Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What's so special about boat books?

Here we are again, de-railing the rules about the blog challenge. Yes, well now, why do I like to blog about, I mean books... or perhaps it should be about boat books?

Actually, I've never blogged about boat books before - except my own of course, and then just recently the one my friend, Anne, is about to publish - the one with 'Cigar' in the title that I can't expand on yet as it would be giving too much away.

Phew! I do know how to go on, don't I? Still, maybe that should be today's subject - boat books! Which ones have I read and really enjoyed?

There's quite a collection out there and it's hard to choose, but I think my number one favourite so far has to have been…wait for the drum roll……

**1** For Better for Worse by Damian and Siobhan Horner (pic pinched from Amazon):

Why did I like it? Well it's the kind of thing that I would have done at their age. I sort of did, but I took off to Africa instead. These two crammed all their worldly belongs and two very small children into ten metres of classic cruiser and then, without any experience whatsoever, they travelled through France and out onto the Mediterranean finishing up in Valencia. When I say inexperienced, they arrived in Calais (with the help of a pilot) but didn't even know what a lock looked like to enter the canal systems of France. I just loved this book. It really describes life on the water in all weathers and it is refreshing and starkly honest at times. Both Damian and Siobhan write the book and what I found fascinating was that at the beginning, you can really tell the difference between the two - their styles are quite distinct - but by the end of the book, they have drawn together so much, you can barely tell whose writing is whose. A really lovely book about boats and travelling. It is a physical and emotional journey.

Other boat books I've enjoyed, and probably in this order too, are (I feel like I'm at the Boat Book Awards here):

2. Snail's Pace by Gabrielle Lorenz - I didn't even know it was still available but it seems to be a Kindle book now, so I'll have to get it. I read it as a hardback that's just not on offer any more except at a high price. I really enjoyed it too. It's about an English family who take an old Humber Keel barge across the North Sea, then travel through the Netherlands and France. There's just a bit too much about daily trivia with the children, but it was a great barge travelogue, and it was lovely travelling with them, which is what you feel you are doing when you read it.

2 (too). Small Boat Through Belgium (and Small Boat through France) by Roger Pilkington. These books are just precious even though they were written in the nineteen fifties. It was a time when only the intrepid went boating in Europe and Pilkington and his family were like a bunch of boy scouts in their extreme intrepidness. Lots of adventure and beautiful description, plenty of history and lovely pen and ink  illustrations. Old fashioned but really recommended. I used the Belgium one as a reference for The Skipper's Child.

3.The Watersteps series of books by Bill and Laurel Cooper. Watersteps Through France was probably my favourite, but then that's because I have this yearning to go and live on a barge in France. A great series of boating travelogues, also written by both Bill and Laurel with my only reservation being the focus on food and drink. I'm not personally a fan of French food and wine, so that aspect of their book was not quite so appealing for me.

4. Finally, there's Narrow dog to Carcassonne by Terry Darlington. This is probably the only true bestseller among my list here. It follows a journey from England to Carcassonne in a narrowboat. Terry and his wife claim to be pretty inexperienced, but I think this was more for entertainment value than anything as it seems they did a considerable amount of cruising in England before they left. It's an amusing book with plenty of drama and high excitement, and the 'narrow dog' is quite a character too. I liked it, but if you want to know what it's like to cruise through France, it's not the right book to read. If you want to know what goes on in Terry Darlington's rather eccentric mind, then it's a great piece of comedic writing!

So there. My boat book blog! I didn't know I was going to do this until I started, but now I've done it, I hope you find it interesting. It just proves what a liar I am doesn't it? No peasant would ever have read all these… (see previous post)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Blogging quirks? Hmmm Boating quirks I definitely have.

The subject of today's blog book challenge is blogging quirks. That is, talking about my own blogging quirks. Now, I'm not really sure if I have any of those, not unless you consider that my whole life is one big quirk. A conformist, I am not, but then you've probably realised that by now.

I think it's probably easier to think about the quirks in our harbour. It's full of them, including me. Now see what I've done. I've given human shape to a quirk. Well what would you expect in a harbour full of "liars and peasants"?


That's got you wondering hasn't it?

It's actually what we affectionately call our fellow liggers. In Dutch, your schip or barge as we call it, 'lies' in a harbour, not 'is moored'. Mooring is something you 'do' and is not a state of - well - being moored. So 'mijn schip ligt in de haven' is literally 'my ship lies in the harbour'.

