Zundert Bloemencorso (2017)

"Chased Away" by team Laarheide. Designers: Brian Boot & Joeri Huijbregts.

"Chased Away" by team Laarheide. Designers: Brian Boot & Joeri Huijbregts.

Now in it's 81st year, the Zundert Bloemencorso is the oldest and most elaborate flower competition in the world. This year, 2017, marked the 5th occasion in which I've had the privilege and opportunity to participate in the construction of a large dahlia sculpture. Our neighbourhood team (Laarheide) entered the competition with their float "Chased Away" and was awarded 7th prize.

Survival is imperative for the large gorilla attempting to escape the destructive path of a habitat destroying forest fire. This animated flower sculpture is executed to initially appear as billows of smoke from which a gorilla's head emerges and transforms out of the plume. Additional effects of smoke and burnt trees added to the overall ambience and impression.

"Carried on a Pedestal" by team Schijf. Designers: Huub van Caam, Sander van Hooydonk, & Maikel van de Korput.

"Carried on a Pedestal" by team Schijf. Designers: Huub van Caam, Sander van Hooydonk, & Maikel van de Korput.

The 2017 overall winner was "Carried on a Pedestal" constructed by neighbourhood team Schijf. Over one hundred animators, dressed as tribesmen, carried the large reclining emperor throughout the streets of Zundert. The emperor's head turns from side to side as his eyes open and close to sneak a glimpse of the audience. During the grand procession the tribesmen beat their drums while chanting. It was also awarded the first Public's Prize.

"Under Attack" by team Helpt Elkander. Designer: Louisa Joosen

"Under Attack" by team Helpt Elkander. Designer: Louisa Joosen

The colourful and emotional subject matter of "Under Attack" was created by team Helpt Elkander. The large sad faces of refugees peer out from behind barb wired fencing and screened glass. Led by masses of refugee animators walking with the few belongings they have. It was awarded second place and also second Public's Prize.

Appeltaart in Amsterdam

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One of my favourite spots to stop while in Amsterdam is for homemade appeltaart at the Café Winkel (Noordermarkt 43). Located in the beautiful and tranquil Jordaan area, this is quite possibly the best apple tart in Amsterdam! Raisins and large chunks of cinnamon rolled apples are packed into a perfect crumbly crust and topped with fresh whipped cream. The apple tart goes great with a cappuccino before hitting the Saturday morning market at the Noordermarkt. Make sure to arrive here early in order to avoid the long line-ups. While inside the Café Winkel, large apple pies are cut into hefty slices and placed on the many waiting plates as orders begin to fly off the counter. After the Noordermarkt stop over at the nearby Lindenmarkt and pick-up a fresh bunch of dahlias or tulips.

World Press Photo

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Since 1955, the independent non-profit organization, World Press Photo has selected, judged, and promoted the best of international photojournalism. Every year from early April to mid-June, WPP kicks off its worldwide travelling exhibit at the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Attending the World Press Photo launch has become one of my favorite traditions while visiting the Netherlands. This past summer I took in my third WPP exhibit of striking and profound images documenting the battle for Libya, the aftermath of Japan’s Tsunami, scenes from North Korea, and an inside view of Mexican drug cartels. This year’s “Photo of the Year” is of a Yemen tear gas victim, by New York Times correspondent, Samuel Aranda. For more information on World Press Photo visit: www.worldpressphoto.com

Nuit Blanche {Amsterdam}

Attended the 2012 Nuit Blanche arts & culture event held in Amsterdam, Netherlands on the evening of June 16. A beautiful summer night out exploring this great city and searching unique events in interesting venues. Throughout the night we took in a wide variety of art exhibits, music, live performances, and sampled exotic culinary delights. The night began at the floating pagoda style Sea Palace for supper, live music, dance performance, and a fashion show. At het Ruyterhuis a tattoo artist demonstrated his inking skills on a pigs head.

After searching a series of small streets near the Rokin, we finally locate Brakke Grond. A Belgian arts & culture centre where Lucha Libre style wrestling is about to begin. The shows begins and after a while the smell of Belgian fries and sweat prevails. The crowd screams as they are edged on by a taunting wrestler. After a few matches we head into the red light district where we visit the Bethanienklooster, a former 15th century monastary. In the dark space, a bearded man sits meditating and confined in a box as odd sounds ring throughout the vaulted space. To end the night we cross a few canal bridges towards the Oude Kerk where we hear the sounds of Red Light Radio playing. In the inner courtyard a bbq with homemade beer is served until noise complaints close the place down. We call it a night and head back to the houseboat.