Sunday, November 29, 2020

Moving experiences

I'm struggling a little at the moment. There's so much to do and yet so little of real note to report that I'm sometimes hesitant to write another blog post when everything seems so kind of 'samey'.

This past month has been a particularly hectic work month and I've had little time to indulge in social interaction of any kind, let alone social media. In the meantime, we're scooting up and down between Zeeland and Rotterdam attending to two boats between my online lessons (in Zeeland) and my face-to-face classes (in Rotterdam and Dordrecht). 

In Rotterdam, the council decided to replace the mooring poles in our harbour with new ones, so several of us had to move from our usual positions. Such upheavals are always inconvenient, but in a way, they also give us a change of scene which can be refreshing. Even having the light coming in from a different angle makes a difference... that's if the sun shines at all. For our part, we had to move the Vereeniging to the other side of the harbour and it was lovely to see her in a different setting.

The only downsides were firstly that the internet connection was almost non-existent and very erratic, and the second was the discovery that the stern gland was leaking, something that happens if you only start the engine and move once in a while. The solution for the first problem hasn't been solved as yet, and as for the leaky gland, Koos has tightened it and I've mopped up all the water that came through, but we'll have to see what happens next week when we move back again. There's always something with boats, especially very elderly ones.

Back in Zeeland again, it's become very cold but yesterday, Koos and I worked on the Hennie H. The cooling system is still a not-quite-resolved issue, but Koos is getting there. As for me, I cut out a section of the interior wooden panelling that was totally rotten as a consequence of a leaking window. I'm happy that I've started on that because it's given me a winter project to occupy me and take my mind of the fact we won't be going to Portugal in January as planned.

Which brings me to the sad fact that due to the current situation with COv (as I call it), the airlines aren't getting the numbers they need to fill the flights. We'd booked to leave from Rotterdam on January the 14th on a flight to Faro. Last week, Transavia wrote and informed me they'd cancelled that flight and offered me an alternative a day earlier from Amsterdam. Well, there were three problems with that: my work commitments, the extra travel time to Amsterdam and the extra night's accommodation in Portugal. And this was just the beginning, I'm sure. When Koos booked to go to Bulgaria in October, they changed his flight three times before he eventually decided it was too much, especially with the quarantine requirements. With that as history, we decided it would be best just to cancel and postpone the trip until later. Sun therapy will have to find another form this year, but hopefully we can go a bit later when the situation has settled. 

What else is there? Well, as they say, little things please little minds. At our crumbly cottage we have a new neighbour. The Polish family who moved in earlier in the year moved out again at the end of August, finally realising that five people in a one person cottage was really beyond reasonable squeezing point. The little house remained empty for a few months, but has recently been let to a single woman. All well and good and much more suited to the size of the house... at least, that's what we thought anyway.

We don't know her yet at all, so this is absolutely no reflection on her character or person but we've been totally fascinated by the amount of stuff she has moved into this tiny house. It reminds me of Mary Poppins' handbag, except it's all been going in, not coming out. Firstly, there were numerous small van loads of boxes and bags, and I mean numerous – dozens, in fact; our other neighbour has been helping her (still is) and for a time he was beginning to bear a strong resemblance to an ant as he scurried to and fro. Then followed a big van with furniture and still more small van loads; the ant was back with friends. Well, we thought it would end there, but for the past couple of weekends, more and more stuff has arrived in a seemingly endless stream and even today when she finally moved in, there were still bags and boxes being carried in. Just as a joke, Koos threatened to go and ask her when her real furniture was going to arrive.

It's hard to fathom where it's all going to go and I hope that she can fit herself in between her mountains of belongings. And how did they get everything up the stairs, which are so narrow and steep, our previous neighbour didn’t even use the bedroom? I’m still playing with that puzzle. Luckily, the new tenant is tall and slim, so she should be able to slip between the gaps easily enough, but it's given us some good entertainment value. But what is it about this tiny house that attracts people to cram it full to the gunwales? We'll have to wait and see, but for now, her move has made all of ours look modest in the extreme.

Have a good week allemaal. Here are some photos of yesterday's brief visit by the sun during our afternoon walk.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Flamingos and flowers

Well, here it is. Another two weeks since I last posted a blog. The speed at which the time seems to fly past is really quite phenomenal. Admittedly, work is taking up much of my time at the moment. I wish I could say I'd been somewhere interesting, or even cycled somewhere new. But my pedalling activities have ground to a slushy halt because of the rain and wind we've been having since last weekend. I'm not a stoic when it comes to two wheels – not anymore, although time was when I'd cycle through rain, wind and snow. Even I find that hard to believe now, but it's true. 

The only things I can really report on are somewhat random. One thing I forgot (I think) to mention last time was that one of my daughters had her birthday at the end of October. However, because it was just after increased restrictions came in and we couldn't have an indoor party, we decided to have a picnic. Just my two girls and me. It was actually great. Despite being windy and blustery, the three of us met at a harbour in Zeeland close to a spot where flamingos gather. Yes, I did say flamingos, and no, they aren't put there for show. They come to Battenoord Haven on the Grevelingenmeer every winter from October to April. Isn't that special?

There are three types of flamingos that gather near the harbour: European, Caribbean and Chilean flamingos, but so far I haven't found much about why they come from such different parts of the world to spend their winters here. The only explanation I've read is that the marine life in this enclosed 'sea' must be very much to their taste. Apparently they haven't always been there, though. Earlier they spent their winters in other Zeeland locations but it seems Battenoord on the Grevelingenmeer has been their winter home for several years now. Here's a post about them. It's in Dutch but can be translated quite effectively by Google Translate.

Photo thanks to VVV Zeeland

When we walked along the dike from the harbour, we could see the flock standing in the water, but they were quite far out so it was more like a pink blur – well, it is if you have my dodgy sight. Even so, it was quite a thrill to be able to catch sight of them. 

A lovely picnic with my girls

And it was a memorable and special way to celebrate a birthday. The food was laid on largely by my other daughter, who loves baking as the goodies on the table demonstrate. She'd also bought these very pretty tea cups and saucers from a charity shop so we could drink our thermos coffee in style. It was all really lovely, and of course the dogs came too.

Despite the wind and weathering we've been suffering with lately, it's been quite mild so my geraniums at the crumbly cottage are still in fine fettle and flowering enthusiastically. To add to their efforts at providing us with good cheer, the little chrysanthemums that we had on the roof of the Hennie H in 2017 are still going strong and have come into flower for the third year running. They give a wonderful burst of colour before everything dies off for the winter. Apologies for the fuzzy photo (a bit like my sight), but you can get a Val's eye view of what I mean below.

Geraniums and Chrysanthemums abound

Last but not least (I hope), I managed to roll a layer of green paint on the Hennie H's hull before the rain started to fall in earnest. This is about as pretty as she'll get this year, and again, distance helps. Don't look too closely, in other words, but we'll still be working on her as soon as the weather permits.

Clean and green again

I'm sure there are other things I should be adding to this post, but I think I'd best stop here and leave you with a couple of photos I snapped of the one sunny day we've had this past week or so. It gave us the chance to get out for a walk along the estuary...a wonderful opportunity to stretch our eyes.

 Have a good week allemaal. Stay well and keep taking those vitamins!