We stock up before enjoying a couple of hours cruising before we find a nice mooring. Late afternoon I receive a telephone call from Andy (Laura’s boyfriend) and sounding a little nervous asks my permission to marry Laura and intends to propose to her tonight. It’s admirable that he is following tradition and coincidently it happens to be the day of Charles and my wedding anniversary – we are celebrating our 12th wedding anniversary with bubbles and a special dinner so we have two things to celebrate now – where does the time go? We get a call later in the evening from a very elated Laura and we manage to skype so I can see her gorgeous ring – exciting times ….
On Friday we head off towards Souppes-sur-Loing where a guide books informs us there is water and electricity and we decide it will be a good spot to stop for the weekend – apparently great minds think alike so by the time we arrive all spaces are taken up. Without sounding too petulant, the moorings are outside an old now unused factory so not really our cup of tea but just a kilometre further on just before the lock at La Madeleine-sur-Loing (every town and village appears to be sur-Loing) we find one space just big enough for us and with picnic tables in a small grassy area.
A nearby farm has adapted an old barn into gites which look lovely. On Sunday we take a walk back to Souppes which is a typical small village with a couple of shops, at least two pharmacies and at least 5 coiffures. The French must always be ill but at least they have nice hair do’s!! We do find a small bar to enjoy a beer in the sunshine.
How time flies – it’s now Monday the 4th August and we cannot daudle too much as we need to get to Sens by Saturday for the arrival of Laura – I am getting very excited and have to say the only downside to being in France is being so far away from family and friends. We now have a been issued with a remote control – handed to us by a lady lock-keeper who said: “I’ve been told to give you this – but I don’t know what you do with it.” I think she was new! It’s pretty nifty – you point it at the lock as you approach and it sets everything going – or usually does. Mid morning we approach a lock but there are no lights showing – a sure sign of problems. Sally gets off and calls the lock-keeper in her ever improving French “Les feux n’est pas illumine” not quite right but near enough for a smiling eclusier to appear a few minutes later. He switches things on, we point our remote and ‘voila!’ the gates open. We sail in – pull the blue tube … the lock empties … one gate opens … and the other doesn’t! We call him again and he returns and with lots of shrugs and sighs he announces that has had had to call the mechanic! We offer a coffee and have a long conversation which goes reasonably well considering our basic French and his non existent English.
Along come two engineers and there is much scratching of heads, more shrugs (French workmen are really good at shrugging) pressing buttons, and banging things. Then they disappear – lunchtime!! We have our lunch sitting in the bottom of the lock and they return – a long pole is produced and there is much poking and prodding in the water behind the gate. They manage to half open it – enough for us to squeeze through and we are once again on our way.
The weather remains mixed but whenever we have rain we are rewarded with sunny afternoons and evening. We visit Nemours with its 12th century castle and obligatory churches but the mooring is rather drab – and full – so we head out into the country and find a lovely mooring by a park where we are visited by several curious locals; a couple of kids who want to have look in the boat and family who are really friendly and just want a chat. They even offered us lift to the local supermarket if we needed to stock up!