Saturday, December 29, 2018

End of the festive season

And so this was Christmas!

My daughter's Christmas tree
I didn't have all that much time to prepare for the festive season this year because of being on the helling with the Vereeniging. As I mentioned last week, we had to be towed to the slipway, and this little gem is what took us there. A very cute, but powerful little push boat, or opduwer as they call it in Dutch.

 Here we were, waiting on the pontoon for the previous week's incumbents to come down and for us to go up. I know I added photos last week, but a few more never hurts!

I like this view of the skyscrapers through the old bridge here. You can only see it like this from the water, so it's quite special.

 All the work was over by Friday as last week's post mentioned, but what I didn't say was that Koos, bless him, had fixed the problem with the engine so we could return to base under our own power. It was a remarkably good feeling to be pottering back again and had the weather been warmer, I'd have relished a quick tour round the harbours. But my feet and legs were soaking. This was due to it being unusually high water on Friday. It flooded in quite early when Koos and I had taken some time out to do other things.

When I got back to the helling, the yard was completely under water. Since we'd left some tools, ladders and other equipment on the concrete base, I put my wellies on and went wading to rescue them before they floated away, but it was already too deep and the water flooded over the tops of my boots as well. Nothing escaped, though, thanks to my trusty boat hook, and the only victim of the high tide was me, of course.

In my home berth with frost on the deck
On Saturday morning, we left Rotterdam to drive south for Christmas. We needed to go to the crumbly cottage and fetch our gifts as we were going to spend Christmas day with my daughters and Koos' son. On the way, we stopped at a village we've never visited before. Colijnsplaat was a surprising little gem, sitting behind the sea dyke that protects it from the Oosterschelde (Eastern Scheldt). We found several interesting shops as well as a small maritime art gallery where we bought some lovely books on maritime history. We also found a huge second hand furniture emporium (otherwise known as a junk shop) where we bought some other if we don't have enough to read already. Here are a couple of snaps of the village:

Sunday and Monday were spent wrapping gifts, preparing food and putting up the Christmas tree (I only ever do it on Christmas Eve), and then on Tuesday, we travelled north again for the  day itself. It was a lovely morning, sunny and bright, but pretty cold. After lunch and jollity, the whole family went for a long walk made more entertaining by using it as a mission to pick up litter. My daughter is even more obsessive about litter than we are. We nearly always come home armed with tins and plastic bottles we've picked up on our walks. Well, since there was a party of us, we filled two large carrier bags full. It really is depressing that people just drop their litter anywhere, but at least we enjoyed retrieving it.

Here's a photo of my grandpup, Charlie, waiting for his Christmas dinner. Spot the waggy tail.

Since then, we've been mixing relaxing with some de-cluttering. The rush of being out of the water before the holiday combined with having the worst cold I've had in years was pretty tiring, so I'm doing chores at a snail's pace. So far, we've taken two massive bags of books that will never be read again to the charity shops, taken a mound of old things to the dump and earmarked other things to go the same way. Meanwhile, I've been writing like crazy. My book about our years in Johannesburg is taking shape and, I hope, will be ready to read in a couple of months.

Have a fabulous New Year allemaal! I'll catch up with you all soon, but I hope 2019 will be a happy, peaceful and healthy year for you all.


  1. It is the time for decluttering, after Christmas, isn't it? I hope your cold is better soon. I think t's a wonderful idea to collect litter on your walks, I am often shocked in countryside areas to see how many people will chuck away plastic. Happy new Year to you!

    1. Thank you, Jenny. Yes, the Netherlands has such a good reputation for being clean, but it isn't really. The amount of rubbish left lying around is quite shocking. Yesterday, we saw a young neighbour arriving home with a plastic bag full of tins and bottles. He'd been doing the same thing as us, so maybe the awareness is spreading. Have a very Happy new Year too!

  2. You have had a very busy and energetic Christmas Val - and already you are decluttering! Love that village you encountered, with just the right things for me too - books and antiques. Well done for picking up rubbish - Australians on the whole are pretty good about not littering in public places - but there are exceptions, of course. Good luck with you new book and Happy New Year!

    1. Believe me, Patricia, the decluttering was necessary for my sanity and I love doing it. I’m not a hoarder but things seem to accumulate and it’s time to clear out the corners! Have a lovely New Year!


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