Thursday, May 27, 2010

Dam Square Amsterdam

Sorry I have been so tardy in posting about our trip to Holland, but I have been feeling unwell since returning. I have been fighting, what I thought was a cold for over a week, and yesterday
Mr C persuaded me to see the doctor as I could not get rid of my cough and I had absolutely no energy at all. The doctor's diagnosis, acute bronchitis. No wonder I have not been able to doctor myself with over the counter medicine as I usually do.
Anyhow, here are some photos taken of Dam Square.

Our last day in Holland we spent walking around taking in some of the sights. I stood somewhere near the center of the square slowly turning around, snapping pictures and looking at all the interesting people. The were many, many tourists like us, some just standing looking around, some listening to a tour guide, some sitting at one of the cafes, and some looking as though they didn't know where to go next.

As I looked across the square it struck me, just how much contrast there is from the very old to the modern. For instance, there is the Oude Kerk, a 15 th century church, where the Kings and Queens of The Netherlands are crowned, and where numerous famous Dutchmen are buried, towering over a hot dog stand. Mimes (some rather bizarre looking) standing withing the square, performing this ancient form of theatre for a few Euros from the tourists, horse drawn carriages, a couple of cafes which serve the best tasting strong coffee, and people from all around the world.

I stood there and tried to imagine how the town square would have looked in the 15 th century as people went about their daily lives. I could almost picture the women as they bought their wares at the market, see the officials of the town hall coming and going, and other folks going about their business.

This mime didn't seem to have a theme in mind.
The original Madame Tussauds (note no apostrophe) Wax Museum is located in London, England. Fortunately for travelers in Amsterdam, this bustling city is home to one of the four branches. Although the museum is smaller than the wax museum in London, it still contains plenty of entertainment. This museum offers a different way of finding out more about the history of Holland. Here, you can see how people lived during the 17th century, aka the Golden Century, meet Rembrandt himself, or some other famous artists.

There is also much restoration of some of the ancient buildings going on. One such place is the Royal Palace, formerly the town hall. click HERE for more information.

I would have loved to take a ride in one of the horse drawn carriages but they were rather expensive.
From Dam Square everyday it is possible to take a horse drawn carriage tour of Amsterdam between 11.00 and 18.00.
The prices are per ride and for a maximum of 4 people - 20 minutes is 35 Euros, 40 minutes is 60 euros and 1 hour costs 85 euros. The tours amble thorough the city streets at a leisurely pace and take in most major sites.


I did not notice the interesting way of securing the horse manure from falling on the streets, until I downloaded the pictures. An excellent way of capturing the droppings.

This scene for me, was an absolute delight. As I watched from a distance, the youngsters were tugging at their parents clothing, looking up at them with much animated talking, and pointing to where the mime was doing his thing. The dad finally reached into his pocket, withdrew a few coins which he handed to the children who immediately walked over to the mime.

The mime squatted down so he was at eye level with the youngsters, and commenced to talk. Of course being a mime, there were no words exchanged, but I did hear whistles squeaks and so forth in the way of communication, and I could see the children were absolutely entranced by the whole episode.

It appears a High five is a universal language.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Winterswijk - a tour of the range downstairs

Today I am taking you downstairs where all the stages were set up for the match.

I don't know how large the downstairs area is, but I can tell you it is huge. There is a very good ventilation system installed, so no worries about breathing contaminated air. I did have to dress warmly this year as it was quite cold down here.

There were two stages set up in this room. The one on the right, is one of my favorites and I had some very good times on this one. Spectators could stand outside and watch the match.

The right side stage was a good one to shoot also. For those of you who do not know anything about this kind of shooting here is a short version of the setup. There are five steel plates, one of which is a stop plate which is the last to be shot. The six stages are all set up in different configurations and distances from the shooters box, using large rectangular plates, and various sized round plates.
The shooter is instructed by a range officer to "load and make ready" "are you ready?" "standby' the shooter then hears a buzzer and can commence firing.
I love this sport, it really is a challenge, and what a rush to hear the ding, as lead hits the target (if you can hear it) and to better yourself hopefully, every time you go to a match.

