Catching up with the Bernadette

We have been trying to meet up with friends, whom we haven’t seen in ages (due to Covid), this year. Unfortunately we couldn’t quite manage to see Sue and David Thurston who were in Auxerre. But I was determined to meet up with Henk and Bernadette whom we hadn’t seen for something like six years! Long term readers of my blogs will know that I first met Henk and Bernadette on the Nivernais with their neighbours Tony and Annie. I was on Misty Morning with Nadine and they were on a hire boat. Henk came to our assistance – and as Annie said that chance meeting has resulted in a lovely, lovely friendship! Henk and Bernadette came to join my 60th birthday celebration in Paris; they joined me on Misty Morning several times; Bernadette has visited me in the Uk and I have visited her in Aus. Great friends and lots of friends in common too – Elizabeth and David Wrigglesworth in particular! Lovely memories of us all at Cascarot – which Elizabeth has now sold (end of an era) and she and David have moved to Aus.

We were also planning to rendezvous with Chris and Helen (Vrouwe Olive). I twigged that the boats would not be far from each other on Thursday (15th) evening – so we timed things so we could see them both. Then Chris further twigged that if the Bernadette went an extra few kms ……. they could moor just in front of Vrouwe Olive on the Scarpe at Corbehem. So that is what happened and a lovely evening ensued!

Chris, Helen, Henk and Bernadette had never met before but that was no problem. Henk fired up the barbie, in true Aus tradition, and between the 2 boats we shared a meal on Vrouwe Olive – complete with Champers and Cremant de Bourgogne.

Friday morning Henk excelled himself yet again by continuing his Sunday morning pancake tradition! (OK so it wasn’t Sunday but no one held that against him!) I so remember him doing this for Bernadette & myself on Misty Morning whilst sporting my Australian pinny!

Really sorry to see them go – a short but very very sweet meet up. xxx

Some light relief

During all that boaty type ‘excitement’ we met Margaret and John on Catharina. They are New Zealanders and so we know quite a few people in common! Tony & Sue Crang, Bill & Mandy Leckie to name a few. Stories were swapped. They were especially interested to learn that we had taken a trip to NZ in 2016. We had hoped to meet up with Sue & David Thurston this year but timescales just didn’t allow. We have such lovely memories of our trip and all the lovely kiwis who welcomed us with open arms!

After Joni, Coole Swan and then Vrouwe Olive had all left we arranged to go out for dinner with John & Margaret on Saturday 10th. We went out to a very nice resaurant called Les Arcades for a rather splendid meal. We ate very well, drank very well and talked and talked! Lovely evening.

Turbot with aubergine sauce – yummy!

Margaret had found a lovely Roumanian lass who does nails. So on Sunday Adrian and John went for a beer (or 2) while we both had pedicures!

And then on Monday evening, since they were leaving on Tuesday morning, they suggested visiting our favourite family run greek restaurant! We’re becoming quite well known there…..

At Mykonos!

On that Sunday (while we were having pedicures) there was the annual procession through town to commenorate Notre-Dame du Saint-Cordon. She is attributed with saving the town from the plague in the 15th Century by encirculing the town with a cordon which the plague never crossed. Unfortunately I have no photos of this. But on Monday afternoon I did manage a quick look around the annual brocante in the Place d’Armes. I was tempted by a few little niceties but, unusually for moi, I resisted temptation!

Hectic week continues

Monday saw the start of the works we needed doing on Piedaleau. Both problems had previously been fixed, or so we thought, but had raised their heads again. We decided enough was enough and arranged for Oscar Marine to come & sort it all out on our return in September.

First problem was the gaskets on the propeller shaft which were spraying water AGAIN despite 2 expensive trips to Carron Marine at Zezate in 2019. Oscar removed the gaskets previously istalled and checked matters out. He thinks that some factory applied packaging had not been removed and this was causing the prop to move and shred the excess ‘stuff’. He looks to have done a neat job but we haven’t properly tested it yet. He is,apparently, one of the few mechanics who will do this job without lifting the boat.

For light relief that evening Nadine, Sophie and Hubert (french friends of Nadine) who were staying in Lille, came to take us out to dinner – to that nice little Greek family restaurant again (not many places are open on a Monday). Goodness only knows if and when we will see Nadine again. Long haul flights have become increasingly unappealing since Covid! But we have been invited to visit Sophie and Hubert in the Massive Centrale sometime. Not been there before so that would be great!

