Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Back on Board - at last!

Tuesday 15 September

No pictures unfortunately - I will eventually find the camera.

Emirates flight from Durban to Dubai was horrible; surly staff, rubbish food, agonisingly slow service - it took them two and a half hours to offer us any refreshments at all. Not even a drop of water post take-off. The next morning's flight from Dubai to Paris was like flying with KLM; happy personnel, great food, snappy service - an absolute pleasure.

The train ride from Charles De Gaulle to Brussels departed 25 minutes late which meant we missed the early connection to Diksmuide but the journey itself was very pleasant - and, at 300kmh, fast. The train from Brussels to Diksmuide took two hours, stopping at a host of small stations but our taxi was at the station to meet us and finally, at about 22h00, we were back aboard 'Elle'.

Since then it has been a rain and wind filled flurry of unpacking, shopping, cleaning three months accumulated deck grime, filling water tanks, shopping, milking cash dispensers, shopping...I think you get the drift?

As an aside, on arrival there was a very pretty visitors card stuck to our window saying that  Australians Ian and Lisette from the barge 'Catharina Elisabeth' ( had popped around and were moored a short way from us. Needless to say, that evening we got together on Elle and had a fun evening, swopping stories and imbibing the odd glass of wine or two amply washed down with some great Lynn-made soup. Nice to finally meet you Ian and Lisette!

Tomorrow we leave for Nieuwpoort and hopefully our Kokwatersport order will have arrived - dispatched 11 September and not here yet.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Durban, South Africa - "Leaving on a jet plane"

Saturday 12 September 2015

Our three months in the ‘sin bin’ are now over and tomorrow we head for King Shaka International Airport where, at 18h40, we board an Air Emirates flight to Paris with a short stop in Dubai on the way. From Paris it is by train to Diksmuide with changeovers in Brussels and Ghent – we expect to be on Elle no later than 22h00 on Monday 14 September.

What have we been doing here over the past three months?

-          Lynn had a scan done of her knee and will now have a knee replacement operation a week after our return from Europe in November.
-          We spent a very pleasant week touring Mkuze Game Reserve

and the Tembe Elephant Park, the latter being on South Africa’s border with southern Mozambique.

-          I had squamous cell cancer cut out of my nose and a basal cell one cut out of my right ear which used to be about 5mm taller than the left and is now 5mm shorter.
-          Lynn celebrated the second anniversary of her 30th birthday.
-          We spent ten wonderful days fishing on the Transkei Wild Coast.

We stay in the buildings on the inside curve of the river.

-          And I was informed on Thursday by the neurologist that I have to have another (the 3rd) back operation “sooner rather than later” so this is now provisionally scheduled for the end of February although this date will depend on Lynn’s recovery progress after her knee replacement.

But most importantly we are packed, excited and ready to hit the waterways again. Our plan is broadly as follows:

-          Depart Diksmuide 15/09 arriving Brugge 19/09 with stopovers in Nieuwpoort and Jabbeke.
-          Depart Brugge on 21/09 by train for the Oktoberfest in Munich and return to Brugge on 24/09.
-          With friends Gerd and Lesley we will cruise Brugge/Eeklo/Gent then down the Leie to Deinze and Kortrijk where they will leave us on 01/10.
-          The same day we will start a five week journey along the Leie/Lys, to Deulemont, and then to Wambrechies and Roubaix in France and back into Belgium where we will join the Haut Escaut/Boven-Schelde to Peronnes, the canals Nimy-Blaton-Peronnes and Du Centre to Seneffe then down the Canal de Charleroi a Bruxelles to just short of Brussels and then start our return journey with a detour trip north down the Dende River and back south the same way and then finally, the quickest way back to Diksmuide via Kortrijk. The whole adventure will look something like this:

-          Elle will come out of the water for the winter on 13/11 and on 17/11 we board a train for France to catch an Air Emirates flight back to Durban, via Dubai, arriving on 19/11.