Sail 2015

We’ve just had SAIL2015 here in Amsterdam, an extravaganza of tall ships, small ships and sailing fans that occurs every five years. I went to look at ships as they came in, it’s a big thrill to see them. There are some great images collected of the event on Instagram, but the best visual of the event is this time-lapse drone-based video from Haven Amsterdam (Amsterdam Habour Authority).

Pimp My Bike #26

pimp_bikeBright stripes – emulating the catalan flag.

Also note the tourist standing in the middle of the cycle track in the background, he was busy reading a map.


Stained glass Posthoornkerk

I wandered past the Posthoornkerk on Sunday and saw that it was open. This church has been restored and converted into offices and event space, it’s now used for all sorts of events including the Game of Thrones exhibition. Apparently it’s open the third Sunday of every month, but I’ve never noticed it before. So in I strolled.

Posthoornkerk Although the church is no longer in use as a church, I assume it’s de-consecrated, there is still plenty of evidence of its original purpose, most noticeably the soaring stained glass windows. They have the usual religious theme, including one image of the consecration of the church in the 1880s.

This is a relatively new church by Amsterdam standards. The church was designed by Pierre Cuypers, who also designed the Rijksmuseum and Amsterdam Central Station. Building started in 1861, while the towers on Haarlemmerstraat were built between 1887 and 1889.

It was built once the freedom of religion was restored in 1853, ending almost 300 years of the suppression of Catholicism in Holland (the province) following the Union of Utrecht in 1579. During this time it was not possible to build Catholic churches in Amsterdam so Catholics gathered in hidden, or secret churches.

posthoorn sign at Prinsengracht 7The Posthoornkerk takes its name from one of these hidden churches that had congregated nearby, with the last location being Prinsengracht 7, which still has a Posthoorn over the door.

By the 20th century congregation numbers had dropped, and the church was closed and boarded up in 1976. There was a plan to destroy the church and build some form of social housing. But a campaign was started and the building was saved. It was restored in the 1980s and developed into the offices and event space we have today.

It’s open for various events, but to see the full impact of the height of the space and the stained glass windows it’s best to see it when empty – which is the third Sunday of the month. You can also book it for events, including weddings, via the Stads Herstel website (Dutch only).

Lost in Translation


The local green grocer is a family business and it’s closed while the family are on holiday.

A literal translation would be;

Dear clients,
Don’t be raspberry, but we are on holiday.  Vegetables from us all!

Which makes no sense unless you untangle two Dutch words.

FRAMBOOS = raspberry, but BOOS = angry.
GROENTEN = vegetables, but GROETEN = regards.

Now try reading it again!

Saturday Market; Tomato Heaven!

Market tomatoesIs your mouth watering?

Mine was as soon as I saw these beautiful tomatoes. I couldn’t resist, they were my “treat for the week”. So I wanted to make something that would highlight the tomato-goodness and retain the fantastic colours; bruschetta!

I roughly diced the tomatoes, added salt, pepper, finely chopped basil and a good glug of good olive oil, set aside for half an hour. Toast slices of ciabatta, peel a garlic clove and cut it in half, rub onto the toast, top with the tomato mix and eat immediately (before the bread gets soggy!).

Saturday Market – Treats!

After my usual shop I went across to the Noordermarkt for some treats.

Raspberries! One of the joys of summer is the berries, and of all the berries raspberries are my favourite. This stand on the Noordermarkt has all sorts of incredibly delicious Raspberry products; baked goods, salad dressings, sauces and jams. They’re seriously yummy, I bought jam and sauce.

NTRaspberryHerbs! I also stocked up on the Amsterdam’s best pesto from the herb guy; also got a bunch of good peppery rucola and some fresh flat-leaf parsley. I did not get any roast garlic, it looks fantastic but I’m not sure what to do with it.


Pimp My Bike #25

batbike2For the non-Dutch a bike with the wooden crate in the front is a “bakfiets”. This might be my favourite bike pimp post of all time.