Harbour Ways by Valerie Poore

Harbour Ways is the sequel to Watery Ways, Valerie Poore's first memoir about living on a barge in Rotterdam's Oude Haven in the Netherlands. This second book tells of the first two years that she owned her own barge, the Vereeniging, and how she converts it from an empty hull into a home. Told with with Valerie's usual tongue-in-cheek humour, Harbour Ways can be read as a stand alone memoir or as the follow on to Watery Ways.

 I can imagine buying an old house and renovating it to bring it back to its former glory. There would be problems found but they could be sorted out by hiring a team of builders and decoraters. I could move into one room and renovate room by room.
What I can't imagine is buying a 104 yr old barge made for carrying cargo and neglected for years and restoring it in a historical harbour by myself.
This is what Valerie Poore did. Her first mistake was to purchase the barge without having it inspected,a bit like buying a house without a survey. On the inspection for insurance purposes after the purchase Val finds she has far more work ahead of her than she had thought.
The first priority was to have a bathroom fitted.This is what Val promised herself after not having one on her rented barge. Wishes don't always come true and a bathroom was one of the last things finished on the barge.
Val is a gutsy and determined woman but at times even she was reduced to a crumbling wreck by the amount of work needing done.  It's a slow process and all work done on a barge takes much longer than you expect it too. The limited space means you can't have that team of builders taking care of things.
The Vereeniging is restored slowly and lovingly and Val learns new skills along the way,like how to plumb in a complete bathroom in a tiny space.
The lovely people of the harbour are always there for help and advice and there's always Koos who I see as something of a dashing Viking sailing out to save the day. Koos was brought up on a barge and knows the waterways like the back of his hand, what a useful person to have around when you live on a barge.

In this book we catch up with all the harbour inhabitants or liggers we met in Watery Ways. We go shopping with Val for her plumbing equipment and laugh with her as she uses her best Dutch possible to ask for u-bends and stopcocks. We are with her as she is taught how to steer the barge by herself and sail with her through the waterways.
One thing really scares me about living on a barge. When you buy the book turn to page 104 and have a look at the gangplank you have to walk down to get on the boat when the water is low. It's at a 45deg angle and Val does admit it's very hard to enter and exit. If I am ever lucky enough to visit Val I'll have to make it when the water is high because there would be no way I could ever walk that gangplank.

There's the new addition in this book of Sindy the pup. She is very vocal and very naughty and reminds me of a dog I had who just like Sindy barked constantly in the car and eventually destroys it.
Valerie Poore was born to write comedy,she can see the fun in any situation and it always shows through in her books.

Valerie Poore's books, Watery Ways, African Ways, How to breed Sheep,Geese and English Eccentrics can all be found on Amazon or The Book Depository 
Her YA book The Skipper's Child has just won a silver award in The Wishing Shelf Awards 2013, so many congratulations Val.
All kindle downloads of Val's book are cheaper than a fancy coffee so give yourself a treat.


  1. I m always totally in awe of Val and the work that she undertook. This review sums up her book perfectly :-)

    1. Thanks Val. I agree Val is amazing.

  2. Anne, I am quite overcome! Thank you so very very much for this lovely review!

  3. Lovely review for a lovely person! Well deserved.

  4. Thanks Carol, and yes she is.


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