Frankie and Greg (my sister & bro in-law) have been trying to come to the boat for some time but things & life kept getting in the way! They arrived on 4th Aug by Eurostar to Lille and we went to pick them up by car, so as to reduce their use of public transport as much as possible. Eurostar was well organised, pretty empty & they kept their masks on throughout, so no worries. Haven’t seen them for yonks so it was really great to get together. We all thoroughly enjoyed our few days together.
After a bit of difficulty getting out of our mooring, we went for a short cruise to Antoing and back. Being amongst the big boyos & in the big locks was a new experience for them!
We moored in the little harbour at Antoing for the night – just in front of our neighbours from Valenciennes! There was quite a bit of cabaret whilst we were moored there, what with cranes lifting heavy stuff right over our heads onto a building site ….
and then watching a guy on a commercial barge across the river load his car from the side into the hold.
We had a pleasant walk around the town and discovered that Antoing was the first town in Belgium to be liberated by the allies in 1944. But, like everywhere else, there’s no getting away from Covid and masks are obligatory throughout the town centre.
The Chateau towers you see from the river and above the town are really gorgeous!
And then, as we cruised back to Valenciennes we saw another first – camels on the river bank!!! Whatever next, I hear you ask……..
Raclette for dinner on the top deck back in Valenciennes, that’s what was next…….
We were all suffering from the heat and the temperature was still climbing (saw 40C outside a couple of times) and so we decided we needed a nice dose of air conditioned culture on the Friday. We went to the Louvre at Lens and it was bliss! Needless to say Frankie and I were particularly enamoured of the Egyptian artefacts and she tried to read the hieroglyphics having been doing an on line hieroglyphs course throughout lockdown!
Frankie had jokingly said that we needed to find a nice big space in the air con to sit and rest and have a little doze. And that’s exactly what we found – complete with deckchairs – and exactly what we did for an hour or so! Liam commented that Adrian looked the ‘epitome of culture’!
Then on Saturday 8th Aug we drove them back to Lille for their return home on Eurostar. On our way back to the boat we decided to return home ourselves – heat was too much and we had heard that quarantine might be introduced for travellers from France any day. Eurotunnel was already very booked up so we had to take a booking on Sunday 9th Aug. We returned to find some new, nice quiet neighbours….
Not sure when we will get back to the boat but we would very much like to get some final bits and pieces done and we would like to do some cruising. But we cannot say where or when. Everyone is having to change plans both because of Covid and because of the weather. Many french canals are now closed due to lack of water. Being on the Grand Gabarit network means these waterways remain open at least.
We’ve cruised for 6 days so far this year and we have got Piedaleau to her new mooring. If that is all we manage this year then so be it. Many of our friends from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the States can’t get to their boats at all this year.
There probably won’t be many more Piedaleau blogs from me in 2020……
We just have to wait and see how things progress……