Over Etangs and along the Carmargue

On Monday the 24th we stock up, fill up with water and head off with a purpose as we want to be in Aramon by the 29th so have a long day travelling through the round lock at Agde with its three lock gates, two for the Midi and one taking boats down L’Hérault onto The Mediterranean.

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Leaving the round lock at Agde. It’s actually oval as they enlarged it to take 38 metre boats

The lock keeper at The Bagnas lock informs us the wind is too strong for anyone to cross The Etang de Thau so we moor up  with three hire boats also wanting to cross the lake.

I wake up at 6 am to the sound of a boat engine and see one of the hireboats is making an early escape.  There is no wind so I suggest we also go as when I had last checked the forecast it was going to be fine until 8am – and anyway if a hire boat is going to cross then Bluegum can too…..Charles is not  convinced so being far more mature than me fires up the computer and starts checking weather forecasts. After a lot of uming and aring we decide to set off and enjoy a beautiful peaceful journey along the last leg of the Midi and enter The Etang which certainly looks calm.

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Beautiful calm and sunny morning as we travel along the last of the Midi
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Au revoir, Canal du Midi

It stays that way for about an hour with my job being to spot the red and green markers identifying the channel. For some reason I also decide to clean the wheelhouse windows which in retrospect was a complete waste of time as the whole boat was covered in salt water by the time we finished this little adventure.  The winds then begin to blow us around and we experience proper waves that cascade over the bow causing me concern that cupboards may start flying open breaking pots and pans.

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Nice and calm
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White horses and getting decidedly choppy!

All is well and whilst the last hour is exciting to say the least we arrive into The Canal du Rhone á Séte in one piece and with the permission of Alan and Sharon we moor up against their boat another Piper Barge ‘Drumsara’ in the port of Frontignan. The port is very busy apparently with all the boaters waiting to cross the Etang when the wind drops. We enjoy a very sociable sundowner (or two) with Alan and Sharon and their friends who are visiting in their camper van. I thought we were quite adventurous until we listened  to their adventures around the world – I would certainly advocate giving anything a go – life is too short to be stuck at a desk…..

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Drumsara

On Thursday morning we decide to make the mad dash through the Frontignan Lift Bridge which opens at 8.30am and 4pm each day. Boats going downstream have priority but you wouldn’t think so – and who do we see coming towards us but Xenia who conveniently take our mooring spot.

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Frontignan lift bridge – boater madness at 8.30am and 4pm

Our plan is coming together nicely as we hoped to meet up with Charles and Pam before we leave so enjoy a fun lunch at Le Bistrot de Fanny – I know!!! It made me laugh too….But its not long before we say our goodbyes and once again I am feeling sad to be leaving our good friends who will be heading back to the UK or not depending on them securing a mooring in Reading.IMG_3746

The weather is very hot so its good to be on the move early whilst it is still relatively cool and  we get a little breeze as we cruise along the Canal du Rhone a Sete.

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Early morning sunshine
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Fishermen preparing for their day

We are now in the Camargue region with their white horses and flamingos. We moor up at Maguelone and are treated to an impromptu air display from the french equivalent of the Red Arrows.

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Obligatory pink flamingos
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The Patrouille Acrobatique de France

We take a walk to the beach – there is a little train which of course we ignore as walking is good for us and bump into Jill and Mike as they wander back to their barge Carolyn so invite them over for drinks later – its true all our life consists of a bit of cruising, running, walking and drinking with friends – who’s complaining? We have an enjoyable evening and hear how they were boarded by the Police at Trébes triple locks to have their paperwork, lifejackets and fire extinguishers checked – not the best place to carry this out as the lock keeper didn’t stop the locking procedure so Mike had to continue negotiating the locks.

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Sun has set over the Carmargue
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Lovely warm evening
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A Jamieson’s on the rocks

On Friday we stop for lunch at Aigues-Morte and this time take the little train to show us this interesting town.

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Moored at Agues-Mortes
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A walled town
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Pretty – but very popular

then we set off to moor at Gallician for the night – 37 euros a night which we felt a bit steep and wish we had just moored on the bank although it gave me an opportunity as we had shore power to catch up on my washing before we hit the Rhone. Later in the evening Richard on Allegretto moored up and joined us for a beer. We also sampled some wine in the towns cave and bought a few bottles.  An event is also taking place with bulls running through the streets and the young and perhaps foolish running whilst trying to avoid being trampled. There is a street sign warning very young or old to be especially careful in the case of a bull going rogue and ending up on the wrong side of the barriers – easier said than done I would have thought. It is not Charles or my cup of tea so whilst we can hear the commotion from the back deck of the boat we do not go to watch.

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Richard on Allegretto

Richard is travelling alone and his destination for the Saturday night is Avignon and as ours is Aramon we travel together and share the locks. It’s a long day travelling 59 kilometers with only two locks and I have to say I have slight apprehension of being on the Rhone. It can be so unpredictable  but today it is calm and big!! it looks so big compared to the canals we have been enjoying over the last couple of years and of course we once again encounter the huge commercial barges and river cruisers. The good news is they are gentle with us and tend to give us space. We arrive in Aramon and it is good to see Olivier again and learn he now has a day job selling aeroplanes and teaching people to fly so isn’t around as much as previously.

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A small beer in Aramon

On Sunday morning I go for a 12 mile run and really struggle in the heat but I am trying very hard to keep to my training schedule which I know is going to be disrupted now we are on a river without the convenient canal towpaths. On our return we take coffee and croissants with Stuart and Christine on yet another Piper Barge Hilda May. They left The Midi at the end of last season to explore the more northern parts of France but decided they preferred the south and the heat so are heading back down. In truth I can see us doing the same but are keeping an open mind.

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Stuart and Christine on their way back to the Midi

So another month has flown by with us travelling in July:

253 kilometres and only 26 locks

My two big races are getting nearer and I have raised £230 towards Prostate Cancer UK. Any donations are much appreciated

https:www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sallypolkey

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