We left Chitry on Friday, a day later than intended having wasted most of the day tending to my thumb. The bandaging only last 36hrs – too restrictive and uncomfortable. Its now turning beautiful shades of black, blue and yellow.
So onwards on Friday to Sardy-les-Epiry where we rested up for the night before the flight of 16 locks. So there I was on me oneo while Adrian was doing his daily cycle ride to collect the car, when alon comes the Muffin Man. I kid-you-not. A gentleman of a certain age came along and asked if I would like to buy some muffins! Apple muffins at that! And a guy from the dutch boat in front told me they had already tasted these delicacies and that they were very good. So, needless to say, we had apple muffins for desert! We met him the next day too at a lock along the way and he told us he comes from Nevers which is about 45 mins drive away!
The flight of 16 locks up to the tunnels at La Colencelle are fun. Lock keepers each seem to take boats through 3 locks and there are quite few students working this stretch during their holidays – we met language, dental & engineering students; both male and female. Apparently it’s not easy getting one of these holiday jobs and they only get to work either July or August. Not a bad summer job I feel, especially when you see their sun loungers and radio set out beside the lock.
We had fun with the eclusiers. They can be a bit stand-offish at first but often loosen up when they realise that we speak french. One such guy ended up pulling Adrian’s leg big time about his rope throwing skills as he was trying repeatedly to lassoo the bollards.
These locks are also fun because several of the old lock houses are now cottage industries for artists & artisans – a potter, a photographer, a stone mason etc. I bought a wine pitcher from the potter at ecluse no 14 and laughed at lock 6 where the photograher lives – they also sell honey, cord bracelets, crepes and drinks and have this weird open hippie type boat moored up – with a great big flash Mercedes parked beside. Ho hum….
So then we reached the end of the flight of 16 locks and awaited the green light to start through the tunnels at La Collencelle. The approach to the tunnels is rather Middle earth-ish or like going down the Amazon with overhanging vegetation.
There are 3 tunnels (212m; 268m & 758m). Nowhere near as long, or height restricted, as the Pouilly tunnel on the Burgundy but still challenging – especially when you go in & out of dark tunnels into blindingly bright sunshine – and when Piedaleau thinks she’s a crab, wants to go along at an angle touching both sides & doesn’t want to respond to her captain’s commands!
Still we arrived at Baye and moored up for the night on the wall overlooking the lake. A Lovely evening with sail boats across the water. And mist on the water in the morning – a misty morning does not always signify a rainy day, as I always say.
We went off to find some supplies at Corbigny and popped down to Chitry to see what was happening on the Sunday. This weekend was supposed to be the DBA (Dutch Barge Association) rally in conjunction with Les Amis du Nivernais. We were originally booked to attend but it was cancelled but a lower event was then planned by Les Amis du Nivernais. So we went along and got invited to join them for lunch. Good to get to know Muriel & Didier (Chimudi) better and interesting to talk to Ted Johnson, John and Stephanie (Ted’s son & daughter in law) who are taking over the business at Chitry as Ted tries to retire.
And finally w hen we got back to Baye we managed to meet up with Bruce whom we met last year on Rival at Menetreole near Sancerre. Unfortunately he is here to work on Rival as he is trying to sell her through Boatshed. Lovely old boat. Had fun reminiscing about our couple of days at menetreole & hope to meet up gain when we return in September.
Piedaleau is now safely moored under the watchful eye of Michel – he remembered me from 2009 when he inadvertently exacerbated my alternator problem, so I think he’ll take good care of her while we return home for a few weeks.