April 2006 Canal du Midi

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This month we will be cruising from Carcassonne to Castelnaudary.

Happy April,

I hope the sun shines on you all this month. We wish a most enjoyable season to all our friends starting their cruising year. Good luck and enjoy what ever your doing. We look forward to hearing from you and reading all your updates, keep the e-mails coming.

We have noticed many changes in France over this last month as we travel. The plants, the growing vines, the wild life and the villages, they seem to wake from the winter this month. France seems to be opening herself to visitors, especially Carcassonne, Spring/Summer is here.

Not sure if John is able to stay awake just now, your domino move mum.....

 

John enjoyed giving history lessons, after he had read a good book, called Labyrinth of the Languedoc by Kate Moss. It is a book on medieval passion, he enjoyed passing on the historical knowledge he has acquired of Carcassonne and the surrounding area.

 

John and him mum in Carcassonne, her extended visit due to French strike's yes again.

The good weather continued for Olives visit and we were able to get out and about in the car, visiting markets and enjoying a picnic in Castelnaudary. Olives flight home from Carcassonne was cancelled due to the strike. It caused much stress and took a lot of energy, trying to re-book another flight home. I spent many hours on the internet and phone. (It worked then thank goodness). I managed to find a seat on a Nimes flight the following day. This really did happen two weeks running (see March web page).

We enjoyed the drive to Nimes airport. Olive arrived home to Leeds only a day late. We enjoyed having our space back after many weeks of back to back visitors.

Meals this month were many and varied, many good bye dinners, BBQ's held on different boats.

 

John and I enjoyed the sea port of Cap Agde, on our way back from Nimes, enjoying the peace of this seaside holiday resort before the Easter holiday visitors arrive, we had a wonderful fish meal in the harbour.

The dwindling boating gang in Carcassonne port, as each boat & friend departed. Many farewell drinks, BBQ dinners & good evenings over the Easter weekend was had. Much talk of our summer cruising and the winter spent together. Some boaters will return here, three boaters are selling up and going home after around 10 years of happy cruising. Many of us will meet up at some point over the summer or meet up again next winter. We still have no answer from the Mayor in Carcassonne regarding winter moorings in this port. Meetings now to be held in May! We live in hope.

Summer cruising planning committee meeting, before arborists sets in.

Planning committee met up for wonderful roast dinner on Traquair, Des & Janet's boat, lots of very helpful information from their trip last year.

Sheila also cruised on the Canal du Midi & Canal lateral a la Garonne last year, far too quickly she says, hopefully she will take a more leisurely cruise this year, and will share some of the journey with us, we started our journey together. Enjoyed getting our boats ship shape, always much to do, lots of anticipation too.

Many hours spent with electrical problem's on our boat, i.e. lap top computer, telephone GPRS system, our TV system and satellite stopped working, not easy dealing with these problems in French... many frustrating hours this month on telephone. I tried not to scream at times, John spent many hours fixing things on the boat too, much help received and given this month. thank goodness for friends.

Leaving this wonderful city behind... a wonderful winter spent here, a sadness of leaving too.

 

We left Carcassonne on a windy day, much wind this month, it was a hard but very a very enjoyable day cruising to our first stop in Bram. A pretty Languedoc style village built in a circular plan with 13th century church in centre.

Just before our lunch stop, a must on the Midi. Sheila had a problem with Chatelaine's engine over heating, thankfully John sorted. Soon on the move again as you can see below. A hire boat traveling with us in the morning caused some problems, bumping Sheila's boat in the lock, she was so pleased they took an extended French lunch. So we enjoyed a carefree locking together for the rest of the day.

Colibri with wheel house down, setting off from Carcassonne, all ready for low bridges on Midi.

 

We celebrated with a curry night on board the Moet, on arrival in in Bram. Fiona & Earl from boat Colibri, & Sheila, joined us celebrations, we are on the move.

We are in awe of this young couples dream and their achievements. Take a look at their web site for holidays on Colibri. At the moment they are working night and day to have the boat ready for first paying guests. Good Luck Fiona & Earl.

Barge Cruise itinerary details from Carcassonne to Castelnaudary on the Canal du Midi France.

Moet Chandon, Chatelaine and hire boat on the Canal du Midi. Our mooring in Bram with Colibri.

 

We experienced a wonderful Silence in Bram, much bird song, frog's galore singing from the local fish farm, little traffic noise, what a difference after being in the city. Such wonderful peace, we stayed for three nights. We enjoyed a wonderful Sunday lunch sat in the sunshine at the marina's restaurant. We took delivery of our new Cob BBQ.

All too soon it was time to move off, boat and cars. We moved our car up to Castelnaudary, and brought Sheila's car back to Bram. Frog hopping the cars for now is not a problem. We both have summer parking, under cover in Castelnaudary, when we are ready to leave cars. But enjoying their usefulness right now.

Boats Chatelaine & Moet Locking in together, the round locks on the Canal du Midi, go smoothly.

 

How the vines are growing, daily you could see the change as we drove back and forth from Bram or Castelnaudary to Carcassonne, more time spent in car than boat this month. We visited a computer shop many times for first aid treatment for my lap top, mains adapter socket not working. Unfixable we were told, oh no said I.

