Friday, August 16, 2013

A fair weather farer

It's been a quiet week on the barge and boat front. Although, it probably seems to some of you that I do nothing other than slave, smoosh and spuddle, there are weeks when I just look at all the work instead. I call it planning. Added to that, the energy to unplug the electricity cable, cast off the ropes and get the engine running is occasionally just too much, so sometimes I just reminisce about going 'faring' as I call it. Indulging in memories can be quite satisfying. I call it planning too. For writing.

In truth, I am a fair weather farer anyway. I've done a post before about the joys (or not) of an open steering position, and you'll remember that I am not all that keen on being cold and wet  (I love understatement, don't you?). Still, today is one of those days I would love to be out on the water. It is sunny, clear and beautiful with the promise of lovely skin soaking warmth. Perfect for a spuddle up the canal.

But, the engine has decided it doesn't want to cool properly. Big disappointment. It has an appointment to go into dry dock at the end of the month, which means no faring for us this holiday, sadly. I have also removed the name boards to repair them, and that keeps us rather firmly in the harbour too. So, I will just have to make do with reminiscing.

Because of the time of year with the darkening and noticeably chillier mornings, I am reminded of my first ever long trip on a barge. It was to Lille in early September 2001. It was also very important in cementing my love of the watery way of life, and there is one particular moment that will stay with me forever.

We were on Koos's barge, the Luxor, and it was early evening. We were travelling along the Leie river between a place called Deinze and Kortrijk in Belgium. The sun was going down, and it was that special time of approaching dusk when the whole world is bathed in golden light. I was standing in the bows and there wasn't a sound other than the slap of water against the hull and the soft rumble of the engine way back at the stern end. The peace just flowed over us, a gentle blanket of something I can only describe as pure joy. It really was a life defining moment for me.

Some people appreciate their experiences more after the event. I can do that too, especially humorous disasters like those the wonderful Jo Carroll describes in her recent blog post. Hilarious even! But this moment was one I experienced fully at the time.

I savour it still, especially now when I can only sit on board and contemplate.

Do any of you have a life defining moment like this? I'd love to hear about it too, even if it has nothing to do with boats, water, paint..well, you get the picture...


  1. The realisation I could go travelling, and there was nothing to stop me - that was pivotal.

    And I recall being about 16,000 feet up Kilimanjaro. The glacier at the top of the mountain glistened in the sunlight and the plains of Africa spread out far below. The air was still and the light clear and everything smelled fresh and clean. And I had the mother of all headaches, was unable to eat anything, and had a guide hovering round me waiting for me to totter to my knees. It was the moment I knew that there are some mountains I just can't climb.

  2. Oh Jo, you are marvellous! I don't know that I'd even make it to 16000 feet! Poor you! But the sight must have been truly magnificent. What a lovely image. I can see it in my mind's eye.

  3. sorry to say, I don't have any life defining moments (there's a clue for me somewhere there...) so I have to enjoy other peoples!
    I would love to swap my life for yours, but you would get the bum end of the deal
    Thanks for making today very special instead of the depre3ssing day I was expecting

  4. Anita, I'm very touched. Thank you! But I'm sorry you would like to exchange lives with me The consolation must surely be that you don't have to do all that scraping and painting every year. I'd definitely trade that with someone if I could!

  5. I recall being in 25ft open boat, being caught in a force 8 driven & driven onto a sandbank with no hope of getting back out to sea. When a man in a powerful motor launch came in close with a rope and towed us off & thanking a watcher on shore for their keen eyesight.

  6. I've had many life defining moments but as you mentioned Lille I'll remember the wonderful time I had there a couple of years ago. Beautiful.
    Hope you get your boat all spruce again soon Val.

  7. hahaha You are so much more adventurous than I am. Life-defining moment? Being given my daughter to hold after having brought her into the world.Looking into her face and realising that my life would never ever be the same again. And it never has been.

  8. Mel, that must have been life saving not just life defining! What a relief :-)

    Denise, so glad you enjoyed Lille! I'm taking a break this week, so all the work will be put on hold!

    Carol, I agree, being handed a small bundle of real live tiny toes and fingers with a pair of lungs to go with them. Very life defining! I experienced that feeling then as well. A very special moment!

  9. You cannot beat the feeling that total silence except for the lapping of water gives you, serenity I think is probably the word. Our life defining moment was when Pete got cancer (clear for six years now), it makes you rethink everything and realise what is important. Spuddle - what a fabulous word xxx

  10. In Venice having breakfast overlooking the Grand Canal is one of those moments. But, me being the negative person that I am, I'm now thinking of the time we were on a canal boat and needed to get it back to the boatyard by the next day but it was pouring - no sheeting - with rain. We took it in turns to steer the thing, water coursing off our chins, down our necks, in spite of having all our wet-weather gear on, a memory I can't eradicate!

  11. Fran, I can well imagine how that made you re-think your priorities in life. I'm so very glad to hear that Pete has been clear for six years now. I expect you treasure every day together!

    Ros, my guess is that was life defining in the way you knew what you didn't want to do for the rest of your life :-) What a shame! How miserable that must have been! But Venice now. That I can appreciate. Feeling that experience - wonderful!

  12. The life defining moments that come to mind have been through our boys'accomplishments. The most recent one occurred a few months ago at our older son's law school graduation. Your description of "a gentle blanket of something I can only describe as pure joy" sums it up beautifully.


  13. Julie, that's a lovely memory to keep. Life defining indeed.

  14. Sorry I'm late I don't know how I missed this. I love the way you paint the picture of life on your boat. I can imagine sipping some wine with Koos playing his guitar in the background and listening to your stories .
    I don't think I've had life defining momemts I'd call them moments of pure contentment. When my children were born, my daughter graduating,my granddaughter being placed in my arms and sitting on a boat in Turkey watching the sunset on one side of the boat and the moon showing her face on the other it was beautiful.

  15. Anne, that tells me you've had plenty! Our children's birth are most definitely life defining moments. I too remember being handed those little bundles and feeling all the love and responsibility all mixed up together. The one I describe here is because I knew then that this was how I wanted to live my life. Your Turkish experience is another kind. I'd call that sheer joy!

  16. I had my moment when I met some of my online friends in person and it was like we'd know each other forever!


  17. Thank you, Nas! That's lovely. I think it's really special to meet online friends.


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