Dawdling around Decize

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Well we arrived in Decize on 9th Sept & spent a couple of nights on the river mooring by the old town in glorious sunshine and then moved into the recently done up port when the weather was due to change for the worst. I washed everything in sight on Friday before the rains came over the weekend.

We stayed in the new port last year and were impressed with the high tech security. This year they seemed to have lowered their prices so as to encourage more boaters so it really is very reasonable now – 9 euros a day inc water & electric.

On Wednesday Adrian decided we should go out to dinner and hunted on Trip Advisor for a suitable establishment. He found a little place just outside of town that seemed to have great reviews. He booked it and orf we jolly well went. Took a while to find the place but eventually we drove down a little track off the road and found Collette’s house cum restaurant. And what a find it was!

‘Raboliot’ – Poacher – is named after the novel of the same name by Maurice Genevoix a local author. It fronts onto the Canal Laterale a la Loire so it is possible to moor up and dine out!

The menu is simple – no choices to make – just whatever she is cooking that evening! For us it was charcuterie, omelette, cheese followed by pineapple upside down cake! We started off out under the trees but moved indoors as the evening cooled.

There we got talking to a french couple – M & Mme Robert – delightful couple and he has a very drole sense of hunour! They are regulars at Raboliot eating there at least once most weeks.

We thoroughly enjoyed our evening and were delighted to learn that Collette was hosting a jazz duo on the Friday. We contacted Bruce at Gannay and booked up for the Friday night extranvaganza…… When we arrived Sharon and Alan from Drumsara were also there so we had an extremely jolly evening – Adrian said ours was the noisiest table! There were about 40 people at the do and the weather held out so that everyone was outside enjoying the music, Collette’s buffet & chatting with all around. Beatrice and Gilbert spent quite a lot of time at our table as Beatrice just loved Chilley (Sharon and Alan’s dog. M & Mme Robert were there for a while too and so we had a glass of wine with them! M Robert showed me the large box of figs from his trees that he had brought for Collette – and I asked why he hadn’t brought us any! So, a couple of days later we had a call from M Robert and we arranged an afternoon trip back to Raboliot to collect some figs!

Another lovely sunny day so we were able to sit outside and enjoy freshly made gauffres with home made jam – fig of course!

Sharon and Alan also had a visit from Beatrice and Gilbert – so that was another very boozy event. I wasn’t too well the next day and so we didn’t go with Sharon & Alan to visit Beatrice and Gilbert’s beautiful house. Sharon brought back little peaches from their garden!

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So then, on Weds 16th we had a ‘eat up’ on Bruce’s boat as he is returning to the States at the weekend. A huge paella followed by barbecued figs and plums and peaches poached in amerretto.

 

The whole week has been superb and the catalyst was Collette & Raboliot – the atmosphere at her little restaurant is such that connections and friendships are formed. Thanks Collette!

And Bon Voyage to Bruce and Sharon & Alan!

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Gently down the Nivernais….

It’s lovely to be able to take our time down the Nivernais – a beautiful, rural canal with with changing scenery – from wooded hillsides to rolling arable fields to built up towns .

We had a bit of a delay leaving Chatillon en Bazois but then we were paired with a hire boat – having grabbed ‘our’ lock they had to wait for us at the next, and the next… We do have to approach locks rather sowly and carefully. The ecluusiers are now having to pair bots when possible because of diminishing water supplies.

We stopped at a little place called Fleury for the night – lovely little place which has certainly gone up in the world since 2009, with the old lock keeper’s cottage turned into a simple little restaurant. We believe in supporting the local economy so we ate there and then had the most wonderful starlit sky and the sound of owls.

We have seen many raptors – red kites certainly but also a buzzard and a young raptor still with fluffy feathers sitting on a fence post.

We also saw a red squirrel come to drink at the canal side then turn tail and scurry back up a tree when he saw us……… and a pair of kingfishers dart across the water at Pannecot.

Another first was a Philippines flag! Had to check that one out in my eye spy book of flags!!

