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Antwerp is one of the largest seaports in Europe and is supported by a canal network kitted out with modern equipment and showing all the signs of continuous and responsible investment. Within a two hundred metre walk of my campsite Floreal Het Veen is just such a canal and it was quite busy and a joy to watch the activities. I first sensed something was going to happen at the lock when two blokes in dayglo jackets arrived purposefully on their push bikes at the control building and started opening and closing sluice gates and jointly staring purposefully into the water.

Sure enough a barge appeared from the lock about a mile away and made its way towards me. I had no problem sitting around as it approached, spending a thoroughly enjoyable hour watching a process which to some would seem antiquated but to others a sound transport investment and preserving a way of life. As a closet train spotter I felt I had happened on a parallel universe!!

Christopher Macgowan

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