Thursday, July 23, 2009

Memory Lane

Last weekend we went in search of our travelling friend Philip. We'd heard he was going to be in Brussels so we took a drive down to Anderlecht, where I used to have my own boat, and where we knew he would be heading for. We found his barge but sadly, he wasn't there. We also took a drive along the row of barges lying there and saw my old Ténacité, which didn't make me happy. It's looking very sad and messy. There are some things I regret. That's one of them. One thing I don't regret is leaving there, though. The feeling about the place is not good and it's not a happy community. I like the developments to this barge, however. it's looking a lot brighter and more loved than it used to be. Fun, isn't it? If you click on the photo, you can just see Philip's wheelhouse in the background too.

From there, we went on to another favourite haunt - Clabecq - where we walked along the canal and met Philippe, a French speaking Belgian friend who lives on his tjalk, the Prosper. He was also a little sad due to personal problems, but we had coffee with him and enjoyed sitting on the bankside in the sunshine. Clabecq remains the place where we will always wish we'd been able to stay. It's a lovely informal community, but it seems its days might be numbered and they may all be moved elsewhere in the future. Just as well it remained a dream perhaps.

When we left Philippe, we went on to Ittre. This was where I did have a mooring organised for the Ténacité before I sold it, and it is a really beautiful spot. Still, we were surprised to see how many barges were moored up along the stretch by the lock, and in a way, were glad we hadn't gone there, as it has now lost its marvellous peace. But it's still beautiful.

Ittre is remarkable for its 14 metre deep lock, which is pretty impressive when it's empty or you are at the top looking down. The photo above shows the area in front of the lock, so you can see its depth. In the one below, it's full and looks calm, totally normal and peaceful. The last picture is of the row of barges now moored there. The Ténacité would have been one of them at one time. Ah well.... it was good to go back all the same.

All photos here are Koos's. I was using my old Olympus Trip 35 that day and am just waiting for the film to come back. I've now decided there's a place for both analogue and digital - one for the nice prints and the other for the Internet and nice slide shows!


  1. Hi Val,
    that barge does look fun. I enjoy reading how you write. (that doesn't sound right, but you know what I mean)

    There must be a sense of freedom living on the water.


  2. Hi Vally,

    Sounds like slightly mixed memories on that trip down memory lane, though predominantly on the plus side. It's fantastic to have been around all these places to have all the memories.

  3. Thanks Grace. About the freedom? Yes, in a way, but there are more restrictions than you would think and there is always the uncertainty about whether the local authorities will decide to do away with your moorings in favour of other developments.

  4. Yes Maria, the memories were a bit mixed, but still good!

  5. 'Clabecq remains the place where we will always wish we'd been able to stay. It's a lovely informal community, but it seems its days might be numbered and they may all be moved elsewhere in the future.'

    What is going on and why?

  6. String,those of us who choose to live on the water are always at the mercy of corporate and local government interests (if, of course, they aren't the same thing!). To add to the tensions at Clabecqu, it is on a curve in the canal and on the language border between Flanders and Wallonia as well. Local government sees the community there as little better than a trailer park; the waterways authorities find them an annoying obstacle on the curve of the canal there; and the Flemish lock keeper half a kilometre away thinks that these mainly French speaking bargees so close to his patch are an affront to his dignity, and so he has (with the support of the Flemish local authority) put a locked barrier up on the tow path at the border between Flanders and Wallonia. This means that if there is an emergency, nothing can get through from the Flanders end, which is closest to the main roads. As a whole, then, they are not popular, and have been told that they are likely to have to leave, but so far, no date has been given.

  7. I've added another pic of the lock looking down into the space in front of the gates ;-) That way it's easier to see the depth.

  8. Val I love it!
    Those horseback riders heading across the locks!
    Was this an afterthought? I'm sure it wasn't here the last couple of times I was through...

    There's nothing like memory lane to put perspective on things. I'm sorry your Tenacite is looking in need of repair. With the love you have for your barge(s), it must pull at your heartstrings. I tend to get sentimental about things like that, too.

    It was nice that you ran into an old friend like that. I cannot imagine going to another country and meeting up with anyone I know simply by chance. But we do have to travel a lot farther to leave our country...

    The photos are lovely, as is the wonderful countryside!

    Is that actually a hill I seen in the last frame?

  9. Hehe, Dale, how observant of you! Yes, it is a hill! Ittre is in Wallonia, which is a really lovely part of Belgium and it is very hilly indeed! And yes, there is a riding stables right next to the lock there. It's a truly lovely location and I'm just a littls sorry there are quite so many barges there now.

    I think we are very fortunate in that the countries of the north here are small and it's very quick to cross borders and be in a different land with a different culture and a totally different language. It makes for a wonderful diversity xx


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