Pannecot had come down in the world – the water was very silted up and weedy. Not an easy place to get in and out of especially as there were two right angled bends with the pull of the nearby weir to contend with. Amazing how easily Piedaleau is pulled off course!

But we met up with a great Aus couple on a hireboat – David and Jennie – and cruised with them for a couple of days. Cercy la Tour was a very pleasant stopover and I walked up to Our Lady of the Nivernais which dominates the skyline of the small town.

And finally we got to the end of the Nivernais and arrived at Decize – what a relief! We have managed the twists and turns, the narrow locks, narrow and low bridges and the lifting bridges that didn’t quite lift…… What’s interesting is that the low bridges marked were not really the most difficult – others that were really, really low had no warning at all! Still we got through this beautiful canal……

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We  moored on the Loire at the foot of the old town with a couple of other barges – made Piedaleau look small! And if we thought we had difficulty getting through some of those locks and bridges then this 20m peniche was severely challenged – they had to fully dismantle her wheelhouse and  she left quite a lot of paint on the lock walls as she could hardly squeeze through (5.03m wide). This morning Adrian and Alan ( from another barge) helped to lift her side panel back into position – took ages for them to put her back together gain !

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2015 – part 2

We spent a rather hectic August back home in Buckden – seeing the kids, grandkid, other family and friends. We did lots of exciting things – theatre, London Eye, museums, farewell party on the meadow (saying bye bye to Trish who is moving away from the Old Flour Mills) to name but a few.

And then suddenly it was time to head back to France, Piedaleau and our ‘other’ life.

So, on Weds 2nd, after a very early start (2.30am to be precise!), followed by a return home 10 mins later to collect our french motorway ‘clicker’ which was in my car but we had decided to take Adrian’s! Senior moments are us! For those of you who don’t know about this little gizmo it really is great – you attach it to your car windscreen, then when you approach the barrier at a toll booth on french motorway it magically raises in front of you! No queuing or having to reach over to the machine, or even sometimes getting out and walking around to the other side of the car cos you’re in a right hand drive car ………the only downside is the monthly bill! But I is so much quicker and easier. So we couldn’t come to France without it……

Luckily our little detour did not cause us to miss our 5.45 chunnel booking.

We took turns driving and zzzzing our way down through France and around the Paris peripherique and arrived at Baye around 3.00pm.

Then we unpacked and looked about……..

And what did I spot? A Sheerline 955 coming towards us!!!!

Got out me binoculars to check I wasn’t seeing things and then said hello to Ilona and her crew!

They were heading towards the tunnels, so going in the opposite direction to us, and invited us to join them for a drink on the other side of the tunnels. So, an hour or so later we drove over to meet Richard and Fiona.

We had actually seen them in April ….. luckily I don’t think they heard what I said at the time…… ‘my other boat’s a Sheerline’! Adrian was mortified at the time! But I can’t say that anymore….

Apparently they had seen photos of Misty Morning on Sheerline’s website and had tried to contact me before they brought their boat over  but without success, as no one would give them my details even though I’d told Gary at Sheerline that I would be pleased to be in contact with other Sheerline owners over here.

We had a most enjoyable drinkie poo and then Adrian and I went to the local restaurant, as we were beyond cooking after our long day.

So we stayed Thurs and Friday at Baye, recovering from the journey and doing various little jobs…. we put up Tom’s clock and barometer from Misty Morning and the water colour that Peter Shipley did of Misty Morning at Chatillon en Bazois. Lovely to have mementos of Misty Morning on Piedaleau.

We left Baye on Saturday 5th September on a calm, if overcast morning and headed down the Canal du Nivernais. One of our early challenges was the very low bridge at PK62 – marked as height restriction of 2.7m. We had driven down to check it out whilst we were in Migennes, so we knew the 2.7m was at the sides and that, provided we kept to the middle we would be alright. We did and we were – a celebratory cheer went up.

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Our second eclusier asked if we would like to hear some music while the lock was emptying……. he picked up his hurdy gurdy machine and played for us. A delightful first!

