Friday, January 01, 2010

Sea changes for the New Year

As has become our habit at new year, we went to the beach today. This time, we ventured further south - hopefully a portent of changes to come, because our first of January 2010 excursion took us to France instead of our Zeeuws coast. The photos above were taken at Brays Dunes near Dunkerque. It was breathtakingly cold, but a beautiful day and we revelled in the brisk walk along the sands and dunes. After this, we went to Bergues (see photos below), a beautiful town with medieval fortifications and a moat. The centre had clearly been badly damaged, probably in WW1, but much of it remains charming and untouched.

France draws and pulls at me. I like to think it has something to do with the French blood that fights for dominance in my English veins (my maternal grandfather was french). I always feel I've come home when I cross the border. Everything about the country seems (absurdly) more attractive than anywhere else I've been in Europe. This coming summer, I really hope we will make it to France by boat. I think it will probably be in the Hennie H, and if not, the Vereeniging, although the HH is more of a practical proposition given that it is more than halfway there already.

I am currently doing some studying, the end result being a higher diploma in teaching English as a foreign language; the reason being that in the coming years, I would like to try and find work in France. It was my dream when I came back to Europe and is my dream still. If I can just do it for a couple of years, then who knows, maybe we'll decide to stay and maybe we won't, but at least I'll have been there, done that and fulfilled the quest. Talking of resolutions and it being New Year....

Have any of you made any that you have a hope of achieving??

It was so cold I used my neck warmer as a hat...fetching isn't it??


  1. Hi Val,

    The photos show a France I don't know, having never visited in the throes of winter. Brisk but beautiful. Perhaps we can meet in France in the summer. Bonne idee, non?

    My resolve is to lose the weight I've put on from being disabled from this shoulder for the last year or so (lack of exercise, a bit too much reliance on wine as a painkiller, etc...) Aside from that, my more important resolve is to finish the 2 incomplete novels I have and then shop them around, or publish them as you have.

    Thanks for sharing your trip. Everyone looks healthy!

    All my best to you and Koos, and of course, the fabulous Sindy! Looking forward to seeing you all in the summer.


  2. Anne-Marie, you NEED to follow this link:
    Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis, a film set in the Nord-Pas de Calais, and exactly in the place Bergues we visited yesterday, so for us it was a feast of recognition.
    The most successful French film ever! It's without subtitles, but that won't be a problem I am sure.

  3. Ys, Anne Marie, the film Koos has mentioned here is a gem. Really heart warming and funny. Lovely too in that it's set in Bergues where we were yesterday. I can agree that the people in the Nord are very friendly.

    I didn't follow most of the dialogue in the film because it goes way too fast and in the local dialect too, but I understood enough to really enjoy it, and of course the action tells a lot. I've just ordered the DVD because I want to watch it a few times to try and improve my French listening skills!

  4. PS, good luck with the NY resolutions AM. I shall do my bit to encourage the second one ;-)

  5. Beautiful photos Val you look very relaxed :) The neck warmer looks quite trendy :)

  6. See you finally got to Bergues and enjoyed it too. Beautiful pictures on the beach.
    Looking forward to meeting up with you in France but I'm sure we'll see you before then! xxxx

  7. I saw Koos' photos on FB and it was fun visiting here and seeing your slant on New Year's Day.
    The sea is so lovely and wild! The surf is higher than the beach...

    The "head warmer" is something I see all the time. We wear neck warmers skiing and, often enough, they end up wrapped around our heads tucked beneath our helmets!

    So, if you find work in France, will you keep your barge in Rotterdam, move your barge or live in an every-day boring house?
    Good luck in your studies!
    Interestingly enough, I feel the same way about Banff as you do France - it pulls me and feels quite like it should be home... as much as I love where I live now.

    As for any resolutions, I haven't given the idea any thought whatsoever this year. It simply hasn't occurred to me... Hmmmmm
    I suppose if I had to think of something, it would be to strive to be a better parent, but I work at that every day it seems, so it's not much of a new resolve.
    Maybe it should be to lose more of my summer padding...!

    I hope you enjoy the rest of the year as much as you did on this first day of 2010!


  8. Very much like the photo's and I admire the fine set of whiskers and with his cap, all goes well with the background as he looks very nautical. A scarf on your head, yes well it pays to keep the brains hot ;-)

  9. today Jenny needed some footbeds in her ski boots
    the owner of the ski shop kept asking me to stick my hand inside her boot to see if the insoles were positioned correctly
    he also kept apologising for his large Dutch hands
    he's a big, blond handsome fellow from the Netherlands named Willem
    when I saw that photo of Koos again, it reminded me

  10. Lovely portraits of yourself and Koos with the dog there! And I also really like the one with the shadows drawn on the asphalt.

    Sometimes I envy you: living in central Europe, you have such an easy access to all these fascinating, historical places!

    Good luck with your studies! No new year resolutions for me, but I did have a good personal start for the year as one of my photos was sold through the photo bureau I'm a member of - bought by the Ministry of the Environment no less!

  11. Hi Val,

    fantastic pics.
    I know this part of France, because if you go to the island and the town of my heart (you know what I mean), you must drive around this places. In the early days I took the coaststreet to Calais. I loved the streat from Ostend to Dunkerque to Calais, but today the motorway is ready and the most take this way now.
    Thanks for the comment on my blog. Sometimes I think, I should be make some more pics and do an exhibition. But at this moment I haven't the time to think about. I have to work a lot and I have my kids and both need me in my free time.
    Have a great week.

  12. Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

  13. You all are fetching! I love the photos, so great to Sindy. xox

  14. I would not have noticed it was a hat if you had not said :p

    I'm planning to make a start on my new year resolutions this week. One of which involves a trip to the gym tomorrow and the other involves some writing.

    Great photos by the way.

  15. Val, I have the same dream! Something about France... I don't that I'd want to stay, but I do know that I want to go back and work there again.

    As for New Year's resolutions, my big one is here:

    I don't know if it's even sensible, and it's surely ultimately impossible. But I think it'll be fun to try.

    Happy New Year!

  16. We often go to Belgium for our hop off point to england from Nieuwpoort. We never seem to have time to explore the dunes but occasionally when we do the coastal route from Breskens we get a good view of them. Love the pictures, seems like someone is a bit handy with a camera, which reminds me to practice more with my diggy thing


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