Sunday, September 11, 2016

Vacation 2016: Burgundy, Veenhuizen, painting and Rijswijk

This year, we thought we had deserved some serious vacation! So we kicked it off with a week in one of the most beautiful regions of France: the Morvan, a part of Bourgogne. After a brisk 9-hour drive we arrived in the land of sun, milk and honey that is the Bourgogne and chambre d'hote Les Hirondelles. I won't wax on how nicely it is situated and will let the picture below speak for itself!

On our first day trip we visited Guedelon, a fascinating place where a medieval castle is being built using medieval methods and materials.

Below the model of how the castle should eventually look when finished.

 The building site is situated in an oak forest near a quarry. Walking through the forest you come upon the open spot where the castle is being built, surrounded by workplaces.

The quarry

This machine is driven by one person and can lift up to 300 kilos. Two-person versions may lift up to half a ton!

The entire terrain is riddled with fascinating examples of how the medieval craftsmen worked. Like their way to cut stone for a vault roof beforehand, using a wooden model.

Here mrs Pijlie briskly strides into the courtyard.

The central keep, reminding me very much of the bastlehouses and Pele towers I saw in the border regions of Scotland an England a few years back.

Building the walls...

Note the massive bolt sliding into the wall used to bolt the main door of the keep. 

There were a lot of workplaces built around the castle in medieval style, like this paintshop. All the paints used in the castle were made here, using materials and herbs mostly grown or found on site. 

The pottery

The spinnery. 

The herbal garden.  

The smithy.

The following day was to be scorching hot, so we remained in the shades with a classy hat and a good book. "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry" definitely is not a book to miss! Beautiful, beautifully written. Thank you Eveline for giving me this for a present!

Some nice details from a visit to Vezelay, the quintessential medieval town. Go there if you ever want for inspiration for building terrain.

We even wound up in the exact middle of the European Union, or more precise, the Euro Zone, Montreuillon's one claim to fame. Fortunately for them, the UK isn't part of the Euro zone so the pole can remain standing even after Brexit!

Scorching hot again, so I got some painting done.

Because of mrs Pijlie's birthday we visited a piano concert on a lake. Music and landscape really made some great compositions together.

The next day we visited Chateau Bazoches, home to the great late marechal De Vauban. Besides being a lovely chateau with a breathtaking view it holds a wonderful collection of Vauban's work, life and legacies, which were even more numerous than I knew. He wrote, for example, a thesis on wealth-related relative tax laws and books about social unequality in France.

His sedan chair, meant to be carried by mules. 

In this spacious hall, Vauban's building projects were prepared and coordinated and it still contains many remnants of his professional life.

His personal armour. As you can see by the dents, being marechal of France wasn't a very safe profession. He nevertheless died of old age.

A courier tube and riding stirrups. 

Models of his fortifications

Mrs Pijlie exploring the winding stairs. 

The great man's bed. The great man wasn't very tall by the way. My feet would stick out if I had tried to sleep in that thing!

One of his descendants fought in the battle of Chesapeake Bay.

And he had a badass library! 

Here he is looking sternly down at the Place de Vauban in Avallon. We ate at Les Marechaux and had a Grand Salade Marechale, so we stayed in theme.

This beautiful statue of a nun reading a bible stood in the church square in Autun.

Back in the Netherlands we took off to Veenhuizen to visit the former 19th century penal colony there, now housing the Prison Museum. Great Britain sent its criminals to the colonies. The Netherlands just sent them to the north of the country and that must have felt just as far away then....

Looking at the things human beings did to each other as a deterrent for criminal behaviour, one starts to seriously doubt the deterrent effect of punishment, given the amount of crime that happened then despite the horrendous punishments that criminals risked.....

We stayed at a lovely hotel there with an EXCELLENT cuisine: Bitter en Zoet (Bitter and Sweet) housed in the former apothecary of the colony.

We visited the Kathe Kollwitz exposition in Heerenveen and I was very impressed by her bronze statues, which survived the Nazi regime because the Nazis fortunately failed to destroy the molds. 

On the final day of my vacation, we visited the bi-annual Paper Art Expo in Rijswijk to view some intriguing artworks and as it turned out: some great classic cars!

The last lunch on a terrace of this vacation. That day, life was good :)

Mrs Pijlie looking just like I must look at a wargames convention....

And we end with my daughter's favourite car. Those were some great three weeks. Duty calls!