Playing Catch up again

Monday 13 August 2012 – St Mamme

Helped Bob remove the shaft to his hydrovane steering  – damaged by a collision with a harbour wall in Barcelona.  The shaft was bent and the mounting plate damaged, so all had to come off for repair.  Managed to get all 2 dozen securing screws out of the transom and into the bucket without losing any.  Result!!!

Plan for this afternoon is to cycle into Moret and take some more photo’s.  It is a pretty town and well worth the visit.

Overnight St Mamme  48 23.319N  002 8 380E

Sunday 12 August 2012 – St Mamme

Happy Birthday to Plum – our lovely Mum – 86 today

Sunshine again.   We teamed up with Bob and Martha on ‘DW CROW’ and cycled into the station at Moret to catch the train to Fontainebleu and visit the palace there.   Quite an impressive chateau (although for a philistine such as Steve,  ‘you seen one, you seen ‘em all’.)   Worth the visit if you haven’t seen a large chateau before.   All the kings and Napoleon lived there at some stage and there was even a room prepared for Marie Antoinette, although it is said she never actually stayed there.      Found a pleasant brasserie just down the road and had plat du jour, prior to catching the bus and train back to Moret and cycling back to St Mamme.   On arriving back we were treated to a local group doing water jousting.  Lots of fun, watching two small punt-like boats with a platform on the stern for the jouster.  The boats motor gently towards each other and one of the jousters gets to shove the other in the water with his long pole with what looks like a flattened tennis ball on the end.  Amusing.

Bob and Martha came aboard for supper this evening and we talked until way after dark and the insects, attracted by the cockpit lighting,  convinced us to retire for the night.

Overnight St Mamme  48 23.319N  002 8 380E

Saturday 11 August 2012 – St Mamme

Took the bikes and trailer  along the canal and river banks to Moret sur Loing for a little look around and to find the shops.   Found a Carrefour Market and managed to top up with food etc as this is a holiday weekend.   Path quite stony and gritty so we decided to reduce the risk of punctures and return on the main road.

Small barge moored just along the bank from our halte.  The barge is rigged out as a wine  ‘cave’,  so we had to satisfy our curiosity.   The chap onboard markets wines from the River Yonne area and we were treated to a taste of 3 wines.  Not overly impressed however the red that we tried was worthy of a bottle (and cheap enough)

Overnight St Mamme  48 23.319N  002 8 380E

 

Friday 10 August 2012 – Nemours to St Mamme (on the Seine)

We came out of the Canal du Loing today and back on to the River Seine,  about 55 km from Paris by road  (100km by river).   The first place we wanted to stop was at Moret sur Loing,  a picturesque little town with a pleasant halt.   We spotted a boat called Alcyon moored alongside with space to raft, so we made a gentle approach, to be waved off by a bloke in a rubber dinghy in the middle of the little harbour.   We though he was the harbour-master but it turned out he owned  Alcyon and didn’t want anyone to raft on him.  Seems he likes to have his little dinghy parked there.   I suggested he put his dinghy on the pontoon and he replied ‘non’.  I asked why and he said ‘because I don’t want to’.   My response,  in a nice loud voice and a little bit of sarcasm was   merci monsieur et bon journee   (thankyou sir and have a nice day.)    His wife appeared on deck and said something to him, whereupon he started waving to us to come back;  too late – we were on our way.    As coincidences have it,  we ended up at St Mamme on the Seine.  The nice lady actually gave us 4 nights for the price of 2 and on Monday,   to mark the end of the Feast of the Annunciation,  there is a huge fireworks display that will happen right across the river from our berth,  so we have grandstand seats.

Had a pleasant stroll along the Seine to look at the Club Nautique, which turned out to be just a club for  boats with no social amenities.  Strolled back in the sunshine.

Overnight St Mamme  48 23.319N  002 8 380E

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Thursday 8 August 2012

Thursday 9 August 2012 – Nemours – Maintenance Day

We have fallen into a nice routine of moving along for a few days, then stopping for a couple of days to catch up with shopping, repairs/laundry/cleaning etc.   Today was that day.  Out came Wandah and as Barbara played with bubbles happily in the sunshine,  Steve inverted himself in the engine room,  measuring throttle and gear cable lengths.   As this is being written,  Ba is below giving Wight Mistress a good old huck out.   After this,  one believes the next task is shopping.

D W Crow just arrived.  Nice to see Bob and Martha again.  Been invited onboard this evening.

Overnight Nemours 48 16.261N   002 41.509E

Wednesday 8 August 2012 – Cepoy to Nemours

Happy birthday to our lovely grandson Carson.

Up quite early this morning,  we went for a wander around the little village of Cepoy in the beautiful morning sunshine,  before making breakfast and getting under way at 0950.   Took a bit of ploughing to get off the bank.

