Monday, April 16, 2018

The way forward


It was two and a half years ago that I wrote what has become my most popular post about my barge, the Vereeniging. As I wrote at the time, I bought it “as an empty shell complete with several not so optional extras, these being rust holes, a rotten axle and rather too obvious ventilation in all the wrong places. I had to forgive her though. She was a hundred and three years old and had survived serious abuse and neglect, somehow managing to stay afloat while the weeds grew out of the rust in her hull. It was a match made for the tenacious; both her and me.”

The blog post I wrote described what I needed to do keep my dream boat alive; how it became my passion and my goal; how even when I moved out of it to give my daughters a home when they needed bolt holes, it still occupied my thoughts, my life and my time.

Now we are a bit further on in time and I haven’t changed my feelings of affection for my lovely barge. She is 120 years old this year. The trouble is that even though I am still only just over half her age, my energies are not quite as resilient as they used to be. I’m beginning to notice the, shall we say, limitations of my advancing years even if she isn’t. Frozen shoulders, locked up ankles, spasmodic (is there such a word?) muscles; yes, these are all rather potent reminders that I am sixty something and I can kiss goodbye to my ideas (note that word) of lissome, lithe agility. Not that I ever have been that, but the idea of it, you understand, is what has kept me going.

So I am pondering on our future – my barge’s and mine – and maybe rethinking the plans. The Vereeniging has been part of my life and my heart for so long I still find it hard to think of a future without my damesschip, but before even contemplating that, there is the dream trip to be done; the one that in all the seventeen years I’ve had her has not yet been done.. We, that is Koos, the Vereeniging and I, have a journey to undertake and that is a non- negotiable. We have to take my old lady home. We have to take her to Utrecht and then along the Vecht and Oude Rijn to revisit the route she travelled as a working barge so many years ago. After that, well, we’ll see. Maybe it will be time to pass her over to some younger hands, but before than, she will be smooshed, smartened and shined as never before. We, the Vereeniging and I, have plenty to do together and with Koos’ help on her oily bits, we will prepare for that day, whenever it may be.

Watercolourisations of two of my photos










28 comments:

  1. I'm not at all surprised that that was your most popular post - your relationship with Vereeniging catches at something in all of us. There is also something splendid in restoring what might have been lost forever and it's MUCH more interesting to find heritage preserved outside the walls of a museum and in active use. Thank you for doing this for those of us who'd like to do it but don't have either the gumption or the skill to dare.

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    1. Thank you, Christina. That is a lovely comment and I so appreciate your understanding of what these barges mean to us!

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  2. That will be a wonderful adventure and experience for you both. I hope you don't take too long before you set off on the journey.

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    1. I think so too, Carol. I hope it won’t be too long either! Thank you so much.

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  3. Oh those passing years! I know exactly what you mean - but you can be sure you won’t by dribbling into your cocoa and wishing you’d done stuff - you and Koos and your lovely barge.

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    1. Thank you, Jo. I feel very fortunate to have been able to do the things I’ve been able to do over the years.

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  4. Hi Val - that sounds like a delightful preparatory trip to make - and the nostalgia will envelop you and your barge - I'm sure you'll enjoy the last hurrah - if that's what it is ... and decide to do something simpler, but just as enjoyable as you join the rest of us in moving forward!! Cheers Hilary

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    1. Ah, Hilary, we will never say die, but maybe just simplify :) Thank you!

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  5. Oh, it is hard to imagine life without your special barge, but a lovely thing to take her to Utrecht and relive old memories. The watercoloured photos are so beautiful, and you will always treasure them, even when the time comes to retire from your life on the waterways.

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    1. Thank you, Patricia! It will be very hard to do when the time comes, I know that for sure. However, The messages are becoming stronger, I’m afraid.

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  6. Re my tweet - I had to log onto my amazingly slow other browser to answer my own blog comments, so I thought, aha, I will comment properly on Val's blog (I know how annoying it is when people comment on Twitter, not the blog!!)

    This is lovely, hope you manage to take your 'damesschip' home, what a fine journey to make. And the watercoloursation thing... love it! I hope her 'oily bits' and all the rest of her shines up beautifully :)

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    1. Thank you very much TT. I’m so hoping we will make it. It just has to be, really, and I’m hoping we might make it this year. It’s been far too long in the planning and I have to do it while both the flesh and the spirit are still willing!

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  7. I can sympathise with your comments about age! However it's just a number ( or so I tell myself) I love your plan to take the very special Vereeniging on a journey to Utrecht and then along the Vecht and Oude Rijn. What a great plan for her and what memories you will make. It will be very emotional but I look forward to reading about it and to seeing your photos.

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    1. You are right about the emotional part, Rebecca. I already get choked up just thinking about it! I will most definitely keep you posted! Thank you so much for commenting!

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  8. With historic houses such as ours, we are merely caretakers for those who follow us in the care and love for the buildings. With historic ships it is the same. Only it’s really not the same. Ships breathe and live; and speak to us in a way that is more than steel and engines. More than wattle, daub and in our case, drafts.
    And you have been far more than a caretaker for the Vereeniging. You have brought her renewed life. No wonder she catches your heart and breath when you consider the future.
    I hope you manage to take her back to her roots this summer.
    Sending love and hugs, Vxxx xxx

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    1. Thank you, Veronica. I know you know how I feel. And you are so right about the history and the idea of being a caretaker. I am not sure I can continue to care for her enough and that is the hard part. We shall definitely go to Utrech before I part with her, so whether we make it this summer or later, that’s the trip that has to be made before any decision about the future! Xxxx

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  9. What a beautiful blog post Val - just love it.... your way of capturing the love of this life, your honesty, your soul - thank you xxx

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    1. Thank you, Jackie. You, Veronica and Carole understand more than most xxx

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  10. We know your affinity for the *old dame* as we have one too, still in her prime at 111 years. We like the quote,"I don't think about age so age doesn't think about me, it's only a number!" Barrie and Carole Grant.

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    1. That's a good one! I shall try and remember that! I wish my bones would stop trying to tell me otherwise, though :))

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  11. What a lovely blog. So poignant and beautiful to see the similarities between you and your beloved old barge. Accepted our age doesn't mean rejecting our love for self or home - we can polish both to a fine shine and go a far as we want, as fast as we can. How good to have plans and projects.
    Tonia xxx

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    1. Bless you, Toni. I shall have to do a bit more polishing on myself as well... just to keep up with my barge :D

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  12. I love your barge tales and I am so sad that you might be parting with her and your life aboard. How I have enjoyed your adventures. Such beautiful photos too. I am holding my breath....

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    1. Thank you, Jane. That is so kind! I didn’t see your comment earlier, so I’m sorry I’m late in posting it. At the moment it’s just something to think about. We have that trip to do first for sure!

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  13. So touching, Val. It brought me to tears. And happy tears when I think of her trip home. Blessings to all three of you. (Steph)

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    1. Aww, that’s lovely, Steph. Thank you, dear!

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  14. Yes, take her home, Val! I say this with tears in my eyes, unbidden, and a bit of a surprise. I know how much the Vereeniging means to you, and this voyage will have more meaning than we can imagine in this moment. Yours is the continuing story of "life" Val xx

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    1. You are so right, Dale. About everything. Thank you, my friend xxx

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