Tag Archives: bristol

Amsterdam – part 3

Amsterdam – day 3 aka Friday

One of the reasons why we were looking at going to Amsterdam in the first place, wasn’t the drugs or the prostitutes. It was for a tulip event that takes place between March and May at Keukenhof.
Of all the years we could go, ironically, this year the theme is “British”. Clearly that was a sign that we should go this year.
We could go any day during our trip (the tickets are valid for any time they’re open between March-May), but of the days we have left, a combination of different weather websites would seem to suggest today is the day when it’s least likely to rain, so today we go to Keukenhof.

Before leaving the UK, we booked the Keukenhof combi-ticket which is not only your entrance fee, but the buses to/from the place. It requires two buses – one to the airport, and another from the airport to Keukenhof. But we can’t use our combi-ticket on all buses, and sadly not on the much-more-convenient train that goes to the airport.
We made it from our hotel to Leidsplein. It tells you to catch a bus from there. But as we went via tram to Leidsplein, we’re at Leidsplein tram stop now, not Leidsplein bus stop. Where the hell do the buses stop?
After a bit of wandering around, we found a bus stop, and got our bus to the airport. (The taxi waiting area maps show where the taxis are, the tram stops show where the trams stop, but without knowing where the buses go already to find the bus stop, how are you meant to know where they are?).
I’ve said this before, but the airport is enormous. Our bus is due to make about 10 stops at the airport. The next part of the ticket/Keukenhof website instructions say to go to something plaza, and get a bus outside of arrival hall 4. We waited til we saw the plaza, and got off. Where is the OUTSIDE of arrival hall 4? It’s impossible to find, without going back into the airport, following the signs for the arrival halls, then no.4, then coming back out of the nearest exit. There’s no outside signage for this bus, really.
Maybe what the instructions should have said was “pick up the bus round the corner by the bins, in the bit that isn’t really a bus stop”.
Anyway, we found our next bus, and half an hour’s (quite warm and sweaty) journey later (due to no opening windows), we were at Keukenhof.

Keukenhof

It’s very nice. It’s lots and lots and lots of tulips.
There are some other things like daffodils and a reasonable-sized collection of orchids, but the vast majority is tulips.
We’ve come so late in their season that some parts of it were closed. There’s no boat trip to see the tulip fields (because they’re no longer interesting to look at), and some of the plants are dying off.
Despite this, it’s still impressive and so enormous that we got lost and double backed on ourselves several times.
We saw lots of interesting things though. And we’ve got some ideas for improving our garden at home (and not just by filling the entire garden with tulips).
If you exclude the Chinese people (and why would you do that? What have you got against the Chinese?), we dragged down the average age of visitor by quite a lot of years. There was lots and lots of Chinese people of all ages, all taking photos. Much like with the sex museum, a lot more women than men. So Chinese women like penis-shaped ornaments, traveling, and tulips, it seems.

I took quite a lot of photos here, but here’s a handful of them.

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“British”

The “British” themed section was dreadful. Think of a terrible “British” cliche that you would put in something you were trying to make British. Go on. What would you have?
Bowler hats? Yep.
Umbrellas? Of course.
James Bond? Definitely.
Will and Kate? Yep.
Mr Bean? Never mind that he hasn’t been on British tv in probably 20 years, why not.
The Beatles? Really? Seriously though? (Yes they’re in there.)
A red bloody phone box? When was the last time anyone in Britain used a payphone? But yes.

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And talk about London-centric. Why don’t you just name the displays after London tube stations or something.

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Oh.. you have.

They have multiple cafes, and with a British theme, and one of the cafes apparently serving British food, you couldn’t fail to get a nice cup of tea, could you?
I despair. I really do.
The first place had only mint and lemon tea. What the fuck.
Rooibos? Come on. Nobody really drinks that piss.
Where’s the Twinings English Breakfast?
We found one of the cafes selling Ceylon, and while it’s a bit weak, it’s not too bad.
But hot water, teabags and milk all presented at the same time pre-payment. Children’s-style beakers without handles as per usual (does nobody drink hot drinks, yet not want to continually burn themselves, in Holland?).
My girlfriend had the novel idea of taking an extra cup to fill with milk, so our tea had a bit of time to brew. It ended up a bit weak, but other than that, not completely awful.

