Sunday, April 15, 2007

Bos en Lommer

Bos en Lommer, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

This morning I was given a guided tour of Bos en Lommer, a district of Amsterdam, completely the other side of the city from here, namely West as opposed to our East. With the Centre in the middle, there is never normally much reason for we easterlings to go West, with the result that we don't tend to know too much about that side of the city. Anyway, my friend Walter (from the blind date last weekend) kindly invited me to join him on a walk/cycle aroujnd his neighbourhood. He is a planoloog (town planner) by education and profession and worked for the local council so knows a lot about the area.

Very interesting too. One could cycle through and around the area and just see a rather down-at-heel area of low cost housing mostly inhabited by Moroccans and Turkish people, with satellite dishes finely tuned to the latest soap from Rabat or Ankara. However, there is far more to see than this, some good, some less good, but where it IS bad there seem to be plans to improve or even destroy what there is a replace it with something better, and this is what Walter was able to show and explain to me this morning.

So it was that for the first time I noticed the metal plates fitted at the bottom of front doors, so that people could use their feet to kick open the front door rather than use their arms to push the door. Also, we were able to contrast a block of flats with restored old wooden doors with those whose doors had been replaced in the 1970's (say), all flat and painted in a primary colour (probably to match the colour of the balconies). There was a row of houses where the ground floor was used for storage with a small stairwell to get to the doors into the flats above. It all looked nice enough, but Walter would tell me that such storage places all too easily get used for illagal prostitution and/or drug dealing.

But there were the better aspects afforded by having one or two ends of a large four-sided block left open, the public spaces such as a children's swimming pool and, on a larger scale the parks, with their duckponds, statues (including one very impressive white bear), trees and park benches, affording a feeling of space. And everywhere there were gevelstenen, architectural details such as a series of sculpted stones depicting scenes from the Old and the New Testaments and a plaque dedicted to the Housing Association which built the houses in the late 1940's and so on...

So, plenty of reasons for this easterling to make a return trip out West and se what else the area has to offer.


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