I had better do a catch up of the last week or so – and what a busy time we have had too.
Saturday turns into a hot and sunny day – the temperature is climbing into the 30’s. We debate whether to move off to St Jean de Losne for the weekend – a popular water centre further down the river. David and Louisa on Tesserae have told us that it was very full when they left. Moon Dancer arrives shortly afterwards and Charlie and Marion tell us they had to breast up last night so we decided to stay on the quay enjoying free water and electricity. We are invited to join both couples on Tesserae for evening drinks so that clinches it! The following evening we do it again – this time on ‘Lena’ – a 101 year old dutch barge owned by Australians Ian and Gill.
We venture out for a short walk around Auxonne and check the local map to see what looks like a path to the river. We set out across a field which looks about right but the grass gets longer … and longer .. and soon we are waist high (again!) in grass. We spot the path we want but find there is a wide drainage ditch between us and it! More intrepid jungle trekking through brambles and nettles finally allows us to gingerly leap across a narrower part of the ditch. Sally is, by this time, stung, scratched, hot, sweaty and definitely not amused! Charles is excused navigation duties on all future walks. We board Tesserae with our bottle of bubbly and have a great evening learning all about the trials and tribulations of barge life in France – greatly outweighed by the joys. Tesserae is also a Piper barge built around the same time as Bluegum so it is good to get some hands on advice from our neighbours.
Sunday morning dawns sunny with the promise (or threat!) of even higher temperatures. A powerful engine revs up nearby and suddenly we are testing Bluegum’s ability to withstand metre high waves. Water Skiing is the culprit – and it goes on all day long. We do get used it – except when two come along together! We have air conditioning in the bedroom so we give it a try – works a treat.
As we had a decent mooring we decided to leave Bluegum moored on the quay in Auxonne for the limited time before we return to the UK – partly due to the amount of traffic and partly because we are enjoying relaxing here – it has water, electricity and nearby bars; what more could we ask for. We were a bit miffed that the Office de Tourisme charged us for the electricity for the Sunday and Monday which happened to be a French Bank Holiday meaning there should have been no charge but reckon they picked up we are novices…. we will learn.
“Perturbation de votre voyage … “
On Tuesday 9th June we take Bluegum into the H2O marina and are asked to breast her up against a big old beast named Minerva. I worry about scratching her so get the biggest bouys over to starboard but shouldn’t have worried – Charles brings her alongside like a pro and a rather good looking guy runs up to help me rope the boat – no problem.
I start to pack for our trip back to the UK when I suddenly hear ‘oh s*!t’ – what’s up I ask to which Charles replied ‘the SNCF have gone on strike and some of the trains aren’t running’. Think the sun has got to me as I don’t think its a problem; we either can travel or can’t and suggest he explores alternatives – surely they can’t be on strike for ever. I get back to packing and making lunch leaving Charles rather flustered looking for an alternative. The solution apparently is to get to Lille, via Dijon, via Paris and find a hotel for the night. So with an hour to spare we wrap up and lock up and set off on our adventure. After many hours and many train changes we get to Lille, find our hotel which is nothing to write home about but is clean and has a bed; dump our stuff and head off to the nearest restaurant as we are both hungry and thirsty. We get chatting to a couple of guys sitting near us who seem amused by Charles attempts to speak French and my ‘English’ humour – which isn’t quite so funny when you have to explain yourself. Suddenly we hear this enormous crash and feel the floor vibrate – first impressions is that a bomb has gone off but Charles tells us the gib of a crane has come loose and crashed into the train station. One of the guys suddenly yells ‘mon voiture’ and legs it towards the devastation – these French will do anything to avoid paying for their beer.
We get back into the UK on Wednesday afternoon and you would have thought we had planned it but coincidentally my brother Phil and his wife Helen were also heading up to York with my other bro Paul and his wife Shirley so we all meet at The tiger Inn for a lovely spontaneous evening – wish I hadn’t volunteered to drive.
Thursday and Friday we are grand daughter sitting as Amelie has the chickenpox – she certainly wasn’t ill and I don’t think paused for breath the entire time – we need a holiday to recover. Out walking with their dog Finn and Amelie merrily riding her bike she shouts back to me ‘Sally, do you ever play with sticky willies?’ Charles and I look at each other in horror until she points to some weeds which apparently in Scotland are called sticky willies – thank goodness for that. – not sure how I would have talked my way out of that one.
The next few days are very full: staying with Damien and Sarah on the Thursday night to celebrate his birthday,spending the evening with Simon and all the family on Friday, having lunch with Laura and Andy on Saturday afternoon, a bbq with my brothers and family on Saturday night, a trip down to Kiveton Park on Sunday to see Charles sister Ann and her hubby over from South Africa and all the relatives and then back to York. Not to mention getting our hair cut, collecting prescriptions and parcels.
Considering we don’t have a house we have an awful lot of stuff in our storage and spend the whole of Monday separating it into what we want on our boat and what is staying. The boat side seems to win but I really don’t know where it is all going to fit or for that matter whether it will fit in our friends vehicle who have kindly offered to bring it over in July. I wonder if I should tell them they may be bringing some back with them!! I really cannot wait for it to arrive though and put our stamp on Bluegum.
The highlight of our visit – sorry everyone….. is seeing Robbie Williams in Leeds on Tuesday night. I make poor old Charles stand in a queue for three hours so we can stand right at the front and it was so so worth it; we got right to the front – Ok I know I’m not a teenager but try telling my inner self that – what a performer, I could go on but suffice to say he was magnificent, excellent and well worth the sore feet.
We learn on Wednesday morning that SNCF are still on strike and you can imagine the effect that bit of news had on Mr P – I can assure you he is not a happy man and when I learn we will have to hire a car at Lille I am not a happy lady – their strike is costing us a fortune. But on a happy note we stay in London on Wednesday night with Daniel and Jonathan who spoil us rotten with champagne and a lovely meal, not to mention stimulating company – I do think birthdays get better the older you get – probably appreciate just being there for them!!!
We get back to Auxonne late on Thursday night and our first job is to find Bluegum as we have no idea where she has been moored – Charles had sent two emails to the marina to find out with no success. Anyway we find her and the first thing we notice is that she is not hooked up to the electricity – now that is a bummer as I discover the fridge and freezer turned themselves off and the contents ruined, not to mention smelly – do you know how far defrosted fruit spreads? No… well I can tell you a long way and into every darn crevice. What I missed most (you may think me sad) on Ebony was not having ice-cream or frozen petit pois (otherwise known as peas) they were the first things I bought for my new freezer not that we had time to enjoy them. Its not the end of the world and it gave me an opportunity to clean the fridge/freezer out – not that it need it especially at 11.15 at night.
Time whizzes by and we make use of having the hire car to stock up on the heavy stuff – wine and bottles water etc before taking it back to Dijon. Charles sets off early on Saturday morning back to the UK to stay with Laura and Andy as he has some tests at the hospital on Sunday. You may wonder why we bothered returning to France but we had all the travel arrangements booked up and it was not cost effective to cancel them – in hindsight it may have been considering the French transport disputes but hopefully this will be the last for a while and we can start enjoying our new boat.
So I have a solitary weekend enjoying the beautiful weather and catching up on paper work, cleaning, washing and people watching. There must be millions of pounds (or euros) worth of boats in this marina and in two days one has moved. Most are locked up and a handful have their owners sunning themselves on the deck – Charles and I are itching to get on the move and just don’t understand why someone would have a boat and not want to sail in her – am I ranting? Probably a good time to close