Monday, August 25, 2008

Buried in the Bundu

This past week has been so restful. Koos and I have been at the little house in Westdorpe, and to be honest I have no clear idea what we've been doing apart from sleeping, painting windows and doors, walking and (for me) writing. Nothing has been particularly rushed, and we haven't been very far either. To Ghent a couple of times, once to a second hand furniture shop, and the second time to follow the waterway through Ghent as part of the research I needed for my writing. On both occasions it rained as it has been doing for most of this month, but we didn't mind at all.

On Friday we went further afield on a memory lane trip to La Louviere, south of Brussels. For some reason this old mining town next to the canal with the famous ascenseurs (boat lifts) has a deep and lasting place in our affection. It rained again, but we didn't care, and walked along the peaceful, disused canal, loving every dripping moment. We also have a tradition of buying shoes there (go figure that one!), and returned to a favourite shop where the proprietor was expansively French, wreathed in smiles and bonhomie and smoking shamelessly in his shop. In fact, the no smoking bans in the rest of Europe seem to have escaped the Belgians as everyone seems to smoke everywhere..ironic considering most of the legislation comes out of Brussels.

On Saturday, we made further inroads into village life by going to the neighbourhood barbecue, which far from being the provincial village bash that one might expect, was great fun. The people from our dyke village were warmly welcoming and we soon got chatting to a small group of lively, interested and interesting people. Then there was good rock music and dancing, plenty of smooth red plonk and the end result was a great evening. When we left, everyone waved cheerful goodbyes and we felt thoroughly accepted.

Yesterday, we finished painting the front door and window frames of the house a rich and glossy dark green and cream, accompanied by cheerful commentary from our English neighbour, who claimed that watching us work was the most relaxation he'd had all week.

The front of the house as it looks now. Still the fascia board to do all round, but it looks so much brighter

Just a reminder of what it was like when I first saw the house

Extreme close-up of the front door. I love the colour combination now. It looks so much classier than the dismal brown it was before

We'll be here for the rest of this week. Tomorrow I'm going on a mission to Brussels in search of a bedroom cupboard for the house, having discovered that second hand furniture in Belgium is of a better quality and cheaper than it is in Holland. I'll also be winding myself back into work gear during the week as I have some big projects starting in September. However, on Friday, I'm off to London for the day to visit my brother who had a brain aneurysm a few weeks ago and is still rather unwell as a result. It was a shock to us all, as he has always been so fit. The doctors say it will take up to a year for him to be well again, so I'm hoping to take him so good cheer at the very least.

Take care all of you until I am back in Rotterdam. xxx Val


  1. Wonderful to share these weeks with you here in Westdorpe, Vally.

  2. Love to your brother Val. Safe travels. Wonderful pictures of your work!


  3. You have a chirpy outlook, Val. It’s heartening, and I have scolded myself for sometimes feeling sorry for myself. It will be the tonic your brother needs to see you visit and I wish him a recovery that is complete and beats the Doctor’s odds. It’s a good thing you are taking the writing and research seriously, and I wish you much success with that. Besides, I know you find comfort there, storyfying. With some prompting from good friends, I’ve decided to submit some essays to publications, and have started trawling through the many out there for suitable candidates. When I did find one that I loved, I was disappointed to find that it is for Aussie contributors only (note to Margie: if you won’t adopt me, then perhaps you might want to take a look yourself: the aussie magazine). I will keep trying and let you know how the rejections are going.

    Best regards to you and Koos,

    P.S. Sorry I have been quiet lately.

  4. Hi Val,
    I think the new door colour is smashing! It really makes a beautiful contrast with the brick. I hope you have safe travels to London, and all the best to your brother for a full recovery.

    I've got your new chapter bookmarked for a read later tonight. Right now, I'm madly trying to get all my school paperwork done so I can go in tomorrow and get it all ready so I don't have to come back before next Tuesday's start date. Then, hopefully, I can get more writing done before going back to work.

    Love to you and Koos!


  5. Oh, Val, I'm so sorry to hear about your brother. I hope he is resting well and recovers with little or no ill effect. Bring him all the cheer you can.
    And some from us, as well.

    Your wee home looks lovely! So cosy with the warm glow of the lighting through the windows - and so welcoming, too!

    The thought did cross my mind as to what the neighbours thought of all your hard work. I was looking at your place through the neighbours' eyes and liked what I saw!

    I love the stories of your travels. We have been doing quite a bit of travel ourselves this summer. Our little corner of the world has so many hidden - and some not-so-hidden - treasures.
    We've been down to the USA a couple of times, too, to visit one of our favourite stashes.

    And I promise to post about our fun summer!
    ...I'll have much more time in September. ;)

  6. val, we are having a heat wave this week, in triple digits, I will send sun your way, I would just love drops of rain (haven't seen rain since early April)

    take care.

  7. Koosje, it's mutual!

    Grace, thanks for the good wishes for my brother, and i'll trade you some rain for some sun any day...

    Paul, I'm the chirpier for seeing you here. Thanks for coming by, and the good wishes for my brother. I endorse your friends' urgings for you to submit your writing to publications. i could even say what kept you ;-) As for rejections, I cannot see them in your future. I had a look at the website. It's a shame they're so exclusive to Aussies, as it sounds right up your alley. I like the name too..wet ink sounds good. Funnily enough I saw a printing company with that name today in Belgium! Coincidence yes? Koos wants to start a new one called We Think's only one letter.

    Anne Marie, I'm dreading going back to work, even though I know it'll be fine when I get there. Looking forward to reading some more of yours soon too.

    Dale, I'm glad you like the new colour scheme. Funny you should mention the neighbours, as it seems they have all noted and approved the changes. At the barbecue we were defined as the 'people from the house that's being painted'! I'm so looking forward to reading about your summer I really have to wait until September?

  8. Hi Val,

    Lovely to hear about your travels and work on the house, which looks lovely. I look forward to the days when I'll be able to watch others work on their house and not me! But like you - I don't have that luxury right now.

    Hummm, think its about time for me to post a new blog - but right now I'm at work and have to go to a meeting (sigh) .... can't wait for my two week holiday, which begins on September 15th!

  9. Hi Val,

    thanks for your kind words on my blog. I was very busy the last weeks, but I hope to write a new post next weekend. I'm planing a trip to London with my both kids with the car this autumn. The hotel I booked yesterday. We will see Swan Lake at Covent Garden.
    Your an Koos house is looking beautiful. IT's typical Dutch I think.
    Have a great week.
    Love Stefan

  10. The house is coming on lovely Val and Koos..hope you had a good time in Bundo..

    The green door is superb, reminds me of that all time classic song by "Shakin' Stevens";0)..


  11. Nice paint-job!

    Sorry for your brother, Ingela's mum had a TIA (a kind of minor stroke) soon two weeks ago, got disoriented, lost her speech and part of her eysight. She was hospitalized for six days and is now recovering.
    The brain is a delicate machine.
    I hope your brother is recovering well

  12. what an unusual shaped house!!

  13. Hello Darlings Val and Koos...
    Your day sounds like it was perfect~ and the house looks ever so inviting!
    I am so sorry about your brother. I had meant to tell you that and I have not. I have been far too wrapped up in my own little world.
    Much going on, and as you can tell by my blog, some very new and unexpected things....
    His parents were both born in Amsterdam... I think you will find me on your doorstep much sooner than you think for a visit!
    Things have gotten rather bad at the wilmer home, and I am looking actively for a new place to live. With any luck, end of the month (or sooner) will see me in a new home.
    Much love to you and Koos, and please do give your brother my very best wishes...


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