The End is Nigh….

Dinant - where Adolph Sachs was born. And what did Sachs invent...?
Dinant – where Adolph Sachs was born. And what did Sachs invent…?

Well all good things come to an end, and we’re only three more sleeps away from our ferry home. But we don’t want to talk about that, do we! There’s still fun to be had and places to explore so it was full steam ahead from Nisramont yesterday morning to our next destination.

We were heading due north for Dinant, on the River Meuse, cutting another big chunk of miles off the journey home. But we’re still not talking about that.

So delicate - it takes a century for each of these stalactites to grow 2cm
So delicate – it takes a century for each of these stalactites to grow 2cm

On the way we diverted to Hotton for our third underground foray of the trip after the Grottes de Pech’Merle and the Grottes de Bétharram. The Grottes de Hotton were almost as dramatic as the ones we visited earlier in the trip, with three levels, huge crevasses, and a wealth of stalactites and stalagmites. We were lucky enough to see the river which carved these enormous caverns, still cutting its way through the limestone, grain by tiny grain. Our guide took us to a rock fall where the river plunges underground. Divers have tried to explore from this point, but much of the complex still remains undiscovered. Our only reason for rating these caves slightly below the others is that we were spoiled by the evidence at Pech’Merle of prehistoric habitation and cave paintings. They’re still worth a visit!

We’d chosen Dinant for a visit, partly because it breaks up the journey home, which is not being talked about, and partly because it looked an attractive place when I zipped through it on the motorcycle last year. The town is strung along the bank of the River Meuse so we pictured riverside cafés, and stalls where we could amble along to while away the afternoon. Unfortunately since I passed through, there are major roadworks all along the river frontage. We were diverted through some tiny streets where poor Vince’s tyres took a battering on the kerbs as the turns were simply too tight.

The largest stained-glass window I've ever seen, Dinant
The largest stained-glass window I’ve ever seen, Dinant

The hoped-for bars & cafés were limited to a short stretch by the main bridge over the river, so we did manage a beer in the sunshine and a visit to the cathedral, but we were a little disappointed that the town didn’t live up to expectations. I’m sure it’ll be lovely when the building works are complete. Our accommodation re-introduced one of my pet hates – in France your camping fee is all-in, but in Belgium, as in Germany you are sometimes charged extra if you want to use the shower. You have to buy a token which gives you about seven minutes of water before shutting off abruptly. Fine for me but poor Gill has a lot more hair than I do, which needs washing, rinsing, conditioning, rinsing again and all that other stuff women do to make themselves so gorgeous. Not good.

As the water supply was free and there was a tap right beside Vince we just used our already-paid-for electricity to heat loads of water for showers in Vince’s cupboard. Luxury!

Today we had another long drive to a tiny village called Estaimpuis on the border. And it’s literally on the border. We’re parked in Belgium on one side of a canal, but if we cross over to the other side we’re in France! So we’ve been running backwards and forwards between countries all afternoon. It’s amazing what amuses some people…

We made a brief stop for a beer as we walked along the canal bank. We spotted an old cottage with a few tables outside and thought a refreshment would slip down a treat. There was no table service so I wandered in to Chez Simone and thought I’d stepped back in time. To my Granny’s house. If my Granny was a compulsive hoarder of Laurel & Hardy memorabilia. And dirt. Oh, and empty glasses. And clutter. Half the room was curtained off – I suspect it was lived-in – and through the curtain I could see more junk stacked up to the roof.

This side is in Belgium - the other is in France :)
This side is in Belgium – the other is in France 🙂

Simone grudgingly got up from her stool to serve me, and I spotted that she actually had more eyes than teeth. I asked for two beers in my best posh French accent, to which she just twitched in the general direction of a stack of crates. I took two warm bottles of beer out and handed them to her to open; I thought I was going to have to help her but she eventually prised off the lids with an ancient bottle-opener tied to the bar with a bit of dirty string. I wasn’t going to risk a glass given that I couldn’t see a single unused one, so I offered her my €5 note and watched her shuffle slowly away. Simone clearly has yet to embrace modern point-of-sale stock control technology, there was no sign of a till. She opened her massive handbag behind the counter (the beer pumps were purely ornamental, her washing was drying on them) and rummaged for five minutes or so to get my change. I swear her handbag was absolutely stuffed with cash, there were tens and twenties falling out all over the place. When I finally took our beers out to the table I asked Gill to take the empty bottles back later just to prove I wasn’t spinning her a yarn. She came back with eyes wide with disbelief! I wonder if they’ll do us a breakfast in the morning..?

We’re still making our minds up about staying here. The Maison du Canale has a dedicated motorhome park but it’s full of cars and nobody seems too worried about it. We’re tucked in a corner of the main car park which seems fine, but as I sit here typing, car after car is turning up and squeezing into every possible space. We’ve even seen one rip his bumper off by driving into what looked like a space on the grass, but which hid a load of builders’ rubble eek! There must be something on tonight, so our choices are to stay here and get drunk with everyone then put up with the rowdy crowds heading off after midnight, or pick our way through the cars strewn everywhere and head off to find somewhere else. What would YOU do…?

Mine’s a rum and coke then. See you in the morning 🙂

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Collegiate Church of Notre Dame de Dinant
Collegiate Church of Notre Dame de Dinant
I was thrilled when this church organ fires up for some practice between services. Sadly I think it was the work experience guy playing it, we had to leave in fits of giggles
I was thrilled when the church organ fired up for some practice between services. Sadly I think it was the work experience guy playing it, we had to leave in fits of giggles!
About Ken Tomlinson 219 Articles
Semi-retired biker, blogger and world’s best grandad. Doesn’t take life too seriously. Discovered motorhoming in 2015, sold up and downsized to fund more travels. Now with added Yorkshire.

5 Comments on The End is Nigh….

  1. There was nowhere to comment on your last blog – so I’ve hopped back here! I have really enjoyed reading about your travels. We got our moho this year as we have both retired, but we had so much already planned this year, we haven’t managed a long getaway – but next year….. Your blog has given us inspiration, so thank you and here’s to your next long trip!

    • Thank you Sue! I’m not sure why there’s no comment box on the last post but I’ll look into it.

      Let me know what next year’s plan is when you know what you’re doing – my turn to follow your adventures!
      Take care 🙂

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