While you read, listen to my favourite Christmas song ever - Fay Lovsky's "Christmas was a friend of mine"
2008 was an eventful year. It started off with selling my flat in Rotterdam; thankfully this was very shortly after I'd bought our little refuge in Zeeuws Vlanderen, where we'd spent new year, an event marked by going to the beach at Breskens. We never go to the beach, so it makes sense that on this occasion it was winter, and no one was about - stunning! I'm such a misanthropist.
Then in January, we had the immense pleasure of meeting MargieCM and her fabulous four in Paris. The occasion was of course celebrated by a walk along the canal near Le Marais (I think), and it was all just deliciously Parisian in the twilight. Most of our weekends in the early part of the year were spent at the little house, which overlooks the great Gent-Terneusen ship canal, and we had endless pleasure watching the huge transporters cruising past, but then the spring came and the trees began to obscure the view, so instead of watching from the house, we took to walking along the tow path. We also made forays into Belgium, exploring parts of the Schelde and the Leie with their connecting off shoots.
In May, I had a re-union meeting with two old college friends I hadn't seen since the 70's, and we marked the occasion by giving the Vereeniging its test run with its new-old engine. It was a fabulous day all round, and marvellous to meet my old buddies again.
In June, the next major highlight was acquiring the Hennie H, which ultimately proved to be something of a lowlight in terms of work. Still the trip down through Drenthe from Groningen was magical and gave rise to lots of clicking by me and shuddering by poor Sindy. Before that, though, I went to South Africa for a week to visit Mo in Postmasburg. A place further from the water you couldn't imagine, but its desert-like surroundings are a region that I truly love. Then there was Koos's 60th which was a real mid-year event, happening as it did on 30 June.
In July, I had some major work done on the Vereeniging and amidst the trials and tribulations of sorting out the Hennie H, we managed to get some nice solid steel panels inserted in the sides to ensure that my little barge would remain water and weather proof. It was as usual a much bigger job than I'd expected, and the interior still isn't finished, but it's getting there.
August saw me rushing over to London to see my brother who'd been ill, and of course I took the opportunity to walk down to the Thames at the Barrier and take some early morning photos, which have become some of my favourites.
September saw us heading off down south with the Hennie H to its mooring at Sas van Gent. Unfortunately drama struck again and just as Koos had crossed the notorious Westeschelde and turned into the Gent-Terneusen canal, the steering broke. We are still thanking everything of a heavenly nature that it only happened when he'd reached safer waters.
September also saw the arrival of Mo in the Netherlands. She and Craig had decided to leave South Africa earlier rather than later, and after my visit, they brought forward their move by more than 6 months. In the early weeks after her arrival, we took Mo to Gent where we had a gorgeous day and the most beautiful boat trip round my favourite city. She is now staying on the Luxor, Koos's barge, and it's been wonderful to have her so close, even though life here has given her quite a few challenges so far.
Over the couple of months that followed, autumn came and went with a few bright spots (such as finding the beautiful Lillo) and a few low ones too, like the numerous technical problems we've had with Mo's water system on the Luxor. We are now approaching the end of the year, and in November Sintaklaas arrived, a journey culminating in the special Dutch celebration on 5 December. We are expecting Craig, Mo's husband on Boxing Day next week, so that will be the final but definitely most important highlight of 2008.
I've made a slideshow of photos marking our eventful year, so for a look back to share my memories, feel free to browse through it! Have a happy festive season everyone.