Compared with the last couple of very short days,  today was an epic:   we covered 27 kilometres and 10 locks,  arriving at Nemours at 1600.  We did have a lunch stop at Neronville and we also encountered  ‘Albert’ – a British canal boat registered in Cowes.  During our lunch break 3 French ladies came by on their ‘velos’ to stop and say hello and admire our lovely Wight Mistress.  It seems odd but most people we speak to on our travels in the waterways  are really surprised that we have sailed at sea as well.

‘Water Weasel’  was already alongside here and we spent a little time comparing notes.   They are heading off tomorrow, continuing north and then on round to the River Yonn and the Canal de Bourgogne (similar plan to us.)   However,  intelligence suggests that we may also find the Canal de Bourgogne a little challenging from a depth of water point of view.  Notes such as  ‘boats with a draught over 1.3 metres will have to keep to the centre of the canal/river’  are making us look very carefully at our near term plans, so watch this space, dear reader.

After settling the boat down for the evening we wandered off into Nemours to find a grocery store.   Not much in the way of food shops in the town – like many towns around the world,  with the advent of the huge ‘out-of-town’  supermarkets, the little stores cannot compete (unless they are being run by entre-preneurly efficient shop keepers from another part of the world peut-etre?

Found  a nice little hostelry facing the inner harbour (a dead end of canal off the main watery thoroughfare)  and put the world to rights for an hour or so.

Overnight Nemours 48 16.261N   002 41.509E

Tuesday 7 August 2012 – Montargis to Cepoy

Another long and arduous day on the canal,  left at 1317 and arrived at Cepoy at 1615,  passing through 5 locks, leaving the Canal de Briare and entering the Canal du Loing in the process.

Tough life this canal cruising J    Cepoy was just a green bank with bollards.   Quiet night in tonight.

Overnight Cepoy   48 16.621N   002 41 509E

Monday 6 August 2012 – Montbuoy to Montargis

Got under way at 0930, passing a full sized,  very rusty peniche coming the other way and as he passed us, Barbara was watching intently on the navigational situation – yeah right!!!!!  She was ogling the fit guy, stripped to the waste and tanned etc,  handling the helm.   Had to throw a bucket of water over her.

Along next came a large hotel barge, crawling quite slowly along the canal. This canal is quite narrow in places and as we passed we slipped gently off his bow wave and ploughed a small furrow in the muddy bottom for a few feet.

Arrived Montargis mid afternoon and went for a wander in what is a very pretty town.  It claims to be the ‘Venice of Central France’  and to be honest there are a few small canals around the place.  Decorated with small boats moored mid-stream and full of flowers – very pretty.    The only down-side was what seemed to be the continuous, heady smell of  what we thought to be ‘dog poo’.  Sad really.    Other than that,  very attractive and the main canal twisting its way through the town is equally photo- worthy.

Our Canadian friends  Bob and Martha onboard ‘DW Crow’ – a Cabot 36 sloop – arrived in astern of us.  They have been experiencing some problems with their  sea water cooling pump.  Another huge coincidence?   Their recently replaced engine is identical to ours on Wight Mistress – a Lombardini  LDW 2204M.

Hopefully we have provided enough information to help with the problem.

Overnight Montargis   47 59.532N  002 44.064E

Sunday 5 August 2012 Chatillon-Coligny to Montbuoy

Quiet little village alongside the canal. Arrived around lunch time and went for a cycle ride to look for the Roman amphitheatre,  about am kilometre outside the village.  Not a lot to see and all fenced off,  so we cycled a bit further and came back along the canal bank.    Confronted by a Frenchman in a blue Renault van,  we were advised that there is a tournament de peche (fishing competition) and the bank is closed further down.  We explained where we were heading and he was happy.    We tried to find a watermill nearby but it looked to be privately owned and the gates were locked, so we pressed on.    Got back to Wight Mistress just as the tournament de peche started on the bank opposite us.  Talk about watching paint dry!!!  The only excitement was when a British ‘Dutch’ barge came through.  All the ‘pecheurs’  had these huge 30 foot long fishing poles with the tackle hanging off the end,   stuck right out across the canal.   On passing the British skipper said to us ‘I think I am about to make a lot of friends here.’   He then carried on,  passing about 2 kilometres of irate French pecheurs,  all having to haul their gear in to let him past.  Made us laugh.   Rain started into about the 3rd hour of this tournament but the pecheurs were not perturbed at all about it.   The tournament ended with a ‘5 minute gun (or bang of some sort)  and when the ‘fini’  gun went off, it was amazing.  In England there would have been all sorts of last-second trying to get a fish or something.   Pas les francais,   up went all their fishing poles together.   Their catches of assorted tiddlers etc were then weighed by the judge and the ones still alive were chucked back in the canal  (I think some of the larger ones went home to form part of a repas de poisson) and a party to celebrate the tournament then went on into the evening.

