While I’m visiting my parents on the barge, I thought I’d give you a bit of background about why they’re spending their retirement in this extraordinary way.
It had always been my father’s dream to buy a Dutch Barge and travel around Europe when he retired from the police. I fondly remember my younger brother and I playing a game with my Dad whereby, he would be lying on the sofa and my brother and I would take it in turns to bribe him with imagined riches, possessions, barges etc. in an attempt to persuade Dad to throw the other sibling off the sofa.
This was almost certainly our favourite game in the whole, entire world! We loved trying foolishly to stay on the sofa when our luck had run out, and we loved it when we made it to that treasured spot. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure that either my brother or I actually knew what a Dutch Barge was…but this was always what Mum suggested when we ran out of ideas, that or two twenty-year-olds, which fortunately, we also didn’t understand – at the time…tut tut!
Anyway, I digress. My Dad has always loved boats and we spent a lot of time on them when we were growing up, every summer in fact. None of my friends’ parents had boats and I always assumed that we were just different. This became amplified when my parents announced that they would be selling our family home and buying a barge in Europe. No one else’s parents were doing that and for a long time I couldn’t understand why they’d want to do it.
This is my parents’ home:
I had no idea that it was such a popular thing to do! My parents have become a part of a huge community of fellow ‘bargees’ as I like to call them, often bumping (not literally) into each other on their travels, spending the winters moored together in a port and socialising regularly. Their conversations together often include phrases like, “Have you met Riccall?” or “We had dinner with Matariki the other day”. I suppose the worries that I had before they left were that they would be lonely without friends and family close by, little did I know that there was a huge, welcoming community, known as The Long Village, of like-minded people for them to join!
I asked my Dad why he wanted to do it and he said that he saw a Dutch Barge, much smaller than the one he now lives on, on the Thames and liked it. It was as simple as that really, though I can imagine how his early conversations about this went with my Mum…but some of their newfound friends have come from all over the world to do this and after nearly 7 years of amazing holidays, experiences, foods, apéros with fellow bargees and more, I can definitely see the appeal!
If you’re interested in reading more about my parents’ adventures on the canals in Europe, do check out their blog!