Fuel bug had also raised its ugly head again – also first dealt with, or so we thought,in 2019. Not so! Friends had said it was important to clean the tanks out completely in order to properly irradicate the BUG but we hadn’t done that at the time. And then Covid restrictions meant that we were hardly here for 2 years which probably exacerbated the problem. So now we decided we could no longer avoid it. Tuesday and Wednesday were spent emptying 500 liters (!!) of diesel which all turned out to be seriously affected and had to be disposed of (!!!!!!) The tanks were scrubbed and left to dry. Looks like this was indeed a long standing problem possibly because of the poor design of the fuel tank inspection covers. They may have been leaking in water over the years. The tanks had lots of water in them. We were most unhappy to say the least!

Oscar’s crew pumping out the contaminated diesel

Chris and Helen Hanley had come into Valencinnes for a few days and he sealed the existing tank lids properly – perhaps a more permanent solution will be completed next year.

When this was all done we decided not to completely fill the tanks yet but to check things out with a bit of cruising first. So Adrian and I spent a ‘happy’ day going to & from the garage to fill tanks and pour them into the tank! Reminded us of what we used to do for Misty Morning but her tank was much smaller!

I have to tell you a little about Oscar – he surely is a one off! Originally from Peru he has been in France some years. Amongst other things he has worked on tanks for the military somewhere. He is very pproud of being one of the few boat mechanics in northern France, of being ‘professionel’ and of his standard of work. We lost count of how many times he told us this! Whilst he is at work he is totally focused, quiet and thorough. But the chat is relentless once that’s done – the same thing seems to be repeated upteen times! Oh and, of course, its thirsty work! We had to lay in extra supplies of beer for them all!

Quite an experience and quite exhausting in itself. Hopefully both issues are now sorted and we know who to call if any future issues on this. Phew!

Wedding anniversary

Sunday 4th September …….. our 1st Wedding Anniversary!

We spent time preparing for Oscar and his crew who were due on Monday.

Grainne, Andy and Pat decided a small anniversary celebration was in order & invited us to dinner. Lovely!

Andy Pat Grainne Adrian

On Monday morning Joni and Coole Swan headed off – been great seeing them and hope we manage to visit them in Bruges before we return home.

A rather hectic, and boozy, few days.

Return to Piedaleau

We left home at 7am on 1st September to return to the boat once again. Our journey time UK side is now around 4.5 hrs (about 1.5 hrs longer since we moved to Lincoln which makes a difference)! We had hoped to go the day before to visit my brother en route, and stay over so making the final stretch much shorter. But Peter has not been well for sometime and was having a hard time, & then we thought Adrian might have Covid, so unfortunately we had to cancel our visit. So we had to do the full journey that morning. Various problems on motorways made our timing a little tight but we got there in time.

We used Irish ferries again and had a lovely crossing – sitting out on deck away from everyone! Valenciennes is about 2 or 2.5 hrs from Calais. We were looking forward to seeing Grainne, Andy (Joni) and Pat (Coole Swan) who were due to visit Valenciennes for a few days.

We arrived around 5.30pm to mayhem in the port!!!

Basically what seems to have happened is that Joni was coming further into the port to turn around before rafting up to another boat. Joni picked ‘something’ up in her prop, lost steerage & was drifting towards other boats and, potentially, the weir at the far end of the port!

Coole Swan was on the waiting pontoon just outside the port because the whole place was chocker block with boats. As he came out of the office Pat heard Grainne’s cries for help and, according to Grainne, ran the length of that side of the port to jump on his boat and come to their rescue. I should perhaps point out that Pat is not made for sprinting and he was wearing clogs, but he knows his stuff re dealing with boat-type emergencies & helping a damsel in distress!

Coole Swan high tailed it down the canal – narrow boats, like this owner, are not renowned for their speed – came alongside Joni and pushed her across until lines could be secured so that the problem with the prop was investigated. When we arrived there were several people trying to free the prop using boat hooks …… & lots of other people watching & commenting! It turned out to be a wooden fender complete with rope that had been caught in the prop. It was safely removed but it wasn’t until Joni finally left a few days later that all the rope was finally got detached.

Grainne and Andy were really pretty shaken up. This is not surprising in itself but they really have had a hard time this year………. their car was written off; a commercial barge hit Jomi outside a lock causing 24000 euros of damage (luckily no one was hurt); and then in Paris their bikes were stoeln from their boat. All in all an awful year for them!

A recuperative drink and then dinner followed on Czyvargo.

