Saturday, January 30, 2010

2009 Newsletter #4

Dear Family and Friends: May 24/09
We have a winner!!! Janet, I’d like you to let the VP Research know that I have a new patentable discovery called ‘The Dutch Motor Cruiser Diet.’ I knew I had lost weight as the clothes that I packed (on a hope and a prayer that I would somehow fit into) were very ,very tight at home but they now fit easily. In fact this morning when I took my shower (more on that later) and looked down, not only was I able to see my toes, but I was reintroduced to my knees! The downside is that I have acquired hen’s waddle under the chin and flabby arms that are not totally attractive. My new short, spiky haircut looks similar to a rooster’s crown, so I guess it’s all good!
The diet itself is easy. Sell your home, fly to the Netherlands, buy a boat and then spend money like a drunken sailor. The active ingredient is stress! The food part is easy. To be honest, restaurant Dutch food is terrible – everything has cheese and/or ham and they only know one method of cooking – fry, fry, fry. French fries (frites) is the only vegetable they know. The secret ingredient though is beer. At least a glass a day – it’s only about 150ml mind you, but beer has calories and it works like a hot damn! So if the stress of this life style change doesn’t kill you, at least you’ll lose weight.
Now to the shower part. As you already know we’ve been doing the bird bath thing on the boat as we are still at the boatyard and it doesn’t have any facilities. However, Master Mariner Phil, was out for an evening bike ride and took a turn down a lane to the water point (remember it from last week?) and discovered that it has a little hut housing a toilet and a –wait for it – SHOWER!!!!!!! Now we can walk over in the morning and start the day with a shower. What a lovely change from washing in a tiny sink on the boat.
We also now have internet access on the boat although I won’t be using it as much as I thought I might. It is horrendously expensive and I’ve used up about 10 euros worth in one go! However it is good to know that I can get back to internet banking and perhaps Skyping occasionally with the kids.
We lucked out this week experiencing market day in two towns. On Friday we went into Steenwijk so that Phil could get his bank card activated and it happened to be market day. The square was filled with people and events/performances and there were street stalls in front of all the stores. Some bargains and some dross but fun nevertheless. Then on Saturday we had to go to Zwartsluis and not only was it market day but there was a sailing ship exposition with a number of beautiful older wooden sailboats loaded to the gunnels with people. Was totally fun but stupidly, I had forgotten my camera. Oh well, summer is festival season so I’m sure we’ll have another opportunity. The Rotary Club had a tent set up where you could chip floating balls into a basket in the canal. Just to keep his hand in, Phil gave it a go for a charitable donation. He got closer than anyone else but we didn’t win the lottery!
This week is the big test. The manifold has now been installed and on Monday morning – on our OWN – we are heading off to Volenhove to make contact with Gerard (pronounced Herr-at) to hopefully get the rest of the work done. At this rate we probably won’t be free to cruise at will until about mid-June but the upside is that everything will be ready for next year when we head to France. I’m also hampered somewhat by trouble with my right heel/Achilles tendon. It makes walking very painful so we have to bike everywhere. Not a bad thing but you want to be able to just stroll through the towns and villages and that is made difficult by the pain. I can now really appreciate what Pat went through for the past year. Not fun!
We did go out last night for another mini celebration of our 40th anniversary. We went back to the Italian restaurant where we’d met the Berg’s. Talk about the flip side! The service was atrocious, the food was only tolerable but thankfully the Chianti was excellent as was the company! Even after all these years we still enjoy each other’s company – aaawww. And I didn’t fall off my bike on the way home. With no disrespect to the Dutch, their food really is atrocious. So travelling to France next year takes on a certain urgency.
While I’ve had dreams/nightmares about crashing into moorings, falling overboard (thanks for that Suzanne!!!) we are also looking forward to just being on the move. When the bus drivers greet you automatically in English, you know you’ve been in one place too long!
So another week has gone by – hopefully we’ll have some exciting things to tell you next week. The adventure continues. I must admit that sitting out on the deck this morning, warmed by the sun, cup of coffee at hand – it was glorious. Our vision of life on a boat at its best!
Much love to you all
Sharlene and the Master Mariner - who is over picking David’s brain about electronics, wiring and other stuff that is totally not interesting to me but probably important nonetheless!

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