(74) Hard graft at Houx.

For several days were very lucky with the weather and managed to wash, scrub and rub down the sides of the hull before treating any rust with Owatrol. The twenty four hours wait before a second coat enabled us to turn the barge around and get going on the other side. When the weather changed and became unsettled, it did allow us a little R ‘n R which was much needed as we aren’t getting any younger.

Having thought we had a second can of Owatrol onboard, we were annoyed to discover that we didn’t – and they don’t seem to sell it in Belgium either. Fortunately we managed to buy some from a fellow bargee who was moored nearby and I was able to bob around in the dinghy, slapping it on the sides. This was good practice for the following few days when I could be found bobbing around in the dinghy painting under the stern and the bow. No mean feat when you have to get close enough to paint while trying to avoid touching what you have painted with the dinghy. The bow provided its own fun as I balanced precariously on the dinghy seat in order to reach above the rubbing strake. Meanwhile, Peter painted the sides and we wondered why we had bought such a long barge…especially by the time we were onto the second coat!

SAM_0088Bobbing about.

One day I walked back to Dinant to collect the car and was pleased to find myself amongst hundreds of Belgian soldiers who were resting at the lock as they walked along the River Meuse.

Louise and Alex arrived on ‘Riccall’ having decided to make use of the low quay once we had finished. Just after they had moored up the police arrived and spent nearly an hour checking theirs and another barge’s papers. We had ours all ready for inspection but they left without coming to us…perhaps we were still on the books from last summer?

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A shiny new coat for Aurigny.

Lorna and Lawrence (and Tilly) ‘Waterdog’ came over one night and we all had a pleasant evening catching up over supper onboard ‘Riccall’.  Peter and I had spent another long day painting and I’d had the uncomfortable job of doing the rails, which of course also run the length of the barge.

Madame from and adjacent house was amazed at how hard we were working and said our boat looked as good as new. Well we were certainly pleased with our efforts and the camaraderie was great as Riccall’s rails were given a coat of red and we relaxed together in the evenings.

Paint Job

Much smarter.

Having finished our hull we swapped places with ‘Riccall’ and while I finished our rails, Louise and Alex set to work on their hull.

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Riccall’s turn.

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Walking the plank.

After a couple more days the grafting was over for the time being, with just a few areas still requiring attention on ‘Aurigny’.

Having completed our spell of hard labour, Louise, Alex and I set off on a Saturday morning for the fortress Poilvache on the opposite hillside above Houx Village. Peter and I had eventually found our way up to it by motorcycle last summer, but it had been closed. The fortress is mainly in ruins, but the 2 euro entry was worth it for the views alone, and we all agreed it was good to get away from the barges for a few hours and stretch our legs. And didn’t both barges look smart from our lofty vantage point?

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View from the top.

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Some ancient ruins!!

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Dinner aboard Riccall.

On Sunday 3rd May, Riccall left for the short trip to Dinant stopping for water on the way and we followed an hour or so later, mooring in our old spot by the Ibis Hotel and Casino. They had ordered a new dishwasher to be delivered there in a couple of days and needed a proper delivery address.

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A good job done and in lovely surroundings.

We had a few days to relax before Louise and Alex headed south for the summer and all enjoyed a meal at Taverne Wiertz in town. My friend Linda would arrive in a few days time.

 

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