Amsterdam's floating flower market is sinking as last florist sells up

The last stall on Amsterdam's 'floating flower market' tourist attraction which actually sells made-to-order bouquets is closing down, Trouw reported on Tuesday. For years most of the 16 stalls have been selling pre-packed bulbs, wooden tulips and cheap souvenirs rather than flowers, but the area is still promoted heavily to tourists as a 'world-famous' attraction. 'Rain or shine, this stretch of the Singel canal in the city centre is filled with the vibrant colours and fragrances of fresh flowers every Monday to Saturday – serving tourists and locals alike,' says the Dutch tourist board. But Michael Saarloos, whose family began selling flowers on the market in 1943, says he has 'had enough' and is selling up. Ten years ago, he says, the market was busy in spring with people buying young plants for their balconies and gardens. Today, he says, the big groups of tourists who stand in front of his stall are making it impossible to serve his real clients. History The flower market (bloemenmarkt) traces its history back to 1862, when flowers and plants were sold directly to customers from boats moored on the edge of the Singel canal. However, stalls selling tourist souvenirs and bulbs have now taken over, even though council rules say just 25% of the stall can be given over to non-plant related products. 'No-one ever enforces the rule,' Saarloos told Trouw. A spokeswoman for Centrum borough council told the paper that officials are not happy about the flower market either and want to make it 'more attractive'. The fact that the last florist is leaving is 'a real shame', she said. The city council's website also promotes the market as a place where 'you’ll find tulips of every colour – either in bouquets or as bulbs to plant at home.' Trouw says there is one other stall on the market which sells tulips, but most of the space is dedicated to bulbs.  More >

Five killed in early morning crashes

Four people were killed in a car crash on the A1 near Deventer around 6am on Monday morning. The car apparently drove into the supports of an overhead matrix board and burst into flames, broadcaster NOS said. ‘It is a very tragic accident,’ a police spokesman said. ‘We do not know why the car left the road and drove into the gantry.’ The police are also still trying to identify the victims. The motorway was closed for a time while police dealt with the accident but has now been largely reopened. Update #A1 bij Deventer: Één rijstrook vrijgegeven. Afrit Deventer blijft dicht voor afhandeling van het ongeval. Omrijden is niet meer nodig. — Rijkswaterstaat Verkeersinformatie (@RWSverkeersinfo) April 22, 2019 Elsewhere, a 19-year-old woman was killed and a 24-year-old injured in an accident on the A28 when the car they were driving in hit the safety barrier, tipped over and ended up in the verge. Again, no other vehicles were involved, police said.  More >

Birds starve as drought hits

Friesian birding organisation BFVW is warning that newly born chicks are dying because of a lack of insects brought on by drought, and are calling on farmers and people with gardens to provide water. The plight of the lapwing is particularly serious, the organisation said. ‘The chicks are hatching en masse at the moment and immediately go off in search of food. But they are not finding any. The drought in the fields is such that the chicks are dying of hunger before they are two days old,’ the website said. Adult meadow bird are experiencing problems as well because the worms have retreated deeply into the dried-out soil which their beaks cannot penetrate. ‘It’s very sad to see the dead chicks, but there are some simple measures we can take to help them, BFVW chairman Frans Kloosterman said. Farmers can pump water onto their land and fill up ditches, so insects will return and worms surface, the organisation suggests, and gardeners can create puddles so swallows are able to use the mud they need to build their nests.  More >

More Easter bonfires banned

Almost half the 120 traditional Easter bonfires planned for the holiday weekend in Overijssel province have been banned because the long drought and warm weather has increased the risk of the fires spreading. Enschedé, Dalfsen and Hardenberg have banned fires in several villages and in other places the celebrations have been adapted to take the risk into account, broadcaster RTV Oost said. The annual competition between the villages of Espelo and Dijkerhoek to build the biggest fire has also been scrapped, the broadcaster said. Local officials gave the fires the green light, on the condition they contain no more than 500 cubic metres of wood. This would allow a fire of just eight metres high, well below the usual height of 20 metres. Dozens of fires have also been banned in parts of Gelderland, broadcaster RTV Gelderland said. The habit of building massive outdoor bonfires for Easter is particularly popular in Gelderland and Overijssel.  More >