After Mons we cruised back along the Canal du Centre in Belgium to Péronnes and our last stop on this trip. No sooner were we moored up than we hot-footed it along to the beer pub we found a few weeks ago and then into the restaurant for dinner. Excellent!
Monday morning was misty across the Grand Large lake but the sun, the wind surfers and the dingy sailors soon appeared!
We waited for friends to arrive by car from Valenciennes to join us on the final leg of this trip. We had sunshine, showers and everything in between! We pulled in for lunch at Mortagne before tackling the last 3 locks on the Escaut and arriving back in Valenciennes. The last 2 locks were quite difficult as we were behind a commercial tug which kept revving its engines to maintain its position. This, in turn, made it hard for us to hold our position – we were glad to have extra crew so that Adrian could stay at the helm and use our engine when necessary.
Both Patrick & Arian enjoyed taking a spell at the helm under Adrian’s guidance.
We turned into the Valescaut port entrance to find the water was running really fast, too fast to go right through to our mooring, so we stopped at the Ponton d’Acceuille – aka the poo pontoon! Once more an unintended 180 degree turn was executed but Sylvie (on her boat nearby) came to take a line and after a bit of heaving we got well tied up for the night!
And then we all went out to dinner! Patrick & Arian took us to a friend’s bistrot where we had a most enjoyable evening.
On Tuesday we therefore had to drive back to Péronnes to collect Patrick’s car and we decided to make the most of the jaunt and visit St Amand-les-Eaux, a pleasant small spa town with an interesting history and the restored tower of the Abbey de St Amand des Eaux which was built between 1626 & 1640. The excavated site shows the size of the original Abbey which was built in baroque style, surrounded by smaller turrets – the architecture being specific to this region of Flanders and northern France. An impressive sight, particularly on a sunny autumn day.
The next couple of days were taken up with sorting out the boat and starting to pack! Not an enjoyable pastime – how on earth did we manage to cram quite so much ‘stuff’ into our ‘little’ boat????
On Thursday, for a little light relief, we were off to Bruges to visit Grainne and Andrew who are now moored in the Coupure for the winter. We made a short detour to drop in for coffee with Sally and Martin in Kortrijk en route – haven’t seen them for several years so it was lovely to catch up. The last time we saw them they told us how Martin had fallen in the river one winter evening and had been fished out by the pompiers & taken to hospital with hypothermia. Not a pleasant experience at all but he is fine now, thank goodness.
We thoroughly enjoyed our little sojourn in Bruges. Andrew had spent Thursday learning to make sausages with Terry on CarolAnn. Quite a process. Particularly, as since Brexit, you cannot import the skins for sausages from the UK – they have to order them from Holland! It was a fun evening.
Friday was a nice day and so Adrian and Andrew spent an ‘enjoyable’ couple of hours adapting and fitting their car roof box onto our car ready for the infamous final packing! Walking around Bruges is always a delight – always see some interesting architecture.
There is a beautiful ‘zen’ Church nearby which we hadn’t seen before.
And then there’s George and Margot – Grainne and Andrew’s dogs! George is soft as anything and Margot is a little minx! If she thinks he’s getting the attention she gets in front!
We all went to the beach at Blankenberg on Saturday afternoon. George was very excited as soon as he smelt the sea air – Margot had not been to the beach before but she soon got the idea and they ran and chased and played with each other. Lovely afternoon!
On Saturday Bruges was heaving! It was marathon time so the main square was crammed full of people and the runners ran right past the boats moored in the Coupure.
Our little sojourn in Bruges was soon over and we headed back to Valenciennes to complete the sale of Piedaleau and our packing!
Cheers Andrew and Grainne x