-  Diary of an Adventure   -  Adventures in Amsterdam

Its cold. No rain, and I think there was something that could have been sunshine. A brief spot that wasn’t quite grey. The flower market, a rainbow leading to the golden wheels of cheese.

Our dinner (Pheasant schnitzel and scallops) was artfully presented, with dashes of veg. The bottle of water (organic, sustainable, green, recycled, expired, carbon neutral) cost more than the glass of wine. The cheese bits, a tasty end to the day before we collapsed. That, with all this Green focus they have plastic, or lousy silk flowers on the tables, is beyond me. Particularly in this city of bulbs.

Terry’s trashed ankle forcing us to reconsider how we move around the city. We used the tram out to the Van Gogh museum, where a wheel chair made our lives much easier. The gallery wasn’t packed which gave us a chance to enjoy the bits that caught or attention, while whizzing past the rest.

Loved his painting of ‘The Blossoming Almond Tree’, which was new to me. Very Japanese in its simplicity and style. Quite beautiful.
‘My work was going well, the last canvas of branches in blossom–you will see that it was perhaps the best, the most patiently worked thing I had done, painted with calm and with a greater firmness of touch. And the next day, down like a brute. Difficult to understand, things like that, but alas! it’s like that.’
Letter 628. Vincent to Theo, St. Rémy, 15 April 1890

The painting of fishing boats at sea, ‘The Sea at Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer’, was very special. The blue, green and yellow of the sea are full of movement, but it’s the red signature, and red in the boat that I found captivating. According to his diary; ‘there’s a very outrageous red signature, because I wanted a red note in the green.’ Vincent to Theo; Arles, on or about Monday, 13 August 1888. Unless you see the original painting, the red in the boat isn’t obvious and can’t be seen on the print.

We did manage the walk up from the station back to the hotel. Barrel organs (which according to the Lonely Planet Guide on Amsterdam, is the equivalent of “Murdering Street Music” and a glockenspiel. Distinctive, unexpected joy.

The sun came out and Amsterdam brightened. The canals seemed like a good way to enjoy the sunshine, see the city and rest Terry’s ankle after forcing it to climb the gazillion of stairs in the Anne Frank museum. We found a spot out of the wind for a coffee, wondered through one of the artist supply shops. A treasure trove to return to! Lunched in a busy cafe style spot and walked through one of the designer food emporiums, where everything was organic, green, recycled, carbon neutral, sustainable, and beautifully displayed.

Cold evening. The Italian Restaurant on the corner warm and inviting. My pizza turned into a delicious veal with Gorgonzola, and Terry had salmon. The brinjal melanzanne , surprisingly good. The service a revelation, in this city that seems to pride itself on sultry service.

The Hermitage in Amsterdam on a grey, rainy day, to see the Gauguin, Bonnard, Dennis exhibition, A Russian Taste for French Art. Remarkable in that one is able to get close enough to the works to see how the colours were layered, and how they used their brush strokes.

The portraits, in black, red and white chalk, by Paul-Cesar Helleu were excellent and there was a painting ‘Kinderen’, by Edouard Vuillard that I enjoyed. The Rodin, was magnificent, and as with previous exhibits of his work, the shadows created new dimensions. Amazing.

A tad worried that Terry thought I was off ordering water and apple cake, rather than wine!

In his time Jan has been an electronics, nuclear and power system engineer, a strategist, a humanitarian and an artist. A career path linked by creativity and innovative thinking. Initially trained at the Johannesburg College of Art, Jan has won numerous international awards and has exhibited nationally and internationally. He can be found in his studio ‘Jandreart’ located at Thesen Harbour Town, Knysna.

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