Rechtboomssloot Amsterdam- Peti Buchel

Summer in the City

Mijn leven in Amsterdam

My life in Amsterdam 

Eind 1980 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 many perambulations I settled in 1980 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

208 The ragged edges of Amsterdam

Thursday August 26th, 2021 08:51 AM (Peti Buchel)


207 Visiting in the KNSMlaan

Thursday August 26th, 2021 08:49 AM (Peti Buchel)

Marina has made the move from Bloemendaal to the KNSM island in Amsterdam in 2016 . Even though she has now a balcony instead of a garden she hasn't regretted the move one bit. She loves the big city ambience of Amsterdam and the small village mentality of the artificial island. I'm no stranger to these parts of course. With Bert I've written 'The Turning Tide about the development of this 19th century former harbour. I was a bit early. That gave me time to wander around the neighbourhood and to see how the squatters ideals and the development has panned out. Times have changed and I don't think many people that live here now are very conscious of how it was 30 years ago. Marina's view is from the 12th floor, in the 20 floor rather monolithic tower. Below her is the IJ waterway and the roof of Loods 6 that is now half commercial outlets and half artist's workshops. The crane that is a monument to the glory days of the ocean liners that used to bank here, is turned into a hotel accommodation. Further down is the Java Island where freighters used to moor. There nothing will remind a casual visitor of its historical past. On the north side of the IJ the shore is still in development. Considering the current housing policies it will be filled up with very expensive properties.


206 In the Holendrechtstraat again

Thursday August 26th, 2021 08:48 AM (Peti Buchel)

I picked up some books at my booksellers in the Holendrechtstraat and made a sketch in the street of a part of Amsterdamse School architecture. Annemarie my bookseller always has a good story to tell. This time she told me about a cycling holiday to and from the eastern town of Koevorden. She and her partner went there because Koevorden has a culinary speciality that can't be missed, apparently. On the way they cycled on small roads and slept in farms. Her partner is interested in everything they see along the way, but Annemarie has an eye for books only. In a tiny village they came upon a roadside shed turned into a pop-up bookshop. All books were for 1Euro and the money would go to a good cause a sign said. There was nobody there to tell what the cause was or give the money to. Annemarie found a hefty volume written in a strange alphabet. It was a Koptic bible with paralel texts in Greek and French and with footnotes in German published about 40 years ago in Swiss. She left a Euro in the shed. That evening she looked up the book on the internet. There was one offer for 300Dollar. The next day she offered it to the University of Leiden for 200Euro and they accepted. A little note inside the book revealed the good cause: a tricycle for the spastic daughter of the farmer who had the books for sale but no name, address or IBANnumber. Another search brought her to a nearby country estate and she called them. They knew about the farmer and the daughter and the 200Euro found its way into the right bank account. Who the previous owner of the book was is still a mystery. It certainly wasn't the farmer.


205 Driving License to be continued

Thursday August 26th, 2021 08:47 AM (Peti Buchel)

I had made an appointment in the Stopera, the municipal building, to officially apply for a new driving license. One has to make an appointment because of the Covid restrictions. But one can also apply online. I chose to walk over to the Stopera. There was hardly anybody in the waiting room for 'Burgerzaken' (civil matters) and only two of the many counters were open. After this business was accomplished and I had made another appointment to pick up the license I walked along the Amstel river till the Hermitage. The museum is located in one of the stately 17th century buildings on the edge of the 'Plantage'. These buildings were built to house institutions that were financed by the good people of Amsterdam. The 'Diaconie voor Oude Vrouwen' (the Deanery) was opened in 1682 to house elderly women and was run by the 'Diaconessen' who also had a building in the complex. The Hermitage was closed but the inner court with its outside restaurant was open. Keeping up the tradition of 'charity': in the building that housed the 'Diaconessen' is now a free clinic for the homeless and undocumented.


