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September

The 28 lock flight up the Canal des Ardennes is a great experience. All achieved in one day; it seemed a lot but it went very smoothly, one lock following on from another in quick succession on a seven hour run. The scenery becomes more and more beautiful as we climb up, pretty and pastoral. On arrival at the top we rejoined Nils and Torild and John and Winnie. Le Chesne is a delightful village with a wonderful food market. It would have been nice to stay longer but time management rules. We pressed on to Pont à Bar to meet Sharon and Viv who were laying up their boat there for the winter. It was great to see them again and share a special evening together.

Some of these locks need cleaning!
Some of these locks need cleaning!

How much is that pussy in the window?
How much is that pussy in the window?

Supper at Pont a Bar
Supper at Pont à Bar

It felt very special to emerge onto the River Meuse and soon we were in Charleville Mezières where we spent a few days again exploring this beautiful city and enjoying fabulous weather, too.

Place Ducale, Charleville Mezieres
Place Ducale, Charleville Mezières

Montherme
Monthermé

We continued our journey down the Meuse where the spectacular scenery always thrills us, massive outcrops of rock ascending round big loops in the river. After Monthermé we continued to Fumay where we stocked up with wine then on to Givet where we negotiated that difficult tunnel before crossing into Belgium.

French Belgian border at Givet
French Belgian border at Givet

Spectacular rock formations, Meuse valley
Spectacular rock formations, Meuse valley

We paused at Dinant where the saxophone was invented in 1846 by Adolfe Sax and saxophones adorn the town bridge.

Saxophone bridge, Dinant
Saxophone bridge, Dinant

We then continued to an old favourite city Namur where the Wallonie Festival was in full swing. Quite a lot of drinking in the streets for the students there…….for us, people watching, shopping and sightseeing being more to our liking as well as a meal in our favourite restaurant. Here we met Graeme and Sheila on Flying Fox with their sweet little dog “Monty” (Diana in love again). Brett and Sandy on “Rival” were by chance also in Namur and we all enjoyed great hospitality at Charlie’s Capitainerie in Jambes followed by a spectacular firework display over the Namur citadel.

Boat Parade at Namur
Boat Parade at Namur

with John and Winnie on Avesol
with John and Winnie on Avesol

Whenever we leave Namur we always feel it is the end of the summer; so many times we’ve made this trip back to our home mooring in Brugge. The long days ahead of us up the big commercial waterways lead us again via the incredible Strepy Thieu lift. We had a great night with Paul and Dawn who drove there to meet us on the Six O’Clock Drinks Quay before we headed off west to Pommeroeul. Having time on her hands in the wilderness, Diana took a 12km hike to the French border where the enormous canal disappears into a mass of weeds with barely room for a canoe. Returning to the ship we had a surprise encounter with Kay and Andy on Hilde; great to see them again and catch up with all the news. Pressing on now with a timetable to keep, we overnighted at Antoing where we saw the remains of their quarry now turned into a great sports park for the locals.

Homage to the quarrymen and stonemasons at Antoing
Homage to the quarrymen and stonemasons at Antoing

A long day’s cruising on the big commercial waterways of Flanders brought us to Oudenaarde for a brief stop and first Flemish beer of the season before the next day’s long push to Gent. Here we had booked our last weekend to round off our summer cruising. Wonderful to see the city again in perfect weather. Again, shopping, sightseeing and a lovely evening out with Mike and Sally.

Linden Lei, Gent
Linden Lei, Gent

Beautiful Gent
Beautiful Gent

We finally arrived at Bruges at the end of September and soon nested in for another winter in this fine city.

Nested back in for the winter in Brugge
Nested back in for the winter in Brugge

 
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