Friday, July 08, 2016

From the Bassin Rond to the Canal de St Quentin

Well here we are two and a half weeks into our travels. I can hardly believe we've been away so long already. This last week since we left Douai has been simply magical.

It took us two days to reach Cambrai in the end and we stopped for a night at one of the places we'd long dreamed of visiting, Le Bassin Rond, a lovely lake at the end of a side branch of the Canal de la Sensée at its junction with L'Escaut or the Scheldt as most English speakers know it. We've been there a few times by car but never before by boat, so this was really special for me. On a much more mundane level, it marked the point where the weather had improved enough for me to use my camping shower. For any of you who do not know this marvel, it is a big plastic bag, one side of which is black and the other transparent. It has a handle and a pipe with a shower head . The idea is that you fill the bag with water, leave it in the sun and the water gets hot enough for a good shower. I can confirm it was just wonderful and I've used it several times since...another indication that the weather has remained good.


Cambrai

From Bassin Rond, we continued to Cambrai where we had a great lunch with our friends Alain and David at The Jolly Sailor, their restaurant. This was another long time dream - to arrive by boat, moor up and have lunch there.

Honnecourt sur Escaut

We spent the night in Cambrai and the following afternoon, we started off on the gorgeous Canal de St Quentin that winds its way south. Five dreamlike days when we barely knew what day it was as one sun-filled day merged into the next. All I need say for now is that we went through something like seventeen locks and three wonderful overnight stops before reaching the Tunnel de Riqueval, the end point of our journey. We visited the villages of Marquoing, Vendehuile and Honnecourt sur Escaut, the last being somewhere I would love to park my barge forever. During this time, I got my hillside cycling legs back to some extent when we discovered any decent shops were always 7kms from where we were. Luckily, we always managed to find a bakery and my favourite place, Honnecourt, also boasted a limited grocery store.



I will be writing much more about the magical Canal de St Quentin in due course, but now we are back in the Bassin Rond ready to start the return journey. Tomorrow, we will be in Valenciennes and then we will head north, which is downstream on the Escaut/Scheldt towards Tournai. Homeward bound, but a different route, so still more of an adventure to come.

PS Apologies for the poor photo quality. These come from my not very smart smartphone.

19 comments:

  1. Why is it that Koos is seen praying at the stern three times ?

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    1. Sorry, Mel. It was a glitch because of the iffy connection I've had. I think I've fixed it now! Koos is kneeling to the flag...haha. Actually he's just fixing it back in place after we had to remove it for some low bridges.

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  2. Good to know you are having such a lovely time. Though the formatting of this post has gone peculiar on my iPad so some pics are huge and some are tiny! But I've got the gist.

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    1. Thanks for letting me know the problem, Jo. I think I've fixed it now. At least I hope so!

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  3. It sounds wonderful, Val! The weather here's not as good as yours at the moment. Lucky you! Have fun!

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    1. It's just great, Roger. I'm hoping it lasts till we get back to NL, but even if not, we've had a good spell. I'll write more on the travels themselves later!

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  4. Wish I could load our house onto a boat and go travelling in it...fab pics and lovely descriptions!Enjoy the rest of your holiday!

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    1. In a way, the boat is home, Carol, or at least a floating caravan!

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  5. The time has flew past since you started out. It all looks so lovely and you have ticked some dreams off your list.

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    1. It has, Anne, and now we are home again, it seems impossible we were away for a month, but my grass shows me it really is :)

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  6. The photos are fine, Valerie...and the blog is great! As it always is. Thanks for inviting us along.

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed the journey, Steph!

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  7. It all looks tremendous fun, a great holiday. How delightful to tie up beside the Jolly Sailor for lunch, then drift by all the pretty villages. Enjoyed your photos very much, clear and bright. Just like your barge :)

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    1. Thank you, Patricia. It was a dream come true for me!

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  8. So interesting yet again. Love the photo where he is wearing a ? Church steeple on his head! A map of your travels would be good....

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    1. Haha, Stephanie, it's actually the flag pole, but because my phone camera is so feeble, you can't see the colours :) I'll try and organise a map and post it on its own :) Thank you!

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  9. The scenery looks stunning. I have one of those shower bags on the yacht, the first was too big and never heated so I swapped it for a smaller one. Pete put me a hook above the sink so I could wash my hair xxxx

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    1. Ah, that's what I used it for too, Fran! If we didn't have enough privacy for a proper shower. I washed my hair with the shower bag and then soaped myself down standing in a big bowl :)

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  10. I'm all there with you, Valerie, even if I'm running along the towpath behind. Catch you up at the lock! This is a fab holiday!

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