Tue 11 Sep 2012 at Vitry le Francois – McDo’s using the wee fee gratuity

Sorry for the break in service folks, it has been a bit of a ‘mare with internet connections. We managed to get onto some of the local freebies easily last year but this year it all seems a bit more closed off. Currently sat in the Golden Arches restaurant, having had a goats cheese wrap, big chips and an iced tea. Ba has lost the will to live and has gone back onboard.
We now have a website which we are trying like mad to get set up. I will promulgate the URL once it is working, rather than subjecting you to the frustrations of non working pages etc

For now, here are some words.    They are also on the new website,  which also has (when it gets there) loads of pictures.  I will put the URL in here and on FB etc as soon as it is working.

Sunday 9 September 2012 – Soulanges for yet another day  DAY 102

After all the business of the last couple of days and it also being a Sunday, we decided to have a restful day.

At 0900 we bade Simon and Carlyn farewell as they headed north; not an easy feat since the operating pole was back up the canal a cable or so,  and those Dutch barges don’t like to drive backwards much.  In addition there is a ‘no turning round’ sign right here.   So,  in order to test our new headsets,  we slipped and headed to the pole,  twisted it,  then did a gentle 200 yard sternboard back to our berth as  Jolicoeur slipped and proceeded into the lock.   No doubt we will meet up with them again sometime next year perhaps.  not sure what got into our heads,  (must be too much sun) but off we strode for what turned out to be a 5 mile walk.  Arrived back at lunch time and are now resting it off in the cool of the wheelhouse (Ba perched with her cross-stitch) and saloon (Steve bashing frantically on the keys)

Harry went on again at 1445 to chill the fridge down and give the batteries a bit more TLC.  Tomorrow we aim to head to Vitry le Francois,  where the Canal Lateral a la Marne meets the Canal  Marne au Rhin and the Canal Entre Champagne et Bourgogne – our route south to the Saone.   Avid readers of this blog will recall us doing something just like this last year.  It is such a beautiful canal that it really is worth another run.  Anyway,  Vitry le Francois is a great place to pick up groceries,  maybe some diesel and petrol,  go to the Golden Arches Restaurant to drink coffee and use the internet,  and maybe explore a little.

Overnight Soulanges  48 47.377N   004 32.060E

Saturday 8 September 2012 – Soulanges for another day DAY 101

Overnight Soulanges  48 47.377N   004 32.060E

After breakfast Super M came out for a swim,  picking up a big staple,  a nail,  a screw and oh yes,  Ba’s scissors.  Second dip in canal averted.  Middle of the day saw a beautiful,  108 year old Dutch barge called  ‘jolicoeur’ (lovely heart)  with new friends Simon and Carlyn.   When not cruising, they manage a marina in the Turks and Cacos Islands.  Their barge is gorgeous,  with a large sitting room delightfully furnished with what looks to us like high quality antique furniture.

This afternoon  ‘Harry’  the Honda Generator decided to have a coughing fit.  Out came the tools and after a bit of ‘open-carburetor surgery’  the cough seemed to disappear and Harry went on to drink a healthy tank of petrol while giving the batteries and fridge a well-earned boost.

Steve and Barbara have been looking for a headset comms system to use when berthing etc. Steve saw some being used in Annapolis years ago but had not seen them since.  In came Simon and Carlyn, who not only were using them,  they sell them as well.   We secured ourselves a pair and they are really quite good.   They will be great for working up a mast in the wind etc as well as berthing.   Anyway,  in return we  gave them a demo of our electric bikes and the details of  Electric Bike World and the boss’s  name and number.    Simon seemed very interested.

Friday 7 September 2012 – St Germain la Ville to Soulanges   DAY 100

Just realised I had forgotten to add the days of deployment to each day’s entry.  Terribly sorry to all you data junkies, but at least we get to tell you that we are now at Day 100 of this year’s cruise.

Short-ish day underway today:  3 hrs 20 minutes under way and 3 locks – heroic effort for your valiant travellers.    Arrived at Soulanges,  our favourite halte last year where, you will remember dear reader,  the Stations of the Cross extend up the hill out of the village.  Sadly one of the stations has been damaged (frost or thug we know not which) but efforts are under way to make good.      On our way to Soulanges we encountered that most unwanted of creatures in the waterways,  the double red-eyed ecluse.    As we approached it and taunted it by twisting its operating pole,  its third (of four) eyes  blinked rheumedly at us but the two red eyes glared in continuation.  It took a call to the VNF office, who sent out an ecluse tamer to calm it down and turn its fourth eye green, whereupon it opened its jaws in a smile and welcomed us in, only to spit us out the other end 10 minutes later.

We decided that as it is so lovely we could spend a bit of time catching up with a bit of maintenance and ship husbandry etc.    By about 1500 we had finished the planned tasks and were a bit hot and sticky.  A quick dip into canal with the shampoo and soap and the job was done. Nice and cool and comparatively clean too.

Gorgeous sunny late afternoon, parked in our favourite parking place with our favourite BBQ picnic table right there.  Ba worked up a superb meal which Steve did on the Cobb BBQ and we sat and talked into the sunset.   Wonderful.

