Wednesday 30 September 2020

Méricourt-sur-Somme (nut harvest)

We left Amiens at 10am on Monday which was rather early for us.  With our non-functioning washing machine, we needed to find a launderette so were heading for Corbie which was a good cruise away.  The weather for the whole day was best described as dull; no wind or rain, just grey, not particularly warm and about 15 minutes of sunshine in the evening just before it set.  We’d arranged to meet our éclusier at the first lock at 11 and for the first time since being on the Somme, had to ring again because he didn’t turn up.  There were a lot of profuse apologies and they admitted to not being very organised as they weren’t expecting four boats to be on the move at the same time.  The other three were heading our way too so must have come in from the sea.

Up by the lock was a horse trough or abreuvoir that was used until the 1940s when the last horse-drawn barges were phased out.  Villages often share many of their street names such as grand rue, rue du lavoir, rue du 8 Mai 1945, rue Victor Hugo etc.  Of course, we always head for the rue du lavoir but often misread the rue de l’abreuvoir and are subsequently disappointed when there’s no lavoir but a horse trough or drinking fountain.  Apparently, the horse trough at the lock was the last remaining one on the Somme.

L’abreuvoir at Lamotte-Brebière lock

When we first arrived at the lock an old man was walking away from it carrying a couple of large plastic bags full of walnuts.  This put Karen on high alert, and she spied a walnut tree which is often the case at French locks as the families in the lock cottages planted them for their own supply.  We busied ourselves while we were waiting for our éclusier by getting the first decent haul of the season.  To be fair, Karen collected far more than me as she was more adventurous.  Each shake of a branch would bring many crashing to the ground and some would bounce into the river running past the back of the lock.  Karen would scramble down the bank to rescue any that were still close to the edge.  It was a good first crop and we felt a bit guilty getting back on board as another lady walked across the lock and started looking too.

Starting the drying process

The lock cottage had been converted to a pleasant looking café bar but was closed on Mondays so we couldn’t take advantage while we waited.

Waiting for the éclusier at Lamotte-Brebière

Once our man arrived, we were soon on our way again and he said he would see us through the next lock immediately after lunch.  We took the opportunity to moor up while we waited and had our lunch too.

Lunch at Daours

We had been assured that there was plenty of room to moor at Corbie, but we only just managed to squeeze in.  Several of the boats on the visitor moorings had been there when we came down and looked like they were there for the winter.  Maybe the Somme département has given special dispensation and is waiving the 72-hour mooring rule because of the situation this year meaning many people have been unable to get to France.

Squeezed in at Corbie

On Monday we cruised 11 miles up three locks.

In retrospect Tuesday was a walnutting day, it was also dry as well as warmer than the last few days and we even had some welcome sun after mooring up for the evening.

We were up and about early as Karen was off to the launderette while I topped up the diesel tank and refilled the jerry cans at the local supermarket.  When we left Corbie, Karen & Buddy started walked and it wasn’t long before I noticed they’d disappeared from sight.  Looking behind me, I could see a large walnut tree and could guess what Karen was doing.  I carried on very slowly but they still didn’t catch up until I’d covered four or five kilometres.

No sooner had I picked them up before we spotted another tree and it took a while to drop Karen off again as the riverbank wasn’t suited for bringing boats in close.  She did manage to get off in the end but not without dunking one foot in the water.  It was hardly worth it as it looked like the locals had recently visited and she only returned with six nuts!  We continued on and moored for lunch below the first lock of the day.

Moored for lunch below the lock at Sailly-Laurette

Checking our emails after lunch we found we’d been accepted for an on-line bridge course starting this Thursday.  Those of you who know us or have been reading the blog for a while may remember we used to belong to Stratford-upon-Avon bridge club.  This was when Karen was still working, and we continuously cruised the area around Leamington Spa and Stratford near her office.  After Karen stopped working and we were continuous cruisers on the Leeds & Liverpool canal we joined the Ilkley bridge club.  Of course, these clubs have ceased to function physically this year and we weren’t surprised to see the first club we belonged to, at Tunbridge Wells, was offering on-line tuition and play.  It’ll be interesting to see how we get on remotely.

We went up one more lock in the afternoon and moored immediately above it on a wooden stage only three metres wide but it did have a cleat and there was a lone bollard about 20 metres further down that we were able to secure to as well.

