Saturday, May 07, 2016

First ventures of the year or going with the flow


This spring has been marked not by its beauty, or its abundance, but by its cold. I honestly cannot believe how cold it's been in the last weeks. The trees, blossom and wild flowers are all late with a capital L, and some of our trees and hedgerows have been badly damaged by an uncalled for, severe frost. So it's not just me being sensitive.

Typically Dutch Deventer
On April the 25th and 26th, I was in Deventer, a beautiful, typically Dutch town to the north east of Amsterdam. I was there for work for two days and stayed at a B&B where I've been before. But boy, was I miserable! It was so cold and wet, I could hardly bear to be outside and even went without an evening meal because it was just too frigid to leave my room. The rest of the week up to April the 30th was also just plain horrible. I felt so sorry for my stepson and his girlfriend who'd come over for their first holiday in years. We had our national Kings day holiday (the Dutch king's birthday) on the 27th accompanied by pouring rain, bitter winds and hail showers. 

My hands were so cold, my phone slipped when taking
this photo, but I quite like it all skew
 But then May the 1st arrived and with it, overnight, the spring we'd been waiting for. The sun came out and hasn't disappeared since. The first few days were chilly, but since the middle of this last week, it's been glorious; in fact so lovely that on Thursday, another holiday (this time Ascension Day and Liberation Day all in one), I cajoled Koos into coming with me for our first spuddle round the habour of 2016.

Just to explain, the week before I'd been trying to empty my rowing boat of rainwater before it sunk, and in my efforts not to disturb some nesting coots, I lost one of my oars. I was at first resigned to spending some money to replace it, but then I found a nifty pair at a local store for just €3,50. Well of course, I had to test them, didn't I?

A nifty pair of oars for a bargain price

So on Thursday, after cleaning down my barge, I set to work to spruce up the little rowing boat. It was a right mess, it really was. Full of the muddy leavings from a winter of storms and the remains of the nest the coots had since abandoned, it took me several hours to scoop everything out and clean up. But eventually, it was done and after some negotiating and bargaining with my other half (who was more inclined to an afternoon snooze), I got him to join me and test drive the new oars - a 'proeftocht' as they call it in Dutch.

Natty boots and bright oars...how could we go wrong?

 I have to say the oars performed magnificently (dare I say it? oarsomely!). With their bright yellow blades and black handles, they put my poor faded little green boat to shame. Nevertheless, nothing daunted, we tore out of the harbour, assisted ably by the rapid upstream current. The oars sliced through the water, and our neighbours smiled at our speedy passage. Perhaps they guessed what we hadn't yet...
Lovely barges basking in the breeze

Taking a rest before taking on the current on again
Because... then we had to turn round and come back again. Right. The current was still flowing fast upstream and we needed to row against it to get back to the harbour. Hmm. At first we didn't move at all despite sterling efforts and much helpful grunting from both of us. Then, we actually started going backwards! I couldn't believe it at first. I mean, the shame of it! So we gave up the grunting and just let it... and ourselves...flow backwards. Talk about the path of least resistance!

Ploughing back downstream on the turning tide
A good spot for another rest
Eventually, the tide started to turn and we put our shoulders to the little yellow oars and started to make some progress. It still wasn't easy, but we made some headway and after a few halts for a rest, we reached the bridge that marks the entrance to our harbour and quite literally hauled ourselves through. The water was high so it meant ducking a bit, but once round the corner, we made it back to base without too much pain and suffering. The oars held out, we'd had...errr... a fantastic spuddle (really!) and as always, it was wonderful to potter about on the water...a lovely small adventure. But then these days, I think they are the best kind, don't you?

Now, we are down in Zeeland again and it's time to commune with nature....

Our neighbourly ovine friends

Have a lovely Sunday everyone!

24 comments:

  1. Hi Val - a wonderful tale of life on the ebb and flow of the river ... and then your purchase - absolutely oarsome - clever! It's been freezing here too - really unpleasant - but I'm glad it's warmed up .. and is now lovely and we must enjoy while we can.

    Cheers and have a happy rest of Spring and into Summer - cheers Hilary

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    1. Thank you, Hilary. You too! It's not destined to last all that long but I'm enjoying it for the time being!

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  2. So glad we can all get out and about again after the grimness of April.

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    1. Oh me too, Jo! Enjoy the spring loveliness where you are.

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  3. Love the sideways picture..But poor you...I hate being cold...really felt for you. We have HOT sunshine here atm..hope some of it comes your way!

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    1. It's lovely here now too, thank goodness, CarolStar. Such a change after that bitter wind. I'm glad you like the skew pic :)

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  4. Fab article and photos. Thanks for sharing. Xx

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    1. Thanks to you too for commenting, Jane! xx

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  5. Hi Val. A very amusing blog that made me smile! Oh yes always go with the flow is the rule in some cases. I used to do a lot of rowing years ago and very good exercise it was too.

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    1. It is good exercise isn't it, Mel? I think I'll have to do more of it. Great for the arms and tum :)

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  6. A lovely peaceful Sunday image of white sheep and green grass :)
    What awful weather you have endured, and maybe I now have the explanation for our non-appearance of a regular Autumn, let alone Winter. It is as Late as your Spring - with a capital L! The rain, wind and hail sound quite depressing, and I'm glad you didn't venture out paddling until it was sunny. So funny being caught against the tide, but it all ended well, happily. Great post Val.

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    1. That's odd, Patricia, because it feels as if we've gone straight from winter into summer! yes, the hail, wind and wet have been awful. I'm so happy we have some lovely sunshine now! I really need it.

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  7. I felt as if I were with you.

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  8. Lovely post as always, Val. Sounds like you have the same weather as we have got here!

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    1. We are having a few good days, now Stephanie, but I don't think it's going to last ...

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    1. We did indeed. So many thanks fir dropping by!

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  10. That was a terrible pun! But you are forgiven when you tell such a great yarn. Love the boots, very natty xxx

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    1. I'm so relieved, Fran...I promise I won't do it again, but just this once was irresistable. Xxxx

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  11. Scary stuff! We've had similar experiences on rivers, with currents and the wind winning the direction battle, but those were in the narrowboat, which has the advantage of size over your rowing-boat! Koos would have been better-off having that nap!

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    1. I have a feeling he would agree with you, Roger...

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  12. Deventer looks just beautiful, Val. It’s still quite cold here too, we’ve had lots of rain and wind. Oh, and - oarsomely :-D :-D Love it.

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    1. I couldn't help it, Cathy...oarful, isn't it? :))) We are having a respite from the cold for a few days, but I beleive it will be down to 12 degrees this weekend...again...I hope you get some sun soon!

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