The day had dawned sunny and we got up fairly early, but before we could set off we needed more diesel. Luckily there was a garage across the road from where we were moored so we went over with our trolley’s and containers, and after some help using the pump from a local (you have to put your credit card in a little machine to the side of the pump first before filling with fuel), we managed to buy enough certainly to take us as far as Dunkirk. We also felt filthy, and I certainly welcomed an opportunity to wash my hair after not washing it for five days! You feel so much better after a wash and with fresh clothing.
We finally set off for Bruges at 10 am. Today was such a contrast from yesterday the sun was warm on our backs, so we were able to travel without coats or hats. We were now driving along a tree lined canal that stretched like an avenue before us. Chiff Chaffs sang either side of us, and we saw brown faced sheep lying lazily by the waterside. Altogether a much more pleasing picture on our journey.
The journey then became much slower when we reached Bruges, we drove along the ring canal anti-clockwise, and followed a large boat that was on its way to Zeebrugge. One thing we have experienced so far is the lack of communication when requesting permission to enter locks or pass through bridges. Often nobody seems to answer for a very long time, if at all before opening them, so it is very difficult to know whether someone has acknowledged that you are waiting or not. One thing that is important to note though, all the locks and bridges do seem to require you to have a VHF radio, as the signs for the correct channels are usually displayed just before, or at the lock or bridge. There are some telephone numbers, but it would be best to check them out before you take the route as these are not normally displayed. Along the way, we passed windmills, an ancient gatehouse and saw storks riding the thermals above us.
After Bruges, we made our way towards Nieuwpoort. The first lock took an hour to go through, although this wasn’t too much of a hardship, as the sun was still shining, and it was still pleasant to sit outside. Not long after that though, we were stuck waiting at a bridge in Oudenburg. Nobody seemed to be answering us at all on the VHF radio, by this time it was beginning to get frustrating, as we not only needed to crack on, but we also needed to get somewhere where we could pick up water and food supplies. I managed to find a telephone number for the bridge, and we finally got an answer!
By this time it was getting late, so soon after the bridge we moored at Snaaskerke for the night. We decided at this point that we had really had enough of long days of motoring, and that if we continued to travel in this way fatigue would soon set in which would affect our judgement and decisions. We wanted to get home, but we wanted to get home safely! Whilst I prepared a much needed dinner, Martin went out to find a supermarket for us to stock up on supplies in the morning.