Thursday, 6 December 2012

Encore France: Day 10 - Picquigny to Corbie

From the journal: 

Wow, amazingly I woke up feeling totally rested, quite buoyant, and with absolutely no after-effects of last night. Can’t believe how good I felt. It seemed to really bode well for a great day’s trip back to Corbie, even if the morning was an exceedingly cold one.
However, shortly after breakfast we noticed that the heater wasn’t working and so we had no heat, and no hot water. Brrh!  We phoned Locaboat and they said that Bertrand would meet us at Corbie to investigate the issue, and so we set off once more, wearing a couple of layers of sweaters plus gloves, hats, and scarves pulled up over the lower half of our faces.
Lovely riverside homes which we passed
in Amiens

We had a delightful little experience while cruising back through Amiens. As we passed a lovely area of parkland we notice a whole group of very young school children in the park, with their teacher. We both waved. The teacher said something to the children and then they all, in unison, waved and called our "Bonjour monsieur/dame". We called back "Bonjour mes enfants". It was just the loveliest thing and put a big smile on our dials.

Modern - and I think quite lovely - Amiens houses

The current was running quite strongly, and of course we were going up the locks instead of down, which is such a different experience. Sitting (or standing) on the front of the boat and firmly gripping that bowline while the water comes pouring into the lock like a mad cataract let loose requires quite a bit of effort in a lock of any size as the swirling waters want to turn the boat this way and that. Holding on, keeping the boat steady, sure works the shoulder muscles. In one particular lock – a very large one – it took 45 minutes from when we nudged our way through the gates into the lock until it had filled and we were able to sail out. Have to say, though, the Somme lock-keepers, who are mostly young men, were just delightful. They were very professional, very convivial and always an absolute pleasure to deal with.
We arrived in Corbie at quite early in the afternoon and Bertrand and a young lad were waiting there to meet us. And here’s a thing: we tied up right in front of the English barge “River Dog”, last spotted in Cappy when we started out on our journey and home to the kind couple who bought us a baguette that first morning. We saw no sign of them, though, and so assume that they were off around town somewhere. 
Some shops close to the port in Corbie

While Bertrand and his offsider worked on the vessel we went for a wander around Corbie, marvelling at the hotel de ville, which looks like something out of a fairy story. It was market day, and we spent a couple of really happy hours just wandering around slowly, finding so much to exclaim over. Whatever you could possibly think of was there, from fruit and vegetables, to cheeses, olives, meats and sausages of every description, underwear, men’s and women’s clothing, shoes, handbags, kitchen tools. Quite fascinating, and lovely just to be amongst the people who were, like us, ambling from stall to stall to check out the wares.
Very moving war memorial outside the Corbie Hotel de Ville

After that we popped into the patisserie for a couple of their superb éclairs and also bought something which is a local speciality, a flamiche. Basically a leek tart, the casing is apparently a sort of brioche pastry, quite scrummy, and the beautiful creamy leek filling just heavenly. Honestly, my taste buds are going just thinking of how good they are. Note to self: get onto google to find a recipe for them. I really  wish we had decided to try them earlier as they are just delicious. 
And, yes, this is the town hall, not a fairy tale castle.
Beautiful, I think.

When we arrived back at the boat with our purchases the men had finished work and we were able to just sit back and enjoy the lovely toasty warmth onboard with some great food and, of course, wine.
Just to give it some perspective

After the upsets of last night it was great to just feel peaceful and well, and so we simply passed a pleasant evening with a stroll along the riverside and then a little soft music, some chatter, and a fairly early night – that seems to be about normal, actually, on this beautifully restful sort of holiday. 

I hope you’ll be back tomorrow for the last day of this canal trip. Catch you then.


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