We arrived at Lamotte Brebière by mid afternoon on Sunday 17th July after a long hot day’s cruise – even if it was only 24kms and 3 locks! Unfortunately 2 large British boats had beaten us to it and were ensconced on the little pontoons with access to the free water and electric. There was a small, unoccupied boat on the canoe pontoon on that side too. No one seemed to know when they would return. ‘Dam and blast’ we cried! Technically there was no space for us at all but the eclusiers suggested we moor on the other side, just in front of the lock, and even helped us in. Couple of cans of beer in thanks!
So this is where we have waited out the heatwave. We have made full use of the biminis, the shading sheets, the internal blinds and heat reflective window covers to keep the boat as cool as possible. May look a little odd to passers-by but it sure helps. Washing dries real quick too!
This is obviously a very popular area for locals. Lots of walkers, cyclists and picnic-ers, especially at the weekend. Interesting for us sitting in the shade of the trees. Most say ‘bonjour’ as they pass by, or ‘bon appetit’ if we happen to be having dinner on deck. And many stop for a chat – often very interested in where we’re from, what we’re doing and where we’re going. One young couple even asked to sign up to this blog – bienvenu Paul!
Most people are very good at putting their rubbish in the bins provided. The lock keepers empty them regularly. I was horrified to see one large family using the historic stone horse troughs as BBQ pits. I suppose it could have been preferrable to risking a fire in dry grass …….
So here we sat in the shade or having breakfast under the trees beside the river whilst waiting for the heatwave to pass us by……
I have even found a little spot where I can dip me feet in the water – delightful! Shame the old lock keeper’s house is not open for ice creams!!!
On Monday 18th July the temperature reached 41 degrees. Crazy! And there is little respite at night especially as we cannot use a fan,since we are not connected to electricity. I sleep with a wet towel on my tummy! What a vision of loveliness I hear you say!
But then ….. I saw a cyclist taking a swim ……. he showed where and how to get in the water and even helped haul me out! So I swam a couple of times with this guy on Monday, he returned on Tuesday and so we swam again! Caused a little amusement to the English boaters but I enjoyed it.
On Tuesday a french couple stopped to talk with us as they and friends are on boats a bit further up river. They were checking out the situation at Lamotte as they also want water and electricity. Turns out they recognised Piedaleau from Valenciennes where they used to moor. They know Benoit and Roberto and called Phillippe, the previous capitaine, so we could all say hello. We had a cold beer together and an enjoyable half hour. Small world.
In the meantime we were plotting how we could move over to the other side on Weds when 2 boats planned to leave. Both ourselves and Andy and Kay on Hilde wanted to move over for water etc. Andy has had a accident on his bike and needs to rest up before continuing to cruise. We have also heard that an English boater has had a major health emergency and so 2 barges are waiting in Corbie whilst she is in hospital. Things happen.
The young couple returned to the small boat and were not very pleasant when Adrian enquired as to when they might be moving on. Hmmmm
During the evening the wind got up and then it rained …. at last ……so refreshing.
Weds 20th July
A day of highs and a low…….
Lisa and Alex have got engaged! So happy for them ….. lovely news!
Once Vagabond left we moved over and the lady in the small boat made some very sarcastic remark along the lines of ‘so now you’ll have your free water’! Hmmm again.
An eclusier then came along to find out how long boats had been here and when they were moving on. Technically you can stay 72 hours on a mooring but in practice it is not policed. But people have obviously needed more access to services because of the heat and it is not fair to hog or block access for others. Mooring is free but the bornes providing water and electricity usually charge 2 euros for 4 hours. We came with a little stack of 2 euro coins. But many bornes aren’t working this year, don’t take any money & therefore water and electricity are free.
The lady in the small boat went ballistic at both the eclusier (student working for the summer) and at us. Basically saying we wanted the free services and would not go where we had to pay 2 euros! Said ‘you british should take your boats and go home’! How nice. I have met some stand-offish boaters but I have never been shouted at like this before. Anyway they moved across and then left a little later. No love lost there.
In the meantime, along came the french couple we met the day before – Dominic and Rachel on Amiral with their friends Daniel and Jannick on Adonis. We helped them moor up, Hilde came across and we all helped them so that Andy didn’t strain his sore ribs. By the end of the day there were another 2 boats here as well – one rafted up to Hilde for the night since the locks were now closed. The young eclusier came to check on us all again to make sure all were now happy. Rachel told me that they had asked the eclusiers to check things out for them.
Dom and Daniel invited us to have apéro with them later. I suggested 6pm but they prefer later so we compromised at 6.30pm. Daniel suggested an ‘apéro dînatoire’ – a ‘grazing apéro’ – ie everyone brings some drinks & lots of tasty bits and pieces to ‘graze’ & share. Thus making it apértif & dinner all in one. Kay and Andy joined us. Just as I had announced Lisa and Alex’s engagement and Adrian had broken out the Crémant, so it started to rain. We pulled back under the trees and carried on until nearly 10pm. Lots of laughter, shared stories and information sharing, mainly in french, but with some translation for Kay and Andy and Rachel practising her english.
We had a fascinating conversation about mussels. Depending on where you moor, boats can be affected by mussels attaching to the hull underwater. When your boat is taken out for cleaning the hull it can take quite a while to remove these little blighters – and they stink once out of the water. Dom said they had removed literally kilos of them. Boats go much faster afterwards!
But we had never heard of the award of ‘Grand Maitre des Moules’ that he was given in recognition of his efforts. He was so proud of his cerificate, crown, necklace and moules stick.
Dom said he’d found the blog, enjoyed the photos but couldn’t read the text….
Alors – à Dom, Rachel, Daniel et Jannick – bienvenu à Lamotte Brebière et à le Piedaleau.blog. Merci d’un réunion très sympa, un apéro-dînatoire super, comme Daniel m’a appris. Félicitations Grand Maitre des Moules.
A bientôt, j’espère X