Just when I thought ‘Free’ was tucked up for winter in Amsterdam, what should happen?
“You’re not allowed to use a wood fire in this harbour… people will complain!” Said the Havenmeester.
“Oh dear!” Said the Viking Queen.
And so began a new saga, this time around the streets of Amsterdam in search of parts for my clapped out old diesel heater so shockingly installed four years ago by a company on the Thames that I used to work for; a man I respected and thought was my friend… They do have a habit of popping up don’t they? (At least, in my life)
How gullible was I, (statement not question).
Nothing in Amsterdam… What to do?
Go west young girl. West to Spaarndam.
Spaarndam is a small village just off the Nordzee kanaal. Yes, the same one that I passed through on the way south to Haarlem and Leiden shortly after I arrived in the Netherlands. It is there that the only sellers of the ‘heatpol’ diesel heater are situated… unbelievable!
I left Amsterdam and miscalculated the opening hours of the dreaded ‘Rijkweg 9’ road bridge, which opens only five times a day. The result of this was a tricky approach during darkness, through Spaarndam sluis, and into the gloomy darkness of ‘De Reitpol’, home of the aforementioned heater.
The following morning I met fellow female sailor and employee Ursul, who was very helpful and offered me a competitive package; however, the price was still enough to induce a deep inhalation of breath. Still, what’s a girl to do… freeze? The worst aspect of living on a boat and the one most would be ‘live-aboards’ fail to grasp, is winter and trying to keep warm. You’ve never experienced true cold until you wake up damp, with ice on your face… trust me, I have the t-shirt.
Now Spaarndam is famous for something nearly everybody knows from primary school. The little boy who put his finger in the dijk, to stop the terrifying flood waters engulfing his village. As you can see there is a statue dedicated to him.
The village is a really delightful place and my visit was not totally without joy. I was also able to ride into Haarlem again on my beloved bicycle ‘Gretel’. This has to be one of my favourite towns in the Netherlands and returning was almost like coming home!
So now I will return to Amsterdam, hopefully able to survive the winter with my new heating. Of course, I do hope that if any of you are here that you call round for a coffee and chat or even an overnight stop…