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And tonight we are moored at Chatillon-en-Bazois and I have taken Piedaleau’s photo in front of the chateau for posterity’s sake.

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Bye bye Misty Morning

A brief post just to let you know that Misty Morning has been sold and is now on the Thames. I think she may keep her name, which I am pleased about.

I hope her new owners have as much fun and adventure on her  as I have had. I know many of you have also had good times on her and wish her (and them) well!

Thanks to all my family and friends who joined me over the 6 summers Misty Morning & I spent in France.  We had some challenges …. but it really has been brilliant!

If you see her give her a wave!

 

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Veselay

I never go around to doing a post about Veselay as the wifi connections have been very poor a lot of the time, so I thought I’d just attach some photos as it is such a beautiful place.

Stats

Over the last 3 months ………

Engine hrs – 151

Canals – Bourgogne & Nivernais

Kms – 371

Ecluses – 276

Tempers – frayed

Kiwis met – 17

Bottles – too many to count!

 

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Purple Loosestrife decorating the canal banks

Have you seen the Muffin Man?

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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

Pride comes before …….

a squished thumb!

We finally left Clamecy on Sunday 19th – somehow we had stayed a week. But time to move on again if we are to fulfil our pressing schedule.

We stopped at Villiers sur Yonne, Tannay then Chitry les Mines. Adrian is still doing his daily cycle ride to bring the car along with us so we are a bit limited regarding distance travelled each day. But also the heat continues, it gets well over 30*c most days, making lots of locks exhausting. And now we have a new obstacle to negotiate in the form of lifting bridges. These are dotted long the canal & are self operated – mostly electrified, so you just have to press buttons, but some manual, so you have to wind or turn a wheel. We were warned that some do not go vertical which makes getting through with this wide boat with high sides interesting, particularly when the wind decides to get up at just the wrong moment. But we did, of course, attach a side rail height marker pole in preparation for this little blighters. Unfortunately everyone of these bridges have lifted on the opposite side, so a fat lot of good that has been!

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Not that we think the fates are having a good laugh at our expense or anything – we’re not paranoid at all!

Yesterday Adrian fitted another kiddie’s fishing rod as a starboard rail marker. Now, surely, we are fully covered.

We went to visit the Chateau here at Chitry which, although not usually open to the public, can be arranged privately. We went with Chris, Caroline, David and Glenda on board ‘Bon Viveur’ and another couple of brits also in port. It was a lovely visit, we were shown around by the housekeeper as the family still use the chateau as their summer residence. Monsieur et Madame ‘Knobbe’ took themselves out when we arrived.

The chateau has been in existence for hundreds of years, sitting on a sheer rock above the river Yonne. As often happens there is an eclectic mix of old and new. 17Th and 18th century tapestries and furniture interspersed with modern sofas and tv controls. Very much an occupied, living chateau and home.

In the evening we drove up to Baye where Steven and Truss had arrived with their new boat. We met them in St Jean when they first came over boat-hunting earlier this year. They have had a bit of a run around finding the right boat but are now very pleased with their ex-Nichols hire boat. It suits them well for their new phase of boating having had sail boats and a catamaran for many years. They regaled us with fascinating stories of their years sailing round the world. Really admire them.

The local village annual get-together was taking place right in front of their boat at the port in Baye. It seemed to consist of food, more food and music. Truus and I bought jams and macarons; Adrian and Steven bought beer, dinner ….. and more beer!

This morning we waved goodbye to Bon Viveur – that crew certainly has good taste as Caroline seems to have fallen for Piedaleau big time. So much so that she googled ‘Piedaleau’ and found my blog! As has Muriel, french lady on ‘Chimuda’ who greeted me with ‘…. you put a picture of my boat on your blog!’ (they were the boat that was moved along a bit at Clamecy when the hotel peniche was doing a u-turn!) I didn’t realise others could access my blog in this way – I may have to take care about what I say in future……. nah! Truus reckons that would be a shame, so I won’t!

So what happened to your thumb, I hear you all ask.

