Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Saturday 4 February 2012

A weekend in Amsterdam (5)

Some last incidental details that caught my eye:

It pays to look up: as Amsterdammers of the Golden Age found it more tax-efficient to build up rather than sideways, the tops of their houses repay study, not just for the hooks on the gables to hoist up goods and furniture (I once spent a quarter-hour or so engrossed in watching a committee get a fridge up to an attic), but also for some "statement" gable decorations. Is that, I wonder, why even a low-rise modern suburban house may have a decorative figure attached almost to the eaves rather than nearer eye-level?

But it also pays to look nearer ground level, at the front doors. Even security can be decorative, in a restrained sort of way - so a grille includes the figure of an inquisitive doorkeeper, and a spy-hole has its own little lace curtain. And, much more impressive than any nameplate or little bit of paper next to the bell is the custom of having the residents' names beautifully signwritten on the front door - a sign of commitment to stay. I seem to remember seeing more of these in the past - perhaps it's a dying skill or it's too expensive now, or perhaps people move around more.

And here are some other impressions in movement and sound:

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