Saturday, September 10, 2011

Afterlude 2011 - visits by Sarah, by Doug and Molly and by Ron and Sharon

September 8th
We didn't exactly intend to arrive at Geneva airport over an hour late to collect Sarah (Sarah Wordsworth, old friend of Simon, first meeting for over 30 years!!!), but having taken the decision to go to Geneva by autoroute to save time, we were horrified to find that the A40 was completely shut some 75 kms out and that there was a staionary traffic jam that lasted for nearly 2 hours. Howevere thanks to the marvels of modern telecommunications we were able to advise her and we eventually managed to meet. Of course this put paid to plans for lunch on the way back to JC - but at least we came home with her.....

September 9th
Our plan was to take a gentle trip up the Canal Rhone au Rhin from St Jean de Losne to Dole, stay Friday night, go to the market Saturday and return Sunday. I was far too casual in planning this and discovered that by the time we had been going from 8.30 am to after 4.00 pm we had still not arrived. Found a nice country mooring at Choisey and very thankfully tucked in for the night.

September 10th
We duly completed the journey to Dole in about and hour and a half. Meeting another barge on the way, we were assured that there would be plenty of room for us. Again a disappointment and the port was full in the main area. Luckily we had spotted a mooring just south of the bridge on the way in (we should NEVER break our rule that we take the first available spot). So, a complicated turn around and an even more complicated tie up and we had made it. Going ashore was only possible by using the gangplank, which gave Sarah a few heart stops, but the prospect of a visit to the market, to be followed by a proper lunch persuaded her to take the risk.
Dole market is nothing like as good as Beaune, but we didn't need much, except a top up of olives - but lunch was absolutely outstanding. thank you very much, Sarah.
Then back to JC for a much needed siesta, followed by a visit from Histoire d'Eau and by Andy who had givren us all the information to get us to Paris all those months ago.

September 11th
All the way back to St Jean de Losne in one day! For some strange reason it was much faster than going there... Downhill???. Anyway, all went well until we arrived back at the steps to find the town quay full. A pitiful plea to a nice Swiss barge owner allowed us first to raft up, and later, with much help from neighbours to squeeze our way in. Unfortunately we scratched to Swiss barge in doing so which was very upsetting as he had been so good to us. Our other helpers were Edward from the boat Trionyxx and Bill and Karen from Australia who were next door to us. Charlyn was not feeling too good so Sarah and I entertained all of the above to drinks in the evening. I forget how many bottles we got through!!

September 12th
Off to Geneva again to return Sarah to the airport and to collect Doug and Molly. Both achieved with success and without setting foot in Switzerland. As we were somewhat earlier (and had chosen not to take the autoroute) we had plenty of time to stop for lunch on the way back, which we did in the same restaurant as we had patronised last year. Set menu, but very good apart from the necessity to drink Jura wine rather than Cotes de Rhone. Slumming doesn't matter once in a while.
I quite forgot to mention that the previous evening we also had a visit from Mike and Susan, who we had met at one of our barbeques in Provo some three years ago. Apparently they have been following our blog and having sold their catamarran in Panama were in the process of looking for  a barge. Small world!
Back to St Jean de Losne in time for a visit to Intermarche, so we would be in good shape to set off in the morning

September 13th
This time we planned our journey up to Dole rather better. We travelled only some 2 and a half hours up to Labergement de Ronce, where we had spotted a nice country mooring just on the edge of the village - and had ascertained that there was a boulangerie there. To our dismay, not only was there a vacation boat taking up a good part of the mooring, but also another coming in the opposite direction with the clear intention of taking the last little bit of space. Nothing daunted, we made a dive for the quay and beat the oncoming boat by some 30 seconds. Unfortuanately this involved taking not the best angle to get in, so we took part of the renter with us! My story is that he was badly moored and was asking for trouble. We will see if there are any repercussions.
In any case he left after lunch and we had the place to ourselves - and very nice too.

Septmber 14th
No pressure to get to Dole where for the second time we moored just south of the bridge. In fact there was room further up, but we knew the drill and were happy to be there. Dole is, as ever, an enchanting town and Doug and Molly much enjoyed their visit. out to supper in a very pretty restaurant and reasonably early to bed

September 15th
Back once more to Ronce where this time we found not one but two boats tied up and were faced with the dreaded thought of having to plough on all the way to St Jean as there are no other  moorings between the two, other than the marina at St Symphorien. A litle hanging around was very successful as one of the boats decided to leave, having had their lunch and the other very kindly pulled up to make space.
All was apparently well until we came to turn on the generator which immediately belched out great clouds of black smake and threw a thick coating of oil on to the water. We switched to the reserve generator and send  a fast message to Steve, hoping that he was still in France and better still at St Symphorien which we were due to pass the following morning.

September 16th
A nice and reasonably early start on what was a very misty morning. Thanks goodness nothing came the other way until we got nearly to St Symphorien. Coming into the lock there we spotted Steve on his barge. He came aboard and had a quick look at the main generator. This time he re-emerged from the engine room with a long face and said we were not to use it, and that he would probably have to strip it down completely. What is more he is very busy and can't do a thing for some time. Sounds like money to me.
After that interlude we got back to St Jean de Losne without further incident and were rewarded with plenty of room on the town quay. With our inability to use the main generator that was a blessing as we could connect to the (rather expensive) mains electricity and not worry.
Now we have a quiet weekend ahead, taking Doug and Molly to the market at Beaune tomorrow and to our favourite restaurant for a blow out Sunday lunch the next day. Monday we will potter around here and on Tuesday drive with them down to Castelnaudary on the Canal du Midi, to delever them to Mike and Deidre - and incidentally to have a look at their barge too.

September 17th - 18th
A very long drive down to Castelnaudary on the Canal du Midi but greatly rewarded by finding it to be quite delightful. We duly delivered Doug and Molly to their next hosts, Mike and Deidre on the barge Busy Bee. It's somewhat smaller than JC and has only one bedroom whicvh will leave the hosts sleeping on the floor of the main salon. Hope all goes well. we retired to our hotel in the vallage after supper and then left for the return journey in the morning.
Much to our sadness we found, when we got back to St Jean, that our recently fostered beautiful white cat - who is famous for prowling the quay steps and invading people's boats - had disappeared altogether. perhaps she hitched a ide on a passing barge as is even now on her way to the South of France!

September 19th - October 7th
At the steps in St Jean. Not a cloud in the sky for just about three weeks and perfect conditions for finishing off the outside painting for this year. I just got the last coat on before the weather broke, leaving "just" one half of the main deck and the green of the hull to be done next year. I am glad for the break, although when we get into winter quarters I will have to undertake the varnishing of the inside of the wheelhouse.
During this time we saw a good deal of Andy and Christine from Beau Soleil and ate out with them a couple of times, including an excellent dinnet at le Petit Gourmand in Brazey - probably our nearest good restaurant. Wwe also entertained Michael and Pippa macalaren from Sterna, and got a very nice invitation from them to go for a weekend's shooting in Ulster in December. Other visitors, too numerous to mention by name kept us well entertained during our long stay at the steps

October 7th
 Off to Geneva again, sadly in wet weather conditions, to collect Ron and Sharon Eickhoff from MN. We had been looking forward to entertaining them all summer, but it was still a shock to get to the arrival date of our last visitors of the year. We stopped on the way to geneva at the restaurant in the Jura that we had tried to eat at twice before, but failed due to being there at the wrong time of day. This time we made it and had  an excellent, but rather expensive Raclette.
Ron and Sharon arrived on time and we made it back to St Jean de Losne by about 6.30pm

October 8th
A planned visit to Beaune market, which was a sgood as ever, followed by a really good lunch at "Le Caveau des Arches which had been strongly recommended to us by Andy and Christine (who seem to measure their voyages around the canals of France by the restaurants at whch they have eaten). Everything was excellent, although Charlyn's steak was very tough.
Just one expedition like that seems to more than fill a whole day, so that was Saturday done and dusted

October 9th
A simply dreadful day, pouring rain and cold. it didn't take us long to decide that cruising should be delayed for a day. nevertheless we managed to fill our time quite adequaely bt introducing our gusts to our local supermarket and by paying a return visit (we went last year) to the annual apple fair at Seurre. This is not really very much - unless you wnat to admire the attributes of about 150 different sorts of apple - most of which seem to be afflicted with some disease or other.
back to JC for a long lunch of ham hocks, cheese and dessert and then the 43rd re-run of Russell Crowe's "A Good Year", which we enjoy so much that we are happy to watch it at least once a month.

October 10th
Dry weather! not sunny, or particularly warm, but certainly quite good enough for our planned trip up river. We left the mooring at about 9.30am and had a ver pleasant quiet journey upstream to lamrche sur Saone, where we had moored a little time ago with Robin and Di. A couple of (very wide) locks on the way gave Ron and Sharon some sense of canal travel, and the fact that we were on the river gave them both a chance to drive JC.
We ate lunch on the way (Ron turning down very politely the fish soup, but at least managing the Salade Nicoise) and arrived to make a very neat mooring at about 2.30pm. It should be a shorter journey on the way back tomorrow.

October 11th
Quick walk to the baker (very nice bread) and we were on our way by about 9.45. Pretty easy journey except for passing through the first lock where we were held up considerably by a river boat ahead of us. The whole thing being made much easier for me as Ron did a lot of the driving - and very efficiently too. We got back to St Jean de Losne at about 2.00pm, not as early as I had expected because of the early delay, and found to our great relief, that there was plenty of room on the quay. A good mooring and a relaxing afternoon, followed by grilled sausages and the Skye Gingell baked aubergine dish (worked really well this time due to draining off excess liquid from tomato mixture.

