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Boulogne 6th July

Yacht Quintet
Port au Plaisance
Pas de Calais

6th July, 2005

<-Boulogne 3rd July Boulogne 7th July->

We were due to leave yesterday but forecasts were horrible and the weather turned out even worse than the forecast. So, having had force 9 overnight we decided that a couple more days in port might be a good tactic, waiting for the low to weaken and move away a bit. We booked in for two more nights.

Click for a larger imageOur first full day in Boulogne was mainly sightseeing. We dragged ourselves out of bed late morning and wandered south from the docks up into the old town. The weather was pretty rough with rain, and wind strong enough to blow dogs off chains (chiens off chains!) so we gave the city wall walk a miss. But we did walk through the old town and up to the cathedral. Sadly this stroll was a little marred by hundreds of schoolchildren screaming in south London accents.

Click for a larger imageBut we found a pleasant little bar where excellent Leffe Blonde and fairly ordinary sandwiches were consumed. I was then accosted by a very odd Frenchman, a sort of 'Chatweasel' who tried to tell me future from my palm. As he spoke little English and my French is, to be kind, basic, beyond discovering that I would live long enough to pay for lunch, little more was forthcoming. Fortunately he got bored and left. So we finished our beers and wandered back through the commercial part of town. We returned to the boat to collect sweaters as it was freezing and then set off to find afternoon tea in which we were most successful.

Click for a larger imageL'Arbre a The is a cute little salon du the on the side of a specialist tea and coffee shop run by a quiet voiced lady. She welcomed us in and proffered a menu offering perhaps 20 teas and 10 coffees as well as cakes, pastries and light meals.

Having not long had lunch, I opted for Lapsang Suchong tea, apparently known in France as Tarry Souchong, accompanied by a rich chocolate and fruit mousse. Clive had a cup of mocca.

Click for a larger imageWe then continued our perambulations and found, by chance a cheese specialist shop where we indulged ourselves buying large quantities of beautiful cheese and salamis. Then on to the supermarket where we passed a pleasant hour roaming the shelves and loading up with delicacies such as pate, canned cassoulet, fish soup, nuts and the odd bottle of wine and beer. Looking at the picture I see that even some fresh fruit crept in. That must have been Clive.

But no sign of the alcool bruler until, while standing in the checkout queue, I noticed said product but just a few bottles and in single litres rather than the five litre packs that Clive had told me to look for. We priced it and decided that the larger containers would save us 17€uro so we would look further for our supplies. But when we discovered that the next big supermarket was out of town some seven kilometres and the taxi fare would far exceed any saving in cost, we resigned to buy lots of little bottles the next day.

Click for a larger imageDinner on the day that we arrived was so wonderful at the Bar Hamiot we decided a repeat visit was in order. Clive ordered ribs and I went for something called Potjevleesch, a sort of brawn containing pork, chicken, rabbit and possibly undisclosed creatures that creep or crawl and, served with chips and salad, it was delicious. And what do you think of the beer dispenser. Sure beats a jug. But it does get warm if you drink too slowly. Ours didn’t get warm.

Yesterday we went back to the supermarket and cleared their shelves of methylated spirit, that’s what alcool bruler is, but had only increased our stock to 30 litres, certainly insufficient for the whole trip. Fortunately later in the day, on the way back from looking at weather reports in the local cyber-café, we tripped over another supermarket from which we were able to buy some more alcool bruler and increase our stock to a little more than 40 litres. So that should last us all the way round.

Click for a larger imageYesterday we also made a thorough check of the boat and rig. Everything appears to be fine but we have discovered that the forestay attachment to the ringbolt on the bowsprit doesn’t have any load-spreading packing or washer on the underside. So the ringbolt is slowly pulling up through the bowsprit. We have therefore decided to move the stay to the vacant ring on the top of the gammon iron, the purpose for which it was designed. This has now been done, although we had to turn the massively oversized bottle screw upside down to make it fit.

Today we have been buying a few more bits and pieces. We have fixed a couple of things which we’ve managed to break. We have checked weather forecasts and synoptic charts and we think that with the benevolent weather promised for the next few days, we are well set to continue our voyage.

Last night we had a very pleasant Ricard or two with the locals at the Espadon Club at the marina. Then we went out and foolishly tried a different place for dinner, the Brussels café, and it was not to our liking. So tonight we may just have to return to Bar Hamiot again. It really is that good and it would be a shame to have another failure for our last dinner before we leave France. Or, I suppose we could stay a little longer…


  • Click for a larger imageThe weather forecast has been updated. A frontal trough will come through the channel bringing gale force winds and seas up to two metres. The low in Humber is not weakening and is heading for the Dutch coast. So we will have a bumpy night and will probably not be leaving tomorrow. Quel damage.
  • The Choucroute Royale at Bar Hamiot is huge and delicious. The wheat beer, served with a slice of lemon is excellent and potent. Even the bill makes you go all ‘tingly’.
  • The Bar Pirate offers Guinness and Beamish in a cosy, if noisy atmosphere but they’re not good on pricing. Round one was a half pint of Guinness and a Ricard costing 7€50 whereas round 2 was a half pint of Guinness and a Ricard costing 5€50. So how does that work then?

Les Sutcliffe

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