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Cultural Concubine Blog

Neither here nor there…

Tag Archives: children

Salvaged from the shed…

One of the reasons I am a little bit odd, might be that my parents let me play with lead when I was small… And I don’t mean lead as in the ‘lead pipe with Colonel Mustard in the Library’ kind in the Cluedo game, I mean molten lead!

Our lead was sourced from the bottle tops of my grandfather’s wine bottles (mostly Nuit St. Georges). My brother was most interested in playing with the end result, Lead soldiers…
I mostly enjoyed doing the actual casting.
The moulds we used were from Ireland, Cork. But we also had a pre-WW one from our grandfather.

Bad pic, but see how this headless soldier is trying to outrun it’s pretty red and white lead oxide. Bless!

What I loved most were the miscasts… The little un-soldered soldiers, with the strangest parts missing. Sadly most of those were simply remelted, instead of being sent to war.

We soon became experts in the typical character of each of the moulds. And what would be the special ways in which to work them to get the best result. How to tilt them, tap them or press them together while pouring in the lead.

I remember that the guns were always the trickiest. They took longest to cool, and the round barrels could have all kinds of dents and glitches due to shrinkage….

I guess I never really considered how much this game actually taught me about the manufacturing process. Not in the least the lesson that melting lead in the shed would give you a pretty good headache after a while.

Looks like a rainy day…

It also taught us to tell the weather. Pouring molten lead into water at room temperature would result in a wonderful (and in this case just forget dangerous) ballet of spluttering steam. We would be left with either a wildly shaped stream of lead, caught in action… or a pile of loose drops at the bottom.
In case of the latter there would be rain!

Pity children aren’t allowed to play around with this kind of thing anymore…

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Vondel Park Virtuoso...

Leaving something behind in another country is always bittersweet.

The way to make missing easier is to consider the sides of it you are happy to be rid of.

One of the things I must admit I miss from Holland is ‘Koninginnedagor Queen’s day.
On this day all the Dutch are free to trade in the streets. It is a bank holiday for all and children are off school.
This usually results in the friendly spectacle of a young girl playing a violin while the punters walk by and throw her a coin. While on the other side of the street students have set up children’s puppetshow or silly races to entertain.

Need some roller skates?

For grown-ups there is an enormous amount of bric-a-brac scattered across all the stalls on the pavement, as everyone clears out the attic to sell anything and everything they want to get rid of.

This whole festival is generally amped up with loud music in the street, wheel barrows of chilled beer and fuming barbeques, selling food you eat but actually never really wanted to eat.

This my dear friends is the best and the worst of Holland, all in one clean swoop… in one single sunny and slightly sozzled day.

The best is to get your bike and tour the stalls as early in the morning as you can. (the night before is a real pub night, so getting up early can be challenging for some) With the chill in the air you can rummage through the freshly stocked piles and find real gems.
(After several years I learnt which shops would clear their storage on this day, and which would sell designer stuff for single figure prices…)

And the side I don’ miss: The reason most Amsterdammers leave the city the night before, does not need too much explanation…

The worst… well.

The attack on the Royal family last year. 8 people died that day.
[Please note: some of this footage is shocking]

Still unbelievable.

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