We had two wintry days in Castelsarrasin before setting off together. The weather for our 200km cruise back was good, one of our best Octobers since coming to France. Hardy boaters in tee shirts and shorts for most of the month - not wanting the summer or our cruise to end. We encountered very few other boats cruising this month, until we arrived back into Carcassonne.
As we progressed along the canal nature and colour was at it's best. Ursula at times wished she too could cycle with me more.
Montech set of 5 locks and a water slope (Pente-d'eau) for larger boats (see wikipedia : Montech water slope).
Ursula & I cycled together one day from Montech Port back to our mooring in St-Porquier. We enjoyed a coffee with Sheila when we arrived. Sheila is now settled in her winter mooring here in Montech, along with Jan & John on "Blackbird Fly" & David & Margaret on "Le Pearl". We enjoyed a few days in Montech port catching up. We cruised the Montech to Montauban branch only 11 kilometres. A new experience for us was the remote control locks 9 of them, very easy to manage though the canal is long & straight, it's a very pretty cruise. I photographed some of my favourite morning sunrise's here.
Ursula arranged to meet the lock keeper the day before our cruise, we met him at the 1st lock. Each boat was given a remote control and instructions on how to work the easy 9 locks. We traveled alone in the locks due to the bollards (not enough). We met up with Ursula & Mike later in Montauban port, one of our locks failed to work and we had to wait for the lock keeper to arrive (not too long). We are delighted we have cruised this branch at long last, it only re-opened in 2003 and was closed on a few occasions - a storm closed the canal in 2006 when we were here last.
We spent two nights in the first port and one night in Montauban, (only small finger pontoons). John & I thought if only we had ventured along this canal before, Lacourt-St-Pierre was the perfect mooring for us. I enjoyed cycling the tow path especially through the Agra Forest and all the different trees planted here, great to see them in Autumn colour.
Ursula & Mike were not feeling well when we arrived in Montauban, so they stayed on aboard. I explored the town of Montauban centre which was a good cycle ride away from the port.
I saw no sign of the mill or the Sapiacou lock in Montauban being refurbished. I think opening up this river for cruising to Moissac is a very long way off indeed, perhaps still on the drawing board.
John & I have been to Montauban many times before, but we had not explored the river before. A good day for me & my camera.
The locks take you out onto the River Tarn are closed.
We cruised back to Lacourt-St-Pierre port. One of the high lights of our trip together was Ursula & I cooking for each other or together - we enjoyed some wonderful nights aboard both boats this month, enjoying good food and nice wine. Back on the canal Garonne we stopped off at Marc's lock for a night, the 6 of us enjoyed a meal aboard Moet. We left for Toulouse following morning - it was crisp but clear.
It was a very long cruising day indeed, (two broken locks), we only just made the last lock into Toulouse at 6pm. I did not enjoy the last 10 kilometres cycle ride - especially cycling into Toulouse city. I was so tired, very bruised from a fall off my bike day before. We moored in port Saint-Sauveur for 6 nights - Des & Janet aboard "Traquair" were moored for the winter, they welcomed us aboard for drinks on our arrival.
Seven of us enjoyed an Indian curry - a trip to Ikea for supplies & lunch. John & I enjoyed a day out & a six hour walking tour of Toulouse, lovely warm sunny day, oh my feet, blisters for the first time ever, wrong socks with shoes (first time I wore socks this season).
John's knee seems to be improving, we have been driving back to Moissac hospital each Saturday for his knee draining & oiling treatment. It was a good opportunity to catch up with friends it's magic and a very warming town I find.
One Saturday we continued our drive up to Buzet for an afternoon & stop over in Thouars-sur-Garonne with Barbara & Andy...we had a party to attend at Len & Lynn's.
Shall we dance - Andy thought he would practice on the way to the OAP party - we have many 60th birthdays coming up over the next coming year including John's.....are we really soon to by OAP? Not me, just yet - though my memory sometimes thinks I am an OAP!
Lynn took off her dancing shoes for a well earned drink - Lynn & Len enjoy dancing very much, they had everyone up on the dance floor "YES"... John was dancing, Lynn taught him the big box, little box dance - A medal I should have given Lynn later for getting John up on the dance floor - even if it was only for a short while. We had fun and enjoyed helping celebrate her birthday. Big box little box made us smile many times this month, it's now my hand signal in the lock!
