(66) Adam and Amy’s visit – 5th – 12th July.

With Adam and Amy arriving by motorcycle at the weekend, we headed towards Bossuit which we thought would be a suitable spot for loading the bikes on and off.

We left Deinze at 9.30am and were soon back amongst the large commercial barges heading south to Kortrijk. The entrance to Bossuit-Kortrijk Canal was through a fairly dilapidated weed strewn lock and not at all what we expected. Waiting below was tricky with few suitably spaced bollards and big commercials passing quickly by. We had over an hour to wait for the lock keeper who was locking some cruisers down towards us.

The rather dilapidated entrance to the Bossuit-Kortrijk Canal.

The first three locks were manually operated and Peter helped the lock keeper to open and close the gates. After the third one, the canal widened and the next lock was a large automatic one which had been built to replace three smaller ones still marked in our ancient guide.

Arriving just above Bossuit Lock early evening, we moored behind ‘Maria’ and were warmly welcomed by Jo and Tim who had been forewarned of our arrival by Carol and Jeremy………..(the long village) and that evening we sat and had aperros on Aurigny’s deck as the sun set.

The next day we off loaded the motorcycle and then just chilled out after the previous rather long day.

Peter had arranged to meet Adam and Amy in St Omer and was looking forward to the ride without his usual pillion passenger as well as the opportunity to fill the top box with French wine en route. Meanwhile I went shopping with Jo and then joined she and Tim onboard ‘Maria’ for afternoon tea along with Sally and Mike (‘Chouette’) who had stopped by in their car en route to Holland.

The intrepid motorcyclists eventually turned up weary and saddle sore after their ride and were ready to tuck into the huge pot of chilli that we had prepared the previous day.

Loading Adam’s bike.

Plenty of room.

Unfortunately, the spell of fine weather was coming to an end and we were set for rain.  We relaxed on Sunday and watched Djokovic win his second Wimbledon Championship and Lewis Hamilton win the British Grand Prix.

We set off the next day and after stopping below the lock for water and to retrieve a large glissoir (fender) from the canal (probably from a passing commercial,) we headed towards Tournai in dry but cloudy conditions. Shortly into our travels we were very pleased to find another large glissoir floating down the canal, at 80euros apiece it was a profitable morning.

Fender recovery.

Passing through Tournai.

Making the most of the sunshine.

In Antoing we stopped at the fuel barge to buy 500l of white diesel and a new gas bottle. The owner paid no heed to his own ‘No Smoking’ signs, puffing away on a large cigar while we filled. As we pulled away we narrowly avoided being side swiped by the large commercial barge moored in front of us as she sped off without looking behind her. Monsieur was suitably ‘desole’ when Peter ‘thanked’ him on the radio.

We turned left into the lock at Peronnes and then moored in the ‘Grand Large’ alongside a dilapidated barge for the night. Now we had to decide whether to cruise on the Dendre as planned or do the Strepy Lift and Ronquieres Inclined Plane. With the bad weather set to last the week we decided on the latter and headed off in the rain to the quay at Thieu just before the Strepy Lift. The rain stopped in the early evening and we watched Brazil collapse in disarray against Germany in a rather comical World Cup semi-final, eventually losing 7-1.

Adam mocks the rain at Thieu just before the Strepy Lift.

We still needed to find somewhere to leave ‘Aurigny’ as we were riding back to England with Adam and Amy for a week to see friends and have a couple of days on the Swan Upping.  The bottom of the Ronquieres Inclined Plane seemed a likely spot.

We moved from Thieu to the the Strepy lift and having ascertained from the lift operator that we could stop there for the night, Peter and Adam went off shopping in the rain, returning hours later having had to take shelter in a local bar!

The next morning as the dull, misty conditions continued; Adam and Amy experienced the Strepy Lift followed later on by the Inclined Plane at Ronquieres, although by the time we reached it the tower at the top was shrouded in mist. Fortunately there was plenty of space at the mooring below where we had stopped in April and with both motorcycles quickly offloaded onto the quay, we were able to relax and enjoy our last day onboard.

Inside one of the Strepy ‘Bath Tubs’

Decapitation, someone should have warned Adam before Nicci gave him the haircut!

Still misty and drizzling 73 metres up.

Approaching Ronquieres Inclined Plane, shrouded in mist.

View from the top.

While chatting to the skipper of the passenger boat moored nearby, Peter discovered that the next lock down at Ittre would be closed for the week. Result! We would have no heavy barges passing by while we were away.

Taking advantage of a spell of dryer weather, we all went back on the bikes to Blaton Lock to collect the Micra and once I was in the car, Amy had a go on the back of the BMW for the ride back to the barge.

On Saturday morning we were up early for the trip to Calais and by late afternoon we were all in Shepperton at Dad’s tucking into a Chinese takeaway. The Skerritt family was back together again for the first time in over two years.

A welcome Chinese takeaway at ‘Ron’s Warehouse’.

 

 

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