Yes, I've made the 'ship' mistake quite often too. The last time was to another English teacher who gasped when I told her "my ship is on the slipway". I think she had images of the QEII or something.

Anyway, to get back to liars and peasants, it follows then that if you 'lie' in the harbour, you are a 'ligger', or a

The 'peasant' bit is our own corruption as well. If you are just 'passing through', and you want to stay over, you lie in the passantenhaven. I don't think it takes all too much imagination to figure out how we get to peasants from there…

So there you have it: a harbour full of liars and peasants. Now is that quirky enough?

A friendly liar with his baby, otherwise known as a fib

Long term liars

A more recently inaugurated liar

A stunning liar

Outright liars

And a typical peasant

If you are interested in dipping into my books about life on the water not to mention life on a smallholding in rural England, why not visit my author pages on or and read some extracts they have made available.
You can also reach the individual books through my sidebar here.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Where do you go boat shopping?

I'm bending a few rules again. The reason I'm doing all these posts is because I like the idea of a fifteen day challenge but cannot afford to take part in it officially as I'm bogged down in my studies and this is just a bit of light relief. Today's post is supposed to be about book shopping but as I'm doing the alternative version, I've changed it to boat shopping. Good idea, no?

Where and how did I buy my barge, the Vereeniging? Those who've read Watery Ways will know that I spent months looking for a barge. I scoured websites like Boten te Koop and  Fikkers. I also checked out our local version of e-bay, which is called and then there was the word of mouth recommendations of which there were many. I also visited many barges, some of which were just collections of rusting rivets held together by lacework of rusting steel, a bit like the ones below.

Eventually, a friend of Koos's responded to a post he'd put on a forum asking if anyone knew of a barge similar to the Luxor. I'd had it in mind that this was what I wanted as I didn't think I could afford anything more. The friend, Cees was his name, sent us images of the Vereeniging with a 'what about this?' message. The rest is well documented in my book and in various other blogs I've written over the years. We went, we saw and I was conquered.

There are things you need to know when you buy a barge, though. You need to see its vlakrapport which is the inspector's report of the ship version of an MOT test. This will tell you important things like how thick the steel is on the bottom. We didn't have that for the Vereeniging.

You should also arrange for a keuring (inspection) to have the bottom checked again, plus other safety measures. We didn't do that for the Vereeniging. The result was - well - catastrophic. But I'm not going to go into that here. I've done it before (here and in Watery Ways) and I'm writing about it again in more detail for Harbour Ways, so I wouldn't want to spoil the story, but suffice to say, when you're buying a boat, there's a bit more to it than buying a book - and it's not just about the costs involved. Oh no.

All the same, it's immensely exciting, and now I've added the links to these sites, I'm simply going to have to go and browse through the barges for sale.

It's just…well…. irresistible!

If you are interested in dipping into my books about life on the water not to mention life on a smallholding in rural England, why not visit my author pages on or and read some extracts they have made available.
You can also reach the individual books through my sidebar here.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A tear jerker? Only if it's a Charlie.

Today's blog challenge topic was to name and describe a favourite tear jerker. Well I don't really do those unless they happen to be about animals. Marley and me, that was one. I cried buckets at the end. Anyhow, I thought that instead I'd make this a photo blog about our canal trip last week and see how much of this I can relate to tear jerkers. It was short and sweet, that's for sure, but it got us out on the water again, and I'm hoping we can go again this week.

 Maybe this photo would count as a tear jerker of sorts. it's my daughter and her friend doing a sort of underplayed Titanic impression on the foredeck.

Or maybe this one. It's Charlie - as in he's a right Charlie! He's clearly competing for the 'cutest dog in the world' prize, and if I had my way he'd win. Charlie is a delight day in and day out. He's endlessly cheerful, game for anything and incredibly wise. I'll write about him one of these days. But he's also extremely cute…hmm, I've said that already haven't I?

Not a very exciting photo, I know, but it's the marina where we keep the Hennie H. It's Koos's boat in name, but we really share it. We'd definitely be very sad to leave this marina as we love it there.

And then of course, here is Koos himself. I've had this one on FB, I know, but it's a nice one of him looking wistful. Not exactly tear jerking, but you could use your imagination about sailing off into the sunset perhaps?