Overnight mooring at Méricourt-sur-Somme

While I secured the boat and put away the cruising gear, Karen walked down to the lock with her boat hook.  She was off to find the proverbial walnut tree by the lock cottage.  She’d clearly struck gold as by the time Buddy and I arrived she’d already collected a large bagful.  I took over boat hook duties by hooking it over branches and giving them a good shake while Karen collected the nuts which came down like rain and we joked that we should have been wearing hard hats.

Tuesday evening

Coincidentally, Dieta & PJ Korbel got in touch later wondering how we were getting on with the walnut harvest this year,  They have had a bumper crop down in the Loire valley where they are currently cruising.  I’m particularly looking forward to returning to a spot about ten miles north of Reims in a few weeks  Being very rural, it doesn’t get much footfall and the walnuts last year were massive.  Karen says she doesn’t mind cracking open small ones but I’m all for efficiency.

On Tuesday we cruised nine miles up two locks.

Monday 28 September 2020

Amiens (caught speeding)

After Karen potted up some winter pansies on Saturday morning, we left Long hoping to get to Samara before lunch so there’d be time to visit the archaeological and historical park there during the afternoon.  Karen and Buddy started off by walking and, as we were now going upstream, I found it quite a struggle keeping up with them whereas the other day, when we were going downstream, I was struggling to go slow enough for them.  

Talking with the éclusier at the first lock we realised we wouldn’t make it through the second by lunchtime so agreed to stop before the lock and he would see us through at two o’clock.  After passing three péniches that were in various stages of conversion to liveaboards we had another reminder that we were now going upstream.

Red and green channel markers

As we are now going upstream the right bank is on our left (port side) and the left bank is on our right (starboard side).  Of course, looking at the picture above, the right bank is on the right and the left bank is on the left. The green and red buoys mark the channel to follow so that boats don’t head off down to the weir on the left (or right going upstream).  A buoy or row of buoys of a single colour will indicate that there is an obstruction or other reason that boats must keep to the side indicated by the colour depending on whether they are going upstream or downstream.  So when we came down we had to keep to the left of red buoys which were on our right as well as on the right bank.  Coming back, we keep to the right of the red buoys even though they are on our left but on the right bank. 

If you bothered to read that paragraph, then I’m sorry, but it tickles me.  Seriously it does explain why boats have a port and a starboard side rather than a left and a right so that confusion is avoided.  It reminds me of one of the few things I learnt at school, if indeed it were true.   The majority of humans are right-handed and before rudders were invented boats were steered by an oar on the right (starboard) side at the back. Because of this, boats would generally dock at ports along their left side which is why the left side is called the port side.

We did indeed arrive at the second lock during the lunchtime shutdown so stopped where the éclusier had said there was a mooring and had ours as well. 

Below the lock at Picquigny for lunch

Both locks were in use at Picquigny making it into a staircase.  I haven’t quite worked out why sometimes the bottom locks are used and sometimes they aren’t  It must be related to the water level in the river and my reasoning leads me to believe two are used when the levels are low.  If only the top lock is in use, then there may be a danger that deep-draughted boats may hit or scrape the cill (the base the bottom gates rest on) as they enter. By using the lower lock, boats are then raised to a safe level before entering the top one.  If you, the reader, have a better suggestion or know the definitive answer then I’d be glad to hear it.

Rising up the bottom lock of the Picquigny staircase

It wasn’t long before we were mooring up at Samara.  The change in the weather is amazing; we chose to moor here last week so that we could be in the shade.  This time, because it was cloudy, the trees would just mean the evening would arrive earlier.

Samara on Saturday evening

I spent much of the afternoon looking around the archaeological park.  As well as a large exhibition hall, there were many exhibits outside and also a maze and an extensive arboretum.  It was clearly an educational establishment too as there were a few classrooms, two of which had lectures in progress.  There were also a couple of groups of schoolchildren touring the park.  Both the lectures and the presence of schoolchildren surprised me as it was a Saturday. 

The park aims to show how civilisation and construction of houses changed through the different ages of man.  Most exhibits were based on archaeological evidence uncovered locally in the Picardy region.  Guides were present in the buildings to explain how they were constructed and to also provide more information on the associated time period.  As we were in the Somme there was also an interesting section on the development of peat digging and how it shaped the area from the 1700s.

