A chance to reflect on the last 12 years of my life and soak up the inspiration
Profound experience walking out of Centraal Station. 12 years since I was last here. That was 2002. Back then I had written 2 books, published none, working for the Agency, living in Happy Flat. My parents were alive. It was good to reflect and take stock. Amsterdam, the atmosphere, the space and time I had here, really allowed me to step outside of my normal groove and reconnect with the old me.
I drifted through new parts of the city instead of the same old same old. Found a cafe that I walked into and felt instantly at home. Amazing atmosphere. I asked the woman serving if it had been here long and she said, “About 30 years, and I have worked here for most of it.” Welcome to Cafe Tuin. Open 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. most days. The mood of the place has soaked into the wood. A really special find. Great coffee and wonderful place to hang out.
See my bits and pieces. Map. Santiago leather notebook. Headphones and Sony MP3 player. Digital Studio hat (2nd one and reaching final days). Nokia 6210 mobile phone – best ever made and classic travelling companion as battery lasts 2 weeks.
Interior shot of Cafe Tuin. I imagine it has a lovely cosy (homely) vibe in the dark evenings. Just a fab place to spend a couple of hours with a coffee and a small bite to eat; people chilling, reading and me there writing.
Street scene outside cafe Tuin. What I liked about this place was the sense that all the locals used the cafe as their hub. Weather they be residents or business owners. Everyone was chilling outside on these seats with the woman behind the bar coming out to serve them wherever they were sitting, even across the road.
June 2014. Anyone for lunch. Abandoned shipyard only accessible by ferry sound good? Perfect.
Late morning I walked back from Jordaan area to my hotel to find Dan B outside, grinning at me with his mop of white hair gleaming in the sun. How surreal and wonderful to meet him here. His life is transitioning – in a good way. I jump onto the back of his crappy dutch bike (rust and wobbly back tyre), swing my legs out to one side and hold on whilst he pedals us alongside canals to an old industrial wharf. “We can get the ferry across here and have lunch in something… industrial.” He wrinkles his face in that way he does when he is combining a smile with a mischievous look. “How do you fancy eating in some shipping containers that have been welded together.” I can’t wait.
This is the view of the destination as we come in by ferry.
Walking across a vast stretch of open wasteland, littered with chunks of metal and discarded machinery, I heard the sudden roar of a motorcycle throttle opening up. Span round and a motorcycle chick in full leathers comes barreling past me, blonde hair flowing behind her like the contrails of a Valkyrie. She rocks up some distance away beside a couple of old battered train carriages that had been retro-fitted into living space. The whole moment, the location, the setting, the weather, the lighting and the mood, it felt as if I had stepped into a scene from Mad Max. I smiled. This was a glimpse of my post-apocalyptic survivor. This could equally be Yellow Dawn on the outskirts of a Living City, somewhere in the rural support zone. Maybe she was part of the CRC, coming back angry after most of her squad got torn apart by an Infected (or simply driven mad by the influence of Hastur in the Dead Zones).
This is why we came here.
This photo is a defining moment of my trip to Amsterdam, and the three weeks of “magic time” I was having to myself around it. Newcastle – resolving old issues; Devon – the bliss of Lynton & Lynmouth; here, in the ‘Dam, and then afterwards in Malta. After several very tough years, it comes down to a moment when you rediscover who you are again.
I returned to the Jordaan district several times, always to enjoy cafe Tuin. Walking there and back I was able to snap some interesting (creative) aspects about this part of the city.
This piece really caught my eye. Something almost Mythos about the way it has an evolving impact on your brain. Nuclear symbol but are there also a pair of hands holding itself on either side? Nice work. Like it.
Leaving Jordaan district I found a cafe on the corner of a canal bridge nearby. Sat with a coffee for a while and watched the world drift by. Later I returned to my favourite evening haunt for this trip, the Arendsnest bar – dozens of ales, including some porters and stouts that were close to 10%. Potent.
This place stayed open until midnight. It was lovely to be able to relax in a bar where the punters were just nice people. I could sit, sup strong beer, eat sausage and read my book.