Python Development On Steroids

Um okay wow.


As of Visual Studio 2019, we have a full-blown Python development environment – with IntelliSense, locals, a stack trace, breakpoints, watches and an Immediate window… the whole shebang.

I tell ya, this is going to make learning Python (because there’s this study buddy you want to support) so much easier to a seasoned C# guy.

Van front-end development en badkamers

Wat heeft front-end-development in hemelsnaam met badkamers te maken?
title-imageRecentelijk heb ik bij UDEMY een bak vol cursussen besteld. Eén ervan is “The Complete 2019 Web Development Bootcamp”. Deze back-end developer krijgt steeds meer de behoefte om front-end-technieken onder de knie te krijgen, en deze ruim 43 uur durende online training leek me daarvoor een goede gelegenheid, zeker toen ik ‘m met een zware korting kon aanschaffen.

Op dit moment zit ik ongeveer op één derde van de training, en ik snap al meer van HTML5 en CSS dan ik ooit geweten heb. Om het tot nu toe geleerde in de praktijk te brengen, leek het me leuk om eens ergens een web site over te maken.

Omdat op dit moment onze badkamer verbouwd wordt, was dat een prima excuus: laat ik dat eens documenteren. En dan niet met een CMS-achtig systeem à la WordPress, maar gewoon Visual Studio Code opentrekken, en lekker handmatig de HTML en CSS inkloppen.

Waarvan akte. De site zou geschikt moeten zijn voor alle devices, van 4k-beeldschermen tot en met telefoons.

Toegevoegd voordeel is dat dat me tevens de gelegenheid biedt om wat meer met PhotoShop Elements 2019 te werken.

Škoda Columbus (RNS-510): updating maps from SDHC

Ever seen the dual-layer DVD with the card updates (which can be read correctly in another drive) being refused by your RNS 510 (Columbus) as an unreadable disk?

You wouldn’t be the first to who this happens. It seems a common issue that the laser, probably due to contamination, has no problems with CDs or even single-layer DVDs, but that it finds a dual layer DVD too difficult to read. Or you are the kind of person who (like me) does not use that CD player because all music is on the hard disk or an SD card, and so you’ve never even noticed it.
How now, brown cow?
I had read about how to do the map updates on the RNS 510 via an SD card. There were also people who did not manage to get that to work, but I thought, I understand a little about ICT… let’s see how far I get.

Well … yay me, I got it to work. Below, you’ll find the how-to, peppered with some screen shots and other illustrations.

But first, a word from our legal department. Bedroefde emoticon

Dear reader,
I am very sorry to be rude to you so early in our relationship. But what with us living in a society where people can successfully sue fast-food restaurants for serving hot beverages at the proper temperature, my lawyer insists that I insult your intelligence before we proceed.

I’ve done everything within my powers to make the procedure described below behave socially. I have even tested the procedure on my own Skoda Octavia 2 Facelift, equipped with an RNS-510 Columbus with firmware version 3984. I can tell you that following them properly will not format your C:-drive, but I cannot accept responsibility for it to not function in your specific environment.

If, as a result of you using the software, Bad Things happen, causing your car to grind to a halt, your wife to divorce you and taking the kids with her to her mother in Miami, your mistress to dump you in favour of her tennis coach, your garage to be set on fire, which in turn reduces your Volkswagen/Škoda/Seat/Audi to a heap of shrapnel and kills your neighbour’s mother-in-law, and I hear about it, I will feel very, very sorry for you.
If it’s a Škoda, I will feel even more sorry for you.

But that’s about it.

If you’ve been sufficiently insulted by this here disclaimer, please forgive me, and let’s see if we can make our relationship work.


I am assuming Windows 10 because that is what I use, and the most important tool you will use is, as far as I know, only available on Windows.

The first step is to ensure that you have a so-called “ISO image” of the DVD with the card updates on it. There are different ways to make an ISO image. For this I use a simple CD / DVD tool called CDBurnerXP (which, despite the name, works fine on Windows 10). Piece of cake: read the disc with the updates, and save an image as an ISO file.
You also need an SD card with a capacity of at least 8 GB, because you are going to use approximately six. The card needs to be formatted with file system FAT32 … so yes, whatever is on it, you’re going to have to backup. Or lose.
You also need an empty writable CD, and a program to make a CD which Columbus can actually use. Conveniently, that is the same CDBurnXP tool.
The last thing you need, and this is crucial, is Maps Tool version 2.0.2, a tool to create the structure for the SD card. That is also the most difficult to get, since the program is no longer maintained by its creator. The latest version is 2.1.3, but it refuses to accept card version 8515. The older version, 2.0.2, does that perfectly. At the time of writing I downloaded it from here.

