Monday 15 August 2011 Day 4 ((59) Happy birthday Sarah

Happy Birthday to one of our beautiful daughters, Sarah Jane, we love you to pieces

You look really lovely xxx

Aire sur la Lys to Beuvry

Left Aire sur la Lys with the intention of stopping at Bethune, which has a little harbour off the main canal.    No locks today but went under 17 bridges (non-opening ones.)  We found Bethune and made our way into the little harbour to find no berths empty.  We attempted to raft on a yacht of similar size, only to find that she must have been stuck fast in the mud, as we couldn’t get within 6 feet of her without ploughing as well.

Billow asked to raft on a motor cruiser astern of our abortive attempt, only to be waved off by an irate woman who seemed to think she owned the property.

We moved on.   A couple of kilometers further along we stumbled upon a truly pretty little harbour called Beuvry,  which has a VNF halte fluviale.

Jean-Pierre et Simone at Beuvry

A lovely gentleman called Jean-Pierre and his wife Simone welcomed us as long lost friends and helped us with power and water.   It is amazing what comes along when you let bad things go.   We stayed for 2 nights, allowing  us to do some shopping.  We didn’t realize, but Monday 15 August is a public holiday in France,  and EVERYTHING, including the bar/tabacs was shut. We went for a long walk along the canal to its end, where we discovered a pump house that lifted water from a river using 2 big Archimedes Screw pumps and pumped it into the canal.

Pump that lifts water from a nearby stream up into the canal system

We saw that there was a bit of current passing us at Beuvry and that is why.    Jean-Pierre and Simone look after the VNF halte fluvial at Beuvry.  They are retired and live in a beautiful house right on the canal edge, with their own boat moored just outside.

Us in Jean-Pierre and Simone's garden





They invited us into their home for coffee and a look around.  Jean-Pierre is a retired teacher of English in the local schools and has had a long friendship and collaboration with a school in Oswestry.  His English is excellent (as one might expect) but more importantly, his sense of humour was great too.  Simone spoke some English and understood much much more.   The nicest thing was that when speaking her mother tongue, she spoke so clearly and gently that it was a pleasure to listen to and easy to understand.

One thing Steve has now discovered with the French language is to stop trying to translate everything to English before understanding it.   While not completely efficient at it, it seems like it is a step in the right direction.


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