Clockwise (not chronologically) from top left: Upper Palaeolithic; Bronze Age; peat cutter; Neolithic; Bronze Age; Iron Age

One of trees in the arboretum was a walnut and I collected a good haul of windfalls in a plastic bag.  Karen ensures we both keep a plastic bag in a pocket for just such occasions.

Later in the afternoon we had a video call to go through the snail mail that Jo had recently picked up for us.  It’s irritating that in this day and age we still seem to get physical mail even though we try to insist on electronic communication.  One item was a French speeding fine and our immediate reaction was that it was from when we last came back to the UK.  Travelling through a Champagne village early in the morning we thought we’d been flashed by a speed camera.  On the return journey we saw that it wasn’t a speed camera but a mirror on a pole to aid exit from a private driveway.  We must have caught the rising sun’s reflection in the mirror and mistaken it for a camera flash so weren’t expecting to receive a penalty notice.

Looking closer at the details on the penalty notice we realised it related to a different day and in the evening, not the morning.  It turned out to be the day Karen had been driving when we’d been to see Paul & Sue on their boat when they were moored at Châlons-en-Champagne.  We’d heard that France have tightened up on their speeding margins and we’d been clocked at 92kph in a 90kph limit! 

The rest of the mail was financial services related which is so annoying as that is one industry that should know how to cut costs.  If they ceased physical communication it would save them a fortune some of which could also be passed on to customers.

On Saturday we cruised 11 miles up two locks.

It was too windy to cruise on Sunday morning, so we busied ourselves indoors until it subsided which it had by about midday so off we went.  The first lock was only a couple of miles away so we knew that for the second day running we would arrive during the lunch break.  Karen & Buddy walked to the lock while I took the boat.

After mooring up and having lunch we called for an éclusier and were told we may have to wait a little longer than the standard maximum of 20 minutes as the local guy was on another task.  As it was, we only had to wait half an hour and we were soon going up the lock.  To our surprise a boat was waiting to come down – this was the first boat we’d seen on the move for 12 days and we almost felt a bit put out that there were other people around.

As the wind had died completely down and there didn’t seem much chance of rain we decided to push on to Amiens for the night and we had the same éclusier for the other two locks on the trip.  He was extremely friendly and chatty but, unusually for a young guy, had hardly any English which was great as it meant the conversation had to be in French.  He was so pleasant that it didn’t feel embarrassing to make mistakes or be corrected.

The second lock was about three miles from Amiens, so Karen and Buddy got off at the top and walked to the centre of town where we knew there was somewhere easy to pick them up before the final lock.  For some reason the lock took just over 30 minutes to fill and the last lock took a little over 20 minutes so added about 45 minutes to the journey.

Coming into Amiens

The first mooring spot was above the lock in Amiens and there was no room as there were already two boats tied up.  The other mooring spot was at the opposite end of town and that was busy too with a restaurant boat, a hotel boat and a sea cruiser already there.  We squeezed in at the end but it meant we would have to get on and off at the front of the boat rather than the back.  

After we moored up, two guys got off the sea cruiser and came up for a chat.  They had brought the boat over from London a couple of months ago and were making their way down to the Med but weren’t sure where to head after that.  We recognised the boat but just couldn’t place where we’d seen them before until we all recounted where we had been over the last few weeks.  In the end the penny dropped, and it was in the port at Cambrai where we’d seen a bride arrive by boat and come ashore next to their boat.

Moored at Amiens for Sunday night

Looking back at our pictures for the last three weeks we realised how fortunate we’d been to have travelled down the length of the Somme in wall to wall sunshine even if the last three days of the journey back have been either grey, wet or windy.

On Sunday we cruised eight miles up three locks.

Saturday 26 September 2020

Long (an uphill struggle)

The forecast rain for Wednesday didn’t arrive until the early hours of Thursday morning but it had stopped by the time we got up.  With rain more likely in the afternoon than the morning we went for a walk after breakfast.  We wanted to see more of the Somme estuary but didn’t fancy the organised bird or seal watching walks as Buddy wouldn’t be allowed to join in.  As he needed to benefit from a walk as well as us it wouldn’t be fair to leave him alone on the boat for such a long period..  The constant rise and fall of the pontoon we were moored on causes metallic scraping noises which really freak Buddy out.  We got him as a young dog from the RSPCA and weren’t told his background, but metallic noises make him very jumpy so that’s another reason we wouldn’t leave him at that particular mooring.  