Tournament des pecheurs at Montbuoy – before the rain started

Overnight Montbuoy  47 51.713N   002 49.286E

Saturday 4 August 2012 – Chatillon-Coligny

This morning we wandered into the town to look at the museum, where Robert joined us.   The Becquerel family lived in the town and the upper floor of the museum is dedicated to the family and their work in nuclear physics, along with Marie Curie,  Albert Einstein,  Earnest Rutherford and others.   They had a cut away model of a Cobalt 60 radiotherapy head very similar to the ones Barbara used years ago,  before all the radioactive power became electronically produced.  Fascinating to see how the machinery worked.  The rest of the museum covered the town through the ages, with a large Roman presence for about 400 years.

Billow moved on this afternoon to make distance up to the north, where they are meeting their son Gavin and his two elder children.  Gavins wife Emily is staying home with their tiny baby.  We made some use of the wifi  today and helped  Hans and Carien,  a Dutch couple aboard their barge (that looks a bit like a tug)  ‘Arend.’   They were having problems with email and also being able to log on to the VNF website to buy and download their ‘vignette’  (cruising licence.)   After a couple of hours,  some  Advocaat (neat) and a couple of Heinekens,  all was sorted.  We started chatting about music;  Hans is a jazz lover and when I mentioned Stan Kenton (brilliant  trombonist and band leader)   Hans brought out just about every LP Stan Kenton had ever made.  What a coincidence!!

Quiet night in with a movie and bed.

Overnight Chatillon-Coligny 47 49.123N   002 50.643E

Friday 3 August 2012 – Chatillon-Coligny

A pretty and welcoming town, just across the canal from us is a park where the children seem to play all day, whooping and laughing (well, after all it is August and France is ‘en vacance’.  It is a pleasure to hear it.  Today was market day and the market was spread across a number of the streets in the centre of the town.  We wandered aimlessly through the street, taking the ambience of a French market in the warm sunshine.   A coffee at a street-side bar rounded up the morning before returning to Wight Mistress, armed with la baguette and some French cheeses, for lunch.    This afternoon Robert and Judith had need of picking up some fuel for Billow,  so Robert had his first ‘lecon sur un velo electrique.’   We stopped on the way for a beer (like you do)  and a chat, before finding our way to the  ‘Supe U’ where fuel was a good price.   We now know that our  ‘remorque’ (trailer) will happily carry 10 gallons of diesel (in containers, bien sur)  AND 48 stubbies of beer.    While out on our intrepid search for diesel,  Barbara had ‘Wandah’  working hard on the smalls etc and she also scrubbed Wight Mistress to within an inch of her life.  WM looks lovely. All Steve had to do on return was to top up the fresh water tanks.

After a busy afternoon, poor Ba was suffering a little with cramps in her groin,  so for the rest of the day there was the requirement for health-giving cups of tea while she perched on the sofa in the wheelhouse.   Of course,  Steves  poor finger had to be undressed, inspected and re-dressed prior to rest.

Overnight Chatillon-Coligny  47 49.123N   002 50.643E

Thursday 2 August 2012   Rogny les 7 Ecluses to  Chatillon-Coligny

Slower start today after last nights epic meal.   6 locks,  all down,  to Chatillon.  Arrived just after lunch and parked on a long wall in the town.  Just as well we arrived early;   3 big privately owned barges slunk by,  looking at us as if to say  ‘B*****er off and let us in.’  We gave them a stiff ignoring,  in a nice way.

Overnight Chatillon-Coligny  47 49.123N   002 50.643E

Wednesday 1 August 2012  – Ouzouer sur Trezer to Rogny les 7 Ecluses  – Judith’s birthday

Sunny day,  did 12 locks today,  6 up, 6 down,  arriving at Rogny late afternoon.    As you come around the corner in the canal to the last lock into the town,  over your starboard shoulder you see the old  7 level staircase lock that is now a monument to French engineering.  Fascinating, because one can see a lock with no water in it and for the uninitiated,  it describes just how a lock works.  Took lots of pics.    OUCH!!!!!  In the last lock, Steve leapt off to help Billow with her lines,  caught his wedding ring on the thread end of a bolt (covered in tape to stop this sort of event) and the ring sliced into his finger, right into the muscle,  buckling the ring in the process.   Once Billow was alongside some smart work with hacksaw, side-cutters and snipe-nosed pliers and the offending ring was now a ‘curve’.  Barbara then did her medical thing, cleaning it up and checking the damage.  Once happy that it should heal,  she applied some ‘there-there’ cream and medical masking tape.   Ring finger now on light duties until further notice.  S’funny;  no-one seems to be wearing rings now.

The old 7 step lock system

Some info

Judith found a nice restaurant in which to celebrate her birthday with dinner.   Steve was then tasked to call the restaurant and book the table.   Excellent dinner,   great company,  food coma followed.

