2. Family time – July /August

Our busy summer had taken on a rhythm of its own, with us knowing exactly where to rendez- vous with our numerous visitors. We continued to cruise between Houx/Anhee, Dinant and Waulsort, using the latter to top up with water and plug into the electrics.
We also continued to meet up with old barging friends and to make new ones.
Back in Dinant, we craned the motorcycle off so that Peter could take it to a BMW dealer in Brussels after a safety recall.

Our trusty GS 1200 gets a check over in Brussels.

Our daughter Laura and her friend Alex arrived in Dinant bang on time and once again we were pleased that Eurotunnel and the Belgian railways were working well. The weather wasn’t great at first, but as the summer rolled on a weather pattern seemed to be emerging … boiling hot, sunny, humid weather for a few days followed by cooler, dull, wet days – weird!


Laura and Alex arrive and we enjoy a meal on top with the ‘neighbours’. 

(Nicci trying in vain to get a timed picture with some very uncooperative subjects!)


A Dinant barbel.

We cruised from Houx to Dinant and Laura and Alex were happy to take in the sights and ‘chill’ on deck as the sun shone and the temperature soared once again. We enjoyed several convivial evenings, dining al fresco as well as at the Taverne Wiertz and had lots of laughs.


Taverne Wiertz, Alex enjoying the moules.


About to watch the Wimbledon Men’s Final with a small glass of Pimms!

With the weather taking a turn for the worse, we drove up to Namur on their final day and enjoyed another Croque Monsieur at ‘Le Schtouff’, followed by a walk around the Citadel and a final beer or two near the station.


Still the best Croque Monsieur ever.


A statue at the Namur Citadel -rather appropriately measuring the clouds! 

‘Aurigny’ felt very empty on our return, but our son Adam would soon be driving down to see us with his old school friend Danny.
We headed back downstream to Houx where we were soon joined by Lynn and Stew on ‘Matariki’. They intended to use the low quay there to do some painting, as we had earlier in the summer.
We turned ‘Aurigny’ around so we could launch the dinghy easily, knowing the chaps were bound to take it for a spin and in the heat of the late evening, Lynn and I swam across the Meuse and back to cool off.
Adam and Danny eventually arrived late evening the next day, having been delayed over three hours at the Eurotunnel! Our barbecue was still alight and they were soon relaxing on deck with a meal and several beers.


Adam and Dan take ‘Joey’ for a spin at Houx.

Unfortunately, the weather was muggy and fairly overcast for much of their stay, but that did not stop them from spending all day on deck playing chess and draughts, or from swimming in the river. Sadly, the fish were elusive, despite Peter having a couple of rods out most of the time.

SAM_9744One of many games of chess.

Dinant was buzzing on the Belgian Bank Holiday (21stJuly) with market stalls and a huge ‘Brocante’ and ‘Vide Grenier’. The bateaux mouches ploughed up and down the river all day and the chaps enjoyed the beer tasting and somersaulting off the barge into the water. Even Peter was tempted to try one or two before producing a tasty seafood risotto which we enjoyed on deck. The evening ended with a firework display on the bridge.


The now regular trip to the Leffe beer tasting!


Followed by some barge gymnastics!  This is how you should do it…


…and this isn’t ! (Peter)

We decided to head upstream to Waulsort, as the scenery is stunning on that stretch and managed to moor on the stone quay at the port as usual. We had barely moored up before Adam and Danny were somersaulting into the river again and swimming across to the other bank. That evening Adam caught a nice chub at last… followed the next day by two large barbel.

SAM_9783Lovely scenery en route to Waulsort.


More acrobatics, I declined on this occasion having ‘peaked’ in Dinant!

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Adam gets his long awaited barbel.

One day, on recommendation from Lynn and Stew, we took the chain ferry across the river to ‘Le Vieux Waulsort Restaurant’ and enjoyed a very good lunch, followed by a walk back via the lock.
The following morning, prior to heading back to Dinant, I walked up to ‘Le Drapeau’ which afforded some splendid views along the River Meuse.

Adam and Danny left the next day and we hoped their return by ferry would be trouble free. It was.

