Tuesday, 29 March 2016
Walloon Ways by Valerie Poore
In 2003, Val Poore bought her dream: a barge with a garden in Brussels. With her partner, Koos, she embarked on a life of weekend residency in Belgium. For three years, they explored the lovely Walloon countryside as well as the Belgian river and canal network while they made their floating home habitable.
This collection of recollections, anecdotes and observations focuses mostly on Wallonia: its waterways, towns and rural areas, not to mention their encounters with the charming French-speaking Walloons. However, it also includes the areas around Brussels and a few not-to-be-forgotten forays into Flanders.
If you don't know Belgium, this could be the starter that gives you a taste for more!
This is Valerie's third book of memoirs documenting her life on a barge. This one tells the story of her life as a weekender barging in Belgium where once again Val falls in love with a barge (The Volharding) that needs work done to it. Given the terrible news about Belgium I think it's good to focus on this book and the beauty of the country and it's people.
I'm wondering why I love Valerie Poore's books so much. I have never set foot on a barge and I have never heard of Wallonia. I think I've just answered my own question. I enjoy reading about places I have never been and things I have never done. I never knew that Belgium was so beautiful or housed such an eclectic mix of people. I do know that Val Poore's words could make the reader love anywhere, she even makes me want to live on a barge,as long as I had someone else doing all the hard work for me.
Val is not work shy. Her barges have called for her to be a plumber, joiner, boat painter, fixer upper and everything else it takes to make an old barge pretty as well as livable. The Volharding is no different.
Of course Val's trusty sidekick and partner Koos is always on hand to steer Val through the problems one can find living on the water. Koos spent his childhood living on a working barge so there's no one better than him to have by your side.
We are taken on Val's week end journeys through Belgium. My favourite has to be Ghent the Venice of the north with it's waterways and bridges, I would love to visit one day.
Val is an unconscious comedienne and her books are full of her mishaps. One morning she awoke to the barge lying at an angle and found out that the water had drained through the lock and they were on a boat sitting on muddy land. Her description of trying to get herself and Sindi her slightly mad dog down a wobbly gangplank was hysterical. Val eventually had to throw a hysterical (large) dog to Koos to get her off the barge.
This book is a delight to read. I learnt about the people, the customs and about somewhere I would never have thought of visiting. I know that a boot is a barge, helling is a slipway and a ligger is a harbour resident. I had a laugh and a cry and a lovely journey around Belgium and it cost me less than a fancy coffee. Who can say better than that.
Put your fiction book aside and read a real life adventure.
Walloon Ways:Three years as a part time Belgium. Amazon for kindle download.
Valerie Poore's other books are:
Her fiction books:
How to Breed Sheep,Geese and English Eccentics
The Skipper's Child