Well ……. after Bon Viveur left this morning we were waiting for a couple of boats to come down before the lock would be ready for us and generally getting everything ready for the orf. We have to lower the canopy and I was just thinking that we finally had it off pat – looking professional to the coffee drinking group at the cafe – when squish – the framework got my thumb! Bloody sore I can tell you.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, we took a little trip up to the hospital at Clamecy to have it checked ‘cos it is soooo sore and swollen. But its ok, nothing broken, just well squished. So it is bandaged up to support and protect it and the doctor said I should keep this on for 6 months ….. so that Adrian can do the washing up! Not really but it will make the 28 locks we have to do over the next few days even more challenging.

And, before you ask, no damage to the bimini…………

 

Previously I have painted word pictures of people we have met along the way. I must do one now of a German guy at Chitry. Adrian nicknamed him ‘The Blond Giant’. Never did find out his name.

He is living there whilst he works on his old and very immobile & leaky wooden tub.

I asked if he was called Noah – its that sort of tub – and he said no but his cousin is.

The tub lets in water big time and you frequently hear the bilge pump kick in and eject water +++.

He seems to spend most of the day talking about what he should do next and then only starts to actually do anything at about 8pm. He had a farmer come by with his tractor the other day to haul the tub further up the slipway so that he can reach the biggest hole in the hull and try to fill it better than the rags he stuffed into it sometime ago. Apparently he was told that adding cow hair to his mix for the hole would be good – he couldn’t find an accommodating cow so he shaved his beard off instead.

He has appropriated a corner of the car park and erected an awning for his kitchen and eating area; he sleeps in the back of his beaten up van. It seems that passing boaters offer him odd bits and pieces – a chair, a table – which he checks over carefully before accepting.

He told us that he has had the boat for over 8 years and was working on it near Sens where he tried to set up a sort of boaters’ commune – somewhere boaters could take their boats to work on themselves and camp beside it. He talked about being set upon physically by some people there and that his boat was burnt. So he has had to start all over again. Another boat towed the tub up to Chitry. He has a friend with him who thinks he should just forget the tub!

A gentle giant if ever there was one – he was so concerned about my accident with my thumb – said he saw it happen but couldn’t get to us to help in time.

I wonder if he will ever get the tub to float again…….

 

Clamecy

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We arrived in Clamecy on Sat 11th July – a day early as we declined to stop at Coulanges. We had a couple of ‘inetresting’ manouevres to complete on this stretch. At one point the canal crosses the river Yonne. Not by bridge or aquaduct, you understand, the waters just cross with a weir on one side and the lock entrance straight ahead. Adrian has learnt to go v e r y slowly when entering locks but he couldn’t here because of the current which wants to take you to the weir and away from the lock entrance. Fun!                                                                                                                                                    There is also a very narrow, right angled entrance to the river section just along from Clamecy. More fun! Slightly frayed nerves by the time we arrived.

But we got there – the little port was full but we moored on the opposite bank and sussed out the other boats so we would know who was moving when. Sunday morning saw us up early and ready to jump into a space being vacated by an American couple. Good work! And our neighbours? Kiwis, of course!!

We then met a British couple on a wide beam narrow boat – Lazybones – and just seemed to chat and chat and chat. we all felt it was unfortunate that they had to leave as we got on so well. They had to get to Auxerre to take their tortoise to the vet to be checked over before going home for a spell.

Sunday was my birthday so Adrian put my beautiful mirror (art deco style made by a stained glass maker in Auxerre) and we watched the men’s tennis final with a glass of Cremant from Bailey. Then out to dinner in the evening where they put a candle in my dessert and gave us a glass of champagne to finish.

On Monday Adrian had a long cycle ride (23 kms) to go and fetch the car again. Then in the evening several of the boaters went to a jazz / folk aperitif concert in a yoart. Yep! that’s what I said, a yoart.

