Before I write about that, though, I thought I would share another trip we did the following year on Koos' Luxor. This time we went to the Belgian part of the province of Limburg. The geography of this part of the world is a little complicated as there are parts of the Netherlands that should logically be Belgium and then there are parts of Belgium which would make more sense as France. That being said, there is a long finger of the Netherlands in the South East of the country that protrudes into Belgium and more or less finishes up in Maastricht - a city I think most people have heard of. The river Maas forms the border here between the Belgian and the Dutch Limburg, and we had to go to a place called Lanklaar on the Belgian side (see the map below)
The reason we went this two hundred odd kilometres was to join a festival of boats organised by one of Koos's friends who lives in the area. I forget the purpose of the festival now, but I think it was to raise money for the school or something like that.
Anyhow Koos started off from Rotterdam on his own as I still had to work. A journey like this takes about three hours by car, but you can reckon on four to five days by boat. It depends on how many locks you have to wait at before you can go through, and on this route there are quite a number. As a result, Koos had to leave before I could get away as I still had some teaching commitments to fulfil.
|The Luxor approaching Den Bosch|
I met him in the lovely city of Den Bosch ('s-Hertogenbosch) and joined the Luxor in the busy lock that connects the Maas to the Zuidwillemsvaart, a canal that runs more or less parallel with the Maas all the way through to Maastricht.
|Koos spotting me as he approaches Den Bosch|
The Zuidwillemsvaart is the 'easy' route as it is not affected by the vagaries of the natural river, but all the same, the locks provide their own challenges. Some of them were in the process of being re-built and did not have enough poles to tie up to, so it was a bit tense at times. Added to that, we had the pleasure of travelling with a young couple on a sailing yacht who were not all that experienced and who sometimes had difficulties in controlling their boat in the locks.
|The yacht coming up behind us|
|Tying up in a lock - a bit of a mission!|
|How to tie a rope on the cleats|
|The European Championship football was on (I think).|
Here's a skipper rooting for his home team
After Helmond, we travelled on the next day to a place called Nederweert. We moored up just below the lock, and for me, this was to prove the high point of the trip. The weather turned from cloudy to gorgeous. The canal was pure peace and I was able to spend some time practising some canal art a friend of mine had taught me while Koos played his guitar.
|Our mooring at Nederweert|
|The mooring taken from the lock|
|Koos and his guitar|
|My canal art bucket that I painted on the trip and still have|
The following day, we continued on to Weert, another largish town, where we met many of the other participants in the festival. This was very convivial and there were several very interesting boats moored up there too.
From here we travelled in convoy to Lanklaar, but I have to say that while it was great fun to be with other people, I preferred our solitary journey up to that point. It was so peaceful in our parallel world and life took on a new simplicity. There was no internet then and no electricity either, so when at rest we read by the light of oil lamps, or Koos played his guitar and I painted. We walked in the evening twilight, ate outside and listened to the sounds of life in the distance. The normal, land-based and routine existence we could hear was not part of our world at that moment and that time, and for just a few days, that was a magical experience.
|The Luxor with other participants|
|And the dogs are just part of the gathering|
|participants in the festival|
|A liveaboard houseboat of a special kind|