Dykes and perspectives. And BBC Europe.

As I was saying before Blackberry email limits rudely stopped me saying more in that last blog (the downside of my new policy of taking photos at higher resolution)…

It's interesting how the profuse birdlife of the dykes further north – oyster-catchers, peewits, starlings, terns, crows, seagulls of all shapes, swallows, house-martins and more – ceased almost entirely once I got deep into the farming flatlands.

Pests to the farmers are of course fodder for the birds.

And the new picture, hopefully in better resolution and colour than some of the earlier ones on this blog, is really a throwback to previous posts on the awe-inspiring sea defences here, and how the perspectives can be like a school art class.

You might not be able to see it clearly in the photo, but I've been fascinated how the Dutch build their dykes – this one is at least seven metres high, and probably a good deal more.

The seaward face, if you can imagine it, starts with smallish granite blocks at the levels between high and low tide, and then a hard, wide, feature-free strip of what feels like motorway road surface, before cresting sharply with more granite blocks in pentagonal shapes like an artificial Giant's Causeway finish.

I guess the idea is to give the sea as little as possible to get a grip on when she's in a really foul mood. Bit like anti-climb paint on lamposts.

Comparing the height of the water on the sea-side and the rather lower lie of the polders on the other side, it's pretty clear how important it is to The Netherlands' survival to get this right.

I have to say, having been there on the first anniversary of Katrina, that Dutch expertise makes the levees and sea defences of New Orleans, even post-Hurricane, look like children's sandcastles.

So, closing now on Brussels, where on Friday I'm greatly looking forward to meeting up again with Oana Lungescu, the BBC's long-standing and formidably knowledgeable Europe correspondent, and stalwart member of the old Europe reporting team we used to run together at Bush House.

Ah, the European language services. Hungarian, Polish, Slovak, Croatian… So much hard work over so many years, and in the end they were all shut down. Makes sense, I suppose, but they were fun while they lasted.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

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