A different form of travel

We have now left Avalon for a month to spend some time on the motorhome and to go home to visit family and friends.

On the way to Calais we stopped overnight at Douai where we found the most beautiful park bang smack in the centre.  Beautifully kept it held many excellent specimens and had gardeners 24/7.  Needless to say, Teddy and Herbie had great fun exploring.  The dogs were fussed over by a Chinese family … orientals seem to be fascinated by them and we are often stopped for photographs wherever we are.  We parked up nearby and within close proximity of an acceptional Chinese restaurant.   We left the next day for a favourite place of ours … Le Touquet.

I have always loved Le Touquet, having been there several times in the past with friends.  We haven’t visited for around 15 years so were expecting some changes but there weren’t too many and we spied many familiar features.

The shopping has improved dramatically and it was excellent before, plus the amount of restaurants has doubled.  The only downside was that motorhomes are not allowed anywhere near the centre so we parked up on the outskirts in a motorhome park and walked in.  Pavement pounding is not my favourite pastime but when it’s the only way …

I found a favourite restaurant, Jean’s Bar. It hasn’t changed very much and still has the motorbike in the middle of the restaurant.  First night and I had a splendid meal …

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Truly mouthwatering!

Next day I hit the shops (of course), bought a rather nice dress and then we had lunch and people watched.  Le Touquet is known as Paris by the sea and I can see why.  Lots if stylish people having lunch and English tourists – mainly school children! 

Next to the motorhome park was a woodland and the beach (where Teddy lost his bearings and disappeared for a while). 

Sorry there’s no photos … I was too busy enjoying myself plus I forgot to carry my camera about.  Never mind.

44 miles and we arrived in Calais where after a short delay we embarked on our ferry.  I was very surprised when we were handed the chip scanner to scan our dogs ourselves and no one checked how many dogs we had or even peered in to see them.  I could’ve been storing 50 rabid puppies and got them through no problem!

We stayed overnight in Dover and drove home today abd I’m happy to say I’m comfortably snuggled on my sofa at home as I type.  So this will be my last post for a few weeks. 

I’ll see you all in a few weeks 🙂

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Picturesque Godinne

It was a relief to get moving again, the sun has been so hot and I needed a breeze.  We took on water at the lock, helped by a charming man who spoke only French but fixed my hose and gave me a wink. Oo la la!

The most perfect day to be cruising, we decided to stop after 3 locks and around 4 hours in a beautiful village called Godinne.

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The locals were very helpful with mooring us.

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We all spent a while enjoying the simple pleasure of sitting together with a beer or two in the sunshine until Graham decided Mutley needed a haircut and Jill got overheated.

Another thunderstorm ensued (I love these summer storms) which freshened the air which was heavenly after such heat.

Next morning I came across a pretty church while walking the dogs and dashed back with my camera.

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This one seemed out of place!

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I love the way everything has become part of nature.

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I couldn’t resist photographing this fabulous tree root.

We only stayed the night as we had plans to moor up in a rather nice marina we’d been told about in Yvoir.  The marina is situated on an island and before the owner left he gave me a key and pointed at the little foot ferry.  What fun!  As no one else was on the island I had charge of the ferry in case I needed to get off.  Kevin was by now on main land getting cars sorted out with Graham so me and Jill decided to check the place out.

We soon discovered the kiddies paddling pool and had a bit of fun there.

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Mutley and Baxter soon joined in but you’ll have to see http://www.contentedsouls.com to see the evidence of that! 

I met a family of geese fiercely guarded by papa …

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He didn’t seem to like me very much!

Eventually Kevin and Graham (plus Teddy and Herbie) returned so I dutifully operated the ferry with Jill overseeing operations.

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We spent the evening going from Avalon to Matilda Rose trying to get a decent tv reception as it was Holby City night and atmospherics were causing problems.  It was no surprise when the thunderstorm arrived and had me closing all the windows at 2am.

A castle in the sun

When you wake up and pull the curtains back and the room fills with sunshine you know its going to be a fabulous day.  We decided to investigate the castle so off we went, dogs included.  It soon transpired that the older dogs were going to struggle in the heat so we stopped every now and then to let them lay in the shade.

