On Thursday (21st July) morning Adrian led a bike party ie Rachel and Kay, up to Glisy to go to the supermarket. As soon as he was back we hightailed it away. We were heading for Sailly Laurette because we’d spotted a nice mooring there complete with bar / restaurant. Didn’t quite work out as intended.
The eclusier at Sailly écluse asked a group of people fishing on the mooring to move. They suggested we go futher along but the eclusier explained that mooring pontoons are for boats. Anyway we moored up, the fishing group stayed put. We went for a drink at the bar – no longer did food and we didn’t like the beer much. One of the fishing group said they’d thought they might borrow the boat. So we untied and set off again. A couple of kms further upstream is the village of Chipilly – another nice mooring we had noted. We came in very very slowly and carefully because of the weed along both sides of the channel. There was a fisherman there who promptly said he would move since boats had priority on moorings. What a difference.
We moored up and went to suss out the bar. The beer was extremely good – Belgian beers on draught – and everyone was friendly and welcoming. One beer became two and so we stayed a couple of nights at Chipilly! We had some tidying up to do along the side of the boat beside the pontoon and this mooring was ideal for that. Full access to the side.
Geese seem to be a feature of the river along here. A group of 6 are continually patrolling the bank. They hissed a bit at us but they certainly didn’t like the 3 month old kitten who tried to eat some of ‘their’ bread. One of the residents has a ‘pet’ goose. Apparently he rescued her after she was atacked by swans last year. They think she’s a she and have named her Sidolène (Sid for short according to Adrian). She follows the bloke when he drives away, trotting after his car, responds to their call, goes into their house and sleeps under their car.
We’ve seen and wondered about these little houses along the bank sides. This couple explained to us that they had bought their tract of land on which they placed a caravan and then extended it and tarted it up. Others rent from the local mairie. Not quite sure how that works exactly, but there are some real shanty type dwellings along here. Presumably they are not allowed to build permanent structures for all year round living or in case of floods. Apparently there are no services – no water or electricity. They buy water in tanks from the mairie, go to the campsite for showers and this couple had installed solar panels. Others we saw obviously had not, so presumably have no electricity.
Anyway this particular old couple (who turned out to be younger than us) were exremely pleased and proud of their second home. They stay here all summer until it gets too cold then they return to their house and madam’s weekly karaoke.
The little village turned out to be very interesting. Virtually all french villages have a memorial to those who lost their lives in the two world wars. It was at Chipilly that the allies, notably the London Division, liberated the village from German occupation. There are two memorials opposite each other – one to the local french and one to the British. This is a lovely sculture of a British soldier comforting his dying horse. It was erected in honour of the 58th British Division, the London Division. The scultor was Henri-Désiré Gauquie & is one of many memorials to horses following WW1. Both memorials are equally well kept.
We then walked up to the communal cemetry where there are perhaps a hundredCommonwealth war graves along an outer wall. In fact there are some french soldiers buried with them.
All very moving and it just shows how this area still remembers and respects the allies who fought for them.
Changing the subject …… there are two french words that I find particularly beautiful – libelulle and nénuphar. Libelulle means dragonfly, which we have seen everywhere along the Somme. There seems to be no differentiation between dragon flies and damsel flies – all are called libelulles. Nénuphar means water lilly, which we have also seen in places notably away from the nasty weed. There were several huge swathes on the lake behind the houses at Chipilly. You don’t often see both white and pink beside each other but we did here. And so I walked across the grass to get photos and promptly got stung on me little toe! The things I do for my blog and all you folks!