I had no choice but to pick & order a new computer, it was to be delivered to Carcassonne port. On delivery I transferred all my dater, only to realise Dell had sent the wrong computer. Sorry our computers do not have the requested slot you asked for, we are sorry for our mistake. Many tears of frustration this month on the phone. I am now trying to return this computer, "but you live in France, Dell say, to difficult to return", what a nightmare it was on the telephoned. they would arrange pick up then not turn up, re-arrange, then not turn up!!!

Another problem also hit us this month my telephone connection via GPRS also stopped working, trying to get that sorted with French Orange telecom was a 10 day nightmare. When things go wrong they come all together. Why though did all the problems wait till we were setting off? That's life I guess.

Basin mooring in Castelnaudary, many enjoyable de stress walks around this huge 7 hector basin.

Our boat journey to Castelnaudary was a most enjoyable day, the sun was shinning and the wind (on this day) was calm. We locked together with Sheila all the way. John & I were thrilled to be on the move again. I cycled the 16 Kilometres, stopping at each of the eighteen locks on this journey, to take the ropes from Moet then from Chatelaine, we were climbing high up, many double locks. Four together as we entered Castelnaudary basin. Wonderful moorings, next to a water point, and a picnic area. Castelnaudary have a huge market on a Monday and we enjoyed exploring. They have the best fig bread in the world here. This is our view from the boat, who would want to leave this! Colours changing every day.

Many birthdays coming up, all our very best wishes to you from our mooring in Castelnaudary.

We hope you received our letters and cards over the months. The post in England has let us down on so many occasions, we do not know who receives our post, many cards also did not arrive for me last month, and it's so sad when people take the time to write or send mail, then it goes missing.

Castelnaudary is very famous for it's Cassoulet, a tasty recipe from Languedoc. We think David & Pam's is a better recipe. River tourism contributes significantly to this town's economic development. They are planning to build a winter mooring for this year, our names are down for a space, as back up Plan B.

John had his problems too, the hot water cylinder, safety valve stopped working.

Mr.Brico (DIY store) visited many times for parts this month. Bless Sheila and her knowledge of the French language, she helped deal with Orange France & my phone. I spent many frustrating hours on the telephone this month, plane cancellations, computers, GPRS system. Problems with our property back home. The car was on auto pilot back and forth to Carcassonne which is the nearest main city. Our mobile phone had steam coming out... watching the euros add to the phone bill, "ouch John shouted". We were frustrated to say the least.

My web guru (Willem) was on his way to Belgium with his boat and I missed his help. He had much on taking the boat on his own for major work to be done. It was nice keeping up with his progress when we could.

How I wished I was in England this month to sort out some of our problems,and not have a language barrier to deal with, on top of all the problems.

The Midi weather, warm but oh the wind blew and blew. The Canal was like the sea, lapping over.

The wind blew for a week, and all we wanted to do was go home to England. But never give in, we battled on.... the boat did rock the last week in April, the weather being very changeable, sunny & very warm during the day, but chilly at night. Even the Island built in the port to protect barges from the strong Tramontane winds did not seem to help. John's pet hate is any wind, what a month its been. A wild Swan attacked every thing in the port, perhaps he too hated the wind.

Look in on May web page to see if any of our problems where sorted. If this page ever gets on the internet site, you will know I had a connection from some where, I wont give up!

Sheila & myself at the Fete de Cameron 2006 4th Regiment Etranger in Castelnaudary.

 

Army believe in starting their training young in France, it was delightful watching all the children enjoy their time here. No health & safety around, as we were allowed to handle, and shoot from Pump action shot guns. Sheila did very well firing her gun, winning herself a bottle of Champagne, she hit 6 out of 8 shots. I hit none, too frightened of this weapon, we enjoyed the experience & fun. Our experience here took away all the mystery surrounding the Legion er Army for us, we met many soldiers from all over the world.

John enjoying his pump action gun target practice, he was good gosh the noise so loud the bang.

40 euros, bought the three of us all our drinks for the day, including a special bottle of wine produced for this day. It also including our lunch, and a BBQ dinner for the evening. We met some very interesting soldiers who bought us drinks as we talked & gained a lot of knowledge regards this army and it's training.

This was the only day the public are allowed into this huge training camp, in Castelnaudary. We were so pleased we were here to experience this wonderful bank holiday weekend. Much to see and do over the two day opening. Everyone was having such fun here, trying out new things, the soldiers and their families enjoying time together. Much drunk, but no one drunk.

 

Sheila and I were told to duck, as we boarded the Legion ers helicopter for a ride over Midi.

The soldiers strapped (a terrified) Sheila & I in our seats, what a ride over our boats and Castelnaudary & the Canal du Midi. John declined this thrilling ride, and stayed on the ground, taking this photo of us boarding. My second helicopter ride since arriving in France. Sheila and I were awarded a certificate, 4th Regiment etranger. A effectuer un bapteme en helicopter. Sheila was thrilled she took part, in spite of her fears.

We enjoyed our evening BBQ duck & wine before setting off back to the boat, too tired for the evening disco.

We have decided to stay in Castelnaudary, until our problems are sorted, the computer is collected from Dell. My GPRS system is up and running.

My brother Stephen arrives next month, we may well still be here in Castelnaudary. The plus side will be, we wont have far to drive to airport to pick Stephen & Lynn up from Carcassonne. There is always a plus side.

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