Oct 14th
Final journey of the season - from St jean de Losne back to our winter mooring at St Samphorien. Just half an hour and through the entrance lock to the Canal Rhin au Rhone. Made a nice mess of that by not going far enough upstream begore making the turn. However regained my dignity by making a tidy turn and tie up in the Marina.
Apart from adding photos (which is my job over the next few days) the blog will now close down until our return here in April 2012, after the winter season at South Side Marina, Turks and Caicos.
See you all in the Spring!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fifth Movement 2011. Le Canal Marne a Saone and the River Saone

July 28th
Another new canal and another new blog. This one will complete our Spring and Summer circuit for 2011, although we will be doing some short cruises in September and October.
So, where were we at the end of the Fourth Movement ... ah yes, in Vitry le Francois.
We consulted with the (new) lockkeeper who told us that it was only 'a good kilometer' to the market, so we elected to go on foot, rather than to try to find a taxi at the station.

Although Vitry is very ugly on the outside - that is looking at it from the canal - it is really very nice once into the town itself. We passed two very nice and well planted parks, a magnificent Hotel de Ville, and quite a busy town centre. Unfortunately the market was a great disapppointment, with no cheese stall, no proper butcher, and altogether a bit run down. Apparently there is a much better one on Saturday, but we will be long gone. We also called into an Aldi supermarket for fresh milk etc - but not much better luck there.
Not to worry. we have plenty of food and drink on board and are more than ready to receive Lulu, Cosmo, Jude, Vlad and Gilly the dog tomorrow.
So we left Vitry behind at about 11.00 am and travelled some 15 kms (and 5 locks) to the little village of Orconte where we have planned to meet Lulu and crew tomorrow. This is a nice mooring with electricity and (some) water. Some means that the tap (to which we cannot connect) delivers a timed amount of water, probably about 1 minute, whereas we need to fill for several hours to repenish our ballast and cooking/washing water. We also found a baker and a butcher in the village, both of which I will visit tomorrow.

The mooring at Orconte

July 29th
Busy day at Orconte. The butcher should have opened at 8.30 am, but didn't until nearly nine, so spent some time sitting on doorstep. Once in, I had a fascinating discussion with the (lady) butcher on the subject of Jambonneau - what we would call ham hocks. I had bought two at the market in Vitry to prepare one of our favourite dishes for the kids (Ham hocks in an apricot, stock and wine sauce, served with rice) only to find that they were just pork and not ham at all. Madame and I agreed that the definition of a jambonneau was that it should have been prepared as ham. Anyway she advised me that I could make just as good a dish just using thick cut ham instead - so I bought a couple of slices, along with rognons de veau, a nice smelly sausage, some bacon and a veal roast. We will continue to eat well!
I also picked up a baguette from the baker so the morning started pretty well.
A certain amount of domestics followed and then painting the side nearest to the bank, which we had not been able to get at for some time.
Lulu, Cosmo, Jude, his friend Vlad and Gilly the dog eventially aqrrived at 7.15 pm, having at one stage visited the wrong country(Luxembourg) and nearly run out of diesel in their new Volvo. It was great to see them. We celebrated with a bottle of Champagne and gave them Ham Hocks in apricot sauce for supper.

July 30th
A whole day with the visiting team. Everybody seeemed to have slept well - the boys on the day bed and an air mattress - in fact so well that we did not set off until 9.40 am. This canal is VERY shallow at the edges, which we discovered to our cost when trying to pass a commercial barge. He was OK but we got stuck on the mud 6ft from the bank. A lot of wriggling set us free, but lesson learned. We will scrape by the big barges in future and hope not to impact!
Cosmo, Jude and Vlad all tooka turn to drive JC, but none of them stuck at the task very long. At least this gave me the chance of a long chat with Lulu as we went along.
We had aimed to stop along the way for lunch, but the only bollards on the way were hidden by some fishermen and by the time we spotted them it was too late to stop. So we telephoned Mike and Jane who had left well before us to enquire about the mooring in St Dizier. They reported lots of room so we covered the whole 15 kms and seven locks without stopping. Lunch was a little late!
Lulu and Cosmo were determined to retrieve their car in the evening, which they eventually did, but not before Cosmo had taken Charlyn's bike apart to put  a new tube in the back wheel and, with some difficulty and not much help from me, put it all together again. Once on the road they covered the 15kms that  had taken us 5 hours and 20 minutes to cover in 50 minutes. The strange thing was that it took them 25 minutes to get back by car? While they were away Charlyn taught the boys to play SPOONS, which she had learned from Sonje.
All in all a thoroughly enjoyable day. we wre thrilled to have them with us and to show them our lifestyle, and hopefully they enjoyed themselves as much


Jude and Vlad

The whole team

July 31st
Time to say goodbye. Lulu and I went out in the car early on to get some diesel for JC and also the daily supply of bread. I think they eventually left at about 10.00 am faced with a seven hour drive to their house in the Luberon - Le Grand Banc. We cleared up - not too bad - and went out for a very good lunch in the only restaurant that we could find open in St Dizier. Duck foie gras and filet steak in green peppercorn sauce for me and Calamares followed by spaghetti carbonara for Charlyn. I thought that a siesta would round off the day nicely, but having had that I couldn't resist the temptation to put the second coat of paint on the side of the boat, while Charlyn did the washing and vacuuming After all, who knows when we will be tied up on this side next?
Charlyn is having terrible problems with her shoulder which now seems to hurt her almost all the time. We don't really know the cause - but even 3 Aleve don't seem to do the trick.

August 1st
What an interesting day on the canal - action packed, I would say.
After picking up today's supply of bread we set off at 7.40 am and encountered a number of adventures on the way. Firstly, it was the first really nice, sunny day that we have had for ages and we attacked our 18 kms , 7 lock journey with gusto and enthusiasm. Then we met:
1. A big barge coming the other way that we only just managed to squeeze past without getting stuck.
2. A lift bridge, where we had to wait some 20-30 minutes for the eclusier to come along. It was not radar controlled.
3. A lock on a very sharp double bend which we literally had to "barge" our way through
4. A broken lock, where we again had a long wait for someone to come to repair
5 A second lift bridge, this time with a very stiff twist controller that meant that we had to back up to make it work.
6. Another broken lock with an even longer wait.
The countryside was very pretty - much nicer than we had had with Lulu and the sun continued to shine.
Eventually we caught up to Drumsarah at Bayard who very kindly moved out and moved on to their next destination to make room for us. This is a REALLY quiet country mooring, but Drumsarah tell us that there are all the necessary shops just a few hundred yards away. We will find out in the morning.

Village Fleuri - Bayard

August 2nd

...and they were quite right. just around the corner, within 200 metres there is a large Intermarche supermarket, complete with gas and propane station, where I was able to exchange my BBQ tank - just in time- as well as a nice looking restaurant (closed for August - how typically french - and a tabac where I was able to but some more minutes for the dongle.
Add to all that a perfectly respectable Boulangerie in the next village (OK it was a bit of a hike but I made it on foot) and streets lined with geraniums ( actually pelargoniums, but who'se counting) and it all adds up to a pretty idyllic stopping place. Need I say that the day was spent painting(me) and cleaning(she) as ever, but all the same  a good one, topped off with a very welcome Pimms at 5.30pm after my shower.
We heard from Mike and Jane that th next stopping place , Joinville, has good mooring at La Vinaigerie, so we called ahead to make a booking. it;'s the first booking they have ever had!!

August 3rd
It's such a shame that Lulu and team were not with us a couple of days later. The scenery has changed completely. It is now forest covered hills and pretty farmland, and even the canal has taken on a better shape, with more corners and much more interest (see yesterday). After a bike ride - yes, it really was too far to walk again - to the boulangerie we were greeted by a very friendly lock keeper at tren minutes to eight in the morning to say that he weas ready to open the first lift bridge for us. So we had a nice early start. He kept ace with us through 2 locks and other lift bridge and witnessed a very hairy passing of a HUGE unloaded barge just above a lock. We had clearly kept that barge waiting as all we got from them was a series of invectives in Dutch.
We reached La Vinaigerie in good time and found a space waiting for us ( despite the efforts of a not-very-friendly-at-the-time South African who tried to persuade us that the mooring was just for boats - not barges. The mooring is a good way out of town, so I made a recce by bike. Quite a nice old town, nothing as special as we had been told. However right next to the mooring ( La Vinaigerie is also a gite and a small B&B) there is a huge Super U supermarket, a bricollage, a garden shop and a petrol station - all within 60secods walk.
The mooring also has water and electricity - a nice saving for our generators and a much needed opportunity to fill water which had been getting rather (but not dangerously) low. Now I think I have put so much in that we may be stuck on the mud. Time will tell.

August 4th
Mooring at La Vinaigerie
Taken from the mooring at La Vinaigerie
At La Vinaigerie. I don't really know whaT happened to the day. We both went out at 8.30 to get bread from the big Super U, wandered around that, visited the Bricolage and the garden shop (La Gamme Vert), by which time it was suddenly lunch time. A small siesta, followed by a couple of hours at my favourite occupation. (Yes, the sanding of the deck) and then it was time to entertain the South Africans, who turned out to be quite charming despite yesterday's coolth. They have been on the canals for about 10 years and are based at St Jean de Losne. We will see them again.

August 5th
We were concerned about the availability of mooring further on so went only as far as Dongeaux where we found an almost empty mooring place. Nice mooring, but not surprised it was not full - the village has a restaurant (closed for sumer holidays) and nothing else. The sign for thevillage the other way (800 metres) advertised a tabac, epicerie and bread depot, but when we got there after a walk of at least 2 kms we found that it had been shut for at least 2 years. never mind, we had a supply of "long term" bread which just neede 10 minutes baking so we thought we would be OK. not much luck there either - it was pretty disgusting. Plenty of time for work on the boat in a sunny afternoon after a drizzly morning.

