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European Parliament, Exposition a la Parlement Européen and adventures North

EP_logo_2_JPEG.jpgThe exhibition of The Art of Gordon Frickers a collection of marine paintings at the European Parliament continues today which is also my birthday.

My view is birthdays should be fun, my last few have not been – so how to make it so?

One of the things I like about the Western French (I can’t speak of experience with other parts of France) is they know how to party.

Any reason is good enough!

Out come the wine, gateaux and gourmet foods in come the friends.

We are not talking wild parties, simply groups of friends and neighbours enjoying life together.

It is a matter of attitude, knowing how and when to relax and is even written into the famous cry that still echos in France from the French Revolution you know the words

Liberté Egalité Fraternité” which remains to this day written on most town halls in France.

However today is a birthday, which I am quite willing to share with anyone else born on or near the 25th of May, and I am visiting and meeting a friends family in Amsterdam which as the Dutch will readily confirm if asked is not in France.

Why I am in Amsterdam is partly because of the European Parliament rules state exhibitors are not to sell from exhibitions.

I assume I should follow those rules and intend to make the best possible use of my time, besides my paintings can speak for them selves.

What I forgot was they can’t protect themselves…

Another lesson learned, if you read yesterday’s blog, the part about fizzi rizzi, you will to see what I mean.

The 25th dawned as a beautiful clear sunny day in South Holland, Amsterdam.

I was on the road by 08.30, unfortunately without Maryse and her 10 year old son who was not well.

To my great surprise my TomTom GPS informed me the route to Vollenhove and the Royal Huisman Shipyard passed right by Leylstad, home of the Batavia Wherf

My appointment was for 10.00, after a beautiful drive across verdant sunny countryside I arrived at 10.01.

I find Holland a beautiful country and I admire the Dutch who have turned a rather unpromising land into a fine place to live.

No surprise the Netherlands is top of the Europe list for Islamisation!

On this particular day although the morning was chilly by Tarn standards.

The daysoon looked and felt like the South of France; what a nice day for a birthday!

The days already felt good as I swung my car into the entrance to the world famous Royal Huisman Shipyard www.royalhuisman.com.RHS_IMG_1044_d.JPG

I was expecting some thing special and I got it, with style.

I was met by Jurjen van ‘t Verlaat, responsible for Public Relations and I presented him with a copy of the European Parliament Exhibition booklet and another for Alice Huisman director.

RHS_IMG_1043_d.JPGI first met Alice  at a Monaco Yacht Show while visiting the impressive Royal Huisman display.

Some of the better exhibits at such shows feature superb models and large photographs.

I am surprised though that the more dedicated exhibitors don’t use paintings.

Fine paintings are much less expensive than the models.

Paintings of the best quality bring models to life in a way no photograph can the latter being rather graphic and less emotional.

Fine art can do several mysterious things for your subject including make time seem a bit longer and literally last longer buy out living most photography, magazines and brochures.

The over use, the unrelenting use of photography surprises me because here is an industry that aspires to the best and highest standards yet is blissfully unaware of fine art.

Jurjen van’t Verlaat was very generous with his time and conversation.

I learnt from Jurjen some of the reasons why super yacht builders don’t think to use paintings.

I need a new brochure, rewording and new pictures…

To that end will have to paint some specimen super yachts pictures on speculation unless suitable commands arrive which with the Internet and the law of Inverse Probability (as in Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Universe, may happen when I least expect and least want it!

One only has to visit a place like the P&O offices in London or the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich to see what I mean.

Alice  kindly gave me a beautiful signed copy of Royal Huisman, 125 years which I found interesting, informative and inspirational.

I was aware the time Jurjen van’t Verlaat could give me was limited so after a coffee and exchange of ideas and information we proceeded with a tour of the yard.

First I was shown the workshops and how envious I was!

The layouts and equipment was first class or if possible better, the work shops clean and well organised, the staff clearly content, skilled and dedicated to the highest standards.RHS_IMG_1012_d.JPG

It was as if I was seeing everything we had been doing when I was MD of South East Boat builders Ltd back in the 1970’s at Rye East Sussex had been taken to its logical conclusion.

I quickly found myself thinking, if I was going to build a super yacht I’d have complete confidence in these people and this yard.

With my time at Royal Huisman limited and not wishing to delay Jurjen I took photographs, not as many as I’d like to have done however I hope you find these attached here an facinating introduction to  the world of super yachts.  RHS_IMG_1013_d.JPGRHS_IMG_1014_d.JPG RHS_IMG_1021_d.JPG

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The Royal Huisman story is a fascinating one.

The yard is 127 years + old and as new and up to date as it is possible to be, an inspirational business story and one which still has a long voyage ahead.

If you would like to know more about the fabulous Royal Huisman Shipyard try www.royalhuisman.com or contact Gordon Frickers who will help you with pleasure.


There followed a stop at beautiful Vollenhove at a snack bar, fried fish Dutch style, I regret not photographing the people and bar for you.

