In Auxerre we have moored in front of a cruiser named ‘Waiheke’ crewed by New Zealanders Robyn and Andy – we shared several of the sloping locks with them on the way up and got to know each other when they tethered their boat against ours waiting for the locks to fill.
We invite them for drinks when Sally returns from Paris and Robyn suggests we have dinner with them on their boat. We have a lovely evening – serenaded by a very good duo who have set up stage opposite the nearby restaurant and play all the Beatles greats. We then trek up the hill to the cathedral for a ‘Son et Lumiere’ which proves to be a little less exciting than our expectation – Charles nods off a few times as do I as well! We are relieved to get back to ‘Waiheke’ for a Single malt nightcap and the last couple of Beatles classics. We stay another day to stock up on provisions at the local market – it is Assumption day so, though not a bank holiday, many of the shops are shut – the French don’t shirk on their time off but once again I am denied the opportunity to browse through the shops.
Saturday we decide to move onto the Canal du Nivernais and Robyn and Andy share the locks with us. What a beautiful canal this is and we are soon enjoying beautiful views across the valleys. We moor at a small Halte Nautique near Bailly where there is a wine cave which we intend to visit. We walk up the hill and enter through a tunnel into the rock which opens out into a huge reception area. We taste several wines assisted by the host who speaks perfect English and has a great sense of humour.
We then take the guided tour – and understand about 20% of the narrative – much of it is about the technical aspects of wine making. The only thing I really wanted to see was how they put a champagne cork into the bottle but alas that was not on the itinerary.
It’s quite an amazing place where 9 acres of caverns have been cut into the limestone to store thousands of bottles of wine. We buy a couple of cases and return to the boat. We have a good excuse for all these tastings as we are tasked to find some good French wine for the wedding. We have invited Robyn and Andy round for dinner and Sally treats us to an excellent meal with all the trimmings, excellent local wine and cheese and whisky to finish. We decide to stay on for another day but Robyn and Andy have to leave to meet up with friends so we say our goodbyes as they head back to Auxerre – Robyn complains of feeling a bit rough this morning and for some reason thinks it might have been my influence (those of you who know me know I always drink in moderations!! ha ha) – I feel fine and I am sure she willingly accepted the wine last night together with the Jamiesons!! We really hope we will keep in touch with these two as they are such a lovely couple and we had a lot of fun together – hope they meant it when they invited us to stay with them when we visit New Zealand…….