Celebrating Judiths birthday

The restaurant. We challenge anyone to find it in Rogny les Sept Ecluses. We have no idea how Judith found it.

Overnight Rogny les 7 Ecluses 47 4.772N  002 52.857E

Tuesday 31 July 2012 – Briare to Ouzouer sur Trezer

Judith and Robert’s 40th wedding anniversary (they kept that quiet!!)

Discovered another halt, away along the canal from the commercial port,  and Billow was moored there.   We took WM along to explore with the possible view of staying another night.  Shock-horror deux,   the charge for this halt was the same as for the port.  No power or water but for your 11 euros you got  stinging nettles and dog merde!  Not thanks!   After helping Robert collect and install a new engine battery, we decided to depart.

Arrived at Ouzouer sur Treze around mid afternoon in brilliant sunshine to find 2 perfect parking slots for Billow and Wight Mistress,  free and with power and water.   A quick recce of the small town found one pub  (a gay bar)  open.  After dinner we decided to wander in and have a look.  Arrived at the bar and were invited to use the ‘terrasse’  a pretty little courtyard around the side of the bar.    ‘Queen playing  ‘Lover Boy’  at a million decibels,  not exactly subtle but they did turn it right down so we could here our own voices.   The manager served us.  Lovely chap called Stefan,  who couldn’t have been more helpful.  Stayed there for the evening.

WM at Ouzouer sur Treze

Overnight Ouzouer sur Trezer  47 40.217N  002 48.632E

Monday 30 July 2012 – Belville sur Loire to Briare

Weather broke today,  cold and rainy until after we reached Briare.  The ‘pont-canal’ carrying the canal over the Loire,   runs to just under 700 metres and is beautifully kept.   Steve video’d the crossing but sadly the waterproof camera ended up with lots of droplets on the lens.   Hey ho.

The 699-odd metre long pont-canal (bridge carrying the canal de Briare over the River)

The bridge – a Wight Mistress eye-view

Making passage

Wandered into the town to look around.  Actually quite pretty,  with the old parts of the previous canal now used as a harbour (a bit too shallow for  Wight Mistress, so we stayed alongside in the commercial port.   Shock – horror,  11 euros a night to stay here.  Still, at least we had enough depth to park straight, plus power and water.

one of the beautiful scenes around Briare

Overnight Briare   47 38.061N  002 44.429E

Sunday 29 July 2012 – Belville sur Loire

More of the same.   Weather brilliant.

Overnight Belville sur Loire 47 30.354N 002 51.198E

Saturday 28 July – Belville sur Loire

Quiet day on the halt, doing a bit of maintenance and chilling out.

Overnight Belville sur Loire 47 30.354N 002 51.198E

Friday 27 July 2012 – Lere to Belville sur Loire

About 3 km away are two enormous cooling towers for the pair of pressure water reactors at Belville.    These plants provide about 4% of Frances electricity supply and the cooling is provided by the Loire,  which goes up a degree or so as a result.  The visitor centre was fascinating.   Sadly, since 911,  visits to the actual plant are severely restricted.   Just on more thing ruined by inconsiderate ‘heroes’  fighting for what they believe in (or what they can be paid for).   Got the Cob BBQs out and had a smashing evening al fresco.

The young eclusier at Belville is an idiot.   He seems to like seeing just how fast he can flush all the water out of his lock,  regardless of the effect on boats moored nearby.  In addition,  he was rude, surly and generally uncooperative,  so much so that Steve feels like penning a letter to the head office of the VNF about him.   Having chatted with other boaters about him,  stories have come out about him spanning a couple of years and none were good.

Overnight Belville sur Loire 47 30.354N 002 51.198E

Thursday 26 July 2012 – Menetreole to Lere

Stopped at a funny halt,  a bit like a watery layby the size of a supermarket carpark.   Next to it was the communal wheat storage.  With the harvest going flat out, tractor after tractor pulling trailers piled high with grain came past to deposit their loads.   Apart from that,  a lovely sunny evening and great facilities.  Wandered off into the pretty village (yes, another one) for the evening.

Overnight Lere   47 28.435N   002 52.511E

Wednesday 25 July 2012 – Menetreole sous Sancerre

Did the bike ride up the hill to Sancerre.  Thank God for battery power – we were all the way up there (about 4 km from Menetreole) in around 15 minutes.  Of course, we were pedaling as well but the battery power did make easy work of the ride.   Sancerre is a pretty small town perched on the top of a hill, with all the history you would expect of a wine making area.  Lots of lovely old buildings and little alleyways and bright sunshine as well.  Bought a case of varying wines of the region to bring home and enjoy.   Coasted back down to Wight Mistress in no time flat.

Sancerre as seen from the bottom of the hill.

