I am so glad we have gone back to our early morning walks after the Christmas recess. They are particularly beautiful in the snow. However, I am also glad that I bought a particular kind of wellington boots with a heavy tread and leather lining to keep me warm and prevent slipping. They are expensive in Britain but much cheaper in France where we keep our boat. We had gone out for dinner one evening and there was time to spare before our reservation so I walked around a shoe shop – and there they were. I have never regretted buying them.
We first took our boat to France out of economy. The mooring fee for boats in this area of Southern England is about £7000 per annum – a thorough waste of money even if you were wealthy. Since we don’t need the auxiliary facilities as we live locally, it was a complete waste of money. So we combined our love of Northern France which we were visiting regularly anyway, with finding a more economic place for our boat. The town is proud of its marina and there are very friendly relations between the townsfolk and the users of the marina.
The marina itself is at the head of a canal which in turn links to the river. If you go by car from the town to the estuary you pass through farmland and hamlets which take you back 50 years. It is shooting and hunting country and wonderful birds such as eagle owls, buzzards and storks can be seen. Then the countryside merges with the marshland. We love to go walking on the estuary – in our boots of course. At low tide the French cocklers are abundant and there are also duck ponds and hides as duck shooting is a common pastime. The vistas are breathtaking and the beauty of it is that it is not at all fashionable as there is no night life to speak of.
I haven’t been able to go to France for some months because of my illness and I really do miss it. The people are so friendly and there is a camaraderie amongst the boat owners on the pontoon. I have enjoyed going there even when I have been ill as on board the boat I can rest and read in complete tranquillity.
Meanwhile I have my French boots and I use them to make the most of our countryside which looks so beautiful at the moment.