Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Around The Hague, 2006, Part 3

Delft is only a number 1 tram ride away from The Hague.

I get out at the second stop beyond the windmill to have breakfast of coffee and 'appelgebak' (a tart of pastry filled with apple chunks and sultanas) at an ancient (17th Century) merchants' hall where a huge balance decided such as the number of sheep skins to be swapped for wheels of cheese.

After breakfast I head out of the main market square with its tall church of multi-chiming bells to a shopping street where there is a wonderful hardware shop. It is small, but crammed with goodies, many of which I would like to have.

Delft, being one of the favourite haunts of Duch painters through their civilised ages, seems to present a charming vista at every turn. Many an ally way, if peopled by maidens in 17th century costume, could be a familiar Vermeer scene.

Dominating, and forbodingly, is a church, with an enormous clock-decorated belltower that leans over a canal as if to fall. It contains a great bell that is struck at the death of a royal personage. When their last prince died, it was feared that a toll of the bell would be the death of the tower, but is was rung, and the tower remains standing. But, for myself, I do not choose to stand beneath it.

So I filled some of my plain postcards with drawings of buildings (both vertical and leaning), bridges, and canals leading to dark watery tunnels.

Market days, either taking place in the main square or on either side of a canal are a delight. People from Delft and the surrounding countryside crowd the ally ways between stalls to bargain, buy or eat.

The tram route to and from Delft passes by T-shaped streets that constitute the red light district.

I thought that these would be an interesting subject for my pen and postcards.

Why I am reminded of butchers' shops when passing the 100 or so windows of scantily-clad girls, I do not know. Perhaps the display in the windows of butchers' shops are only of interest if you are there to buy meat.

Expecting a hostile reception should I draw openly and brazingly, I stood well away to record men ogling, contemplating, bargaining, or just standing around on guard.

With Delft on the inland side of The Hague, Scheveningen is on the other side - the seaside.

I had never entered to walk out to sea on its elaborate pier, that somehow resembles a gheko's leg and feet. On one of its several 'toes', a tall tower and crane provide the means for bungee-jumping.

But the interior of the covered, and lower floor of the pier, is dull, with a few souvenir shops doing (in winter) next to no business.

But below the pier, on the extensive swath of sands, a golf course had been set up, with greens of matting laid down. So, except for the initial drive from each tee, every shot toward the green became a bunker shot (what lovely practice).

I thought that I had come to the end of my pack of now drawn-on postcards. But there was one left to record a foursome trying to shield themselves from the wind and rain with a large black umbrella while waiting their turn to tee off.

Margreet's conference over, it was time to drive home, this time breaking our journey back to England at Oostende.