Or as they say around these parts, Zuid-Holland.
Zuid-Holland is a province located in the Netherlands. The area is located in the south of the Netherlands is also nestled on the West coast of the North Sea. The region is one of the most densely populated and most industrialised areas in the world. The province measures 3,403 km², and the number of inhabitants is around 3,607,150, making Zuid-Holland the most populous province in the Netherlands.
Despite its overpopulated feel, it has the perfect mix of urban areas (Rotterdam and the Hague) inter-dispersed with beautiful natural areas, which are continually set aside to allow for nature to flourish and the inhabitants of the area to enjoy.
The country of the Netherlands is now my home and although it is in stark contrast to where I am originally from in the Peak District, England. It still has its own uniqueness and many interesting places to get outside and simply wander and explore.
I'm a country boy at heart but now find myself living in the provinces biggest city, Rotterdam. A big city with big ambition!
I personally feel it is an exciting city that has seen a considerable amount of regeneration since it was flattened to the ground during the events of WW2. Obviously, for all Rotterdammers that was a devastating event and those historical actions can never be excused. But, from out of the fire and ashes has arisen a quite remarkable and forward-thinking city.
I've been lucky enough to have lived in many different places during my life. Living in the USA and then moving to London has always been one of the highlights, but now living in Rotterdam. I find it to be a perfect city to live in, and one that certainly makes you feel at home. It has a wonderful mix of heavy industry, mixed with modern architecture and the modern hip style of living. It has a great deal to share with the world and is becoming increasingly more and more popular with visitors from around the globe. Who are keen incredibly keen to see what this great location has to offer.
Like most of the Netherlands. Rotterdam is surrounded by plenty of water and it plays a significant role in everyone's lives. The city has a lot of history and great maritime heritage. Just down the river and very close to Rotterdam is Europort. A huge container port that sits at the gateway to the North Sea and the world beyond. It functions as one of the worlds largest ports. Importing and Exporting goods from all around the world. It is an impressive site and although industrial, it is the heartbeat of the city and allowing it to flourish, grow and look forward to an exciting future ahead.
Not too far from the city of Rotterdam and just up the highway, is another Dutch city. This time it is a city, located right by the sea. This is the city of Den Haag or The Hague, as it is otherwise known. It is certainly a great place to live and often ranks as one of the best places to live in the world. After all, who wouldn't want to live by the sea?
It is also the perfect place to work and live, with many important business and agencies from around the world being located here. I feel very lucky, as I work here and my work is actually located just less than a mile away from the beach. How lucky is that?
The Hague is a very diverse, international city, with a large number of expats living and working here. The city provides and interesting mix of old and new. It has good museums, shops and eateires, with so much to see and do.
The Urban divide
Living in this particular region always brings home to you just how urban it actually is. Especially when you begin to draw a comparison to where I am from in the United Kingdom, with its wide open natural spaces, rolling hills and places to just experience some peace and quiet. Although, this region might often seem like it is just endless numbers of people and buildings, and its people resembling ants, simply scurrying and scattering. It is not quite like the mass urban metropolis of lets say Tokyo.
In fact, I really feel the Dutch authorities do a very good job of actually creating, persevering and protecting their wonderful natural spaces. With many beautiful spaces to be found all around.
This province is not all only about urban expansion and its industrial lifeline to the rest of the world. It is much more than that and within this post I hope my pictures and words help to highlight many of its beautiful hidden places.
Since moving here, I have tried my very best to integrate into to Dutch society and I guess do as the Dutch do, by constantly riding my bike. So much so, I now cycle 32 miles a day between Rotterdam and the Hague and have done for the last 3 years. Continually doing my best to wear grooves into the tarmac and leave my mark.
I love it!
As it not only keeps you fit, but it also allows me to really see things off the beaten track and guess from a new perspective. As a result, I'm continually carrying my Smartphone in the back of my cycle jersey and attempting to capture the moment by creating shots from the saddle. It certainly works, as the most opportunist moments frequently appear. From a beautiful morning sunrise, the ever changing colours of the different seasons and the unpredictable weather, that changes all the time.
Here are a further selection of images from South Holland
All images are taken whilst travelling on my bike.