I am just too happy steering to be a tear jerker, I know, so we'll ignore this one.

Daughter again. Now what's she thinking about? Maybe we could rustle up a few tears for this one.

 Coming back into the harbour later on. It's always sad to come home after a lovely afternoon on the water, but we can look forward to the next trip out. If the weather stays good, it might be on Tuesday.
And just a couple of pics of a rather lovely old Belgian spits barge. There are not many left working the French and Belgian canals as they are too small to be economically viable for anything but one man businesses, but I love them and will be sorry to see them disappear. That would certainly be a tear jerker.

So that's it, a photo blog with a few bits of nonsense in between.  When it comes to the waterways, images often speak louder than words, but there is nothing more tranquil or more refreshing than cruising very gently along a canal. With the wind rippling the surface of the water and the sun bathing you in deep and penetrating warmth, it's hard to imagine being anywhere more restful but also so invigorating. Canal cruising is like being in another dimension, a parallel world where you view what happens on the land from a different time and space. To be able to do it full time is my dream. But enough now…or I'll have myself in tears!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Cigars, Narrowboats and Belgium

In the 15 day blogging challenge, today's subject was 'The last book you threw across the room'. Well, if I had to write about that, it would probably be one of my own when things were not going well, and it wouldn't have been the book itself, it would have been my laptop which nearly got thrown overboard many a time.

That being the case, I thought I'd rather break the rules again and write about my friend Anne's forthcoming book, publishing date to be announced. The title will intriguingly include "A Cigar ." I think she will be using a different author name from the surname I know her by, so I'll be suitably vague here, but the book she's written is about cruising through Belgium on an English narrowboat. I have read it for her and loved it. She and her partner have been dear friends since we met a few years ago in rather unfortunate circumstances - for us, that is, not for them - at least I hope not. Our steering had packed up, and they towed us back to harbour with their lovely boat, Wandering Snail.

Anyhow, I am digressing as usual. This post is about them, not us, and I expect you're wondering what this has to do with both cigars and throwing books across rooms.

The cigar thing is because that's what the French call the English narrowboats - so I'm told. It has to do with the fact of them being long and thin. Nice, isn't it? Here is a picture  (or two) of the Wandering Snail just to prove it.
A cigar on the Gent-Terneuzen canal in Holland

The throwing books across rooms bit is because when Anne was trying to send her book through to Troubadour, who are publishing it, she had so many dramas with combining chapters and including the photos that she nearly ditched the whole project. I can well understand this as I've had a multitude of formatting problems myself and it can drive you close to insanity. Thankfully, with lots of long distance soothing and numerous sms's and emails, she managed to sort things out and I for one am looking forward to being one of the first to buy the book. So, folks, remember the name: A Cigar in ….... "Eet  ees coaming". Like a narrowboat though, it might take some time, but also like a narrowboat, it will be worth waiting for, much like a good cigar, I suppose!

The author, Anne something-or-other

If you are interested in dipping into my books about life on the water not to mention life on a smallholding in rural England, why not visit my author pages on or and read some extracts they have made available.

You can also reach the individual books through my sidebar here.

Friday, July 26, 2013


I'm following Michelle Heatley's fifteen day blog bonanza. I'm cheating really as I'm just hanging on to her blogtails and not doing what the challenge says, but I am enjoying reading it every day and writing as many posts as I can to see if I can do it too - unofficially, so to speak.

Today, she wrote a list of her BFF's. I didn't know what this meant (I'm so not up to speed with social media terms - it took me months to know what an RT was, and I still don't understand hashtags, ff's or all the stuff you can do with FB). Now I understand BFF means your Blog Favourite Friends, so I was more than a bit honoured to find myself listed there.

Then I started thinking about who I'd put on such a list and got onto the idea of Boatblog FF's. I follow a number of boaty blogs, mostly narrowboat blogs, that probably most of my commenters here don't know about. Boaty bloggers (apart from my friend, Fran) often don't comment on other blogs as they are into - well- boats. That being the case, I will introduce you to my BFF's, boat style, so here they are in no particular order:

Bonnie of Clyde - written by Fran, a special friend now. She and her husband live on a sailing boat while they convert an old barge.

Herbie  - written (by Neil) with humour and a fund of knowledge about almost anything you care to mention.

Halfie - written (by Halfie!) with insight into things historical along the canals, and very interesting it is too.