Clumsy Steve managed, while passing stuff back onboard,  to drop Ba’s cross-stitching scissors in the canal.    Job for ‘Super Magnet’ tomorrow methinks.

Overnight Soulanges  48 47.377N   004 32.060E

Really sorry about the lack of pictures,  we haven’t had a decent internet connection since Paris.  We will probably sit in McDonalds at Vitry le Francois for about 6 hours while Steve updates with pictures.  This will be in a couple of days from now.

Thursday 6 September 2012 – Tours sur Marne to Lock 7 (St Germain la Ville)

A longer day today, to make up for the slow running of the last few days perhaps, or not.   Covered 31 km and 5 locks in beautiful sunshine, to stop at the waiting pontoon above Lock 7.   Gorgeous sunshine coupled with a delicious dinner  and then sat in peace in the cockpit until after dark.   Aiming to get a few kilometres further tomorrow and stop at Soulanges,   one of our favourite stops last year where we had a really lovely evening with BBQ and wine and talking until well after dark.

Overnight St Germain la Ville Lock 7  48 52.757N   004 26.741E

Wednesday 5 September 2012 – Damery to Tours sur Marne

Said au revoir to the River Marne today and locked into the Canal Lateral a la Marne.   Had to wait for the working barge (cleaning inside the lock) before we could lock through – all of 15 minutes – these VNF guys are great.

Stopped at Dizy on the halt by the Citroen garage.  We stopped here last year when we visited Epernay,  so did not feel the need to stay. We did however land the bikes and go shopping at E Leclerc, just down the road.   Met ‘Fred’  on his motorboat ‘Evening Mist.’  Fred professed to not knowing anything about this ‘navigation’ stuff and crossed the channel using a compass and pretty much nothing else.  Scary!   We also met Kevin and Eleanor Kiernan,  an Irish couple on their Dutch cruiser Kevelle.  they expressed great interest in our electric bikes, so we furnished them with the details of Electric Bike World.   It is amazing:  everywhere we go either the bikes or Wight Mistress draw a crowd.

Did the shopping and took off.  Stopped for the night at Tours sur Marne on a bit of green bank.   Found a bollard and hammered a spike in,  and settled down for the night.

Overnight Tours sur Marne   49 02.743N  004 07.571E

Tuesday 4 September 2012 – Reuil to Damery

42nd Anniversary of Steve joining the Royal Navy

Today was a short day of travelling.  6.4 km in 1.8 hours.   We hadn’t stopped there before and there is an interesting champagne house where they have large fossils in their cave.   We had mislaid the flyer about it and had no information.   Sadly, Barbara was not feeling too good today (we have both been fighting a wierd bug and today was the day that Ba just needed to rest.)  While she was asleep, Steve nipped ashore to a local bar for a coffee (honest) and asked the lady behind the bar, who provided the name and phone number for la Cave aux Coquillages.    Steve called the place but the answerphone was a little muffled and he couldn’t make out what the lady was saying.    We cycled up there (about 5 km uphill, but you know,  those electric bikes made very short work of the hills.  In fact we didn’t realise how steep they were until we coasted,  at very high speed,  all the way back to Damery.) Sadly the champagne house was closed, so on our high speed transit back to  Damery, on the outskirts of the town we encountered a coiffure (hairdressers), so we nipped in and had our barnets sorted.  Good move.  Ba’s morale improved greatly.   Stopped at the local bar to say thankyou to the lady for the information,  drank coca-cola to re-hydrate and champagne just cos we could,  and went back onboard for a picnic supper of baguette and honey  and watched a favourite movie.

Overnight Damery49 04.167N   003 52.699E

Monday 3 September 2012 – Reuil day 3

Today we visited Domaine Bacchus.  They have a large room set out as a champagne vineyard in miniature,  with little model people, some animated, carrying out the actions of workers in the champagne process.  Fascinating.  At the end we tasted some of the fruits of their labours and bought a few bottles to bring home.

We cycled back to Wight Mistress and crossed the bridge to the village on the other side.  Allegedly there are 2 museums in the village;  we found only one and it was closed, so we cycled back to the boat.   Just along the bank is a garden (more of a large allotment) whose fences are covered in cuddly toys various.  Odd!

Overnight Reuil  49 04.905N  003 47.834E

Sunday 2 September 2012 – Reuil day 2

Quite a quiet day.  A Dutch cruiser came alongside and we met Rein and Karien Affjes from Amsterdam.  The were ‘yachties‘ for years and changed to the canals as they grew a bit older.   They have their ‘yacht legs‘  (Dutch Wad legs) for sale – legs that clip onto the side of your yacht to allow you to take the ground without falling over.  We suggested they have a think about it and let us know how much they want for them.  We could drive up to Amsterdam and collect them.  They will email us with a price.   They stayed alongside for lunch and then headed off toward the Canal  Aisne a Marne that will take them north, heading home for the winter.

Overnight Reuil  49 04.905N  003 47.834E


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