August 6th
After consulting with the local VNF man, who was ver helpful and found out about availability of moorings further up canal, we decided to go just as far as Froncles where he told us we would find space. Just as well we didn't go further as soon after we got in (this time with willing help from Ray, the South African on Minou, the heavens opened and we underwent a real cloud burst which lasted most of the afternoon. Mind you, I just had time to bicycle up to the village where I found not one, but two, boulangeries, both of them open, so was able to restore our bread supplies.
In the pouring rain we spent the afternoon catching up with photographs, so I am now ready to put more on to this blog (tomorrow??). A nice drink in the evening with Ray and Pam, then supper and Tudors.

August 7th
Here we are still at Froncles and due to go out to lunch at what looks like a nice restaurant just a 5 minute walk away. Spent the morning catching up with all the Marina accounts, more blog and composing a boat card, which I should have done a long time ago. Lunch at the restaurant "Au Chateau" was excellent. Just two other tables occupied. We chose the 27 euro lunch, which meant a starter (interesting tomato stuffed with cream cheese and LOTS of herbs for Charlyn; a Lamb kidney and sweetbread terrine for me), followed by a main course - we both had braised beef with morilles and an aubergine "caviar", a litle bit grissly in parts but very tasty, then the cheese course which was hot brie inside a wonton wrap and finally dessert - mine was excellent but Charlyn's seemed to be mostly green sludge - she didn't like it. However before the starter we had two courses of Bonne Bouche; the first tiny melon balls with a wafer of parma ham, and the second an eggcup size bowl of clear soup. A glass each of Champagne, a lite of "Pichet" red and a coffee mad a very good outing. Not much done during the rest of the day.

August 8th
We set off at 8.00 am, knowing that after the first lock we would be in the hands of the employees of VNF, as all the remaining locks (at least as far as Chaumont) have not yet been converted to automatic and need the attendance of a lock keeper. Ours was a pretty young girl who kept us company for the rest of the morning - accepting a bottle of Cremant Rose as a mark of our appreciation of her service. We aimed to stop at Vieville but, according to the information obtained by our young lady on her cellphone, there would not be enough space for us there (she was quite right) and we were advised to push on as far as  Riaucourt. Here there is a tiny mooring, without elecrtricity or water - but with a very slippery dock which tipped Charly right on to her back as she stepped off, fortunately with no lasting damage.
We will only stay tonight as there doesn't seem to be much here (which doesn't matter) and we are moored within 20 metres of the lock (which does). We will explore what there is of the vallage this afternoon and go on to Chaumont tomorrow, where we hear rumour of a "small" market on Wednesday.

August 9th
As I thought, there was not much in the village - no boulangerie, no tabac, no nothing - but quite pretty all the same. So the decision to go on to Chaumont, where Pam tells us there is space seems to be the right one.
Excitingly, we heard this morning from David and Juliet on Jubilant that they,too, will be in Chaumont "by the weekend". We will almost certainly stay there to wait for them as I think there are very few other places with room enough for us both.
Arrived at Chaumont approx 1.00pm after an exciting and scary trip. In spite of being accompanied from lock to lock by our own "private" eclusier, we nevertheless met a huge commercial barge coming the other way, right on a steep bend. One of the charming characteristics of JC is that when we go into reverse the bow swings to the left. On this occasion we had to make an emergency stop with engine flat out in reverse with the consequence that the bow swung out fiercely, right into the path of the oncoming commercial. Fortunately he stopped too and I was able to extricate us from a nasty situation without actully hitting anything (other than the bank), by passing him on ther wrong side. The only damage being to our ears, absorbing the curses of the bargee and his wife. I certainly can't put any blame on him, and not a lot on myself - it was just bad luck to meet in such a awkward spot in a narrow canal!
The Chaumont mooring, the "Relais Nautique" is large and well equipped with both water and electricity. The town is some 2 kms away - up hill - but we understand that we can arrange a bus/taxi to get us there for very little money. Also bread is delivered each morning which saves me a lot of pedalling.
The weather is still pretty mucky with lots of rain showers and COLD. We (that is to say Charlyn as I hide in the wheelhouse when we are moving) got a bit wet and very cold, but we are assured that it will  be a nice day tomorrow. We live in hope as we will be here for a few days. We now undersand that David and Juliet will get here Thursday. We expect them to supper that evening.

August 10th
At Chaumont. Well not exactly as the town is some 2 kms away up a VERY STEEP HILL. We tried to book the taxi/bus but the earliest trip they could offer was 11.40. Way too late for the market. So we hired a regular taxi with a delightful driver to take us to the (almost non existant) market, where we bought nothing. At least Charlyn had her hair cut.
A second call to our friendly taxi driver took us to the big Leclerc supermarket which was  excellent and we managed to get everything we needed - and probably much cheaper than at the market. We overloaded our pull trolley, back packs and carry bags to such a extent that we had to call the taxi one more time to get us back to JC. However we should now be well stocked for at least the next week. Lunch, more painting and the day was about done.

August 11th
A lovely day! Not only nice weather which was a very pleasant change, but also David and Juliet arrived at lunch time on Jubilant. It was so good to see them again and to catch up on their lives. They are on their way to Belgium to leave Jubilant with the original builder for the winter, who is allegedly going to use her as a floating B&B. So Jubilant's days as a charter barge are now officially finished after 7 years. Otherwise David and Juliet are well, although he had a scare with the possible return of his prostate cancer last winter. However it seems to have come to nothing. Now their future plans include driving a RV around Britain and Europe (once J is sold).
Thet joined us for dinner on JC and we celebrated by breaking open a bottle of Jean Claude and Anna's Cremant de Bourgogne - just for old times sake. Such good company!

August 12th
The continuation of a very social"weekend" although of course it wasn't weekend at all. But who cares on a barge? The weather continued mixed. good sunshinen in the morning and I was all set to make a whole day of work, but by lunch time the clouds had come up again and it started to rain quite hard. can't sanpaper in the rain so that idea had to be dropped.
An English boat came in to harbour and rafted up to us. the owners seemmed very nice, but we were commited to go to David and Juliet for drinks, which we did, and where we met our other neighbours, Paul and Val who have a very pretty narrow boat that was moored right next to us. Val is a talker and we spent a reasoably enjoyable hour and a half not being able to get a word in edgeways, let alone have any meaningful converation with the Webbs!
Back to JC for supper of sausages and bacon and an invitation issued to our rafted up neighbours to join us for dessert (left over from dinner with D&J the night before. this was most enjoyable. David and Wendy have a very nice riverboat that hey showed us around - and one way or another it was suddenly 10.30 pm and long past our bed time.
Altogethet another good day!

August 13th
Not a Friday, although for some parts of the day it certainly felt like Friday 13th. We had booked to go through the lock at Chaumont at 9.00 am - but in the end agreed to let two other boats go before us as they would travel faster. Unfortunately the VNF had got all their reservations muddled up and we had to wait for over an hour while they rustled up an eclusier to look after us - claiming of course that "no reservation had been made" Never mind, we eventually got through the lock at 10.15 and had no other hold ups on our journey of 12 kms and 8 locks, completing the trip at 2.00 pm. We knew about a mooring at Foulain and had been told by our eclusier than it was free and was situated just below the bridge in the village.
It turned out to be two rather short pontoons, to which we had the greatest difficulty (and much cursing) in tying up. Just as soon as we had finally, at the 10th attempt, made it and were making our lines fast, a German river boat came in, shouting to us that we had no business to tie up there and that there was a place for barges "just around the corner". This I did not in fact believe as we were on the only 'Halte Nautique' in the village and had been instructed by the eclusier to moor here. All became plain when the German's buddies came around the corner, clearly wanting to moor in our spot. I dug in my heels, to the accompaniment of much swearing in german and french. We later learned from an English couple who came to raft up to us later that the'place for barges' was two dolphins placed exclusively for the use of the commercial barges and which were in any case too widely spaced for us to make use of.
It is a shame that some people (mostly Germans) have no manners and no appreciation of others, when far and away the majority of people on the canals are delightful, friendly and charming. Must we fight thr 2nd world war all over again???
The rafted up couple, Nick and Sandy later came aboard for a drink and fortunately proved that the majority of people on the canals are extremely nice.

August 14th
An early morning (but not so early as I didn't wake up until 6.45) walk to the baker in the village, followed by breakfast and goodbye to Nick and Sandy, allowed me, as I thought, a whole day to get on with the sanding. Alas, the weather had other plans and I was driven inside for a time in the morning (which gave me the time to prepare the Boeuf Bourgignone for this evening, and once again at 3.30pm, this time it seems terminally. I will get this job done sometime!

August 15th
On the move again. Just. It rained so hard in the early morning that I seriously though about cancelling our arragement with the VNF to pass through the locks, but Charlyn showed considerable determination and optimism, so we set off as planned at 9.00 am. With great relief I can report a day without incident. In fact our only worry was whether or not there would be space for us at our chosen destination, Rolampont which we had heard was very small and generally full. The VNF guide/eclusier assured us that all would be well, and indeed when we arrived we found an empty mooring in a nice stuation and complete with electricity and water. Just a lucky day.
So lucky, that by the time we had eaten lunch and enjoyed the obligatory siesta, the sun was shining and I was able to get outside and do some work.
Those of you who are following this blog on a reasonably regular basis will have noted that we left the River Marne some considerable time ago, to take the Canal Lateral a la Marne and more recently the Canal entre Champagne et Bourgogne. What you may not know is that the Marne has yet to leave us. We still travel alongside it - but the mighty river has now shrunk to little more than a country stream and will be with us for a day or two yet.

August 16th
A quiet day at Rolampont. Work in the morning then a stroll up to the village at lunchtime, where we found a little restaurant. On enquiring for 'La carte' we were told that there was only le plat du jour. OK, so we had that and it was delicious. A starter of hard boiled eggs and tomatoes with mayonnaise and chumped up tuna. then turkey leg with (lots of ) tinned peas - very good if you consider them to be quite unrelated to real peas, then a very generous cheese plate complete with a speciality cheese from Lngres (our next destination) a plum tart and coffe - all washed down with a lite of 'garge' red. The bill was 24.50 - a ral bargain.
Thye afternoon saw us invaded by 3 other boats, all of whom had the same time of booking the next lock as us. Despite our explanation that we had made the reservation the previous day there were those (one guess as to nationality) who were determined to go ahead of us. That was not such a good end to the day, but a couple of episodes of The Tudors put us in a better frame of mind to go to bed.