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It was absolutely fabulous, a really fun event. 3 musicians playing a variety of instruments and generally having fun with the audience – about 20 people. One song had me a little perplexed until I realised that they were singing about a Harley Davidson –  very strange pronounciation in french! Everyone was enjoying he music so much they just kept on playing and it turned into a party with everyone chatting, singing along & many dancing.

Every morning there is a lot of movement in a port like this as boats leave. But not on the 14th July, Bastille Day. The locks are closed for the day so everyone has to stay put. It was quite bizarre not hearing boats starting up and setting off – so quiet. The port was completely full and people were going and coming all day watching the various festivities in the town.
First a procession with brass band, then the ‘joutes de bateaux’ – jousting in little boats. This was scheduled to run from 2 to 6 pm but it didn’t finish til after 9pm. Then, my favourite, the fireworks. And what a show it was. We had ringside seats as the fireworks were set up across the other side of the lock. The canal was so still you could see the reflections of the fireworks. We invited a french couple and their 2 grandsons to join us so that the boys had a good view. Pablo (7 yrs) and Axel (5 yrs). Granddad works for the council and got a telephone call asking him when they should let the fireworks off! and Grandma works for the Tourist Information Office and told us of a nice restaurant out of town which we will try and go to before we leave. It was enjoyable to have them with us.

Then on 15th, before 8am, the queue for the lock started! Back to normal then.

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Thursday was predicted to be very hot (38*c) so we decided to take the french government’s advice and go somewhere with air con. We went to the museum – it has 4 floors and got progressively hotter as we went up! But we particularly wanted to see the information about the flottants and flotteurs. Bascally in the 19c Paris needed lots of wood for building and heating. The forests of the Morvan region provided it. A few posts ago I talked about the ‘train de bois’ that came through Migennes, well it started from here, from Clamecy. Wood was collected throughout the region during the winter, cut to size and piled up beside the rivers ready for the ‘flottant’ in the spring. On a given date the wood was thrown into the rivers around and channelled down towards Clamecy where it was collected and built into the ‘trains de bois’. The ‘flotteurs’ were the men who guided the trains down to Paris. They were considered to be the lowest of workers but became organised into a union of sorts. In the second half of the 19th century this practice was superceeded by other forms of transport but some traditions live on – the ‘joutes de bateaux’ on Bastille Day for example. All age groups take part – I particularly enjoyed seeing the little fellas who were held in position on the back of the boat and had the pole supported for them. Ahhh! The overall winner is called ‘Le Roi Sec’ (the dry king) ‘cos he’s the only one who never got dunked!

We took the opportunity to drive up to Veselay, a medieaval hillside village with a romanesque Basilica. I remembered visiting here in 2009 with Nadine, Henk, Bernadette, Anne and Tony but found it to be more touristified now. Full of brocante and gift type shops selling rather overpriced bits and pieces. There were 2 stained glass shops which really weren’t a patch on the one we found in Auxerre. On Friday, still suffering from the heat, we went off to the Grottes d’Arcy. These caves are privately owned and have, apparently, been passed down within the same family for hundreds of years. Unfortunately photography isn’t allowed so you’ll have to access their website if you want to learn more. Really fantastic caves with amazing stalactites, stalagmites, columns and prehistoric cave paintings. Absolutely fascinating ….. and very very cool on such a hot day. I don’t know about you guys but I can never remember which go up and which go down – well in french stalactites ‘tombent’ (fall) and stalagmites ‘mont’ (rise). How easy is that!!!

There were various events and concerts in Clamecy throughout the week. So we just stayed and stayed – saw some jazz / blues in the street, African music in the park, went to the market, watched boats come and go – including 2 hotel barges, one of which nearly got stuck doing a 3 point turn in the basin. All together we stayed a week.

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Canal du Nivernais

We left Auxerre last Tuesday morning after an extended stay in sweltering heat.

We visited another Crypt at the abbey church of St Germain. The crypt is partly Carolingian, with tombs and 11th – 13th century frescoes. We had our own personal tour of the crypt and learnt that St Germain was the first person to keep ‘relics’ and therefore is credited with starting tourism! The things you learn….

