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About me

Version 2I’m Valerie Poore, generally known as Val (only my mother and my students call me Valerie). I live in Rotterdam, the Netherlands and I’m an English writing skills teacher by day at the university here. I teach both staff and students: the former about writing for business and the latter about academic writing. I love my work, but need my blog and my own books for the anarchist in me. The writing I teach is very formulaic, so it’s great to be able to let loose and actually write what I enjoy.

Before coming to the Netherlands I lived in South Africa for just short of twenty years, and since it was where I really grew into the person I am now, I think of it more as ‘home’ than the UK. I loved South Africa. It combined everything that makes me happy: endless horizons, space, sunshine, hospitable people and a huge variety of cultures. I loved both the country life and the urban chaos and was very sad to leave it all in 2001. 

Now that I live in the Netherlands. I have a liveaboard historic Dutch barge and I have become fairly well adapted to life in Holland. What with biking, boating and barging, this is my life now and I enjoy it immensely. I am even a Dutch citizen as I took the plunge last year and gained my Dutch passport in March this year.



 Life on the water isn’t always romantic and glamorous. Correction. It is sometimes romantic but never glamorous, and it is very hard work. In Holland they have a saying koop een boot, werk je dood, meaning if you are daft enough to buy a boat you can expect to work yourself into the grave. 

I have written nine books so far and am working on the tenth. One of my memoirs is called Watery Ways and its sequel is Harbour Ways. Both of these  are about my first years of living on a barge in the Oude Haven in Rotterdam My very first book, African Ways, is a memoir about my life in South Africa, and focuses on the period when I lived on a farm in Kwazulu Natal. That was another very special time in my life and South Africa remains deep in my heart, and I have written two more memoirs about South Africa in the last two years. My sixth memoir is Walloon Ways about the three years I lived as a weekend Belgian, and the most recent of my boating books is a travelogue about cruising the French waterways. It’s called Faring to France on a Shoe.

As for fiction, I have written two novels. The first was The Skipper’s Child, a book for all ages but branded as YA. It is an adventure story set on Europe’s waterways in 1962 and it won the Silver award in the 2013 Wishing Shelf Awards. The other book is called How to Breed Sheep, Geese and English Eccentrics and is set in Dorset, the UK in the late 1970’s. It is a humorous (I hope) novel about a girl and her rather special family who are trying their hands at self sufficiency as a means to holding on to a large and impractical country house. The cast of characters is undoubtedly eccentric and these include the animals too. It is heavily based on my real life experiences in smallholding and self-sufficiency, so you could say it is creative non-fiction or a roman à clef.  I am currently working on a novel set in Africa, a sequel to African Ways and another novel in the planning stages set in wartime Holland.

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