Possibly worse than the tea, and worse than the British cliches, was the RHS building. There’s several buildings. One has orchids in for example, and one had a lot of lilies. And one was stipulated as being set up by the RHS. I’ve never seen such a disappointingly dull garden-themed thing.
It was all printed cardboard backgrounds, and handy garden “tips”. There was a written piece about all the things people consider typifies a British garden. And that was it. Just words and pictures. Not a single real flower or plant in the building.

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It’s a disgrace, considering the sort of artistic flair and clear expertise had been displayed elsewhere at Keukenhof, and how good RHS gardens usually are.

Dinner

After a lot of flowers, we had two exhaustingly-crammed bus journeys back to the centre of Amsterdam, where we found somewhere for dinner. And after all that walking, who can be bothered to go looking for restaurants?…especially when there’s a branch of Pieminister we’ve already found.
Pie and mash each, and two cups of tea.
Two cups of hot water (with handles), with black tea teabags, and milk in a tiny motorway services milk jug.
I’m home at last.

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Interestingly the pies are apparently still made in Bristol, using local ingredients (presumably local to Bristol, not local to Amsterdam). I can’t quite figure out how that’s possible. Do they make a load and get someone to ship them in, frozen? Do they fly them in, daily? They tasted great, anyway.
The tea was a tiny bit weak (builders tea just doesn’t seem to exist in Amsterdam), but the best we’ve had in a cafe here so far.

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They all look the same, those lot

Earlier, I’ve commented how the buildings all look quite similar/aren’t that interesting to look at. I mentioned this today to my girlfriend, who was appalled at this suggestion. Then later on, her usually-incredible sense of direction failed her, when we got lost and she proclaimed “these streets all start to look the same”.
To be fair re buildings, I think maybe I’m just spoilt. If I lived in Swindon, I’d probably think these buildings were quite grand. But big doorways, finicky edging, etc. is easily and readily seen in Bristol. Meh.

DAB. What a load of rubbish it STILL is.

I’ve recently bought a new (to me – it’s over 10 years old) car, and I’m struggling to decide if I can be bothered to take out the radio that came in it, and install my old DAB one back in.

The stations I mostly listened to on DAB in my old car, were Nation Radio, Absolute Radio, and XFM. And a little bit of 6music. And sometimes Absolute Radio 90s (but the sound quality is rubbish compared to the other Absolute stations, and it’s off-air for half of Saturday when it becomes Absolute Radio Extra, and broadcasts sport).

However, sadly, MXR Severn Estuary is closing down in a few months on 29th July 2013. Continue reading DAB. What a load of rubbish it STILL is.

20mph speed limits?

So according to the Bristol Evening Post, the council are considering a 20mph speed limit on the entire city.

Why don’t you just ban drivers entirely? If you want to encourage cycling and walking that much, just ban all the cars. But you can’t, obviously. How would people get things from one place to another? Have you ever tried getting a wardrobe on a bicycle? Or 8 bags of shopping? Or a desktop computer? (No, I haven’t either.)

“The ruling Liberal Democrats are committed to a citywide 20mph speed limit and set aside £150,000 towards the project in this year’s budget, despite the worst cuts in the council’s history.”

Does this sound like the maddest thing in the world to anyone else? Continue reading 20mph speed limits?

Bristol’s Hooters Closes

Ah – it seems that Hooters in Bristol has shut down. Good luck to the employees in finding more work, and to the owner in their future ventures. And I mean that. Whatever you think of the company/brand/ethics/whatever, a lot of people will have lost their jobs and income.

I never quite got around to going. And not just because I’ve been poor and have been struggling to find employment. I thought I’d blog about why I never went. Continue reading Bristol’s Hooters Closes

Occupy Bristol – Permission?

I read some interesting things today. First, that it looks like a branch of Costa Coffee is going to open on Gloucester Road, despite having no planning permission. That’s unusual, isn’t it?

Well, not as unusual as you might think. As the same franchisee has just opened a branch of Costa Coffee on Whiteladies Road, despite having no planning permission.

They’re both being investigated and/or served with notices to return the buildings to their respective former states, and rightly so.

With this in mind, I can’t help but notice there are some other people misusing space in Bristol, without planning permission. They’ve got a quite picturesque area in Bristol – a nice piece of grassland by the cathedral, surrounded by some of the nicer Christmas lights. Continue reading Occupy Bristol – Permission?