Walking by the harbour of Saint-Valery-sur-Somme

Approaching the sea lock, we heard the unmistakeable sound of the whistle of a steam engine as it came into view pulling twelve carriages, crossing the lock in the direction of Saint-Valery-sur-Somme.

It’s strange how, even these days, many road signs warning of trains ahead still depict a steam engine but in the case of this one though, it was correct.  We’d noticed the railway tracks crossing the lock yesterday and realised they supported both standard and metre gauges trains.  The two gauges share one rail and there are two further rails the requisite distance away from the first. The train we saw was on the metre gauge track and was carrying tourists around the bay. This smaller gauge railway was built in the 1880s to deliver holidaymakers to the three towns situated on the bay after they’d been disgorged at the main station by standard gauge trains from places like Calais and Paris.

Walking into the bay we could see two groups of seal and/or bird watchers in the far distance.  We didn’t see any seals, but it was an interesting change walking through fauna that is often submerged by the sea; quite different to what we’re used to.

No seals for us

Wearing shorts and sandals meant we weren’t really dressed for the occasion as the mud flats were very slippery and more suited for walking boots.  Still, we managed to avoid any mishaps and kept to the sheep paths which we noticed crabs were also doing.  It was certainly bracing out there as the wind was blowing off the Channel and even though it looked pretty grim, we didn’t get rained on.  On our way back we decided to move back up to Abbeville after lunch when the tide was on the turn, that way we wouldn’t be struggling against a current all the way back along the long straight into the town. 

That speck in the distance is us on our creaky pontoon

Unexpectedly, the sun appeared as we ate lunch and stayed out for rest of the afternoon which made for a pleasant cruise back to Abbeville.  The town was an important sea port in the middle ages and, after waning, came back into popularity in the 19th century following the canalisation of the river Somme.  This then gave it important links with towns like Amiens and Corbie and others further inland with links to the inland waterway network.

The town was decimated in WWII and that meant over 80% of the buildings were destroyed by bombs.  We haven’t been anywhere else where the effect is so dramatic.  The town was rebuilt in the 1950s and is most obvious in the style of the buildings along the high street and around the squares.

Roundabout at the bottom end of the high street

The squares were rebuilt with arches across the roads so that the buildings were uninterrupted forming continuous sides to the squares.

Looking through two of the arches in the ‘50s high street
The main square

There were a lot of good quality shops in the high street and very few empty premises.  The mairie was probably the dullest one we have come across but at least it had some flowers on display unlike the previous contender from Maizy on the Canallatéral à l’Aisne back in August.

Abbeville mairie looking more like a fire station

The Gothic cathedral suffered heavily in the bombing after which only the two towers remained.  Rebuilding didn’t finish until 1998 and it stands in stark contrast to the buildings of the shopping area around it.

The cathedral

On Thursday we cruised nine miles up one lock.

It seemed to rain quite a lot during Thursday night but it had stopped by the morning although the wind had got up.  The wind was the sort of strength where in the UK you would think twice about whether to cruise or not especially on narrow canals with lots of moored boats.  Without moored boats and with wider canals those considerations don’t exist here but there’s still the issue of getting into locks and past weirs safely.  Our view was that if the rain continues all week then the flow on the river is going to get stronger making it slower going as we’re heading upstream.  So the sooner we get further upstream where there isn’t the volume of water, the better.

Before we set off, Buddy and I popped over to the fuel station attached to the handy canal side Carrefour supermarket.  As we started to trolley the fuel back, the skies opened, and so we were drenched before we’d even set off on the boat.  Karen and I took the prudent step of changing out of shorts and wore jeans and wet weather gear for the first time this year. The day was definitely a lot cooler but at least the rain stopped soon after we set off.

Rain easing

We were heading for Pont-Remy for lunch and as we needed to get through a lock before reaching the mooring, I set about ringing the control centre for an éclusier to operate the lock.  Karen then realised the time and pointed out that we wouldn’t be able to go through as it would be about 1.00pm when we arrived there, slap bang in the middle of the éclusiers’ lunch break.

Our only option was to moor up near the quaintly named village of Épagne-Épagnette at a 100-metre quay with three equally spaced bollards which meant they were 50 metres apart, far too wide for us.  We ended up mooring to one bollard and tied the other end around some piling.  As in true Chris & Sue Hutchins’ style it began raining again as soon as we started faffing around mooring up.