I’d reached the furthest point of my voyage North.

I re set my GPS and turned my car  towards Amsterdam, back along the same course I’d set to arrive at Vollenhove .

The route passed Lelystad, home of the Batavia Werf.

What had changed in the 12 years since I was last there and painted.

Zeven Provinciën“, Royal Netherlands Navy?


A beautiful sunny day and to much temptation.

I thought,  as I have no idea if I’ll ever pass this way again,  probably not, I should not miss the opportunity to see this extra ordinay ship yard again.

Besides I was not expected in Amsterdam for a few hours yet.

As usual my GPS could not give me the exact address – are all TomToms like that?

I saw no signs for the Batavia Werf, the GPS got me near, the rest was memory and guess work.

First guess put me near and I discovered the fisherman’s old huts had transformed into a very cute excellent boutique area. BW_IMG_1045_d.JPG>

All rather fun, and a couple of new museums had opened, one for small locally evolved sailing craft one called Neew World.

BW_IMG_1046_d.JPG < The Batavia Werf entrance was not hard to find, following directions given from the Tourist Information Office in among the boutiques. BW_IMG_1048_d.JPG BW_IMG_1055_d.JPGThe Batavia Werf takes its name from the 17 century Dutch East indaman “Batavia“, a ship of 1200 tons, one of the largest Dutch ships of her day.

The first ship the yard built was a detailed replica of the Batavia.

The photos here give a hint about this remarkable and inspirational shipyard.

This ship is now 15 years old.

Like her name sake she too has been to Australia and there, almost wrecked her owners business.

The bones of the original Batavia lye bleached and buried on a far and remote western Australian shore, victim of poor charts, inadequate equipment (of the period), sloppy navigation, bad luck and a mutiny with women at the bottom of the trouble!

The modern Batavia had her problems in Australia, almost bankrupting her company but was luckier eventually returning to her home port.

I arrived with out an appointment to find everyone at the Batavia Werf most welcoming and generous with their time (and coffee).

From Robien van Ee, the marketing and communication manager I was quickly brought up to date on the history of the yard since my last visit.

We also discussed how the way ahead and how I might help this great project.

The youth training part of the project is still financed by the EP and local government but less so.

The yard has not yet been able to re establish its self as a well signed tourist attraction and is very short of appropriate visitor amenities including stock for the gift shop.

There is much to be done.

In a nut shell after a major set back with a sponsor, an Australian connection some years ago who not only failed to keep faith but placed the yard in a near impossible position, the yard is just getting back to work.

The work is:

*historical replica ships of the highest order.

*Acting as a visitor heritage centre

*Helping young drop out learn skills and team work.

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I found the contrast with my previous visit  absorbing.

All the staff I had know including master ship wright Willem Voss had moved on.

The work had not moved on as much as I expected due to the sponsor catastrophy, happily now part of the Batavia history.

The figure head shown here is one I’d previously photographed including with the people who were carving it!

I was extreemly fortunate to have the current master shipwright give me a personnel and detailed tour of the facilities and ships, shared with you here through my photographs.

Aryan Klein, master Ship wright is a most worthy successor to Willum Voss.

Aryan Klien’s knowledge is very extensive, he is very open to new ideas and has an admirable, contagious thirst for information on 17th century ships  and ship centred life.

Aryan was very generous with his time.

Maybe my training at Falmouth Ship and Boat building College and subsequent work in the marine industry ship and boat building for 10 years helped us see eye to eye, a mindmeld, maybe its just a ship n boat thing, what ever I was soon immersed in the Batavia world and learnt much in a short time.

I am quietly confident I can justify Aryan’s time by putting some of this new knowledge to use and help the Batavia Werf in some modest useful ways.

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BW_IMG_1068_d.JPG BW_IMG_1084_d.JPG BW_IMG_1091_d.JPGThis was the first time I have been aboard the Batavia.

On my previous visit my time was centered entirely with Willium Voss on “Zeven Provinciën“.

In many ways Batavia resembles but is larger than the fine replica of Drake’s Golden Hinde built at Appledore in Devon.

Aryan described the view from Batavia‘s high upper poop deck as his favourite and the best view in Holland!

Batavia is now 15 years old and that is old for a wooden ship and that worries Aryan.

Batavia despite te TLC lavished on her is showing the inevitable, unmistakable signs of becoming an older wooden ship.

Aryan  asked me about maintaining ships of this type and of course I know from my Falmouth and other times some of the tricks like salting the timbers.

Unfortuantely I can’t be on site for Batavia.

You could help and jion this wonderful project by joining the friends of Batavia via www.bataviawerf.nl

Fortunately I know some other experts who could advise, one of the foremost being Peter Goodwin with whom i promised to discuss the Batavia by phone and when I’m next in Portsmouth, in England.

If only I’d had more time…
I’d have taken more considered photos and included more of the people and information today.

Maybe I will have to go back?

Meanwhile I’m late for a birthday party in Amsterdam complete with children, should be fun, must hurry on!