Monday, January 28, 2013

Abdication !

So we're going to be a kingdom again. That's exciting news, especially the fact that the beautiful Maxima will be queen. Here are some pictures of our last king, William III (1817-1890). He didn't abdicate, he died at the age of 73 still being king.

Koning Willem III
This is one of my CDVs. I like (despite the spots) the clarity. 

Our present monarch Queen Beatrix will celebrate her 75th birthday this Thursday, she'll abdicate April 30th. And there won't be a coronation. So no putting of crowns on heads, just an inauguration with some oath swearing.

KingWilliam III in 1875.

next episode: a hussar

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Gertie Millar (and Spider)

Gertie Millar (postcard)

Gertie Millar (1879 – 1952) was an Edwardian Theatre actress well known for her performances in musical comedies.

next episode: Barcelona

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Black Swan Event

'Swarte Swaane drift op't Eiland Rottenest', Jakob van der  Schley, 1750. 
Willem de Vlamingh's ships at the entrance to the Swan River with some black swans.

Since Roman times a Black Swan was a synonym for something that does not exist. In 1697 the first European sighting of a real black swan was made by the crew of Dutch seacaptain Willem de Vlamingh.

He explored the Australian Westcoast with the frigate De Geelvink (Yellow Finch), the hooker De Nijptang (The Pincers) and the galiot Weseltje (Wesel). After visiting Rottnest Island he discovered a large river. He named it Swan river after the large number of black swans living there.

Black swan with not-so-black (yet) duckling (unknown photographer).

In 1726 two birds were captured and taken to Batavia (now Jakarta) as proof of their existence. At the start of the 19th century the first black swans were taken to Europe; one of the first pairs was living at empress Josephine's mansion Malmaison (click for a virtual visit).

Today a Black Swan Event describes something that is a surprise, has a major effect and is rationalized with the benefit of hindsight. Examples are the current economic crisis, 9-11 and the end of the Soviet Union.

next episode: spider

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Rottnest Island

Rottnest Island is located 11 miles off the Western Australian coast. It is a populair holiday destination.

area: 9 km² (7.3 sq mi)
population: 300
capital: Thomson Bay Settlement

The first Europeans known to land on the island were Dutchman Abraham Leeman and his crew in 1658. His colleague Willem de Vlamingh spend 6 days exploring the island in 1696. He named it Rat Nest because of the large rats he observed. Actually these animals are small kangaroos called quokkas.

A Quokka (source)

More about Willem in the next instalment (or installment, depending on where you live) of this blog. The island is visited annually by nearly 500.000 visitors. The island features a.o. 63 beaches, snorkeling sites, a ship wreck trail and interesting road trips.

next episode: black swan

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Binnenhof in Snow

The Binnenhof in The Hague, the Dutch center of Government. Photos provided by the PM's flickr account. 

The building at the right is the Ridderzaal (Knights' Hall). The man on top of the fountain is William II (1228-1256), count of Holland and king of the Holy Roman (IE German) Empire. In the buildings at the left the Senate is located.

The Ridderzaal dates back to the 13th century. In the background the Middle Gate is visible. This gate leads to a.o. the office of the PM.

next episode: quokkas

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

World Heritage Tour Damascus & Aleppo

A snapshot of the Khan As'ad Pasha, the largest khan (caravanseraiin the Old City of Damascus.

Syria is going through an awful time. Although I've never been there it must be a beautiful country. Hereby the opportunity to take a '3D' World Heritage Tour through Damascus or Aleppo. You can move the viewing direction with your mouse.

next episode: ?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Amersfoort Then & Now

Utrechtsestraat, Amersfoort, ca. 1903-1917 (source:

The entrance to the city of Amersfoort from the south at the start of the 20th century. Until the early 19th century a large city gate (the Utrechtsepoort) dominated the area. At the far left we see the Amersfoort Boulder, symbol of the city. The nice building at the left is the city police station. A man is walking towards us on the bridge over the canal. Next to him the rails of the horse-drawn tram are visible.

Utrechtsestraat, Amersfoort, 2009.

The present day situation. The canal has been replaced by a ring road and the police station has been demolished. The futuristic building at the right is a snack bar. Sometimes progress in not progress.

next episode: ?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Alfred Stevens - In The Country

Alfred Stevens (1823-1906): 'In The Country', ca. 1867 (private collection).

next episode: ?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Waterloo Veteran of the Month: Monsieur Delignon

Quartermaster Sergeant François Delignon in the uniform of a Mounted Chasseur of the Guard of 1809-1815 in May 1858.  

"Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake." - Napoleon

next episode: Alfred Stevens

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Party For New Year’s Day In New Amsterdam by G.H. Boughton (1834-1905), 1876. 

A Happy 2013 To Everybody!

next episode: another veteran


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