Port city dwellers - getting boats ship shape for our summer cruise, as I said last month some boats have already taken off. John & I have booked into Carcassonne for another winter - we have decided to stay down south for another year - our 3rd winter, many of our friends have also booked in for another year. We only came for one season - but that's boating, no rush we still much to discover in the south yet.
We are planning to spend time on the coast of the Mediterranean with the boat. We are being lifted out of the water at le Grau-d'Agde in July - hull inspection, we hope to re-paint the boat weather permitting, we intend to slowly cruse and stay in this area till the work is completed - then perhaps back onto the Garonne. (see map top of page).
Mike & Ursula arranged Sunday lunch for Mikes birthday and we all celebrated well... the weather was so awful on this day it was good to be in doors, the wind was bad for days, weather was going from one extreme to another.
We had many a good evening in the port, and many visitors to the Moet, we had a hard job catching up with everyone before we returned to England for Easter, most people will have left the port when we arrive back. We had to move out of our terrace house and get it ready for the new tenant. I had an appointment to have my hand checked over at the Bupa hospital after my operation two weeks ago, hopefully all bandages will come off.
As we were leaving the boat I fell and caught my hand also giving my right shin a bang as I was getting off the boat, the air was blue, needless to say I hobbled into the airport, my poor leg doubled in size, thankfully Sheila was giving us a lift to the airport. Her hip is improving daily, she is now on her cycle getting in shape.
My sister Jean was at Liverpool airport to pick us up, (an angel), she brought her grandson Callum to meet us, he is so like his mum Sharon, they are staying with Jean for the Easter break. I enjoyed taking some photos of him in my mums garden, we had a good afternoon in the sunshine, wonderful weather in England over the Easter break.
Our next stop was Manchester (40 miles) to have a curry night out with Michael and partner John, as the following morning they were leaving for Canada for a weeks holiday with daughter Louise, we dropped them both off at Manchester airport, wishing I could have gone with them.
We had no idea how we had collected so much over the five months we were living here. I think it was to do with Xmas, birthdays, many visitors, and hundreds of trips to DIY stores for things we needed for our projects over the winter months. All the furniture went to good homes or the tip. (this house had been rented out furnished now we are renting it unfinished). It has served us well this winter and I enjoyed staying here.
We packed up and worked very hard over the Easter holiday, with much help, daughter Teresa & Jo came & stayed over we packed together - we all had a good laugh and a joke as we do and some good curries.
John's brother Tony gave us his company van, John's sister Susan & husband Neil drove it over for us, while helping us move furniture, their own home was burgled - their belongs stolen, including their lap top and all the children's computers and games were taken, we felt so sorry for them and powerless to help in any way, they did not tell us till a few days later. Police did not really want to know... four days for crime number. Is nothing safe these days!
Stanks house is now finished we are so pleased with the renovation work that we have achieved over the winter, after adding our finishing touches we packed the car and booked ourselves into a hotel in Leeds for two nights, sorting through all we needed to do before saying our good byes.
With our renewed energy, and a fully loaded car we were ready for the slow drive back to Carcassonne. Visiting friends & family along the way, taking a full week to drive through France, taking a different route this year.
The drive was blissful we visited lots of little villages, staying in some wonderful BB along the way, with such good weather we felt good and looked forward to the summer months cruise with friends.
When we finally arrived in Saint Jean de Losne, David & Pam had booked us into a very nice bed breakfast in the high street. We then had afternoon tea on board Lea Crest with friends, then a wonderful BBQ with Pam & David, as usual we had a super time catching up with them both and hearing all the gossip of Saint Jean de Losne. It was nice meeting up briefly with Caroline, Keith, Jeff, we could of stayed a little longer but pressed on, trying to see as many people as we could on our journey... not too far to travel to our next post of call.
We booked into our usual hotel when staying with Willem, we so enjoyed a wonderful evening out with our web guru bless him. I like this cheeky wonderful smile of Willem's shown here in this photo we had a good time as usual, computer lessons (I have not used it in 6 months he says I have forgotten), French lessons for John. Willem sang his new song, we played his music all the way back south, he loved the south so much when he was here working & traveling.