Luxe Motor Anthonetta - written (By Carla) in Dutch, I'm afraid, but with complete stories in photos about their life as barge dwellers and cruisers.

Klipperaak Rust Roest - also in Dutch (written by Margriet). This is the blog that makes me really jealous as they cruise in the south of France most of the year.

Narrowboat Futurest - written (by Salty Dog) which is quite a new one for me, but I really enjoy it.

There are many others but these are the ones I read regularly and have in my blog list.

And as usual, to finish, here is a photo. This is of my daughter and me doing boaty stuff. I'd rather be doing this than almost anything except cruising.

Finally, of course, if you are interested in dipping into my books about life on the water not to mention life on a smallholding in rural England, you can visit my author pages on or and read some extracts they have made available.

You can also reach the individual books through my sidebar here.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The other side of reviews

This evening I received a surprising email from Amazon. They told me that one of my reviews had helped someone in making a decision about the lovely e-book written by Jo Carroll Bombs and Butterflies. I've never had an email like this before, but I rather liked it. It made me feel good. Amazon also told me that of the fifteen reviews I've written, five have helped other people with their decisions.

I don't know why I've just got this email now. Maybe it's something new to encourage people to write them, but I must say it works for me. I've never had one before, but it will definitely encourage me to write more reviews in future. Mostly, I write reviews for all the books I manage to finish. It generally means I've enjoyed them, so it's nice to write a review. If I don't finish them, that tells its own story -either I haven't liked the book and have abandoned it, or it's an e-book. These take me much longer as I battle to read off a screen. Sometimes I just don't have the will to finish them, so I guess if I write a review for an e-book, it must be something special. That's not to say my reviews mean anything at all, but e-books start with a disadvantage  - a sort of handicap - when it comes to my reading.

I'm very happy I've helped someone reach a decision about Bombs and Butterflies. I loved it and will definitely read it again. Jo, please will you think about putting it together with Hidden Tiger as a paperback on Lulu? I'd so love to have them both as a real book!

And just to give a bit of visual interest to this post, here's a totally irrelevant photo of the canal trip we took yesterday. Absconding from duty I was.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Where does all the time go?

Sometimes, just sometimes, I regret the publishing of my books. It's like this. I like writing for its own sake. I know I am no great literary artist. I don't aspire to that, but I do love writing and I very much enjoy the letters, emails and comments of appreciation I receive when people have read and enjoyed my books. The best ones are the unsolicited emails from people I don't know who write to me out of the blue. One such was a mail I received from a woman in the US who'd read the Skipper's Child. She told me her grandfather had been a Dutch skipper and she'd loved his stories about life on the waterways. For her, reading my book brought them all to life. I was very touched and her interest was the best reward I could have.

All the same, when you publish a book these days, you have to balance the writing with the marketing and this is something I'm finding difficult. I never know how exactly to strike the right note or how much to do. I'm just not comfortable with all this self-promotion. The funny thing is I like doing it for others but not for myself. But worse than that is the time it takes away from just writing. I've calculated that I spend around two hours a day on social media in an attempt to increase my 'author profile'. That's quite a lot to spend on Facebook, Twitter and blogging (I do the rounds on a daily basis), but in fact, it seems to be little compared with what others manage to do. The point is, though, I'd rather spend that time writing something new - like my new book, for instance. I've barely touched it in the last three weeks which depresses me. Then there's also the hours it takes to look for possible venues and businesses willing to give me space for talks and book discussion. This time issue is further exacerbated because I have a very busy job so time to spare is limited and precious. I won't go into details but there are many more demands than just the contact hours of teaching when you work on limited term contracts for delivering tailor made courses.

I've been thinking about all this in particular as my publishers, Sunpenny Publishing, have just asked all their authors to complete a kind of survey on what they do and what they can still do to improve their profiles. I understand the need for this and do my best to participate and work at it. All the same, I think longingly of the days when I just wrote for fun and didn't worry too much about promotion and sales. I miss that. Do any of you miss it too?

This is another thing I'd like to spend much more time doing:

Well, to finish this slightly plaintiff post (sorry),  can I suggest that if you are interested in dipping into my books about life in Africa, life on the water and life on a smallholding in rural England, you can visit my author pages on or and read some extracts they have made available.

