Thursday, May 28, 2020

Filling in the gaps

Once again, I've let my blog slip. I can only say it's because I've just been too occupied with the changes to my teaching life to be able to focus on the internet in general and my favourite place on the web in particular.

So just to fill in a few gaps, I'll mention the few diversions we've had since we came back from Rotterdam. I will admit that apart from work, there hasn't been all that much going on and nothing as uplifting (sorry) as being on the slipway. Still, there's been a birthday and a weekend staying on the Hennie H to relieve the routine.

We arrived back at the crumbly cottage on Tuesday, 12 May after our two weeks in Rotterdam, and I spent the rest of the week catching up with work commitments, which was quite intense. So at the weekend I was thrilled by the arrival of my daughter and her boyfriend early on Sunday morning. They brought me Tommy, my very own moped, as a truly wonderful early birthday surprise. Tommy is actually a Tomos. He is what we call a snorfiets, which means he is licensed to run at a maximum of 25kms per hour. He can actually do 32kms, but I shouldn't push him to that anyway. As you might be able to see, I was very chuffed as I've wanted a Tommy for quite a while. So ideal for running to the shops, or taking a spin along the dykes.

These two photos below are evidence of my first ride out. I was a bit nervous, but I enjoyed myself tremendously. I've been out on him twice since, but more practice is undoubtedly needed. I'm currently scared of going downhill, turning corners, meeting cars, having to avoid people, bikes, horses, stray bugs and beetles...okay, just about everything. But I'll get there and I love it.

After Tommy's arrival at the house, the next stop was the Henny H where my daughter and her man had put up bunting and organised a birthday breakfast. It was all too lovely and I was deeply touched. Surprises like these always bring out my soppy side and I was quite overwhelmed. Of course, my grandpup came too and had to be part of the proceedings.

I am blessed with the most wonderful daughters, I really am. My eldest also treated me to a surprise visit on Mother's Day while we were in Rotterdam on the helling and brought me a handmade book she'd made and illustrated herself. They give me so much and are so thoughtful. If you're reading this, thank you my lovely girls.

Anyway, last weekend we punctuated the week's work with a sleepover on the Hennie H. At first we only intended to stay Friday night, but we liked being there so much, we stayed Saturday night as well. Even though the harbour is a mere two and a half kilometres from the house, it felt like a holiday and it did us both good. 

I should also add that our much loved English neighbour in the village has sold his house to a man who has bought it to let. Tim, the former owner, used to come over three to four times a year, and even then, it was just him and his dog. For the rest of the year, we had no neighbours on either side. However, the house on the other side of us is also being rented. Like Tim, the former owners were just occasional visitors. 

Now, Koos and I are not misanthropists as such, but we like our privacy and have got used to a quiet life. We definitely aren't used to full-time neighbours, especially Koos. Until Corona, we weren't together for half the time anyway, and once life goes back to normal, so will we.  However, for the moment not only have we had to get accustomed to living in each other's pockets, we now have a lively family of five on one side and a couple who like to live outside on the other. Escape is required and, luckily, the Hennie H provides the sanctuary we need.

This weekend, we'll probably go there again. There's plenty of work to do on board, and it's good motivation to get on with it.

For now, then allemaal, I hope you're enjoying the relaxing of some of the restrictions and you're all staying well. We're still having the most beautiful weather here. The forecast tells us it will continue for another week...just until lockdown is lifted. Then, when we have more freedom of movement, it will start raining again. Which of you mentioned Murphy? Yes, well, he always has something up his sleeve, doesn't he? 

Till next time.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

The week(s) that was

It's been two weeks since I posted here, an omission for which I apologise. In fact, in my last blog I mentioned we would be on the slipway (helling) with my Vereeniging, and I said I'd be blogging about it, which I've totally failed to do. Why? Well two reasons: one, we had a lot of hard graft to get through and I was so tired every night I barely managed to read a page, let alone write one; the second reason was that the internet on board was hopeless. We usually connect via a harbour network, but for some reason it just didn't want to work on the yard, so all my online activity had to be via my phone. Well since my teaching is all online at the moment, you can guess what took priority. I'm afraid blogging didn't get a look in as a result.

Anyway, we've finished now and tomorrow morning at 07:00 we'll be sliding back into the water. To sum it all up, it was 12 days of sterling effort from Koos, who diligently attacked the waterline with a rotary steel brush attached to an angle grinder. It's been some years since the crud of ages was removed and it revealed a few distinctly dodgy spots, one of which signalled a quick repair job. Sadly, our friend Tim, who was going to help us with welding, has injured his back and couldn't do it. After a series of calls, it transpired there was no one available to help, so it was time to get creative.

While chatting to Tim earlier, I'd explained why I'd sealed the edge of a weld with two component epoxy. We were both extolling the virtues of this wonderful product and he told me his barge had stayed afloat for five years thanks to some judicious application of said epoxy to holes in its bottom. Eventually, of course, he'd replaced the steel and welded it all properly. After relating this story to Koos, we had the idea of applying a 'sticking plaster' of steel to the dodgiest of the weak areas with 'spot' welds (one at each corner) and then sealing the edges with epoxy. Voilà! Job done, thin spot protected and no welders injured in the process. Nor, thankfully, did I have to dismantle my interior to avoid the fanning flames of a weld gone wild (sorry).

For most of the week, while Koos was grinding, I was painting, working, and painting again, but today we finished up. We're pleased with our efforts and I'm hoping the primer I used on the waterline will protect it against the ravages of winter and our ever moving currents better than just blacking it would do. Time will tell, so we'll keep fingers, toes and thumbs crossed. As for everything else going on, well we barely noticed there was a crisis, we were so busy. However, over the weekend the sun was hot and the harbour and river were busy with boats. It looked a great way to socially distance yourself and your family to me. I just wished we could have joined them on the water too.

As always, here are a few photos to tell the tale.

Ready to go up

What the well-dressed worker wears on the yard

And the not so well-dressed

Family assistants

Bright and shiny again

A perfect derrière

My old lady basking in the sunlight
Have a good week allemaal. Stay safe, healthy and as happy as circumstances allow.