August 17th
Off we go to Langres - naturally behind the "pushers" who had apparently made a special arrangement with the VNF to leave at 8.30 rather than the official first time of 9.00. I thinke we were out-manoeuvred. Otherwaise a very pleasant journey to Langres, through wonderful sunshine, where we found plenty of space to moor in a really nice spot. The countryside here is utterly beautiful and it is a priviledge to be here.
There is a market in Langres on Friday, and we are in no hurry, so we will stay here until Saturday morning, spending our time doing... guess what!

August 18th - 19th
At Langres. What a nice mooring, plenty of space plus water, but no electrivity. Apparently somebody mucked it up and the town has not seen fit to mend it - large signs saying 'hors de service' - not difficult to translate.
The town itself, some 3kms away up a very steep hill, is reachable by bus from the (reasonably) nearby railway station. We were somewhat misled on the first day and came over the river bridge on foot, only to see the bus pulling away and leaving us behind. A long conversation with the very friendly lady at the ticket counter gave me 6 telephone numbers for taxis. They were either on holiday, busy or in Dijon, so we waited another half hour plus for the next bus.
Langres is an absolutely delightful town, full of history, surrounded by ramparts, with a cathedral that was built in about 1000 AD. It has been beautifully and carefully preserved and is listed as one of the fifty most beautiful towns in France. Personally I would put it very close to the top.
We took the tourist train which wound its way around the town and up on to the ramparts and got a very good idea of the place. After that it was time for lunch. We avoided the (somewhat) expensive "Le Cheval Blanc", which had a delicious looking menu, without a single dish that Charlyn could enjoy, and settled for "Bananas" where our friends Roger and Kathleen had eaten the previous day. It was very good.
Then back to JC for a little more sanding, super, a movie (Chocolat - very suitable) and bed
On Friday we were in good time for the bus to take us up to the town again for the market. Not one of the best, but with the combination of that and a small supermarket in town as well as a quick visit to both the

 patissier and the baker, we were able to get all we wanted.

August 20th
A somewhat daunting challenge today. Not only did we have to pass through the 4.8 km long Tunnel de Beleseme, but also negotiate a "staircase" of 8 locks immediately after that, making a total of 13 locks in the day and an unsure mooring at the end. As it was, all went quite well. We did a certain amount of side scraping in the tunnel. (Anybody tried driving a barge in a dead straight line for that far - and in dim light?) The staircase was no problem at all with each lock being automatically linked to the next giving us no hold up at all.
All the same we were relieved, and quite tired, when we reached our chosen destination of Piepape. This is a tiny village with a mooring large enough for just two barges, We were so pleased to find it empty!
I tried to visit the baker/ grocer in the afternoon, but despite the posted opening times clearly including saturday afternoons there was no sign of life other than a dog barking somewhere at the back of the building. No matter.
Later in the afternoon we were joined by the new Zealand barge that had been following us for some time. We helped them to moor, but no socialising.

August 21st - August 24th
I should have noted yesterday that by passing through the tunnel we crossed the watershed between the  English Channel/ North Sea, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. We have now therefore at last said goodbye to the Marne and are back in the valley of the Saone/Rhone - almost in home territory, or perhaps I should say waters.
Piepape gives us an ideal opportunity to do some serious sanding work (sorry to bang on aboout this but it is my major occupation) and we are in no hurry as we have only one further stop before we pick up Robin and Di at Villeneuve on 29th. So today was spent exclusively on that, as will be tomorrow and possibly Tuesday as well.
Rather annoyingly we will have to take a taxi at some time back to Langres as there is nowhere that we can stock up with food, drink etc before Robin and Di get here. Of course there is no taxi to be had in the village, so I will have to try to persuade one to come out from Langres. Fingers crossed.
We actually had success with the taxi.A nice young man came out from Langres (and later brought us back) so we had time for teh Bricolage - lots of sheets of sanpaper - a major shop at Intermarche, which will take care of our needs for Robin and Di, apart from vegetables and fruit which we will ask them to bring, and lunch at the local fast food (but very good) restaurant. We now seem to be slightly overstocked with wine, but that can be put right quite easily.
Wednesday was meant to be another whole day sanding, but I was interrupted once by a major thunderstorm and then later by a Dutchman who arrived at the mooring during lunch time and objected to my machine. Intervention by the VNF showed clearly that I had the right to do the work (even tho' the Dutchman had tried to prevent me by first throwing stones at JC and then by throwing buckets of water at me. Fortunately my command of French was a lot better than his and a comprpmise was reached whereby I continued to work, but agreed to stop at 4.00pm. Life on the canals is full of joy and surprises.
We also spent a lot of the day thinking about Bob, the Marina and Lily May, all of whom were today much too close to Hurricane Irene for anybody's comfort.
Just when we thought the day's excitements were finished, we spotted a barge obviously wanting to come in to moor. No great surprise. However when a voice called "Hello Simon" we discovered that it was our next door raft up neighbours from St Symphorien, Manfred and Petra. Such a surprise to see them, and  a very good end to a somewhat mixed day - celebrated in style with a bottle of Champagne.

August 25th
Off on our travels again, this time somew 11 locks and 15kms to what we had heard was a good mooring at Cusey. Nice morning cruise, interrupted by various telephone calls from Robin wanting to finalize arrangements for meeting. Interrupted because on the first occasion I was deep in a lock and couldn't hear him, and on the second because in the middle of our converstion a huge barge suddenly came into view and I had to concentrate on avoiding that. In the end we made our arrangements and somewhat later (due to a stuck lock) we arrived at Cusey. An excellent mooring with electricity and water AND a tiny trailer being a "restauran rapide". Manfred and Petra joined us later and during drinks with them on their barge we agreed to try the restaurant tomorrow.

August 26th
We finally heard direct from Bob that the Marina had excaped Irene relatively unscathed, but that Lily May had lost her mainsail. Could have been a lot worse! However I have little doubt that this will cause the loss of the sale to Steve. Such is life.
After a morning of sanding we all repaired to "Le Petit David" where we had an excellent and very cheap lunch. With wine at $5.00 per bottle we did not have to hold back and will return again tomorrow.

August 27th
Still at Cusey. having been joinrd there yesterday evening by an Australian couple. We had "Movie Night on Joli Coeur". Despite manfred relative lack of English we all managed to enjoy (again) Mama Mia. A good day's work on the sanding, broken only by lunch at Le Petit David, and Tudors in the evening.

August 28th
A very misty morning. We set out with visibilty at about 100 yards, but it got worse, so we were really creeping along. In spite of that we arrived at the first lock well before 9.00am, only to find that on Sundays they don't open unti 9.00 am. Even so we made quite good time with the visibility gradually improving and the temperature rising. Toards the end of the day's jouney we passed a very large free range pheasant and duck farm, all enclosed and roofed with wire netting - and guarded by a large coypu sitting on the bank. Do coypu eat meat? I don't know. Perhaps he was looking for supper and was far too intenet to pay any attention to us even though we passed within 20ft of him.
The journey was only 11kms and 7 locks, so we were done long before the lunchtime closure.
Here at Villeneuve sur Vingeanne there is just a tiny country mooring under a disused grain silo against a grssy bank. Luckily tweo friendly fishermen were on hand to help us tie up which made life a lot easier. A bottle of beer each was much appreciated.
I made a quick bicycle trip to the village to find out what, if anything was going on. The answer... nothing! No tabac, no epicerie, no boulangerie, one little resaurant (closed). I did discover that bread will be delivered "between 1030 and 11.00 tomorrow morning", but it all sounds a bit wooly, so we will ask Robin ansd Di to put some on their shopping list for tomorrow.
Anyway, here we are, ready and waiting for our guests. We are in for a busy time over the next few weeks.

August 29th
Apologies to those of you who are following on a regular basis. The internet signal has been so bad over the past few days (I am writing this on August 31st) that I have been unable to log on at all. Oh, the joys of the French countryside. The morning to day was spent giving JC a thorough spring clean inside aand out to make her spick and span for Robin and Di. Quite a task.
They duly arrived at about 5.30 pm laden down with vegetables, fruit bread and  wine, so we are now in very good shape to face the next day or two even though we confidently expect to find no shops alaong the way. Robin abd Di are in great form and have had a very busy summer what with her production of "The Producers " and the refurbishment of their little sail boat that they later took down to Greece. We also discussed the possibility of visiting them there next year,and hope to do so out of season in October, which will fit in really well with our cruising plans.

August 30th
Despite having gusts on board we still managed to get away just before 9.00 am and had a very pleasant day on the canal in excellent weather, arriving at Oiselle mid afternoon, having taken a break for lunch along the way. The mooring was tiny and in the middle of nowhere, but suited very well. Robin got out his guitar and we much enjoyed hearing him play and sing again. After supper we watched "The Kig's Speech" which they had not seen, but enjoyed.

August 31st
Another glorious day which saw us finish the Champagne - Saone canal and return to the River Saone. very strange to be on a big waterway again after so long on the canal. We had to push on a bit as we had taken a mutula decision to get back to St Jean de Losne a day early with the intention of going to Montrachet on their last day to enjoy the lunch and wine tasting that we had enjoyed so much on our Jubilant adventure last year. So, we stopped for lunch at Pontailler sur Saone and then carried on for another hour or so down to Lamarche sur Saone, where we found a small restaurant to eat at this evening. That will give me a break from cooking.
The restaurant was a HUGE success and we had a delicious dinner - thank you very much Robin.