There were some stunning views to capture …

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Plus a few features I couldn’t resist …

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We didn’t go inside the castle because we had the dogs so we sat for a while near a bar.

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Where of course we had to sample the local beer and got the dogs some much needed water.

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After dropping the boys back to their respect boats to cool off,

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we headed off to get some lunch in the city centre.  I ordered Ravioli and got a bowl of soup first!  Is this usual I wonder?  An older gentleman arrived at the restaurant dressed entirely in yellow and red … even his shoes were yellow.  I couldn’t resist taking a photo …

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It’s a shame you can’t see the rest of him, he looked amazing.

I love how people sit down in a restaurant for a coffee or a drink completely alone without feeling self-conscience.  It’s something I wouldn’t dream of doing in England.

We attempted to buy the men some new walking sandals, this proved unsuccessful however I did buy 2 dresses and a bracelet! So not exactly a wasted trip 🙂

A bit of a to-do

And so to Namur.  Not such a bright day so I busied myself with housewifely chores as we cruised along.  First lock we came to Matilda Rose attempted to get some water only to be hurried along.  I got my ropes in a twist but thankfully managed to avert any mishaps. I had straightened my hair earlier in a fit of girliness, grabbed the first coat to go outside, no hood, rain, hair ruined! Vanity does not belong on a boat it seems but at least Kevin got a laugh.

We finally came to the last lock of the day early afternoon. There was a queue of large barges (rare) so we moored up.  This proved to be quite tricky but with Kevin on dry land and me running backwards and forwards between ropes and steering we managed it.  Matilda Rose came up alongside and we all decided to walk up to the lock with the dogs to see what was happening.   Kevin went on ahead and Jill and I followed, stopping occasionally to help the big boys with their ropes.  This is no easy task – they use big fat ropes which are very heavy! 

It turned out that the lock gates had broken and they were waiting for the guys to arrive to fix it.  Roughly a 2 hour wait.  Walking back a man came by with a dear young collie.  Seeing that our dogs were friendly he let his off the lead to play.  They were all getting on great and then suddenly I hear a yelp – the man had hit Herbie with his umbrella!  Kevin stated his upset, the man started shouting in French and was waving the umbrella about … so Kevin grabbed it and bent it in half.  Then the man starts yelling at me so I told him in no uncertain terms (whether he could understand me or not I’ll never know) that no one hits my dogs.  The whole thing was very upsetting.  Herbie wasn’t attacking his dog, they were playing.  I hope it rained on him while he was walking home – there was no way that umbrella was going to be of any use!

For the record, if either of my dogs were being aggressive I would have no problem with someone chastising them,  pulling them away or shouting at them but to hit an animal to the point that they yelp using a metal object is not acceptable.  I hope he treats his own dog better.

So finally we get through the lock.  Matilda Rose leaves with a full tank of water and I wear the correct raincoat with a hood.  We got there in the end!

Just around the corner is our destination and it certainly looks promising.  We are moored in the city moorings opposite a casino – I may have to investigate at some stage!  By which I mean casinos always seem to have excellent restaurants … to lure customers I guess.

Today Jill and I took the dogs (minus Baxter who did NOT want to go) for a pleasant walk. Well it would’ve been pleasant had Herbie not pulled me along.  I saw this which made me giggle.

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He looks just like the man that whacked Herbie including a brolly under his arm … this is what happens when you mess with me, I turn you into a statue!!

After being dragged back to the boat by dear Herbie, Jill and I decided some retail therapy was in order so off we went.  There are some lovely shops in Namur and we had a very pleasant afternoon.  I bought a choke chain for Herbie … it seems to be helping so hopefully I won’t need to use it for long.

Here is a view of our moorings from further along the river. 

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Hopefully I’ll get to see the castle tomorrow, it looks massive!

Frenglish … not everyone understands

We stayed in Charleroi for Sunday and had lunch with Graham and Jill, I made a quick dessert from chocolate waffles (bought) topped with slag room (whipped cream) and fruit. Its a shame  I ran out of topping for the last two but I’m pleased to say they went down rather well!