John Pat Adrian Julie Moi Rachel Grainne Andy

So that was Thursday.

Friday was a slow day but we all went out to dinner at Mykonos, the family run Greek restaurant near the station. Very pleasant evening.

Saturday became boat moving day. Czyvargo left so Joni had to go out to let them off the pontoon then return and then Coole Swan moved in alongside.

We all took a trip to the Saturday market for a little light relief!

Then, in the afternoon, we grabbed various people to help us turn Piedaleau around so that her stern was to the pontoon ready for works to be carried out on Monday. We actually had quite a lot of fun with people strategically positioned to catch ropes or fend off as we turned. A thank you beer was definitely in order!

Pat Barbara Gerard Chantal Cat Grainne Adrian Peter

August at home

We came home to Lincoln for the month of August – to our new garden being frazzled by the heat and to a houseful! William (Adrian’s eldest son) and Amy had come up for a week’s holiday. So when we arrived they and Lisa had planned a welcome home meal for us which was great fun! Amy particularly enjoyed mixing the Sangria…..

We had a lovely few days together – and I won at Crazy Golf! Yeah! not that I’m competitive, you understand!

I manged to nip down to Littlehampton to see Peter and Marcelle (bro and sister in law). Peter has been very poorly whilst we were on the Somme so I wanted to visit before we headed back to France.

Walked along the sea front at Littlehampton – it was HOT!

Soon after William and Amy left Nadine arrived for a few days. I first met Nadine on a tour of New Zealand back in 2008 and we have been friends ever since and done lots of things together over the years. She came to crew on Misty Morning many times; she’s been here, I’ve visited her in Canberra, we’ve met up in London & Paris and we’ve toured Morroco together. But we haven’t seen each other for several years because of Covid. So when she said that she was coming to the UK for a cruise from Southampton she just had to visit us in Lincoln. We had a lovely few days.

Family dinner to celebrate Nadine’s arrival and to toast Lisa and Alex’s engagement – Freddie does not like having his picture taken!

A highlight of Nadine’s visit was the sculpture exhibition at Doddington Hall. Apparently this is a biennial event. We love Doddington Hall but this was just stunning!

Typical Nadine!

In amongst all these lovely sculptures we spotted insects at work – notably busy bees and a hummingbird Hawk-moth! Apparently these moths have been seen more frequently in the UK this year – we were fascinated to watch it hovering over the flowers with its long tongue gathering nectar.

We are now beginning to prepare for our return to France again ….. see you on the ‘other side’!

Au revoir la Somme – rebonjour Valenciennes!

The weed in the last stretches of the Somme was horrendous! Thank goodness Piedaleau is keel cooled and doesn’t rely on water cooling and weed filters. Heard that some boaters are having to stop to clear their filters every hour or so. We saw one lady leaning over the back of her boat to free weed from the propeller as it was moving. Not my idea of fun! Adrian does a bit of a reverse thrust to clear the prop and it is amazing how we see our speed return to normal after having gradually slowed down!

The weed means, however, that we cannot use the bow thruster – it would get blocked – therefore we have to manoeuvre very slowly and carefully. This can be fun eg going in / out of locks or through lifting bridges where road users are waiting. Adrian’s getting good at ignoring any comments from others and just going carefully. We had a few comments from this family cycling group, grandpa was a little impatient – Adrian just replied that he didn’t want to hit the bridge and break it!

We were pleased to hear that the Somme river authority was starting work at Feuilléres on Monday morning although they could hamper our leaving. Apparently up here they only cut a swathe in the middle for a channel for the boats, but leave the sides alone. Hence the weed regenerates very quickly but it is too expensive to do more, such as we saw at Corbie. Seems a bit daft to us that the Somme, which is separate from the VNF (Voies Navigables de France) do not charge boats to use the waterway. Surely if they did they would have money to spend on this problem. It is what it is!

Anyway, we were up early on Monday ready for a 9am start – the éclusier arrived on time and came to speak to us but knew nothing of the weed cutting works and had to ring control to make sure we would be able to get past the machines. All went well, we came out of the last lock and the water was then virtually clear of the dreaded weed.

We turned onto the Canal du Nord to the first of 5 locks going up. Came behind a 38m commercial barge and another pleasure boat. This convoy went up the locks and then after about a half hour wait we went straight through the Ruyaulcourt tunnel. No worries! Elke on Aquamarin, the boat in front, did a little jig as they exited …. so I responded in kind. New best friends! We had also taken photos of each others’ boats and the tunnel so I can include pictures of Aquamarin & Piedaleau in the tunnel and emerging back into the sunshine. You can perhaps see why we did that jig!