September 1st
We have done it! We have completed the circuit and are back in St Jean de Losne. A feeling of great contentment to be back in a familiar spot - in fact on the steps of the town quay - and of achievement to have made the circuit and got back in one piece. Our last day was really quite simple - just two locks on the river and then charging down at a great rate to arrive in time for Pimms and lunch.
Made a call to Peter and retrieved the car, so we are now ready for almost anything.
I know that we are back as we were greeted on the quay by ribald remarks concerning the painting, or rather lack of finishing it!
It's all certainly a strange feeling and will take  a day or two to settle in.
Tomorrow I will publish details of what we have done, consumed, achieved etc, but for now I will just relax and enjoy!

September 3rd
Here are a few details of what we have done, achieved or consumed - make of them what you will.....

Our round trip was 1036 kilometres
We passed through 308 locks
We travelled on 62 days out of the 127 days that we were away
We put in 1580 litres of diesel (and have a bit left)
We and our guests consumed 229 bottles of wine; being:
      15 bottles of Bubbly, Cremant de Bourgogne and Champagne
      42 bottles of red Bordeaux
      69 bottles of white Burgundy
      89 bottles of Cotes de Rhone red
       6 bottles of Cotes de Provence pink (it was not a very warm summer)
      8 bottles of various
      3 boxes of red (probably a mistake)

The blog will return for 3 small afterludes starting in a few days time

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fourth Movement, La Marne and the Canal Lateral a la Marne

June 23rd
Well my goodness, we changed our minds about progress from Paris. We did the math and discovered that we had covered about 550 kms to get to Paris and that if we continued on the original plan - North, then East to Reims before turning south - we would have over 700 kms to go before getting back to base.
So we decided to take the obvious alternative which was to pass south of Paris, go up the Marne and the Canal Lateral a la Marne, then the Canal Champagne a Bourgogne (formerly known as the Marne a Saone) which would reduce the overall distance by about 200 kms and ensure that we will be back at St Jean de Losne in plenty of time to greet our Septemeber visitors.
Having decided that, getting away wasn't  all that easy. First we had to visit a notary so that Charlyn could 'swear' that she is still alive, in order to continue to receive her English pension. Then we had to mail the document to UK. That all took a couple of hours. Then, as we were lining up to exit the marina through their lock a German boat pushed in and shut us out. Salles Boches!!!
Eventually we were on our way with only a short journey planned. Even that had problems as our designated mooring of the day was completely full and instead of stopping at Nogent, we had to push on to Neuilly. Forunately we found a good mooring there, albeit under a railway bridge, so we will probably move on tomorrow rather than taking our traditional day's rest. C'est la vie!! 
The mooring at Neuilly Plaisance

June 24th
Quite a gentle day as the Marne is a good bit quieter than the Seine, and with only a couple of locks we averaged a pretty impressive speed and ended up in the simply delightful town of Lagny sur Marne. Lagny is not only very pretty and has excellent shops, but is famous for being the place where Joan of Arc performed her miracle of raising a three year long dead child back to life. The Abbey church is fantastic and although it has been rebuilt three times, the last time was in aboutt 1150. We also discovered in the town a baker who proudly displayed in his window a sign which claimed 'First Prize winner Loire and Marne region for Baguette 2011" Of course we bought an extra quantity and it was good - but I think we have had better out in the countryside. 
Lagny sur Marne from our mooring

The prize winning Boulangerie, Lagny sur Marne

June 25th
The reason for all this hurry is that we were anxious to meet up with Bryan Griffin, an Australian who did the barge handling class with me at Bisham Abbey last year. His barge was in Meaux (home of Brie de Meaux) and it was a good thing that he was there as our visit coincided with the local water festival and the only mooring we could get was rafted up to Bryan some 1k out of town. It was great to see him and catch up. he came over for supper but I had to retire early as I had a stinking cold - no doubt the hangover from getting frozen to death at Charlie's Oyster Festival last weekend. So no exploration of Meaux today - we will try to visit the festival and the town tomorrow - health permiting.

June 26th
Woke up this morning to bright sunshine and the temperature already higher than we had had since May. What a relief to get back to good weather. Spent a quiet morning catching up with computer work (especially the Marina accounts which Bob had not sent me details for about 10 days, due to his trip to Canada) and to write up the last few days on this blog. More later....
Visited the water festival which was not very exciting. All it had was amusements for the kids, very noisy rides in inflatables down the river (right past us which was not a lot of fun) and booths for every organisation in town - from the waterworks company to the local Lions Club and everything in between. Although Meaux boasts a very fine cathedral, which we viewed from a distance, the town itself was very ordinary and somewhat unattractive. We didn't stay long and went back to JC for lunch and a (welcome) return to my sandpapering activity in the afternoon.
I was sitting down at the computer with Bryan early in the evening looking at various navigation programmes when we heard an almighty crash from below. The bathroom cabinet had fallen off the wall and broken. Some 2 hours later we had put it back together again (without the light box which had been on top and weighed far too much), but I think it will not be too long before we need a replacement. Clearly this is not a seagoing ship as it was probably only the wash from the inflatables that did the trick!
Rafted up to Bryan Griffin at Meaux

June 27th
I mentioned a few days ago how quiet the Marne is compared to the Seine. To give  a good example of this (bearing in mind that the Marne is well inside the top 5 navigable rivers of France and a very important waterway) we travelled for 4 hours today, met no river traffic at all for the first 2 hours and then just 3 commercial barges and one river boat in the last two. Our journey today was a lot longer than we had planned (22 kms) as both the planned mooring at Germigny and the back up some 5 kms further on were impossible to use. So we pressed on to Mary-sur Marne, where we found a small but perfectly usable mooring which just happened to be right beside a very nice restaurant. Much fortified by the local speciality 'Tarte de Brie de Meaux' as a starter and by salmon for Charlyn and lamb chops for me, we retired to JC for a siesta. Despite all that I was still able to put in a couple of hours on the varnish work - and all of that in brilliant and very hot sunshine. The only thing to disturb our peace - and it certainly did - was the fact that our mooring seems to be the gathering place for every teenager in the district who use it as a bathing platform to the accompaniment of rather too many screams!
We plan to stay here for a couple of days as we are now well ahead of our planned itinerary and hope to make major progress with the varnish work.

June 28th
Mary is a pretty little village, but suffering, like so many villages of similar size, from an inability to provide enough business to keep the local bakery open. In fact here we found the signs over the door for both the Baker and the Butcher - both of them closed for ever. There is a truck which delivers bread to the village at about 11.00 am - not the most convenient time, but better than no bread at all.
Early in the morning we had quite a sharp thunderstorm, and although it cleared up later for me to get on with the work, it seemed to have put off the teenagers and we had a nice quiet day. Late in the afternoon I spotted a dutch sail boat which was looking longingly at our mooring, so I invited them to raft up to us, which they did. very private couple of whom we saw no more.
Good food - just 20 paces from JC at Mary

June 29th - July 3rd
From our mooring at La Ferte
We are so well ahead of our schedule that we have decided to take quite a long break here at Ferte sous Jouarre, where we arrived on Thursday last. There are known to be very few good moorings on the Marne, and pretty far apart, involving rather longer days than we had planned. So Thursday's voyage was well over 20 kms, but beacause there was only one lock and we go a bit faster on the rivers we still managed to arrive by lunch time.
We were rewarded for our efforts by finding what is probably the best mooring on the Marne - if not the best we have encountered anywhere. We are tucked away behind a tree-grown island on a brand new floating pontoon complete with electricity and water (both free), within 100 yards of the edge of the town and within 300 yards of a supermarket, bakeries (several), Chinese takeaway and almost every thing else. Best of all there is a market on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. We went on Friday and it was excellent with good meat, veg, fruit and VERY IMPOTRANTLY, olives.
During our time here we have been able to make great strides with varnish work and will leave with only one side of the wheelhouse still wanting attention. We may well even get some more paintwork done during the course of today - our last before we move on, facing a trip which could be anything up tp 35 kms. Whoops!
I hope to return to the blog later today and try to catch up with some photos.

July 4th
The mooring at Nanteuil
Got lucky again! came accross another brand new pontoon just outside the village of Nanteuil; also with free water and only a relativley short run from La Ferte. Nothing in the vaillage except (oh dear) an Auberge - le Lion d'Or, just 50 steps from our mooring. Well we just had to give it a try for lunch - but being a little mindful of the pocket we settled for their cheap (12.95 euro) menu, which turned out to be excellent and well more than enough for us. A bacon salad for Charlyn and home made terrine for me as starters, then a beuatifully cooked entrecote steak for madam and delicious rabbit for me. All washed down with pink wine, alledgedly from Provence but it looked very dark to me as well as being a bit on the sweet side. I suspect Loire. Despite the lunch and a nap I still managed to finish the port side painting and we were able to settle down in the evening to watch "Cold Mountain' (without supper), feeling that the day had gone well.

July 5th

Off again, with several prospects for mooring. We really did not want to go too far as we are well ahead of our schedule and can afford to dawdle almost as much as we like. One lock, automatic at Mery, which had a very nice looking mooring just upstream. but we had only been travelling for an hour, so we simply noted it for future reference and pressed on towards Nogent. Here we found another really nice pontoon, again with water and electricity (free) and after making a bit of a mess of the first approach managed to tie up neatly at the second attempt. The village is another of those which seems to be dying on its feet, although there is still one bakery/patisserie which only stocks bread and will be closed tomorrow and one butcher with half filled shelves. Otherwise there seems to be a bar for every member of the population and (once more) a nice looking restaurant, which to Charlyn's delight serves pizzas. Maybe we will do a takeaway tomorrow - but not for me. Flushed with yet another successful day (well 2 1/4 hours to be truthful) of travel we helped ourselves to a couple of Pimms before lunch, a siesta and another coat of varnish on the wheelhouse. I am developing an ambition to get all the outside painting and varnishing done by the time we get back to St Symphorien - then perhaps I can turn my attention to the other sort of paper and paint!

