Monday, 16 June 2014

There's More

I have some more to blog but unfortunately it's on my laptop which has suffered a broken screen.  As soon as I get it fixed, or a monitor connected I will publish it.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Namur:- Debs In Her Element

Not moved

Namur is probably the biggest city we have visited In Belgium.  Having said that it’s not huge by any means.  The whole city centre is an easy stroll from the town moorings.  On Friday we decided to clime the switchback road with the dogs to the top of the Citadel.  Jill, Graham and their 2 dogs came too.  It was a hot day and what little shade there was was used by the older dogs to sit then lie down to cool off so the asscent was a little slow, but no one seemed to mind.

Once at the top there are great views of the city and the Meuse River.

City side and Sambre exit

Panoramic shot of the Meuse, Netherlands to the left, France to the right



Once at the top we found a shady garden area to have a beer while the dogs tucked into a tray of water.

Not sure where Teddy was for this shot


Us of course


Once down for this walk we put the dogs back on the boat to rest up and headed the shops.  First on the agenda was some well needed lunch. That done it was time to shop.  Deb had already done some shopping the previous day with Jill, but now the 2 of them were old hands at the city centre.  Since being here I have wanted some new walking sandals/shoes as I have had to repair mine twice, but the choice was once again limited for the men, but Deb got a nice new pair. 

As the shopping progressed it became apparent there were many groups of firemen from different areas and even countries.  We saw them at the top of the Citadel as well, but just assumed they were on a jolly of some sort.  But no.  Come Saturday when we went into town they were clearly engaged in all sorts of tasks.





Oh and a fire woman



So for Deb the firemen and the shopping really made her visit here.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Auvelais To Namur

3 locks, 15¾, 6½ hours

My back was still stiff in the morning but another dose of ibuprofen go it going again. I didn’t get around to taking a photo of the mooring so I pinched one from MR’s blog

Auvelais Mooring
Auvelais Moorings

We had a fairly lazy day there and did some shopping at the very nearby Lidl.  In the afternoon me and Graham moved his car to Namur and we returned in the motorhome and left it back at Auvlais so we have a vehicle at both ends.

The following day we headed off for Namur.  The River Sambre from hear on is generally very pretty and winding.  There’s still a fair bit of commercial traffic and large depots and factories they service but they go a lot slower because of the twists and turns.


The monastery at Halte


Avalon at Hault
MR’s photo once the barge had passed

We had 3 locks to do today ranging from 4.6m to 2.3m in decent.  In these we used the top bollards to hold our way down.  In the tallest lock the loop end of the rope hit Deb on the head as it came off the bollard.  Somehow I go the blame for this, or was it for not sympathising, whatever it was one of them.

As we approached the last lock I radioed ahead for passage and got the message back that it would be 80+ minutes.  Mooring up was fun!  it was a sloping side and the nearest I could get in was about 3 feet away and it was uphill to jump.  Deb held the boat on the engine while I jumped off and got a front rope on a bollard, then she used the power to get the back end in an hold while she through a mooring pin and hammer for me to secure the back.  Now I was stranded off the boat as the jump was to far for me old knees and really for safety so I hitched a lift on MR and they moored alongside for the wait.  We used their boarding ramp and off I went to see what the hold up was.  I turned out we were about 5 in the queue with one stuck in the lock because the hydraulics that open the top gate were broken.  As I walked back the repair van turned up.  A bit further back I met Deb & Jill with the dogs so took Herbie and did a walk with them.

On the way back a bloke came along with a young collie type dog and soon after let it off the lead.  Taking his lead we all let our 4 dogs off as well.  The young collie was a bit overwhelmed with 3 of our 4 dogs trying to play with.  It was all good natured but the bloke decided to get involved by hitting Herbie with his umbrella causing Herbie to yelp.  I immediately and very angrily challenged him about his behaviour, to which despite the language barrier he understood I was mighty pissed off.  His answer to his was to threaten me with the umbrella. My answer to that was to bend his umbrella in half.  Much shouting went on and when he started on Deb he realised he had bitten off a shouting match he wouldn’t win.

He went on his way trying to canvas witnesses as he went, from the boats and other walkers.  I think they must have been of the same opinion about his actions and all shrugged their shoulders and shook their heads . He went on his was with a very broken umbrella, and his tail firmly between his legs.

On this brief walk we saw on barge near the head of the queue that had gone past us at Auvelais early in the morning, so he must have been waiting a long while.

About an hour after all this excitement we were called into the lock with Barge No.3 in the queue to make up a lock together with another cruiser that arrived after us.

MR hear nearly ending up as a fender for the barge

This was a leaky lock.