A further 7 kms along the top bief and we moored at Grainecourt-lès-Havrincourt as we did on the way to the Somme. Aquamarin came in to moor behind us and so we shared a beer together. Elke & Uwe are also heading to Valenciennes for a few days in order to change ‘crew’ (Elke has to return home for work) so we decided to cruise together. Another cruiser, Water Weazel, came in to moor for the night and apparently they are also heading to Valenciennes – they leave their boat there for the winter – and so we became a convoy of three bateaux de plaisance heading for Valenciennes!

27kms; 6 locks, 2 bridges and the tunnel

Tuesday morning we all headed off together, now going down in the locks. These are all quite deep – around 6.5m – but don’t have rising bollards. We devised a nifty gadget called the ‘kling-on’. Basically I tied rope to the canal side hooks which Mary presented me with on Misty Morning quite a few years ago. They worked a treat making it much easier to move the attachment down or up as the locks empties or fills!

Adrian with the kling-on

At one lock we came in behind another pleasure boat – I took an instant dislike! Going off at a rate of knots, drinking, smoking, snogging ……. get a cabin I cried! Anyway we were stuck behind them for a few locks. At one point all the pleasure boats were waved ahead to overtake a slow moving commercial – not a frequent occurance for us. But then we all had to wait for the commercial to catch up and go into the next lock first.

We turned off the Canal du Nord and onto the Canal de la Sensée. We returned to the same mooring as we had used on our way down but the water level was too low for the other 2 boats. They went on a further 7kms and actually had a much easier place to moor. Must remember that mooring for future reference.

20 kms 7 locks

Then on Wednesday we set off for the last day’s cruising along the Sensée and then a few locks down the Escaut, to get back to Valenciennes. Lots of people, walking, running, cycling wave as we pass which is always fun. The best is waving at kids and getting them to wave back. Had great fun with this crocodile of littlies and their teachers!

We got back to Valenciennes by mid afternoon and shared a beer with Elke and Uwe again.

35 kms 3 locks

On thursday we had shopping to do and so they joined us on a trip to Auchun – a huge supermarket a few kms away. We only just managed to get the 4 of us and all our shopping in the car for the drive back! We were then invited to their boat for apéritifs – turned into another of those ‘apéro dînatoire’! Great fun but I was a little challenged next morning!

We spent all day on Friday giving the boat a thorough cleaning both inside and out!

Unfortunately Elke left on Saturday and Mikhail joined Uwe for the next stage of his voyage home to Herne in Germany. They seem to have had to make quite few changes to their route because various canals have been closed for various reasons. Uwe still hs quite a way to go! We had dinner together at a Greek restaurant in town on Sunday evening and waved them a fond farewell on Monday morning!

I thought I would give you some statistics of this month’s trip to the Somme:

In total we did 70 engine hours; 304 kms; went up or down 68 locks / lifting bridges and through the tunnel twice!

On the Somme – 140 kms (70kms each way) and 32 locks

It took 3 quite long days each way to / from the Somme. We were on the Somme for 26 slow days – quite different cruising!

So we are now about to return home for August but will be back at the beginning of Sept for another couple of months -got to make the most of that infamous visa!

À bientôt

Froissey & Feuillères

On Saturday morning we headed a short distance to Froissey where we have stayed before but we hadn’t managed to time it right for either Le P’tit Train or the café selling crèpes. We did this time!

The train ride was quite fun – furthest away from the boat I’m been in a month – if a little bit rattly and rolly. It took us up into the countryside, now all industrial type farming with huge fields. Much of the wheat had already been harvested but some of the vegetable crops were wilting because of the weather. Huge watering machines were in operation.

The train museum had some interesting exhibits and information. Armies on both sides constructed railways to transport troops, weapons and ammunition to the front.

After our exhilarating train ride we repaired to the little café for crèpes with ice cream and local cider. Delicious.

On Sunday at 8.20am Adrian discovered he could use the Somme app to book ecluses. He booked for 9am – so we had to jump to it and we were off by 8.30am heading for our final stop on the Somme at Feuillères and Sunday lunch at the Restaurant du Port. Adrian’s starter was a bit daunting, even for him. Not much more to say on that except that it was delicious and resulted in a long siesta afterwards!


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!

Hot hot and hotter yet

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.

Made sure I kept my mouth shut!

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.

Congratulation Lisa and Alex

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 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