Nogent d'Artaud

July 6th
Quiet day at Nogent l'Artaud. Painting interrupted by showers. Boring!

July 7th
Yesterday evening's visit to the Taverne for Charlyn's pizza was not a success. We have been so lucky with our waterside restaurants up to now that I suppose we were due for a disappointment. This was a big one! Having decided that we would eat at the Taverne rather than just take the pizza home, we went into a quite attractive dining room withs seats for 50 and an open fire for grilling. I chose to have 6 escargots, of which only 5 came out of their shells, followed by ham from the bone , grilled. Although the menu ofered a choice of pommes frites, haricots verts, ratatouille or salad with the ham it came with frites, which were soggy and inedible. I asked the (extremely surly) waitress - probably the wife of the owner for haricots verts, and grudgingly they appeared - from a can! Can you believe that at this time of the year??? I did not eat them. Charlyn's pizza was so buried in cheese that it was impossible to tell what was underneath - if indeed anything at all. What is worse, she woke up with a bad tummy this morning. WARNING - do not visit this restaurant.
Our journey today was very gentle again, just 12 kms and one lock to Chateau Thierry in the heart of Champagne country. We found a very comfortable mooring on a pontoon within 100 metres of the town centre and tied up - probably for a day or three. The town itself seems very pleasant with good walking shops in easy range - and a Chinese restaurant. We cannot resist these as the French seem to have some sort of a love affair with Chinese cooking. We will probably visit tomorrow evening. For now, it will be lunch and supper on JC with a little painting squeezed between the two.

Chateau Thierry in flowers

On the way to market - Chateau Thierry
July 8th -10th
A stay with two markets. One on Friday which filled most of the lower part of the town. Not as good as some that we have visited, but all the same we found everything that we needed. I had no idea that Chateau Thierry featured to such an extent in both World Wars. It was the site of fierce battles of the trench type in WW1 and in WW2 was a strategic crossing point of the River Marne. In 1940 the French defended the bridge as best they could and created a hero in the person of Pierre Rouge, who was just an officer cadet, but who fought the Germans for posession of the bridge from his tank. he was badly wounded and later died in hospital. The bridge was rebuilt in 1950 and named after this brave young man. later in the war the town was the scene of the first major push accross the Marne by American troops, for whom there are several monuments here, including an American prtestant church.
Whie staying here we met adelightful couple from Oregon, Lyn and Carolyn, with whom we had drinks on JC on Friday evening and the following day lunched with them on board their river boat L'Oregon.
So we didn't actually make it to the Chinese restaurant until Sunday lunch time. Buffet style, and the first place, this year, That I have eaten frogs legs. In a chinese restaurant???. They were very good!!!
Still plenty of time for more work on stripping old varnish, just about done that now.

July 11th
We meant to go only as far as Jaulgonne, a gentle voyage of only some 12 kms. However, when we got there, we didn't much like the look of the mooring and, with some trepidation, decided to press on to Dormans. The reason for the worry was that I had a note saying 'Often full". We had a back up of turning round and going back to a lock some half hour downstream, but hoped not to have to use it. When we arrived at Dormans, the mooring did indeed look pretty full, but we reckoned that we could squeeze in at the end, beyond a  British sail boat. Just. Anyway, we made our approach and called to the man on the sail boat to help us. he was extremely reluctant and clearly resented the idea of us coming in at all. So much for the camaraderie of boaters!. We made it, with minimal help from him, and to the accompaniment of various words of discouragement. In all it was a journey of some 25 kms with two locks, all of which we managed in 4 1/2 hours. We will be here tomorrow, so I will report on the town then.

July 12th
Dormans is a nice little town BUT... the railway line passes along the opposite bank of the Marne to the mooring and it must be the busiest line in France. masses of freight traffic which went on well into the night and indeed early morning as well as a busy commuter line - to Paris??
We visited a wine merchant and bought 3 bottles eac of completely unknown (to me) Champagnes, one of which we tried out at lunch time - just as good as the major marques, but really no better than our much loved Cremant de Bourgogne at only just over half the price.
Dormans - with JC AND train!

July 13th
One of the problems of this lifestyle is that it is only too easy to lose track of time, dates or indeed anything that is going on in the 'real world'. Consequently, having gone to bed last night in the sure knowledge that today would be the 12th, and that therefore the major shut down of everything for Batille Day would not be until Friday - I woke up with the dreadful sinking feeling that I might be wrong. I was!!!
So, instead of a leisurely 12 k voyage to Port a Brinson (which incidentally had an extremely nice mooring) we had to push on as far as Epernay since all the locks would be shut for the holiday. Luckily we decided to call ahead and make a reservation at the Societe Nautique, which was just as well since when we got there yhere was only one spot left against the bank. Maybe, without reservation, we could have rafted up to someone, but we felt that our foresight was well justified. I am glad top report that this place qualifies as a 'proper' marina. theer was a lady on the dock to help us in; we were showered with leaflets for local attractions (after all Epernay IS the capital of Champagne) and invited for a free cocktail in the evening. The only drawback is that the prices here for mooring are almost as high as in TCI! The weather today was probably the coldest since we have been in France - what ever has happened to mid-summer?

July 14th
The'floral'bridge at Epernay
Bastille day. The most important secular holiday in France. As it happens, not every thing is shut and I was still able to buy our daily bread. Also the very large Champagne house, Chatellane (production 4 million bottles pa and unheard of in UK or USA) were conducting tours of their factory ( I use that word advisedly, since that is what it is). Quite interesting, but as it is a holiday there was no production going on, which was a shame. We tasted their Brut and also their best vintage Champagne - I was not over impressed.

July 15th 
The Avenue de Champagne - Epernay

A busy day in Epernay! After the usual trip to the bakery (a good ten minute walk each way here) I had time to do another coat of varnish before we headed off to Carrfour for a major stock-up of all the heavy stuff (water, perrier, beer, tonic, wine being most of the weight). We were taken there by car by our neighbours in the marina, Bob and Mary who are on a not very large sailboat. This was brilliant as Carrefour is about 15 minutes away by foot and we would have had to make multiple visits if we had not been in the car.
In the afternoon we joined a small (6 people in all) tour group to explore the Champagne countryside and to have the mysteries of Champagne making explained to us by a very vivacious lady called Nathalie, whose husband (and father in law) are champagne growers. This was much more interesting that the trip around the Catellane factory and  we were able to get a real feel for the hard work that goes into the business of making champagne. The family own 6 hectares of vines (which makes their capital value in  land about 6 million pounds and they do most of the work themselves. Half the juice is sold to the big houses and the rest they make into Champagne themselves. Everything by traditional methods, almost no machinery. We ended with a tasting of their Brut ( a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) and their Blanc de Blanc which is made just from Chardonnay grape. Much nicer than the Castellane and we bought a bottle of Blanc de Blanc and two of Brut to continue our tastings at home. One nice touch is that they will do a 'Private label' Champagne in a minimum of 4 bottles. So look out for Special Cuvee Joli Coeur next year.
In Nathalie's vineyard

The grapes of Champagne

...and the final product
Despite all this we still had the energy to have our entire tour group back for drinks on JC and then to go out to dinner with Bob and Mary, the car owners. Dinner was delicious at a small restaurant, Chez Max, recommended by the marina. I made a pig of myself with poached foie gras, followed by a blend of rognons de veau and sweetbreads( this was because I coud not choose between them and the proprietor suggested the mixture - delicious) and rounded it all off with creme brulee - the first good one I have had for ages. Charlyn settled for poached scollops and a steak in a delicious pepper sauce and followed by raspberry ice cream. A glass of Champagne to start, a bottle of Cotes de Rhone St Joseph and a complimentary glass of Marc de Champagne (pretty firey) meant that we had a most enjoyable end to the day.

July 16th
Our last day in Epernay. Sadly we heard today from Judi and Jim (the previous owners of Jli Coeur) that their rental car had been vandalised and they would not have time to visit us. Even more sadly we heard from Bob, my boss, that his mother had passed away.
Today was market day - and a good one too - except for the fact that it was at the far end of town from us and involved a major walk. Not too bad going there but abit of a challenge coming back with all our goodies. Thank goodness we had done the really heavu stuff with Bob and Susan the day before.
Just time for another coat of varnish before the heavens opened and it rained really haard.

July 17th
On our way again at 8.30 am with two possible destinations in mind. But first we had to retrace our steps for about 5 kms down the Marne in order to get on to the Canal lateral a la Marne. This involved a rather complicated manoeuvre to turn round in the middle of the river and to pass under a puller device in order to activate the lock mechanism. Just as we were in the middle of all this, and in full reverse a German owned river boat decided to risk rushing under our stern in order to get to the lock before us. Unspeakable manners, completely against the code of behaviour on the waterways and an extremely dangerous thing to do. he missed our rudder by about 3 ft, staring ahead and avoiding looking at us. Referene our experience in the Arsenal, why is it only the Germans who behave like that!
Having recovered from that unpleasant experience we went through the lock and said goodbye to the river Marne which had been our host for nearly a month.
Our first possible stop at Mareuil sur Ay looked very nice, but was extremely crowded and as we wanted somewhere quiet to carry on with the painting etc we pushed on to Bisseuil wher Bryan had told ud there were some new bollards. He was quite right and we settled in to this very quiet spot on the edge of the tiny village. The only activity in the vaillage is the bar/tabac/epicerie where we can buy bread ( except on Monday) and a few basics. We need nothing except our daily bread so this place will suit us very well until Friday when we will move on to the big town of Chalons en Champagne, just in time for (guess what) their market on Sunday.
We have really enjoyed the experience of the Marne, but are happy to be back on the canals ith their smaller locks which we don't bang about in.