Step 1: Create the ISO file

Start CDBurnerXP, and from the opening screen, select Copy or grab disc


Now, for the source, point at the drive containing the source disc (your update disc), and for the target, select “Hard disk” and enter a target path and file name.

Once you’ve done that, hit “Copy disc”, and wait until it’s done.

Step 2: Prepare the SD card

I did tell you that you ARE going to lose whatever is on the SD card, so I hope you either backed it up, or you don’t care about what’s on it.
Insert your SD card in a card reader. Open a Windows Explorer, expand “My Computer” and select the drive letter for the card (make sure you’ve got the proper one). Right-click it and select “Format”. In the “File system” dropdown, make sure that “FAT32” is selected. Leave the cluser size to 32 kilobytes, and hit the “Start” button.

Excuse my Dutch… your dialog will have everything in the same places. You’ll work it out…


Step 3: Create the startup CD and the content of the SD card

The Maps tool I mentioned above will do that for you.
Start it.


In Source, select the ISO file you created in step 1.
In Target, specify a folder where you want the result of the build to appear. You are going to copy the relevant stuff to the SDHC card later on, so just pick a folder on your local hard disk here.
Make sure you’ve got “Prepare maps to be copied from SD card” selected. Don’t bother to try to “Compress maps…”. It will not work. It’s too big.
When that’s done, hit the Build button and sit back and relax. It’ll tell you when it’s done.

When that’s done, your destination folder will look like this:

Step 4: prepare media

Copy the two folders (MAPS and MAPSDVD) and the test.mp3 file to your freshly formatted SD card.

Now, start up CDBurnXP.
From the startup screen, select “Burn ISO image”


In the next dialog, browse to the ISO file in the folder where you told Maps Tool to put its build output… here, remember?

There are two things in the next CDBurnerXP screen I’d like to draw your attention to.
First, the burn speed. Depending on the quality of the CD writer in your computer, the quality of the writable CD you are using, and the condition of the laser reader in your Columbus, it may make sense to use as low a burn speed as possible. Since we’re only going to write something like 4 MB to the CD, setting this to 1x doesn’t hurt. It’ll be done in a matter of minutes.


Second, and more importantly, the “Finalize disc” check box. You need to make sure this is checked. If it isn’t, your Columbus will spit out the CD telling you it’s unusable. This is the reason why I used CDBurnXP, rather than use the native Windows facility to burn a disc from an ISO image, to create this disc.

When you’ve got that sorted, insert a pristine writable CD in your drive and hit “Burn disc”.

We are now ready to collect our goodies — the CD and the SD card, and the key to unlock your car.

Step 5: Perform the update

imageThe only reason you took your car key with you is to unlock the car. We’re not, repeat, not, going to use it during the procedure. Your battery should easily be able to sustain the use of the head unit for half an hour, even on a cold day. If it isn’t, you may want to make sure you’ve got a battery charger, or jump start cables and a friendly neighbour with a car. Or even better, you may want to get a decent battery.

In the car, power on the unit, and make sure it can access the SD card properly. If you can play the Test.MP3 file, which is a boringly authoritative German voice assuring us that Volkswagen is “das Auto”, in a way that seems to urge you to salute and click your heels*, you’re good.

Restart the unit in Software Upgrade Mode, by pressing the SETUP + EJECT + Microfone/Info button simultaneously (the buttons in the picture on the right). The screen will go dark. Insert the CD you prepared in Step 4, and wait. The system will come up with the Welcome screen, and then a screen that states that the system is starting.

If your CD is OK, you will, after some time, see a screen like this:


… and then, after some time, a screen that asks you to confirm that you want to proceed with the upgrade.


You do, trust me. Hit OK on the touch screen. It will then show you a screen informing you about the progress. Ironically, this will start out at 31% – and that percentage Will Not Change.
A watched pot never boils. Go indoors, have a cup of coffee.

