Back to the beginning

We leave St Jean de Losne on Wednesday the 6th August with a working generator and head to Auxonne where our French cruising all began four years ago when we took possession of Bluegum and so the town has a special meaning to us. We are in no hurry so meander along only to be overtaken by a barge clearly in a hurry as it is travelling very fast.  We are surprised to see said barge waiting at the lock to enter Auxonne so we hang back until it’s clear something is amiss.  We approach and are told there is a problem with the lock.  Apparently they did not know that to work the lock you had to first pull or twist the perche so they invited us to go ahead we think to show them how to do it. The old adage ‘less haste more speed’ comes to mind!!!!

This year more than previous years I’ve heard lots of complaints from boat owners about speed of boats passing moored boats, boat etiquette and especially hire boats so I decided to write a little ditty in their defence:

IMG_0684If a Hire Boat Could Talk

I am a little hire boat
All white and plastic true
My frame is scratched and dented
But my heart is big like you

I travel up and down the cut
And try to keep the line
Especially when I see a Barge
Approach me looking fine

I know I am no looker
Not like the brighter chalk
But I want to be acknowledged
When the local sailors talk!

I see the steel get near
And pray we do not touch
I sense my captains fear
Ow……contact hurts so much

You shout and gesture at us
As we eventually pass
I wonder if it’s all our fault
P’raps YOU were going too fast!!

You moor at lunch and then relax
No time for us, we must make haste
A berth at night is all we want
It’s late, we’re tired, we need a space!

As we patrol the crowded quay
We’d love to hear ‘come, stay with me’
But back of heads is all we see
As down below you go – you can’t see me……

Bluegum on the mooring at Auxonne

Our mooring space is ready and waiting for us in Port Royal Auxonne and it feels like coming home.  We see Sue and Paul on Lady Sue and it’s nice to catch up with their seasonal news. Andy and Debbie on Nou Nou are also in the port so we enjoy an evening with them also.

On Friday the 10th we set off early for our return to the UK and have a very comfortable journey as Charles feeling generous has upgraded us for the whole trip. The only delay is caused by our car deciding not to start and poor Laura cannot collect us on time – but all is sorted eventually and its nice to be home and seeing Laura again. As usual our visit is busy with the usual check up for Charles, haircuts and dentist appointment.

Ace Ventura pet detective meets Rebecca Rabbit

Daniel and Jonathan stay with us on Saturday as we all go over to Harrogate to Matthew and Helen’s new home and enjoy celebrating her 30th birthday. It is also nice to meet Helen’s family for the first time even whilst in fancy dress.

Ghostbusters – James Bond tries to look inconspicuous

Charles goes as James Bond, I go as Peter Pan, Daniel and Jonathan go as Ghost Busters but I think Laura gets the prize for going all out as an Umper Lumper. Matthew looks cool as Ace Ventura and Helen is a stunning Jessica Rabbit. It’s a great party and also special having the family together.

Peter Pan
Laura’s amazing Umpa Lumpa

On Sunday we drive over to Barnsley to have lunch with Becky, David and to meet Bertie for the first time.  What a little smasher he is too and cannot resist getting a cuddle or two. Lovely to see them and have a catch up.

On Monday we drive over to see Damien and Sarah who is now passed her due date and looking ready to burst and just need the little one to make an appearance before we return to France.

One of the things I miss when in France is seeing my mates so it’s good to spend some time with Alison, enjoy a spa with Sue and Linda and have lunch with Carol and Nick and a little trip into York to meet with Karen.

Maisy Amber makes her appearance

Thursday the 23rd August and our new granddaughter arrives. Maisy Amber weighing in at 9lb 12oz. Mother and baby doing well and we spend a couple of days with them and cannot resist getting as many cuddles in as possible.

Our trip is coming to an end too quickly and our last visit is with Daniel and Jonathon where we enjoy a fun evening for an early birthday celebration of Daniel’s 30th.

On Saturday the 1st September we take the Eurostar and various trains back to Auxonne – and unsurprisingly we encounter delays along the way resulting us in taking a taxi at Gare du Nord to take us to Gare de Lyon with 20 minutes before our train departs – a bit scary and I never knew taxis could travel that fast resulting in closing my eyes for most of the journey but credit to the driver he got us there and we ran to our train with 1 minute to spare. Deep breath of relief but after five minutes after our departure the train stops……an hour later we learn someone had been killed on the track and our train takes a different route. Ironically we would have had a 2 hour wait in Lyon where we intended to find a nice restaurant but instead arrive just in time for our connection to Auxonne – so we arrived at the appointed time but just hungry.

Sunset over Port Royale

We cannot shake that feeling you get nearing the end of a holiday when you just want to pack up and get home so we leave Auxonne on Monday the 3rd September and travel a very familiar route of 47k with only 1 lock for a night in Seurre. The next day is another long day travelling 50k with 2 locks to spend the night on the Canal du Centre at Fragnes. We have been told there may be delays on this canal due to water shortage so boats will be grouped together to travel through locks at specific times each day – this isn’t happening yet and in fact does not happen for the whole of our trip. We soon remember that we have to wait in the lock for about a minute before we pull the operating cord otherwise nothing happens.