July 18th - July 21st
At Bisseuil. The reason for a long stop here in this very quiet place is so that we can make serious strides with the painting and varnishing. Monday was good, although freezing cold, and I got a lot done. Sadly, Tuesday morning, in spite of the excitement of actually buying bread ( and a croissant and 6 eggs) from the tabac, it was a rainy morning and I was unable to get outside. However, as I write at 11.30 am, the skies appear to be clearing and maybe, just maybe, I will be able to get at it again later. In the meantime we took the opportunity to update the blog, download some photos from the camera and top up the grease in the steering system.
Wednesady and Thursday were also very mixed weather and my ambitious programme was far from finished, dodging the showers and rain. But we did not waste our time and succeeded in getting the fore deck and well properly pressure washed and cleaned. Our pressure washer sprays water in all directions as well as the right one, so we dressed ourselves in our sailing storm gear and managed to stay dry.
Other highlights were that we discovered (another) champagne house in the village - this time a big one with a production of some 300,000 bottles a year. The tasting was good and we bough a couple of bottles to enjoy ourselves. We also had lunch at the Tabac, who only served Croques Monsieur - but they were very good.

Joli Coeur in her new Oxford Blue and Cream livery at Bisseuil

July 22nd
Well, today did not go exactly as planned. We left Bisseuil at 8 45 am en route to Chalons en Champagne, a journey of some 25 kms. However when we arrived at our second lock ( out of 4) we suddenly had no power at all. We were half way into the lock and had to go forward. So the mule (that's me) took over and pulled JC into the lock. Once in I went down to the engine room to try to work out what was wrong. Now you all know that I am no mechanic, but I was bale to diagnose that the throttle cable had either become disengaged, or had broken. Not good, but nothing like as bad as if we had lost the transmission. A couple of phone calls to our trusty friend Steve seemed to confirm this. Anyway I was eventually able to contact the local Renault garage ( at 2.00 pm after their lunch break) and they promised to send a mechanic as soon as possible. The mechanic ( actually the proprietor of the garage) and his side kick arrived at 4.45 pm and after two hours ( and a very modest charge of 118 euros) the problem was solved and we were ready to move forward. By then it was much too late to leave, so we stayed where we were and will, hopefully, still make it to Chalons in time for the market tomorrow.

July 23rd
All is well! We set off for Chalons at 7.45 am, determined to make it in time for the market, but anxious as we didn't know whether we could get a mooring in the town. The throttle control behaved perfectly and we made good time, arrriving at the town marina at about 10.30 am. Here we found the perfect mooring, just above the lock and tucked in tightly behind another British barge. We mad it to the market at a quarter to eleven and had just enough time to rush around and, surprisingly, not forget anything important. back to the barge for lunch and out again to the supermarket for the heavy stuff. Quite a big shop today as this is the last major town before Lulu, Cosmo, Jude, Gilly the dog and the Yugoslav au pair come to stay for two night next Friday.
We are still suffering from very unseasonable weather. Once again today, having started bright and sunny it has now gone dark, cold and poured with rain (of course while we were out shopping)
Too tired to entertain anyone today although there seem to be some nice people in the port. Maybe tomorrow...
Finished the day with Chinese supper - not a success!

July 24th
A real day off. As this is a busy port, full of other barges, we thought we should not do any noisy work today, and in any case the weather was still cold and wet at times.
We asked a delightful Australian couple, Mike and Jane on their own designed replia barge "Drumsara" to come to drinks before lunch - but decided to make it a lunch invitation as well. Great fun. We drank one bottle of Champagne form Nathalie's vineyard and one bottle of Cremant de Bourgogne from our friends Jean Claude and Anna from Rully - and all agreed that there wasn't a lot to choose between them, apart from the fact that the one bottle of Champagne cost as much as two of Cremant!
Mike and Jane are going the same way as us and will end up at their winter mooring just two days down the Saone from St Symphorien, at Pont De Vaux. We will ivestigate that as an alternative to St Symphorien. We will no doubt run into them again and they have promised a return match.

'July 25th
Slightly poor start to the day. The main generator cut out and wouldn't re-start. I later ascertained that it is no longer circulating water and therefore overheated. Sent e mail to Steve asking him to stop by with replacement on his way to St Symphorien. Thank goodness we have a back up.
Gentle 3 3/4 hour journey from Chalons to La Chausee sur Marne - 15 kms and 3 locks. we were going to stop at Pogny, but didn't like the look of the mooring or the village. This one is good with some very smart houses, a bakery and TWO restaurants. We had the plat du jour - pork with fresh beans and tinned peas, which was extremely good and not expensive. Maybe we will go to the other tomorrow evening.
Did more work in the forward well after siesta, so quite a succesful day in all.

July 26th
At La Chausee. Useful day of works on the boat, only marred by me falling down companion way from wheelhouse to kitchen, banging my head and breaking a wine glass, which was fortunately only part full.Made a nice mess though. We had a large commercial barge tie up in front of us, which turned out to be owned and run by a nice Englishman called George Smith and his wife Wendy. George was full of useful information - of which the most immediate was that Vitry le Francois (our next stop) was not only not very nice, but also likely to be full.

July 27th
Delayed our departure to wait for Steve (he is just fantastic - where would we bw without him). he arrived at 11.00 am carrying not only the replacement impeller for the generator but also a pump to pump the oil out of it vai the dip stick hole. So we changed the oil on the main and the back up generators and tested. All was well!
 Steve stayed for lunch and we then headed off to Vitry, as it is market day there tomorrow. george was absolutely right. Not a nice place and completely full, so we pushed on to the Canal de la Marne a la Saone and moored just above the first lock -hopefully within bicycling distance of the market. It was quite a long day and we did not tie up until about 6.30pm. Roll on tomorrow!
PS Here endeth the fourth movement - look for the fifth starting tomorrow.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Third Movement the Canal de Briare, the Canal du Loing and the Seine

June 3rd
Hah! A new blog, for a new canal, the Canal de Briare. We left Chatillon pretty early as we had no locks whatsoever as far as Briare and its famous Pont Canal over the Loire.

  Leaving wasn't as easy as it might have been since firstly, the Capitainerie had locked our umbilical electric cord into the distribution box. Luckily gor us the top of the box was broken and we were able to retrieve the cord by unconventional means. It would have been a shame if we had had to cut it just the day after our wonderful man of all skills, Steve made it all work so well. Secondly we were hemmed in by an enormous hotel barge, but managed to wiggle our way around it without mishap. I think Charlyn had her eyes shut in horror for part of the manoevre. So, on to Briare and the truly beautiful (and very long) canal bridge over the Loire. We had planned to stop there, but, what with Charlyn's family almost on their way to us, and the fact that it only took just over an hour to get there, we decided to press on and made our halt at Ouzour sur Trezee, some 6 kms further on.A delightful mooring in avery old, and now clearly dying village, with most of the shops shut down and far too many houses for sale. But the town quay was a delight and we tied up close enough to allow painting preparation work on the port side of JC to be done from shore. At Briare we had left the Canal lateral a la Loire behind and joind the Canal de Briare, which will eventually lead us to the Canal du Loing, the Seine, and to PARIS!

June 4
Charlyn has pointed out to me that there are one or two late entries on the Canal lateral a la Loire blog that have no photos - and that now we are on a new one you, our readers, might not go back, thinking that there were none. Well, you're wrong! As soon as I have finished writing of today's events I will go back and put the photos in (so long as the system lets me do it.
The winding Canal de Briare
We left our nice mooring at Ouzour only just befor 9.00 am as there was a lock right on top of us. In a way it was a shame that we couldn't make an earlier start as we had some 14 locks to negotiate today - all in about the same number of kms.
After the long straights of the canal lateral, this one is extremely windy with lots of blind corners, being , naturally, the places where we meet another boat coming the other way. No collisions. With the delayed start we could not quite make it to our new mooring at Rogny les Sept Ecluses before lunch, so stopped at a country mooring beteen 12.00pm and 1.00pm - just long enough for a cold lunch and a glass of wine.
Rogny is named 'les sept ecluses' because the original canal had 7 locks to lift the water from the valley of the Loing over the watershed to the valley of the Loire. The'new' canal - built well over 100 years ago, takes a slightly different route and employs only 6 locks. Confusing, nicht war???
For all that, Rogny seems a pleasant small town and we will rest (idiomatic for work on the painting of JC) and explore here tomorrow and continue on our way on Monday.
The mooring at Rogny

June 5th
At rest! (see above entry) in Rogny les Sept Ecluses. Beautiful day and perfect for painting the outside of the wheelhouse. Finished my first pot of Cream paint just in time to stop for lunch. Just 100 yards - well maybe metres, to the Auberge des 7 Ecluses, where we sta outside watching the world and enjoying a really excellent lunch: a really good salad of warm scallops and prawns for Charlyn and, as we were still just in Burgundy, escargots de Bourgogne for me. We both had a really good entrecote steak with a greaty selection of vegetables and then shared a chocolate ice cream. Back to JC, where I got out a new can of cream p[aint and completed my work for the day. Just then an American couple came by, expressing interest in barging (they were on a rented canal boat), and we invited them on board to have a look around. One thing led to another and another thing led to a bottle of wine, and that led to a second bottle. Anyway they, Edward and Gail, were seriously interested in retiring to the barge life and we spent a good an enjoyable couple of hours with them. To aid the celebration it turned out that not only was it their wedding anniversary, but also her birthday. Supper did not happen.
Sunday lunch

Tilleuil tree at Rogny

In Rogny

June 6th
An early start, not that we had far to go, but that there were several boats and barges looking as if they might go in our direction. We like to get ahead of the pack if possible so that our travelling is done by lunch time and so that we can get a mooring where we want it. Quite a chilly morning, with a hint of rain in the air. We succeeded in being (just) the first to the first lock and were able to hold that position through the next 5 locks to our day's destination at Chatillon Coligny (not to be cofused with Chatillon sur Loire which we have already passed by. On arrival at Chatillon we found the quay to be virtually full and very nearly passed it by. However we spotted some likely looking helpers on the quayside and with their help managed to squeeze into the last available space.
Lunch and a siesta were followed by a walk into town where there is a very good small supermarket. We only had the back pack with us, but bought a plastic carry bag and staggerd back to JC with our purchases.
Too rainy for any more painting, so I have resolved to bring the photos, both in the album and on the blog, up to date, which I will now attempt to do.

