Sunday, March 28, 2010

Ha Ha Hennie Ha

The rather fuzzy photo above was taken on the Hennie H the last time I went anywhere on the little Snik. It was 15 September 2008. Today, we have the very real prospect of setting off in it again, because today, Koos finally managed to get the engine running properly.

After much technical head scratching, he triumphed over the steering problems last week, so this week's achievement felt really good. I acted as general 'gofer' passing spanners, screwdivers and courage, while protecting Koos from the rain by holding a tarpaulin over the engine hatch. Guess who got wet instead .....

No guarantees yet, because next week, we'll give it a full test run and see how everything works. If all goes well, we'll then have to make a date with the yard in Zelzate to get the work on the bottom this sounding familiar?...Ah well, I'm hoping that by August we'll have our scheepje back in the water again and ready to roll...or should i rather say sail?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Fully certified

And no, that's not as in insane...although of course some of you might quite legitimately think so..

No, the truth is that yesterday I received my TEFL certificate...yay!! At long last I am qualified for the job I have been doing for the last nine's almost a relief in a way. Like coming out of the closet...

In the past, I've always had that fear that someone would decide I was a fraud because I didn't have the right pieces of paper...but no more! I can hold my head up now and not sneak out when people start TEFL talking around me. No more flushes of embarrassment when friends compare course experiences and teaching terms..I can do it too! Now I can discuss boomerang and patchwork ESA lesson plans with the best of them...hehe..

And even better, I've just sent off the first module of my Dip.TESOL course. For those of you who are wondering what mad trip I am off on now, it's a diploma in teaching English to speakers of other languages, and very interesting it is too. It was what I wanted to do in the first place, but they wouldn't enrol me until I had the TEFL certificate. I hope to complete this one in about seven months, and then I really will have a go at jobs in France or Spain or even Poland...can't wait!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The drought is over

I'm writing again...well, just a little. You know what they say, a thirsty man shouldn't drink too much at first!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Boats and bobs

I often wonder what image people have in their minds when they read about our harbour here. It is a special place, but not just because of the community we have.

Rotterdam was blitzed during the war, meaning that the centre of the city lost nearly all of its traditional Dutch buildings. A few remain but mostly we are surrounded by soaring skyscrapers,radical design and the most modern of modern architecture you can find. Even so, our 'oude Haven' is colourful and quaint in its way and that IS because of the old ships.

Last week, we had another memorable visit from Invader Stu and the girlfriend, both of whom seem suitably charmed by our boaty world and regaled us with tales of their own adventures on Holland's higher seas. Then today, our neighbour from the little house in Westdorpe dropped by on his way back to the UK.

He was fascinated by it all, and really impressed by the juxtaposition of the very old as represented by the boats and the harbour, and the very new, staggeringly tall apartment blocks and offices that surround us.

We are so used to it, which is not to say we are immune to its charms, but I do think that sometimes we don't see it as others do.It has changed a lot since I've been here, and in my view not all for the better. Nevertheless, it is impressive and in many ways quite beautiful. Rotterdam has had a bad press, but Iwouldn't willingly move to either Amsterdam or Den Haag. Give me 'Rottingdam' any day of the week!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Trying to find my way back

It's a strange feeling. Not having to leap out of bed on Wednesday and Thursday mornings to leave the harbour, Koos and Sindy for the whole day as I have been doing these past three months. I've been working every other day as well, but have always been home for part of the day. Just not these two days. The reason has been the annual business communications course that five other colleagues and myself have been giving to first year students at the university here.

What's been different this year is that I decided (my prerogative as coordinator) to do four groups, meaning two full eight hour teaching shifts with hardly any break in between. Enough to dash from one room to the next and get set up again. The breaks in the lessons were always busy too. Students asking questions, seeking advice and so on. Sometimes the whole day would pass and I'd realise I hadn't even had a cup of coffee since breakfast.

Did I enjoy it? No, not really. It would have been okay if I hadn't had any other work to do, but you know what it's like. People ask and you can't say no. The result was that weekends were non existent. I had to spend them marking assignments or assessing roleplays that I should have been able to do during the week - had I refused to take on that other work.

You're probably thinking so what? Why the fuss. And you're right, it was only for three months, but for some reason it's turned my world upside down and I'm having a job trying to find my balance again. My boat, house and garden were all dismissed from my mind, and now it's over I really need to think about them again. I haven't written a word in months, nor have I blogged or played music or written to friends and family. I still have quite a bit of work, but even so, there is the prospect of the odd free morning and, even better, free weekends. Will I know what to do with them, though?

I looked at my writing work in progress this evening, and had no clue where I was going to go with it. I'm sure my barge needs my attention, but I am not yet inclined you might say. As for the garden, I watched Sin go out and do her stuff last Sunday, and thought "I'll do it next week", only to feel glad that next week will probably bring rain and I can put it off again for another day.

I will get over this lassitude, won't I? At least I've used my blog to offload I msut go and read some others. Well, it's a start isn't it....