Please note - these are not edited !



In the Netherlands (or Low Countries - but never called Holland), large numbers of the population live on the water. Many live in old, converted barges, now cosy or draughty (depending on their maintenance) live in, on-the-water houses connected to power, water and sewerage systems. Others live in custom built house boats that have never and will never be used as a boat as they have below water accommodation and systems that would totally preclude them being moved from the place they were delivered and assembled.

There is little extra space adjoining these accommodations, whether they be canal-side in Amsterdam or lakeside in Loosdrecht. No gardens, no lawns, very little more that a walkway littered with the entrances and connections of other houseboats together with their accumulated accessories; bicycles, cars, rubbish bins, assorted old pieces of furniture and bric-a-brac.

Confined to such a restricted area the ingenious Dutch have come up with a new twist to the inner city balcony or small plot patio - the aquatic verandah.

There must be no stranger sight than seeing a group of lunch guests assemble on the back deck of a house boat, an area say 4 metres square with a table, umbrella, chairs, barbecue and other necessities, and after making themselves comfortable, casting the whole construction adrift from the mother ship.  Powered by a half hidden outboard motor, they sail serenely away to an area of greater beauty, more shade, a better view or just a different outlook.

Sunny Sunday afternoons on the Loosdrechtse, an area of five adjoining freshwater lakes covering and area of 2500 or more hectares sees many different kinds of sailing, powered and human powered vehicles on the water, operated by people with a wide range of skill and experience. The really frightening sight then is the appearance of an aquatic verandah, populated by six to eight octogenarians dressed in their Sunday best, stoking a barbecue and sipping drinks as the meander across the path of sightseeing ferries, racing yachts, out of control hire boats and high velocity water skiers.

I can just imagine the chaos on the Swan River or Sydney harbour should the craze take off in Perth or Sydney. Jet ferries on the beach, the Sydney - Hobart yacht race start in uproar and the grannies sailing calmly on to Mosman or Rose Bay. Except for the fact that Australia does not have a great number of its population living on the water and the authorities are gestapo like in their exclusion of new forms of water borne operations, it is an amusing picture to contemplate.

Aquatic verandahs - well why not ?