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Watery Ways Kindle Edition
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I've always enjoyed reading memoirs of people living alternative lifestyles, especially those resettling and living in other countries who don't necessarily subscribe to the usual ex-pat life abroad. I chose this book as the first one to read in the 20 books of Summer challenge on Twitter and what a lovely way to start. I have also recently started following Val's blog.
At the beginning of the book Val is newly divorced having temporarily lived aboard a barge in Rotterdam for a while with her now ex-husband.
The lifestyle of living alongside other enthusiastic, friendly and helpful barge owners has been appealing so Val's aim, with her limited means is to buy and restore her own historic barge and make a comfortable home for herself on board. First though as a temporary measure, a Dutch friend offers her a barge to stay in rent free if she helps to restore the old boat. This she does almost single-handedly using her experience of restoration work on antique wooden furniture and helping to restore her earlier barge home.. With occasional help from other local barge owners who seem to form an unspoken but useful collective of skills, the barge is slowly and lovingly restored. There are many mishaps, humerous anecdotes and a collection of feline and canine companions who come and go as temporary guests.
Eventually Val must find her own barge to restore and live in and a new man enters her life.
The whole story is narrated in such a very descriptive, appealing and humerous way that I felt like upping my own sticks immediately and buying a barge in Holland, but unfortunately I couldn't do this with my circumstances and health so I'm going to have to add the other books in the series Walloon Ways and Harbour Ways into my summer reading. Looking forward to reading them.
In 1998 my ex-husband and I rented a narrowboat for 2 weeks, and I was in total bliss for a fortnight. I was so aware of the fact that we'd slipped just a few yards sideways into this parallel world that was visible to those on the land, but hardly noticed. When the fortnight was over I was deeply fed up!
In Watery Ways, about Val Poore's new life on board barges in Rotterdam, she talks about this parallel world, too, and I envy her so much for living in it. It's a story of physical hardship and sacrifice, as well as friendship and fun, but at no time did I get the impression that she was anything worse than temporarily frustrated about things like having no running water, or light to dress by before going to work, or practical difficulties with the maintenance of the boats. As one who sees this sort of thing as a challenge, too, I loved reading about how she got over the problems, and also about how much they made her appreciate every small comfort, too. To me, this book is not only about the practical aspects of the watery life, but about making the most of every moment and not sweating over the stuff that doesn't matter.
If you have any interest at all in things boat, you should read this; it's a terrific book! Fascinating, funny - and it made me wish I could spend some time aboard the Vereeniging with the author and Koos, too!
The best way to describe it is as a diary, albeit, a very well written one!
Having lived in Rotterdam for over three years over several years, and having had my first daughter there, I was intrigued by this story, which is on the whole based in Rotterdam. I lived close to the Oude Harbour when I first lived there and frequently went for walks alongside. But, I had no idea about what it was like to live on a barge (apart from the fact I suffer from sea-sickness, so prefer to be on dry land).
My husbands parents are Dutch too, so I found the descriptions of Dutch traditions and locations really interesting.
I have to admit that many a time I found myself laughing out loud due to some of Valerie's experiences... Especially the one where she falls in the water!
I would highly recommend this book if you have a interest in Dutch culture and would like to know what it is like to live on a barge, as well as the work involved to do so.
The story is well told, the book well written. It's refreshing to find, amongst a huge number of boating books on Kindle, one which does not present the reader with a struggle through bad grammar and poor sentence construction. Valerie's a good writer, and I'm going to be reading more of her books in the near future.
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Owning your own barge is a dream many may have, but how do you actually...Read more
Title: Watery Ways
Author: Val Poore
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