Sunday, January 27, 2013

Argonaut Park

Rotterdam - places of pilgrimage - 4
Emergency meeting, drove me round and round the park in a car, yelling blue murder. Said I was so plastered these days I didn't know fact from fiction. All that stuff.
This afternoon I took my bicycle to inspect some parks in the North of Rotterdam. I had memories of one park looking like London. A green area surrounded by city buildings. Tops of city buildings poking through treetops. I was not sure which park it was: the Melanchton or the Argonaut park. Conclusion: it was the Argonaut park, but the park has been restructured in the meantime, destroying the London effect.
Better still, the neighbourhood possessed no social identity and demanded none. Some of the houses had been turned into one-roomed flats, and had ten door bells laid out like a typewriter. Some were got up grandly and had only one.
The cause of the destruction was this completely new quarter. It was not there when I last visited the area (5 - 10 years ago). Generic modern buildings. Apartments costing 250.000 euros. The park had been re-landscaped to accommodate this project.
It was terribly cold. The wind seemed to come from the river, across the park. He looked up and down the road. It was empty. He walked a hundred yards or so toward the power station, changed his mind and turned back. He was sleepy. It was a curious illusion that even in the street he still heard the telephone ringing.
In some directions the London effect was still visible. Older city buildings at the edges of a wide green field. A clear border, an enclave. A few people walking their dogs. Some families with children. Cold wetness. Typical Dutch winter weather.
And come the dawn, do you know what we did? I will tell you. We walked solemnly down to the parks, I sit on a bench with a stopwatch, big Jim gets into his running kit and lopes twenty circuits. Twenty. I was quite exhausted.
At home I did some research on the place. There were a lot of documents on the restructuring of the park with many interesting details. Things I wouldn't have thought about:
  • Bicycle and pedestrian traffic will be separated.
  • Trees with different colours and shapes will be planted (amelanchier - krentenboompje).
  • Digging more ponds is not possible for geotechnical reasons. The ponds will get sloping, more natural banks enhancing biodiversity.
  • Asphalt paths are less natural than sea-shell paths. But sea-shell paths are difficult to maintain. Grass grows through them. Wheels leave tracks.
  • The dog- and child areas have been separated. The dog area cannot be moved towards the water. Water quality would suffer. Dogs cannot roam freely, playing children dislike free running dogs.
  • The police has advised to keep several paths dark so that people will not walk there at night.
  • The work had to be interrupted because of the nesting season of the wood pigeons. (In the countryside the shoot these, as pests.)
He went to functions, lectures, strolled in the park, played a little tennis and short of giving sweets to the kids he couldn't have been more respectable.
Some comments from the public:
  • The child playing area is always swampy.
  • Parents won't let their children play in one park area because it is too dark. This will not be changed. Maybe some bushes can be thinned-out.
  • Asphalt paths and the new bridge might attract unwanted scooter traffic from the neighboring school.
  • Park benches along the water might attract boisterous youths. Also the stairs and the green slope might attract loiterers. (The area has a higher than average percentage of old folks.)
The pickups were variously contrived. At Green Park, by way of a recognition signal, he carried a Fortnum Mason carrier-bag. At the embankment, on the other hand, he clutched an out-of-date copy of Time magazine, bearing by coincidence the nourished features of Chairman Mao on the cover. Big Ben struck six and Jerry counted the chimes, but the ethic of such meetings requires they do not happen on the hour nor on the quarter, but in the vaguer spaces in-between, which are held to be less conspicuous.
General remarks about the area:
  • In 2008 someone left mysterious packages in several parks on the north side of Rotterdam. Black garbage bags containing many platsic wrapped packages. Each package containing a coconut and one half lemon. Or a coconut and cotton wool. Or a coconut and some coloured powder. This has never been explained.
  • There are problems with the ground-water levels damaging the foundations of buildings.
  • The older parts of the area lie much higher because the village of Hillegersberg has been built upon a fossil sand dune from the ice age.
Samenvattend verslag van de informatieavond schetsontwerp Argonautenpark op donderdag 1
juli 2010 vanaf 19.30 uur in het deelgemeentekantoor van de deelgemeente Hillergersberg-Schiebroek -
De herinrichting van het Agonautenpark loopt volgens planning -,%20ambities%20en%20actiepunten%20Hillegersberg-Noord.pdf
Mysterie: kokosnootpakketjes in parken - Argonautenpark -
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - John le Carré

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