Home > Travel Blog > 2013 > May


As Brugge was on our route to the Netherlands, a short weekend stop there was something not to miss. As several friends were in the city or nearby, reunions and impromptu parties took place in the beautiful spring sunshine. We think of Brugge as Esme's home port and effortlessly settle back in to the local life.  We were glad with our decision not to cruise in France this year as floods there have caused delays and closures this spring.  Happily all has been running normally in Belgium and the Netherlands and now France seems to be settling down.

Springtime in Brugge Eeklo canal

Springtime in Brugge                          Eeklo canal

For some time we have been considering installing solar panels on our large roof. This will make a big contribution to our energy needs giving us more flexibility by reducing our need for generator and shore power. We intend to reinstall gas in our galley and have purchased a new gas barbeque. So after many hours of research the solar panel equipment was ordered and we booked a suitable location for installing it.  We chose Eeklo, a small marina in Flanders where we could complete the work in peace. This took the best part of a week and we really appreciated barge friends Roger and Sue, Peter and Jan who were on hand to help with local car trips and manhandling, not to mention some great hospitality. The work all went to plan and we managed to fit it round several very wet days.

Solar panels going on A neat job

Solar panels going on                         A neat job

We eventually set off on our spring cruise, pausing at Gent where we had a delicious Thai curry on board Albertine with Andy and Clair. The following day we pressed on towards the Belgian/Dutch border at Zelzate. Here we had arranged to join Dave and Carol on La Tulipe, having just finished in dry dock there completing essential work, certification and painting.  We also happily reacquainted with Dawn and Paul on Casey May Too, whom we met in France last year.  So we spent a very pleasant week in this typical border town, celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary and waiting for the wind to settle for our estuary crossing to Zeeland with La Tulipe.  The passage from Terneuzen to Vlissingen would take us through one of the busiest waterways in Europe with massive fast-moving ships and strong currents.  An interesting trip and a distance of only 20km  with the tide meant we arrived within two hours - a change from the fourteen hour channel crossings of the past.

At Zelzate with la Tulipe On the Schelde with the big boys

At Zelzate with La Tulipe                     On the Schelde with the big boys

We tied up in Middelburg, the capital of Zeeland province where we spent five very enjoyable days. It is a typical ancient Dutch fortified town, charming and historic, with many bars and restaurants, a shopper's paradise. One particular merry evening the boys let their hair down, picking up brooms and mops, not to clean the floors but to play air guitar to Queen late into the night.  Luckily we have good sound insulation and anyway it's good for the soul.

At Middelburg with Carol and Dave Party time (Queen and brooms)

At Middelburg with Carol and Dave             Party time (Queen and brooms)

This brings us to the end of May. During June we will be exploring more of Zeeland including the beautiful meers before venturing up into South Holland. The spring weather seems to be here at last.

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