This evening we decided to eat in the auberge again,  which is where we met up with a chap called Pierre.  His English was much worse then our French so we spent the evening locked in conversation francais.   Invited up to his house for coffee after our repas,   Veronique (the lady owner of the restaurant) advised us to take a torch.   Just as well;  at 2300 all the street lamps are turned off and with no moon and a bit of cloud cover,  and no large towns anywhere nearby,  all of a sudden we were completely in the black.  Around 0100 we left Pierre’s place, after enjoying some rose,  coffee and some great Eagles and Fleetwood Mac music. Our little torch then did us proud, as we wound our way back to Wight Mistress.

Overnight Menetreole sous Sancerre   47 19.104 N  002 51.441E

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Tuesday 24 July 2012, an internet connection again!!!

Tuesday 24 July 2012 – nowhere in particular to  Menetreole sous Sancerre.

We have noticed in our travels that all the holiday boaters seem to want to stop after about 3pm,  hurriedly and manically looking for berths.  The wise traveller, therefore, departs early and stops early to avoid the rush.   We slipped from our beautiful,  tree-lined avenue in the middle of nowhere at about 1000 and were alongside at Menetreole sous Sancerre in time for a plat du jour in the local auberge,  a wander through the village and then once the heat of the day had dissipated a teeny weeny bit,  we landed les velos et le remorque (trailer) and did the shopping.   Very conveniently,  the local auberge has le weefee,  hence us sitting here in the ‘cool’ of the evening,  enjoying a beer/wine and using the internet.

Tomorrow we are going to cycle up the steep hill,  past the vinyards, the 3 km to the village of Sancerre,  where the really lovely Sancerre white wines come from.  Has to be done really.

Overnight Memetreole sous Sancerre   47 19.104 N  002 51.441E

Monday 23 July 2012 Cours le Barres to nowhere in particular (green bank)

Quite a long day today.  We covered 30 km and 8 locks today.  We had,  you will remember dear reader,  decided to slow everything down and take our time.  After our long break at Decize,  sojourn on Billow and a generally lazy time since Auxonne,  we thought we would have a go and see what it was like last year.   Don’t think we will do that again – we were knackered (a bit).   We were actually aiming to get to Menetreole sous Sancerre and ran out of steam about 2 locks and  7.5 km short of target but what the hey.  While sat resting after our epic voyage,  Steve spotted a pretty ginger coloured otter hop out of the canal and bound across the grass into a ditch.  By the time the camera swung into action,  it was gone, dammmmit!!!

A beautiful avenue on the canal at ‘Nowhere in Particular’

Spikes in,   dinner,  game of squabble and bed.

Overnight nowhere in particular  47 15.931N 002 55.462E

Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 July 2012 – Guetin to Cours le Barres

Power and water available here so we stopped for the weekend and did some maintenance,  laundry etc.  Met an Australian couple, Ian and Jill on another beautiful Dutch barge (hull,  100 years old) that had been completely refurbished and would put a stately home to shame.

Cours les Barres

Overnight Cours le Barres   47 01.543N   003 01.987E

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday 20 July 2012 – Plagny t0 Guetin (green bank)

An interesting if short trip today.   There is a wide part of the canal that is supposed to have a buoyed channel showing the ‘deep’ bits.  Guess who found the shallow bit.  Yep.   Full power astern for a few minutes and we managed to unstick,  however for a little while we were wondering if we would have to throw a heaving line at some itinerant walkers and ask for a bit of heave ho.   Thing is,  they would only be able to pull us on harder.    Anyway,  we managed to free ourselves and just around the corner  we found another green bank halt,  where we put the spikes in and stopped.   After the rain stopped,  we landed les velos and cycled off to find  the little village of Apremont,   noted as one of the prettiest villages in France.

Green bank near the Guetin double lock and canal bridge (another ‘spikes in stop’)

Monsieur le Castor in the old branch canal

A little further along the canal is a small branch canal (now closed to navigation and teeming with ‘les castors’  (beavers).  This branch canal leads to a circular lock.  ‘How does this work?’ you might well ask.   Actually if you think of it as a clock face, the branch comes in at 6 o’clock.   At 8 o’clock is the other gate that lets barges in from the river, just below a barrage.   The barges used to carry sand.  Water is then fed in from above the barrage level into a sluice at 10 o’clock to lift the barge to the canal level after which, off it goes along the canal.  While the lock is no longer used for this purpose, it is in lovely condition and it is also used to feed water from the river in to the canal system.

How it works

 

The circular lock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bit further down,  we cycled in to Apremont,  which really is a very beautiful and well kept village.    A good look round, lots of pictures,  a quick refreshment and then a cycle back to Wight Mistress rounded off a lovely day.

OK, so it’s called Apremont!!!

