Back To Breda

Trip Start Jan 31, 2010
1
118
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Trip End Jul 21, 2010


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Flag of Netherlands  , Noord-Brabant,
Sunday, June 13, 2010

I'm up with the window full of sunlight, hearing one of the two moving around in the next room. Soon all of Erwin’s five alarms have gone off to make sure he rises for rock climbing, the most annoying of which has been saved till last. He is wide awake and dressed for the last two, but leaves them on just in case, noting when is the last minutes he could wake to make it on time. Valentine has opted out today, drowning a little in the workload of reports and not really feeling up to it. It is a little sad she cannot make time for it, but rock climbing is not really something you want to do while distracted about work. Imagine holding onto the rock for dear life, struggling up the face, searching for hand and footholds, and all you can think of is the stack of paper back at home waiting to be dealt with when you get back.

So Erwin is out before I’ve finished. We say our goodbyes and really do hope to see him again, either here on in Australia. The same promises and hopes are made to Valentine a little later, when I’ve finally made everything fit and can get out the door. As I head down the narrow stairs I’m sure I’ve forgotten something, but am so happy to have met such warm and open people.

Walking to the station as I’m a man of exercise don’t you now I keep window shopping for shoes, hoping to find a nice affordable pair to use between mountain treks in Erwin’s beasts. This is not meant to be. Jason's feet are made for living in hiking boots, no matter what his back says.

Back to the palace and onto a train. The announcements are in Flemish, French, German, Dutch and English, the last tacked o the end and making less sense than it should. Because of this we’ve passed two stops before one announcement is finished. I hope people weren’t counting on it for anything. Train lines are being fixed on the Dutch side of the border, so everyone is off the train and onto various sized coaches from Essen to Rousendaul. The greenery is different on either side. While it’s all European the Belgian side of the path has a different feel about it, and after a while I think it’s the trees, they seem to lean differently. I land early in Breda – giving myself a good hour or so before the exposition begins. Locking up the bigger bags I head for similar places to my last visit. Inside the same café as last time blasting techno and pop music gently rattles the windows as it threatens to encroach on the jazz coming from the speakers inside. I ask one of the ladies if it bothers her. Apparently not, as she plans to help out after work. There is a cycle marathon to be held today, and no I will not be entering. As I finish the biggest cup of coffee I have ever had the song changes to dancing queen. It may be time to move away.

At the Graphic Design Museum the uke refuses to fit in the provided lockers, so I hide it behind and under with a note pleading those who come across it to leave it be. I do put a please on it, so use that as my security blanket as I walk away.

The design symposium is freaking amazing. On show was the idea of pushing design further and further into other realms. The first half looked at the idea of data collection and collation, be it every cover of Time Magazine to make assumptions of design trends based on colour and space, or the millions of data display forums that now exists for you to upload a graph of how many dogs have lived in your street over the last ten years. The man collecting Time magazine spoke highly of the idea of turning away from reducing. Data refinement often looked at the concept of reducing the pool, making assessments easier and faster. Now with the help of google books and super computers this reduction is no longer necessary. The pair talking of data collection and forums – one of which had the most amazing purple/red shirt I have ever seen – spoke highly of the icons created in the Isotype by Otto Neurath, complementing this with the inclusion of educational films also made by the designer. The stand out poetic and creative piece was the work of a young designer, who was attempting to bring the humanity back into the machine. From typewriters that could tell how angry you were by how hard you pressed the keys resulting in altered type size, to typefaces that age, decay and fade, this man’s ability to bring the emotion and human character back into the often cold and sterile technology of computer aided design is amazing. Between sets thee are bits for snacking upstairs. I meet a few locals but it seems like a large contingency is from either Amsterdam or Rotterdam. Every one of them carries a laptop and takes notes as the speakers go, Googling names and checking train timetables in between. I doodle on the program and write down words that sound nice together.

There is a bunch that move to the pub next door, the same place I met the guy from far away thankful to be here last time I visited. I talk to the man with the amazingly detailed purple shirt about his work; quickly changing to music and frivolous things when it becomes amazingly apparent I’m way out of my depth. The poetic typewriter man sits quietly in the corner with a few friends, several attempts to make conversation fall away, no matter how nice his smile is. I walk the streets in search of a good place for coffee, or something different from last time. The city centre is all decked out in orange and Holland signs, the football in full swing as I walk amongst the crowds every pub a plasma, every pair of eyes on the game. I move to the park, encountering many nice and talkative people after my change. I offer to share the last of my food instead. One rolls away on his shiny new bike, the other straightens his nice jeans and says thanks anyway.

It gets to about 3am  - forever surrounded by churches does have its benefits – and I find a bench to catch a few hours. I discover sleeping sitting up works perfectly with my bag and uke stacked together, creating the worst kind of pillow I’ve ever experienced. The position has me thinking of the beds in Antwerp’s printing museum. The beds appear nearly half the length of those we have today. While heights have changed since they were made, the real reason is people slept differently. Instead of lying down they slept in a near sitting up position, believing this helped with digestion, and came with added advantage of a quick rise and get away if the were attacked in their sleep. I’m thinking of neither. When I wake again I notice the sky starting to lighten. The sunrise is on its way. Getting a kebab (big mistake) I make my way out of the city in search of a horizon line to watch from.

Crossing several streets I move further and further out of the city, slowly realising the best place would be along the train line. The ground changes from asphalt to an unsealed road of gravel to and eventual sand pit complete with the green sea grass you find on the beach.

Along one side springs a field of strange reeds, not unlike wheat but thicker and unidentifiable in the dark. Even stranger farmhouses with curved rooftops sit amongst them, corrugated iron and everything. With the light fog that spreads over the field it begins to feel a little like the garden scene in ET, when the boy first meets the alien. In reality this may be nothing alike, but I suppose a mind on little sleep in need of seeing a sunrise would wonder in wonderful tangents. I stand still as close the reeds as I can get, taking photos every couple of minutes. The battery tells me it’ll be dead soon. Shit.

A truck pulls up behind me, and two workers in orange safety vests jump out and onto the tracks. I pay little attention, until one of them comes back a stands a few feet away, staring at me. I turn to him when he starts to talk,

"<something Dutch>"
“Sorry, I don’t speak Dutch.”
“Oh, what are you doing?”
“Waiting for the sunrise.”
“Oh right.”

He watches for a few minutes with me. The sun is still half an hour away, but the sky is coloured pink and yellow on the clouds. After a bit he starts again,

“You’re not from here.”
“No, I’m from Australia.”
“Australia?”
“Yeah, Australia.”
“You got ruined in the football.”
“Oh, lucky I don’t do sport.”
“Was a good game to watch though.”
“Yeah?”
“Yeah.”

His co-worker calls him over and he gets back to what he was meant to be doing.

The sunrise is amazing – and I feel myself brightening up. The camera dies, but it’s ok. I’ve been feeling stranded, but it will be go ok. There’s nothing wrong, everything works out for the best. I cannot believe what this is doing to my outlook. I smile as I walk away from the field, the sun still working on it, looking over the horizon and slowly filling the sky with a warm glow.
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