Friday, August 12, 2022

Still here and not elsewhere

It's already nine days since I wrote my last post, and I can't figure out quite where that time has gone. Long story short: we're still at home while Koos gathers his strength after having a stent procedure. Everything came to a head at the beginning of this week when he saw the specialist who, having received all the information from the various tests, looked at his patient in disbelief when Koos brightly said we were planning to go on holiday the following day if all was well. 

Well, all wasn't well, apparently. I've never seen so many expressions rushing across someone's face as I saw on the cardiologist's, and all of them expressed 'no, you're not going anywhere'. What he actually said was: 'I can't stop you going, but it wouldn't be a good idea at all'. He went on to explain the risks given that there was evidently a blockage in Koos's  fuel lines – sorry, circulation – and he then proceeded to arrange for a stent to be inserted two days later – this last Wednesday to be precise. It was that quick, and I was really impressed that he fast-tracked the operation so efficiently. However, I have to say it took far too long to get to see the cardiologist in the first place. What Koos had to go through to convince those in the system that it was necessary left much to be desired.

He's taking the required three days of rest, so now the plan is to leave this weekend providing he feels fit enough. It will mean a shorter trip, but with the drought and water shortages as well, that might have happened anyway. What will be will be. In the meantime, we're in the middle of a heatwave; this on top of the already seriously dry conditions that have been persisting for what seems like months. I've never seen the Netherlands look like Africa before!

The horses at our nearby nature reserve 

The photo above was taken a few days ago as I walked past our nature reserve. Everything is brown and the lake is diminishing rapidly. 

My weed patch–sorry, grass, will never recover
I'm sure. 

This second photo is ostensibly of the only buddleia cutting I've managed to nurture into life this year. I've been tending it carefully and it's growing nicely now, thanks to the help of the dirty washing up water I've been lavishing on it. Someone told me buddleias are easy to grow, but that someone must have green fingers. Mine, I can confirm, are the complete opposite. I had about five cuttings and this is the only one that's survived. Anyway, what I really meant to say is that the photo reveals all too sadly my dead grass-thats-almost-all-weeds. It was doing quite well over the winter, recovering from the previous dry years, but I fear this year will strike its death knell.

The only upside to these fierce temps is that I do enjoy the heat. It's not good for working outside, I admit, but I love the feeling of wallowing in a bath of hot sunshine, don't you?

Have a great weekend allemaal. We're still not 'elsewhere' yet, but who knows what the coming days will bring?

Wednesday, August 03, 2022

While we wait

I've been putting off writing this post for the reason that soon no one's going to believe we even want to go away on the boat. Of course, that's just me, and I know you know we do, but as has been happening on a regular basis this year, the fates are conspiring to stop us.

Poor Koos. After all the work that he's put into the engine, it's finally running well, but now it's his own engine that's not doing so good. Without going into details, we've just spent the last week getting to know ambulance paramedics, doctors' waiting rooms and the hospital emergency ward rather better than we'd like. The diagnosis is still escaping the medics and he's waiting on an invitation for further tests. However, he's feeling a lot better now and our fingers are still firmly crossed that we'll get away before too long, but we need to feel confident that it's safe to do so first.

In the meantime, when Koos was at the doctor the other day, I made a local discovery that bowled me over. I've always known there was an industrial museum in Sas van Gent, but it's been one of those places I've put on the back burner because it's always there. I opted to go for a stroll while I was waited for Koos. As I walked up the road, I suddenly noticed the museum and decided on impulse to pay it a visit.

What an amazing and rewarding surprise it was. I don't think I've ever seen such a wonderful collection of old factory machines, all beautifully restored and in perfect working order. The museum caters for children and as far as possible the machines can be put into operation so the youngsters can see and learn how the work. Well, I don't know about kids, but my inner child lit up and I was absolutely riveted.

The entire display represents the industry that used to be in the area, including a sugar factory, flour mills, a coke plant and a sweet factory. 

The main display hall

A roller mill for wheat crushing. Apparently, 13 of these could
crush 180,000 kgs of wheat a day. That's quite a number!

A centrifuge (spin dryer?) for separating starch from the maize

This amazing machine, built in 1957, was used to extract starch from maize. For this, the corn had first to be soaked. It was then ground and the maize and its bran were separated. What remained after that was a raw starch milk, from which the starch was separated using these centrifuges, a process which was repeated several times to achieve the highest concentration and purity.

And this, believe it or not is part of a sweet-wrapping machine,
from the Confiserie Naploeon, a local confectionary factory

I also enjoyed the displays showing the different sources of the electricity produced in Zeeland. One entire wall explained how electricity is produced from coal, gas, water, wind, biomass waste products, solar and nuclear power. Of course, many of these sources are used to create steam which in turn is used to generate the electicity. The magnificent steam generator below was one such that was used until 1999 at a coke factory in nearby Sluiskil. It was running while I was there and made some very impressive wheezing and puffing sounds as its monster pistons thrust to and fro (see bottom picture). As for the flywheel, well, I've never seen anything so magnificent!

There was plenty more to see and much I haven't included or described here, but I was quite smitten and plan to go back again when the opportunity arises. For a small town like Sas, this museum packs a real punch and I can highly recommend it if anyone is ever in the area.

So that's it from me for this time. Enjoy the rest of your week allemaal and I'll keep you posted on our vacillating vacation! Who knows what I'll have to say next time, but fingers crossed it will be from elsewhere and not here.