4. Last days on the Meuse – August 2015.

Waulsort had become a veritable hub for our friends’ barges and indeed all five of us would be mooring together for the winter in Bruges. Knowing that we would be heading off on our various travels, we arranged to have barbecue together. The weather was warm and sunny and with the ferry closed for the day, Peter dropped me over by dinghy so that I could meet my friend Sophie at Dinant railway station.

She was immediately immersed in the festivities and enjoyed meeting our friends. The food, drink and good company continued well into the night.

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Sophie acclimatises!

Before heading back to Dinant by barge the following afternoon, Sophie and I walked up to ‘Le Drapeau’ (whose view never fails to impress) and the ruined ‘Chateau Thierry’.

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The view down to Waulsort. 

After a late lunch in Dinant, we headed out for some more sightseeing. Peter left by motorcycle very early the next day to ride back to England for the funeral of an ex-colleague and friend, so I was glad to have company.

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With Monsieur Sax. 

With the quay by the Ibis Hotel unusually busy, we had doubled up with ‘Chouette’ on the moorings and fortunately, Mike was there to help me change over the gas bottle for our breakfast cuppa. Despite the baking hot temperature and mugginess, Sophie and I walked up the hillside between Anseremme and Dinant. Later on and suitably rested I was treated to a tasty meal in the nearby tapas bar.

‘Chouette’ departed the following morning and Sophie left by train at midday.  I was ‘home alone’ and hoping Peter would return in time to move the barge. ‘No Mooring’ signs had appeared on the quay earlier that day in preparation for the annual bath tub/ daft raft race.

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The various rafts based loosely on bathtubs.

As rafts of various kinds convened on the quay, I felt very conspicuous in our 24m barge. Peter arrived quite late having suffered a three hour delay at the Channel Tunnel. He was pretty tired having been away just the one night and motorcycling such a long way, so we decided to stay put for the night. Despite a noisy night of loud music we were up early in the morning and cruised the short distance downstream to Houx.

Wet weather was forecast and just before my brother Andrew and his wife Kathryn arrived the heavens opened. They had flown into Brussels-Charleroi and hired a car. When they arrived we spent the rest of the day inside catching up on news and relaxing. We were all fairly weary.

Happily, the rain didn’t last and we were able to walk over to Houx for the craft and local produce market the following morning. Next, we drove into Dinant to ‘do’ the sights and enjoyed a couple of Leffe Royale beers in the gardens of the Maison de Leffe.

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The sights.

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A couple of Leffe Royal’s – had to be done!

Back on the barge and after a late lunch, Andrew and I walked up to the ruined fort of Poilvache with its lovely views along the river. That evening we all enjoyed a spectacular firework display from the comfort of our deck.

We returned to Dinant by barge and while Peter craned the motorcycle back on board the rest of us did some shopping. That done we cruised upstream again to Waulsort for one last visit. It is a particularly pretty stretch of river which we have enjoyed sharing with our various guests and although it was rather chilly, the views were still impressive.

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En route to Namur.

The following morning we cruised back to Dinant and then headed off to Namur in both cars, partly to sample the Croque Monsieurs in ‘La Schtouffe’ and partly to shuffle the cars around.  We then drove to Mons and visited the new Mons Memorial Museum, St Symphorien Cemetery and the ‘Grand Large’ where we deposited our car, returning to Namur in the hire car. Phew! Our marathon day was not over yet though… we parked the hire car by the Pont de Jambes in Namur and walked to the rail station. With enough time before the last train to Dinant, we sampled the beer and frites in a nearby bar. What a day!

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Nimy bridge, Mons.

After a necessarily lazy start the following day, we cruised in glorious sunshine downstream to Namur, mooring below the Pont de Jambes and were treated to a very nice supper in the old town.

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Our usual spot in Namur.

Andrew and Kathryn drove over to Waterloo the next day to see the new visitor’s centre, Peter relaxed onboard, while I walked off to find the ‘Garden between two Towers’ (based on what was grown in the Middle Ages) and the Visitor’s Centre in the Terra Nova part of the Citadelle.

On their final day, we drove up to the top of the Citadelle and had a lovely lunch at the well situated ‘Panorama’ restaurant. With just a thirty minute drive to the airport, Andrew and Kathryn left us early evening and we set to, dismantling our new gazebo and cleaning out and covering the dinghy… our summer on the Meuse was over.

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A fine view and lunch at the top of the Citadelle.

 

Next stop…Mons Grand Large.

 

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