Saturday, February 16, 2008

This is much more me

Many of you know that a couple of years ago, I bought a flat in Rotterdam after selling my barge in Belgium. Although principally a way of investing in my 'pension' (I have none here in NL), I intended to move into it and use my barge for weekend 'faring', but somehow I never took to the flat. I tried staying there, but was always too conscious of other people living around me. On a barge, you are on your own island and are thus insulated from the noises made by neighbours.

To cut a long story short, I have now sold my flat - very quickly, thankfully, and have bought this little house instead...and I am completely in love with it. It is in a village in the very far south of the Netherlands, which stretches about five kilometres along a dyke. It needs quite a lot of work as it's been sadly neglected over the years, but it's all do-able and I can do it bit by bit.

From the front, I look over the top of just one house opposite and can see straight across to the huge canal from Gent to Terneuzen. This is a sea canal, so very often we watch huge transport ships going past - a somewhat surreal experience as they look as if they are just sitting in the fields. The photo above is one that Koos took recently.

This is the view from the kitchen window at the back of the house. There is a beautiful creek, which is a nature reserve, and the fields usually have sheep and/or chickens pottering around and contentedly munching. Not just now, though.

And one of the things I love about the house is that it suits my taste for old country furniture and knick-knacks so well. The pine kist here is one I gave my mother many years ago, and I inherited back in a rather sorry state of repair. It's been great to nurture it back to glowing glory again. The ewer and basin is a 'find' from a local charity shop, and I think it's really pretty. I've also found a lovely old bookcase, an amazing clock and a gorgeous old wood burning stove (still to be installed), all bought for a song....and I didn't even have to sing them either ;-)

What this all means is that Koos and I still live on our barges in Rotterdam during the week, but most weekends from now on, we'll be absconding to the country and being village people..haha...even better, it is only a couple of kilometres from the Belgian border, so we can spend as much time as we like walking and exploring new parts of our favourite country..Ah yes, life can be sweet.


  1. If I could have said it any better I would have, but I couldn't. So hats off for your wonderful description of this new development in our lives - or in our life as I prefer to say it, because it is a life we share.

  2. Vally, it's beautiful! And what a position - that view of the canal, and to have a nature reserve behind you - no lurking building developers.

    I want to see more interior shots please - your taste in buildings and interior decoration sounds eerily similar to mine (only of course your house will be neat!), and well, I'm just nosy.

    How long does it take you to get there, and how do you travel?

    And, most importantly, if you and Koos are now part-time Village People, which ones are you? I'm visualising Koos in an Indian head-dress, and I think with your DIY skills you'd make a very chic construction worker ..

    And Koos ... ahhh, that's lovely.

  3. Val, it all sounds so wonderful. I am jealous in that I am looking to feel the content in life that you seem to have acheived. I love my dogs.

    I wish you nothing but happiness and peace, with Sindy too. And if I ever come your way, I will look you up. oh, switching to invite only on my blog, pain in the but, but have to do so, so am collecting e-mails and hopefully you will still come by. I might be more open in that forum?


  4. Village People! ROFL!
    It is a wonderful place Vally! Good for you! It looks lovely!

  5. What a charming house, Val. I'm so happy that you made a change that will really work for you and Koos.

    Interior shots, yes!


  6. Thanks so much my friends. It really is a very special place and we love it. In response to Margie's request, I've started a new blog for the house which will be open to invited readers only.

    I thought about putting more photos here, but then realised I was making my private getaway very public - not just to blogland, but also to potential burglers, so the new blog will only be available to friends of my own choosing. It feels like a good idea because I can diarise the progress I am making and see how it develops over time.

    Anyway, those of you whose email addresses I have will be receiving invites. Grace, I will need yours, and anyone else of my bog friends who would like to see more of my little house on the dyke xxx

  7. I want to be a "bog friend!"

    Thanks for the invitation Vally. I'm just sneaking a quick 3 mins with the pooter before bed tonight, so won't get there for a day or two, but I'm looking forward to some serious vicarious pleasure when I get a minute o myself.