Here is a better photo of one of my favorite stages. The stop plates were hanging on a red post, whereas in some matches, you have to remember which is the stop plate, because they are not marked this way.

Shooting the breeze while waiting for the next competitor to step up to shoot.

These two stages are fun to shoot

Stage four, my worst nightmare.
I drew this stage to start on, and it was awful. Usually when you come up to shoot, you have all your own equipment, everything is working as it should, so all you have to do is concentrate on the job at hand. However, this time I was distracted thinking about how I would deal with any problem which could arise due to having to use three of Mr C's magazines, as the magazines for my gun did not make it into our luggage.
When using the three mags which seemed to work best in my gun, I had to be very careful that they were firmly inserted and secured in the gun before commencing to shoot, as the mechanism for holding the magazine in our guns differed slightly, and there could be a chance that the holding mechanism would not catch and hold properly. There was also a chance that I may have a bullet or two jam, as the magazines are fine tuned to work best in the gun they are used in. Yes I did have some rounds jam, I did have a magazine which did not stay in as it should, so I muttered under my breath, cleared the problem and finished the run. This stage cost me dearly.
HERE are the scores.

Shooting indoors is a whole different experience than outdoors which we usually do. First the bays are a little narrower than we are used to, and on one stage some of the steel plates were switched so they would fit in the bays. For instance instead of two large plates being on the outside, they were switched with the two smaller inside ones. Not a huge difference but when one gets used to shooting a stage set up in a particular way, you have to adjust your mindset. Also I found the lighting to be rather intense on some of the plates, and on stage four (my worst nightmare) where the back plates are set up far out, it is hard to see if you have scored a hit and it is also hard to hear a strike.
All said and done, we had a wonderful time, and are already looking forward to returning next year.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Winterswijk- a tour of the range and clubhouse

We start the tour of the clubhouse upstairs in the bar area, where you can have a beer, soda, coffee or a snack, or just sit around the table talking with all your shooting friends.

The office where competitors checked in, and the scores loaded into the computer.

As the score sheets were brought upstairs from the range, the totals were entered in the computers, printed out and placed on reader boards, so the shooters could check on their standings.


An apprentice entering some of the scores.
This sweet young lady, celebrated her thirteenth birthday during the time we were there, and part of the bar was decorated for the celebration.

In the large room adjacent to the bar, this woman had her embroidery machine set up to custom embroider shirts for the competitors. Last year Mr C and I were each presented with a custom embroidered shirt. On the far side of the room, there were tables loaded with prizes for the competitors. No competitor went home empty handed, even if they did not place in the winner's circle. When your name was called you went to the tables to choose your prize. I chose a nice pair of hearing protectors.
This room was also where tables and chairs were set up for lunch, to provide seating for the competitors, and all who were involved in staging the event.

To reach the basement where the match was held, you first had to navigate these rather steep stairs.

There is an electric chair for the handicapped, so they can get downstairs to shoot. Being as jet lagged as I was, I could have used this chair on several occasions. *grin*

There you have it, a partial view of the upstairs meeting room at the range, and in my next post I will show you downstairs where all the action took place.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Our visit to Holland - Winterswijk

We arrived home late yesterday afternoon, tired and so glad to sleep in our own bed. As I create this post, I write a little, sneeze a few times, blow my nose and continue typing. Yes I caught a cold, but thank goodness it did not get bad until this morning.

Come along with me as I take you on a tour of the range at Winterswijk (sounds like vintersvyke) where Mr C and I competed in the European Steel challenge, then in later posts, some views of the charming town.

Logo for the Steel Challenge.

From our hotel, it was about a five minute walk along this lovely trail to the range. As we walked the trail many birds were singing out their songs to attract a mate. Well at least I surmise they were trying to attract a mate, as it is Spring in Holland.

