The Venice of the North

‘Lets hire a boat,’ suggests my husband one Saturday morning. Our nanny and her fiancé had done so the weekend before and then her fiance had spent the better part of the last week researching boats to buy.

I looked out the window at the grey sky, not sure if it will be too cold for a boat ride, but the girls are dancing around yelling about boats and pirates and my husband is already pressing buttons on his phone.

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A Massage on a Houseboat? Only in Amsterdam…

After a particularly stressful week, my husband, sweetheart that he is, books me a massage. He sends me an address, and I follow the google maps lady through twists and turns, over bridges and around canals to an address that does not actually appear to exist. The google maps lady tells me I have arrived, but as I followed the numbers up and down the street, I cannot find 145a. I pick up my phone to call my husband, only to watch him emerge from the houseboat moored in the canal running alongside the road. He wore that blissed out look that only comes from really good massage.

‘Where are we?’ I ask my husband as he hugs me. The very neat denim-clad, barefoot man, whose name apparently was Jeroen (ye-roen, like a strange combination of run and ron) was now waving me aboard. I cross the gangway, as you do, feeling confused, unsettled, and like I might actually end up head first in the water. Jeroen, by contrast, with his shaved head, open face, and peaceful vibe, looked steady and sure. He struck me as someone who meditated a lot. I really should meditate more, I think as I shake his hand.

Inside, the boat is all wood panelling and instruments.

‘The sound doesn’t travel’ Jeroen explains, pointing to the instruments, ‘My son can play the drums at any hour and no one outside the boat can hear it. That’s why a lot of musicians live on houseboats.’

I want to be a musician living on a houseboat. ‘Have you always lived on a houseboat?’

‘My partner and I moved here when the kids were small.’

‘And it’s okay for kids to be on a houseboat before they can swim?’ I ask, mentally packing our bags and preparing to move. Jeroen’s answer will be the key to my success when I pitch my husband this lifestyle change.

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