Monday, October 31, 2011

Bye bye Snail

This morning at eight o'clock, the sun shining brightly in defiance of our feelings, we watched the Wandering Snail lifted out of the dock at Terneuzen and onto a 'convoi exceptionnel' low loading truck. Half an hour later, it left the yard by road instead of in its natural home, the water.

The Snail is going back. Back to England where it will stay for the next year, its wandering curtailed for a while. Snail's people, Anne and Oll have been obliged to return to England for a time, so it seemed sensible to take their home back with them. After all, that's the beauty of boat life. If you move, you can take your house with you - just like a snail.

It seems an age since we first saw the Snail, and then met up with them in Zelzate, but it's only just over two years ago. That was the memorable day they towed the Hennie H back to its mooring, and we've been friends ever since.

We shall miss them. They've become very very dear to us, but we hope we can visit them in the UK before too long. They are seeing this as just a gap year, and promise to be back. I think we'll hold them to that!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Reunited in music and friendship

Last weekend was least that's what my children would have said, but it really was.

On Friday evening, I flew to Bristol, picked up a nifty VW Polo and drove to the charming, gorgeous and fondly remembered village of Charmouth. on the Dorset coast. There I was greeted by my long lost school chum, the still beautiful and elegant Sarah, who has been living in Botswana for the last 35 years. She has barely changed at all.

My friend always had more than her fair share of charm, wit and humour to go with her dainty but refined loveliness. She still has it all in bucket loads, and it was just wonderful to see her again. The house in Charmouth belongs to her mother, who is an amazing (and I do mean this) 86 year old bundle of energy and dynamism. Her days put mine to shame. She rises at six, takes here (shamefully) lazy thirty-something neighbours' dogs for a walk, then bakes scones and cakes for all the visitors she has on a daily basis, not to mention anyone else she feels like giving them away to. She belongs to the choir, does flowers for the church, works as a volunteer in the Heritage centre and visits old people (!) who need comfort. I get exhausted just imagining it all.

Apart from this, she has a self contained flat beneath her house that she lets to holiday makers, and every weekend - more or less- is a changeover. Now I know where her daughter gets her boundless energy from. Sarah, herself is an early riser in Botswana. She rides every day from about 5 a.m. till late morning, when it then becomes too hot to do more. All I could think was!

But this was just the start of my weekend, which proved to be a major trip down memory lane....but more of that later. For the moment, here are a few photos of my lovely friend on my beloved Dorset coast



Sunday, October 09, 2011

Images of our Indian Summer

Last weekend, it was summer. This weekend, it is most definitely autumn. I think I prefer the summer. No, not just think, I know I prefer it.

On Sunday evening, Koos took a beer and I took the remains of a bottle of wine with a glass and we sat on the bank of the canal as the sun went down. A hot air balloon was drifting overhead, and two muscular looking tug-boats were assisting a large coaster as it made its way towards the inland docklands of Ghent. The sun glowed warm even as it sank below the horizon. The sky was a clear, unbroken, cerulean blue. It was simply gorgeous. One of those 'for keeps' moments. Remembered years afterwards in nostalgic flashbacks.

I feel very fortunate at times.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Catching up again

Where do I start? What do I say after all these weeks when I've hardly posted a thing but so much has happened?

Perhaps I should take one thing at a time and post as and when I can. First thing of note is that we are having a blessedly glorious Indian summer. This last week has been everything summer should have been and apparently we can expect it to continue until next Wednesday, maybe even longer. The temperature has been in the mid twenties all week, the sun has shone endlessly and it has been dry, dry, dry! Simply wonderful. I really needed this as I've felt pretty down about the lack of UV rays my body has been able to absorb this year.

The downside is that it has been an exceptionally busy month work wise, so the freedom to enjoy this marvellous tonic has been confined to cycling to work and back and walking Sindy. Still, it's done me the power of good.

Apart from that, what has happened? Well, in a nutshell, Koos's sister celebrated a big birthday (out of discretion, I won't say which one) and we were privileged to share it with her. We had a lovely day with his family as there was a surprise trip round Rotterdam's harbours by boat, followed by a very luxurious meal at one of Rotterdam's top locations. And I mean top! It was in the restaurant high up in the Euromast tower from which the view is quite literally awesome. I think Koos has published a film he made of the view on Facebook if anyone is interested and hasn't seen it.

What else? Well, I have started teaching Chinese students at the Rotterdam Business school. It is a one year assignment and I give lessons two days a week. The students are charming, but always tired, so where discipline is no problem, keeping them awake is! I have to invent all sorts of interactive activities simply to keep them busy during the three hour sessions.

The other main event has been the opening of Koos's exhibition in Hulst, Zeeuws Vlaanderen. 15 of his finest photos are being exhibited at a small arts centre in this very pretty, previously fortified, border town. Last Sunday was the first day of the exhibition and even though there was no official opening, a couple who knew Koos from long ago turned up unexpectedly because they had seen the announcement on Facebook and decided to drive the sixty odd kilometres to have a look. Nice, hey?

I'm sure there are other things I should write about, but in all honesty I am too tired to remember anything but the main events, so with that I shall leave you with a couple of pics: three of the harbour trip and one of Koos's perfect photos.

Koos's sister and husband confirming their ongoing affection for each other.
Out on a grey and windy Maas
How the big boats clean their bottoms
One of Koos's abstractions and one of my favourites. I call it industrial art

Have a lovely weekend everyone.