On Monday we set off for Montbouy which is a very small village with a rather large church with a notable Roman arch entrance – as it was shut there is little else we can say about it. We moor next to a large dutch barge and a small cruiser both of which are chained to bollards, the owners of the latter inform us that their boat has just been broken into with belongings stolen and their boat untied to float down the canal. This bit of information does not bode well with me as I still expect the boat to catch fire at any minute especially when the French lady tells us that France has gone to the dogs (my interpretation) with crime on the rise and nobody’s safe anymore – so much so they are selling their boat.
Too pessimistic for us – it’s a sunny day so we take a 10 minute walk around the village and then get the bikes out and cycle back to Chatillon-Coligny along the ‘chemin de haulage’ (towpath en Anglais). Its Monday everywhere is shut, not unusual we find in France, so we cycle back.
The weather takes a turn on Tuesday but as we only have six locks to work we decide to set off anyway and arrive in Montargis by lunch time. Good opportunity to stock up the fridge and cupboards and for Charles to buy a French wifi which turns out to be very useful. The assistant in the phone shop didn’t speak any English and Charles does a great job at speaking French – I reckon its all in the accent which he seems to have got off to a tee. We can now Skype and blog to our hearts content! We are clearly conditioned by the ‘French Ways’ and expect the lock to be closed between 12 and 1 pm so are surprised when the lock keeper drives passed our boat waving as she goes to set up the lock – but its only 12.40 and we are eating our lunch which we quickly finish and set off in a rush. We are given a remote control for the 19 locks along the Canal due Loing which is the ultimate laziness in locking – just point the remote at the lock, press the button – and hey presto; the lock gates open like magic!
We are enjoying retracing our steps and at a much slower pace and appreciate the notes we made last year in the guides which remind us of pretty moorings, restaurants or shops along the way. We moor at Cepoy for the night and then on Thursday we stay at Souppes-sur-Loing – not a very pretty place but it is quiet. Since setting off we have passed many moored boats with the owners clearly waiting for warmer times before de-winterising their vessels but have only passed two moving boats so we are enjoying having the canals to ourselves – it’s a bit like the pleasure of having a swimming pool all to yourself. We are being followed though…. A rather dour French gentleman who, whilst not in a VNF uniform, keeps turning up at the locks just before we arrive. He stands looks and as soon as we are in the lock and descending he gets into his van and drives off. He is a man of little words and apparently too shy to smile but I managed to get a grunt of what I presume was a ‘bonjour’. We suspect that he is an engineer and we are the guinea pigs testing that all the locks work – saves them finding a boat and doing it themselves. Well it didn’t take long did it? Less than two weeks since the new settee arrives Charles uses it to lean on when he stands up after lighting the fire – yep that darn fire again….. I notice a lovely dark coloured hand print on the settee – I knew we should have bought a mucky brown coloured suite. I’m cross – when I’m really cross I go quiet and Charles is suitable chastened and keeps out of my way for a while but does get up straight after dinner to wash up which is his way of saying sorry.
After a long hard week Friday arrives and we find a remote mooring at Montigny-sur-Loing so it must be time for a sundowner – okay it’s not sunny but one has to use their imagination. Gin and Tonic and Spiced rum and Dry Ginger …. Clinck! Salut! Then we notice a restaurant by the next lock near where we are moored at Episy. We decide to take the plunge (we don’t eat out a lot) and take a walk down to ‘Auberge de l’écluse’ at 7pm. It’s quite a popular place and soon begins to fill – clearly two celebration parties going on. The staff are very friendly and enjoy our attempts to understand their French menu. The meal is lovely and we tread carefully but happily home along a now very dark towpath!