Rechtboomssloot Amsterdam- Peti Buchel

Summer in the City

Mijn leven in Amsterdam

My life in Amsterdam 

Eind 1979 kwam ik na omzwervingen in Amsterdam.

Ik heb altijd een haat liefde verhouding met Amsterdam gehad. Aan de ene kant vind ik het te nat en zompig, aan de andere kant houd ik van de opgewonden republikeinse inborst.

Toen ik in Amsterdam kwam wonen zag de stad er uit als een onverzorgd gebit met gaten. Inmiddels is het omgebouwd tot een stralend witte Hollywood lach.

Mijn tijd in Amsterdam is te verdelen in drie duidelijke blokken. In de tachtiger jaren schilderde ik en tekende ik strips. De volgende twintig jaar deed ik werk in opdracht: voornamelijk voor Beeldleveranciers en Stichting September. Vanaf 2011 doe ik ook ‘Urban Sketching’. Urban Sketching is voor mij plompverloren ergens gaan zitten en tekenen wat ik zie.

After spending years abroad I settled in 1979 in Amsterdam.

OLVG uitgang parkeergarage

The underground parking exit of the hospital of Our Kind Lady

I just love to hate the city. I find it too damp to be comfortable and at the same time I love its radical republican character.

When I moved to Amsterdam the city looked like a bad set of dentures with holes in improbable places. Now it has the perfect whitened look of a Hollywood smile.

My working life in Amsterdam is divided in three distinct periods. In the uneasy eighties I made paintings, comics and graphic novels. The next twenty years I did cartoons for Beeldleveranciers and medical drawings for Stichting September. Since 2011 I’m specializing in Urban Sketching what means that I sit down anywhere and sketch what’s in front of me.


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Summer in de City

178 Working on my website

Monday October 14th, 2019 06:01 PM (Peti Buchel)
Not any work had been done in a whole year on my website. In September 2018 WordPress the website frame had been updated. That meant that several Plug-ons also had to be updated. The plug-on that connects my Google Blogs with the website didn't work anymore. Apparently the plug-on was fabricated by a mate of Louwrens and he had no interest in working on a new version. It took quite a n=umber of months before one could access the blogs again through WordPress. I hated the situation. It was so messy. In the middle of all this I was notified that the Royal Library in The Hague ( the Dutch version of the Library of Congress) wanted to preserve my website for eternity. What meant the honor if the Blogs that are at the heart of the website don't work? Finally in the spring of 2019 everything worked again. Unfortunately Safari, my preferential browser, couldn't be updated anymore on my laptop. I had to move to Google Chrome and lost the codes to my website. By the end of August I suddenly wanted to work on the website again. A lot had happened since the last time I added anything. It was fun to update and/or add to and start new items. The blogs also updated automatically again without Louwrens having to do a little software fiddling. I'm very happy with the result. Of course the website is far from being up to date, will it ever? On the sreen shot six of the new items on

177 Visit to Uithoorn

Sunday October 13th, 2019 05:26 PM (Peti Buchel)
Summer in the City 2019 draws to a close. On my last day I went with my friend Anneke Camstra and her dog Pekka to Uithoorn. Pekka was brought to the dog trimmer who lives in one of those typical housing estates that were built all over the Netherlands after WWII in a quick tempo to relieve the housing shortage. A row of terras houses as long as one crane could reach while it was being built. Beauty and sustainability was not high on the agenda. The houses were ment for young couples who were supposed to start a family of four children. The father was the provider and the mother stayed home to take care of hubby and the kids. The demographics of the neighbourhood has changed dramatically since most of the original residents have died or moved on and feminism, gay liberation and the change from renting to buying houses. The only thing that is still the same are the trees. This neighbourhood in Uithoorn still has most of the original trees that were planted way back then. As uniform the houses are as divers are the trees that line the streets and canals.

176 Rik Hagt

Saturday October 12th, 2019 06:10 AM (Peti Buchel)
Rik Hagt is a sketcher and painter from Groningen in the north of the Netherlands. His sketches are done in colored pencil and record the 'things' in everyday life.He sells them through his internet shop: . Among the many subject he has taken on is Hotel Rooms. Everybody has their own thoughts and impressions of Hotel Room but is usually not the subject of artists. The good thing about hotel rooms is that not one of them is the same. Except of course for the cheap end of the big chains, for example the Ibis Hotels. Rik takes his sketches as models for his paintings. These paintings are often very complex and detailed representations. So much so that their hyper realism almost becomes surrealistic. Paintings by him you can find on his website: . Bert had bought a painting he made of the kitchen table in Polranny. He came to Amsterdam to give it to her himself. We talked about Polranny of course and about painting and sketching. It isn't that often I meet somebody who is in the same line of work as I am.

