September

The weather was still really warm and sunny although the summer was coming to its close. After carefully negotiating the Ham tunnel we spent a few days again in Givet, the last town in France before the Belgian border. We took time to explore the Mont d’Haurs (site of mediaeval fort) and enjoyed the great views from the top. The formerly vast fortifications have mostly gone, destabilised by tree roots and finally shipped to the Netherlands in the 60’s to hold back the sea. The big citadelle remains, overlooking the town from the north bank.

Border town of Givet
Border town of Givet

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View from top of Mont Haurs

From here we cruised down the unforgettable Meuse valley to Dinant. Here we’d arranged to meet Rob and Pam who had travelled from South Africa to search for a barge. We all got on like a house on fire and loved sharing with them a taste of the barging life as we cruised together towards Namur. They then set out to view several barges in France and a week later we heard they’d found “the one” and we are really thrilled for them.

We lingered a few days in Namur where it was great to meet up again with Rebecca and Michel and their family on ‘t Majeur, passing through on their way home to the Netherlands. Meeting up is often by chance and only occasionally planned and it was a happy coincidence.

Fun times and barge talk with Pam and Rob
Fun times and barge talk with Pam and Rob

Rainbow at Namur, Pont de Jambes
Rainbow at Namur, Pont de Jambes

It was now time to head north along familiar Belgian waterways and where we were joined by several barge chums also travelling to their winter harbours, including Julia and Richard on “Ettie”. We enjoyed together another tour of the Strepy Thieu lift, the biggest boat lift in the world, impressive every time.

Locking with Julia and Richard
Locking with Julia and Richard

View from top of the Strepy Thieu Lift
View from top of the Strepy Thieu Lift

Our only remaining commitment was the inevitable week of painting and again we stopped at Pommereoul where luckily the weather was reasonable and passing friends respected our need to “get on” so we completed a little more than planned.

Tight for time now, the three long days back to Brugge were achieved in record time, pausing at the usual favourite overnight stops and admiring the lovely autumn colours. A jolly party in Antoing with Sally and Mike polished off our season and we finally arrived at the Coupure Haven, Brugge. The agreeable wind direction and strength made backing into our berth not too taxing. The warm welcome of old friends helped to dispel any regrets that our fifth summer season was over. Soon we had nested in, enjoying reunions and exchanging stories of summer together with plans for the winter season ahead.