Thursday, April 26, 2007

Zaanse Schans

We got itchy feet yesterday and decided to take a tour out of the city. We caught a train to Zaanse Schans, a nearby village. On the way to catch the local tram, I discovered that my camera had died (RIP Canon PowerShot A70). After several years of service, and many, many trips - a chip processor died. According to the local camera guy, at least. Regretfully, and in a haste, I bought a new camera: Nikon CoolPix L6... so far so good! The photos here are from the new camera.

Chrystal is posing with a jar of mustard we bought at one of the windmills, which grinds the mustard! The other windmills grind different things, like peanuts into peanut oil, pigments for dyes, etc.

We watched a cobbler make a pair of wooden shoes! It was pretty fascinating. They start with a wet, soft piece of poplar. The block is put into a machine that grinds out a duplicate of a perfect model - the exact way a copy of a key is made. The inside of the shoe is then ground out with a carving spoon - again, like a key with parallel blades following the "pattern" shoe.

(The "keymaking" device is on the right.)

Once done, the cobbler carves off the last bits. He put his mouth to the shoe and blew out about a cup of water that was in the wood(!), to demonstrate how wet it was. He demonstrated how tough they were by slamming the shoes he was wearing, saying the could withstand 75kg of weight - ideal for construction and other tasks where feet need protection. He also said they keep field workers' feet very dry, and that the arch (I tried on a pair, and felt this benefit) was pronounced and was ideal for people standing on their feet all day because it promoted good posture. I can tell you after trying them on, and seeing how comfortable they actually were, I was tempted to buy a pair!

Spring is definitely in the air! There are LOTS of mother ducks milling about with their ducklings... I had to stop a car the other day in town to let a Mom cross the street with her babies!

Chrystal feeding a sheep some dandelions.

All in all, it was a nice relaxing day spent outside of the city.

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