Moored for lunch at Épagne-Épagnette

After lunch, the rain held off for the rest of the day, but the wind did strengthen.  The cross current from the river where we left for the lock cut at Pont-Remy was much stronger than when we came down and made entry to the lock cut quite tricky.  Not only that, but we had to hover in the flood lock before the gates opened and got blown onto the sloping sides.  Once the main lock was ready for us, Karen managed to use her boat pole to keep the front out as we just edged in without touching the gates or the side of the lock.

Leaving the Pont-Remy lock

When we’d come down, we’d assumed the bridge above the lock (as in the picture above) gave the village its name.  Since then we found out that there are ten bridges across the various arms of the Somme that run through the village, so it's a bit of a misleading name.

Rather than mooring at Pont-Remy we decided to carry on to Long as the rain looked like it would hold off, in fact we even had odd snatches of sunshine.

The lock at Long with the mairie, church and château all in view

We carried on to the hydroelectric generating station where there’s a mooring on the non-channel side of an island for a hire boat and a couple of day boats.  We’d noticed when we walked around there before that there would just be enough room for us to squeeze in at the end.

Friday night mooring at Long

When we walked around the marshes last week, we didn’t make it into Long itself so took the opportunity to do so after mooring up. 

Closer view of the château de Long

Looking across Long and the Somme valley

At the top of the hill we came across two separate buildings that used to house the boys’ and girls’ schools.  We’ve often found that when the schools aren’t integrated either side of the mairie’s office they are still built in the same style as each other.  The schools in Long were in quite different styles:

The girls' school
The boys' school

Walking back along the river we came across a display of the propeller from a Lancaster engine and a bomb casing.  These were taken from the marsh around Long in 1998 and were from a Lancaster bomber that was shot down on 25th May 1944.  Five crew members died and three were taken as prisoners of war.  Those of you who know your aeroplanes and/or WWII history may know that Lancaster bombers usually had a crew of seven.  Apparently, this aeroplane was testing some new electronic equipment during its bombing mission, hence the eighth crew member.  

We’ve noticed before that the wealth of information available on the subject of aeroplane crashes is incredibly extensive.  The information about this aeroplane was vast, including data about its build specification, its missions and its crew and their families.

From Lancaster ND689

When we got home, we put the heating on for an hour as the boat felt decidedly chilly.  This was the first time this year we’ve put the heating on and if the temperature doesn’t pick up again in the next few days, we’ll probably be lighting the stove next.

On Friday we cruised ten miles up two locks.

Thursday 24 September 2020

Saint-Valery-sur-Somme (the end of the road)

7½ mile long straight

We wanted to get to St-Valery-sur-Somme on Tuesday but ummed and aaahed about when to leave.   Most of the journey would be on the final nine-mile-long section of the Somme known as the canal maritime on account of it being affected by the tides, especially the currently high spring tides, and also when the sea lock was used.  The control centre would have the final say as they knew the state of play of the water from both a tidal and sea lock use perspective.

We finally opted to leave at 11 and rang the control centre who said that was fine as the tide was going out during the morning but they did point out that we would only get through two swing bridges by lunchtime so would have to moor up and wait until later before completing the journey.  Looking at the clearance heights in the guidebook we knew we should get under all the bridges without them having to be swung.  Just to be safe we changed our minds and said we would leave immediately instead so we could reach St-Valery by lunchtime.

When we arrived at the only lock of the day, we saw that we had two éclusiers allocated to us for a change.  This was the final lock on the Somme for us as we wouldn’t be going through the sea lock.

Two éclusiers today

Immediately after the lock was a road bridge that had an electronic display on it.  It was indicating the available air height and was the first time we’ve seen an electronic one.

3.6 metres – loads of room

We then turned left onto the canal maritime which runs for nine miles down to the sea from the centre of Abbeville.

Turning onto the canal maritime

Soon after leaving we were approaching the first swing bridge and could immediately see there was plenty of room for us.  The éclusiers waited to see that we fitted under safely and then disappeared, their work for us finished for the day.

Approaching the first swing bridge

After the swing bridge the canal rounds a corner and runs dead straight for 7½ miles broken only by a further three swing bridges.

Onto the straight bit

The final swing bridge was the lowest of the four but there was still ample room for us.