Willem keeps me on my toes regards web site, we have now had over 25.000 visitors to our site thanks to him and it grows daily. Not bad is it - was just meant for family & friends when we started. I also enjoy getting all your feed back e-mails thanks.
We enjoyed a stay over with Erica & Knud, who had not long returned from spending the winter in Australia. We had arrange with them to ring the night before we would be arriving to see were they would be.
Erica & Knud are looking forward to the next part of their journey traveling the Mighty Rhone river, for first time. Soon they be setting off for Denmark (flying) visiting family & friends - then onto catch the Trans Siberian railway - Russia, Mongolia & China in a few weeks time what a truly amazing adventure. Leaving the boat in Saint-Symphorien-sur-Saone near Saint Jean de Losne while away. They are waiting to hear if they have a wintering mooring in Paris for this year, fingers crossed.
It was so nice to sit & relax on deck and enjoy a wonderful BBQ with stories of their adventures to come, we thought we packed a lot into life, these two are born travelers. We wished them a safe journey north, super weather for traveling the Rhone right now. We motored on the road once again on to our final stop, HOME.
93 hire boats came through Carcassonne Port this weekend, glad we are not around, it's getting busy. About 2500 hire boats on the Canal du Midi, I think it's going to be a busy year this year. We have met some very interesting people on hire boats this month and shared many locks & stories together.
Carcassonne Port was only a two hour drive, our final destination by car, it has been a hassle free glorious weeks drive. Expecting visitors from Paris the morning after we arrived back, we enjoyed getting the Moet spruced up & ready.
Talk of cruising the Black Sea with Fabienne & Yves a dream of theirs on retiring in 2yrs time. We meet this couple on the Canal du Nivernais August 2005. It was lovely to see them again. they brought with them some good weather & brandy from Cognac, we sampled one after lunch, it helped the french lessons along. So nice to see them again, they are house hunting in this area for when they retire.
Part of the joy of being in France is tasting new and different wines, we had a little help from Alan & Beate who also live in this area their recommendation was local Minervois boxes of red & rose... we took advantage of our car and we all stocked up before we left, we expect many visitors to the Moet over the next few weeks, also we are several boaters traveling in the same direction.
Leaving our winter nest we set off, wonderful sunny days, our back canopy is down a lot, John's shirt is off and it was a magic moment the first day, we headed for the Mediterranean coast and the pristine beaches, we will slowly let the Canal du Midi transport us through all the sun-drenched vineyards (they never tell you about the wind down here when she blows she blows you just stay put). We are looking forward to the oval locks that we fit in gracefully, (most of the time), we will be visiting new medieval villages, shopping in lively markets, and for me some cycling & water colour painting a long the way.
The first lock we came to we are delayed, an electrical failure on the gates... so we stopped here a night, it was so peaceful after Carcassonne, bird song and us, we are in no hurry, as I said. Many bumper boats are around as it's the French holidays, build up of bumper boats the other side of the lock, we let them tootle off.
I cycled a fair amount of the canal this month we moored in Trebes, and we met up with John (just put a new engine in his narrow boat) & Wendy - Amethyst, Des & Janet Traquire -, Alan & Beate - Grasse Matinee Free enjoyed a BBQ side of Moet.
Next stopping port was Marseillette we spent a few days moored next to Barge Colibri - Earl & Fiona barge, while we were here they got keys to their new house & office to be (renovation work starts this winter), much celebration here. Fiona & Earl were busy getting Colibri ready for their first cruise with guests
A wonderful hooting owl lived here in the trees above our boat, blissful sounds of different birds, sadly I could not recognise them all.
This month we have been looking for wood decking when out & about in the car. John is going to build a deck on top of the boat next month! A guest sunshine deck for the Moet.
We met Andrea a friend of Fiona & Earl's who lives in Marseillette she invited us around to see her home & renovations in progress - wonder woman we call her, we had some great evenings together. Andrea promised to take us to Spain in her van for our decking wood if I cooked her a Sunday lunch, she misses her mum's cooking - it's a date I said, she needed building supplies also - Spain date to be arranged.
Alan & Beate who also retired early, buying this home for winter and a boat for summer months, they love living in France, inviting us to share a leg of lamb and a full Sunday roast with them on their last day here in the mountains - we watched the sun go down in their home in the mountains, many wonderful days we shared with them this dinner was a great way to end the month.