Watery Ways and Harbour Ways

Below are photos related to the Watery Ways and Harbour Ways memoirs. They show me at the wheel of my barge together with other photos of The Oude Haven in Rotterdam where the Vereeniging was moored for twenty years. I've moved her now and still live on her part-time. Some of the reviews for both books follow the photos and then an extract from WateryWays follows as a taster. The clickable links above will take you to Amazon if you'd like to read more reviews.

My first adventure as a skipper (featured in Harbour Wasy)

Christmas lights in the harbour (featured in Harbour Ways)

The Vereeniging shortly after I bought it
(featured in Watery Ways and Harbour ways)

Looking across the harbour (featured in Watery Ways and Harbour Ways)

Evening light on the old barges (featured in Watery Ways and Harbour Ways)

Reviews of Watery Ways (finalist in the 2015 Wishing Shelf Awards)

1. From Jackie Parry: "Valerie lost a love, finds another, dreams, works hard, and turns those dreams into reality! Owning your own barge is a dream many may have, but how do you actually make it happen? You need guts, determination, and a huge dollop of humour. Valerie has all these qualities in spades.I felt I was together with her, along for the ride and found myself chuckling out-loud with fairly ‘normal’ day to day observations, that – for me – are the best types of humour; the over-night moustache, the feral cat, Valerie’s endearing, self-deprecating fear. Valerie has a natural ability to write in a comfortable rhythm, without all guns blazing, but with enough adventure to keep you thoroughly absorbed. I was quite sad when I reached the end. If you like reading about ordinary people achieving extraordinary things then this is for you. Life is funny and with Valerie’s menagerie of part-time pets, fun friends, and an endearing and gracious gentleman, this book is both funny and fun – and will teach the reader, not just about boats but about how to handle life and all the odd stuff that comes along with it."

2. From Roger Distill :  "This is a thoroughly enjoyable account of a new life in a new situation, the ups and the downs of living on a barge in Rotterdam. It's fascinating to be taken into the community of barge-dwellers that Valerie joins, and to see the work that goes into restoring historic barges to their original state, and making them into homes. This is a book about an unusual way of life, and of the unusual people who live it. It's a story of challenges, of successes and failures, of loss and gain. It's a story for those interested in boating, and for those interested in people.

The story is well told, the book well written. It's refreshing to find, amongst a huge number of boating books on Kindle, one which does not present the reader with a struggle through bad grammar and poor sentence construction. Valerie's a good writer, and I'm going to be reading more of her books in the near future."

The Hoop in the Oude Haven (the Vereeniging is next to it)

Interior of the roef in the Hoop

The tiles behind the stove before I cleaned them up

The famous Renault 5 (also featured and
destroyed in Harbour Ways)

The shade from the huge plane trees gave welcome relief
until storms brought two of them down on the Vereeniging

Reviews of Harbour Ways:

1. From Terry Tyler (top 1000 reviewer on Amazon) "I think Val Poore is what I call a 'natural writer', in the same way as people like Bill Bryson; she writes about everyday activities and makes them interesting and amusing. This is an innate talent, it's not something you can learn in a creative writing class. I followed the installation of the bathroom on her barge with great interest!

This book is a fascinating glimpse into the life of 'liggers', barge dwellers in Rotterdam. It's a lifestyle I envy, and I adored reading about everybit of it. I'm so glad there were photos in this book, they really added to it as I could see the progression Val was making with her barge (I'm not going to name it right now because it would mean looking up how to spell it!). I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes reading factual accounts of different ways of life, or to those with a particular interest in a watery life - but read her other book, Watery Ways, first, as it will make this one mean more. Loved it, absolutely loved it!"

2. From D. Stanford: "It's a cold, wet August bank holiday. It has rained for 2 days. I haven't ventured out, I wanted to read. Having read, and enjoyed immensely Val Poore's Watery Ways I decided to see where her extraordinary journey went next in Harbour Ways and her life on her new barge, the Veeriniging.

