Sunday 19 April 2020


The Coronavirus lockdown has limited peoples access to the outdoors. Outdoor leisure pursuits and contact with nature is now restricted to what can be found locally on ones own doorstep. Yet as author Richard Mabey said in a 1975 film based on his book The Unofficial Countryside...

The natural world won't be so easily dismissed. In waste patches and factory backyards, in gasworks and railway sidings, nature fights back. For without meaning to, we have created in our cities a vast fabricated reserve for wildlife; A network of green oases, makeshift feeding stations and barricaded hide-aways... a real and refreshing sanctuary.... an unofficial countryside. 

In the north-eastern region of the Dutch city of Haarlem lies the Waarderpolder neighbourhood. A former industrial terrain now converted into a business park with a scattering of residential addresses.
Amongst the new-builds and renovation sits an abandoned patch of land. Over the past few years it has began to transform itself from an unpaved carpark into an untouched wilderness for wild plants and small animals.

During a sunny spring afternoon I headed out on a short one hour stroll to see what sights there were in this overlooked patch of burgeoning nature.

Small note: Botany isn't high on my list of skills, so if I've made my mistakes in identifying any of the flora,  or if anyone can name some of the species unknown to me, then give me a shout or send a messenger pigeon.

An abandoned part of picturesque Haarlem in the Netherlands.

A birds-eye view of the site.

1. Rapeseed (Brassica napus).
2. Rapeseed (Brassica napus).
3. Blackberry bush (Rubus).
4. Seedhead of the common evening primrose (Oenothera biennis).

5. Ground ivy (Glechoma herderacea).
6. Bulbous buttercups (Ranunculus bulbosus).
7. Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium).
8. A type of coniferous cypress tree (fam. Cupressaceae).

9. Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale).
10. Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale).
11. Dove's foot crane's bill (Geranium molle).
12. Broad-leaved clover (Trifolium pratense).

13. Common evening primrose (Oenothera biennis).
14. Front left: Common mullein (Verbascum thapsus), center: Common sorrel (Rumex acetosa), back center: Ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata), right: 
Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium).
15. Some type of mullein or dock??
Ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata). Also known as buckhorn plantain.
17. ???
18. Common sallow (Salix cinerea).
19. Common sallow (Salix cinerea).
20. Some sort of grass.

Wednesday 8 April 2020


After taking temporary sanctuary from the Covid19 virus in the relatively quiet city of Haarlem (population 235,000), I needed to return to my home in Amsterdam (population 822,000) to water my houseplants, check my mail box and check-in with housemates.

The weather had taken a sudden spring-time turn for the better (20°C), so rather than endure the suspicion and paranoia of strangers, which is what traveling on public transport has become in this virus stricken time, I instead jumped onto a trusted bike and peddled the distance.

I didn't follow the most direct course, but instead plotted a 20km scenic route where I could appreciate the subtle (yet sometimes sudden) changes between city and countryside. Along the way I hoped to discover new paths for myself through what has become a fairly well trodden area of North Holland and experience new approaches into the neighbourhood I call home.

Start time: Monday 6th April 2020, 12:36
End time: Monday 6th April 2020, 14:29

Saturday 21 March 2020


When I created this blog to document trips through irregular and overlooked landscapes I never thought that one month later I would be here writing about Amsterdam City Centre, one of the most visited and photographed locations in Europe.

One week after the Coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of public spaces within the city, the normally overcrowded Saturday morning streets and tourist hot-spots are almost deserted. For the first time in its 800 year history, the city centre has become almost irrelevant now that it offers nothing for people to consume. Meanwhile the Vondel Park is a hive of activity for those seeking a brief respite from the necessary indoor social isolation.

Today I explored the sights of abandoned Amsterdam, taking in the traditionally busy locations via brisk 5km cross-sectional city walk from Centraal Station to Vondel Park.

Saturday 21st March 2020
10:00 - 11:30am

1. Stationplein and Amsterdam Centraal Station.
2. Ticket gates and Middentunnel, Amsterdam Centraal.
3. Stationhal main exit, Amsterdam Centraal. According to Wikipedia, Amsterdam CS normally accomodates 192,000 passengers per day.
4. Ticket gates, Metro Station Amsterdam Central

5. Rokin, heading towards Dam Square
6. Dam Square and the Royal Palace.
7. Entrance to the Anne Frank House Museum. In 2019 it received 1.3 million visitors (average 3,500 per day).
8. Leidsestraat.

9. Leidseplein, a popular destination for those looking for bars, restaurants and nightlife.
10. Max Euweplein
11. The Rijkesmuseum. The most visited museum in The Netherlands. In 2019 it welcomed 2.7 million visitors through its doors (average 7,400 per day).
12. Museumstraat. The public passage through the centre of the Rijkesmuseum with one lone violinist busking.

13. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam's second most visited destination.
14. The Stedelijk Museum. The city's municipal modern art museum.
15. Willem Sandbergplein between the Stedelijk Museum (left) and Van Gogh Museum (right).
16. Entrance to the Vondel Park at the end of the P.C. Hooftstraat.