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Monday we left. There was very little we wanted to explore of Charleroi especially as Kevin had caught the metro into the centre and reported it to be as dismal as the outskirts.  So we headed off for the first lock.  Both boats were in need of water and there was a big shiny sign with a tap pictured. Hurrah!  Kevin radioed in his best Frenglish that we wanted water and plugged us in and in it glugged.  Suddenly the boat ropes started creaking and I noticed the water was going down.  The lock keeper didn’t seem to care for our wellbeing and so we all went back to our ropes to release the strain (with me praying that the hose was long enough to reach when we got to the bottom).  Finally the water levelled and the lock gates opened for us to go.  Matilda Rose decided it best to leave but I wanted my water!  We sat there while our guage rose and the lock keeper didn’t object so all was good until a small boat appeared and we were signalled to move.  Well there was no way I was climbing up a slipperly algae covered ladder to the top to put the hose back and I wasn’t keen on Kevin risking his life either so I unplugged and left the hose dangling.  Not best practice I’m sure but if Mr Lockie hadn’t lowered us so hastily we would not have been in that position so I think he deserved the inconvenience!  We left with three quarters of a tank of water so I was happy and rushed to put my washing machine on for the first time in a week.

Its strange how my priorities have changed here … I am happiest with the waste tank empty and the water tank full while being moored close to a supermarket on a flat mooring where the dogs can get off and on with ease.  Nothing else matters!

We spent a full day cruising as we wanted to get to Auvelais which is exactly where we are now.  Our moorings are right next to a railway bridge which is fine because we are used to the noise from our Ely moorings, however work is being undertaken and the sandblasting starts from 8am!  Its not constant (I imagine there are lots of tea breaks) and you do tune it out.

Last night another English couple, Sandy and Trevor turned up and we all spent a very pleasant evening on their boat, Cariad.  They have been cruising France/Belgium for many years and were keen to offer helpful advice which we were keen to receive.

Tomorrow we will be heading to Namur.  Let’s hope the sun follows us there!

Unexpected beauty

Leaving our moorings next morning we had a surprise.  We shared the lift with eight other boats, which proved to be great fun.

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Beer was shared (it was a bit early for me) and much chatter, albeit mainly in French.  Going up the slope proved to be much easier on my vertigo and with the sun shining, the whole experience was good.

We moored up briefly after leaving the lift and walked the dogs along the river bank.  Much appreciated by my furry boys.

It was a long day on the water, made more pleasant by the sun warming our shoulders and a good serving of music and beer.  Three locks were gone through, all with floating bollards which are my new best friends.

I made friends with a new passenger who stopped by to rest for a while.

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We eventually reached our destination of Charleroi and at first I was dismayed, lots of industrial sites lined the river which seemed to get more dilapidated as we got further on.  But then my artistic side took over and I could see the beauty of these rusting derelict buildings.  Indeed according to Google Charleroi is famous for its industrial landscapes.

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and there is plenty of quite amazing graffiti to look at too.

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We turned a corner just past this area and found some town moorings, perfect!  Just behind our moorings is this beautiful chateau.

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And just behind our mooring is a floating chapel.  Curiously it wasn’t open today (Sunday).

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Teddy and Herbie enjoyed their run along the riverbank this morning.

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I found parts of the industrial area quite fascinating.  Especially this water cooling system.  Unfortunately my camera doesn’t really show the beauty of the water droplets.

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Walking across a bridge we discovered what I can only think it the Turkish region.  I spied a small supermarket and went in to have a look around while Kevin held the dogs.  Not much to see inside except an outstanding spice display.  Kevin wanted to look at the vegetables so I took my turn holding the dogs outside.  Most of the locals smiled politely at the dogs and stayed well clear but one lady who pulled up in her car knocked on her window to get my attention and pointed at the dogs indicating she wanted me to move them so she could go inside the shop with her baby.  I realise that part of Muslim religion is never to touch a dog (because they are ‘dirty’) so I respected her wishes and moved.