It was two and a half years ago that I wrote what has become my most popular post about my barge, the Vereeniging. As I wrote at the time, I bought it “as an empty shell complete with several not so optional extras, these being rust holes, a rotten axle and rather too obvious ventilation in all the wrong places. I had to forgive her though. She was a hundred and three years old and had survived serious abuse and neglect, somehow managing to stay afloat while the weeds grew out of the rust in her hull. It was a match made for the tenacious; both her and me.”
The blog post I wrote described what I needed to do keep my dream boat alive; how it became my passion and my goal; how even when I moved out of it to give my daughters a home when they needed bolt holes, it still occupied my thoughts, my life and my time.
Now we are a bit further on in time and I haven’t changed my feelings of affection for my lovely barge. She is 120 years old this year. The trouble is that even though I am still only just over half her age, my energies are not quite as resilient as they used to be. I’m beginning to notice the, shall we say, limitations of my advancing years even if she isn’t. Frozen shoulders, locked up ankles, spasmodic (is there such a word?) muscles; yes, these are all rather potent reminders that I am sixty something and I can kiss goodbye to my ideas (note that word) of lissome, lithe agility. Not that I ever have been that, but the idea of it, you understand, is what has kept me going.
So I am pondering on our future – my barge’s and mine – and maybe rethinking the plans. The Vereeniging has been part of my life and my heart for so long I still find it hard to think of a future without my damesschip, but before even contemplating that, there is the dream trip to be done; the one that in all the seventeen years I’ve had her has not yet been done. We, that is Koos, the Vereeniging and I, have a journey to undertake and that is a non- negotiable. We have to take my old lady home. We have to take her to Utrecht and then along the Vecht and Oude Rijn to revisit the route she travelled as a working barge so many years ago. After that, well, we’ll see. Maybe it will be time to pass her over to some younger hands, but before then, she will be smooshed, smartened and shined as never before. We, the Vereeniging and I, have plenty to do together and with Koos’ help on her oily bits, we will prepare for that day, whenever it may be.