Monday, 4 June 2018
Postcard from Terneuzen
Stargazer lays companionably alongside a pretty Dutch barge yacht, soaking up the morning sun.
Terneuzen harbour is tranquil and somnolent. This is truly a day to savour - doubly so, because it is my birthday.
A short climb up the grassy sea wall leads me to leafy streets and on through a neatly groomed town square.
Unconsciously my wandering feet carry me to the canal side. There is a mesmerising contrast between the mighty bulk of the deep laden barges, and the delicacy of their manoeuvres within the confines of the locks.
A deft whisper of ahead here, a burst of astern - with rudders hard over - there, is all it takes to jigsaw four cargo carrying leviathans between the stone walls. Fence post sized baulks of timber dangle, horizontally, bow and stern to serve as fenders. Such is the skill of the unseen bargees, in their glass eyries, that I did not see these put to the test.
The locks convey the barges between the watery inland highways of the canals and sea going trade route of the Westerscheldt.
I look out from the junction of these two great waterways and contemplate which direction the new birthday year ahead of me will lead.