(14th September) We now have a waiting game until the sun canopy and frame arrives so enjoy lots of walking, running and cycling.Taking advantage of having the car we take a drive to Lauzerte a pretty town set high on a hill with spectacular views and is one of the most picturesque and best examples of castelnau towns in the whole of the Midi.
The towns name dates back to 1000AD and comes from the Latin ‘lucerna’ or lamp, it commands an ideal position, shining from afar like a light. We enjoy strolling through the streets and museums before finding a little restaurant for lunch.
Nigel and Maggie arrive on Gesina.Eventually our packages arrive and we spend an interesting afternoon putting it together and fitting it to the boat with the help of Nigel, Ian and Jill with Maggie capturing the moment on camera.
The first attempt is a disaster so all quite exhausted we pack it away until the following day where we have a better idea of what we need to do – tightly secure all the fixtures for one thing!!!!
We decide to organise a boaters BBQ on the quay and gather a good crowd including Jim the Capitainne with us all providing booze and food – its a great opportunity to get to know folk and the locals are patient with us for monopolising the quay.
Charles unfortunately drops a C clamp overboard resulting in him having to don his swimming trunks to try and retrieve it – considering he cannot put his head under water it is an unsuccessful task so I end up going in but couldn’t locate it as we think because the river bed was soft sand the part sunk with my numerous attempts of diving down but I enjoy a swim in the warm water before getting out – just hope nobody decided to empty their black tank!!
Eventually Stage 1 is completed and we measure and mark the curtains to return to Canvasman for finishing off. We have been sent temporary poles due to the company having difficulty sourcing telescopic poles and Charles has to work his magic with elastic ties to secure them in place.
Unfortunately due to many delays with the canopy we are behind schedule so don’t leave Moissac until Friday 30th September although it did provide lots of time for sundowners with our neighbours so we made good use of the time!! Its lovely to be on the move again although we certainly feel the difference going up locks as they are all electronic and the force of the water can be very testing.
We stop for a late lunch at St Porquier, we had intended spending the night here but decide to carry on as the weather is pleasant so continue until we reach a remote mooring at Diuepentale a distance of 34 kilometres and 16 locks. We get an early start on Saturday and head for Port de l’Embouchure which is the junction of The Canal de Garonne and The Canal du Midi – rather embarrassingly we get overtaken by a canoe who appears to resent our presence on the canal. After a run on Sunday morning we set off on the final stage of our journey to moor in Port St Sauveur where we are leaving the boat for the week.
We are up at 4am on Tuesday the 4th October and set off on a four to five hour drive to Bilbao in Spain for a ferry taking us to Portsmouth. We have a nice cabin and enjoy a relaxing day on this short cruise. This is another short visit to see family and for me to run the York Marathon on Sunday the 9th October with Laura who has not managed the necessary training but is determined to run it.
Simon unfortunately has to give it a miss but provides lots of support by cycling around the route to shout encouragement. Charles does the same by car and it’s such a boost seeing familiar faces along the way.
I don’t manage to complete it in 4 hours but manage 4 hours 9 minutes which I am relatively pleased with and will work harder for my next run. Laura does amazingly well and is so chuffed for finishing the whole 26.2 miles – a great achievement. Matthew comes along to cheer us both in at the finish line and we all go back to Simon’s for fish and chips which are well deserved.
We leave the car in the UK and fly back to France on Monday morning (10th) – we stay in Toulouse until the 24th as I am running the Toulouse Half Marathon on the 23rd.
I am so pleased I had my sensible hat on and didn’t sign up for the marathon and decide to enjoy the run and the atmosphere. I loved it but my competitive nature takes over and I am pleased with my 1 hour 56 minutes.I think Charles is happy the races are over for the year and we can relax and enjoy the final stage of our boating for the year towards Carcassonne. We say our goodbyes to Sylvianne the Capitainne and set off to Negra one of our favourite mooring on The Midi and then onto Segala. The canal is very quite and we only see a couple of boats travelling in either direction and a couple of hire boats. The Autumn colours are amazing and its quite hard capturing their true beauty with a camera but we give it a go.
The locks are all down hill now which makes the going a lot easier. Maggie and Nigel on Gesina are moored for the winter in Castelnaudary so we spend the night of the 26th in the Port and enjoy and evening meal with them.
We um and ahh about spending another night with them but decide to continue to Carcassone so we can settle into our winter mooring. We overnight in Bram on the 27th and then Villesqualande on the 28th before arriving into Carcassonne on the 29th.
There are currently two boats on our quay; John on Si Solo who we first met when we bought Bluegum three years ago in Auxonne, and a French couple with a cruiser who we are yet to meet. Over the next few day Simon Piper arrives with Monchique and Charles and Pam arrive on their widebeam Xenia. The last week is spent cleaning and winterising Bluegum and enjoying some long walks through the little streets of Carcassonne before heading for the UK on the 7th November.
So our years cruising is over and we have covered 657 kilometers and 247 locks (approx)