Expedition No. 11 - CANAL CAPERS

Messing about in boats may well have been a leisurely way to pass the time in Christchurch, but here in Amsterdam Hutch had discovered it an infinitely more serious business. Nevertheless he had taken to canal barges like a duck to water, and now found himself trundling majestically down the Keizersgracht, trying his very best to look heroic.

“I can see why they call this place the Venice of the North,” he opined to no-one in particular, when all of a sudden a shout to starboard awoke him from his musings.

“Haloo!” it said, quickly followed by some double Dutch that Hutch could not fathom for the life of him.

Hutch turned to see another barge coming alongside. Clomping along its deck in clogs as thick as tree trunks was an elderly man in a dark blue smock, a pipe seemingly welded to his lower lip.

“I’m sorry?” said Hutch by way of apology. The old man offered nothing further. He simply held up a grapefruit-sized orb of red wax and beckoned. Hutch needed no further invitation. He shut off his engine, steered alongside and hopped on over.

“I hope you don’t mind me barging in like this,” said Hutch, drily. The old man shook his head and sliced off a generous wedge of said red-waxed cheese, which our inquisitive Kiwi was only too glad to sample.

“Egads!” declared Hutch.

“Edam,” corrected his fellow barger. “Is good, ja?”

“This is a Dutch masterpiece!” said Hutch, allowing the mild sweetness of the cheese to roll across his tastebuds. “How would one usually eat it?”

“In a sandwich, as a snack or on a cheeseboard,” suggested the old man.

“Or perhaps on a barge,” added Hutch, grinning. “And I would pair it with a Riesling, Chablis, or a decent Pinot Noir.”

“Maybe even a Champagne,” suggested the old man, drawing down on his pipe.

“Absolutely, my good man,” Hutch replied, a twinkle in his eye. “Seeing as we’re pushing the boat out!”