We had a fantastic long week in Wambrechies .. a place we hope to return to again some time, we love it so much.
Before we left on Tuesday 5th October we had more entertainment provided unexpectedly – often seems to happen here. First it was the finishing line for a long distance run for this region .. so we saw many extremely sore-looking, lycra clad men, hobbling around at the end of the day. We were also right at the heart of yet another festival, this time it seemed to be Halloween, which ended in a 20 minute excellent fireworks display. This town is the most happening place we’ve come across!
We had one awful day before departing Wambrechies when we travelled to Paris to meet with the Harbourmaster at a marina we thought may be a good long stay for winter .. we needed to double-check all facilities especially access. This took us the entire day, more than eleven hours in fact, of bus and train travel but mostly being stuck at one platform or another in Paris as there were no ramps available to get us off and on the trains (although they took the money for our tickets). Then the station for the marina found their lift was broken (and had been for a month) so Stewart couldn’t get off there anyway! As there were no wheelchair accessible taxis we had to turn around and take the long journey back to Wambrechies without having inspected the marina. With no public transport, or taxis, in that area we decided it was not going to be suitable.
We’re now on our way to the River Seine and Paris, currently at Noyon, on the Canal du Nord, beside a massive silo for storing and distributing what we’re not sure .. it’s not in use at present.
Opposite us is a cornfield almost ready for harvest and we are constantly passed by huge commercial barges carrying the usual variety of things in these parts (wood chips, gravel and sand, various grain crops, coal, scrap metal and we see containers with hidden goods)!
We’ve seen barges with names like ‘Queensland’, ‘Tasmania’ and literally as I write ‘Canberra’ has passed. We’ve seen a doubled up barge (one pushing another) called Gracelands on the first section and as she passed we could see she was pushed by ‘Elvis’.
We’ve seen another of these doublers with front called ‘Together’ and the back called ‘Forever’ .. a healthy sense of humour thrives in these parts.
A highlight of our past 10 days, since the last blog, has been visiting Peronne and the Australian 2nd Division Memorial at Mont St Quentin which commemorates what was regarded as the finest achievement of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) during WWI (the taking of Mont St Quentin from the Germans). We first toured the Museum of the Great War in town which we thoroughly enjoyed (even Polly would have been impressed with its curatorship) learning so much about the lives of the Allied countrymen fighting in that terrible war.
The ticket issuer was very helpful when we asked how to get to the Australian Memorial at Mont St Quentin .. at first he printed out a map and told us “in your car you must first drive to..” We interrupted to say we don’t have a car. But there is no bus and no wheelchair accessible taxi .. which we knew.. so we will be going by bike and wheelchair, we told him. He was in a state of shock .. it’s too far, too dangerous, you may have a load of sugar beet dropped on you from the big trucks as they go around the round-about. His imagination was running wild at the thought of us going by road.
In fact it was an easy run for us .. only a few kilometres away and his map was very helpful in finding some of the quieter, less dangerous roads.
We’ve also had a great trip on several days in particular along the Canal du Nord where we had a tunnel which was over four kilometres long taking us an hour of very serious concentration to complete, and then a short one of over one kilometre where at least we could see the light at the end.
We had a series of 22 locks consistently at 6 meters drop and then rise (depending on which side of the tunnel we were on). The photos tell some of this story.
Last of the beautiful warmth we think .. it’s been 25°C some days but despite a gorgeous blue sky it’s only going to make 16°C today… and we’ve just arrived in Compiegne in glorious sunshine and happily more like 20°C.
All the very best to our friends and families.
Lesley and Stewart