That evening I walked to the Collegiale Notre Dame below the Citadel and enjoyed a free concert by the ‘Berkshire Maestros’ – a mixed group of young musicians who were touring around Belgium.
With our remaining gas bottle almost empty, Peter and I drove into France to buy two refills. We ended up in Fumay at lunchtime and had to wait twenty minutes for the Intermarche to reopen…how very French – we had forgotten about the sanctity of lunch time. We bought several items that aren’t available in Belgium and then discovered that the petrol station selling gas bottles would not be open for another thirty minutes! Undaunted we headed back to Belgium, sure that we would be able to find an alternative source en route. Fortunately we did.
We also stopped to look at an American Second World War tank at Hastieres. It had been used to defeat the Germans in 1944 with the help of local volunteers. Our return to Dinant was delayed when we found ourselves behind a cavalcade supporting a Wallonia Cycle Race.



The 5” hole now cemented in shows how this tank met it’s end.

That evening we enjoyed drinks on board ‘Anthonia’ with Carol and Jeremy who we first met last summer. It was great to catch up with them again. My sister Kate was due to arrive by train the following afternoon.
The next morning we headed back to Houx where Lynn and Stew were still hard at work and I put a Beef Bourgignon in the slow cooker. Later I walked back into Dinant to meet Kate from the train and we drove back to the barge. She was later than expected having misread the timetable so I was glad the meal was already cooked.
Lynn and Stew popped in for drinks after supper and we had a pleasant evening together.

In sunny weather with a chill wind we returned to Dinant the next day and then Kate and I cycled back to get the car before heading upstream to Anseremme lock and back for a look-see.

Peter’s brother Paul had arrived early afternoon for an overnight stay, bringing some lovely wine and British beers. We all enjoyed a meal on deck together while the chaps continued to try and catch those ever elusive fish.
Kate had brought our long awaited TRIWV with her and on closer inspection; Peter confirmed that it was in fact the ‘Rhine Certificate’. Well that was a result!
Kate and I walked up to Anseremme and to the top of the hill and back before deciding to visit the Andy Warhol exhibition in the same building as the Maison de Leffe.


The view from the top.


Well worth the climb….


…not worth the 8e!

Mmmm…… sadly there was no free beer at the end of it that might have made the 8 euro entry worthwhile. However we texted Peter who met us in the bar and we enjoyed a few tasty Leffe Royales before heading down to the Cafe Leffe by the bridge for another. Suitably beered out, we were able to book a meal at the trusty Taverne Wiertz, where Kate treated us to a very nice meal.


A now familiar sight!

With the cool wind continuing the following day, we decided to visit one of our other ‘locals’ – ‘Le Schtouff’ in Namur for a Croque Monsieur and then headed to Decathlon to check out their Gazebos. Our much repaired parasol had finally crumpled and died in a strong wind during Laura’s visit and we really needed a replacement as the sun could be fearsome when it appeared.
We bought a 3m2 one for around 145 euro and after visiting another ‘local’ – ‘Le Confessionnal’ – for a beer on the way back… it was soon in place on deck, providing much needed shade.


Not more beer surely?


Our new sunshade, very good too with zip on sides. Waterproof as well!!

The following day after a quick trip to Colruyt for that rare commodity- fresh milk, we set off for Waulsort in the wake of ‘Anthonia’ and were soon moored alongside. Another walk to ‘Le Drapeau’ with Kate and Carol, was followed this time by a rather welcome Pimms on deck.

      SAM_0068SAM_0071‘Le Drapeau’

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When in Rome, or Waulsort!

Having made use of the available electrics – as you do, we were ready to leave for Dinant the following afternoon and were surprised to meet ‘Matariki’ coming towards us. Amazingly they had been shooed off the mooring at Houx by irate local residents -seemingly fed up with the generator noise. Fortunately, they were able to continue their painting in relative luxury at Waulsort over the next couple of weeks.
Back in Dinant, the quay was empty so we took pole position and enjoyed another ‘alfresco’ supper.
Kate and I walked to the station at 9.30 the next morning so that she could catch her return train. It had been another great week together.

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