Thursday, 9 October 2014

Thursday 9th October 2014 Courcy to below Sillery lk. 21.6kms 3 locks

Misty cutting nr Reims
13.9°C Heavy rain in the night and still raining when we got up. Decided that we must move, rain or no rain. It had stopped raining when we set off at 8.40 am. There was an old cruiser (looked permanent) tied by the quay beyond the road bridge and a smart large varnished wooden yacht, called Maiko. On into the cutting that takes the canal out of the Aisne valley into the valley of the little river Vesle, a little tributary of the Marne. The long péniche loading quay at PUM steel works was completely empty save for one resident empty boat called St Joseph, which had been painted down to the waterline and hadn't been loaded
Just one boat moored at PUM steel works
since, it was attached to an electricity supply too. Around the corner in Courcelles, there was a bateau ecole boat (a small cruiser doing boating lessons) in the empty Port Colbert arm, its crew dropped a buoy in the middle as we went past. At 10 am the rain started to pour down again, brolly up – at least it wasn’t windy. A gypsy encampment of half a dozen caravans had been set up where the fuel depot used to be. A little further on into the city centre there was a flock of about a hundred ducks,
Palais de Congres. Reims 
someone had thrown a lot of bread on the side of the road, but a big flock of pigeons from the flour mill were eating it before the ducks could fly out on to the bank. Joggers were still out in force on the towpath in the rain as we went past the Palais de Congres and the Port de Plaisance. Just one cruiser (Pierre VI) was moored on their finger moorings by the Capitanerie. Further along the quay there was a row of péniches; Anders, Interlude and Taifun (moored three abreast) then two DBs, Resiste and Biesbosch with a cruiser
Port de Plaisance. Reims
alongside, then two more péniche houseboats – Landoria and Nautica. Beyond the road bridge there were more houseboats; a cruiser called Ti Amo, then a restaurant boat called La Petite Seine, a well varnished péniche called Cabourg, another old cruiser and then a small floating shed (first one in France!). Just before the bottom lock of the three in Reims there was a moored DB called Liberté. A crowd of school children (early teens) were supposed to be running, a few were walking and chatting, looking as if the
A floating SHED!! Not seen one since Germany.
last thing in the world they wanted to do was be on the towpath in the rain – but some were serious runners, especially several of the boys who had tee shirts off and tied around their waists. The rain continued as we went up the chained flight of three locks. I turned the pole to activate them. All were full so we had to poodle about while the first one emptied. The itinerant lock keeper on his scooter arrived at the bottom lock, 10 Fléchambault, as I lifted the blue pole. Up 2.87m and on up the short pound to lock 11 Château d’eau, which was ready by the time we arrived. Up 2.01m and another short pound took us to lock 12 Huon. Up another 2.36m. Noted that the well-fortified lock house (surrounded b
Lock house at Huon. Reims
y high fences, as are all three locks to keep children and vandals out) was at long last inhabited – there was a light on in the house and garden furniture and a child’s playhouse in the garden. Another retired (or just resting?) péniche was moored on the left immediately above the top lock, a very smartly painted boat called Cotre, with the equally flamboyantly painted name plate on the stern of the Trombosky family. Again the boat had not been loaded since it was last painted. The rain had paused. I made a
VNF offices Reims
cuppa. Two contractors (not VNF) were strimming the grass alongside the right bank. Into the area of Reims called Cormontreuil, where there were two big silos. The boat we’d followed up from Berry, Mondor from Douai, had just finished loading at the first silo quay and, at the second quay Castille was loading, with Star from Brugge waiting. Past the VNF offices and then factories occupied the left bank with a thick belt of trees along the right all the way as far as Taissy. Trees were growing along the left bank too as none of the factories now used the canal quays for transport. The canalside factory walls were covered in graffiti. Rain started pouring down again as we passed huge piles of
Moored below the lock at Sillery
woodchips before the next silos. The quays were no longer in use - the grain driers were in use, fired by woodchips. A lorry driver waved as we passed, he was waiting to load at the silos. Out into countryside with glimpses of fields beyond the trees as we approached Sillery. Along the towpath all the flowers were yellow, golden rod and tansy. Winded and moored below the lock at Sillery at 1 pm. Mike trimmed the nettles back, we unloaded the moped and he set off to move the car. As we were beyond the boundaries of Reims we were surprised we still had a 4G Internet signal.

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