May 2006 Fete-du-Nautisme

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5.40am Sunrise in Castelnaudary. Mist rises up, we are still here! awaiting hot water cylinder

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Reminded me of a September morning back home. I enjoyed taking some good photographs. One day I hope to have a photograph published (other than this web site that is) or perhaps enter a competition and win best snap shot.

My new Dell computer (wrong one sent last month) was picked up eventually this month from the boat. My old computer was temporarily repaired, by an angel in a shop here in Castelnaudary. My phone and e-mail connections were re-established after many weeks of problems. It was frustrating on the phone and going back and forth to Carcassonne. On the positive side John's French is improving, he's gaining more confidence after all the speaking on the telephone.

BBQ Sunday lunch, leg of lamb, roast potatoes what a delight this marvelous invention is.

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Now we can cook our favourite meal Sunday roast in summer without turning the boat into an oven. Our new stainless steel Cobb BBQ is also a wok, oven, fry pan, all in one. It's a marvelous invention and we have had many wonderful meals this month. Sheila did some cookery lessons for john on how to use the new BBQ. What diet? Our visitors this month sampled some good meals, deserts and wonderful cakes from BBQ.

Fete-du-Nautisme Castelnaudary

Castelnaudary was a fun place to be this month with much going on. We were invited by the president (not Chirac) of Fete-du-Nautisme, to moor along the canal key were Fete was to be held, we're never ones to miss out on a good knees up. We moved the boats up from the basin. Claude (president) thought our boat was magnificent, he wanted it to be on show. We invited some friends over to join us for the weekend. We had many feet walk through our galley & cabins over the weekend. Another famous fete here is the famous Cassoulet celebrating this dish in the month of August.

Des & Janet arrived by train for the afternoon along with a few guests not enough seats for all.

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Talking of seats, we had one of our front deck chairs and a plant stolen from the deck, some time over the weekend. We are now on the look out for a new chair. Hope the person who took our chair is sitting comfortable.

Much wine drank on the Moet this month. Met so many people, many English people have settled here. Many hire boats are on the canal now too. We had fun watching people having fun trying all the different craft on the water, all lesson's and rides were free during the festival.

 

Fun on the Canal du Midi during the Fete-Du-Nautisme weekend

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John was impressed by the way Sheila handled the new bateau electrique "bumper boat"

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Sheila and I have enjoyed being together very much over the months, we enjoyed this electric boat.

Sheila's boat is moored behind ours. We have become good friends. Sadly there was no time to paint or draw this month but we tried many other things as you can see. We found a good place to park our cars for the summer which is safe and secure. We put Sheila's car in first, the cost is around 30 euros a month for parking. They also take caravans, small boats, and furniture all for the same price. It comes highly recommended.

 

The new Captatainer Sylvie introduced us to the Mayor of Castelnaudary

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The Mayor was most impressed with our boat. Many people worked very hard this weekend to make the Fete a most enjoyable weekend. This town could do so much more with it's canal side and vast water lake, but sadly it's not yet used to it's full potential, perhaps if the winter mooring works go ahead, this will be the start. Sylvie is working hard to make it happen.

John was a celebrity again, (in my eye's too) his photograph appeared in the local news paper, Fete du Nautisme, along with a story regarding the lack of use of the canal side, especially for leisure.

What do you think of the herbs we planted on the boat? They are now taking shape. John thinks we should go into market gardening, proud of his lettuces, and our herbs.

A young couples dream to make a 38m boat their new home on Midi... the locks are only 30m!

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This young couple had their boat cut in half and plates welded inside each half in order to travel the Canal du Midi. They traveled with the boat joined together, they then split the boat in half once the front end was inside the lock, joining them back together at the top of each lock as seen above, before they continued their journey, for work to turn this boat into a home once reaching Toulouse. A slow process of love for them, holding up boats traveling behind them, including Fiona & Earl on Barge Colibri heading for Castelnaudary, we were out cycling along the tow path, "come aboard" they shouted, "travel with us to next lock for afternoon tea", placing our bikes on their boat, we enjoyed afternoon tea on deck while waiting for this huge boat to navigate a double lock, watching with fascination. It will be welded together once passed the 30 meter locks (This size only on the Canal du Midi).