 

Pretty village

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overnight Guetin  46 56.578N  003 04.647E

Thursday 19 July 2012  Chevenon to Plagny

We have been fighting with our domestic battery bank for a couple of years (since we accidentally flattened it completely by leaving the fridge switched to ‘battery’,  the shore supply tripping out and the bank dying as a result.)   We had been thinking about replacing them more and more.   In fact Steve had been measuring voltages and playing with shore power/Harry the Honda (generator) /engine revs etc etc for a few days since being on shore power at Decize.  This is where the Law of Attraction meets Insight One of the Mayan Prophecies (coincidences).   We wandered ashore at Plagny to ditch the gash and have a look around.   The town of Nevers is about 4km away and we thought that perhaps a battery place might just exist – who knows?   Anyway,  we came across a little bar tabac and in we went to check for baguettes (depot de pain) and so,   having a beer as well.   We met up with Florent and Jimmy in the bar and just happened to ask about batteries.  Florent whipped out his phone and within 30 seconds,  Simon,  who owns a shop that sells,  among other things,  batteries.  Simon came onboard, looked at the problem, proposed a solution,  took Steve to his shop,  sorted out new batteries and even delivered them right into the engine room.  All Steve then had to do was hook them up.  Magic!!!! And a good price too.

After the excitement of a Celestine Prophecy coming true, we hopped on les velos electriques and cycled up to Nevers for a look around.   The cathedral had been bombed to bits in WW2 by the Allies and after rebuild, sports some very interesting (yet ugly) modern church windows.   A bit Picasso’esque and in modern splashy colours;  chaque un a son gout.   Rest of the town is very pretty.  The port at Nevers is too shallow for Wight Mistress but we cycled down there to see Billow,  who also did a bit of bottom ploughing to get in there.     We had a cup of tea with them and then cycled back to Plagny along the branch canal from Nevers to the Canal Lateral a la Loire, making a round trip of about 10 – 12 km.

Overnight Plagny  46 57.119N  003 09.719E

Wednesday 18 July 2012 – Fleury to Chevenon  DAY 50

Day 50 since we left Auxonne.   Gone in a flash or what??   It has been a really fun ride so far and we still have 3 ½ months before we have to think about stopping for the winter.   Arrived at Chevenon mid afternoon and moored on a halte with mooring rings for the evening,   getting out the cob BBQs and having a very pleasant sunny evening  repas.    Went for a wander into the village (all closed of course) in the evening sunshine.  There is a large-ish chateau here but it is very well hidden from practically every angle.  Clever chaps these French ‘Aristo’s’.

 

 

Overnight Chevenon   46 55.479N   003 14.217E

Tuesday 17 July 2012 – Decize to Fleury

Sort of retracing our steps a bit.  We left Billow at Decize as they were still sorting themselves out,  agreeing to meet up with them at Fleury.  Seemed a bit stranged getting Wight Mistress under way again but we were very soon back in the swing of things.  Billow arrived about 3 hours or so later, rafting up on the outside of David and Mary’s Dutch barge  Vrouw Hendrika,  whose hull is 100 years old.   There are many, many Dutch barges of this sort of age in the waterways and lots of them have been lovingly restored so that if you went aboard, you would honestly feel you were in a house or on a cruise liner – they are lovely  (not for us, yet!! – we have some serious sailing to get into once we are lulled out of this idyllic way of life.)    We ate ashore with Robert and Judith,   and Roberts brother Derek and his wife Sue, in Erve’s  little canal-side bar and  chatted until after dark.

Overnight Fleury  46 50.160N  003 19.321E

Monday 16 July 2012 – Decize

Spent the day sorting out the boat and all our stuff and generally settled back onboard.   Wight Mistress will be getting under way again for the first time tomorrow, since we arrived in Decize on Monday 25 June.   3 weeks!!!!

Sunday 15 July 2012 – aboard Billow –  Fleury to Decize

Bit of a late start after quite a long night last night.  This afternoon we headed back to Decize  and decanted back aboard our lovely Wight Mistress again.   Robert’s brother Derek and his wife Sue are due to arrive tomorrow so this gives Judith plenty of time to get Billow turned around and ready.   Had dinner onboard with Robert and Judith and retired fairly early.

Saturday 14 July 2012 –  aboard Billow – Decize to Fleury

This morning saw frenetic activity on the halt,  with an enormous fridge arriving on the back of a hay trailer and half a dozen locals man-handling it into position by the outside bar, set up for this evening.    Marquees set up all around the little bar and PA system,  dance floors etc all being prepared for tonight

Festivities kicked off early in the evening with the usual accordion player and singer,   joined later by yet another accordion player.   The dancing was fun and the ‘repas’  plentiful,  with saucisson,  merguer  and andouillette (all different types of sausage),  bread and wine a plenty.  We danced until quite late.   Of course, it rained quite have throughout the evening, however us Brits had a

Friday 13  July 2012 –  aboard  Billow – Nivernais to Decize

Gentle locking out of the Nivernais, across the Loire to lock in to Decize again.  A bit rainy today.     We came close to Wight Mistress and  dropped off a piece of  piping that Steve found (typical squirrel)  and then headed off to the other end of the port to lock up on to the Canal Lateral a la Loire.   Of course, we arrived at the pull chord just in time for the lights to go off for Monsieur l’eclusier’s  lunch break.    Managed to get through just after lunch and headed up to Fleury for a break at a lovely little port, where we decided to stay the weekend and enjoy the Bastille Day celebrations on Saturday 14 July.

