From Deulement we headed onto Lille on 27th April. Keith had told us about the port at Wambrechies, which is on the outskirts of Lille & an easy bus ride into the centre of town. We also saw that there was to be a big carnival in Lille that weekend and so decided not to moor in the centre, especially as Chris was nervous having had his bike stolen in Kortrijk ( where there had also been a big fair). So we moored in Wambrechies and it really is a lovely little port with several pubs and a superb boulangerie close by. We booked for a week so that we could go into Lille several times.
On the Tuesday the 3 of us went into Lille for a general wander about and had lunch in one of Adrian’s old haunts – Les Trois Brasseurs (three brewers) beside the station. Its a micro brewery so we each tried a different beer and had flammacouches – the local equivalent of pizza. All really rather good!
On Wednesday Adrian and I walked around Wambrechies and visited the Doll & Toy museum. Rather quaint I would say – the dolls are displayed in little tableaux, including WW1 scenes – we particularly enjoyed playing with some of the old fashioned games. Adrian had the audacity to beat me at draughts!
We noted that the celebrations in Lille had been deferred to the next weekend, rain & wind had stopped play on the 28th April. Lucky really because Rachel & Jonathan were due to join us on Friday 3rd May for a few days! I went off on Thursday to visit the Musee des Beaux Arts – unfortunately Adrian had managed to pull something in his back so was rather incapacitated for a few days. Very nice museum – not too big – and houses some excellent works. Good coffee too!
Rachel and Jonathan arrived fairly late on Friday evening but we managed to share a bottle of Cremant de Bourgogne (or 3) while we caught up. Had a little jig on the top deck as a party boat went past. Love them to bits!
On Saturday Rachel, Jonathan & I (Adrian’s back still sore) headed into Lille for the Eldorado parade and celebrations. After walking around for a while we followed TripAdvisor’s suggestion for a beer and ended up at Les Trois Brasseurs! And we were ideally placed to ‘watch’ the procession as it started through the old town. Couldn’t see it all from our table in the bar but saw enough and heard lots more! Lots of music and dancing on the floats. There were bands and illuminations in front of the Hotel de Ville & the Place de Gaulle. There were lots of police around but the atmosphere was great with people (Rachel & I included) dancing in the street. One way to keep warm!
Then around 10.30pm, beside the canal, there were fireworks! And a very good display it was too. All in all a very good day!
And then we went to try and find a bus …… or a taxi ….. none to be found! So Adrian drove in to pick us ‘dirty stop outs’ up! What a star!
On Sunday we all went in search of a huge market. Unfortunately it had loads of food and clothing but no brocante which is what Rachel & I had been hoping for. Still you can’t win them all!
Monday 6th morning everyone was up early & we cruised the 16kms & 1 lock to Don. Although Rachel & Jonathan had joined us on board last year in Ghent at the DBA rally, this was the first time they had actually cruised on Piedaleau. We moored at Don, had lunch and then Rachel & Jonathan had to head off home – needed to visit a large supermarket en route to stock up on beer and wine.
The engine did not behave itself properly so at one point we thought we might have to stop ……. but the burning-type smell was coming from a waste disposal place outside, not the engine! But we did spend the next day bleeding air out of the fuel system and changing the gear box oil. The joys of boat ownership!
Chris then had a couple of friends come to stay with him for 2 days. John and Julie, narrow boaters and bikers. Huge bike with trailer on which they go off to rallies all over the place – literally covered thousands & thousands of miles. We had great fun all eating together first on Chris’s boat and then on ours. Very warm people with a great repertoire of stories! I even got to play ‘biker’s moll’ before they headed off….