Terry’s trip involved a flight from Alderney to Southampton and an overnight stay in the Premier Inn. I drove over to England in the trusty Micra a few days prior in order to drive her back to the barge via the Dunkirk ferry.
My trip over went well (discounting my detour towards Thanet from Dover owing to the badly signposted route out of the port) until I spotted that the temperature gauge on the Micra was rising quickly at around Junction 7 on the M25. Fortunately, I have a great relationship with that little car and together we nursed our way back to my Dad’s in Shepperton, just about keeping the needle out of the red.
Alas the belt that drives the water pump had come off…but a visit to Dad’s local garage sorted us out, Martin the mechanic also replaced the dodgy looking alternator belt. Such a hero…and well deserved of a box of Belgian Chocs on my return.
My rendez-vous with Terry at Southampton was trouble free and we were soon heading into Dover increasingly aware that gale force 8 winds were whipping up the channel and delaying ferry sailings.
Unlike my pre-Christmas return to the barge the outside lane approaching the port was clear of lorries and we were soon checking in and delighted to discover that although there were delays, we would be sailing on the delayed 10 am set to leave in 30 minutes. ‘Result’ we thought, as we were actually scheduled for the 2pm sailing.
Alas no…we eventually left Dover on a packed ferry which had to be pulled off the mooring by a tug at around 3pm. The two hour trip (never happened in all my trips so far!) took much longer and we then waited half an hour to disembark, being the last lane of cars to leave.
Only a three hour drive remained! Fortunately Terry was great company and I had a supply of ‘singalongs’ to keep us going. Just two fuel stops, one for the Micra and one for us – a bowl of frites!
We eventually arrived exhausted at the barge in Houx. Sadly the sight of the beautifully illuminated hillside opposite our mooring was somewhat lost to us through tired eyes.
The view across the river.
After this rather inauspicious start to her holiday, Terry had a lovely time.
The first morning we enjoyed a pleasant cruise from Houx upstream to Dinant where she and Brian had spent many lovely holidays in the past. It was about forty years since her last visit there so it was a real bonus to be able to find the hotel they had stayed in and made so many local friends.
The picture we used to trace the hotel.
Many happy memories with the locals.
On the bridge with the hotel behind.
A visit up to the Citadelle and the Commonwealth War Grave just outside, plus a tasty lunch at ‘Le Confessional’ gave her the chance to re kindle fond memories. We were also able to create some ‘then and now’ photos with the old holiday snaps Terry had brought with her.
Relieved to be out of the cable car, not great with heights!
Visiting the graves of two RAF bomber crews.
Lunch at The Confessional.
Proper wine glasses!
We were joined in Dinant by our friends Torild and Nils on a newly ‘de-mouled’ and painted barge ‘Passe Lagom’, enjoying aperros a couple of times in the evening sun. We also met Sasha and Ekko on their lovely hotel barge ‘Cinclus’. It was nice for Terry to sample the camaraderie that we have enjoyed amongst the barging community.
Drinks on top with friends old and new.
A moving memorial to those murdered in 1914.
Afternoon tea overlooking the river and choosing Leonidas Belgian Chocolates rounded off a lovely week and it was soon time to retrace our steps back to Southampton, happily trouble free this time.