Thursday, October 25, 2018

Hectic doldrums

Blogging, in my world, is a bit of a micro thingy of life...thingy because I’m not quite sure what it’s a micro of, but maybe an explanation of this odd claim will help.

This whole year I’ve been blogging along, faithfully writing and publishing my weekly posts and relishing every word of it. See where the life thing comes in yet? No? Okay, I shall try a different approach. 

Since the beginning of 2018, I’ve been busy enjoying a very productive working and leisure life. I really have. I’ve taught some great courses, met some wonderful students (notably my Syrian refugees but many others too) travelled some beautiful waterways and enjoyed working on both the Hennie H and my beloved Vereeniging. A bit like my blog, which indeed is a reflection of my life...that micro thingy I was referring to.

But now, suddenly, I feel disinclined; yes. I feel disinclined about everything: disinclined to work, to make the effort, to prepare the classes, do the jobs, paint the boats, even enjoy life. 

And the same applies to my blog. I’ve had no idea what to write and no real desire to write it this week. 

So what, though! Does it matter? Why bother?

But like life, it does matter and I do bother. It’s just one of those doldrums that I have to struggle out of. I know when I have these spells — they’re like being mentally becalmed —  it’s always after the summer and it’s always during my most hectic time of year’s also always autumn (sorry, that’s obvious, isn’t it?). I call them my hectic doldrums because I am busy, should be busy and need to make myself be busy, especially when I don’t feel like it. But autumn is my doldrum time of year...I don’t know why. I suppose I should have been a badger or a squirrel because what I feel like doing hibernating. But I can’t and I won’t as the best way out of the doldrums is to write. Anything. 

And writing is doing, so it solves both problems: life and blogging.

Despite my disinclination then, I am writing this deeply philosophical treatise on a comparative analysis of life as it relates to the micro thingy that blogging other words, a load of twaddle. 

Now... do you think that’s enough for the moment? 

Okay, just to put you in the real picture, here are some more photos of our recent activities. See, I’m only kidding. Have a good weekend allemaal. I’ll be back with something sensible next week.

Replacing panels on the Vereeniging one by one

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Vereeniging fares again

My blog is a little late this week, late as in slow in arriving but maybe that's fitting this time because it had to wait for a venerable old lady to get going. No, I'm not talking about myself in this case, although I confess that by the time I manage to get going every day, I feel I'm becoming quite old myself, if not actually venerable.

The old lady in this case is the Vereeniging. She has lain dormant for several years now, victim of a viral bug that it took far too long to diagnose. Still, treatment has been applied and at 120 years old this year, she has recovered to fare another day and fare well too.

Today, because one of my neighbours is leaving this weekend for his annual sail around Zeeland in the Bietentocht (see my blog about it here), I had to move the Vereeniging from her position in the harbour to a few metres the other way. Well, this seemed too good an opportunity to miss for a spuddle of a momentous kind. After the nursing and nurturing we'd done on bringing the old dameschip back to life, a gentle rondvaart of the harbour areas seemed just the thing. Which is what we did. With great grins and purposeful pride.

It was a magic to be steering out of the harbour. The weather was sublime...


We puttered gently along the Scheepmakershaven and round the Leuvenhaven before returning back along the Wijnhaven to base.

 Rotterdam from the water is Rotterdam at its best...

Approaching the Leuvenhaven
 And there are barges as far as the eye can see and the soul can wish for...

the Leuvenhaven
The vibrancy and the colour of the inner city harbours are a sight for sore eyes... so we feasted them, as I hope these photos show ....


the Leuvenhaven

the Leuvenhaven

Turning into the Wijnhaven

Back home, but a few metres to the left or the north or....

Had I not had commitments of the paying kind to attend to, we would have gone on with great pleasure. But this was a start; we broke the spell of immobility; the Vereeniging has fared again.... and she didn't miss a beat. The dream of going to Utrecht is looking considerably brighter.

Enjoy the rest of your week allemaal.

Monday, October 08, 2018

The last of the summer sunshine

Despite the cold nights and mornings we've been having, I have to admit the daytimes are just lovely at the moment. I probably shouldn't say that, should I? No doubt it will be perverse and change just because I've mentioned it. But we're enjoying it over the weekends and are having lovely walks now we can't go faring for a while, which brings me to the Hennie H.

Our lovely little barge will remain immobile until the spring, I'm afraid. What happened was that following the fitting of a new oil cooler, one of the connections began leaking while we were on the way to a weekend on the Moervaart in Belgium. Unfortunately, we have no 'dashboard' with gauges, so didn't see the oil pressure was dropping until a nasty tapping sound alerted us that all was not well. We stopped as soon as it started, but it seems the damage was done. According to the diesel mechanic who's promised to fix it for us, it's probably a piston ring problem, but of course it could be something else. We won't know until he's taken it further apart. Nevertheless, he's confident it's fixable (at least it still runs!) and as he's officially retired, he's also promised it won't break us (financially). It's been a depressing few weeks, but at least we know and have real hope we'll be up and running again by next summer. We're now consolidating and saving our pennies, which brings me back to our walks.

On Saturday, we did a rather circuitous but pleasant drive around until we reached the Moervaart at a bridge called Kalverbrug. From there we walked along the waterway for some distance. This was where we were heading when the Hennie H died, so it was a bit poignant, but very beautiful for all that. I think my photos speak for themselves as even though I took them with my phone, it still looks lovely. The colours aren't quite as rich as I really saw them, though, and I can't intensify them without giving them a phoney hue, but you get the idea.

On Sunday, we did some cleaning on the Hennie H. There is plenty of work to do still, so I hope the good weather lasts a bit longer! I also have heaps to do on the Vereeniging too....ah well, it keeps me off the streets. Have a great week, allemaal and I'll fill you in on the any new developments next week

Monday, October 01, 2018

September, I (don't) remember....

September. Where did it go? Today it's the first of the month again and I find it's already October. Even if I didn't believe it, the weather is reminding me. It's just cold. The wind is cold, the nights are cold, the air round my ankles in the morning is more than cold. But September must have sprouted wings. I cannot for the life of me think what I did with it other than work. It's still that way.

It's a bit of a merry-go-round in truth. I have to drive to Roosendaal on Tuesdays, teach teachers there, then up to Rotterdam Tuesday night for an early start on Wednesday where I have two individual lessons back to back followed by a group of PhDers. Wednesday ends late. On Thursday mornings I have another PhD group; then in the afternoon, I head down to Steenbergen for duty at my daughter's business. Add to that a trip to Amsterdam to give a class there (a day that involved eight hours travelling for four hours teaching; there's something wrong with that ratio); many useful hours working on the Vereeniging (replacing more outer panels) and some rather less useful days fretting over the Hennie H.

Is there anything I've missed? Well, maybe a couple of nice walks, so I'll post some photos of the one we took yesterday. I call it our Windmill walk. It's on a kind of no-man's land between the Gent docklands and a Belgian suburb. We used to walk there with Sindy and it's remained special to us, but we see they are trying to 'improve' it and make it a proper nature reserve. It's peaceful, wonderfully so.

Widened and dredged

The windmill walk

A railqueduct

Rails to rove by

The industry line

No man's strip

Shapes I like

See what I mean?

Oh one more thing...I am writing again and enjoying the journey back in time. More African Ways are on the way. As for September,  I'll do better in October, I promise.

Have a great week allemaal!