175 Last visit to the hospital

Saturday October 12th, 2019 06:09 AM (Peti Buchel)
On 9 October I had my last visit to the hospital planned. I don't think it will be the last time I'm in the OLVG considering my passed record of mishaps and illnesses and the fact that it is the hospital for the area of Amsterdam where most of my friends live. 9 October has been an important date on the agenda of my childhood too. It was the birthday of my favorite aunt 'Taat" and as she herself used to stress it is in the week of the Yearly Fair in Nijmegen our hometown. The Yearly Fair was the highlight of the calendar for the children and adults in Nijmegen. Anyway 9 October always gives me a good feeling. I was a bit early for my appointment. Out came the sketchbook and the pen. I had forgotten my glasses. Because I didn't know how much time I had and the blandness of space I decided to concentrate on the waiting masses. But they were changing all the time with people called away for their appointment and others settling down to wait. I just 'wrote' down what I saw. Fortunately I got most of it in before I was called by the wound specialist nurse. She and the other nurse were in a very good mood and there was a lot of laughter. In short it was a real fun 9 October as it should be.

174 Heleen Toet

Saturday October 12th, 2019 06:07 AM (Peti Buchel)
Heleen Toet is in her nineties. Her father worked for the department of water management which at the time was a club of elite engineering buffs. The father of her father, her grandfather, was a Jewish cobbler who became a Protestant to enable a better future for his children. I always find this a poignant little story about social relations in turn-of-the-century Holland. As a eighteen year old Heleen went to Sweden on her own and became there a nanny. She married a pilot with the KLM in the fifties. At that time KLM pilots were another elite club in Holland. In the seventies at the hight of the second feminist wave she divorced from her husband in an acrimonious court case. Her female lawyer played the feminist card and in the end Heleen walked out with a good settlement for her and her two daughters. Independent again she became a driving force in the Dutch movement for Alternatieve Woonvormen (alternative living arrangements). Till recently she still fought on the barricades and was editor of the news sheet of the movement. In the commune in Heemskerk she has her own apartment on part of the ground floor of the former barn or 'deel' in Dutch. Many of the big farmhouses in the Netherlands have the living quarters on the front and attached to it along the whole width at the back is an enormous three story barn. When converted into living, the farmhouse and barn gives room to a very big space that can be made into several spacious apartments. Heleens commune has in addition to the fully equipped apartments also a large communal kitchen where dinner is served every day and a cinema. When Bert and I visited Heleen she had just bought a new laptop. Bert had to help her with Windows 10 the new system.

173 Visiting in Heemskerk

Saturday October 12th, 2019 06:06 AM (Peti Buchel)
I travelled in 2016 with Heleen Toet through Southern Morocco (see my Blog 'Travels to Iligh'). Ever since I go visit her in Heemskerk at least once a year. I always go to see Heleen with Bert. We take the train to Castricum and she picks us up in her tiny car from the railway station. Castricum lies on the edge of the sand dunes that protect the area north of Amsterdam from the see and the wet bogland that make up most of the land there. It is a popular place for families with children to go to in the summer to escape the city and enjoy the joys of sea and sand. Heemskerk where Heleen lives is very old. According to a document from 1063 a Frisian nun founded a monetary there. The name Heems-kerk doesn't mean Home-church but church of Hemezen the name of the nun. Heemskerk was very important in Medeval times as a frontier between Frisia to the north and Holland to the south. It had no less than 6 castles and it was the scene of a lot of strive not only between the Frisians and the Hollanders but also between the castles. Of four of the castles nothing is left. One of the remaining castles is now belonging to a Spanish hotel chain. The other became a youth hostel in the thirties. Heemskerk is also where the Counts of Holland were crowned on an artificial hill named the Huldtoneel. Heemskerk was known as a farming village famous for its strawberries. The donkeys that brought the produce to the market became the symbol of the village. Heleen lives in one of the old farms. The son of the last farmer has turned the house and stables into an alternative living arrangement: a commune.

172 Coby Prins in her studio

Saturday October 12th, 2019 06:05 AM (Peti Buchel)
After Coby and her husband Tom stayed in Polranny they were much taken by the concept of sharing the space with other artists. Coby offered her studio to the Polranny Pirates. We were very happy with the studio, its location, and its history. We thought that artists from other parts of the country who needed to be in Amsterdam for an exhibition or something else would be happy to use it too. For Euro 20 a day you can't find anything in Amsterdam. But there was very little interest. Over a period of 2 years only a very small number of artists made use of the studio. Disappointed we decided not to advertise the studio anymore. The advertising costs being more than the return. By now Coby herself has become disillusioned with the studio. She was one of the few of the old squatters of the Silo complex who could afford a studio after the expensive renovation and restructuring of the two buildings. For about 15 years she enjoyed her place on the ground floor of the old brick Korthals Altes Silo. Her studio encompassed six of the old shafts. The high and narrow brick shafts had been cut horizontally to make it livable. But now with the lucrative business of renting your apartment out as Airbnb accommodation the every changing stream of visitors that rattle their suitcases over the pavement of the Silodam is driving her nuts. 'There isn't anybody I know anymore,' she complains. And she isn't the only one. You can hear it all over Amsterdam. Coby want to put her studio on the market. Her studio won't be picked up by an investor to turn it into yet another Aibnb because it is rated as business premisses. With my ticket for Ireland in my pocket I thought it could be the last time I visited Coby in het studio.

