May 3, 2009 - to Fintele



If Ieper was so physically inhospitable, we thought we should just head on to our next stop; Fintele.  So it was back down the Ieper Canal, a hard left and on to Fintele.  A tiny place with a population of just 30, but a highly reputed restaurant De Hooipiete was nearby serving we had read, “crayfish in green sauce”. 


Left to Veurne, right to Diksmuide

Moored up in Fintele


Long barrel-straight lengths of narrow canal, with the lock keeper almost punctual today compared with yesterday’s performance, though his shoulder was no better.  He told us of a pontoon at Fintele and rang ahead to check if there would be space for us.  “Yes, the other boat is leaving at 11:30.”  It was eleven then, and we still had 18ks to go.  So we had our fingers crossed that our luck would be still be in when we arrived at around 2PM. 


A modern take on the classic lift bridge

Some things don’t change, though

Accessible Not!

A la carte take-away from the famous De Hooipiete restaurant


Unfortunately while we were able to moor on a clear pontoon, the stairs meant I wasn't able to get off in this idyllic location.  We had about the most delicious take-away from that restaurant though.  We couldn’t see the crayfish in green source on offer.  Eel seemed to be the specialty – though no longer a favourite of ours after trying jellied eel from an ancient eel pie shop in east London.  We chose a dish of scallop, prawn and a white fish (which looked suspiciously like eel) and tasted wonderful.



May 4, 2009 - to Veurne



The further into Flanders we travel, the friendlier the lock-keepers seem to be getting.  Donny (we think he said) came on board first thing in the morning to explain the process for the day’s journey.  He would open the first lock and then drive ahead to operate the next two swing bridges.  Then the lock-keeper from Veurne would take over and operate the bridges til we reached Veurne.


Donny operating the Fintele lock – hard work as its all manual labour

It feels very remote, til you notice the cyclist flash past

Lo Canal foot bridge

Veurne approaching


14.5ks without seeing another boat.  We felt as if we were very much in the back-blocks.  Then suddenly we were approaching Veurne and then trying to work out how to get to its yacht-haven.  As well as operating all the bridges and locks hereabouts, Johan controls the town moorings.  There was a place inside where we could tie up and get off with a wheelchair.  A boat was presently tied up there, so Johan just gave the skipper a ring and within half an hour it had been moved and we turned around and pulled in.  Quite unbelievable. 


Safely moored in Veurne Yacht Haven – thanks Johan!

A neighbour at dawn


Veurne proved to be a superb little town, with a town hall, hall of justice and other civic buildings all hundreds of years old and of a size well beyond its population of 11,000 we thought.  Veurne is very proud of its bells and rings them tunefully at every opportunity. The weekly markets would be on Wednesday, so we decided to stay on for a few days, making nightly visits to a local pub (De Dreve) with a WiFi connection to connect to the internet.  Its owners, like Johan and everyone else we met could not have been more helpful or friendly.





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