246. Day 4: The Hague

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I do realise that this is akin to saying that Italians like pasta or that German trains run on time but I can no longer resist stating the bleeding obvious. Blooming heck- the bikes!

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In our neck of North London, the council won a bid for some extra money to create bike lanes: the scheme was dubbed ‘mini Holland’. For months now there have been road-works in the centre of town and so far we have about half a mile of really nice cycle track.  At present, though, the track joins one lot of roadworks to another lot of roadworks. So although it is lovely track, it’s not vastly cluttered by bikes.

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You would not believe the amount of furore this bike lane has caused. There have been petitions against it, angry letters in the local paper, residents’ meetings.

Now, I really like bikes and really, really want the scheme to succeed, as more people biking would be a Good Thing. But the painful truth is, one bike lane does not a Holland make, mini or otherwise. The Dutch have inhaled cycling with their mother’s milk.

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I’m particularly intrigued by the variety of bikes and riders.  Business chaps in suits and ties, texting as they cycle. Women in pencil skirts and stilettoes. Old people, young people. Students carrying a couple of friends, all chatting about their day. Toddlers and babies in all kinds of seats and trailers. Children on their own small bikes, with dad riding alongside holding onto their handlebars. Bikes adapted for wheelchair users. It’s a bike lover’s heaven.

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And one for you vegetarian slags.

Anyway,  just needed to get that out of my system. No more bike stuff, I promise. Cross my heart.

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This morning, we went around the Escher museum – such glorious woodcuts! There’s one he made of the inside of St Peter’s in Rome. Apparently, he was perched high up, looking down on the church and sketching for hours. Someone said to him ‘Doesn’t that make you feel dizzy?’ and he replied ‘that’s the point.’

This afternoon, we lucky enough to be guided around the city by a retired teacher called Jacob. He and ActorLaddie hit it off straight away and had great fun talking history guiding stuff. Here they are walking down the city’s equivalent of The Mall.

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We really like The Hague. It has a sort of quiet dignity; attractive but not flashy. It’s not the capital of the Netherlands but the government, the monarchy, the civil service, the embassies are all based here.  So, a city of some wealth reflected in the architecture.

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Anyway, today’s starter for ten – the water feature below is a tribute to which Dutch artist?

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Tomorrow, we’re off to Haarlem. Catch you there?

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