Well, after the stop /start of the last week we finally jumped in the very full car (how can we still have so much to bring to the boat each year?) at 3am on Weds 18th May and headed for France, with lots of audible sighs of relief & snores from whomever was in the passenger seat!
It had been an exhausting roller coaster of a week. We delayed leaving because of an offer on Adrian’s ex marital home, which his ex wife would not accept until after another booked viewing on the Saturday – we worried that this could result in losing the original offer. Thank goodness it didn’t because the Saturday viewers declined to make an offer! But, of course we had to wait until Monday to have this and the original offer confirmed!
In the meantime we went down to Hemel Hempstead to view apartments with the kids – they are very clear about their requirements and we had decided that this would also provide good rental material for the future, so at least our options were few. In fact we had 2 strong favourites, Adrian made offers on each & we were immensely relieved when the guy in New Zealand accepted quite a reduction on the first choice. So on Tuesday morning this was agreed! He has been busy with forms ever since!
On Sunday we had an evening on the deck with the neighbours to celebrate ‘things moving’. That really is one of the things I miss about home when we are away most of the summer – evenings on the deck! Impromptu gatherings on a nice evening that extend and morph into a bit of a ‘session’! But this sounds quite familiar to boaters – arrive at a mooring, meet up with other boaters and have an impromptu gathering…… hmmm.
So we headed straight for Cascarot where Elizabeth had one of her superb rooms (we slept sooo well) and one of her superb dinners awaiting us! Lots of catching up ensued. We also managed to finally meet up with Georges – French Canadian who helped me several years ago on Misty Morning, replaced the alternator with one from a farm machinery place! After which Misty would invariably head towards the bank when she saw a tractor in the fields! Georges is a bit of a legend on the French waterways – he’s an amazing boat mechanic who just enjoys doing it! We have discovered that he is known to several of our friends and helps them out when needed. Hope we can keep in touch.
We also managed to pop up to St Jean de Losne for a brief visit to Tony and Sue on their new boat and thank them for retrieving my bangles from Auckland airport ( left them in one of those tray things at security!).
So we finally arrived in Pont de Vaux (and the boat) at about 4pm on Thurs.
‘Yippee’ we cried as one!
Took ages to empty that full car! The water was filling in the boat at the same time, so no worries. And we had to dewinterise the boat – luckily we had written a list of what needed to be done from Guy’s instructions when we left – except we couldn’t quite understand it!
Took it bit by bit – which brought us to the first problem – the water system wouldn’t pressurize which turned out to be due to a problem in the front loo, a diaphragm-thingy had failed (a tiny piece of wire seems to have been the culprit) which meant that there was an open valve in the water system so it couldn’t pressurize and every time we tried it the loo would fill to overflowing! Not nice. So no loos or running water in the meantime. And no ‘badge’ available for the marina loos until Friday morning. We had to wait until Friday afternoon for Guy to find the cause and present us with that tiny piece of wire – after which he managed to ‘block’ off that front loo so we could pressurize the system and have running water and one loo working. Just a bit of a trek in the middle of the night.
‘Balderdash’ we cried as one! ……. with crossed legs!
And it was raining off and on …….. so we took ourselves into town for dinner. Decided against the Michelin starred ‘Le Raisin’ (we were dirty and grumpy) and crossed the road to ‘Le Cochon Rouge’ – a basic establishment with simple menu and unusual murals of ….. yes you’ve guessed it …… pigs! But pigs as you have never seen them before – in rather bizarre poses and garbs! Still, the food was good (even if Adrian was distracted by the large mural facing him) and there were loos!
We now have the dubious pleasure of tidying and cleaning the boat after winter – how can rain be so dirty? The covers I made for the windows have all stayed in place & several of our neighbours have commented positively on them. I’ve removed the front ones but Adrian hasn’t yet got to do the ‘gymnastics’ required to remove the ones along the sides.
The weather has improved so that I have been able to sit on the top deck for a glass of wine in the evenings. That’s when I spotted we had stowaways! The table and chairs were covered for the winter and I noticed wasps going in / out of a hole in the cover. Adrian (I decided this definitely comes under he heading of ‘man’s work’) carefully removed the cover and turned the table over to reveal a wasps’ nest. Another first!
‘Bzzzzz’ we cried as one …… with me ready to run!!!
So Adrian is now trying to source a replacement diaphragm-thingy hopefully in France so that we can get the loo issue sorted asap.
And finally I thought I’d share another boating-in-France type book which I read recently in order to avert some of my boating withdrawal symptoms. I found it better written than the average boating-in-France type book and amusing in places – On a Barge in France by Harvey Schwartz – see what you think!