171 Edina Alavi

Saturday October 12th, 2019 06:04 AM (Peti Buchel)
September 2019 is 75 year after 'Operation Market Garden' or The Battle of Arnhem an arrogant military cock-up of giant proportions. According to my mother who had to live through it the British command did not heed the warnings of the local population, but followed a strategy that did not take into account the peculiarities of the Dutch landscape.. The idea was that paratroopers would be dropped around Arnhem and ground troops would push northwards through the Betuwe. They would all meet up in Arnhem and live happily ever after. That didn't happen of course. Anyway just like five years before for the 70th commemoration of the battle my friend Edina Mazur Alavi came to Holland from Atlanta. Her father belonged to the unfortunate Polish Battalion that after been dropped got stuck in the Betuwe and were forced to stand idle. Five years ago Edina stayed in Bert's flat. That was now impossible. Instead she stayed with Hank and José in Weesp. The day before she went back to the States she came on a visit. Hank came along. The Alavi family took us under their wing when Hank and I landed in Ahwaz, Iran 45 years ago. Edina got me a job at Passargad School where she taught and we stayed friends ever since. About the Alavi family and Iran I wrote extensively on my blog 'D'un Temps Perdu'. Edina, Hank and I had a great talk that afternoon. We talked about all kinds of topics, mostly philosophical and political. Just like the old days. Edina and her husband Mahmud live since the end of the seventies in a suburb of Atlanta. They raised their two sons there and are active in the choir and theater scene. Father and Mother Alavi who were so important to us in Ahwaz moved from Iran to Augusta not far from Atlanta. They have died since.

170 Goodbye to Kimberly

Saturday October 12th, 2019 06:03 AM (Peti Buchel)
I went to the hospital for another check-up. This time it was in the familiar location of OLVG East, where I had had surgery. I was very nervous. The last visit had been a bit of a disappointment. But apparently things had improved considerably in the last month. This time the medical professionals judged that whatever needed to be done still I could do myself and that homecare wasn't necessary anymore. I asked them not to end the contract with the home care company then and there but to wait a few days so I could say goodbye to Kimberly and a few of her colleagues. It was a strange experience: suddenly Kimberley had come into my life, had been one of the most important people and then just as suddenly she would disappear again. In the two months she had been my carer I had gotten to know a lot about her. The combination of intimacy and abstraction of medical care invites confidentiality. I got to know about her relationship with her family and her lover. Her erratic career path from the day she left school and got pregnant. her ambitions and her doubts. Her pride in being from Suriname. Proud about its culture and the traditions of her people that had been brought there forcibly and made it their own nevertheless. We talked a lot about food too. It was one of her favorite subjects. Sometimes she was movingly open like the time she told me about a period of deep depression when nothing in her life had seemed to go right. She said she had taken to reading the Bible every day to find solace. She had found it, not so much in the meaning of the text, but in the meditative effect of the reading of 'God's word'. Medical care had always been her 'thing'. It was what interested her: especially wounds. She had taken on other jobs in other fields. But had come back to care and the studying of it. Now she ran an internet business in hair attachments too. She wanted to work hard and make a lot of money. In the period that she took care of me she made the decision to finish with her boyfriend and take a Lease Car. The car was delivered the same day we said goodbye. I hope life will be good for her.

169 Bert is back

Saturday October 12th, 2019 06:02 AM (Peti Buchel)
Bert came back from her yearly trip on the Siberian Express with a group of over-sixty. The long train journey appears to be on the so-called 'Bucket List' of many people. It is something to be done before you 'kick the bucket' like parachuting from an airplane and climbing Mount Everest. Usually when you get the opportunity, money and time to start on the Bucket List you are too old. Anyway Bert was back and we had to exist together again in the 1ste Passeerdersdwarsstraat flat on a daily basis. That isn't always easy. She comes in in the morning, works on the computer a lot and leaves again in the early evening. I work on the computer a lot too. When she is in I do that in the bedroom. But my life and time was still ruled by Kimberly and her colleagues. Bert and I didn't get to work on the graphic story about the Dutch connection with Iligh. Bert had to do a lot of other things that were more pressing. One of the regular things that she does and that takes up a lot of time, is updating and fine-tuning the website of the Polranny Pirates. After every busy season with artists in Polranny, it becomes necessary to change things in the wording, or add certain pointers. Over the years and learning by experience more parameters have been set. Always trying not to encroach on the sense of 'freedom' Polranny is supposed to give to artists. But life on the west coast of Ireland brings surprises and challenges a lot of visitors from urbanized Holland have difficulty to deal with. How far do you go to take away potential problems without making it yet another McDonalds' Hamburger Experience? With her experience in the world of travel Bert is of course the best judge of what stimulates and what irks for visitors to foreign parts.

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