Tuesday, 30 June 2015

New Canals

29 Jun 15

After leaving Tournai we had a good run with moorings managing to find something everywhere. At Antoing basin we moored near the Neptunia chandlery barge - Peter managed to find some bits to buy (assuring Angie they would be useful) but decided against fuelling up - the primary reason for stopping - on the grounds it would be cheaper downstream?

Then it was a run to the bottom of the Blaton/Ath canal - to turn or not to turn that is the question - moored up in  the entrance to the now closed Pommereuil-Antoing Canal overnight to decide. Given the canal has only been closed 30 years it has deteriorated fast - in UK there would be a thriving 'Friends of the Canal' preservation group restoring it.

We decided Blaton/Ath could wait so pressed on covering new ground to Pommeroeul Grand Large, mooring on the wall next to the Ecluse. It poured with rain all day so sightseeing was limited.  The canal (Pommeroeul-Conde) and ecluse were meant to be a major commercial route to France but the French have allowed it to silt up so it is no longer in use. More EU funds wasted.


Angie decided we needed some kultur so next into the marina at Mons - a long walk into town and the Aldi supermarche was a a bit like a Russian GUM store (as remembered from our honeymoon)! Angie had 'tidied up' for one of the boat viewings so a lot of the halt was searching for things (like camera chargers). At least once a year she puts something in a 'safe place' never ever to be found again (is it a female thing)?

Another town hall - standard issue
Mons 2015 Capital of Culture and this is art?
A carriage for the patron Saint's bones
Much better the next day was the Strepy lift on the new Canal du Centre - 74m straight up

Down to the canal end and we found a nice greenbank site in the dead end of the semi closed Historic canal, which has 4 x working 15m Ascenseurs within a few km (which Strepy effectively replaced). They were built to the UK Anderton design and are the only historic lifts still operational

Then it was off to the River Sambre which was rumoured to be as nice as the Somme, certainly the start wasn't, mostly derelict steel works which made the Saarland look 'green'. First night was at Marchienne next to a chapel barge and small chateau - the town was very run down presumably due to loss of steel jobs. The Colruyt super marche was a handy 500 metres stroll over the bridge. Had a few drinks with an Oz boat, which was en route to Namur (long story).

The next morning had to wait 40 mins mid stream (no pontoon) while the decrepit eclusier got his act together -  after that the canal/river got prettier and prettier. Nice little manual locks and although the eclusiers weren't exactly full of bonhomie all was well. We went onto the wall at Abbeye d'Aulne, checked out the Abbeye ruins (lovely site) and ate at one of the eight restaurants! Angie being adventurous had Troute Escaveche (marinated cold trout) and Peter stuck to Brochettes Agneau - very nice other than the bill (tourist village).- local beer was OK too.

Abbaye original

Latest version
Then into Thuin. Nice town but semi medieval so Peter has to climb up the steep hill daily as we are waiting for a Poste Restante parcel (our new Sat box). Free mooring with mod cons so Angie is busy cleaning while Peter answers boat queries..Led astray the first night by barge 'Cedar' (Sheila and Clive) and friends - after some disagreement about the best whiskey type the men managed to deplete a good part of three bottles testing the claims!  Seriously hot this week 35-38 degC Midi standards so Angie is sunbathing on the cabin roof.

This blog is meant to remind us what happened each year as it blurs -  I knew quite a few friends followed it but have now found out potential buyers do too quel horreur (hi Pam in SA) so might have to go into censor mode :)

No comments:

Post a Comment