Sunday, July 30, 2006

Out on the day the weather changed

Today the heatwave ended and I can't say I regret it.

Now that Val does not own the barge in Belgium any more, we can explore what the surroundings of Rotterdam are like.
Today we made a trip to a place both of us had never been to: Drimmelen
It was a total surprise to find a tiny village of such high quality, such a gem, such an amazing sight to see; it takes the definition of picture postcard quality to the next higher level.
I am tempted to post way too many pictures of that place, but here are a few, after careful selection: not just the pretty images but the things with an extra.

The church for instance.

A tiny protestant church, set in wonderful floral surroundings. Will it seat more than 75? We'll check it out one of these days on a Sunday morning service at 10 a.m. No other time is possible. Other than the Roman Catholic churches abroad, Dutch churches can't be visited outside service hours.

We see it more and more these days, the names of all the family members are listed at the front door of houses. Peter and Ellen, who live here, have found a very original -and very Dutch- way of telling the world that they have a daughter called Janneke, followed by twin sons Sil and Siep.

Like much bigger Amsterdam, Drimmelen boasts a canal called Herengracht (canal of the gentlemen). Hardly more than a ditch, it is just what is needed to complete the picturesqueness of the street, where immaculately restored eighteenth and nineteenth century houses proudly line up.

On the side of this eighteenth century house we see the funeral door. As the name suggests it was only used to take the deceased out to the cemetery. If the ghost came back, he would find the door closed. This reduced the risk of the house being haunted.

Friday, July 28, 2006

From the land where surrealism was invented

The three ladies on this live-aboard barge in Belgium have found their own way to cool off a bit...

without going overboard completely.

Two floating churches in Belgium, in the port of Antwerp (above) and on the river Sambre (below).

Sunday, July 23, 2006

How to take the heat - on the water

Let a bit of sunlight shine on a box of wood and steel (essentially that is what a barge is about) and an un pleasant heat builds up inside.
Set a heatwave on a barge and imagine what the interior is like: unbearably hot.
Here a few examples of how my neighbours deal with this.

This couple just avoid being inside and have hoisted a sail to create a shady spot.

Tent-like tarpaulins to dim the light that hits the steel.

No half measures here. Proud father of a one week old son keeps an eye on the active cooling system, while mother and baby stay inside - in a bearable temperature.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Beauty of Containers and their Cranes.

The way home led me through the harbour of Antwerp. That part of the trip is about 16 km / 10 miles, and if there were another route I'd take it, because the fascination with vast stretches of bustling water, sea ships and huge cranes is rapidly replaced by a sense of boredom and tinyness. Most of the times the light is hazy from the clouds of the chemical industry. This time around, however, there was bright light in abundance, as so often this summer.

Containers awaiting further transport.

Idling container cranes.

Container cranes at work.
Photos Koos Fernhout

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Any idea what this is?

This remarkable trailer caught my attention in Schoten, Belgium.
Maybe someone can tell me what this is? I have no clue, honestly.
Photo Koos Fernhout

Friday, July 14, 2006

Back Home, looking back

Wednesday evening my Luxor arrived back in Rotterdam safe and sound. It is good to be back, at the same time enjoying the memories of a wonderful journey across an area in Belgium of which I had no real recollection, meaning my last visit there on my parents' barge was over fifty years ago! "Christ almighty, is it that long? I'm leaving!" (Quoting Keith Moon in the film The Kids are Alright.)

There is so much to tell, visually, I really need to show some mastery of self limitation.
Why not start with something incredibly traditionally Belgian, the mirrored fairground beer hall / restaurant.
I was sailing the canal from Turnhout to Antwerp peacefully, through the wonderful forested area, when at a widening of the canal I spotted a colourful place where refreshments were served, mostly for cyclists riding the towpath. The tourist season was not in full swing yet and it was a Monday anyway, so the place was really quiet.

Not knowing how much draft was available, I let Luxor float very gently to the canalside until she came to a stop.

This is what it looked like from Luxor's foredeck.

I ordered a nice cappuccino on the terrace and in the meantime took the place in.

The name makes me wonder if this is one of the very rare cases of Belgiun humour. Background on this remark: Belgian humour is very much like its German counterpart, however stripped of its wit - and lightheartedness.
Maybe San Severia is no saint's name at all but just alludes to the plant that adorns practically every Belgian window, the sansieveria.

The interior.

Around the corner from the terrace, this live-aboard Belgian barge has an enviable mooring...
Photos: Koos Fernhout
I can never take pictures of my barge when on the move -which is a shame, but my neighbours can.
Here's a post by Carla of the barge Anthonetta, containing pictures of my leaving for Belgium, and here's another post from the same author, same subject.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Fernhout in Turnhout

The last posting suggested being on line always and everywhere in the not-too-distant future, but until then we need to go to MacDonalds for a hotspot (5 euro per hour) or be lucky, like yesterday. Val opened her iBook and received the message: None of your trusted networks could be found, would you like to join the free network Belkin 54?
So here we are, on a canal in Belgium, more or less on line, that is we need to be outside, my PowerBook must be held at shoulder height or sit on the wheelhouse roof.

At the moment my formal holidays are over, and of course I am on board, so I'm 'back' home, but it takes a few days to get the good ship Luxor back to Rotterdam.
At weekends travelling is hardly possible in this part of Belgium, so we make the best of it. Val and the dog came to join me Friday evening and we decided to stay in Turnhout, because we liked the atmosphere of the town and the region. And guess who performed (free) at the Turnhout market square? The Dubliners! We didn't go, too busy visiting our blogging friends and getting a taste of the sangria we bought at the supermarket.

This is our view of the former Anco cereal works, now being redeveloped to become luxurious apartments - in a small provincial town.

Evening view of the old commercial port of Turnhout, now a luxurious marina with super deluxe apartments.

Val, not only an excellent writer, but an able deck hand as well.

Along the Zuid-Willemsvaart canal in north eastern Belgium.
Photos Koos Fernhout