Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Carol Ann Kauffman's VISION and VERSE : Interview with Author Valerie Poore

Many thanks to Carol Ann Kauffman for having me on her blog for a Q&A interview! It was great fun to do :)

 Carol Ann Kauffman's VISION and VERSE : Interview with Author Valerie Poore: Valerie Poore  (I prefer Val, but write as Valerie) City, Rotterdam Country, the Netherlands Good morning, Val, and welcome...

Sunday, May 13, 2018

We're on our way again

And this is where we're going! Now the Hennie Ha is fit for business again, we are taking a week's holiday to go to our beloved Belgium and experience this amazing waterways piece of engineering. It is the great boat lift at Strépy Thieu near Charleroi, or rather La louvière to be precise. We are taking three days to get there, one day there and three to come home again (all being well!). 

I took these photos in 2010, when going up it (or down it) in a barge seemed just a dream. I can still hardly believe we are actually going to be doing it. The aqueduct along the top feeds barges from the hilltop into the lift, which then drops 72 metres to the lower level of the canal.

These are the lift shafts that you can see from the side view. I've watched boats being lifted up here many times, and it is just amazing to think I'll be doing it for real. Koos did it once soon after it opened in 2002, so for him it is the second time, but still exciting.

This view out over the valley shows just how high these hills are. Isn't it fantastic? I think this lift is one of the great wonders of the waterways. We are also going to try and do the four old lifts that this one replaced. They are only in use during the summer and are just for tourists as they are now a World Heritage site. I've done one of those before and blogged about it, but it would be fun to do all four if they are open.

Have a great week allemaal. I just hope mine will be all I am expecting it to be...

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Terry Tyler: Free Books :)

STOP PRESS!!!  Only till tomorrow! Grab one or all of these now. I’ve loved them all! Terry Tyler: Free Books :): On impulse, I've put four of my older books on FREE for 5 days,  from May 9-13th .  Click on title for universal Amazon link. �� Th...

Monday, May 07, 2018

A picture post of our trip to the shipyard

A quick weekend to the yard just over the Belgian border started early Friday morning when we left our harbour at 07:00. I'll fill in the details later, but we just wanted to paint the hull, especially around the water line. It had suffered so much damage from the harsh winter, so a weekend out of the water was just what was needed. The pictures tell their own story...I hope!

The Ghent-Terneuzen Canal was like a millpond

So off we went

The yard at Zelzate is mostly for commercials, but yachts
are stored there over the winter too

The Hennie H in dry dock just before we started painting

We had a wonderful show of passing traffic

And a nice view off the back deck

Looking forward while the dock dried out

And two days later, a nice gleaming black hull

Just as we wanted it

The dock being sunk again on Monday morning

The water is pumped into cavities below the bottom
to push it down

Back at our berth by 11:00

One smart little barge again

This video is for Carol Palin, so she can see how the dry dock is 'sunk' by flooding it.
And now I have to scoot back to Rotterdam to work, so have a great week, allemaal!

Monday, April 30, 2018

A week of highs and lows (or Smoke on the Water)

I've just looked at that title and smiled. It sounds a bit dramatic, doesn't it? But actually every week is like that to some extent. Anyway, I'll get rid of the low bits first so we can move on to the highs, which are much more fun.

The main low is my ongoing frustration over workmen who don't pitch up to do a job. I won't bore you with the details, but it's becoming a pattern that's beginning to feel like a burden as it stops us moving on with things. Enough said, I think.

The main high was much more exciting. We finally got the Vereeniging's engine going after more than a year of puzzling over the fact that it wouldn't run. This is a massive thrill and a huge relief as it suddenly makes that dream trip to Utrecht all the more possible.

As far as we can tell, there were two problems: the first being that it had the dreaded diesel bug, a recent phenomenon caused by the use of plant based oils mixed with mineral diesel oil (normal practice these days). Plant oils are vulnerable and since we are no longer allowed to use marine red diesel, which is purer, we constantly run the risk of getting bacteria in our fuel. This is especially risky when it condensates over the winter (if the tank is not completely full). It seems this happened and we weren't aware of it. A nice fungus develops in the fuel and once it gets into the engine, it causes havoc – well, it makes it stop running, anyway, which is havoc of a sort. We only actually found the contaminated diesel in the filter, but drained the tank to be sure. Then Koos flushed it through, changed the filter and put more diesel in again with some anti-bacteria additive.

The second problem was a bit odd, and I'm not sure if Koos actually believes it either, but the diesel wasn't reaching the engine inlet. It seems possible (to me, anyway) that we simply didn't have enough in the tank to push it through the fuel line system, which works on gravity and communicating vessels. I won't go into too much explanation, but once we put an extra twenty litres in, the diesel finally reached the inlet to the engine and we were all systems go again. The thrill of hearing it burst into life again after so long was just magic; the smoke that filled the harbour as it started running like the clappers was not, but that was soon dealt with. It was a glorious moment that we both needed and the feeling that my lovely barge has woken up again is just amazing.

Lastly, it shouldn't go without mention that Friday was King's Day here in the Netherlands, it being his majesty's birthday and a public holiday. As tradition demands, the Dutch deck themselves out in Orange gear and do daft things. The harbour was not exempt from these displays and this was what I saw when looking out of the engine room on the Vereeniging.

I should say that the weather was not particularly conducive to stripping off, but the tub is full of hot water, so I suppose at least their lower halves were toasty warm! There was definitely a fairly brisk wind and a maximum temperature of about 14 degrees. Not something I would do, but it takes all sorts and they appeared to be having fun.

Have a good week, allemaal!

PS: If you'd like to read my first memoir about my life in the Oude Haven, it is currently selling for 99p/c on Amazon's UK and US sites as an e-book. Here is the link

Sunday, April 22, 2018

From vineyards to boatyards: springing into spring

Spring has finally arrived and we can shed those heavy layers of clothing. It’s such a relief, isn’t it? I am not one to bare all, but I love being able to go outside in just jeans and a tee-shirt. It’s what I think of  when I hear the title of that film (and book) ‘The Incredible Lightness of Being’. Silly, I know.

To make it even better, I spent a few days in Spain last week. One of the upsides of living in Europe is the ease of access to other countries, so I took advantage of a week’s break in my courses, to hop on a flight to Alicante and a bus ride later, I was in rural Valencia with a fellow former South African  friend. It was just lovely and the hills were sprouting young vines in great profusion. The geometry of the patterns they form really caught my eye and I took loads of photos.

There were also some fiestas going on (when aren’t there?) but these children we came across performing in the streets of Dénia were just captivating.

Then it was back to the Netherlands where the temperatures were even warmer than they were in Spain (true!), so yesterday we took the Hennie Ha for its first spuddle of the year. We always like to do this to make sure everything is working properly before we do any serious faring. It was the most glorious day for it and it has inspired us no end. We went as far as the shipyard just over the border to have a look as we want to have a quick lift out to clean the bottom and paint it to the waterline before we set off for the summer. The winter has been hard on the paint work!

Today has been equally lovely, but I’m afraid rain is coming soon. We cannot have more than a few days of sunshine in this part of the world without the obligatory storm to prevent us getting too used to it. It is also guaranteed to rain when I want to work on the Vereeniging, which I’m planning to do in my free time this week.

Oh and we have a spell of holidays coming up starting with King’s day this coming week...have a good one alllemaal. Do you have any holidays coming up soon?