Sunday, June 24, 2012

Exciting times

After reading Mel's post about the exhibition of beautiful art mounted by his wife, artist Jane Brideson, I had the feeling creativity was in the air. Even before then, my dear friend Anne Marie Klein posted about her new book, Love Ain't for Keeping and others around me are also involved in a drive of creative output.

It seems fitting, then, that I should be able to join in, just for a brief announcement. I have just read the publisher's edit of my book Watery Ways, which will hopefully be coming out very soon. Sunpenny Publishing have again been a great support to me by taking on this, my second book, and I am very grateful for their faith in me.

Reading the edit brought back a whole heap of great memories, and by the end, I was even moved to tears. What a fantastic baptism to the boating world I had. I feel so lucky. My only regret is that times have changed and with it, the harbour which I write about and have been so involved with for eleven years. Everything is more formal and bureaucratic now. I am just so glad I wrote Watery Ways when I did. It captures what was, for us and all our friends, a golden age.

The Oude Haven, the setting for Watery Ways

My barge, the Vereeniging, which features in the book

The best feeling in the world, being on the way on the water

The image that captures it all: travelling by water

My dream is that this book will be some kind of success and give me a little more independence. After all, the purpose of having a boat is to travel, and my aim has always been to take off to France with my barge and spend another golden age there. One that I could write about too perhaps?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The village

A lane near The Village -- typical Flanders
It's been a long time since I posted anything on my Graafjansdijk blog. This was the cyber diary where I used to write updates on the restoration of my little house in the south. Strangely, although I have continued to make progress and improve the cottage slowly but surely, I stopped blogging about it. Or maybe it's not so strange since I've not been blogging about an awful lot at all lately. In fact it's been a long time since I posted anything on this blog too, isn't it? Well, I sincerely hope that's all going to change soon. I am heartily sick of working 23/24 (slight exaggeration? OK, yes), but anyway, let's say any free time I've had has been taken up with marking papers, prepping lessons and doing assignments for my own studies. I haven't even written a word for my book for a month or that's really serious, isn't it?

So, I decided I needed to write something, even if it's just some nonsensical observations about our village. When I say village, I don't mean Rotterdam. I mean the 'dorp on the dyke' as I call it, and the place where the little house is situated. It's about two kilometres from the Belgian border in Zeeuws Vlaanderen and really is an 'echte dorp' as we used to say in South Africa.

Now, in many ways it is a typical village. Everyone knows everyone and everyone knows about everyone. And what they don't know? Well, why spoil some good gossip with the truth? It's far less interesting. The truth, that is. The other typical thing about this village is that local affairs are run from the pub. In a way, you could liken it to a kind of 'godfather' situation. You know, the 'Family' that controls life. In a rather gentle and totally innocuous way of course.

Our 'Family' is headed by the publican, Jon. He isn't actually a local as he and his wife come from the other side of the country, but there is no doubt - life in the village revolves around their pub. If you want a 'job' done, then that's where you go. But let me re-assure you. This is much less menacing than it sounds, because a job down here means 'klussen' and that includes everything from building, decorating and gardening to cleaning, plumbing and wiring. What's even better is that Jon has a member of the family or a friend of the family for everything too. So if it's wiring you want, then it's Arno. If it's roofing you need, then it's Ernst. In fact, you do have a choice - of sorts: you can have Arno assisted by Ernst. Or Ernst assisted by Arno. Good, huh?

Then the local cleaning lady is his son's wife's sister's friend. Jon's, I mean. She 'does' for practically everyone and if you need her, then you just call Jon. He is facilitator, organiser and conduit, or whatever else you like to call him. You just have to remember that you won't get far in the Village without bumping into him or his Family.

We also have our share of local personalities. One I particularly enjoy is a neighbour who for sake of discretion I shall call Jack. Jack used to live in Terneuzen and have his holiday home in the village. Then he decided he loved his holiday home so much he wanted to move here, which he did. This might seem pretty rash until you consider that Terneuzen is only nine kilometres away...and yes, he really did have his house here as a holiday home.

Anyhow, Jack is totally in love with the village. He has never discarded his notion that this is where he came to get away, so every day to him is a holiday and he never fails to tell you so when he sees you. It really is quite uplifting in a way. The weather is always wonderful, the view is always fantastic, the village is always perfect. How much more positive could you want anyone to be? Whenever I feel in need of a bit of a boost, I just make sure of opening the front door when Jack is walking past. It's instant therapy, happiness guaranteed. Bless him.

Well, I could go on, but I realise I've probably exceeded all the recommended limits for a blog post already, so I'll shut up for now, but maybe I'll post some more observations about life in the dorp on the dyke another time. For the moment, the writing thirst has temporarily been quenched and I shall go off, contentedly of course, to my bed in my little house in the Village. Sleep tight and slaap lekker allemaal xx