In a roundabout way this photograph cost me 35 Euros. It happened like this. I was cycling down the main cobbled street in the Port of Hoorn, one of many such small ports on the coast of the inland Zuider Zee (Southern Sea) in The Netherlands when I was stopped by two ladies in Police Uniforms. The short story is that I should have seen the no cycling signs and walked with my bicycle, but all that I saw were large numbers of parked bicycles, and a few bikes being ridden along the street.
I thought that after I had listened to the no cycling explanation from the Policewomen I would be given a warning, a friendly pat on the shoulder and sent on my way with cream buns and a thermos full of hot tea - (A Johnny Foreigner can get this impression after weeks of amused chortles and smiles at ones accent - gosh! you say to yourself, don't they just looove Kiwis! -- and you are right, except for two Policewomen in the port of Hoorn, who deliberately left a Russian Gulag to make my day an expensive one.)
"The fine is thirty five Euros" I was informed.
"I don't have thirty five Euros on me," I said lying through my teeth.
"There is a bank and a money machine over there" I was informed.
"What if I don't pay?" I inquired.
" We will take you to the Police station and lock you up until you do pay" she replied, mouth twitching at such southern hemisphere cheek.
"Oh" I said and went to the machine which was around a corner out of sight, pulled thirty five euros out of my wallet and promptly paid.
I then gave what I thought was a rather excellent dissertation about how this would never happen in New Zealand and that a warning would be sufficient for a tourist who can't read Dutch. But all this was ignored including my statements about how highly offended I was, blah, blah, blah - but to no avail - I had broken the law, I had been duly fined, the Dutch economy saved by my thirty five euros and two Policewomen who were in fact only doing their job - did their job.
As they turned to go and startle other bike riding miscreants I had an overwhelming urge to pinch one of their bums - not with any sexual connotation but in the deliberate and malicious way I used to pinch John Ryan's bum when I was in primer three at Central New Brighton Primary School - I swear he once attained the height of one metre above his chair - pure fright, pure joy.
BUT - none of this stopped me from enjoying the delights of Hoorn which is a lovely little port - and it was in a canal of this port that I found a rather nice housing arrangement that is a delight to a sailor such as I.
The house in the photograph is floating on the water on the top of a steel barge. Access is from the street on the left through a quaint gate in a large bushy hedge. The house has nice indoor, outdoor flow onto a small deck area where one can sit and take in the surrounding view.
The yacht is called Sirius (I would rename her Delight if she was mine) and is of Scandinavian pedigree - a clean, mean, speed machine - I know she sails beautifully, her lines have a pure poetry of purpose.
I personally would love, love, love, love, love, love to live like that - a floating house with my yacht moored next to it - ah, it would be bliss indeed for an obsessed old sailor such as me.