About me

Hi, this is just a page where you can find out a bit about me, who I am and what makes me tick. As my profile summary says, I am English, but I lived in South Africa for just short of twenty years, and since it was where I really grew into the person I am now, I think of it more as home than the UK. I loved South Africa. It combined everything that makes me happy: endless horizons, space, sunshine, hospitable people and a huge variety of cultures. I loved both the country life and the urban chaos and was very sad to leave it all in 2001



I now live in the Netherlands. I have a liveaboard historic Dutch barge (which you can see on the photos on this page), and I have become fairly well adapted to life in Holland (see photo of my sometimes mode of transport as a passenger)

I spend a lot of time messing about on the water, but when I am taking life seriously, which is as rarely as possible, I teach English for both business and academic purposes.



 Life on the water isn't always romantic and glamorous. Correction. It is sometimes romantic but never glamorous, and it is very hard work. In Holland they have a saying koop een boot, werk je dood, meaning if you are daft enough to buy a boat you can expect to work yourself into the grave. 

I have written seven books so far and am working on the eighth. One of my memoirs is called Watery Ways and its sequel is Harbour Ways. Both of these  are about my first year of living on a barge in the Oude Haven in Rotterdam My first book, African Ways, is a memoir about my life in South Africa, and focuses on the years when I lived on a farm in Kwazulu Natal. That was another very special period in my life and South Africa remains deep in my heart. My fourth memoir is Walloon Ways about my three years as a weekend Belgian,  and the most recent of my books is a travelogue about cruising the French waterways. It's called Faring to France on a Shoe.



As for fiction, I have written two novels. The first was The Skipper's Child, a book for all ages but branded as YA. It is an adventure story set on Europe's waterways in 1962 and it won the Silver award in the 2013 Wishing Shelf Awards. The other book is called How to Breed Sheep, Geese and English Eccentrics and is set in Dorset, the UK in the late 1970's. It is a humorous novel about a girl and her rather special family who are trying their hands at self sufficiency as a means to holding on to a large and impractical country house. The cast of characters is undoubtedly eccentric and these include the animals too. It is heavily based on my real life experiences in smallholding and self-sufficiency, so you could say it is creative non-fiction or a roman à clef. 

I am currently working on a novel set in Africa, a sequel to African Ways and another novel in the planning stages set in wartime Holland.

So that's about it about me. I hope you enjoy my blog, the extracts from my books and everything else my page has to offer. If you are ever in Rotterdam, look me up! Your are always and will always be welcome.






9 comments:

  1. Hello Val,

    Nice to connect with you :-)

    Thank you for commenting on my blog. Do you have an email address I can contact you on? Or could you send me one at: info@turkeywithstuffin.com and I will reply with a question.

    Thanks and hope you are having a great day,

    Kym

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  2. Hi Val,

    Thanks for hosting the Meet My Book event! Despite the modest crowd, I did enjoy the event. Here's a link (under my name) to the Customer Service-tagged posts on my blog/website, for your enjoyment...

    Floris

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    1. Oh goodness, I missed this. I'll follow up! It was great to meet you then, Floris!

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  3. Greetings from a fellow ex-SA'er, Val. I was born in Kwa-Zulu, or Zululand as it was known back in the day, a town called Nongoma, to be exact! I now live in Mexico with my husband 8 months of the year, aboard our 42ft sailboat. The rest of the year we house/pet-sit in California or Washington. Anyhow, just wanted to say hi...sounds like you're living a fabulous life aboard your barge...I'm envious! Take care, Anne

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    1. Anne, I missed this too! I hope you're still enjoying life on your sailboat! It must be lovely to be in warmer climes. I do miss South Africa and Natal, and yes! I remember Nongoma although I think I only passed through it once or twice!

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  4. Val, it sounds like you've led a very interesting life. I've just bought your book, 'African Ways'. I thoroughly enjoyed the Ben Retallick series of books by E V Thompson, which was partly set in Africa, although in a previous century, so I'm looking forward to reading your book. :)

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    1. Thanks so much, Heather! I haven't read E V Thompson, but now I think I should. I'll follow those up, and just hope my farm memories are not too dull for you :)

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  5. So much to read and enjoy. Thanks so much for reading my blog posts too. Always love seeing your photos. :)

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    1. Thank you, Jane! That's a lovely comment to find on a cold and wet day :)

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