Monday, December 14, 2015

'Waterkoud' - that's Dutch winter for you in our harbour

The last week has been truly typical Dutch winter weather. Extreme cold is rare here and when we have it, it comes in short bursts of fridge-like air that roll over the land with the same intensity as the icy blast issuing from a butcher's very large cold storage room when the door is open. It has the same shock factor too because we are just not used to that kind of cold.

Waterkoud - a damp, misty, snowy winter day in the Oude Haven


Anyway, I don't quite know why I've even mentioned it really as it hasn't been cold like that at all this year. It's just been damp and bone chilling, which is something I dislike even more as it's accompanied by grey, misty skies that make our world seem very dark. I need to keep the lights on inside the barge all day when I'm home and the constant patter of rain on the hatch boards is as maddening after a time as the mistral wind is to the French. It makes me feel closed in and shut down. In practically all respects, I prefer icy and sunny to wet and mild, although that's when we often have an east wind which makes the loopplank  do this:-




An old photo showing how steep our
gangplank is when the east wind blows
But at least we have the Christmas lights. They are just too lovely! On Wednesday, I will hook mine out from under the bed in the little guest room below the foredeck and wind them round the full length of mast. We leave them on until mid January and they make even the dreariest day look brighter in the harbour. There doesn't seem to be much activity this year by way of parties and celebrations, but I'm going to be inviting the family over for a Christmas occasion. It will be a bit cramped - quarts into pint pots as it were, and this is especially true of Koos's eldest son who is exactly two metres tall; at its highest point, the Vereeniging is only 1,85, so Sanne has to stand in the skylight and even then he can't straighten up. I think it will be fun, though. We haven't had everyone on board for since about 2007.

My Christmas lights wound round the mast
Christmas and New Year are often noisy affairs in our harbour, and in the past we have stayed away on NYE because Sindy, our old dog, was terrified of the fireworks. Actually,  I would never ask any dog to endure what verges on a WWIII eruption, let alone a frightened one, but we are dogless now, so I might cajole Koos into staying on board this year. We can watch the firework displays from the Willemsbrug and join the throngs of revellers as they wish each other a happy new year all around the harbour - something we haven't done since Sindy was a puppy. Maybe some of our neighbours will be drinking gluhwein (mulled wine in English) and we can share some cheer with them. At midnight, a roar will start somewhere and spread round the harbour like an audio Mexican wave. 2016 will have arrived in our part of the world. I'm looking forward to it! I hope you all are too.

13 comments:

  1. OOH I like the look of your lights. Hope 2016 is the year we finally get to meet....

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    1. They are lovely, aren't they, CarolStar? And me too...about meeting, that is! xx

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  2. The lights are lovely - but I do hope you can keep warm on your boat!

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    1. I'll make sure of it, Jo. No, correction. I do make sure of it :) xx

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  3. Getting the lights out. Yes that's what her Ladyship will be doing tomorrow with my slugged assistance the tree will be mounted it's lights draped around it and even more lights will go across the window.

    2016 will be a year long commemoration here in Ireland of the 1916 uprising, which eventually led to the removal of British control from the 26 counties.

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    1. Quite a year then, Mel! I hope the celebrations will be joyful and peaceful for everyone concerned.

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  4. Hi Val - your celebrations for Christmas and the New Year sound just about right ... and Sanne standing - I hope you can find room for his legs if he sits! Mellowing with your harbour friends as 2016 comes around sounds wonderful ... I'm sure the young man will agree to stay with you ... Koos that is! Cheers and Happy festivities - Hilary

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    1. Haha, Hilary. How perceptive of you! Yes, when Sanne sits down he needs equal length for his legs :)

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  5. I have always thought English and Dutch weather is pretty similar but I am sorry that we never quite developed the tradition of drinking gluhwein! :)

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    1. It's very civilised, Jenny. I like it very much. It's very soothing stuff :)

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  6. I have just discovered your blog - love it! Looking forward to reading more!

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Stephanie! I'm glad you like it! :)

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  7. It's dull and dismal here too. I don't like these really short days and long for sunshine. New Year on board your boat sounds lovely along with the fireworks, it's the one night no one minds noise apart from poor Sindy. I had a boxer who loved fireworks. On Guy Fawkes night she would stand all night in the garden watching the skies and enjoying.

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