Much to the Madhouse kids' dismay, we haven't had any snow here. It did snow hard one evening a couple of weeks ago but as the ground was wet, it didn't lay. This weekend, we decided to brave the subzero temperatures and go for a combined geocaching walk and trip to the sales (to keep everyone happy !). On the way, they were delighted to discover a patch of "snow".
It was actually just a thick layer of frost coating some blades of grass, but it did look pretty.
After an impromptu "snowball" fight and some quick warming up of fingers in hastily searched-for gloves, we were on our way again.
It was a cold day but there were lovely blue skies and the watery sun was doing its best to warm things up.
A brisk walk along by the canal was just what we needed to warm up a bit.
We had to stop and explore the "crashed spaceship" sculpture as always.
This is where I plan to place my first geocache.
I even found the perfect hiding place !
Juliette was very impressed by the "ice bank" in the canal. There were no polar bears though, just some brave ducks !
We headed over to one of the wharves. This building always looks ancient to me but I don't really know anything about it, apart from the fact that it belonged to a shipping company.
Just next to it, there is a decaying boat which has been there for years and, again, this always intrigues me. I realised that this would be another interesting place to hide a geocache - this plan is definitely starting to come together ! I had a quick look on google when I got home and discovered that this is the remains of the Sainte Denise-Louise, a fishing boat built in 1935 in Ostende, which participated in Operation Dynamo in 1940. A Luftwaffe bomb caused it to run aground but, despite the water having a depth of 4m, it stayed afloat because it landed on the roof of a submerged British ambulance. It managed to limp back to Dover and drop off its last load of soldiers escaping from the horrors in Dunkirk. After the war, it was used for fishing again, donated to a diving club, then bought by two friends who wanted to restore it to its former glory. It was then bought by Dunkirk council and is classed as a historic monument but it has been left here to rot, which is a crying shame.
Just behind here, there are a group of seismic vessels that have been docked here for a while now.
We headed over to the Halle Aux Sucres, an old sugar warehouse on the docks which has been transformed into a museum/research centre.
A new geocache had been hidden here a couple of weeks ago, which is what we were looking for.
Juliette discovered that you could lift each individual brick and starting dismantling the path ! (Not really - she did put them all back in exactly the same place !)
There were big cracks though so I'm sure it was just tucked into one of the joints and didn't require any demolition !
We looked for a while then admitted defeat.
The kids made a much more interesting discovery though - frozen puddles !
They had great fun jumping on them to crack the ice, prising out large chunks to throw in the sea or smash into a million pieces on the ground. Pierre even decided he wanted to carry his block of ice all around town with him for the rest of the afternoon - I had to convince him to jettison it before we headed into the shops !
We sadly had another "did not find" for our second and final geocache for the day, but the kids still had fun.
Looking at Pierre, full of beans and pulling a silly face, you'd never know he was sent home from school for being poorly on Thursday !