Thursday, June 26, 2014

Everything you wanted to know about our lock and other adventures....

Imagine you are from Luxembourg, visiting Cape Town, have never been to the coast before but you really want to experience surfing. So you pop off to Muizenburg and ask for a lesson. They take you to the beach and give you a board which you lay out on the sand,  lie on it, and as per your given instructions, you 'pretend paddle' in the sand furiously, waiting for the wave - the wave comes, you get on your knees, then you slowly stand and assume the position - and off you go! You're surfing!  So you head to Kommetjie, cos you totally know what you are doing now.


This is kinda what happened on our boat trip.  The instructions on what to do were perfect and our instructor was thorough. However, nothing prepared us for "the lock."

The entrance to the lock on our way in.
Pic Credit:
The pictures I had seen of locks before were snug - where you got your boat in and it fitted neatly into the walls without the ability to drift!

With this one, it was huge, we were the last boat in and there were (I think) 6 others in before us. The water was low, and the wall must have been about 2m tall.  We didn't know (or see) the rings in the wall that we could moor to, all we saw were the mooring  goodies on the top of the wall. My Girl was on the front of the boat, and I was on the back. No railings between us and the water, only behind us to hold onto. We could not throw that rope up and over the mooring goodies and My Man struggled with the wind and drift to get the boat into a position for us to do anything.  We didn't have the fancy side-thrusters and all the techno gadgetry that make this sort of thing easier.  Eventually, when I was almost hysterical, watching My Girl trying to jump and throw it, some people on the side took pity on us and helped her and then me, while yelling instructions across the water to My Man on how to come alongside in that wind.

It was one of the scariest things I have ever done. You can laugh all you want - but I know now where that saying "Swears like a sailor" came from, because I realised that maybe I was a sailor in my previous life.  I was not proud of myself.  (It probably wasn't too bad - but it was bad for me).

As a mom, you picture every possible scenario that could happen to your child and partner ...  it spun me completely.  I didn't even consider the possibility that I could fall off the back, I was more worried about My Man's anxiety levels and My Girl.

We made it through - but we were all completely frazzled.  We had to call ahead and book a place in the Marina for the night which we did. We arrived and they motioned to us to pull in in front of the clubhouse. They HAD to be joking. It meant alley docking / reverse parking the boat between two luxury boats that were double our size. My Man went pale. We just waved, smiled and then sailed right passed - then freaked out because there was nowhere else to go. The canal ran out, we saw a space where we could sort of "parallel park" - the wind was up and try as we might, we could not get close enough to throw the rope over the mooring thing. This time My Girl was on the back of the boat, eventually an elderly lady offered to help and we tossed her the rope and she pulled our back in - the front kept turning out because of the wind. I just had no idea what to do, we were all yelling at each other. It was not pretty....  Two young guys walked passed, and I just thought, "Stuff it, I am not proud!" and yelled "Oy, can you help me please, grab the rope and bring us in?"  Thank God they understood English and had a great sense of humour.  They helped and we got moored eventually.

But that was it. We decided there and then we were not doing that again. So we stayed moored there for 3 nights, visited the cities we wanted to by foot and others by train,  and eventually psyched ourselves up to get out of there and back through the lock again.

We got out fine. My Man had worked a way to do a U-turn that worked like a bomb, and we sneaked out of there quietly... :)

My Girl saved us at the lock going home. The water was high this time so we were much higher up and we now knew about the rings. She was so scared but so brave. She just did what she had to do, walked to the front of the boat and threaded that rope through the loop and singlehandedly held that boat to the side until the water was low enough to get out.

Getting the job done.
Just before arriving back at the base, I called ahead and organised for our "guardian angel' to help  us bring the boat in. Which he did since again it had to be reverse parked in a full marina.

I do feel slightly validated though because the morning we left, after we had slept and relaxed a little, we were joking with him about our experience and he told us that it is one of the most difficult locks in Belgium and we had one of the oldest models which are the most difficult to handle, especially in wind.

Having said all of that - except for those two incidents, we had a lovely time. It was fun being on the boat, and going through all those insane bridges, and seeing the scenery. I would choose a different route if I could do it again - and a new model boat that has all the stuff to make life easier.

I would still recommend it as a holiday for anyone - it has the potential to be very relaxing!

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Rescued Into Conversations

It's almost a year that we have been in our new other home - Luxembourg. We love it. It's quite a weird feeling but I actually feel as though this was always meant to be. It feels right.