Remember how I said “Ironically” in the previous paragraph? It is ironic because in my case, it took the process 31 minutes to complete.
Get back into your car after 31 minutes or more…  what you should see is this:


The CD has been ejected, and the unit succeeds in making the number 010401 sound triumphant.

Remove the CD, allow the system to restart, and then, when it has, press the SETUP button and hold it down until you get the hidden setup menu (FM/AM/Version). Select the last option, scroll down, and lo and behold, you should now see the version you just updated to:


Happy navigating!

* If you are German and you are reading this, I apologise profusely… but that is how it sounds.

Pg1-f3! Het verhaal van een trotse opa

Eind September leerde ik Ferre (9) en Senna (12) schaken. Dat is nu vier maanden terug.
Mees (toen 6, nu 7) keek geïnteresseerd mee. Hoe geïnteresseerd? Even doorlezen dan maar…

Met de kerst kregen de heren hun eigen schaakbord en schaakstukken. Dat is dus iets meer dan een maand terug.

Inked20180203_131556_LIVandaag was er een toernooi voor basisschool-leerlingen, georganiseerd door SV Bodegraven. Daar hadden Ferre en Mees (woonachtig in Bodegraven, en uitkomend voor de Speel-en Werkhoeve) zich enthousiast voor ingeschreven.

Voor beiden was het de eerste keer dat ze tegen echte tegenstanders speelden (dus niet een opa die bij elke zet vraagt “wat is je idee daarachter?” of “vind je het wel zo’n goed idee om je dame in de lijn van mijn loper neer te zetten?”). De meerderheid van die jongens en meisjes schaakten echt al langer dan een maandje of wat.

Voor Ferre was het een leerzame ervaring. Van de zeven partijen won hij er geloof ik drie, maar van die zeven partijen raakte hij bij zes partijen, direct in de opening, al zijn dame kwijt. Ferre is heel erg van het zorgvuldig zijn eigen plan trekken, maar hij vergeet soms dat zijn tegenstander ook een plan heeft, zeg maar. Maar tijdens één van de partijen waarbij ik stond te kijken (het valt nog niet mee om, aan de zijlijn, je adviezen voor je te houden) voerde hij een heel mooie aanval uit waarbij hij zijn nadeel in vrij korte tijd weer in een materieel voordeel wist om te buigen. Als ‘ie zijn koppie erbij houdt is ‘ie heel gis!

Ik weet nu in elk geval waaraan we moeten werken met Ferre.

Mees was een verhaal apart. Mees gaat er vanaf de eerste zet al met gestrekt been in, en er zit verrassend veel precisie in dat gestrekte been. Hij vindt het slaan van stukken net zo leuk als een tegenstander mat zetten. Tijdens één van de twee potjes die hij verloor, kwam hem dat duur te staan: mat in vier zetten. Maar het andere potje dat ‘ie verloor had de tegenstander best wel een zware dobber aan hem, en bij de overige vijf vrat ‘ie zijn tegenstander (en het materieel) met huid en haar op. Bij één van de partijen zag ik hem met twee torens, een paard en een loper de in blinde paniek geraakte koning van de tegenstander (die alleen nog maar gezelschap had van vier pionnen) over het bord jagen.

Ik heb het niet getimed, maar volgens mij duurden de partijen twintig minuten. Na twintig minuten kwamen er dan officials van SV Bodegraven bij de borden kijken, om een winnaar op punten uit te roepen… tenzij de partij al eerder in een KO waren geëindigd. Wat Ferre één keer is gelukt, ook weer met een verrassend goede aanval waarvan de tegenstander erg beteuterd moest kijken.

Aan het eind van de dag bleek dat Mees als derde was geëindigd in zijn leeftijdscategorie (en ja, er waren er beslist meer dan zeven in die categorie)!
Wat wel grappig was, is dat Mees (in de gebloemde sweater op de foto’s) z’n tegenstanders allemaal een halve kop kleiner zijn… waardoor het lijkt alsof ‘ie tegen veel jongere tegenstanders uitkomt, maar dat is toch echt niet het geval. Wie Mees z’n vader weleens gezien heeft, weet hoe dat komt.

