Day 4 - Wednesday 13th November
Cold but dry this morning so went for a walk along the canal to look for a couple of geocaches. Found one but gave up on two others before heading back to the motorhome for coffee & toast before moving on.
Our next stop was in Mons where Ethel, our Satnav, threw a bit of a wobbly. However after going round in ever decreasing circles we found a place to park reasonably close to the town centre. It seems that most main towns in Belgium have a town centre up on a hill with a cathedral, a large town hall, a town square and a Belfry. Mons was no different the only real difference was that there were a lot more people about & there were fairground rides & stalls filling the square.
After visiting the tourist office & collecting map of the centre we headed off around the suggested highlights walk. We were told that we needed to go next door to the town hall building where we were to stroke the head of a small brass monkey for good luck. Unfortunately our luck was out as the building was surrounded by barriers & whilst we could see the monkey we couldn’t get to stroke it.
On our walk we came across the Belfry right at the top of the hill so off up` I went again. Viv decided to rest her leg muscles today & found a seat to rest her weary bones. This was a wimps tower as there was a lift that went most of the way up to the bells area. Unfortunately even after climbing what stairs there were to the upper level there was no outside balcony to walk out on. There was a window on each of the four sides so there were fine views but it would have been nicer to get outside.
The bell tower here seems typical of many of the others with a carillon, a set, of bells that can play various tunes. The ones here play automatically every quarter hour although most carillon can also be played from a organ like keyboard. The bells are struck with clangers that are operated by a series of ropes & pulleys with each bell sounding a different note. The main bell in this set weighs 25tons.
We came across our first McDonalds in the main square so, like the tourist offices, these are handy for toilets & wifi plus food as well so this one was trebly welcome. We’d seen enough of Mons by then so on our way back to our parking place we did find a couple more geocaches. Then it was a case of programming Ethel to take us a few miles out of the city to the Aire at the Ascenseur at the Canal du Centre in Thieu.
Belgium appears to be riddled with canals, we keep crossing them all over the place. We stayed beside one last night & we are staying at another one tonight for free. This one doesn’t have any facilities but we are completely self sufficient & can manage perfectly well without any. We just like to stay somewhere safe, preferably near other motorhomers.
Tonight we stayed on an official Aire which sits beside the old Ascenseur on the Canal du Centre just North of Mons. Four of the old Ascenseurs took the place of a series of locks that used to lift the barges up the canal some 223ft as the land rose uphill. The original Ascensor here has now been replaced with a new more efficient one about a mile further on. The old one consists of two massive metal containers, an upper one & a lower one both sitting on 2mtr dia. hydraulic rams linked to each other. When the barges were moved into the containers & they were sealed extra water was pumped into the upper container which made it heavier. Then using a valve & ram system the weight of the upper container pushed water down one ram & forcing the lower container & barge up.
Mileage today - 37
Total mileage - 337