After a busy & most enjoyable month at home, we returned to the boat on 16th August. We came back by car having seen that it’s possible to leave a car at Beez (pronounced ‘beeh’), a few kms east of Namur. We stayed a few extra days in the port so that Adrian could do a few more jobs around the boat and so that we could do a little sightseeing with the car.
On Saturday we went to Trembloux – a village a few kms south of Namur – which has the ‘largest brocante in Belgium’. And it was huge – literally took over the whole village for the weekend and there was the most amazing array of wares for sale! From a householder opening his garage to sell off odds & ends; to traders with all sorts – even saw a couple of aircraft wings!!! Unfortunately things were not cheap, in fact some were positively silly money so we only bought one item – a Pommery Champagne cooler to add to my sister’s champagne related 70th pressies. I was reminded strongly of our dear friend Lucie Nobert, with whom Jacqui and I went to a vide grenier in St jean back in April where we found some excellent bargains. Sadly Lucie died suddenly & unexpectedly in June, so I cannot go near a brocante / vide grenier without thinking of her.
On Monday we went up to Waterloo to visit the site of the great battle which took place on 18th June 1815 & marked the final defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte. The town of Waterloo was large and bustling & the Musée Wellington is located in the former inn where the Duke of Wellington spent the night before the battle. Outside the town, at the site of the battle, is the Battlefield Visitor Centre. This was most impressive, with life sized mannequins showing the uniforms and kit the soldiers of the different countries wore; a detailed timeline of the battle itself explaining the troop movements and the decisions made. The battle cost the lives of 13,000 men, 35,000 more were wounded. Napoleon fled back to France where he eventually surrendered and was exiled to the remote island of St Helena where he died a few years later.
The Butte du Lion, an artificial earth mound with bronze statue of a lion on the top, overlooks the area of the battle (which is now returned to agricultural land), it was raised in 1826 as a battle memorial. We climbed the 226 steps to see the panorama of the area – difficult to picture it as the hell it must have been 200 years ago.
The Yatch Club at Beez is an interesting mooring to say the least. A small entrance off the main Meuse river takes you in away from the commercial peniches that power up and down the river – but not from their wash which comes into the harbour and rocks the boats dramatically. This has obviously taken its toll over the years as the pontoons are in a bad state of repair but the promised replacements are a long time coming.
It is surrounded by the dramatic rock formations the river has cut through. We often watched climbers on the rock face, microlights above, kayaks & small sailing boats going out as well as walkers and cyclists along the road. And all from our windows whilst we’re having breakfast!