Lang verhaal kort: opa vindt dat beide heren het veel beter gedaan hebben dan je mag verwachten van twee jongens die vier maanden geleden niet eens wisten wat een loper wel en niet mag, en die pas vijf weken een eigen schaakbord hebben. En het is opa nu ook duidelijk waar we aan moeten werken… en dat het geen vijf jaar gaat duren voordat opa door om het even welke van de twee hij van het bord af gejaagd wordt! Glimlach

SanDisk’s way of keeping a customer happy. It works.

20171226_141309So… I have this 240GB SanDisk portable USB 3.0 SSD. A wonderfully useful thing. Lightweight and compact, and yet it allowed me to run a Hyper-V development environment off it when hooked up to a USB3 port on my work laptop, so I could keep a legacy development environment alive, to support the legacy product from the company I worked for. It also consumes very little power, so I can hook it up to my tablet, to create the functionality of an image tank to store photos on when I’m vacationing.
I chose this one because of SanDisk’s reputation for robustness.

Somewhere in September last year, it wouldn’t connect to my computer. So I unplugged the cable… at both ends.
Unfortunately, this resulted in the chassis connector coming out of the SSD drive with the cable.

I uttered some expletives, and then forgot about it… until, by the end of December, I was clearing out my desk and found it.
I decided to fire off an email to SanDisk customer support, including the photo on the right.

They reacted the next day with an email stating that they regretted my misfortune, including:

  • the offer to replace it with a 480GB device.
  • instructions on how to (and formal permission to) disassemble the device to hook it up to a SATA cable, to recover the data stored on it.
  • a UPS address label to return the remains to their European service agency, postage paid by them.

I returned it to them in a bubble wrap envelope. A week later, the replacement hard disk (as promised, 480GB instead of 240GB) arrives. No data was lost in the process.

This is how you keep a customer happy. Thank you, SanDisk.

I’d take a knee

Just to make a point. Or rather, a handful of points.

As someone who does not (and, definitely at this time, would not want to) live in the USA, I have some questions.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor take a kneeFirst of all, what is this fascination with national symbols? Why, in the name of all that’s holy (that might be a point) are US citizens so focused on their national anthem that they insist it be played at the start of sports events that have no relationship to the nation whatsoever?
In Europe, the national anthem is only played at the start of a match involving a squad representing their country, not for club teams. You guys make it sound like you will play the Anthem before having sex.

Same thing with the flag. All Americans are supposed to honour the Flag. Unless you’re in the South, then you can desecrate the American flag all you want in favour of the Confederate flag. I’ve never seen a nation of flag wavers as incessant as the USA.

And is it really true that, at the beginning of a school day, children have to stand during a recital of the Pledge of Allegiance?

What is it that causes the USA to insist that it is so great, and to incessantly ram that in the minds of their citizens? I mean, if you’re not in doubt about something, you’re not going to repeat it over and over. Nobody is going to take a stand every day to convince us, or themselves, that the sun will rise next morning. We know that. I have yet to come across a situation wherein, each morning, school children are supposed to proclaim that the earth is, in fact, not a flat disc, but a sphere.

The only reason I can think of to, as if it were a mantra, glorify your nationality over and over again is that there is some innate doubt.

I am Dutch. The Dutch are not flag-wavers, and they’re not particularly hot on singing our National Anthem at every possible occasion (even though our national anthem is, musically, one of the most interesting anthems around). We’re not particularly “patriotic”, and we do not use “unpatriotic” as a magic formula to invalidate someone’s argument.
We do not have to assert that we are The Best Country In The World – we know we aren’t. According to whatever statistic you can come up with, we’re usually doing pretty well these days (around the top 10 or thereabouts), but if there is a Best Country In The World, it’s not our country. Just after WWII, this country has committed some war time atrocities itself, when it tried to, against better judgement, cling to The Dutch Indies (now Indonesia) as its territory. The Netherlands has also been involved in slave trade for a long time. So there is enough not to be proud of. Even today – although we take a lot better care of the sick, the disabled and the elderly than the USA does, there’s still quite a bit to be desired.

But that’s not the point. The point is to acknowledge where we went wrong, recognise what we can do to do things right, and take care of the here and now without harbouring any false pride.