Looking across the bicycle track, then the road towards the swimming pool, ball park and range. There are quite a few sports facilities in the area, catering to the needs of many men, women and children who enjoy various sports.

The swimming complex on the left, ball park on the right, and the range, center.
Mr C and I commented on how much work it must have taken, to construct the brick cycle tracks and pedestrian walkways, which were predominant in the area.

The range building, constructed of brick with tile roof, which is common on many of the houses and buildings in the town and surrounding area of Winterswijk.


video

I enjoyed
listening to the birds singing, as I walked the trail to the range .

Monday, May 17, 2010

A geat vacation but with a snafu or two

We have spent the first four days in Winterswijk mostly at the range, but yesterday morning, having some time to myself, I decided to rent a bicycle at the hotel and go for a ride. Even though it had been a few years since riding a bike, I did really well, that is until I had to navigate a narrow part of the cycle track. As I was making my way along the narrow part, the tire of the bicycle clipped the side and I ended up taking a nasty fall. As I sat at the side with head between my knees to try and ease my dizziness, feelings of nausea, and determine how injured I was, a couple pulled up in their car and came to my aid. The man insisted he drive me the short distance to the hotel, while his wife rode the bicycle back. I have one scraped knee, the other bruised and very sore, ripped the skin of the knuckle of one thumb, have sore shoulders from having put my hands out to break my fall, and other bruised tender places where I obviously injured myself by partially falling on the hard metal parts of the bicycle. I have decided my bicycling days are over, I will stick to vehicles with four wheels. Mr C says I am lucky I did not break something, get a concussion etc. and of course he is right.

We arrived in Amsterdam around 11:30pm last night, and after a good night's rest, and a fabulous breakfast in the restaurant this morning, we walked a few miles doing a little sightseeing. The city sure does look different from last year, as the garbage collection people are on strike and there are piles of garbage everywhere you look.

When we arrived back at the hotel we thought a good idea to check in with the airline to confirm our booking for tomorrow. Mr C had much difficulty trying to connect via the internet, so finally managed to find a real person instead of a recording on the other end of the telephone line when he called Delta.
Sheesh!!!! another snafu to deal with. This morning's flight was cancelled due to volcanic activity in Iceland, and it may be cancelled tomorrow morning. We have to be at the airport 7am or earlier tomorrow to check in, and if our flight is cancelled, we haven't a clue what we are going to do. We are not certain if Delta will put us up in a hotel, so if they do not, we will be staying at the airport along with other stranded travellers.

I am placing in my backpack, spare clothing, toiletries, snacks and bottled water, just in case we happen to be stranded. As we have our firearms we used for the European steel Challenge match in our luggage, we cannot take any alternative flight through other countries as we do not have all the appropriate documentation those countries require to transport weapons through them, so I guess you could say we are "between a rock and a hard spot"
So my friends, please cross your fingers for us that the volcano behaves, and we can get on our flight tomorrow and don't have to stay at the airport for any extended time.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

So soon does a vacation end.

It is our last day in Winterswijk and we have had a very busy time. We did have a hitch in my shooting plans, in that the magazines for my gun did not make it into my luggage so I had to use three of the mags from Mr C's gun. I did shook OK except for the first stage, which is not my favorite, I know I would have done bettter if I was not so rattled over the snafu with the magazines, however I did have a grand time and enjoyed all the comaradery of the folks we met last year.
Well I am going to go and rent a bicycle to look around this town, while Mr C is up at the range. I need to get out and about for a while. I will have pictures when we get back home.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Holland is wonderful

