Sue and Chris Magson; our first visitors are arriving today and are bringing our belongings with them from the UK. I am excited on two counts; our boat will look more like home and also we are so looking forward to seeing our friends and catching up on gossip. We arrive in Menetreol-sous-Sancerre on Wednesday afternoon and find a lovely mooring with ample parking space for their van with the added bonus of being near to a couple of bars. Sue and Chris arrive late afternoon after a long drive so after a beer and spot of lunch we start to unload the boxes – I think we (well I actually) over-estimated the space and we are soon overwhelmed with kitchen ware, books and household good. Chris takes refuge in the back of his van for a quick nap and Sue in her element ruthlessly helps me to decide what I really need and makes use of the bin next to the mooring to get rid of the unnecessary. While I am in a state of shock it’s exactly what is needed and the shelves and drawers soon fill up and it’s not long before Bluegum has a feel of being ours. I cannot face the clothes boxes yet and to be honest want to do it when Sue isn’t around otherwise I may find half of them ending up in the bin too. Whilst the boat doesn’t look as neat and tidy as it did when our guests arrive it is acceptable under the circumstances. Hard as it is we need to repack some things to be returned to the UK.
We are recommended a pub ONLY 2 kilometers away so after freshening up we start to walk into St-Satur which certainly is much longer than we were told so its not long before Sue and my feet hurt and suggest we get a taxi back, after more walking I demand that we get a taxi back but eventually after probably 4 kilometers we find the pub which is full but fortunately there is a table at the adjacent restaurant and enjoy drinking Sancerre and catching up on UK news. The waiter who is from Mauritius is quite charming and soon has us buying a box of Sancerre wine; one of each colour. He is also in our good books by booking us a taxi – well there was no way Sue and I were going to walk back to the boat so it was a taxi or Charles and Chris would be giving us a piggy back ride.
They certainly bought the good weather with them as we wake up to glorious sunshine and after a leisurely breakfast set off for a cruise to Belleville-sur-Loire. The weather gets hotter and hotter and it’s not long before we are all wilting. We spend a few hours lethargically sitting around before a decision is made to visit the local public swimming pool. For some reason the men took us into school grounds thinking it was a short cut until we came to a high fence. Deciding we were not going to traipse all the way back I climbed over a locked gate – Sue wasn’t too keen but we got her over even if it wasn’t in the most lady like manner – shame we didn’t have the camera with us! You wouldn’t think there could be anything to write about but this is the funniest experience of visiting a pool we have ever encountered. When Charles and I don’t understand the French being spoken to us we tend to look at the situation and fill in the gaps with our own interpretation. Well on this occasion I thought they lady at the pool was ensuring we all had swimming costumes and we couldn’t do any skinny dipping – why I thought this I don’t know. So it’s not until we get into the changing rooms and see how the men are dressed and the signs on the wall that we realise the lady was actually telling us the men had to wear speedo type swimming trunks and not baggy shorts. So out we go causing a disturbance to the queues and she shows us a vending machine with swimming costumes. Charles decides as he has lost so much weight he will go for a 38 – 40 until he takes them out of the packaging and realises the measurements are in centimeters and not inches!!! Sue and I now have the giggles when we see a tiny pair of speedos in his hand which are made worse by Chris’ face and his emphatic ‘I’m not wearing those!!!’ Back to the lady at the counter whose patience is now running thin and she completely gives up when we try to fill in a returns form. She gets the key to the vending machine and gives us the correct size of trunks. So after 15 minutes of entertaining the natives and getting even hotter we eventually cool down in the pool. Charles and Chris look a little sheepish but actually they look fine and we are all just hope neither of them sneezes. Unfortunately our offer to capture the moment on camera is declined by the men but it’s not something Sue and I will forget in a hurry.
After enjoying a cool beer we return to the boat for our evening meal and some more Sancerre wine and go to bed wondering how we are going to sleep in this heat. Friday we return to Menetreol-sous-Sancerre and take a drive to visit Sancerre and for a bit of wine tasting.
It really is hot and it’s not long before our energies fade after walking up some steep hills – this doesn’t stop Sue and I browsing the little shops where I see a silver ring of a style I have been looking for over the last year or so – like chairs you cannot rush these things. I smile sweetly at Charles and hey presto I have a new ring. Sancerre is situated high and provides stunning views of the surrounding countryside and vineyards which are all set out in neat rows.
The town itself is made up of lots of winding streets and is internationally renowned for its superb wine (if not a little fruity for some palates – eh Chris?) and also its goat’s cheese. After a drink and a pause for people gazing in the square we have a second attempt at the recommended pub in St-Satur and this time we are in luck and are offered a table in the garden overlooking The Loire.
Music is on offer tonight and we amuse ourselves watching how much alcohol the entertainers consume before taking up their instruments and playing for us – in fact they are quite good and we have a lovely evening apart from Sue’s steak. A misunderstanding of French again – It was returned to the kitchen due it not being cooked enough and came back rare. In fact if there had been a vet in the restaurant I think he could have revived it!!! Saturday arrives too quickly for my liking as Sue and Chris are leaving us to return to the UK. We enjoy croissants again though Charles and I won’t be having them for a while as we restrict ourselves to enjoying them on Sundays only. We say our goodbyes and Charles and I buckle down to sorting out the boat and catching up on washing. It’s a days task but by the end of it we enjoy a well deserved drink and the place looks good.
We take Sunday off from travelling and enjoy a lovely afternoon in a café opposite where we meet an English guy who has lived in France for 20 years and speaks enviable French fluently. He invites us to stay awhile as he is playing his guitar and singing some well known English songs. It’s a good opportunity to practice our French with the locals who are very patient with us – we’ve been told it’s the best way to learn a language and neither Charles nor I worry about making mistakes.
We return to Bellville on Monday the 21 July but the weather is nothing like our first visit so can enjoy a few walks and general relaxing before setting off on Wednesday for Briare.