Monday, 22 August 2011

Maastricht, Strépy-Thieu, Saint Fraimbault and more

As it pours with rain outside and thunder can be heard all around - it is time to catch up with my blog. It has been one of those unsettled summers, rain one day - hot dry sunshine another. It has just been so unpredictable it has been impossible to plan ahead. The thunderstorm seems to be getting nearer which will probably mean the internet connection will go down and possibly also the electricity. 

We are just back from a short trip to the Netherlands. Setting off from here in warm sunny weather which stayed with us all the way to Maastricht. Here in our region of France there is very little traffic and it is only when you get onto the Paris - Calais motorway that the traffic becomes busier. We were driving across Belgium towards the southeast of the Netherlands so were lucky to avoid any really heavy traffic till we came to a stop at the end of the motorway on the outskirts of Maastricht. There the motorway ends and becomes a dual carriageway with traffic lights as the road passes through the town. Preparations are underway to build a tunnel to take the motorway underground, but it will be many years before the road is completed.  Luckily for us we were leaving the road at the first junction but still had to wait sometime just to get to the slip road.
By the time we arrived at out destination the temperature had risen to 28C and it was very humid and muggy. After taking a walk along the river bank it grew very dark and we could hear thunder approaching in the distance. Luckily for us we were indoors when the storm broke, but a pop festival in nearby Belgium was hit by the storm, the podium was destroyed and tents flattened by the rain and wind. Several people lost their lives. Some of the staff from our niece's restaurant were attending the festival but were  lucky to escape  unhurt.

Silkie chicken drinking water. 
Saturday we enjoyed a walk in the area around Teuven, Belgium. The area is very similar to Suffolk with soft undulating hills. We walked through farmland, woodland and through orchard lined lanes in the warm sunshine, before enjoying a meal and a drink on the terrace at Moeder de Gans. Teuven is close to both the Dutch and German boarders so the clientele tends to be multi national.  In addition to the humans enjoying the sun on the terrace there are  chickens roaming freely around the premises.

 On the way home yesterday we stopped off to visit the boat lift at Strépy-Thieu. This lift was opened in 2002 enabling large 1300 tonnes barges to be raised 73 m.  The construction is amazingly large. We visited the visitors area above the machine room at the top of the building. Again - worth a detour if you are in the area. There are also four more boat lifts in the area, which were built in the early 20th century but are much smaller and can only take small barges of maximum of 300 tonnes.épy-Thieu_boat_lift

BMW Frazer Nash
Every year France closes down on the 15th August for the Feast of the Assumption. Our neighbouring village of Saint Fraimbault holds its annual 'event' on this day. There was a display  of old agricultural equipment and there was the usual vintage car rally.  This particular car was interesting, a BMW Frazer Nash.

Almost finished - the highest point

After many weeks of very hard work, Rob has almost finished the re-pointing of the building in the centre of the yard.  It has taken much longer than he had anticipated when he started.  The result is really good. The new lime mortar really shows off the colour and shape of the stones - a real work of art!
A while ago we visited Forges de Varenne. One of the  iron ore sites which we have here in the area.  Last year we visited a village which had been set up specially for the industry. This site is much older, 17th century. The furnaces are in the grounds of a small chateau which is now used as a family home for handicapped young people.  It is a site well worth visiting if you are in the area.,orne&hl=en&ll=48.630966,-0.59426&spn=0.004219,0.008926&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=41.275297,73.125&vpsrc=6&t=h&z=17

It is still raining and the temperature is falling. Hopefully this is not the end of 'summer' but one does have the feeling that a real Autumn may be a better option than this type of weather.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post. Yes the temperatures are dropping here but I live in hopes that we will get some more sunny days yet!! I will be back, and am your newest follower. Diane