Tour-de-l'Aude, women from all over the world cycle into Castelnaudary

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This famous cycle race, part of which started and ended in Castelnaudary, brought many cars, bikes and support teams here. The main road was closed off for the event and later there was a presentation by the Mayor. I wished I could cycle as fast and be as fit as these ladies.

We drove into Carcassonne airport to pick up my brother Stephen and his wife Lynn. We enjoyed lunch and a tour of the old city, then later drinks with Des & Janet on Traquire and later in the square, they were celebrating Ireland winning the rugby.

Carcassonne wine festival, fresh fruit being laid out in the fountain. Stephen turning French.

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Carcassonne was preparing for a wine festival, which we sadly missed as we were cruising. It was nice to see the square filled with fruit and seeing the preparation. We listened to a great jazz band playing as everyone worked.

We enjoyed the drive back and a BBQ on the boat when we returned to Castelnaudary. We then prepared for a two day cruise, the weather was still a little windy but on the whole it was great for cruising, biking and walking.

Canal du Midi and the Plane Tree avenue in Castelnaudary; the start of Stephen & Lynn's trip.

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I took this photograph from the helicopter last month, it was a good photo to show Stephen & Lynn Castelnaudary from the air, especially where we would be traveling, they were impressed by the avenue of plane trees. We managed to collect some figs and Mulberry fruits they were sweet as could be. I bought a tray of sweet cherry's and placed them in John's best brandy he was not best pleased. I said "but you can now have cherry brandy"... we all had a good laugh.

We enjoyed trying different wines and foods. It was nice to be moving again after a stressful month. Not many hire boats for this time of year here, Stephen thought it would be so busy on the Canal du Midi, he was pleasantly surprised. It was a quiet weekend.

Stephen & Lynn soon got to grips with the locks and ropes and wildlife around.

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Birdsong and new life was in the air as the four of us drift slowly along the Canal du Midi to Le Segala.

Stephen gives us lessons of how to recognize the different birds we hear singing as we drift along the canal, enjoying the beauty of the countryside. Some of the birds, included Blackcap, Lynn spots a couple of Jays. I spot an usual bird with a huge crest, no one can put a name to. We spot and hear the laughing call of many green woodpecker's also a Song thrush and a bird we hear many times over, but no one can recognize the song. Stephen will investigate the bird sounds when he returns to Liverpool. I was lucky to watch these ducklings only minutes old jump into the water for first time while I was on a bike ride.

Our boules completion in Le Segala with locals also playing in a match their match lasted two days.

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Sheila saved us a great mooring spot with free electric & water, but she had to fight an American on a hire boat, who took her sign "reserved for Moet Chandon", they kindly moved when Sheila said "look Moet Chandon sent on their crew ahead, waiting for their boats arrival"... my brother Stephen & Lynn (our crew) they had been cycling along the canal until the chain snapped on John's bike, poor Stephen was slightly bruised and the bike was fixable.

We enjoyed a great afternoon of boules, a wonderful BBQ and much good wine. It was nice to sit out and enjoy the warm evenings. We had breakfast outside in the morning, with fresh bread delivered by van to this small village.

Medieval villages visited, lots of cheese & wine bought, before our visitors departed for home.

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We had a wonderful day cruising back to Castelnaudary. We also enjoyed a visit to the Pyrenees mountains stopping for coffee in Mirepoix village as seen here. On Stephen & Lynn's last evening we enjoyed a great meal out in our favourite restaurant The Red Dragon, in Castelnaudary. We drove to the airport the following morning and said our goodbyes.

At the airport I decided to book a ticket to fly to England for a week on the next available flight which was Thursday, I needed to sort out some problems back home that had crept up this month and buy a new computer. John was going to stay behind for the arrival of our new hot water tank but changed his mind and decided that could wait.

It was good he didn't stay and wait as we are still awaiting our hot water cylinder to be delivered, but no sign's as yet, it's coming from Holland.

Flying to England with Ryanair, a tour of Castelnaudary, plane took this route due to winds.

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We have seen a great deal of the midi Canal and the South of France via air. Stephen was waiting for us at Liverpool airport. We had a whirlwind visit home, visiting my mum & family, John's mum and also family over from Canada. We moved our son from his apartment into his new home, with much help from the family. We had lots to arrange while at home, we carried out work on our property which gave us some peace of mind. A builder who inspected our property told us we had structural problems.... but this was not the case and saved us a lot of work and expense. We were so pleased we explored the problem ourselves.

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