(20h May) On Wednesday morning we arrive at St Pancras station in good time to enjoy a coffee and croissant to get us into the mood of returning to France – a bit of disappointment, we should have waited until we put our foot into France where they know how to make croissants. We then go to book into our 8.35am Eurostar train only to find a very long queue and total disorganisation. The dam British Government has decided in their wisdom for all travellers on trains and ferries to have their passports recorded – so the signs displayed asking passengers to arrive 30 minutes before departure is totally inadequate and I would recommend any future travellers to bring a sleeping bag – okay a slight exaggeration but feelings are running high. Eventually at 8.15 we put our luggage onto the conveyor belt for security and yep you’ve guessed it both bags are stopped and require checking. Don’t these people know how difficult it is to arrange everything so it only just fits into the luggage without having to empty the contents in view of every Tom Dick and Harry – clearly not. We rack our brains to identify what is in the bags that may be suspicious – oh could it be the Cobb bbq briquettes???
Combustible material may raise an incy whincy bit of suspicion. To add insult to injury the security guards started arguing amongst themselves which bags they wanted to search. At 8.25 I ask if we are going to miss the train – ‘don’t worry’ he replies you can catch the next one – for some reason he quickened his speed when I informed him we had booked onward train tickets in France. Once he finds the briquettes he engages Charles in conversation about their benefits on a bbq…..give me strength!!
So both feeling fraught we set foot on the train at 8.45 only to find a couple of people in our seats but they soon realise they are in the right seats just the wrong carriage and apologetically move. We settle ourselves down when the couple adjacent to us start to virtually make love – one thing well actually two things I cannot stand is noisy snogging and noisy eating – GET a room for goodness sake………I know I hear you say I was young once but neither Charles nor I are feeling very charitable or frisky for that matter at this particular time. Then to finish of this part of the journey the baby behinds starts to grumble and cry – fortunately a bottle of milk is shoved into her mouth and we have a few moments of peace – don’t get me wrong I love babies, just not at this particular moment.
The rest of our journey is boring in comparison and we arrive back into Sillery by late afternoon and are happy to find Bluegum all in order and no sign of any water leaks inside the cabin – Charles repair work by sealing around the edges of both the satellite dish and chimney before we left did the trick – even my pansies just about survived thanks to Gill and Ian watering them before they left. We try out the newly fitted alarm system which Charles had bought over from the UK and installed expertly and in accordance with his wife’s demand for neatness and not one evidence of wires on show – he passed the test…..
We question the need for an alarm but have spoken to a number of boaters who whilst they have not been burgled they have had items stolen from their boats – usually bicycles but we’ve alarmed them too!! We do often leave Bluegum in isolated places so having an alarm may (thinking like an optimist) deter any potential criminal and if not we will be notified immediately so at least we won’t get a surprise when we return. We are either paranoid or maybe learned one think from being in the Police for so long……whatever the case it gives us both peace of mind.
We take a day to stock up, tidy up and go for a run/cycle before moving off on Friday morning back to the junction at Condé sur Marne and then taking a left turn to Chalons en Champagne where we intend to stay for the weekend. The halte has been updated recently and there are now a number of pontoons for the smaller boats and a quay for us biguns’. We are moored near to a lovely park which provides an alternative route into the town centre where we find an impressve 13th century cathedral – hard to miss as its gigantic plus a number of other smaller churches.
We are treated to a free open air brass and woodwind orchestra in the town square which provides an excellent excuse to sit at one of the bars with outside seating with a glass or two to cool us down. I have been a bit lazy since the half marathon so on Sunday morning steel myself to a long run – Charles gets up first to buy our Sunday morning treat of croissants and pain de chocolate – he thinks the boulangerie may run out by the time we get back and then off we go for a 9 mile run/cycle along the canal. By the time we get back to the boat the sun is up and Charles reckons in a couple of weeks we may have to set off by 6 am to avoid the heat – shame eh, us athletes have it so hard……
Back to the boat for Sunday dinner and then a short walk to Bryce and Helens boat for evening drinks together with Alison and Philip. Both couples are from Australia and relatively new to boating in France and we have a fun evening with plenty of wine and cheese. Philip is pleased to have found a whiskey drinking partner in Charles – never one to turn down a whiskey or any other forms of alcohol if truth be known. Good job we are moored nearby as its pitch black when we leave somewhere within the hour of midnight – these Aussies are a bad influence on us……..