Monday, November 19, 2018

And so this is winter....

It's really begun now, hasn't it? I was so hoping it wouldn't really get cold, but I suppose that was just too much to wish for. After the storms, the skies cleared for a day or two, but the wind remained and the temperatures dropped to freezing overnight last week.

It was very cold on board. Yes, I admit it. Even with the heater left on over night, it was simply cold in the early hours of the morning.

The good news is that absolutely nothing went wrong last weekend. I'm always a bit nervous when I return after a weekend in Zeeland, but fortunately the gangplank was still in place and my ropes were too. It's almost a bit dull, isn't it? No dramas in Val land.

On a bright note, Koos and I went to the movies last Wednesday for the first time in what must have been years. I think the last time we went was to see the first Harry Potter film, so that's saying something, isn't it? I imagine what we went to see this time would be just as much a matter of taste as HP. That said, I was the one that wanted to go, so Koos indulged me and ended up enjoying it just as much.

It was a one day only showing of a documentary film about the band, Coldplay. We both love 'rock documentaries' and Coldplay are big favourites of mine, so since the film won't be available anywhere else (unless you're an Amazon Prime customer), I wanted to see it. In fact, it was well worth watching on the big screen because the atmosphere of their big stadium concerts was both electric and magical. There was also some unique footage from their very early days filmed by a college friend who ultimately directed the film. Mat Whitecross is perhaps better known for his part in documentaries such as The Road to Guantanamo, so this was quite different for him too. It was a great night out and definitely worth the effort.

The rest of the week was busy for me work wise. I am winding up some academic writing courses, which, while I enjoy, are a heap of work and take up a huge amount of time in preparation and marking. It's always good to see the results in the students' work, however, and some of them make tremendous progress, which is so rewarding.  Apart from this, the usual chores on the Vereeniging needed attending to. 

Another panel is off wating to be replaced

I prised off another panel to be replaced and then I wrapped up my skylight against the ravages of winter. There was cleaning to do and leaf removal too. Just the usual tasks at this time of year. On Saturday, we headed north to Leiden for a family birthday. Our gift was Koos's new book of photos, which is a real stunner. Take a look at it here. It's available for purchase if anyone is interested. The quality is fantastic and I think it would make a magnificent present for art lovers. Here are two screenshots to add interest to my blog:

Wishing you all a wonderful week allemaal. I'll be keeping my head down in the coming days, so I might not be here much, but I'll be reading and watching and will answer comments as soon as possible. The work goes on...

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Between the tide and the traffic

Last week, I wrote about the joys (or otherwise) of living in a tidal harbour. I talked about ropes coming loose and the other ups and downs (sorry), didn't I?

Well, when I arrived back after the weekend this last week, I had a new surprise. My gangplank was no longer attached to the bow of the barge and instead was sitting next to it. Fortunately, the chain I have to keep it from falling off completely when such things occur prevented it from disappearing into the depths, but I was glad I noticed it before I bounced merrily off and into the drink myself. I suspect some kind soul had stood on its quay end at low tide and had levered it off the post on which it fits...another job for me to sort out.

Anyway, I did, sort it that is, temporarily anyway. And I also managed to fit the new panel and 'winterise' my teak back entrance and steering wheel by wrapping them well in their own tarpaulins. I shall see on Monday whether my attempts have stood the test of the gale we had last night...there's always something at this time of year and it's not unusual to see harbour residents wandering round looking for bits of their barges in the water after one of our autumn hoolies.

However, on my way down to Zeeland on Friday, I took a route I think I've mentioned before which takes me along the dyke between the sea canal to Antwerp and the tidal Oosterschelde (Eastern Scheldt). I really love this road. On the one side is the wide expanse of the tidal estuary with its mud flats, waves and wildness; on the other is the major shipping lane where the huge barges plough through the waters as they head south into the great locks (kreekraksluizen) leading to the Antwerp docks, or north towards Rotterdam. I see the best of both worlds and the road seems to disappear into a wilderness of tranquillity, which I love. It always lifts my spirits to travel this route, so for once, I stopped to take a couple of photos. They don't really do it justice, but I hope you get some kind of impression of what it is like.

The dyke to nowhere

Traffic on the major shipping route on the canal to Antwerp

Meanwhile, mudflats at low tide on the other side

And there in the distance on the left are the big locks

Hoping you are all enjoying whatever the season brings wherever you are! Have a good week to come allemaal and I'll catch up with you all soon.

Friday, November 02, 2018

The sighs and lows of a tidal harbour

This time last month, I was in a state of bemused dismay as to where September had gone. Now I'm feeling much the same about October, although I haven't lost it quite so completely.

It's been a busy month boat wise. Koos and I have been doing jobs on the Hennie H at weekends, we took the Vereeniging out for a revival run, and I've been working on the her during the week between teaching and sleeping. You'll notice the absence of green in one of the side panels below. That's because I'm taking them out one by one and replacing them with new panels. I've done three on each side now, although number 3 on this side is awaiting re-fitting. But aside from my seasonal disinclination (see last week's moan), the weather hasn't been helping and it's caused me some unnecessary time messing about in the little boat rescuing ropes that have gone astray; hence the sighs. Let me explain:

The pink section is where I've removed a panel for replacement.
Note small boat: the vehicle of my venturing
When I moved from being neighbours with the clipper in the pic below to my current neighbour above, I also had to move a few ropes. You'll notice in the picture below that there's a bollard set into the wall. Well I needed to transfer my front rope from there to the bollard you can just see on the quay in the top right corner.

And then I had to place another one on the bollard set in the wall to the right of the Vereeniging (see further below). Last week, then, I climbed into my little dinghy and paddled over to lift off and replace said ropes. It was all good fun and I enjoyed messing around in the water despite the rain and cold. For once I felt inclined. Wrapped up in a warm coat and feet tucked into my tartan wellies, I was ready for an adventure of Wind in the Willows proportions and while it wasn't quite in the scale of Rat and Mole's escapades, it made me feel good scooting about between the barges.

My favourite tartan wellies

But this last Tuesday, when I was teaching, we had a phenomenal storm. The wind howled, the rain thundered down and I won't even go into how long it took me to get home after work.

Anyway, along with the deluge, the tide rose much higher than normal and my carefully laid wall-side rope floated off its bollard. Meanwhile, the wind played havoc with everything else and my other ropes got stretched to the point that when I emerged in the morning, the loopplank was teetering on the edge of the quay and I needed to do quite a rescue job. So back in my little boat I climbed to spuddle up to the bows, fish my errant rope out of the water and pull it back to the wall.

You can see the normal high tide mark on the bricks, but this time it was so high I couldn't even see the bollard, so it was well above its normal mark. This photo was taken when the tide was on its way down. When I performed my scoop up job, however, I could barely reach the bollard, which goes to show what an up and down world we live in during the October storms. I made sure I put a double loop in my rope and pulled it tight, so I'm hoping that, together with the heavy cable that's lying across it, this will prevent it from floating off again. If not, I'll have to put a weight on it to keep it down.

All this takes time, though, and while I enjoy it, I'm aware there are other jobs that need my attention...such as the new pin prick of light I can see through a place in the back cabin (the roef) where I should only be seeing solid steel...oh dear. I keep reminding myself she is 120 years old; these things will happen.

Anyway, next week I hope I'll have some further progress to report, or at least another new panel :)
Have a great weekend allemaal and here’s a fitting song to go with this post. I’ve loved this since I first heard it as a child.