No problem for a narrowboat

The éclusiers had told us that the port above the sea lock was full but there was a short pontoon before a lift bridge immediately in front of the port that we could use but there were no services.  As we’d only just taken on water, we were more than happy to use the pontoon and not only that, it meant we were on our own as well.

Moored at St-Valery-sur-Somme

Talking about water, a couple of people mentioned about the high water pressure and my bedroom accident at Pont-Remy, and asked why I didn’t just close the tap accordingly.  The bornes on the Somme do not have taps; the hose is plugged into the borne via a connector.  Some people fit a regulator on their hoses to cater for such circumstances, but I’ve never got around to it yet – maybe the time has now arrived?

Not only were we secluded but the pontoon was gated so it would be safe to leave Buddy to his own devices and know he wouldn't be wandering off.  Our friend Brigitte was calling in to see us in the afternoon, so we took a short walk down to the sea lock before lunch.  Brigitte was over from the UK for a couple of weeks visiting her family who live in north west France.  She used to live in the area before moving to England soon after she started working.

The sea lock was massive and consisted of two sets of double gates at each end as well as guillotine style sluices.

Bottom gates and sluices of the sea lock

Looking from the bottom gates to the top gates

Harbour on the far side of the lock

Brigitte easily found us and manged to park right next to the pontoon.  We had a pleasant couple of hours catching up on our respective families and life in general before she left to see a sister who lives a short drive away.

Afternoon tea – UK style

Man in a gas powered kayak

It was lovely to see Brigitte and after she left we went for a walk around a village called Pinchefalise and then stayed at the boat for the rest of day, leaving investigation of the town and seafront of St-Valery-sur-Somme until Wednesday.

By six o’clock the tide was fully in and the pontoon had risen a fair bit compared with when we’d arrived, such that we had to walk down the ramp to get onto the bank rather than up as it had been earlier.  Obviously, the canal water level doesn't fluctuate to the extent that the sea does between the tides as it is controlled by the sea lock, but it still has a rise and fall of well over a metre especially during spring tides. 

Now we have reached the end of the Somme we will be retracing our steps until we get back to the Canal du Nord where, we will head south back onto new waters for us.  We have plenty of places to visit on the Somme still and will hopefully catch up with some of them on the return journey, especially if the weather holds.

Our travels this year starting at Châlons-en-Champagne (the blue flag)

On Tuesday we cruised eight miles down one lock.

With rain forecast on Wednesday afternoon we went for a good walk around Saint-Valery-sur-Somme and the bay during the morning.   It was quite a touristy place, in fact there were more tourists around than anywhere else we’ve been to this year.  Admittedly they seemed to be French judging by the conversations we overheard and the lack of cars with non-French plates.  Nearly everyone we saw was being compliant by wearing masks and keeping a good distance apart even in the street market.

Becoming a common sign in much of France now

The town was really quite pretty and reminded us of UK coastal towns such as Rye in East Sussex, although the beach huts weren’t a patch on those found in the UK.

Rather drab beach huts

We visited the bay at low tide but could imagine that it would be quite stunning at high tide and on a clear sunny day.

The town that can just be seen on the far side of the bay is le Crotoy which boasts of having the only south facing beach in northern France. 

Mediaeval Saint-Valery-sur-Somme was fortified in the 11th century and lies on top of a hill overlooking the bay.  We came across several sections of the walls still standing and also three of the gates which originally had drawbridges.  The walls and gates were all in different stages of restoration having been damaged by bombardment over the centuries including during WWII.

Porte de Nevers
Both sides of Porte Jeanne d’Arc

Many of the walls of the buildings were constructed using flint as well as bricks and/or stone which was another reason why the town reminded us of those along the South Downs in England.

Chequered pattern of flint and stone on a church…

…and in flint and brick on the house on the left

Another pattern on another church

These two street views belie the fact that there were plenty of people around shopping or sightseeing:

Just before we got back home Karen disappeared to look at the grass by a wall.  Can you guess what she was doing?

Yes, she'd spied an overhanging walnut tree

Contrary to the forecast we didn’t get rained on and, even though we didn’t see a lot of the sun during the day, the rain just amounted to the occasional spots off and on later in the afternoon.  Thursday may well see us walking out along the northern side of the Somme bay and then later in the day having a short cruise to a place called Petit Port which is halfway back to Abbeville.