Saturday, February 20, 2016

Rotterdam - Places of pilgrimage - 6

I'm building a mental map of Rotterdam. There is one rule: I have to remember the place myself, without artificial memory aids like archives, books and photographs. It has to be personal.

The previous lists of pilgrimage destinations are here: part 1part 2part 3part 4 and part 5.  The complete map can be browsed on Google maps.
Street numbers
This edition will be dedicated to "street numbers": numbers found on (usually older, brick) cobblestones throughout Rotterdam.

Numbered bricks are rare but often they form clusters. If you search for them actively they're nowhere in sight. Then you go for a random walk and you see several of them. And afterward it takes several years to see new ones.

The numbers are handwritten and they point to a pre-industrial age without labels and barcodes, when administration was done on "the thing itself." I don't know the age of these cobblestones and I don't know where I could find more information.
Note: I'm not the only one obsessed by details like this. The "Forgotten NY" website has a whole chapter on cobblestones. They have bricks but they don't mention numbers.

This is my current list. Note: I have not kept records of the earliest street number locations. They could be incorrect:
  1. Cobblestone bricks numbered: 15 and 87 - Crossing of Pr. Beatrixlaan and Konijnenlaantje in the Kralingse Bos. Seen in 2009.
  2. Cobblestone bricks numbered: 21x34 and 46. - Between Steiger and Vlasmarkt. Seen in 2009.
  3. Cobblestone brick marked: 43 - Crossing of Pr. Beatrixlaan and Doorkijk in the Kralingse Bos. Seen in 2011.
  4. Cobblestone brick marked: 2DW - Crossing of Pr. Beatrixlaan and Hoogtaludpad in the Kralingse Bos. Seen in 2012.
  5. Cobblestone brick marked: 7DW - Near the crossing of 's-Lands Erf and Willem Ruyslaan. Seen in 2013.
  6. Cobblestone bricks marked: 66, 66.4 and 21x34. - Between Steiger and Vlasmarkt. Seen in 2013 and 2015.
  7. Cobblestone brick marked: 75 - Crossing of Parklaan and Parkstraat. Seen in 2015.
  8. Cobblestone bricks marked: 42 and 26 - Charloisse Hoofd, behind the Maatunnel bicycle entrance. Seen in 2015.




The map demonstrates the random distribution of numbered cobblestones. Some clustering is predictable because one batch of bricks will be laid in one specific area. And - assuming that during road works bricks are dug up, laid aside and then replaced again - a cluster of numbered bricks can stay in place for many years.

Modern numbered cobblestones also exist. But they're numbered industrially and not by hand. Example from Hardinxveld-Giessendam (2011) and the Hague (2014).

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Nature near home - 2

In an older post I cited John Burroughs (1918):
  • The birds about his own door are his birds, the flowers in his own fields and wood are his, the rainbow springs its magic arch across his valley, even the everlasting stars to which one lifts his eye, night after night, and year after year, from his own doorstep, have something private and personal about them.
Magpie construction site
My personal birds give me much pleasure, especially since they've started to make their nest opposite my kitchen window. You can see the progress on their building site:
 06 February
 13 February

Exactly like their Wikipedia article they build their nest in:
  • ... tall trees ... firmly attaching them to a central fork in the upper branches. A framework of the sticks is cemented with earth and clay, and a lining of the same is covered with fine roots. Above is a stout though loosely built dome of prickly branches with a single well-concealed entrance.
Bird count
Each year I try to participate in the National Garden Bird Count. My area is almost standard and has all the top-10 birds, except the sparrow. We have no sparrows in our territory, even though they're nr.1 in the national bird-count.

Last year I tried to photograph all my local birds and, using our balcony bird-feeder, I recorded some of them on my own doorstep. I add their rank in the national bird count below.

I have no pictures of the following top-25 birds that I have seen on my doorstep:
  • Eurasian collared dove, starling, Eurasian jay, great spotted woodpecker, European herring gull, feral pigeon.
And birds, not in the top-25, that I have seen on my doorstep more than once:
  • stork, grey heron, cormorant, great crested grebe, Egyptian goose, chicken, Eurasian coot, common moorhen, common chiffchaff. And we have a tawny owl somewhere that I hear at night.
In total: 28 bird species on my doorstep and only 12 pictures. I have more work to do.