For that reason, a sentence like “right or wrong… my country, sir” has not really taken root here.
And it shouldn’t. If it is evident that your leaders are telling you to commit atrocities against humanity, it should be ok to say “My country… sorry, sir, but that ain’t right”.

I am also not stating that this is a universal Dutch trait. Like any European country, The Netherlands has a rather noisy minority of racist, deeply nationalist folks that would like nothing more than kick out anyone who is not a member of their group (foreigners, LGBT people, refugees, and anyone sympathising with the above) and essentially recreating society as it was in the late fifties. But that is definitely not the consensus here – even though people like Geert Wilders would like you to believe otherwise.

But during every election, that nationalist movement fails to come out on top. I truly hope it will stay that way, because not a single divisive attempt at us-versus-them-thinking that we have seen in the history of mankind has ever led to something good. History has already borne me out here, and I am convinced that it will keep doing so.

I don’t mind if you guys love your country. Without thinking The Netherlands is the best thing since sliced bread, I like this country – and everything and everone that’s in it — a lot. I just think that, as soon as loving your country implies hating folks who just so happen to not agree with you – or worse, to hate folks whose only crime is that they do not have their ancestral roots in your country – then I think you are crossing a line of human decency.
And if you are an angry white male who is about to state that I should STFU, please bear in mind that your ancestral roots, wherever they may belong, they do not belong in North America – you’ve only been there for a couple hundred years, and you started out committing atrocities to those who were there first.

I love the fact that we can agree to disagree. I love the fact that, around here, you can demonstrate your opinion without being fired or demonised by whoever happens to be in the driver’s seat.
I love the fact that we are not told to love this country, but have the freedom to do so if we want.

Have politics become irrelevant?

Reactions to yesterday’s election results covered the entire spectrum: from enthusiasm (and sometimes outright vindictiveness) to extreme disappointment (and occasionally belligerence). The same gamut of reactions could be seen in the UK when the Brexit referendum mocked the poll results. GoodMorningAmerica

I think this reflects how polarised society, and, as a result, the political landscape has become. While it is popular these days to coin the phrase “the Divided States of America”, this phenomenon is not unique to the USA. In many countries in Europe (also in The Netherlands), there is a growing tendency to intolerance towards points of view that do not correspond to your own, and many European countries have their own alt-right movements. UKIP in the UK, Front National in France and the Dutch PVV (which is essentially the Wilders Show) are a few examples.
This polarisation is not just a political thing – political discussions on public forums have descended to insult contests, largely mirroring the tone struck by the more extreme political figureheads. Admittedly, Donald Trump has taken insulting and threatening his political opponents to a new (and disturbing) level, but Nigel Farage and Geert Wilders are not exactly shining examples of how a debate should be conducted.

The phenomenon of a large portion of the voting population fleeing to the extreme sides of the political spectrum (mainly a flight to the right) appears to be caused by a growing level of discontent about, and distrust in, politicians that are supposed to be part of the ‘establishment’. This is rather weird if you realise that Trump himself is very much a member of the establishment (even though most of his business ventures ended disastrously).

But what worries me most is that there is a large group of people who seem to have lost all interest in politics whatsoever, and appear to be completely unfazed by the fact that the nuclear codes will soon be in the hands of a man who has, until now, demonstrated that he cannot even control his own temper, and that the energy policy of one of the largest industrial nations of the planet are now controlled by a man who thinks man-made climate change is a hoax, perpetrated by the imageChinese (which essentially means that the Paris Agreement isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on).
Some are looking at the proceedings with amusement, and there is the odd sentiment of “be your own president” – if we make sure we do the Right Thing, everything will work out just fine.

I will immediately agree with anyone that sitting around and waiting for someone else to save the world is not a solution. But I think it would be downright naïve to assume that not worrying about politics (and thereby, to society at large) and cocooning in your own world where you and the people you interact with do The Right Thing is a working solution.

First, my US-based LGBT friends will likely be somewhat happy to hear of my support, but they are going to have a very hard time the next four years regardless. Having the authorities turn on you sucks eggs, and there is not much that I can do about that. So yes, that’s worrying.

Second… yes, I have managed to reduce my CO2-footprint since 2010 with waaay more than the 20% that supposedly was the target for 2020. And yes, I’m actually a bit proud of that – although I have to admit that, what with technology making strides to support me in doing so, it wasn’t particularly hard.