I volunteered to be the driver on the night since the taxi's do not work in Serignac after 9pm even on a Saturday - that was the answer we were given when we tried to book a taxi back to Andy, Barbara's. I was not on the ball with my camera, sadly I did not get a group photograph for my memory box.
We enjoyed a wonderful Irish cooked breakfast at Andy & Barbara's before bidding farewell the following morning and driving back to Toulouse.
The next part of our journey was the Canal du Midi we had 100km to go before reaching Carcassonne with 37 oval locks... we love these locks designed by Pierre Paul Riquet, sadly some need repairing this winter.
www.der-mit-dem-wind-faehrt.de (in German)
We met Andreas in Le Segala port " he asked which side of the canal was the best tow path for Carcassonne". After a few minutes chatting to him we said would you like to join us all for lunch in the local restaurant, well I can't say no to an offer of lunch he said.
We all enjoyed hearing about his amazing journey from Sweden to Marseilles. We enjoyed a wonderful long lunch in the port and he was joined by another cyclists traveling to Spain. They were soon on their travels again, with many interested parties looking at this amazing wind cycle with no peddles.
The best part of his journey was the people he met he told us. Unfortunately I can't read German but he says his web site will soon be in other languages, I do hope so.
The round locks of the Midi canal pose no problems for us though the wind can be a problem when it comes. We had one bad day cruising from Le Segala to Castelnaudary due to the wind, the canal was covered with leaves, though looking very pretty, it caused the boats to slow down. This was the same stretch that caught us out two years ago and pinned the Moet to a wall for 24 hours thankfully this did not happen again.
We arrived in Castelnaudary and the weather changed out came the winter clothing and the cupboards were sorted ready for the winter... Brr The clocks went back too. But it was 28 degrees the following day we baked in the sunshine again.
Sunrise on the canal du Midi
Dredging the canal near Toulouse
The last Saturday of the month saw our last visit to Moissac hospital.....John is due back in December for a check up after John finished his oiling treatment.
We enjoyed a very sociable Saturday again in Moissac port. Coffee on "Orca" + chutney making (21 jars) Iain & Kaz made, some very happy people that day as we clutched our jars.
Nibbles and drinks with Angie & Eve on "Easyvie" they are boat & dog sitting for two weeks. Drinks on "Lagon" then we moved onto "Kimasut" lunch was served by Chris, for John & myself, Andrea & Simon, Jackie & Chris (2). We had a video link up with Carole early on. Lots of wine was enjoyed on this sunny day. I stuck to water, since I drove back to Castelnaudary, John was celebrating end of his knee treatment!
Two of our best cruising days together was from Castelnaudary to Carcassonne, two days when all goes well we had the weather, very friendly lock keepers, we met some nice people. The 24 locks were ready for us and our last two cruising days went so smoothly.
Our arrival in Bram we were greeted by Maureen & David and we enjoyed afternoon tea side of the canal. We then spent a night under the tree's. It was one of the blackest nights, with many stars. We could not see Ursula boat in front of our's. In the morning it was a lovely sunrise - then followed the mist, stunning morning.
I am so pleased with myself I have cycled both canal's and cycled from Carcassonne to Castes & back (over seven months) ..... using the tow paths, roads and some times mud tracks - the canal du Midi, in parts have the worse tow paths, especially from port Lauragais to Carcassonne.
I had to have two new tyres, John repaired one puncture, a new set of gears which is not bad going. I was sorry when our cruising ended and we passed through our last lock for this season. All those kilometres and not one pound in weight did I lose.
John is back on his bike enjoying his cycle rides again he takes in some big hills and does 50 kilometres in a morning, he's hoping his knee will continue to improve.
We enjoyed the afternoon sunshine and catching up. Clive & Di are back in the port this year, more boats are expected in beginning of November. We are looking forward to settling down and meeting our new neighbours over the winter. Not such a good start to the winter for Stephanie (port captain) some electrical problems in the port and VNF informed her of some work on a lock gate. All the boats will have to move from the port and into the canal beginning of November, thankfully enough space for us all. Hopefully this will be just for a few days, we wait and see!
Our first lunch out together in Carcassonne. Great bunch with lots of stories to tell over winter.