Come with us as we travel round Europe in our floating home

Friday, 14 July 2017

Menen to Sailly-sur-la-Lys

Hi, nice to see you again.

This week has flown by hasn't it?

We left Menen on Saturday, after I'd been to the hairdressers. It's been so hot that I couldn't wait any longer and so, armed with a photo of the hairstyle I wanted, I made an appointment and prayed that my French would be adequate to get what I wanted.  Hairdressers in Belgium had been averaging between 45-50 € but in the French side of town it was much better value and I paid 33€. The hairdresser spoke no English but she was very nice and very patient and I came away very happy. My french lessons are certainly starting to pay off 😃

We shared Menen Lock with 3 HUGE barges. One alongside us and two behind.

I have to admit that I'm still finding these massive locks a bit intimidating, but I've been assured by friends who have been over here for a few years that you soon get used to them. I hope they're right!

On the way to Wervik we passed this huge recycling plant.

These massive blocks were compressed aluminium cans

It's no wonder the commercial barges are so heavily laden, but it's nice to keep all that bulk transport off the roads.

We also passed the local fuel barge where 2 of the barges we'd shared Menen lock with were pulling over to fill up.

We stayed at Wervik Yacht Club for 3 nights, 10€ a night with free water but electric is extra if needed.

The bar & restaurant give the place a real holiday feel to it and it was full of locals. The food was basic but good and the beer was at French prices so no complaints there 😃

and the view from my kitchen window almost made doing the washing up pleasurable.

The only down-side to the mooring was the huge wash created by the big barges going past and we decided three disturbed nights were enough, so on Tuesday we set off again heading for Armentieres.

The first lock was on the border of Flanders and Wallonia which meant that we had to get new registration papers for this region.  The lock keeper had asked us for the papers while we were waiting for a commercial boat to arrive and were holding onto the wall. I misunderstood him and thought we had to walk up there before we could go through the lock and was about to do that when a commercial arrived and he told us to come into the lock.  Once we were roped up and the water was rising he came over the VHF radio and asked me to come now.  That meant climbing up the lock-side ladder and I don't like ladders or heights 😨 but I did it and I managed to get all the paperwork completed in French and I managed to climb back down the ladder onto the boat!  Well chuffed!

We've made ourselves a hook on a rope to make locking a bit easier. It's made from an English mooring pin that we haven't needed to use over here and has proved invaluable so far. It just takes the strain while I get the main rope over a bollard in the side of the lock and has made me much happier and much less stressed.

The mooring in Armentieres was a small pontoon only just long enough for us, but as we haven't seen any other pleasure boats for a long time that wasn't a problem. It's a nice small town with plenty of facilities.  We walked for about half an hour to a Mr Bricolage (B&Q) so Roger could check out what's available over here and then also stocked up the food cupboards and wine cellar at nearby Lidl and Carrefour Hypermarket.

As we're now officially in France I finally got to change the courtesy flag

Yesterday (Thursday) we set off again. The canal here is much narrower, more rural and very pretty although it is still used by some of the smaller commercial boats. When we came through Armentieres Lock we'd been given our first remote control for the next lock (Ecluse de Bac Saint Maur)

When you're about 50m away you aim the zapper at this board and press button 1

That opened the gates but then all the lights went out and we weren't sure what was going on.  A lock keeper came out and beckoned us on. Apparently the remote controls weren't working properly so he had to operate the lock for us. It was nice to be in a small(ish) lock on our own but I was quite disappointed that the zapper didn't work

We're now moored at the Halte Nautique de Sailly-sur-la-Lys on a 30m floating pontoon with no facilities.

It's a small town with a couple of bars, a friterie (chip shop), bakers and the ubiquitous Carrefour, but not a lot else.  It's lovely to be back in the countryside and we'll probably stay here for the weekend, especially as for the first time in a fortnight we've managed to get a satellite signal and it's the British Grand Prix on TV.

I hope you'll come back soon and see where we've got too.
Bye for now

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