Its probably a good job that I am writing the latest blog otherwise you would get Charles ranting on about the technical problems we are experiencing with Bluegum – they are not going away and are now convinced that Brian may have had super powers and did indeed jinx us.
We arrive in St-Julien-sur-Dheune where we find a lovely mooring for about 7 or 8 boats – there are no facilities but it is a very pretty spot with picnic tables where we enjoy our lunch in beautiful sunshinSylvie arrives in the afternoon to do our service and when we meet her for the first time we suddenly understand why we had been confused. We were given her details by a fellow boater but when Charles telephoned the number it was answered by a very definite male voice so naturally we assumed Sylvie was a French man’s name – Sylvie is going through a gender change so whilst she sounds like a man, she wears women’s clothing and make up. More importantly she seems to know what she is talking about in relation to boats and completes the service but is perplexed by our problems so we arrange to see her when we arrive in Montceau-les-Mines on Monday.
We originally thought we would stay in St- Julien for a couple of days but on Friday morning decide to move up to Blanzy. We arrive at our first lock of the day to find the gates open and ready for a boat but no lights on – Charles reckons the lights are broken so in we go and I pull the perche – we wait and wait so I pull it again and wait some more. Then I climb out and eventually use the intercom to get assistance. Charles reverses the boat out which isn’t a mean feat and after about 10 minutes a VNF van pulls up and I explain to the lockkeeper ‘il y a un probleme avec l’ecluse’ – No, actually the problem was us – we should have telephoned to inform the lockkeepers that we had changed our plans – Still learning…….. We arrive in Blanzy and I guess it isn’t unexpected to see the same boats we had moored with the night before as a group of boats travelling in the same direction are bound to meet up at some point or another. Blanzy isn’t very big but it has a bar and the sun is shining and it is Friday so we go and meet the locals for a beer and then another one. Then the heavens open so we retreat back to the boat with the compulsory baguette for our cheese later in the evening. We have free electricity and water so stay the weekend where I can get up to date with washing and cleaning – yep even boaters have domestics to do. Sunday is a bit cloudy but dry so we decide to walk the 4 kilometers into Montceau-le-Mines and find a huge intermarche with a mooring outside so that’s where we will be stopping on Monday morning. Ever since we have been in France we have been looking for a couple of sun chairs – Charles has seen quite a few that will do the trick but I am a little more discerning so the search continues – you’ve got to get these things right and I want one ones that will match the pair we have in England waiting to join us over here. We have a lovely walk around the town which happens to have a market and Charles finds a straw hat that suits him fine. We also find free wifi so take the opportunity to catch up on emails, facebook and even manage to skype Phil in South Africa – everyone in England are out or didn’t want to talk to us!! We make it back to the boat with minutes to spare before the heavens open Again!! With hail stones bouncing off the metal – the only day I don’t put sunscreen on because of the clouds and the first day I burn – something else to remember. We decide on Monday as we will never get closer to a supermarket with a boat so make the most of it and stock up – so I spend two hours stocking up on all the heavy stuff – wine, beer, bottled water as well as the usual groceries and return to the boat wondering where it is all going to fit but it does and it’s a good feeling having the fridge and shelves full – we certainly are not going to starve.
Now I know I haven’t mention ‘the problem’ for a while but I can assure you it hasn’t gone away but Charles brain has been working overtime and he has bored me senseless with his grumbling, complaining and calculations as to what the problem is or maybe is. The situation isn’t helped by the fact we cannot speak to an engineer from Piper because they are on holiday so when Slyvie arrives to fit a part she had to order Charles was in his element explaining to her his diagnosis of the problem and showing her his diagrams. Between them they removed the matrix heater which Charles had discovered had been leaking and re-connected the pipes. Voila!!! Problem solved. Due to the water under the engine my diagnosis as a super amateur was the gasket needed replacing. Charles was amazed that I even knew what a gasket was but I did take my 125 BSA Bantum to bits when in my teens so am not entirely ignorant. Thank goodness I really don’t know what I’m talking about otherwise we would be handing over lots of money. We head off on Tuesday morning confident that everything was now OK but I am sure you have guessed life isn’t that simple. After about 2 hours when we come to a lock and slow down the overheating alarm sounds, the rev counter stopped working days ago but from a positive perspective the hour meter has stopped too.
So rather disheartened we continue with the alarm sounding, the weather diminishing to continuous rain and arrive in Genelard where we are re-united with some boats we have previously shared a mooring with. It’s rather nice seeing familiar faces even if we don’t speak the same language. Genelard is interesting as it was at this location where the demarcation line was in the Second World War. The weather improves sufficiently for us to have a walk around the small town. A boater comes over to have a chat, Eric explains that he has been following a blog by Guy from Chat Lune (who you may remember we met in Auxonne and has been so helpful with advice) and saw reference to our blog so started following us too.
Tuesday we travel to Paray-le-Monial which is definitely a good size town and are soon joined by Eric and his wife and another couple from New Zealand who we moored alongside the night before. We go for a long walk in the hope of finding these elusive chairs but alas to no avail although we did come close. The only problem was that one of the chairs was a display model and had faded in the sunshine – that certainly is not good enough for Bluegum. Problem with boat continues……We have found it necessary to self remedy with lots of wine and chocolate which isn’t helping to repair the boat but makes us feel better. Wednesday the same three boats travel to Digoin where the canal crosses over the River Loire. With all the rain the river is fast flowing and we are pleased we are on the canal. A hire boat moors next to us and the occupant, Alan came to introduce himself and clearly expected us to be Aussies due to the name of our boat – was surprised by our accents but gave us a couple of Koala teddies as a pressy.