204 Waiting for IKEA

Thursday August 26th, 2021 08:44 AM (Peti Buchel)

The work on my flat was finished. Akkie and Con had been very generous with their time, help and resources. The flat was totally mine again. Now it was up to IKEA to put in the final touches. I absolutely abhor the enormous IKEA stores, but I found out that their online shopping 'experience' was even worse. Where to start and where to go: that's the question. I wanted drawers in the kitchen and in the bedroom. Lots of them. Akkie and Con have no problem with a visit to IKEA. We went to the one near the AMC in Zuid-Oost. After a long hike through an endless string of departments we finally came to 'the kitchen experience'. It took a while to discover that they don't just offer cabinets. They offer entire kitchens. Cabinets are items that are reluctantly offered as separate items. Con found a lady who composed the required items from scratch. I choose to have it delivered and assembled under the care of IKEA. Further down the store we found cabinets for the bedroom easily enough and the same proces was repeated. Everything would be delivered on Thursday and assembled on Friday. On Thursday it was indeed delivered by two jolly lads. Quickly I made a sketch before the pile would disappear the next day. But Friday came and with it nobody to assemble. Con called IKEA. Turned out the crew that would assemble the cabinets in the bedroom were not allowed to do the cabinets in the kitchen and vise versa. I'm still waiting for the IKEA to resolve this problem.

203 The 'Simon De Looier'

Wednesday August 18th, 2021 09:33 AM (Peti Buchel)

 At the end of my street and across from the Looiersgracht is a church. It is now called evangelical center Simon De Looier. Originally build to house the 'Gereformeerde Gemeente' in the late 19th century the building had a checkered existence. The 'Gereformeerden' are a protestant sect of strict Calvinist hue. The Brits would call the Gereformeerde Kerk 'very low church'. Over the years the Gereformeerden were prone to split up and form new sub-sects. The latest split was in the early sixties. It was about: did the snake in the Genesis really spoke or not. One of the splits caused the the church to be sold to the paper works that was located next door. They didn't reshape the interior and used it as a garage. The church's organ had been removed however and was sold to a church in Ede where it was carted off to by horse and wagon. This organ was not built for the church but taken from one of the Catholic churches 'In Hiding'. It was built in the mid seventeenth century and was first modified from a one keyboard to a two keyboard organ and once installed in the church on the Looiersgracht was modernized. After having been a garage for 8 years it became a church again. In the sixties it was closed again due to dwindling numbers of believers. Opened again and at last turned into what it is now: an 'evangelical center'. It has no longer a minister of the faith but an Gereformeerde  'evangelist' whatever that entails . However the name is great and fittingly obscure: Simon De Looier. 

202 Dining out

Wednesday August 18th, 2021 09:31 AM (Peti Buchel)

Our dining club is almost 30 years old and that is being felt. Originally it was set up by Anneke (left) to bring together 'older' lesbians who didn't know each other and were without children or grandchildren. Even thirty years ago the joys of 'being a grandmother' and the duties of 'grandchildren sitting' was starting to terrorize conversations and concerns. After about ten years the group had stabilized to 5 participants. In our age group illness and death are no strangers. Now we are three: Anneke, Dies (right) and me. Rita has died of old age and Jenny of cancer. Anneke is battling cancer and Dies has had a slight stroke and has become increasingly more deaf. Over time the stairs to my flat have become too much of a challenge and cooking for others is out of the question. We went to a restaurant instead. We had a table outside. Because of Covid dining indoors is not popular. Even though outside tables are put close together. Conversation was hard because of Dies' deafness. I took to the sketchbook and Anneke took the brunt. But it was good to be together again. It had been too long. Next time we should lunch together. Being out late for dinner has become very tiring.