Sunday 15 March 2020


I was recently hired to take two visitors from the United States on a tour of Amsterdam, taking in some of the city centre sights, along with some of its history and culture.

Unfortunately, two days before the planned meet-up, the Covid19 pandemic threatened air travel back to the States, so my clients were forced to leave Europe on the first available flight.

Disappointed by cutting their European vacation short, I was asked by the travelers if I could still conduct the tour on my own and send them documentation of the things they would have seen.

Here is the resulting photographic record of a circular city hike around Amsterdam Centruum at the beginning of the 2020 Coronavirus outbreak.

DATE: Saturday 14th March 2020
START TIME : 13:00

1. The proposed meeting place, an unusually quiet exit out of Centraal Station.
2. The never ending construction work at Stationplein
3. Head down the Damrak towards Dam Square, no stopping for the free cheese samples today.
4. Turn through the Beurs Passage onto the Kalverstraat.

5. Dam Square, the rarely used Royal Palace, 15th century Nieuwe Kerk and Magna Plaza.
6. Amsterdam's most expensive apartment (at time of writing). Three floors overlooking the Dam, bought by Justin Bieber for €24.5 million, yet resold before he ever moved in.
7. Torensluis, Statue of Multatuli. The bridge was once an entrance to the medieval city and the location of a defensive tower. Multatuli , a famed Dutch writer whose work help change 19th century public opinion over colonialism.
8. The Jordaan. An area which once contained gardens and orchards outside the city walls before 17th century urban expansion engulfed it. Today many streets and canals are named after flowers and plants. There is still much debate between historians whether or not the name of the area is connected to the French word jardin (garden). It is possible to roughly age canal houses by the shape and design of their gables.

9. Anne Frank House. Closed today due to concerns over the Coronavirus.
10. Westerkerk and Homomonument. At the time of its completion in 1631 the Church was the largest purpose built Protestant place of worship in the world (at the time all other large protestant churches were repurposed Catholic churches). At the base of the Church the pink granite triangles of the Homomonument, the worlds first monument to persecuted LBGTQ people. The monument was built in 1987.
11. The Nine Lanes. Normally a popular shopping destination. Quiet for a Saturday.
12. Chocolate Tart. And possibly the city's best.

13. The public access passage through the Amsterdam Museum is closed today. Through the locked doors a carpet can be seen on the floor which is made from 180 patterns, each pattern representing one of the 180 nationalities who live in the city.
14. The Begijnhof. An easy to miss secluded enclosure containing houses of a former religious order. There is a story why there are two chapels here within a stones throw from each other. Amsterdam's oldest house (built in 1425) sits at the far end. It is one of only two wooden buildings left in Amsterdam.
15. The entrance to the former Rasp House, a one-time house of correction for petty criminals. Now a generic shopping mall. On the left an establishment selling French fries which has the reputation of being the best in the city.
16. The Flower Market... A place where expectations far exceed reality. But it's a good short cut and would normally be a place to stop for more free cheese samples.

17. Reguliersdwarsstraat. Popular nightspot if you are into that sort of stuff.
18. The opulent basement of the City Archive. Originally built as a secure safety deposit bank vault and only accessible to wealthy customers. Normally free to enter, but closed today due to health precautions.
19. The Bridge of 15 Bridges. If one had stilts or were on the water level it is possible to look around the canal junction and count 15 bridges. Photogenic area.
20. Rembrandtplein. Most expensive beers in Amsterdam. The bronze statues representing figures from Rambrandt's painting The Nightwatch were recently permanently removed due to a funding dispute. Its was reported that maintaining the statues cost €30,000 per year.

21. Waterlooplein flea market and area of tragic Dutch-Jewish history.
22. Drink stop in water-side leaning bar? okay, if you insist.
23. Amsterdam's narrowest house.
24. The Red Light District. And the only museum which I've seen open today: The Sex Museum (it's actually a tourist trap in the guise of a museum).

25. In the heart of the Red Light District, a reminder that people live here (it's not a theme park).
26. The 14th century Oude Kerk and a monument dedicated to workers of the prostitution trade.
27. The Zeedijk. One of the first inhabited places back when the area was only windswept marsh. And the city's other remaining wooden house.
28. Return to Central Station. End point!

Saturday 29 February 2020


I recently returned from a three week residency at AIRGuinguada in rural Gran Canaria, where i spent my time exploring the landscape on foot. I followed paths through fairly inhospitable rocky and arid landscapes seeking out places where people had etched out a co-existence within the Earths unstable elements and natural forces.

Sunday 23 February 2020


23rd February was the Festival of Terminalia in the ancient Roman calendar. A celebration in honour of Terminus, the God who presided over boundaries and the demarcation of properties.

The date is now marked by the Terminalia Festival, an international day of psychogeographic exploration, where participants are invited to undertake journey's on foot along invisible boundaries of their choosing.

I participated by wlking the 4km route of the former limits of the Medieval city of Haarlem in The Netherlands. Using a map based on the 1450AD layout of the city i traced a path along the outside of the former defensive wall - a structure which once served as a line between civilisation and wilderness.

Along the way I made photos of where the wilderness is once more attempting to regain its place in what was once fields and swampland.