But I also feel somewhat frustrated that I cannot do considerably more – public transport for my daily commute is not an option, as it would lengthen my daily commute from 90 minutes to 5 hours and 40 minutes (I kid you not…), but I would seriously like to drive an EV for commuting and other daily drives. Unfortunately, the municipality I live in won’t allow me to run a charging cable across the sidewalk, and they also won’t let me install a charging post. Which would render my electric vehicle useless.
So, yes… you can decide to be your own president, but politics can actually reduce the efficiency of your presidency.
Given Trump’s track record, I cannot see how Trump would act meglio-furs-swastika-trump-940x540in a way that the vast majority of climate scientists would deem sensible.

But there is another effect that politics can have on everyday life: it affects our behaviour.
Having a president-hopeful (and now, a president-elect) who has a proven record of repeatedly insulting his opponents, insulting, stigmatising, and even threatening entire sections of the population, and qualifying his own positively lewd behaviour as ‘locker room talk’ (which somehow should make it perfectly acceptable), and generally having a problem controlling his own temper, will influence what society finds acceptable – especially what the next generation will learn to be the norm.
We’ve seen the same thing happening after the Brexit referendum, where open hostilities against the minorities targeted by Farage’s UKIP suddenly spiked, and the same thing is already happening in the US.

My worry is that not having an opinion about this is not going to reverse this trend. And that is why I think that pulling out of the public debate because you ‘cannot be bothered’, or because you think that, as long as you do the Right Thing yourself, that’s enough, is not going to cut it. I can see where this sentiment is coming from… but I don’t subscribe to it.

… rain? What rain?

If you’re in the Netherlands, this post’s title is supposedly hard to swallow.
We’ve had some rain on Monday evening and during the night. More than a drizzle, but no huge quantities. It started after we had gone in for the night, and it stopped again before we woke up on Tuesday morning. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the weather’s been brilliant, and today, it’s been hot (>30). It’s been a dry heat, but still.

We’ve seen some beautiful evening skies


some nice buildings


some that were beyond repair


and today, because it would be too hot in the sun, we decided to take a hike in the Hainich, a dense, natural deciduous forest that borders our campground.


As long as you would stay in the shade, it was very nice.

Tomorrow morning will be the start of another hot day, but the forecast says that by the end of the afternoon or the early evening, the rain will reach the middle of Germany. So, we’ll break camp tomorrow morning (which will allow us to pack our stuff, and fold our trailer tent, dry), and then head back, to arrive home in the late afternoon.


Yes… ten years ago (on 20 06 2006), Janny said yes to me. Or actually, to the minister in Killin, Scotland, in a small chapel on the banks of Loch Tay, to his question if she would fancy marrying me.

20062016 started out as a gorgous day.


When you are in the Netherlands, it’s probably hard to believe, but it stayed like that all day long. We learnt later that, 400 kms to our west, it pissed down all day… but here, the rain only started at 21:30. At four in the afternoon, the first signs that a change was coming could be seen, so that came as no surprise. Right now, it’s pissing down consistently. Which is fine – the tent has already proven to be 100% waterproof, and also this means that it’s not going to get cold tonight. Last night was really cold… which is fine in our decent sleeping bag, but it also means that, at 7 am, it’s still fairly nippy. If we are really really lucky, by the time we wake up tomorrow, all this will have passed and the weather will be fine again.
One can always hope. 😉

Anyway, since Janny threw her back out yesterday, we did not expect to be really active today. We did have to do some shopping (remember we were fresh out of salt and spices?), so we headed for a town called Bad Langensalza, which supposedly had a choice of supermarkets.

Bad Langensalza was actually a lot bigger (and nicer) than we had expected — not that we had reason to expect anything but supermarkets, so a traditional German town with its city centre intact was a pleasant surprise.


We took a stroll through the centre, which was not as ‘raped’ by commerce as the Celle centre that we visited two days earlier. Some of it was really nice… well-kept, and most of the renovations were done with at least a minimum of taste. The glass front in the traditional Fachwerk house below is not screaming for attention.


