Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Vereeniging sails again

Yesterday was a perfect day. Not only did I have a visit from two old friends who I hadn't seen since we were all at university together, but we also took the Vereeniging out for a test run for the first time in more than a year and a half. It was magic to feel my little barge moving through the water again, and the rhythmic throb of the marvellous old Samofa engine that it now has was music to my ears. The picture of Koos at the wheel captures the sense of pride he also felt at being instrumental in its revival, and of course, this is where he belongs!

Click on this link to see a few more pictures of the Vereeniging's first outing.

And now there are some more, courtesy of a harbour friend who took these

The fellow passengers were: Bruce and Jan (who are our music friends), Bob and Carol (who I was at college with and shared a house with too) and their daughter, Ali (the pretty blonde)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Ludo is amazing

So much has happened this past week that it's hard to know where to begin with a new post. Most of you who come here already know about the new barge. Well, as if that's not exciting enough, on Friday, the Vereeniging's 'new' engine and gearbox were finally pronounced in good working order after the endless saga it has been to get it fitted and working.

I haven't said much here about the frustration and anxiety that has been the story of the new engine, but if I tell you it was April last year when this one was put in and November 2006 when the old one was removed, it's been 18 months since my Vereeniging has had a running engine. All that time, it has felt like a ship without a soul, and Koos and I have come to near desperation at times not knowing what to do and how to fix the seemingly insurmountable problem of the reverse gear that just wouldn't work. Given that a boat has no brakes, I don't need to tell you that a good working reverse gear is just a bit important! I personally have wept, howled and raged by turn at the seemingly limitless amount of money I was having to spend on it, and the crunch came when the so-called expert I paid handsomely to put it right brightly offered me another complete engine for €4500 to replace this one when the fruits of his labour didn't work either. I sat down and sobbed. Luckily, for my sanity and Koos's too, we'd heard about the 'engine doctor' that our Philip used. He is a small wiry Belgian with a genius for curing engine ills, so I called Philip. He called man, and last Thursday, Ludo the magician came. He took the gearbox apart, diagnosed the problem, and with Koos, shaved bits off gear wheels, adjusted settings, realigned axles, and bingo! After 12 hours hard work, everything was magically fine! I can still hardly believe it's true, but from now on Ludo will be the first person I call for any serious problem, even though he has to drive all the way up from Belgium to do it....and on Friday, we hope to take the Vereeniging out for a short test spin in honour of a visit from two of my old college will most definitely follow.

Anyway, with all that over, we then rushed off down to the house, and spent a beautiful Saturday looking for a mooring for the new barge. I have to confess I went through a few moments of fear that this new baby would start to eclipse the Vereeniging, but I don't think that will happen now. The little Hennie will never be a live aboard boat. It is too small and Koos can't even stand up straight in it. It is a little charmer for sure, and I'm sure we'll have lots of fun with it, but the Vereeniging is home and the ship that I've put my heart and soul into. So far, we haven't found a mooring, but hope we can before the middle of June when we'll be going to fetch it.

Before then, though, I'm off to visit Momo for a week in South Africa. That is going to be fun as I am travelling ultra cheap and flying Egypt Air, which means a four hour stop in Cairo each way. In June. Hmmmm. Hot? May well be. I will be staying with Momo and Craig in Postmasburg, a small town (which really only has one horse!) in the middle of the Karoo, which is the southern Kalahari Desert. I can't wait to go, as Mo has planned some trips out to places I haven't been to since the early nineties, and we may even reach Namibia, which would be will most definitely follow...

Lastly, I have been busy with a mini project of which I am beginning to be quite proud. With the Vereeniging ready to fare again, I remembered that we are obliged to have the name and home port of our barges clearly visible on the back of the ship. I have the name at the front, but not at the back. Most people have this done by professionals who carve the name, port and other details on beautiful pieces of teak. But, this comes at a price. A high price.

Thus....I decided to have a go myself. I found a nice piece of old pine which was one of the old benches in the vooronder of the Vereeniging, and with a router (I think that's how you spell it), I have 'carved' out the info needed and painted it in. Now I just need to find a smaller cutter to put in the date of build and the registration number...and I want to re-paint my name. Red doesn't really work, so I'll do it again in black. It might look a little informal and unprofessional, but the name's not going to come off now, and I rather like its slight irregularities!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Just a little Green

Today was about dappled sunlight through green, green leaves. it was also about spreading green fields and tall, stately trees. In fact it was all about this land of Flanders which I am beginning to love so well with its quiet waters and sharp, rippling reflections; so, in the words of Joni Mitchell, here is a taste of Just a litte Green. For more, click on the link below which will take you to a Picasa slideshow, which I have just discovered thanks to Koos.

View this slideshow

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Vespa's day out

There was a small proud Vespa
That needed a good old tester
So off it flew
Through country new
to blow the dust a-wester

The lanes were at their best
as if quite specially dressed
With frothy flowers
and vivid green bowers
and scents it was caressed

The sun beat down so strong
as the Vespa scooted along
It stopped a while
but made souls smile
as it rode off with great aplomb

And now it's back at home
but dreams of fun to come
on tree lined dykes
past old men's bikes
And endless miles to roam

PS: The photos are courtesy of a mobile phone...vespas don't carry cameras ;-)

Sunday, May 04, 2008

A dog and her man

Click on photo for full view

I'm quite sure that's how Sindy sees it anyway, although Koos might perhaps disagree. Like Anne Marie's Whiskey with Austin, Sindy is convinced that Koos is top God and has to be followed to the ends of the earth. The only challenge to her devotion is a good piece of trash, and then her loyalty is somewhat questionable, but like all good instruction manuals for dogs, hers says: to avoid disappointment, don't offer a choice!

Still, I think this photo of Koos and Sindy is too lovely and whether they like it or not, I'm publishing. Sindy wanted it on her own blog of course, but I told her she had to be content with the video she's busy editing. Koos, on the other hand, thinks it totally ruins his image of being indifferent to dogs - it does rather, doesn't it? I just think it's gorgeous.