The first lock (Sormont) on the Somme is listed as automatic in the guide books, triggered by a beam 300m before the lock. Not so anymore it would seem. So we tied up, called the tel number on the lock and awaited the eclusier. He arrived quickly and was most pleasant and helpful. He also went ahead of us to open the lifting bridge at Feuillères where we were stopping for the night.
We had a little walk around the village. No shops at all but we discovered a campsite with a bar – beer and ice cream de rigeur – where we could order baguettes & croissants for the morning. And the well recommended Restaurant du Port where we booked a table for lunch the next day.
Both these items were of great importance. Chris and Helen on Vrouwe Olive, have been speeding along (up to 50kms in a day!) to catch up / meet up with us on the Somme. We did the channel crossing with them a few weeks ago so they have come a goodly distance. Very soon after leaving Calais they were delayed by a lifting bridge which didn’t respond to requests to be opened! Adrian made a few tel calls on their behalf and eventually someone came but it held them up for 2 days! But they then reached the Canal du Nord in record time. Tuesday morning saw them set off at about 9.30 with only 2 locks and a few kilometers to go. But they got well and truly held up by commercials at these locks. Took them about 3 hours!
We had their baguette & croissants awaiting their arrival – Helen is a real sucker for a fresh french baguette.
And lunch was booked for 1pm and the ecluses are shut between 12.30 & 1.30pm! Luckily, as I was attaching our Somme pennant flag, I saw a car with 3 eclusiers going past …… a little chatting up and laying it on a bit thick and they agreed to head back to the lock to wait for Vrouwe Olive. (The young eclusier in the back of the car held out his crossed fingers as the other discussed the issue!) They got there at 12.32pm, were let through, and arrived at Feuillères at 1.05pm. Quick turn around and we went into lunch!
Great little restaurant! Very full – a cycling group and a group of eclusiers. Three course tasty lunch for 16.50 euros each! A wonderful way to get back together.
They were moored above the lifting bridge with noise from the TGV trains hurtling along behind. We were moored the other side of the bridge with the accompaniment of frogs. A whole army (another collective noun) of frogs! Having just watched something of Paul McCartney’s appearance at Glastonbury I was reminded of The Frog Chorus – We All Stand Together.
We actually stayed another 2 days at Feuillères because on Thursday lots of rain was predicted and we all decided we didn’t fancy getting wet. Fair weather boaters maybe but we are no longer in any sort of hurry.
We walked up to the campsite each day to order our bread and croissants. Unfortunately we were not allowed to use the campsite’s swimming pool. That request met a definite ‘non’ from Madam! We bought vegetables, freshly pulled from the ground, & homemade jams at the house next door. Breakfast on the top deck – coffee with fresh croissant & local rhubarb jam – what’s not to love?
We now have a mini convoy & on Friday 1st July we set off to Froissy. 12 kms, a couple of lifting bridges, a couple of locks and an enforced stop for lunch. A real change of pace. We had to go through the locks separately so we had two eclusiers allocated. Service or what? It seems they do not have a lot of boat traffic at present. A lovely cruise through the countryside. We are taking it in turns to cook for each other – so tonight Adrian and I ate at the ‘Resto Vrouwe Olive’ – delicious and not far to head home.
Early this morning , when I got up to make the tea, I saw that we had the makings of a misty morning as the mist was rising from the canal…….