It’s interesting to see how some of the longer beams follow the shape of the tree from which they were cut, and how the granite slab under the lowest beam follows the shape of the beam.

We also made sure that our stroll included some of the less touristic bits of town…


This facade could probably use some TLC. As you can see by the curtains, and the brand new lock, this place is actually inhabited.

It did get worse… this door hasn’t been used for a long time.


Somewhere else, the integration between old and new has not been wholly successful. I sense a smouldering architectural conflict at the roof level.


As Janny’s back was giving in, we concluded our visit with a cup of coffee and a light snack.


We do intend to come back here later this week, when Janny is feeling better.

After a quick visit to the Netto supermarket, where the staff treated us (and everyone else) with an attitude that lingered between depression and contempt, we returned to the camp site to laze around the tent, and feast on a home-prepped meal with barbecued meat and a fantasy salad, which was fine, accompanied by a Chianti of 2.30 euro, which tasted like… a Chianti of 2.30 Euro, really.

There’s nothing like listening to the sound of rain falling on a cotton tent roof and thinking that there’s nothing to worry about. Tomorrow morning, we’ll see whether that is justified.

Of a disappointing town, and of new surroundings

Did I say that Friday was the worst day up to then, weather-wise? … yes, I did.

Turns out Saturday had heard that, and it did not want to let Friday get away with that. The day started off with a dreary, drab, uniformly grey sky, from which water was leaking steadily. This lasted all morning, and it soaked the grass, the tent, and the general atmosphere.
So… we decided to visit Celle.
On going there, I regretted that I had forgotten my camera. That would change later on. Celle’s Wikipedia entry tells us that the old, historic centre has been spared during World War II’s bombardments. What it doesn’t tell us is that this historic centre has been thoroughly raped afterwards, by local commerce. 90% of it has been turned into a  buying gutter on the ground floor, which creates a horrible, unresolved dissonant with the (mostly historic) facades from the first floor up.

Celle also has a castle. Its construction has started in the 12th century, but most of it is High Baroque, and quite sugary.


The back of the castle shows some period inconsistency (which is to be expected), but most of it is a bit too rich to my taste. Welcome to Germany, I suspect. I have to admit I like the castle that is my workplace (Kasteel Nederhorst) a lot better as a building. Less showy, more honest.

Luckily the rain had stopped in the afternoon. It still wasn’t pretty, but at least some of the time we could do without our jackets.

We did manage to find Janny a pair of very nice shoes, though.

On our trip home, we went into Lidl to buy us the ingredients for a pasta meal. No prefab stuff, everything fresh from the veggies dept. The only canned stuff I used was tomato paste and ham. One of the things I have bought for our camping trips is a small chef’s knife. Nothing fancy, just a standard knife from (somewhat softer) European steel with a 20 degree cut. On cutting up the onions and the paprika I noticed that this is overdue for some sharpening. Remind me to do that when I get home…

Anyway, I cut the stuff up (onion, paprika, zucchini, ham, and some other stuff) and fired up the Safari Chef to fry things up a bit, only to discover that we had managed to not bring the salt and spices. Oh well.
I added a healthy dose of the red wine we bought at Lidl: a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon at the staggering price of… ONE euro fourty nine. Yes, you read that right. For a standard 70 cl bottle. I have to admit that, much to my amazement, this is actually drinkable stuff. In terms of value for money, it is right up  there with the ” vin de table” that you can buy when camping in France!
Anyway, the pasta was tastier than expected.

Today, we decided to pack up and move south. We are now at a camping outside Weberstedt, a cul-de-sac to the southeast of Kassel. Hilly country, and our camp site — and in fact our tent — overlooks a valley.


It is a small, very (and I mean VERY) quiet camp site.
We are still improving our setting-this-thing-up skills. Despite the fact that the ground we are on is not particularly level (which complicates setting up the living tent), and despite the fact that Janny had managed to pull a muscle in her back when packing up this morning, which limits her mobility, it took us almost 24 minutes.

It is now 23:20, and the sky in the west is still dark red at the bottom.
This picture was made 2 hours earlier:


Tomorrow is going to be a wonderful day. Dry, sunny, 24 degrees. Since tomorrow is our 10th anniversary, that would be most pleasant. I do not plan to do any cooking tomorrow; there should be some fine restaurants nearby.