Country mooring at Santenay

On Wednesday we travel 16k with 11 locks for a night in Santenay and enjoy a lovely 15 mile cycle ride into the town and then onto Chagny and Rully. The only down side is that it is grape picking season so we don’t get a chance of any wine tasting .

Morning mist – getting autumnal!

On Thursday we continue along the very quite and picturesque canal to St. Julien sur Dheune 21k and 15 locks. Charles sets off with the boat while I get off for my morning run and meet up with him at the first lock. Friday we travel to Blanzy a distance of 16k with 15 locks and are pleased to find a mooring space just right for us and decide to stay the weekend – it is a bonus that the water and electricity are free.  On Saturday we get the bikes out for a cycle into Montceau-les-Mines as they have a superb market. On Sunday its long run day so we enjoy a 14 mile run along the canal before it gets too hot.

On Monday the 10th we set off for Génelard 21k and 9 locks stopping first at a very convenient mooring outside a huge supermarket enabling us to push the shopping trolley to our boat.

On Tuesday we continue to Paray le Moniel 20k and 7 locks and stay two days. There are quite a few barges in this small port many heading for Roanne for their winter mooring. We say hi to Dean on a Piper Barge called Angela Dawn – he has the most beautiful Hungarian Vizsla called Nutty a young bitch who loves boats and makes herself at home jumping into wheelhouse. Dean has met our friends Debbie and Kev and when I text Debs I find out they are also taken with Nutty that they are exploring buying one – maybe I can persuade Charles to get dog one of these dayssalbikeThe weather is beautiful with temperatures into the 30’s so on Wednesday we cycle to Digoin for a bit of sight seeing. We take a detour along The Arroux feeder canal which is 14k long enabling barges drawn by donkeys or mules to bring iron ore from the mines at Montliçon to the Campionnet factory at Geurognon.

The narrow Arroux canal – now a feeder for the Canal du Centre

We enjoy a walk around Paray which looks very pretty at night with many of the building lit up. We also treat ourselves to a meal out with highly calorific pizza but a disappointing desert.

The Digoin Aquaduct

We leave Paray on Thursday morning travelling 11k and 3 locks through Digoin and then a short of 4k with 1 lock on the Canal latéral à la Loire before turning left onto The Canal de Roanne à Digoin the last stretch of our years cruising. 6k and 3 locks takes us to a nice mooring at Croix-Rouge.

On Friday the 14th we travel 33k with 7 locks to Briennon and finally on Saturday we travel 15k with he last 3 locks into the Port de Roanne but unfortunately I have either a tummy bug or food poisoning but feel very poorly over the next 24 hours. I am suppose to be running my final 22 mile long  leading up to my forthcoming marathon but decide on Sunday just to go for a 3 mile tester run which goes okay so on Monday morning we get up early. I only manage 21 miles and my pace is quite disappointing and I have clearly underestimated the effect sickness bug has had on my body.

Roanne – home for the winter

It is a nice feeling being settled into our winter mooring and we both set about all the DIY jobs we have neglected over the last six months – it’s amazing how we made convincing excuses to avoid these chores. Charles makes a good job of varnishing the mast and dog box and is now setting about painting the gunnels.

I am chasing the 6 Abbott World Major Marathons which for runners is a big deal : Berlin, London, Chicago, New York, Boston and Tokyo.  I’ve completed the first two and will be running the third and fourth in October and November. Boston is the most difficult to get into because a runner has to achieve a qualifying time for age and gender. Fortunately for me my qualifying time is 4.25 hours and my best time is 4.07 hours so I’m so chuffed to have secured my place for the Boston 2019 marathon. I lucked out Tokyo so that will have to wait until 2020 but to be honest it’s probably a good thing for a number of reasons; for the sake of our marriage,  my body can recover as can our bank balance!!!

This year’s stats

Canal de Roanne a Digoin : 55 kilometers 10 locks

Canal lateral a la Loire : 62 kilometers 14 locks

Decize : 1 kilometer 2 locks

Canal du Nivernais : 177 kilometers 112 locks

River Yonne to Sens : 67 kilometers 18 locks

Sens to Laroche-Migennes : 44 kilometers 9 locks

Canal de Bourgogne : 242 kilometers 189 locks

St Jean de Losne to Auxonne : 19 kilometers 1 lock

Auxonne to Canal du Centre : 89 kilometers 3 locks

Canal du Centre : 114 kilometers 61 locks

Canal Lateral a Loire 4 kilometers 1 lock

Canal Roanne a Digoin : 55 kilometers 10 locks

Total: 929 kilometers with 430 locks 

Running up to Sept 23rd : 970.59 but will exceed 1000 by the end of the year after Chicago and New York marathons

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