Saturday, September 14, 2013

Barging about

I have just spent a very enjoyable week in France visiting the parents who are travelling through that strange and charming country, living the retirement hippy dream of a barge lifestyle. It involved plenty of lock work - looping ropes, fending off, looking out for boats coming the other direction, and other boaty goodness, as well as eating plenty of nice food, drinking beer and wine and playing with the dog, so all in all, a lovely sojourn.

Getting the ferry across the channel was also fun - travelling as a foot passenger along with my brother - as I always used to wonder when I was younger why anyone would be travelling by foot, how you could end up needing a ferry crossing but no car, and now I know as I was one of those people.

However, the good folk of Calais have certainly no desire to please the foot travellers of this world, with little help or information for the onward journey you need to make in the town to stations. Still, through a combination of walking, ranting and taxi drivers (bizarrely wearing English football shirts but actually French) we managed to make it to our connections - well, excluding the ferry we missed on the way back because we had to spend 20 minutes waiting for a bridge to raise to let a large Danish boat out of the harbour in Calais.

Back to the barge. It's a strange idea, that you can just move your home around as you wish, waking up in one city and moving to the next, having negotiated a few locks and long, slow bends of course. Then you're free to wander the towns and fields at your leisure. We stopped in a lovely town called St Quentin which has a fascinating history and some lovely architecture and monuments.

We were passing through the heart of the First World War battle grounds, with flat and gently sloping fields rimmed by hedges and trees and numerous cemeteries and monuments to the fallen, a war now 99 years old.

No comments: