We left Amiens on 10th September and headed for Corbie where Sue and Alan (Suzanne) told us there was space and even got a couple of boats to squeeze up so that we could fit onto the lower pontoon outside the campsite. We wanted to paint the starboard side of the hull that we couldn’t reach when we were on the raised pontoon at Zelzate. It was still far from easy – in fact we had to lie down flat on the pontoon to reach down to the waterline. Not much fun but we were determined to get it finished before the winter.
Sue and Alan were completing some upholstery changes having had the inside of their boat altered with the help of David Wrigglesworth at the beginning of the season. Small world yet again! I lent them my sewing machine and we finally managed to get together for a proper drink & chat. We just love the kiwi boaters we seem to meet!
Keith and Lucreze came down in their campervan for a couple of days which was great – apart from the jobs we had to complete – leak hunting and painting! We all went to the John Monash Memorial Centre and ate at the Carolina restaurant near the moorings. Keith took away the Heinz salad cream and malt vinegar supplies he had requested!
We then met Chris and Helen on Olive. They have lived on their tjalk for about 20 years, on the Thames & then near Ipswich. So more aperitifs required! And another very knowledgeable and helpful contact. Much talk of the leak!
On the 15th Sept we headed off again! Stopped for lunch at Merricourt and walked around the wetland nature reserve which is obviously a fisherman’s delight!
At one lock we saw the only remaining horse water trough from the days of barges being pulled by horses and at another we learnt that Tolkein had stayed in the area for sometime and had been influenced by the wetlands landscape when writing the Hobbit! Amazing the little titbits you pick up along the way!
Then onwards to Froissy for the night. We walked around Le P’tit Train depot – apparently the small gauge train track was built by allied troops during WW1 to delievr supplies and munitions to the troops at the front. It is now a tourist attraction run by volunteers.
We moored behind an Irish couple (Paul & Elaine) who will be in Flandria for the winter. He warned us that there was due to be a lock closure on part of the Canal du Nord on the 17th. So next day we set off early and left the Somme to head back towards Belgium and to revisit the boatyard at Zelzate to try and get things finished!
Altogether we spent a month on the Somme and thoroughly enjoyed it! ‘Normal’ locks, helpful lock keepers providing excellent service and some lovely moorings. Amazingly, apart from Cappy, all moorings are free – you just pay for water and electricity (2euros for 4 hours). You don’t even need a VNF licence for the Somme! Amazing! We’ll return another time for sure.
As we passed Cappy we saw a boat name which made us smile …… obviously the owners of this renovated working boat have our kind of sense of humour!