1. Fun times with good friends June/ July 2015.

Summertime has become synonymous with enjoying the company of friends and family on board in different locations as we cruise around Europe. It is great to be able to share our new lifestyle with people who mean a lot to us.

We were joined at Houx by Chris and Erf and their Jack Russell Toby. They drove up from their lovely house in the Gironde (France) to spend a few days with us. They also brought some of their tasty local wine in 10litre cubies and several cans of Confit Duck which we were struggling to find in Belgium.

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Toby in fighting mode.

We cruised up to Dinant – slightly delayed at the lock (undergoing repairs by divers) and settled into our usual spot outside the Ibis Hotel. As well as sightseeing, we enjoyed another superb meal at ‘Le Confessional’. Peter and Erf made a big dent in one of the red wine cubies later that evening and polished off a bottle of Glenmorangie!

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Sightseeing.

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Cracking lunch at The Confessional.

After a rather delayed start the next day, during which Chris and I did the shopping, we had a light lunch followed by afternoon tea and chocs in the town. Back on the barge we cast off and headed for Waulsort, a lovely quiet spot where we could fill up with water and grab some electrics for a couple of days. Peter (remarkably ‘un-hungover’!) cooked the evening meal producing a delicious steak with all the trimmings.

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Chilled.

Chris and Erf took the ferry across to their car the next morning and were soon heading home. Making good use of the shore power I was able to do a couple of washes prior to Peter’s friend Michael arriving the following day.

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Takes Waulsorts!…

I decided to walk the 12 km back to Dinant through the beautiful countryside and meet Michael at the station later in the afternoon. This gave me time to catch up with Lynn and Stew (‘Matariki’) who had arrived there the previous day. A welcome drink and light lunch plus a good natter passed the time quickly and I was able to meet Michael as planned and drive back to the chain ferry which took us over to the barge.

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…Proof!!

We cruised back to Dinant the following day and Michael headed out for one of several long walks into the surrounding countryside. Lynn and Stew joined us on deck for aperos as ‘Pimms O’clock’ struck.

The ‘compulsory’ visit to the Maison de Leffe had to be postponed as it is closed on Mondays. Peter, not to be thwarted, led his compadres (Michael and Stew) on a very hot day to the ‘The Confessional’… also closed on Mondays and then to the Cafe Leffe open fortunately – as they were all suffering from severe dehydration  by then.

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We got there in the end…

Meanwhile, Lynn and I enjoyed the scenic walk back to Waulsort to collect the Micra.

The chaps took the opportunity of combining some sightseeing in Namur with a visit to Decathlon to buy some fishing tackle. They also enjoyed a Croque Monsieur in ‘Le Schouff’ and picked up Stewart’s car.

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…and there!

Lynn and I walked up to Crevcoeur and were rewarded with stunning views from the fort. Later that evening we all enjoyed a barbecue on board ‘Matariki’ watched by a clutch of painted cockerels that had appeared on the adjacent quay earlier in the week.

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Crevcoeur, looking back towards Dinant.

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Shiny, but not colourful enough to join the flock!

Michael departed from Dinant by train after a very hot and enjoyable few days.

As the players at Wimbledon fought it out in high temperatures, we tried to keep cool and I had several swims in the river using our new boarding ladder to good effect. We launched ‘Joey’ and enjoyed a potter down to the lock to drop off some rubbish, stopping at ‘Matariki’ for drink en route.

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Cooling off.

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Suitably refreshed.

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Rehydrating in severe conditions.

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Prop just about staying in the water!

The clouds gathered and we hoped for a storm to clear the air, but the sun was soon out again, happily with a cooler breeze.

With sunny skies and high temperatures, we finally did the kayaking down the River Lesse one afternoon. I had been keen to do this last summer. We decided to do the three hour 12km trip and hopped aboard the crowded bus that took us to the starting point. We picked up our paddles and waterproof bucket and joined the queue for our ‘super comfort kayaks’. Peter and Stew opted for the single ones…no romantic paddle for us girls then? Lynn and I took a double.

Peter jumped in his kayak and disappeared from view as Lynn and I approached ours. As soon as we sat in we were pushed off and hurtled down a long shoot into the river with no time to put valuables into the bucket. Stew followed on equally bemused.

We had a fabulous afternoon paddling in the dappled shade through some lovely scenery. The first of the rapids was hilarious as Lynn and I became stuck on the top before sliding down sideways and almost capsizing. We reached the end three hours later having had a great time and all keen to do it again soon…provided we agreed to stop at the river side bar next time.

Peter rapidsNicci rapids 2

 

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Including a beer stop!

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Stuck on top…

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…Then sideways down!

In our wet garb, we returned to Dinant and had several much needed cold beers and a nice meal at the Cafe Leffe, a grand day out!

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Back in the ‘recovery room’

The next few days were spent relaxing and preparing for the arrival of Laura and Alex. We craned the motorcycle off so that Peter could take it to BMW in Brussels for a recall check and I took the opportunity to give the front deck a good clean.

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