You can also reach the individual books through my sidebar here.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Talking through the talk

Yesterday evening, I had the very, no extremely, pleasant job of doing my first book talk in a while. I was very lucky to have the cooperation of one of the language schools I work for, and what better place than the Centre for British English. Emma Gill Willems is the Director of Studies and owner of the school and together we decided to combine a book talk with a creative writing discussion as a kind of precursor (or pre-courser) to offering some workshops on creative writing.

In the first part of the evening, I talked about the two books I have written with local interest (both published by Sunpenny Publishing). My theme was the difference between writing fact and fiction and the different approaches a writer needs to adopt for these two fundamental genres. Having done both, I was able to say that within my limited experience, they provide different challenges too. Writing fact gives you little freedom with the 'what' element, so you need to focus on the 'how'. Writing fiction offers far more creative freedom with the 'what', but the difficulty lies in the fact everything is essentially your own creation. Your only real confines are your context. However, this of course, generates its own challenges, and then you have to add the 'how' factor on top of that.

So I told them about Watery Ways, my memoir of my first year of living on a barge, and then I went on to talk about The Skipper's Child. I explained that it was inspired by my partner's childhood as the son of a commercial skipper, but how I'd woven many of his anecdotes into a fictional adventure story with the theme of loyalty and family values running through it. Many of the questions the audience asked were detailed and quite searching, so it was a very stimulating exercise for me. An added dimension was having my daughter Jodie there too to talk about her novel, which is part fantasy, part comedy with a healthy dose of Terry Pratchett style absurdity.

I am very grateful to all who came as the evening was beautiful and the weather gorgeous so I was impressed anyone turned up at all. If I were them, I'd have opted for the beach and a barbecue rather than a book bash. I am even more grateful to Emma whose lively enthusiasm gives everything that extra buzz that you want. She's also a great organiser and everything went very smoothly. It's undoubtedly the best book talk event I have done so far, and we're looking forward to doing another together later in the year.
Two of the guests enjoying an interval drink

Jodie and I in the interval

Former students of the school

All of a sudden there was a queue to buy a book!

The lovely and bubbly Emma - she was pleased with everything
as you can see!

Getting settled

And then there were the side shows :-)

Reading from The Skipper's Child

Talking about…well, Watery Ways?

Answering questions time

And if you're interested in dipping into any of my books, why not have a look at my author page on 

Monday, July 15, 2013

It's out, It's live, It's ready to meet the world!

I feel as if I've just given birth. In a way, I have, not to a child but to something that takes even longer to  conceive and coax into life: a book.

Yes, it's finally out: How to Breed Sheep, Geese and English Eccentrics is now available as a paperback on, as an e-book also through, and as a Kindle e-book.

It's been a long time in the making, but now I can say it's there. What's done is done; if I've missed anything in the editing, well I've missed it - too bad; all permissions, ISBN's etc have been checked. If I've done something wrong somewhere, I will deal with it.

I am now faced with the part I like least - the marketing! I am not very good at this stuff. I used to work in marketing and communications and it's fine doing it for someone else, but for myself, it really doesn't come easily. Still, if I'm going to reach my dream of sailing off into a French sunset, I will just have to knuckle down and do it. So taking a deep breath, here it begins.

The links to my precious new pristine book are below. May I also humbly offer you, my wonderful blog friends, an e-version or pdf if you would agree to review it for me? I read an article by the Creative (Joanna) Penn and she suggested that self-publishers can and should make such an offer, so if you are willing to do this, would you email me or send me a direct message on Twitter, and I will send you either the e-pub version or pdf file. My email is rivergirlsbooks at gmail dot com.

So there it is..the first pleas done, and now for the links:

For the paperback, click here
For the e-pub version (suited to almost all readers except Kindle, I believe), click here
For the Kindle version on, click here
For the Kindle version on, click here

I will be putting up links in the sidebar and also arranging distribution for the paperback to all the major online stores and potentially to bookshops too, so it should be available through most means within a short space of time, but for now, this is a good start!

I shall leave you with a photo my daughter took yesterday when we had a lovely boat trip round our harbours in my little rowing boat with its electric motor. It kept trying to fall off though, Hence my strange position. It looks as I'm punting, doesn't it? Anyway, it was the most gorgeous day, and a lovely spell of relaxation before this, for me, big and nerve-wracking event. Thank you all for your support so far!

And if you're interested in dipping into any of my books, why not have a look at my author page on 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Coming shortly!