Or maybe it was the one before they all kinda blend

Then it was the run down to Namur and the River Meuse





Under the final bridge on the Sambre then right turn

Once on the Meuse we needed to head under the famous 7 arch bridge.  Of course by this time it had again started raining.  So pictures have rain on them too. Sad smile  I may well go back and get better ones on Monday when we leave.




The town moorings can just be seen to the right under the arch where we are now moored.

This is the bridge by night.


From what I have seen of Namur so far I think its going to be a very nice city.  It’s the capital of the Wallonia region after all.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Charleroi To Auvelais

4 locks, 15¼ miles, 6 hours

Charleroi certainly lives up to a its Googling.  I took the Metro into the city centre and back.  that was a waste of €3.80! The entertainment was a bloke on the Metro station was begging cigarettes for all an sundry while his wife spent 20 minutes looking at her very ugly self in the mirror provided for the train driver to use.  He also did a good line in bin diving for dregs in beer cans. 

The Metro took me to the town centre where there was a massive market.  Sadly it was mostly selling very cheap ladies clothes in garish colours and hideous styles.  A lot of house and garden plants and the occasional decent looking cheese, meat, and pastry stalls.  The town centre was drab and dismal and in a general state of disrepair.  I let after an hour the way I came.  I took 2 photos only but won’t waste you time or my bandwidth.

Here’s a cute picture of the boy instead

The moorings actually turned out OK in the end.  We met quite a few passers by an all were polite and chatty where English was spoken.  The dogs had a manicured lawn just up the stairs at the Chateau de Cartier.  Several good games of chase were had by all dogs especially when a tennis ball was in the game.

Chateau de Cartier
Chateau de Cartier

The one highlight of the Sunday apart for the lovely roast lamb Sunday dinner done by MR was a glamor shoot that took place on the boat in front lasting about an hour or so.


These were more modest shots pervilly taken by me from behind the bedroom curtains

Monday morning we set off for Auvelais with the first mile and a bit retracing our arrival through the industrial waste lands. Namur is our destination of the week.



One factory seemed to be working.  These massive grab cranes seemed quite sinister, sort of reminding me of the Martians in the War of the Worlds.



This whole area was one a producer of very high quality steel, but it has been bought out and contracts moved by an Indian steel man according to a chat I had with one chap that is a “Job Centre” officer.

Not long after we arrived at the first lock of the day.  A huge sign wit a tap and a big bore hose pipe looked to inviting to ignore seeing as how were were in need of a fill.  In my best French, but more over waving the thick yellow hose I told the lockie that I was taking on water.  All was going well when all of a sudden I noticed we were going down.  I jumped back on the roof of the boat then on to the front deck to release the almost now snagged front rope, then did similar high speed manoeuvres to release the back rope. All this severely aggravated my already tender back. Down we went some 3m and sat at the bottom for the next 45 minutes until we were ordered out wit a rather rude wave and point to the exit. MR had long since gone to cruise very slowly ahead of us.  We headed off leaving the hose running and hanging in the lock.  I’m not normally given to such rude behaviour but had he left us at the top as nothing had come to change the lock I could have put it all back without risking life and limb on the slimy ladder.

As we got out into the countryside the mining heritage of the area became apparent.  All the hills in this area are slag heaps.  And pretty impressive they are too.  It’s great also that nature has taken over and turned slag into woodlands.



All along this river are industrial plants with big keys with barges queuing up to be emptied or loaded.  The main trades seem to be metal recycling and aggregates.

Another Martian

This one throwing around huge blocks of pressed recycled steel.


All these places are on a mega scale, and its all made possible by barge transport.


This is the back of one such barge as we dodged an on coming 1500ton barge on a bend.

Use the car to scale it

Now! this is a strange phenomena, for miles this river very visually seems to be on a slope.  You know it can’t be but no matter how much you tell your self its not possible the visuals are more convincing.

See what I mean?

Having taken 600mg of ibroprofen after tweaking my back earlier in the day, just about this point my back went into full spasm to the point it was difficult to breath so pictures from the journey here on it are non existent.  Deb took the hemp while I took another 600mg and laid on the hot rear deck to ease the spasm. Just about the last of the 4 locks I was up on my feet again ready to get moored up. 

The moorings here are nice and solid, we have brought the vehicles close by and the town has supermarkets. We are close to a rail bridge which is like being being in Ely.

To get the vehicles back Graham and I went back to Strepy-Bracquegnies.  This gave us the chance to revisit Charleroi by rail.  From the track it looked no better!

While we were away 3 more boats turned up so the girls had to move MR about to make room.  One of the couples had a very unique boat a Frigate 44, which turned out to be designed by Branson Boats like ours. They have been doing the European waterways for 20+ years and we had a lovely evening aboard cribbing lots of information from them.  We hope to catch up Trevor Sandi in Namur.

My back is a lot better today so no need to worry mum.  It should be fine in the morning