    Oh, and Colin LOVED your tractor!

  8. TO myself, I meant. We bog friends are pretty bad at expressing ourselves.

  9. Soon you'll find yourself buying a plot of land and growing your own potatoes, carrots and cabbages. With the cheerful sounds of YMCA in the background to give rhythm to the tilling of land and sowing of seeds. ;-)

    Seriously though, the house looks adorable. I love the traditional style, and have a great fondness for red tile as building material. I should think renovating the house is an enjoyable task because you have both the skill and the liking for it.

  10. I loved the flat, but the house is something else!..
    I'm sure you and koos will have a wonderful time doing it up and living there at the weekends..
    Love the jug and basin!..
    P.S..i'm back ;0)..x..

  11. Hi Val,
    I know I should be starting on those report cards, but I got inspired by your question about my writing and decided to do a bit more of that instead. I've put some more up on my other blog. I hope you'll get inspired too and get back to the skipper.


  12. Hi Val, I have you and Sindy invited, I did not find an e-mail addy for Koos to invite him, it is ok if he chooses not to come by, I just did not want him him to think me rude.

  13. Val!

    Is it real?
    Do they make houses that small over there?
    It's not much larger than the van parked out front, is it not?

    I want one just like it!
    My penchant for small houses is rearing its tiny head...

  14. NICE Val!
    Oh you probably tire of me saying this, but I REALLY loved the Netherlands when our family visited there about 8 years ago now...

    Really lovely house and the VIEWS! Wonderful.
    I love the country look too (well, my favorite furniture is Shaker furniture which is VERY simple). Pretty kist, ewn and basin. Ok I have no idea what I just wrote (aside from basin!).

    Have fun with Koos being part-time Village People!


  15. oh my email addy is:

  16. Val, it's perfect! I know you and Koos will make wonderful weekend village people - whichever ones you are! I'll bet Sindy likes all that space in the back! I, too, love the brick and antiques. The pattern on that pitcher and ewer looks gorgeous. Any chance of a closeup? And I'd love to see inside, too...

    I have a photo of a cruise ship going through one of the locks of the Panama canal. It looks very similar to the transport on your canal. Definitely surreal!

    I've been away too long, and I'm not sure when I'll be able to get back on any kind of regular basis. So I guess I'm just checking in...and thanks for stopping by my blog every so often. I know It's been awfully quiet lately tho.

    My to do list now includes trying to figure out how to get your link back on my blog. When I 'updated' to the latest version it disappeared! I looked around a bit already, but haven't found how to fix it yet.

    If anyone reading this knows how to do so, all help would be appreciated!

    Our new carpet is in (I love it!). We've rearranged the living room and bought our first couch! The old one was, family heirloom, and so was the one before that! Also, Hayley's room is almost completely done! Just need to change out the old electrical receptacles and the light switch and we can put her furniture in!

    Whew! What a project. I'll post pictures when it's all back together. It looks great! I think we'll take a short break before starting the next round tho! No more walls are to be torn out, however.

    Take care! Enjoy fixing up that new cottage! It's all worth it.


  17. Hi Val,

    thanks for your question. Yes I feel very good, but it's every day the same I need more free minutes.

    Now my congratulation to this lovely house. It's a real Dutch house and I feel it's fantastic.

    I love old funiture and I have some old from my grandmother in my house.

    Now I finish my writing today, but I come back soon.

    Love Stefan

  18. Thank you all for dropping by and saying such nice things about my little house! Of course I am suffering from a sever case of pride of possession so all the kind words about its 'charm' and sweetness just make me positively beam.

    The only problem is that it's also making me a bad blogger because now I'm spending all my blogging time scrolling through pages and pages of Marktplaats ads (the Dutch e-bay), looking for bargains to enhance its charm, sweetness etc.

    I will be round to visit you all soon - that's a promise, but forgive me for being a little absorbed at the moment. It's also very busy work wise so time is short in any event, but for now, lots of love to you all, Vally


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