But I think I must be losing my touch! We were in Auxerre nearly a week, in sweltering heat and I never looked for a swimming pool. The day before leaving we discovered there is one just along the canal……. looked tempting but we now had to get moving so I never even got in the water.

The Canal du Nivernais was dug / built during the 18th & 19th centuries, opened in 1843 for navigation after the tunnels at La Collancelle, the summit, were built. Boats were hauled by horses, donkeys or mules. The main activity was timber floating which was carried out on all the rivers of the Morvan region up to the end of the 19th century.

Today it is a lovely canal wending its way through rolling farmland. We are now seeing that the wheat has been cut and huge rolls of hay remain in the fields. Beginning to see fields of bright yellow again – sunflowers not oil seed rape!

This canal is a bit of a challenge for Piedaleau because of the height of her side rails so we are taking great care as we approach bridges & lifting bridges. We have even gone to the length of setting up height guides using kiddies fishing rods. We are as ready as we can be (we hope!).

The first night we stopped at Bailey but refrained from buying any more Cremant. We did, however, return to Irancy for lunch at La Soufflot and buy another half dozen bottles of the red from the cave next door.

We then went on to Vermenton which is along a side channel off the main canal. This is where I hired a boat in 2008, with Frankie, Greg and Mary, to test out if I thought I could manage Misty Morning here. I then returned with Nadine in 2009 and I remember we experienced an amazing electric storm – watched it ll around the mooring basin from the top of a hire boat listening to The War of the Worlds and Richard Burton’s velvet voice. So atmospheric …. until the rain started and we all ran for cover! The mooring basin appears to have changed – very much quieter, although the lady in the office said this was because all the hire boats are out. Still it seems pretty empty to me. Another change is a ‘beach’ about 500m away up the river by a campsite. Unfortunately this was one of the few cool and cloudy days, so I didn’t go for a swim.

Our next scheduled stop was Pregilbert where there is a trout and salmon farm where there had been an Abbey years ago. At first it was occupied by monks and later by nuns and became so powerful and influential that the Pope limited the number of nuns to 100. During the 17th century the Mother Superior installed a canal with flowing water and stocked it with fish. The French revolution put an end to all this wealth and the Abbey was knocked down but a trout and salmon hatchery was set up in part of the grounds. I remembered buying fabulous fish there previously so Adrian and I moored up and trotted off with our shopping bag. Imagine our disappointment when we found that it was shut, under new management & the fish tanks being rebuilt but with no indication of when it will reopen! Poo and blast we cried as we defrosted some sausages for dinner.

This then brought us to the LOW bridges around Mailly-la-Ville and Mailly-le-Chateau. All our checking and planning ….. easy, no worries, got under without a problem!

We moored at Mailly-le-Chateau for the night where Frankie had marked a ‘very pretty, mooring – well she marked it but in the wrong place on the map but we found it anyway. And beautiful it was too. Behind the mooring a little river flows past and I finally had a swim! Bit like those pool machines trying to swim against the current – getting nowhere fast – but very refreshing. We were the only boat and so we slept on top of the boat under the stars (ok so we were under the bimini, under the stars) and it was fantastic. Pretty dark so the night sky was superb and the night sounds incredible. A pair of owls sounded as if they were having a terratorial battle right beside us. I mentioned before that I enjoy being moored in the centre of a city, well ‘au sauvage’ is my absolute favourite.

Onwards to Chatel Censoir for the next night. All these villages are sleepy little places with some charm but little of major comment. Previously I visited Vezelay from here but this year we will go later as we have the car with us – ie Adrian is doing his cycle rides back to where we last were in order to collect it. This means we are trying to restrict our distance to between 10 & 15 kms each day so our next stop was to be Coulanges. However when we arrived around lunchtime it was to discover a busy, messy, noisy travellers’ camp beside the port. we carried on after lunch to Clamecy.

We locked through with an young english couple on an old wooden yatch which was fun. This is their first time boating in France – they came across the channel and are heading south to the Med, hopefully.