Saturday, June 20, 2009

We have an appointment with the monks of StSixtus in Belgium to buy a crate of their beer, the 'best in the world', and very difficult to obtain as the monks refuse to increase production in spite of the demand. Too far by pushbike from Bergues so it's off with the Enfield. After a ride through glorious countryside, we arrive back at the boat with our much sought-after 24 bottles of Westvleteren beer still in one piece, if a little shaken.
We still have a few days left before our French 'vignette' runs out. From Calais we go to Dunkirk, then down the little canal de Bergues, a deadend, finishing in this beautiful little town. It is still surrounded by Vauban's angular and canalised fortifications of the 17th century, the most complete we have found on our travels so far and we spend a few happy days here.

The Calais fest is delightfully small scale with traditional skills such as fish smoking to watch and taste. We are given pride of place, never did find out why,and consequently had to work for our keep this time with many spectators wanting to know about why the boat is so narrow.

The last part of the month-long fest is spent at Calais where they hold a yearly maritime show, not on the same scale as Ostende as our group forms the largest display.

To reach the harbour we have to go through the sea lock.....

Monday, June 1, 2009

Ostende voor Anker

For the next four days we join in with what is regarded as the very best maritime festival in Europe at Ostende.

Boats who attend are treated very well, wined and dined and entertained in return for letting the public have a look at your boat.

We are the only narrowboat here among 200 trad., sailing boats and would attract a lot of attention but, luckily for our sanity, we are six boats away from the pontoon and can hardly be seen.

On the last morning, all crews are treated to a sea voyage on a tall ship with breakfast on board. Skipper gets the chance to climb out through the netting on the bowsprit while first mate just enjoys the views of the other ships joining us out at sea.