Myself and Roders have just been in the freezer tent in Holland making our 4 meter T-rex that is undecided on whether it should freeze or melt as the temperature is fluttering between -2 and +2 C. As a consequence I as any Englishman of our humid Island can emphasise, was thoroughly damp and cold. But I was not alone in this resplendent condition; there were 30 other carvers from over the world stood in our damp cloths whilst we waited for the special announcement.
“We have a little bit of a situation” said Huib our director, he is of a typical Dutch disposition with his tall height, blue eyes and fair hair. But he was not standing tall this moment, he was slumped against the table whilst he addressed us, not defeated, but certainly fatigued. “As you know it has been raining hard,” it was this torrential rain that had been causing the freezer tent to be so warm. “It has been raining so hard that the roads to our houses are totally flooded.” This was not a good thing to be telling 30 people who were hungry and rank with damp, desperately wanting to eat and shower. “But although we cannot get there by car we can get there by boat.” The adventure was about to begin. “…..this has not happened for ten years.”
With the excitement of an adventure and boat ride we changed our cloths and hurried to the cars, driving down country roads to find our passage. Awaiting us was a boat to take us to the restaurant on the mariner. But it then dawned on us that our actual houses would be flooded. Furthermore, my friend Ludo had left her car beside her house apparently now bathing in water. I hate to say this Ludo, but I won a bet on the whether the authorities would take your car from the flooded area. They did not and so I won. Whilst we ate, Ludo managed to drive her car back from the houses onto dry land through the water, apparently not knowing where the road was as it was immersed.
But I reluctantly confess that the Dutch are clever fellows even for a country that is even smaller than my own, rather unfortunate if you consider that they are all so big. They are so clever in fact that we ate our tea with growing enthusiasm and excitement at what was to come with not even a hint of despair. They are used to water problems with all their dikes and irrigation systems, but they have not stopped there, they have even now built the ultimate defence against the risk of flood, in England we try to control the rivers with our clumsy sand bags, but no, in Holland they just build houses that can never get wet because they simply float.
No, it is not a boat or a boat house, it is a floating house, a house that goes up and down in the water and is attached to a simple pole so that it doesn’t float away; that would be very confusing. When you are in it you can occasionally feel it bobbing around, it has a concrete base, a chimney, a roof, windows, a front door and a balcony. In fact, it is not just one or a couple of floating houses, but a whole street, with street lights and plants, playgrounds for kids to play in, and instead of having gnomes in the garden they have ducks of all different types; they seem to be having the last quack. The only real problem with the floating house is actually getting to it. But the Dutch come up trumps again and just throw another boat in the equation. But then this has not happened as aforementioned for 10 years and the boat driver is not so accustomed to driving his big boat down narrow watery streets, so you can forgive him for crashing it a couple of times along the way, especially in the ‘hurricane winds’ that are the cause of all the rain.
But we sculptors were not perturbed, quite merry after a few beverages and all ready to test our new sea legs, we rallied upon the boat and then searched for our houses in the dark, scrambling upon our balconies with a cheer from our brethren on the account of not falling in the water and drowning. But now we are all safe in our floating houses, the rain cannot touch us here.
…..two days later. The water may not have got us, but the fog has. We are now stranded in our floating houses as nobody will sail the boat in the fog that descended this morning. We have one pack of muesli, three bananas and a bottle of single malt whiskey between the four of us. Now the fun begins.