Thursday 12 July 2012 – aboard Billow –  Cercy la Tour

Bit of a late start today, we departed to head north to Pannecot.  Exited the first lock and as we passed the end of the mooring just north of the lock, started to plough.   Backed down into the wider bit and turned round, returning into the lock in time for the eclusier to have her lunch.   Pleasant wait at a picnic table, overlooking the river Aron.   Decision is to stop at the halt just before the end of the Nivernais and pop into Carrefour for groceries,  then head back across the Loire to the port at Decize and lock up on to the Canal Lateral a la Loire and bimble north to Fleury for the night.   We have to remember that the canal system is closed on Saturday 14 July (Bastille Day) and that the Friday and the Sunday both are possibly a bit dodgy as well, as this is pretty much the biggest celebration on the French calendar.   What actually happened was that we headed down to the Carrefour halt,  then continued after a short stop to the a halt just before the end of the Canal du Nivernais,  where a barge was not on its private berth.  Stopped there for the night.

Wednesday 11 July 2012 – Joined Billow

Decize – Canal du Nivernais – Cercy la Tour

Joined Billow this morning and just before the lock lunch hour, departed through the lock down on to the Loire and across to the entrance to the Canal du Nivernais.    Managed to lasso a bollard about a hundred miles in from the bank and stop for lunch while waiting for the eclusier to finish his.    A pretty girl arrived shortly after 1300 and locked us in.   We confirmed with the actual eclusier that there is sufficient water depth to get us to Cercy la Tour, then continued our merry way.   A few small locks and some narrow, very low bridges to negotiate and we arrived at Cercy about 4 hours later.   Robert used the upper deck conning position for the first time and it works well, being on the centre line and with good alround visibility.   Judith had a bit of helming and engine steering practice, culminating in a perfect locking and passing through the final protective lock on to the River Aron at Cercy.

Pretty town, we went for a stroll and took pictures, ending up at a little bar (the only one in town that was open) to meet some of the locals and have a chat and a beer.

Tuesday 10 July 2012 – Decize

Plan for the next week is for us to join Billow and head off up the Nivernais, returning to Decize next Monday.  Robert’s brother Derek joins them then and we will probably cruise in company further north on the Canal Lateral a la Loire.

Gloriously sunny and warm again after a few days of ‘orage fest’.   We hear England is basking in nothing but downpours.   We hope the summer happens soon.

Monday 9 July – Decize

Opened up Billow’s hatches, doors and windows to give her an airing.   Robert and Judith arrived back this evening to Barbara treating them to a delicious curry and a lovely dessert that she made out of Delice de Bourgogne cheese and some fresh cherries that she softened and mixed with a really outstanding home-made sauce.  Ba truly is the best cook in the whole wide world.  Sat and chatted into the wee small hours.

Sunday 8 July 2012 – Decize

Went for a walk this afternoon, across the bridge over the Loire then hung a right and walked along the other side.  This walk is a big loop that takes you out around the edge of the town and back in at the other side,  by the next bridge over the Old Loire.  Cool and a little overcast,  it was a very pleasant jaunt and gave a good view of the lock exit out on to the River Loire from the cross canal that links the Canal Lateral a la Loire and the River Loire,  and from there the Canal du Nivernais.  It also forms  one edge of the port of Decize.   The exit gate where the lock lowers boats down on to the Loire, also has a protective gate outside in case the Loire goes into flood.  It has done this 3 times in recent (ish) years:  1846 (nearly 6 metres), 1866 (twice 5.3 and then nearly 6 metres), 1893 (4.7 metres), 1907 (5.2 metres) and 2003 (a mere 4.15 metres).  So we guess the locals are a bit serious about how the Loire behaves, hence the controllable barrage.  They must have some faith in the barrages effectiveness,  since there are many houses with range of a good soaking if Old Pere Loire were to get a bit uppity again.

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On the Canal du Nivernais with Robert and Judith

As you may well know, the Canal du Nivernais is a very shallow canal which Wight Mistress could never do. Robert and Judith’s boat ‘Billow’ only draws 1.2 metres and they kindly offered for us to accompany them for a few days. We arrived at Cercy La Tour yesterday after a 4 hour ‘voyage’ from Decize, crossing the Loire and into the Canal. Beautiful day, bright and sunny and a pleasant trip. Will do pictures as soon as I can

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Saturday Evening – at le Restaurant du Port and an orage’y night

This evening we had a table reserved at ‘le Restaurant du Port’, the local bar/restaurant here on the edge of the marina.   After an industrious day it was pleasant to ‘scrub up’ and go ashore.   Ba wore one of her really pretty strappy pink dresses and a new necklace, which she had just finished,  matching the frock perfectly (of course).  She looked lovely.

