By now you all know I’m developing my own house. The Benjamin One. Somehow it continues to feel like nothing but fiction. The design only exists in my computer. Talks I have with the local government, buyers, contractor, friends and colleagues are… talks. So, Benjamin One, my future house, continues to be some sort of imagination. A dream. Fiction.
I walked by the lot where my house will be constructed and realised something was different. I noticed little yellow pickets defining the lot. My lot. Suddenly the Benjamin One project turned from fiction to reality. It’s just four little pickets. But it makes all the difference to me.
Last week a Cobouw journalist interviewed me regarding the Benjamin One Project. He wanted to know what inspired me in the design. I answered “iPhone”. Read the full article here.
Well, okay. It’s not just been a while. It’s been a looooooong while. My last post dates back to June 2014, which is exactly 630 days ago. Yep, it’s a long time, and a lot has happened since.
The thing that kept me most busy is an idea. A stupid idea at first. Here it comes: What if I would design and develop my own house?
Yeah, why not?
Long story short: I did. And since it’s my first house, I named the project Benjamin One. Soon it turned out “Benjamin Three” would be more applicable. This is because the local government “forced” me to develop two other houses as well. In return of this “favour”, I was allowed to pick the lot I preferred most. Soon construction of the three houses starts. It’s going to be exciting times!
Exactly seventy years ago more than 150.000 Allied troops, about half of them Americans, invaded Western Europe. They started on the beaches of Normandy and liberated the entire continent within 12 months. Six years ago I visited the beaches of Normandy myself. It had (and still has) a huge impact on me. Just think of it, hundreds of thousands of soldiers risked their lives invading a continent they didn’t know, to liberate people they didn’t know, all because of a single word… Freedom.
Today, especially today, I try to think of the alternative. What if the Americans decided not to help us? After all, it’s not their continent and it’s not them who neglected their armies for way too long (allowing the Germans to easily conquer the entire continent). But the Americans did help us, the rest is history.
I wish we’d think of this more often…
Less than two weeks ago Secretary of State John Kerry met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to talk about the Ukraine crisis. At that time, Crimea still belonged to Ukraine and Kerry tried to prevent an annexation (yes, he failed). Somehow I’m always interested in where such (potentially historic) meetings take place. I knew they met in London and discovered this great photograph on Twitter. It’s a beautiful location for such an important meeting and even more so when you realise this building is located within the city limits of London. Quickly I learned the location they used is Winfield House, the official residence of the US ambassador to the United Kingdom.
This week I got the chance to visit the Dutch version of Winfield House. Or, to be more precise, be at the location used by Secretary John Kerry and Minister Sergei Lavrov of Russia for their next round of talks. They used a (much smaller) mansion in The Hague and I was just a few blocks away. Finally I get the opportunity to see where a historic meeting like this takes place!
Below are some of my photos.
Surprisingly, security wasn’t that tight. Sidewalks on both (!) sides of the street could still be used. There are no roadblocks, no barricades and almost no police.
This cameraman is employed by news agency Reuters. All he needed was a shot of Foreign Minister Lavrov exiting the building and entering the car, which is what he told me. He waited for hours…
Finally Lavrov exits the building, which enabled the Reuters-guy to make his much-desired shot (and I snapped this photo).
Suddenly the street is crowded with cars and security guys. It took Lavrov seconds to enter his car and leave.
As it turns out, these talks were unsuccessful as well. I guess this isn’t such an historic meeting after all…