Now that we are in France it is called Le blog of course it could be called La blogge as in France Octo is masculine whilst she’s feminine in English

My new crew two rather elderly ladies (no offence meant) joined me on morts departure and fearing the worst that day I gave them a practical lesson in docking but did spend a disturbed night imagining the first lock out of Namur which was rather interesting , on our way via 5other locks to Dinant which is celebrated for three things ……the birthday celebrations for Mr Lewin……the 200th anniversary of the birth of Adolf Sacs who invented the saxophone …..and the towns pride ,,moulded picture biscuits made from a delicate mixture of honey and cement.

Trying to leave Dinant one engine refused to start call the mechanic who helped with the prop and it’s the battery so a new one and stayed the night and still in search of the national dish of Belgium moules frites….Next morn the other engine refused so a taxi and a new battery were cruising thru the Ardennes huge heavily forrested hills on each side of the river the ladies were not happy with the locks and were stunned when both motors stalled as did I on a sandbank in the middle of the large river and I only got out using the foreward bow thruster.

Then the left engine ran out of fuel even though the voyage showed quarter so not telling the ladies I went to 2000revs and prayed that the other wouldn’t conk out and leave us helpless ,,,,one and a half hours later we reached the sweetest village port and a guy sitting on the bank took us to get petrol

At our next stop we had at last moules frites which come in a huge covered black pot are smaller than ones in s.a. But after enjoying them I counted I’d eaten 99 .in one town in Belgium they were proudly announcing moules imported from New Zealand

We crossed the Belgium border at Givet and were asked to pay our dues for the French canals a huge sum in rand and the village itself was a dream with shops like Carrefour to replenish and a great restaurant.

Pont a Bar was our next stop it had a small marine shop where I bought fenders a 18th century French bar all in wood with a croaking barman and perhaps 20different types of Belgian beer it also had douches and toilets .

The ladies left there Saturday morning butthe previous two days we visited Charleville and Sedan where parts of the maginot line are still visible miche and flora arrived late that night after 19hour:s driving. Next day rest as we knew that the next phase would make men of them and so it did ,,,,with little experience we did 25 descending locks in 30km, in pouring rain the locks are tiny and Octo fits in with fenders exactly so to line her up an get in without bumps and bursting fenders is not easy and I only did 4 in 25 without hitting they are also self operated with a remote control aboard .This was taken from us at the end lock and we were told that the next locks where operated by a pole hanging over the canal which required a quarter turn it was a terrible day rained like hell and poor flora on ropes with boots ankle pads of plastic bags heavy raincoat and pants , she did an amazing job and was also a good helmsman/lady in the kitchen Michy was happily cooking all delicious French dishes , celeriac endives jambon. Rillettes daily croissants and baguettes and great salads.

The locks open at 9 and close at six and our daily routine is french breakfast with coffee and freshly bought croissants and petit pain au chocolate and depending on potential moorings we can do fro 25to 35 km a:day and lunch is pâté saucisson tomato cheese and baguette and wine and at our mooring we go to the nearest restaurant for the night meal.
The weather has been so poor no sunshine for a week that the solar panels can barely work and the batteries are very low.
Last night after a large Belgian beer I ordered a carafe of vin ordinaries but for the first time in my life was overwhelmed by the quantity so Michy nonplussed went and got it put into a wine bottle thus creating the very first (take away bottle)

Tomorrow to LOIVRE where Michy leaves and the kirkpatricks join .q