Sorry for delay in posting blogs – life takes over sometimes – we have been home for sometime so I have decided I must catch up on the blog!
On Monday 20th September Chris & Helen Hanley came to join us for a week. Chris is the guy who installed the plastic water tanks ……..started them about 18 months ago in Bruges but Covid kept throwing curved balls at us. When he left just over a year ago he needed to replace a dodgy pipe that had been used in the original build but was impossible to stop leaking when the tanks were filled to capacity. Chris had bought all the relevant bits but Covid prevented his return last summer. They had decided not to bring their boat to France this year so we combined the completion of the TANKS with a week’s visit!
I made sure we had baguettes awaiting their arrival as Helen loves a good baguette! And croissants ….. and patisseries!
We planned where to cruise together so that they would be able to head straight for home from our destination on Monday. Kortrijk provided a reasonable cruise, we know car parking is possible & it is a big enough town to provide the PCR testing facilities they would need before departure. So Tues 21st Sept was busy – shopping; collecting battery from Coutrai and dropping their car off in Kortrijk.
Antoing was our first overnight stop on Weds 22nd Sept. No one else there! We walked around town and decided to frequent the little pizza restaurant for dinner. It was exceptionally good. We’ll go there again. Unfortunately the boulangerie is not open on a Thursday so no fresh croissants or baguettes for Helen!
Onwards on Thursday to the rural mooring at the entrance to the Espierre Canal. A really lovely peaceful mooring despite the commercials heading past the basin.
Friday took us into Kortrijk.We had to purchase a vignette for the Flanders waterways as we came through the deep lock at Bossuit. The vignette system has changed since we were last in this part of Belgium. You can now buy the vignette online for the exact number of days you require. We paid around 100 euros for 3 weeks. Not the cheapest way to do it but that’s all the time we have this year.
We went through the Bossuit / Kortrijk Canal and had to wait for the lock keeper at the Kortrijk end where the three small locks are hand operated. Despite being in Belgium this guy was a master of the ‘eclusier walk’ we know so well from our travels in France. Slow was not in it! Particularly at the last lock where we had to wait nearly half an hour for him to return (from who knows where) and finally let us out!
We went round into the visitors mooring haven but it was full! A very careful u-turn to exit (with a french boater, relaxing with a glass of red in his hand, watching Adrian’s every move ) and go to the other mooring site which was empty! We revisited the little Thai restaurant we went to with David Almond 3 or 4 years ago. It has changed hands, is a bit more expensive but the food was excellent.
Helen and I enjoyed wandering around the town which seems to be really up and coming! Lots of cafes and restaurants along the water side and smart shops off from the square. We had coffee at the former, but resisted spending loads of dosh in the latter!
On saturday Chris and Helen got an appointment for their PCR tests and retrieved their car. All went according to plan – they received their negative results within a few hours, completed their passenger ID forms and were all set for departure on Sunday morning. No worries!
A most enjoyable week!
Chris sent a photo of the lovely red pipe that he brought and fitted to our tanks! I thought you’d all appreciate seeing it!