the day started early, which, for a self confessed owl like myself, was a bit of a troublesome affair. very early actually, as we picked up another two-day-tripper en-route to the train station at the grand old
time of 4.40am.
On board the first train to St Pancreas, we departed Brighton at 5.09am, very bleary eyed and in need of coffee.
And so began the first of many connections which would take us via public and self powered transport to Holland.
Next train - the Eurostar to Brussels, which I adore to travel on. Once at Brussels (after a coffee and baguette break) onto the high speed Thalys train to Rotterdam. Then another train from Rotterdam to Delft, (which unfortunately was not one of the amazing double decker trains - brilliant use of space!) where we were met by a smart young gentleman with an ageing racing bike.
Now, I have been to Amsterdam before and know how bikes literally are THE way to get around, but I had completely forgotten how they dominate the road, path and cycleways. They are everywhere. And most are not locked up - just 'located' somewhere where they can be lent on one another like a tangle of wiry dominoes until the owner comes to untangle them and wind their merry way onwards. It was really inspiring, but I cannot help but think what would happen to bikes stacked in such a way in England. They would probably be deemed an ironic health and safety risk and removed for the wellbeing of all. hmmm.
Anyway - as we were not in possession of bikes, all 20 or so of us took our life in our hands and walked from the station to the truly extraordinary Delft University. I am a big fan of highly considered design, and there were many many little details which showed a wonderful attention to small things - like this stairway. In this building the bike store was in the basement, so beside the cast concrete steps was a thin ramp - just big enough to safely and smoothly guide you bike to the depths below without bumping it down the stairs. small yet beautifully considered.
We turned the corner and were confronted with the vast and stunning faculty of Industrial Design. Coming into the building, which was mostly an open space with a variety of mezzanine levels and layers, one of the
first items you see are the individual workstations of the students - each with a desk, small pillar drill and various other tools. It made me think of the pathetic facilities we had at University. No wonder the Dutch design education is so highly regarded - it is because they regard it highly themselves - and it really showed.
A small networking lunch with the other attendees from Holland and France then moved into workshops on Sustainable product design development and Sustainable social marketing practices - both of which were fantastic.
Dinner followed at the faculty - a wonderfully healthy mix of salads, fish and cheeses, washed down with a couple of glasses of red wine (which went straight to my very tired head)
The walk to the hotel was refreshing (if you can call a force 5 gale refreshing) an
d my room was lovely. I had the attic, which had a grand view over the square in Delft, complete with a chiming clock tower.
The next day was pretty much the reverse of the first day, with more workshops at the University before a final lunch and then the long old trip home.
It was a fantastic two days, and I had the privilege to meet some truly grand people (from Holland and France as well as the South) and we are now forging great new relationships, both close and from afar. We hope to be helping two separate businesses from Holland for example - one dealing with city dwellers edibles and another with cargo bikes. Let's hope we can help...
It was tiring, but all good things are, and we hope we can travel back again to learn some more and meet some other eco minded peeps.