New necklace to go with pretty frock

The people who run le Restaurant are very pleasant and speak virtually no English at all, which is great for us as we want to practice our French.   Having drank here a number of times, it was only this evening that we realized what a good restaurant it is as well.   The food was lovely, the service excellent and the prices were fair,  with an interesting selection of  prix fixe and a la carte menus.  Sharing a similar type of location to our ‘Breeze’ in Island Harbour,  le Restaurant du Port is a shining example of how good service  and quality food at the right price can make such a place successful. They were turning people away all evening because they were fully booked, so it was an unwitting stroke of genius that we reserved our table 24 hours in advance.  Feeling quite replete, we strolled back to Wight Mistress in the evening sun to attempt to watch a movie.  Food coma stopped play.

Woken in middle of night to another ‘orage’ ,  dashed around WM shutting hatches and scuttles and doors etc to keep the wet stuff out of the people tank.   Took a while to get back to sleep;  les  orages are quite noisy but the sound and light show that went with it was very entertaining – even though closed eyes and from under a pillow.

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Saturday 7 July 2012 – Decize

Out came Wandah again today and some more washing done. A bit of time spent oiling and adjusting the bike gears to make them work properly. After a short visit to ‘Intermarche’ we had a quiet afternoon, reading and blogging etc.
Friday 6 July 2012 – Decize

MANY CONGRATULATIONS TO LOUISE AND MARK ON THE BIRTH OF THEIR BABY BOY NOAH  AND MUCH LOVE TO NOAH’S BIG BROTHER JOE XXXXX

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO AMANDA  – WOW, WHAT A DAY THIS IS! XXXX

Steve spent the day sorting out electrics and Ba put some great time in doing the wood trim around the boat with Teak oil – looks lovely, so does the wood 🙂

Ba working on her woodwork in the sunshine

This evening we observed a heron fishing for his supper  on the bank of the link canal/marina.  Seems like he sticks his head in the water, spears his catch,  pulls it out, shakes it violently,  throws it on the ground and stabs it a lot, then picks it up,  washes it off in the canal,  turns it fore and aft and swallows it whole.  Like this:

The Look

The spear

The catch

OK now what do I do with it?

Shake it about a bit

Dunk it in the canal to wash off all the grassy bits

Shake it dry

Line up fore and aft

And swallow

We went for a walk along the bank where Monsieur l’Heron had been fishing, to find it littered with catfish heads.   Seems M L’Heron doesn’t like eating fish with the head on.  Well,  who does?

Beautiful path along the side of the cross-canal/marina, just above where the Heron was fishing.

View of Wight Mistress from the path

Thursday 5 July 2012 – Decize
Poured with rain all day. So hard that the raindrops were actually bouncing off the water.

Raindrops bouncing off the water

Not too unusual, since we are in a weather pattern where we have 5 days or so of blistering sunshine and increasing humidity, followed by an ‘orage’ and a couple of days of rain and then back to sunshine again. Lovely really. Finished the day off at our local hostelry and a couple of cold ones.

It started to feel quite chilly so Steve asked the lady behind the bar if it was ok to shut the door. Big sigh of relief and a ‘merci beaucoup’ from the couple sat at the table nearest the door – she was freezing.

Wednesday 4 July 2012 – Decize

Went for a cycle ride in the sunshine, along the Canal Lateral a la Loire northwards. Sadly Steve’s bike suffered a puncture so it was a gentle stroll back and then back onboard for puncture fixing. Actually we have decided that if we have a puncture, patching is merely a temporary fix. It is more reliable just to replace the tube complete.  Lovely thing to see today was Mrs  Canard and her brood, who came over from their hide in the bushes to say hello.

Mme La Canard and her brood

Tuesday 3 July 2012 – Decize
One of the lovely things about living aboard and living a slower pace of life is that there is time to do things. Time to chase wiring runs and learn about the boat, time to fix things that were once niggling.

Monday 2 July 2012 – Decize
Quiet day, doing some cleaning and laundry and generally getting over the aches and pains of a 25 km cycle ride yesterday. Did a bit of maintenance on the bikes.

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Contact information

Hi All, just a quick message. Vodafone has screwed us a bit with their Passport. I won’t go into details but we are trying to get on to their Euro Traveller which will allow us a day at a time using the phone as if we are in UK for £3. In addition, WHEN they let us on, incoming calls from you will not cost us anything and for you it will be just like calling us when we are in UK.
We will probably pick one day a week for making calls home but will be available to receive calls the rest of the time (same applies for texts)
Will keep you posted

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