Well here we are! Back in the land of waffles, chocolate and beer (apologies to the Belgians, I’m sure they have contributed more to the world than these things – however it’s arguable whether any have been so enjoyable).
Considering how much paperwork and worry were generated during the build up to travel back to Anticus from the UK, the journey and border checks were pain free. We had, this trip, the dual hurdles of Brexit and Covid to jump over to allow us access to our boat. Brexit affects length of stay and what we may take with us from the UK (now classified as a ‘third country’) to the EU (the ones who are classifying us as a ‘third country’. The length of stay issue was solved with a six month long-stay visa issued by France – otherwise we would have been limited to three months. Next on the list was Alfie, our border terrier. He too is now a third country citizen so needed a new set of paperwork from the vet to allow him to travel to the promised land. Not quite promising enough for him, as we weren’t allowed to take over his favourite dog food so he’s having to get used to Belgian food!
Covid rules regarding travel have been changing as fast (and as unpredictably) as the weather in the UK, we have traffic lights, quarantine, covid passports, PCR tests, lateral flow thing-a-ma-jigs, no go countries, countries you know are really bad but the government want a trade deal with so it’s ok to travel etc. etc. etc. Plus, Belgium and France, although in the EU have different rules, both of which change frequently and with little notice. Test to travel 72 hours before – oh! no, make that 48 hrs before. You must have a good reason to travel – oh! no, make that an essential reason – oh! no, make that a compelling reason.
Anyway off we set around the M25 heading for the Channel Tunnel at Folkestone, full of fear and trepidation and fully expecting to be turned away and sent back home. Arriving we checked Alfie in – all good. Onto British immigration – no worries. Then to the French Border Officers – Gud moaning, were are you off too? “Belgium”. OK zank you, ‘ave a plesont journeeeeey. (Apologies for the French accent). And there we were, no problems, off to Belgium and back to the boat.
First job is cleaning – pressure washer out – but great to be back
Mind you, we are luck it was just cleaning, a couple of our friends boats took a hit from falling branches during a recent storm.
As you can see, after 8 months without a visit, the boats get very grubby, with a green mildew clinging to every surface. Luckily enough we have room onboard to carry a pressure washer, which makes relatively light(ish) work of all the cleaning of decks and cabin roof.
Anyway, next on the list is to charge my electric bike up and go shopping – so see you all next time. (By the way, look out for a weekly Barge Anticus YouTube channel – coming soon to an internet connected device near you )!