Well, it did not disappoint, it was wonderful to read how she brought the barge to life, the trials and tribulations on the way. Such a passion, holding down a career, working on her new home at all other times, it is quite simply, exhausting, and you feel on each page that you are there, looking over her shoulder as she masters new skills, learns through errors, dealing with unhelpful shops, and then finding answers in the nick of time.

This journey was one of acquisition, a new partner, a dippy dog, a new life style, a second barge in Belgium, bought, then sold, you wonder sometimes how she coped. How did she find the energy? How did she put up with the cold! I couldn't. I guess in life you suddenly find things that suit you, and define you.

For Val, moving from South Africa to the cold of Rotterdam was obviously a good move. It defined her life and through these two lovely books you can share the journey."

The following is an Extract from Chapter 2 of Watery Ways

Tonight, I am at last sleeping on board and I must say I am very glad to be indoors, snugly protected from the onslaught outside. The barge rocks in the gale, and I enjoy the sensation of being on the water. I have filled my oil stove, and I’ve left the empty fuel cans on deck in my eagerness to be warm. Remembering them briefly, I vow to put them away, but then of course I forget.
Tucked up in my box bed, which is only just long enough for even my very average-for-an-English woman length, I can hear the water slurping and lapping against the hull. It sounds as if it is in the barge with me, and my tired imagination toys with the possibility of leaks and consequently, sinking ships, but not for long. Within minutes, I am fast asleep.
The next morning I wake shivering with a cold that chills me to the bone and I am stiff and miserable with the damp. The Dutch call this waterkoud, which fits the feeling perfectly. My stove has blown out, but I don’t realise this immediately as I think it has run out of diesel again.
Pulling jerseys and gloves on with numb fingers, I stagger out on deck to find a depleted stock of jerry cans, and am reminded of what I forgot last night. It seems that at least one of them has literally upped and ‘gone with the wind’. I have also lost my puts, a bucket with a long rope used for deck washing, and a broom. On the plus side, the wind has dropped, so maybe the water gods are finally appeased. They should be. They have now had a wealth of offerings from me alone, but I feel certain that these won’t be the last.
I am reminded of an incident the previous year when I was first in the harbour with my erstwhile husband. There was a violent storm - in fact, my first close encounter with the unleashed furies of the wind in Rotterdam – after which a whole plethora of random objects could be seen bobbing about on the choppy surface of the water. Walking along the Haringvliet where I now live on the Hoop, I was looking out for a chair that had taken a dive from the deck of the Kaapse Draai, when I met Andrew, a neighbour who lived on a pretty barge partly noted for its typical phone-box style wheelhouse. He was peering into the water as he walked, and his face wore an expression of both anxiety and perplexity. He glanced at me briefly, and went back to his study of the murky depths.
“Have you seen my wheelhouse roof?” he asked hopefully. I shook my head. Apparently, the said roof hadn’t been secured very firmly, and in one particularly powerful gust, the whole thing had launched itself into the air and flown gracefully off into the distance. Andrew had chased after it, but his last sighting was when it had gathered speed and height to scale the bridge at the end of his section of the harbour. He confessed sadly that yelling at it to come back hadn’t helped in the slightest, and that he feared it had gone to join all the other wind falls at the bottom of the harbour.
I have since been told that the river bed is littered with an assortment of bicycles, chairs, tools and mobile phones, all sacrificial and unexpected offerings to the great Gods of the Waterways. I start to muse on all those unheard voicemail messages that must be down there. I wonder too if the message alert tones do anything to upset marine life sonar signals, or do the fish gather round and make obeisance to these strangely noisy ‘creatures’ that have arrived in their midst?


  1. I am so proud of you that this is going to be published. Well done, my friend!

    I love scrolling through your pictures. Such great memories of being there.


  2. Thank you, Anne Marie. If it were not for you, it might never have been completed, so I have a huge amount to thank you for xx

  3. A fantastic read. Amazing how life can full into place and how true friendship can help when all seems lost. Wonderfully written and from the heart. Wish my writing was as good. Thank you Val for letting me be apart of your adventure. I look forward to reading your other book. Guus from DOWNUNDER

    1. Guus, thank you so very much for this wonderful comment. It means the world to me. I’m more pleased than I can say that you enjoyed it so much. Bless you for these kind words!


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