I am sitting here in the range office, where we are set up on the internet so we can get a blog post or two done while we are here in Holland, pictures will come when I get home.
Our flight was very long and tiring, but the welcome from people we met last year, makes the trip all worth while.
Yesterday, after checking into our hotel, we walked over to the range, which is just about five minutes from the hotel, and met up with some friends from last year. After chatting for a while Mr C and I decided we needed a nap, so back to the hotel we went, to sleep for about three hours before meeting everyone downstairs in the restaurant for dinner.
Dinner was fantastic and beautifully served. We started at 8pm with ham and melon appetizer, sea bass with asparagus, herbed potatoes and vegetables, and for dessert, around 10:30 pm, Dutch apple pie. Of course I washed it down with a couple of glasses of nice red wine. Needles to say I slept very well, that is, until 3 am when I woke up ready to start the day. My poor old body can't decide to be on USA on Netherlands time.
Well that is about all for now, I am still feeling the effects of the time change and several cups of the very strong Dutch coffee they serve here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Checklist

We are leaving for the Netherlands Wednesday, and I am not exactly ready to roll. I dragged one of our suitcases upstairs this morning, only to discover that part of it was broken. Mr C is now out in his workshop making repairs, as we don't have time to go and buy a new one.
I am kinda' organized when it comes to getting essentials, like toiletries, meds, makeup (really important) ready to go, and will work on the clothing tonight and tomorrow.
As we are going to be taking weapons and ammunition, so we can shoot in the European Steel Challenge, it takes a lot of thought on how to pack the guns in a hard sided gun case so they will not sustain any damage, and will be readily available for customs to check. Mr C has that all under control. The ammunition travels in my suitcase and has to be secured in such a way, that it does not cannonball all around the suitcase. I have that all figured out.
Camera batteries charged---check
Passport in purse---check
Euros in purse----check
Book to read in carry on bag---check
Antacids in carry on (food on plane, not always good) ---check
Comfy shoes in bag---check
Etc Etc.

I think I will be ready on time Whew!!!!


Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Very busy at the moment.

Blogging is going to be fairly light, as we are getting ready to travel to Holland next Wednesday. Mr C and I, are once again going to compete in the European Steel challenge, so in between working, and taking care of all the other daily chores, getting everything ready for the trip, I plan on getting in as much practice at the range as I can.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Why I did not blog over the weekend.

Early Saturday morning, we had the RV loaded up and ready to roll by 8am. We caught the ferry on the first leg of our journey to shoot in the Man Of Steel match, at Sherwood, just South of Portland.

Our Squad (Mr C was taking the photo)
I didn't realize how petite I really am, until I looked at our picture, I always have a larger than life attitude, small but mighty you could say. (Laughing)

Charlotte shooting a carbine. and she was good at it too.

Zach, also shooting the carbine, he came away with the top prize for junior in this class.

Picking up brass to be reloaded for the next match.

It was not my intention to shoot this match, but oh! how glad I changed my mind. There were some slots open and I decided to bite the bullet, pun intended, and shoot it any way.
I would have missed out on a great deal of fun, not to mention the practice I need, before shooting in the European match, in 11 days time in Winterswijk, Holland.


Mr C has tricked out my gun and I must say it is a pleasure to shoot.
I have pretty much got the feel of it now, and felt I did fairly well at the match. There were 18 rim fire open shooters in my class, and I finished 10th. There was one stage I had never shot before, involving a reload and it was a nightmare for me, as I could not drop my magazine to the ground when reloading, as the center fire shooters do. Instead I had to release the magazine, tuck it inside my vest, lock the slide back (or the gun would not feed properly) reinsert the new magazine, all while moving forward to another box to finish shooting the string. I lost valuable points on this one. Oh! well, if I decide to shoot the match again next year, I will figure out a new more efficient way to handle the reload situation.

The senior and junior ladies in our squad.

My buddy, who teased me unmercifully all day long.

video
I am so proud of Mr C who earned a nice plaque for 1st place rimfire. Just look at how fast he shoots this stage. 1.98 seconds. whoo hoo!
I was so tired by now, it was the next to last stage (8 stages) I could hardly get my trigger finger to move, and shot it on an average of 3.20 seconds. In practice the night before, I was shooting it in the 2's.