Monday, September 27, 2010

Another Belgium day out

Despite the pouring rain, lowering grey skies and wind that set the trees swaying wildly along the roadsides, we took a trip into Belgium on Saturday to visit a much loved haunt - La Louvière.

Driving south against the clouds, we eventually passed out of the gloom and into sunshine at Lessines, a charming market town on the French side of the language border. After taking some photos of the local colour (people and things), we headed still further south to Strépy Thieu where Sindy reckoned she needed a quick dash around the great ship lift there. So to avoid the typical "s'not fair" look, we parked the car and got out.

Market stalls at Lessines

The scenery there was, as always spectacular and as luck would have it, we saw a large tanker, the Redoutable, entering the lift in the lower basin. Watching the lift in action is always fascinating and even awesome. These huge tubs that can take ships of up to 2000 tons are lifted by the downward force of equally huge counterweights, and the speed with which they do it is incredible.

We climbed to the top, 73 metres above the lower basin, and watched the Redoutable making its exit followed by a very pretty historic barge that had sneaked in behind it.

The rain then started again, but this time in earnest, so we drove into La Louvière to seek out our favourite café and have their very excellent coffee in subtly genteel surroundings. The town had its wet weather face on, though, and we were not inclined to spend much more time there, other than to do a bit of necessary shopping, so we headed out again. Driving round the area is always a treasure trove and it took us to re-visit a little house we seriously considered buying a year or so before we found our Westdorpe get away. It was good to see the place again and be reminded of why we'd been so tempted.

The return journey brought new delights, though. Driving towards the town of Ath, we found sunshine again at Soignies, another attractive place with a truly magnificent church that was founded a thousand years ago. I love this photo Koos took of the town square with the church high up on the hill behind it.

But then the real treasure of the day came. One of the pleasures of exploring Belgium is taking a dive off the main roads and seeing where it takes you. The evening light was turning the landscape to gold and the greens, yellows and browns of the meadows and ploughed fields glowed agains the vivid blue of the sky. Koos has taken some heart wrenching photos of the scenery, which you can find on his Flickr page, but below is one I took from my place in the car.

We drove through it all with mouths agape at the sheer beauty of the world. Eventually, though, we had to move on, and Ath, our final stop of the day, also proved to be a grand new discovery. What a lovely, lively place. It has both style and character and the feeling of a living, breathing urban heart. Even better, it has a river and a canal, and although I hadn't visited the town before, it has a special place in my memories. It was here on our first ever trip out together, more than nine years ago, that Koos showed me a lock on the town's outskirts. The day was very hot and the tar between the stone slabs was warm and soft, so in a fit of romantic togetherness, we put our thumbprints in it. I wonder if they are still there. I like to think so.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Time to shout about something

And that something is Koos's photography as revealed here in this book. These abstract art photos were all taken round the shipyard where the Hennie H is having its bottom plating done. Koos has the artist's eye to such a degree he can even find beauty in puddles full of oily water, flaking paint on empty cans, the daubs where shipyard workers have cleaned their brushes and let's not forget, lumps of rusty metal. They are all here and in Koos's lens become images of great beauty.

He so deserves some recognition and success with his photography, it would be fantastic if our blog friends would spread the word, and maybe..... even buy the book.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Summer 2010 - over

This will go down in my memory as the summer that wasn't. That sounds dramatic and negative, but for me, for us, it's been the case.

There have been some highlights though, and I'd like to remember them here pictorially

The day in June we found the tiny ferry going to nowhere..and took it to the other side

The World Cup taking over our harbour for nigh on a month

Koos's birthday, 30 June, with his son Kasper and Mo and Craig

A lovely July evening with friends Jitze and Manette when they stopped their travels in Breskens, Zeeuws Vlaanderen (about 35 kms from my litle house)

Then Mo arrived home with Charlie boy.

On 22 July, we had a magical day out in Seclin and Mons en Pévêle in northern France. Here Koos is taking a photo of the canal side.

The big event in July was the arrival of Anne Marie and Austin with whom we spent three fabulous days

At the end of July, Mo and Craig came to help us with the Hennie Ha.

And finally, in early August, my sister came to visit and took this photo of Koos and I in our favourite Belgian village of Sautour.

The rest of August, the month of my holiday from work, was sadly a wash-out in every way, and the only day worth remembering was a day trip we took to Oostende on the 28th, where Koos took some of his most beautiful photos ever. On the way, we stopped at a place called Lisswege, supposedly the prettiest village in Belgium. Here it is.

This looks like quite a lot for one summer, doesn't it? Maybe I shouldn't complain after all. It was just August in the end that could be struck from the record and wouldn't be missed. For my part anyway.

Enjoy your Sunday everyone. Autumn is on its way and the changing colours will be accompanied by those wonderful smells of damp earth, falling leaves and the tang of frosty mornings. I find it melancholy but beautiful too.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

On the way to being the Bionic Woman

Cataract one is done...yay...I've been waiting for this since July. By the end of the year,after the second one's done, I'll be able to see again. That will be such a relief.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Taking Stock

Well. I've reactivated my blog mainly because I miss my special group of bloggie friends. I'm still off FB, and don't know when I'll put that back.

The thing is there's a whole heap of stuff going on in our lives at the moment, not all of which are pleasant; and sometimes you just want to batten down the hatches and hide from the world. Never having been one to 'talk', it's not in my nature to thrash things out in public, so I hope my dear blog pals will understand that I don't do so now. It all sounds as if I'm looking for sympathy, but I'm not at all. I'm fine and I know this phase will pass - it really was a simple case of being too tied up in these other things to worry about blogs and social networks, and I just got the hell in with the whole internet scene anyway.

Interestingly, after reading Anne Marie's blog where she lists the goods and bads of Facebook, which she's just joined, I am finding I don't miss it at all, and may decide to stay away. It's just that there are so many friends there who don't come to blogland, and yes, that's hard. I'd miss the contact. Still, I will decide sooner or later I suppose.

In the meantime, hoping you're all well. I probably won't be blogging all that much in the next weeks, because work is also piling up, but I will be here and I will be following yours watch out :-)

PS I've added a couple of updates of the Vereeniging which I've now moved on to again. Strangely Blogger just won't accept one of them, so I'll try again later. The drawers beneath the bed are my latest creation out of some old wood I've been keeping for some years now. They match my kists in the lounge area which are made of the same wood.