Things are going well with the book, and I thought I'd take this opportunity to show you the cover and blurb. Self promotion is always difficult, but I am so thrilled with the cover at least that it doesn't feel so bad this time.  Now I've got the ISBN number and the blurb on it, its feeling even more exciting. In case it's too hard to read, here is what it says on the back.

"When Maisie Peterson leaves university without a job to go to, she decides to help her mother save her large and impractical country property in the wilds of rural Dorset by trying her hand at self-sufficiency. Ma is just a tad eccentric, though, and Maisie has no clue about farming. Her efforts are thwarted at quite a few turns by a flock of willful sheep, a dotty aunt, a charming but ineffective boyfriend and a swarthy, but highly desirably agricultural auctioneer. Emily, the ewe, runs rings round her while Ma drifts in and out of the scene in an ancient wedding dress, causing havoc in Maisie's attempts to sort out her personal as well as her agricultural problems."

The only hurdle left is to get it onto Kindle. I've formatted it now for e-books and will try and upload it to Kindle this weekend. Lulu's e-pub will let me know if it's acceptable and then it will be on iBooks. That aside, as long as my friends at WWOOF are happy, I'm ready for release on Monday the 15th.

And I have to say it again…I just love this cover! Thanks again to Stuart Billinghurst!

And if you're interested in dipping into any of my books, why not have a look at my author page on 

Friday, July 05, 2013

What do you think of this, then?

Proudly presenting the wonderful work of my friend, Stuart Billinghurst: Here is my new book cover. There will of course be blurb on the back, but I am totally thrilled by this.

And if you're interested in dipping into any of my books, why not have a look at my author page on 

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Looking back - Our Belgium Experience 2003-2006

As I like to remember my old barge,

My more recent blogging friends won't know of my foray into Belgium some years ago. I call it that because rather sadly, we did not receive a very hospitable welcome and it felt as if we were invaders at the time, but even so, I miss it.  Shall I explain? Oh go on then…

It was like this. In 2003, I was a bit tired of full-time Rotterdam. Living in the centre of a city can be quite stressful if you are more of a country girl, and while my life and friends in the Oude Haven were still very much to my liking, the activities in all the bars and cafés overnight and every weekend were getting too much to handle full time. So when a good friend told me about a barge with a garden up for sale at a bargain price, and on the outskirts of Brussels, I jumped at it. The plan was to live there and just work in Rotterdam, The barge was the one in the photo above. 

Lovely riot of flowers in the garden

And this was its garden. I must say I loved it - the barge and the garden that is. What was not so pleasant was the reception we received from the other bargees in the community. They were all Wallonians and possibly saw us intruders trying to take over their space. I think it is well-known that the only factor that keeps the Flemish and Wallonians united is their common dislike of their neighbours. Unfortunately for us, we happened to come from one of those neighbours.

There was also a great deal of work to do on the barge to make it habitable and although we succeeded in some part, a medical emergency in the family ultimately meant that the work would be too much to truly achieve proper living standards on the barge.

Beautiful morning light on a lovely summer's day.

Nevertheless, we were there for three years and still have very fond memories of the Ténacité. It was a lovely peaceful spot to have as a mooring and combined my absolute ideals of a barge with a long stretch of bankside garden.

I wish I knew what these shrubs were called, but they were glorious.
I had a riot of lovely flowering shrubs and plenty of clematis and other naturally growing flowers. But, mowing the grass was a bit of a challenge. I felt like the proverbial Haggis (if there is such a proverbial creature) - needing one leg shorter than the other to scale the hillside effectively.

Looking up the canal towards Brussels
The canal at that spot was also exciting and busy. Barges ploughed past constantly, making us rock quite violently at times. Sindy hated it, of course, and spent most of the time in the garden until they stopped at seven o'clock every evening. On one occasion, something went wrong at one of the locks and our stretch of the canal emptied completely. It was a very curious feeling to be resting on the mud and tilting over to one side for several hours.

Still, it was wonderful to be there and it was also a handy launching pad for other forays deeper into Belgium by boat.

I sold the Ténacité in 2006 with many regrets and much sadness. We don't go back there often, but I have my photos and some very happy memories too. Belgium is very beautiful when you get off the beaten track and whenever we get the urge, it is not far to go to re-visit our favourite haunts. I'll show you all a few more of them in the coming weeks.

And if you're interested in dipping into any of my books, why not have a look at my author page on