very beautiful especially with the wide variety of flowers blossoming there even in mid-September.

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And here we are at the snake-wall.

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In the middle of the 18th century, this was the living place of the later Isabelle de Charrière, better known as Belle de Zuylen, until she became 31 and married the Swiss teacher of her brother. A person of very wide and deep interests and secret studies, she was a forerunner of emancipated women of much later and an author of many learned works written in French. She is one of the main attractions of the palace, which was somewhat rebuilt after her departure.

However, a visit inside is a bit cumbersome as it is only possible as part of a guided tour every hour. My guide was always in a hurry to close the boards inside the windows after her explanations, making taking good photos very difficult with so many in the group, but another guide may not be so hasty.

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Otherwise, period furniture and clothing mean mainly the 18th or 19th century here. Paintings on the walls are huge in size and numbers, but are only of members of earlier families owning the place except for an older triptych and a really huge tapestry in this room.

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This is where the budding ‘writeress’ wrote her letters to her forbidden and much older love, James Boswell, who, by the way, has the language institute of Utrecht University named after him (this is no ad for them, I hardly liked their Dutch language course when I attended).

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By the way, guiding is possible in English as I heard another one, but I guess that was a small, special group. My guide was quite lengthy and uninteresting for me in Dutch, which was a bit of a let-down for the entrance fee of €8.5. Still, some nice pieces and the garden outside make it a nice place to visit, if not necessarily inside.


by P.S.


Castles in the Netherlands 12 – Batenburg and Hernen

Getting to Batenburg is a bit difficult from the direction of ‘s Hertogenbosch as you’d have to drive back towards Nijmegen across bridges and then back. If you come by bike, this is a very beautiful view of the village from across the Mouse.


The white structure hardly seen a bit closer from the church tower is the ferry that takes you across the water – if you’re on foot or by bicycle …

From all directions, there are only small country roads you wouldn’t expect in this country of motorways/freeways. On top of this, unless you’ve seen this picture somewhere, you’d be in for a surprise.


Yes, the castle must have been impressive a few hundred years ago, but not much more is left than the walls seen below. Here I can let you have a look at a few views in rainy weather.


The upside is, you don’t have to pay a penny to see everything worth seeing.

Quite unlike in Hernen.

Hernen looks like a castle worth seeing. One of the oldest in the Netherlands, you’d really like to see what it was like so long ago.

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Unfortunately, the most interesting thing to see was a birthday party behind those open ground-floor doors, and of course, if you haven’t been invited, you’re not to see it, as I was made aware by a huge man by an inside door. I already became aware earlier that although the Dutch are very-very friendly almost everywhere, they are utterly territorial and what is theirs, or what they’ve paid for, is completely out-of-reach by others. So I was told that !this was a private affair, so …! I asked back, “So what?”, which lead to a rather hazy look and the person mumbled, so to make sure you don’t come in … I was half his size, no threat at all, yet he wanted to see me out of the building. Even then, I said yes, fine, but I’m not leaving the way you want me to. I’d paid for seeing the whole building after all, not a little.

The price for the whole building is €7.50. Considering that it is almost completely empty, I was left wondering what the curious visitor is paying for. Even the old walls are thin, make you understand why the castle of Batenburg is in ruins: thin walls of brick need only to be pushed a bit more strongly than by hand and they topple. See for yourself.

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They say the wooden structure of the towers is still original …


but is this enough reason to fork out that entrance fee?

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Even with the nice view, comparing to other castles, my answer is a resounding NO. A light walk around the buildings is all it is worth. You can decide for yourself though.


Good luck and enjoy.

By P.S.

Castles in the Netherlands 11 – Kasteel Ammersoyen, North of ‘s Hertogenbosch

Next up in this series comes a relatively small castle North of ‘s Hertogenbosch, still in the province of Gelderland. An easily approachable castle and one of the oldest in the country from the 13th century, it has a nice content inside to see for the €8.5 entrance fee. We can opt for a walkie-talkie for a guide, otherwise, you’re given a nice folder of text with photos describing the main points of information, but the explanations on the walls are also excellent for us to get to know the history and the people behind it. Outside the summer season, it opens at 13.00, so don’t need to hurry, and, as it’s not big, it can comfortably be seen within an hour.

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The walls are extremely thick, even with the stair inside them, one can imagine the difficulty of breaking through them. The toilet in the wall can still be used, they say.

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In this room having the tapestry on the wall, one is surprised by the voices at a time when almost nobody is around. You look around and see nobody speaking. Ghosts? You look around with awe. Then you move around and find where it comes from.

The next room on the tour describes most of the history, from the beginnings through the great fire of 1590 and the time of the nunnery until the abandonment and taking over and renovations by the Friends of Gelderland Province.

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by P.S.