June 7th
Today's journey qualifies rather more as a fraud than as a full day's travel. We were able to leave at 8.30am, having collected the bread in quite heavy rain and duly arrived at the first lock just after 9.00am. Here, in conversation with the lock keeper, we discoverd that our chosen destination for the day, Montcresson, was'Very noisy and full of lorries unloading timber' - at least that is how I interpreted what he said. he recommended that we should stop at Montbuoy, several kms short of Montcresson. That sounded like good advice, which was confirmed by the next lock keeper at Montbuoy itself. So, after only 1 1/2 hours of cruising we pulled into a nice mooring in this quiet village and prepared to spend the next day and a half here before moving on directly to Montargis. The rain died away as we moved along and, as I write, I am hopeful of being able to tackle the paint job again this afternoon.

June 8th
Yesterday afternoon, after I wrote the blog, the heavens opened and it poured and poured with rain. Our poor petunias did not like it one little bit, but somehow seem to have survived. This morning was pretty grey and the forecast told us 30% chance of rain. However I was anxious to get on with the painting and decided to take a chance. All was well and the day got nicer and nicer as it progressed. So, not only did I do rather more painting than my target, but also mended the passerelle (Gangplank) and tidied out the lazarette to make room for Brad's family luggage.

June 9th
In Montargis

As we had stopped short of our original destination, and as there were no locks to be seen for at least 8kms we wereup and about in good time and managed to get away at &.45 am, which actually got us to the first lock just after 9.00 am. But we had 8 locks to get through before reaching Montargis (in all about 16kms) and we had to stop short at lunch time as we could not make the final two before the midday closing. Quick lunch tied up to the bank and then on to Montargis, where we arrived at just after 2.00pm. Lots of boats and barges here, but we managed to find a space on the commercial dock. Now we have to explore the town, find out where the railway station is, rent a car tomorrow and generally get ourselves ready to greet the family on Saturday.

June 10th
In Montargis. We duly explored the old part of the town yesterday afternoon, which was full of interesting shops and, surprisingly, two chinese take away restaurants. We bought from one of them and enjoyed a very good chinese supper leaving enough for lunch on Friday. Long walk to station (lady at Police station said '5- 10 minutes' - it was at least 20. Anyway, found out about trains for Tesdahls and rented (very expensive) small car from Avis. Then the shopping. Catering for 7 people including hungry teenagers with unknown tastes is quite a challenge and we ended up somewhat poorer and with a car that was full to bursting. OK so the purchases included 3 cases of wine - but that's just essential supplies. It was a good day for shopping as the weather, which as you all know, had been wonderful throughout April and May, has now gone a bit sick on us and it is now cold and a bit drizzly.

Montargis is full of little waterways
 La Gloire
Undoubtedly the highlight of the day was our supper at La Gloire, a one star Michelin restaurant close to the station. Why such a highlight? First it was next to the station and for some reason all station restaurants in France have a very good reputation. Second, although it carries the much envied star (which it has now enjoyed for over 20 years) it is quite unlike any other Michelin star restaurant I have ever visited. Most importantly it is not pretentious at all - in my opinion a considerable fault in the majority of such establishments, where the staff seem to give the impression that they are doing you a big favour by allowing you to eat there. The decor was charming, the resaurant was spotless, there was a delightful collection of orchids, the staff were friendly, neatly dressed (but not in uniform) and the food was absolutely delicious. Chalyn had a warm lobster salad followed by a duo of lamb (fillet and cutlet) and I had home made pate de foie de canard followed by a wonderful combination of sweetbreads and veal kidneys (Dr Euan, you are not supposed to know this), then a nice selection of cheeses, an apricot flavoured creme brulee, and a grand selection from the dessert chariot.
We discovered from Madame as we left that the kitchen was run (not surprisingly) by her husband with just two helpers and that she and her daughter (plus others) worked the front of house. A proper family business and a meal that I would recommend to anyone.

June 11th
A bit of an anxious day as, yet again, Icelandair have been causing us problems. This time it was  afour hour strike by mechanics which delayed the flight from Minneapolis. However, all was well in the end and the family arrived at Montargis station a couple of hours late and hungry. luckily I had preapared Coq au Vin for supper which was none the worse for having to 'rest' the extra time. Montargis station was completely bereft of taxis, so the whole team had to walk to JC.
Earlier in the day we went to the market, which was small but had everything we needed including ham hocks, the to the antiques fair which was very expensive. We managed to buy aplate for'only' 20 euros, so honour was satisfied. Charlyn then visited the cat show, next to the fair, while I went to buy dessert which we had completely forgotten about on our earlier outing!
Somehow we got everyone bedded down for the night - Brad and Jen in the guest bedroom, Greta sharing that but on an air mattress on the floor, Grant on the day bed in the sitting room and Sonja on an air mattress also in the sitting room. We had our bedroom to ourselves!

June 12th
An early start with a long way to go. 28kms and 14 locks. Good experience for everyone but exhausting for th skipper who ended up with very sore feet. This I should add was the end of the Canal de Briare and the beginning of the Canal du Loing. beware the very first two locks north of Montargis. The first, which is of course on a corner, comes up very unexpectedly leaving no time for manoevering. The second was even worse. However, with a bit of banging and cursing we got through both and ended te day at our chosen mooring at the port de Bagneaux. I just had the energy to prepare the ham hocks for supper, eat them and then collapse into bed.
Captain Grant at the helm

June 13th
A much better day although with an inauspicious start. The local store, from whom we intended to buy our daily bread advertised its opening at 7.30 am. Nobody tols us that today was a holiday in France and therefore the opening was delayed until 8.30. We still managed to get away by 8.45 to reach the firat lock at 9.00. the only casualty was Simon's breakfast which was taken much later on the run. I have referred earlier to the need to keep one's eye on the canal all the time - so try drinking a cup of chocolate on the move!
I had no helpers at the wheel today, although yesterday grant did a 30 minute spell extremely well and Sonja tried hard for 5 minutes. Brad could not be pursuaded, but made an excellent line handler.
We arrived at Moret just on 3.00 pm and sent the team out to find us a reasonable( and reasonably priced) restaurant for this evening.

June 14th
Apologies are due to my regular followers for the recent scarcity of photos on the blog. It always takes a long time to upload them and we have had such long days recently that I have not had enough energy to do more than write. All will be put right in due course - but maybe not for a week or so.
Yesterday evening we were initially disappointed that the restaurant recommended by the Port captain was closed (Monday, of course). However we found another which 'just' served a buffet. Absolutely delicious and pefect for the occasion as there was something and more for everyone's taste. Thank you very much Brad and Jen for treating us!
So, on to today. Yet another very long day. I think we covered about 45 kms and passed 3 huge locks. We left Moret at 8.45 am and got to our destination at just after 5 pm. Everyone was exhausted, but we were so grateful to have the extra hands on board, who more than pulled their weight.

June 15th
On re-reading yesterday's entry I see that I totaally failed to say that we had left the canal system behind and were on the River Seine. This of course continued today and I am glad to report that we made it to our (for now) final destination of the Arsenal Marina right in the heart of Paris - in afct I can see the monument in the Place de la Bastille even as I write. (Check... yup it's still there).
Travelling the Seine is such a different experience to the canals, for some reasons that are obvious but others not so much. First of all it is BIG, so there is lots of room to pass oncoming traffic. Secondly it is a very well used commercial route which means that we met a lot of commercial barges - some of them HUGE. There are a number of locks, again we passed three today and they can take a very long time. All commercial traffic takes precedence over 'Plaisantiers' which meant that to pass the first lock this morning took more than 2 hours. Happily, after that, matters improved and we were not held up too much until we arrived at the Arsenal lock where a couple of small boats made a quick dive at the entrance, blocking us out, and we had to wait an extra half hour to get in.
This marina is fine but very full. Thank goodness we booked ahead. Even so we are rafted up to another barge which we have to cross before getting to dry land.
Tomorrow I leave everyone here to do sightseeing etc and go to England to give Charlie a hand with the Rock Oyster Festival. that should be fun, but of course it will mean a break in the continuity of this blog.
So, jusqu'a Mardi. Au revoir.

June 21st
Well, here we are all together again. Actually I should not say 'all' as Charlyn's family left us this morning to return home. I will simply summarise the last few days as they really have little to do with our journeying on Joli Coeur. I left Paris last Thursday morning on the Eurostar to London and then on to Cornwall where I was due to help my son Charlie with the running of the 'Rock Oyster Festival'. Rock is a place in Cornwall,
not the description of a type of oyster! That all went well, except that the weather was foul; cold, rainy and windy. nevertheless the festival was a great success and much enjoyed.
Charlyn meantime was helping her family to be good tourists in Paris. I think they did all the major stuff - including the Eiffel Tower at night, Notre Dame, Versailles etc. When I got back (on Charlyn's birthday 20th June) they were all suitabley exhausted. We will spend one more day here in Paris and then head off again on what is the second half of our 2011 Odyssey.

June 22nd
Our last day in Paris - on our own. Bad weather day, rainy and cold - how we are paying for the wonderful sunshine of April and May!
A gentle morning (we were both still very tired after our weekend activities) and then down the street for a Chinese lunch. Excellent. After that the day deterioated a touch rwsulting in a long walk, no success in finding the metro and therefore no visit to the Museum d'Orsay to see the Impressionists. never mind, there is always another time. back on JC for a movie(Sleepless in Seattle - haven't watched it in ages and bed.