I don’t need to tell anyone that Peter and I love a soirée, whether it’s drinks at the yacht club on Friday night, a dinner party or even a catch up for coffee. For the past 6 weeks our social interaction has been limited to short conversations with lock keepers, harbour masters , sales personal or the occasional passerby that wants to know how we sailed a barge from Melbourne to Europe. But I shouldn’t complain, at least we are out and about, unlike our lockdown colleagues in Melbourne.
With no visitors from Australia to look forward to it was time we searched out some of the people we had made acquaintances with in 2018 and 2019.
So we left Zelzate and headed south to the town of Oudanaard to meet up with Claire and Jeremy on Happy Chance, which is the same model Piper as Joie de Vivre.
This was a 6 hour journey through some very heavy traffic
In the 16th century Oudenaarde was a world famous tapestry production centre. The gothic town hall is now home to a museum devoted to a display of this art.
We happily spent 2 nights catching up on 2 years of news with Claire and Jeremy before we made the long 8 hour trek back to Brugge.
On arriving at what we now consider to be our home port in Coupure, surprise, surprise we were greeted by James and Julie from Mimosa. Their boat is their primary residence and James had generously watched over our precious Joie de Vivre for the past 22 months. Over dinner and drinks we decided to travel to Verne and the Dutch Barge rally in convoy
It was a long trip to Veurne, through the sea lock at Nieuwpoort, made famous during the First World War when the locks were opened flooding the Ijzer stopping the advancing German army, then we travelled up a narrow weed covered canal.
Joie de Vivre dressed up with the signal flags originally from Frances. Instead of being a mishmash of letters and numbers I sent a signal. Reading left to right can you work it out?
Hint, there is only one letter and number in a set of signal flags and I didn’t have a V.
Mmmm, don’t know what happened to the formatting but the image is below, for those who accept the challenge
The city of Veurne was founded as a defensive fort in 890 as a response to Viking raids. You can still see the remains of the defensive hill created when digging a moat around the town, in the gardens behind the church.
It flourished in the 13th century with trade from the UK, but this did not last. Subsequently the unemployed citizens were called the Veurne Sleepers, as they sat around doing nothing all day. I wonder if they eventually staved to death!
During the First World War Veurne lay behind the battle lines so was not destroyed like so many nearby towns.
The party was over all too soon and we were off down the canal to Diksmuide.