The Canal de la Somme

Hello and welcome to the latest blog from The Olivia Rose Diaries on August 14th 2022.

This week we joined the Canal de la Somme and a very beautiful stretch of water it is too. Beautiful but weedy.

The word ‘weedy’ doesn’t adequately describe it. Weeds are often spindly, insubstantial and if we apply the word to a human being it suggests a weakling. The weeds on some sections of this canal are more like strands of rope, as thick as my finger, that grow up from the bottom of the canal with astonishing vigour and effectively strangle the waterway. The authorities are working full-time cutting it down with specialist machinery, hefting it out and into barges and carting it away. Without their efforts this canal would no longer be open to boats, but I fear they have taken on a Herculean task. Even when they have cleared a section it can still be heavy going as so much of the plant still remains below the waterline.

If you’ve ever tried to ride your bike through sand, or struggled through a snowdrift, it will give you some idea of how it feels on Olivia Rose. She slows right down and it feels like we are driving through treacle, her engine straining as the weeds wrap themselves around her. On several occasions Michael has dived down under the boat once we’ve moored up for the evening and pulled out thick handfuls of matted weed from the propeller. I have added a new skill to my list of necessary attributes for a life afloat and that is for at least one person on board to be comfortable with diving. Obviously it’s not me. (As I write about our life I suspect that there are times when you find yourselves in awe of all Michael’s skills, but wonder what useful qualities I bring to the party. I certainly do. When I work out what they are, I’ll let you know.)

After several nights in quiet, rural moorings we arrived in Amiens. Like most cities and large towns in France, Amiens hosts a ‘son et lumière‘ on summer evenings from late June/early July through to September. For those of you who might not be aware of the concept, it is a sound and light show projected onto an iconic building, usually the church or cathedral. The show lasts for about forty minutes, and is completely free. We’ve attended many of these events over the years and found that standards vary from place to place, and even from year to year, but we always try and see at least one each summer.

The cathedral at Amiens is awesome. The scale of it is breathtaking and no single picture does it justice.

It is one of the tallest cathedrals I have been in – looking up soon gives you neckache.

This is a picture of the outside in daylight hours.

The shots that follow show you how the facade is transformed during the light show.

From the subtle….
To the garish….

The thing that will stand out in my memory however was not the show on the cathedral itself, but an additional event staged in a garden to the side where images of the gargoyles were superimposed on the trees. As you can see below, they are superbly creepy.

To the ghoulish

And that’s as far as we go this week. The temperatures have been in the mid-thirties for days on end now and and the crippling heat is not conducive to playing the tourist. We have to decide whether we can go on a little bit further, and we are sorely tempted to do so, or whether it is time to turn back and head to our winter mooring. More on that next week.

I hope you are all coping as best as possible with the challenging realities of our hot, dry world and that the much needed rains might arrive before too long.

See you all next week and I will leave you with one final photo – just because it’s beautiful.

Found this little chap hard at work in a flower bed on my morning walk to the boulangerie.


15 thoughts on “The Canal de la Somme

  1. Hello from an extremely hot South Wales….. We have visited Amien on a number of occasions, albeit by land, but on one such occasion the Cathedral had put on a display in glass boxes showing how the Cathedral was built, and to think of the mind-blowing task of building it from ground up, always and totally surrounded with soil around the walls, carting the pillar blocks in a car-park type circle to have them fitted in place and then when the roof was on to take all of the soil away to leave the completed Cathedral building standing. It was awe inspiring simply to look at the little models of men and horses putting together such a mammoth and iconic building… Good luck with that weed, what a nightmare. Been there and done that, and emptied the filters etc and one dive at Comieigne revealed a builders bag wrapped around the prop. Love that flower with the bee, nature is wonderful. Stay cool the temperature is draining, and we both long to take a walk in the rain!!! Love A and G


  2. Your weed reminds me of a large chunk of fishing net we picked when motoring across one of the shipping lanes in the English Channel with no wind. Diving and a knife failed, but luckily a passing motor boat towed us to safety!
    Photographs of Amiens were wonderful – well done


  3. Ugh, water weeds give me the creeps! I simply could NOT go in there. 😀 Yay, Michael!
    The heat sounds relentless, I hope you get a break soon and a bit of rain to replenish the canals. Our temps finally came down a few days ago, but still no rain. Being on a well, I’m trying to be sparing with the water, but finally gave in today to water many wilted shrubs that look desperate. Praying for rain!
    The cathedral is impressive! The light show is an interesting contrast of modern on ancient. The gargoyles are spooky…did they give you nightmares? 😉
    Have a good week!


    1. Hi Eliza.It must be so difficult to see your lovely garden being decimated in this heat. We are also forecast rain.Like everyone else we’ll believe it when we see it.


  4. That weed looks a nightmare. Why is that particular canal so infested with it? Lovely pix of the son et lumière. We always managed to bypass Amiens on trips to France before we lived here, but that was clearly a mistake. It’s cooler down here now, and I hope it is with you, too.


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