Thursday, May 23, 2024

The first spuddle of the season

Last weekend, we celebrated my birthday with our first 'spuddle' of the season. For me, that was the best gift I could have and I’m very grateful to Koos for making it happen.

In case you're wondering about that word 'spuddle', I’ve recently learned that there are various dictionary definitions of 'to spuddle', but all agree it is archaic (probably why I like it) and can be used either as a verb or a noun. 

The definition I can relate to most is to 'work feebly in an aimless fashion and without achieving a great deal'. As a child, I remember my brother often used the word to mean he was busy doing nothing much. "What are you up to," I might ask him. "Oh, just spuddling about," he'd say and by that I knew he meant he was really just faffing around. 

Well, that about sums up our short boat trips. We don't go anywhere in particular, and we enjoy being a bit aimless. A spuddle might be just a few turns around the harbour (as when I had my old rowing boat), or it might be what we did on Sunday, which was to do the few kilometres from our harbour to the Belgian border town of Zelzate. In essence, we are faffing about on the water for the fun of it, and apart from enjoyment, there's no real purpose to our faring.

Anyway, it was perfect weather for said spuddle. The sun shone, it was warm and there was little wind. The Hennie H behaved perfectly as we headed out of the marina and turned right towards Belgium. 

Behind us the propellor water looked good and there was no smoke from the exhaust, always a good sign, and we passed under the first big road bridge before proceeding on to the next one at Zelzate. Zoe was as good as gold sitting quietly on deck and watching us go past her normal world.

For myself, I tried to focus on relishing the view and being on the water rather than seeing all the work that needs doing. The winter has been hard on the Hennie H, but hopefully the weather will allow us to deal with some of the worst deterioration before we go away.

Up ahead a perfect distraction appeared. A large sea ship was approaching us being towed by some of the big beefy tugs I'm so fond of. It was a fantastic sight as it slowly passed us on its way to Terneuzen and the Channel.

Isn't it magnificent?

Looking back, it was interesting to see the entrance to the harbour where Vereeniging is moored as well as the inner harbour at Sas van Gent, both of which are the remains of earlier canals. The two photos below show the history of this waterway quite clearly.

The big commercial barge (first photo above) is moored in the original course of the canal and the next opening (visible in second photo above) is the Historic Harbour with the old lock on a slightly later version of the canal. The current, much wider cutting was dug in the 1960s.

I've always loved loading quays, both old and new and the one above is appealing for its modern simplicity.

Just before the bridge at Zelzate, we'd crossed the border into Belgium, so now it was time to turn back. Our trip was quite impromptu and we didn't have all our papers for going 'abroad', so to speak. Koos did a big U-turn in front of the ship yard you might be able to spot in the photos below.

I was fascinated by this vessel. Someone on Facebook suggested it was a dredger and they're probably right, although I liked another suggestion that it might be a skateboard ramp.

And this contraption below is a clever plastic collector. Since the wash from the barges pushes plastic waste to the side, it is easy to trap it in this receptacle here. I've never seen it before, and I'm guessing it's a new invention.

Lastly, the banks of the canal were smothered in buttercups and daisies. Aren't they pretty? I do love spring so much, particularly when we have weather like this. 

On the way back we stopped next to Vereeniging to have a cup of coffee. This last photo tickled me. Koos knows I hate gaps, so I was pleased he'd caught me being brave for once. 

 So there you have it, a lovely birthday spuddle. It was a gift of a day in so many ways. Enjoy the rest of your week, allemaal, and I'll fill you in on our other doings next time.


  1. Lovely. Always enjoy your blogs. Such pretty buttercups & daisies. Keep on spuddling! (Someone should make you a t-shirt or coffee mug with that written on it!) Shirley Read-Jahn

    1. Love it, Shirley. I am going to see if I can get one made. That would be perfect :)

  2. HAPPY belated BIRTHDAY wishes dear Val, and what a lovely way to celebrate, glorious pics of your spuddle, thanks so much for sharing my friend xxxx Lally

    1. Thank you, Lally. It was the best way to celebrate. I don't bother much with birthdays now, but I could make this way of recognising it a habit. :)) xxxxx

  3. Hi Val, good to hear you've been able to get out onto the water. I've been an angler for many years but didn't fish through the colder winter months. It was always a special day when I had my first day on the bank in the Spring, it heralded the start of another summer fishing.
    You've shown some lovely photos and it didn't escape my notice that you had the umbrella up. The large vessel would seem to be a dredger, we've had a Dutch dredger working along the Lincolnshire coast depositing huge quantities of sand to replace sand lost in winter storms and to boost our sea defences. You people have learnt how to manage flooding.
    Great Post, Zoe looks happy.

    1. Ah, David, that's interesting to know you've had a Dutch dredger there. Yes they are very good at managing flooding. The 1953 flood was a shock and the Dutch don't want a repeat of that disaster, so they've learnt well and are very willing to help others with their knowledge.

  4. What a lovely birthday spuddle Val although you did manage to take some lovely photos along the way and even manage a leap onto the Vereeniging, so not totally aimless! I do hope your weather stays decent, at least dry enough for you to get the work done on the Hennie H. Between your two barges and crumbly cottage you have your hands full with DIY tasks. Lovely to see that gorgeous Zoe behaved perfectly on her trip. What a pup!

    1. Ah thank you, Rebecca. It was the best day out I could wish for and all the better knowing that Zoe is happy too. I still think of how Sindy reacted and it's such a relief that Zoe is so chilled. Sadly, the weather isn't cooperating with boat work, so I'm confined to indoor DIY as you've seen :))


Apologies for switching on comment moderation, but this is to make sure everyone can comment without jumping through captcha hoops!

If you aren’t a Google member, you can comment anonymously, but please would you give your name. I like to reply to a person personally :)