The following review will also be posted on Amazon US & UK + Goodreads
Val's first book in this series Watery Ways is the first book on my list of the #20booksofsummer challenge. I enjoyed that book so much that I was led off-piste and just had to read this one too!
In common with the first book, this one is beautifully written and humerous throughout.
There is just something so heartwarming about the way the author writes about life aboard a historic 100 year old barge in the Netherlands; a barge that she is more or less single-handedly trying to restore while living on it. Barges require a lot of maintenance for a number of reasons; to keep watertight and prevent any damage from the elements plus the hull needs to be inspected from time to time to ensure that it is safe on the waterways. Val copes with all of that plus the restoration work and also a job teaching English and another resident on the barge, her newly adopted dog
There is some help at hand from the other live aboard barge-owning characters at the harbour and Val's partner Koos, another barge owner whose lifetime experiences of living aboard a barge and navigating the waterways are an invaluable help.
Val is the one doing most of the work though, often in bad weather situations and very cramped conditions and sometimes carrying the large items she needed back from the hardware store on her head, African style (do not try this at home!)
The whole challenge is described with much self-deprecation and good humour Val has a way with words and makes the plumbing in of a bathroom aboard the barge sound fascinating and describes the other local characters in such a way that I'd really like to meet them all. Actually I'd quite like to move into the beautifully finished and restored barge thank you very much. If someone else was doing all the hard work and driving of course!
I've read the series while going through quite a stressful time and have found them to be real escapism and an absolute tonic.