I suppose if I have to nail down something that I really miss - it's conversations with people.  People I knew, and even people I didn't!  Largely conversations revolving around life and faith and how we see both of them. Not knowing too many people here, combined with where I find myself on this spiritual adventure and the language barriers to talk to many people, I have felt quite isolated and starved for authentic, open conversations.  I know that the longer we are here, this will begin to happen - but, like I said before, this IS something that I miss a lot.

We_Make_The_Road%20uk.jpgSo I was pretty happy when Brian McLarens "We Make the Road By Walking" came out the other day and was quick to download it.  I have always enjoyed his writing. About 10 years ago (or was it more?)  I read his book, "A New Kind of Christian" and it pretty much saved me during a time where I felt that maybe I was losing the plot, feeling that I was missing something and there HAD to be more....  when I read that book, I cried. I really did, because I realised that I hadn't lost the plot and that I wasn't alone. It was a liberating read for me.

Anyway, I am getting sidetracked now - I do love FB, because my first thought after downloading the book was to invite friends who wanted to "bounce on the trampoline" (as Rob Bell would say), to join me in going through it together as a group since there are discussion questions and thoughts for each chapter.

Selfishly, I now get my conversations back again with people I value and respect. I know that we won't always agree with one another, or with Brian even, but that's OK. My hope is that any friend will feel welcome to join the conversation no matter what their beliefs are. We are all in different places and that's what makes this exciting.

So, in a way, I guess My Rescuer has rescued me again, using another of Brian's books, this time though, rescuing me back into a conversational community of people who enjoy looking at things from various perspectives without feeling threatened or defensive.

I am looking forward to this.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Quick Fox Runs In Front of the Alert Dog

Most days I take the hounds for a walk individually. I have taken them together once which I regretted afterwards, because combined they have a weight of close to 60kg and when they spotted another dog, I was the one who got dragged.

So, I made the wise decision that I would take them one at a time in future.  I took Tigger first today, and we headed up into the forest. I usually let her off the lead because she doesn't tend to take off like Jack does, but is happy to run a few metres and then check on me, smell here, pee there and run and then come back. She is a wonderful walking companion.  

As I headed up the hill, I let her off the lead and she trotted up as she usually does, but I just had this feeling to have her lead on, I called her back and put it back on. We walked around the corner and suddenly, instead of her doing her "kid-in-a-toy-shop" type of walk, her ears pricked, and she walked absolutely straight ahead, completely focussed.  She is a REALLY alert dog.  Suddenly, not two metres in front of her a fox ran across the path. At first I thought it was a cat, but just for a split second it turned, and I saw the face and then the tail and I realised what it was. 

Well, I thought Tigger was going to go into overdrive! She just took off with me attached to her, attempting to hurtle down after it into the bush. She seemed to double her strength because I felt as though I had to literally dig my heels into the path and lean back to restrain her.

Eventually, I just decided it was easier to begin to run and called her dragged her after me.  After that she was so hyped she was ALL OVER the place probably thinking there was a fox in every bush. Eventually I thought I should just run with her a little to tire her out.  

I remember the day we saw the deer coming down from the rocks with her, and for weeks afterwards every time we walked past that corner, she would stop and stare up there as though daring more deer to take a chance....  I wonder if every time we walk up this path she will be in stealth mode?

So... that was my fun afternoon. I was hugely relieved that (a) I listened to that little voice that told me to put the lead back on, and (b) that I didn't try and take them both because I would STILL be in the forest being dragged through the bush!

I guess all that is left to see is a boar. 
I don't really relish the thought of a boar though. I think it would be more menacing than a fox.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

First City Run

This morning I had to go and collect our newly converted Drivers Licences and decided to go and have a solo run in the city on the way home.  The weather was grey, a light drizzle and, in my view, perfect!

It was lovely. I had intended it to be a quickie because I knew I needed to take the hounds out later too. However, it was just one of those days where it felt effortless. I wondered why I should stop if I still felt good, so I just kept going, and I would have gone longer had it not begun bucketing down!  My face was as red as a tomato (as usual!) but I felt as though I could have gone on much longer.

It was lekker to see other runners, nod and smile and move on - all of us enjoying the early-ish morning. People walking their dogs, construction guys busy at the bridge - lots of activity everywhere.

Here are some of the paths from today's run. I did take all the pics, but not today - maybe this will explain why I didn't want to stop - it was just very pretty.  
I still prefer the trails of the forest.... definitely! May not be as fast, but speed is not the point in the forest...

I did clock up a new personal best! I can't be too happy about it though, because tar is so much quicker than trail and the trails are much more "hilly'.

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