Belgian Weather!

Over the last few days, seeing our Aussie flag on the stern, locals have been apologetically shrugging their shoulders calling out ” Belgian weather!”. All it really was were a few sudden showers and wind gusts making entering the locks, let's say, ‘interesting'. But this hardly impeded our cruising.

The grey skies fitted well to travelling up the factory gird Sambre. Rushing past pipelines, mountains of metal and laden barges, Austin seemed to be on a mission, and contrary to common sense went past the only possible mooring of this long stretch of water. On we powered past Charleroi and luckily just made the last lock before closing time. Very tired we arrived at the yacht haven of Seneffe after 8pm, had a quick dinner and fell straight into bed.

Seneffe lays at the beginning of the Charleroi-Brussels-Canal. Here the banks are lined with pine forest and paddocks- no factory in sight! We decided to stay two nights to recover.

The next day we discovered that the small rural town has its own “Château de Seneffe”. This very decent sized castle is showcasing life in the 18th century supported by film clips, sound and olfactory effects. A special section was devoted to the then highly sought after silversmiths and their innovative ways of expanding their businesses. From the simple barber using silver grooming tools to nobility showing off intricate silverware in glass cabinets or on their dinner tables, they also made themselves indispensable to judges and the clergy and their increasingly fancy items for court rooms and churches.

Next to all the beautiful silverware, including tiny silver dishes for dolls houses of the rich kids, was descriptions of the lives of “apprentices". These were often orphans who had little choice of what trade they were placed into and what chores they had to fulfil. They lived in great poverty and had to do the lowest of jobs.

We just made it  to the town centre with our cycles when it started to pour down and we quickly took cover under the awning of a brasserie. We ordered two croques (toasted sandwiches), a coffee and a big glass of sparkling water for Austin. Austin seemed rather distracted, not really listening to the important things I had to say…! I now know why! He was practising in his head to say “Il y a un trou dans mon verre!” - there is a hole in my glass.  Although Austin delivered it in perfect French, it didn’t work as he intended! 

The waiter just smiled and said something, like “do you want to sue me”, but a second glass of water wasn’t forthcoming! Better luck next time, Austin!

From Seneffe we turned into the the Canal du Centre and descended Europes tallest boat lift, the Strepy Thieu, then cruised on to Mons. The harbour at Mons lies on a lake, The Grand Large - meaning basically the Big Big. It lends itself to all kinds of water sport, mainly involving speed boats. So we happily moored inside a protective basin.

We’ll stay here for a while and have a look at the town, hire a car to visit our friends on the Somme and go for a swim if the weather allows. 

Happy Bastille Day to all you people in France! We’ll pray for more rain your way, so you can make it to your winter moorings this year!

© Austin Robinson 2019