201 Back at the doctor's

Tuesday August 17th, 2021 09:02 AM (Peti Buchel)


In contrast to the renovations on my flat the progress on getting a new driving license went slow. At the end of July I got the notification that the medical test had been declared invalid. It turned out that beside the cardio test the doctor also should have done a 'general' test. But that came under a different code and had been missed. I had to go back to the doctor's center on the Bloemgracht again. When I came out I stopped across the bridge where the Bloemgracht (Flower Canal) crosses the Lijnbaansgracht (Ropery Canal). I sat down at a bench and drew the view. It is of one of the many fascinating corners in Amsterdam. In the middle an electrical pumping station dating from the twenties or thirties of the last century. To prevent the water in the canals to stagnate, overflow or dry out it has to be kept moving. That is done by sluices or by pumps. On the left the building of one of the former branches of the 'Stadsbank van Lening'. This municipal Credit Bank was founded in 1614 and still exists. It is a not-for-profit institution. Above the door to the original building is this poem from 1740:

Hebt gy noch geld, noch goed: gaa deze deur voorby.
Hebt gy 't laatste, en mist gy 't eerste, kom by my.
Geef pand, ik geef u geld. waarom zoude ik u borgen?
Of is 't u niet genoeg dat gy van 't mynen teert?
Maart eyst gey u pand terug, zo dient ge in tyds te zorgen,
Dat my myn hoofdsom, met de rente wederkeert.
Zo help ik u en my, en toon, aan de onderzoekers
Van myn geheymen, 't graf des eervergeeten woekers.

Have you not money, nor goods, pass this door by.
Have you the latter, and miss you the first, come to me.
Give pawn, I give you money. Why should I support you?
Or is it not enough that you live off me?
But if you demand your pawn back, you must take care in time,
That you repay my sum, with interest.
Thus I help you and me, and show the auditors
Of my secrets, the grave of the forgotten loansharks.

200 Progress

Tuesday August 17th, 2021 08:45 AM (Peti Buchel)

In the meantime progress was made on the flat. The most important thing was the logistics. Because the flat is so small and I have to live in it all through the renovations the operation had to be pace carefully. First the clearing and cleaning, then the measuring, then the ordering and buying and at last the delivering. Con worked it all out to perfection. After the clearing there was a lot of garbage that had to be collected. Two big closets and the floor coverings had to be cut into manageable pieces and be put on the landing for the garbage boys to be picked up (thanks to the garbage boys!) before the chests of drawers with my 'oeuvre' could be emptied and removed to the landing. Years of work and administration collected in folders had to be gone through and where possible thrown out. And even after rigorous cleaning left overs of the invasion of mice were found. Wall repair and paint for the bedroom could be bought right off the shelf, but other things had to be ordered and made to order. Delivery took time. Con was very good at figuring out that everything was not delivered at once and that he had time to install it when it was brought in. The new vinyl floor covering came first the black-out curtain came next etc, etc. In a period of 6 weeks Con worked 112 hours: mostly in the weekends. It was fun having Akkie and Con in the house. All went very well I must say. And although it must have been enormously tiring for them, tempers stayed positive and we had a lot of fun. 


199 Visiting Menno

Sunday August 15th, 2021 08:22 AM (Peti Buchel)

Menno called out of the blue for a chat. I saw a sketching opportunity in the making and offered to come to his place in the Boeroestraat in the 'Indische buurt' (Indonesian quarter). I had been there before, but with the changed tram routes and the labyrinth of short, crooked and dead-end streets it proved to be difficult to find. After the updating of our lives since we last met 5 years ago we walked to the local hub: the Javaplein (Java Square). The whole of the 'Indische buurt' had been renovated and spruced up over the past 35 years including this square. The square is dominated by a squat building sprouting from its center a domineering tower. It is the former public bathing facility: the tower masking the chimney. Menno had showered there once a week when as a student he had digs nearby. It is a restaurant now. He assured me that not much of the original facade was kept during the renovation. I decided the make a sketch of the Febo instead. The Febo is the original 'automatiek' of Amsterdam (Automat = fast food out of the wall by inserting a coin). Its name is short for Ferdinand Bolstraat where the first one was. However bicycles and a covered bus stop marred the view. But that is not uncommon in Amsterdam where a free view from street height is at a premium. I drank an iced coffee. When I sat in the tram going home I suddenly had to pee badly. I left the tram at the OLVG hospital. All the way at the back where the elevators and the public toilets are sat a man who played Satie on the piano. He played the score in the manner of Reinbert de Leeuw. I sat on the loo and enjoyed the free concert.

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© Peti Buchel