October 2006 Autumn in the Midi

This Coypu feeding at the side of our boat the colour reminded me, Autumn's on it's way now

I felt a little miserable as October started... I twisted my back and the very thought of cruising back in pain was hard to bear. Thankfully no more than a muscle strain, we just delayed leaving for a few days.

We enjoyed being in Moissac port especially the people we met and the wonderful surrounding villages to visit. I enjoyed swapping computer program's with Kaz who run the port with Iain. We share the same interest in computers, photographs and making cards.

All too soon it was time to be heading back for our booked winter mooring in Carcassonne. Enjoyed traveling back with Sheila on Chatelaine who is struggling herself with hip pain now.

Lauzerte, set on a hill, was originally an ancient Gallic settlement.

Sheila, John & I left Moissac by car on a rainy day after canceling our cruise it was far too wet & windy. We decided to go shopping - stock up on food for our journey back. We also drove to the pretty village of Lauzerte it commands an ideal position on a hill. A storm broke as we arrived in the village giving us wonderful changes in light and colour. The views from the road and changes in light were just amazing. Sadly we could not spend too much time here and headed back to the port after a walk & coffee. It was a good photo opportunity as the storm passed. We enjoyed our visit to this medieval village, with it's elaborate well restored stone work.

Port of Moissac run by Kaz & Iain - France Afloat holidays.

We departed Moissac after much rain had fallen. Sheila, John & I took time to settle into traveling together, both boats trying to find the right space to sit comfortable in the locks, some very ill placed bollards on some locks. Both Moet Chandon & Chatelaine took a few knocks as it was not possible to sit in the middle of the lock, the force of the water up front was much stronger on the Garonne Canal. I cycled and walked a great deal to Toulouse this helped in the easy electric locks.

At Montech we stopped as a storm was brewing, but the lock keeper drove down and asked us to move up through the five locks, too dangerous here he said with the tree's already so damaged (See July 06). the evidence was still all around to see, we took his advice.

Passing one of the boats Rick Stein used in the BBC program...

Rick Stein's "ceppe" mushroom omelet is so nice I cannot wait to try again, we bought ceppes for first time in Carcassonne last winter, this is the season for buying or collecting different mushrooms.

John thought he had found some ceps at side of canal... sadly we were told by two French ladies also collecting these mushrooms, sorry those are not ceps, ( I was told in French what they where but I did not understand too well). We keep searching for good mushrooms in the wild, before sun up... in our dreams that is! though John was up early most mornings to cycle back for the car.

John collecting mushrooms - are they edible?

We took time traveling to Toulouse, sharing meal's with Sheila. We also enjoyed a good meal at a restaurant in the port of Montech... Wild ceppe mushrooms in garlic & parsley butter for a starter was on the menu. John & I enjoyed our gastronomic discovery tasting all the different regional specialties & wonderful wine... we are becoming much more adventurous with our shopping and eating out.

I thoroughly enjoyed being able to cycle again for longer periods now my back was feeling much better. The wonderful cycle path leading into Toulouse was a pleasure to ride on. I choose to stay on the boat the last few kilometres to take in the art work from many different artists adorning the walls as you enter the city via the canal.

Our arrival in busy Toulouse, enjoying afternoon tea on Moet with friends...

We were so excited pulling into the harbour at Toulouse, friends Ursula, Mike & daughter Natille were moored here on Bon Adventure waiting for our arrival. We had much fun catching up and sharing our cruising adventures. Ursula & Mike were the first friends we made in France, (See August 04) we have shared so much over the two years. We all enjoyed a meal out in the city before Natalie flew home a few days later. Nice exploring this city again... getting lost in it's many back street's & coffee squares. We cooked an extra special meal for Ursula & Mike after Natille departed... we so looked forward to traveling back together.

Peter, John & Knud would have enjoyed more cycling together given the chance.

Peter & John's 80km early morning cycle ride to Moissac for our car was most enjoyed, such good weather, though some cold morning's as the weather starts to change.

Erica & Knud telephoned Peter during the cycle ride to say they were on their way for a visit since they were catching a flight from Toulouse the following morning.

I think Knud would have loved to have joined Peter & John on the cycle ride. Peter telephoned Sonia - Sunday lunch for six is it possible he asked... what a kitchen aboard Escargot, I would enjoy working in this kitchen too it has a wow factor.

Sonia on Escargot are mooring in Toulouse for winter.

Sonia with such short notice produced an excellent BBQ lunch, a really good afternoon that stretched to late in the afternoon. It was so nice to see Erica & Knud again we invited them to stay with us rather than a hotel, we were delighted they said yes - but only if we can take you all out to dinner was the reply, more food we shouted.

We eat none stop the four days we where in Toulouse. My bike had to be used on the trip back to Carcassonne as I could feel my waist expanding each day, I just have to get a few pounds off at least.

Lunch aboard Escargot - Peter, Sheila, Irene, Knud, Erica & John.

We waved Knud & Erica off after breakfast. We are planning to meet up again on their boat at the end of March when they return from Australia. It was all too soon to wave good bye to all in the port of Toulouse.

Canal du Midi

Bon Adventure, Moet Chandon, Chatelaine traveling together Toulouse to Le Segala on the Canal du Midi.

It was mixed weather the cruise back wind & rain with some really wonderful warm sunny days. One day though it was so very windy, John & I were caught out- coming through a lock, propeller was full of leaves - we had no steering and ended up being pinned against a wall by the forceful wind, we just could not get off the wall... we decided that was enough for the day... the wind howled for almost 24 hours.

Toulouse to Port Montesquieu-Lauragais on the Canal du Midi cycling path.

The winds seem to start the moment we stated cruising the Canal du Midi. We fit perfect into the round locks but with three boats it proved to be difficult finding bollards to suit boats... a hire boat filled with Spanish holiday makers joins us at one point and bumps every thing in sight, so we try to stay clear remembering we had to learn once too.

I continued to cycle from lock to lock which helped. I also I enjoy running round helps my back also I hoped it would keep me fit. Ursula as usual cooks up some storming meals aboard Bon Adventure for us all... I always love watching and learning in her kitchen... We love her curry nights...

Port Le-Segala, summit of the Canal du Midi, relaxed and enjoying the wonderful weather.

Playing double 12 dominos here in the sunshine in the middle of October was very pleasant, part of boating, stopping when you want for as long as you want it's not the destination but the journey as they say... nice unexpected moments. We all eat out in this port and it was so disappointing we won't eat here again.

Castelnaudary basin we call this windy city... when we are here it's always windy by the water.

Castelnaudary hope to have winter moorings ready for next year, the work this year has been delayed due to VNF work and putting in the electric cables for the port. Moorings are through the bridge far right of the above photograph. We were invited to see all the plans and all the work now completed on the new port office.

Canal du Midi - one of last round locks for us this season.

We set off for Carcassonne stopping for fuel (above photo) in the basin, fuel is 1 euro 8 cents coming down all the time, we then crossed the basin for a coffee on Bon Adventure before our departure... it tuned into breakfast then lunch, then out to dinner in the evening... far too windy to set off, good day was had be all, my goodness it was so windy that day.

We enjoyed two very peaceful cruising days, it was such good weather too. Cruising into Carcassonne was like coming home... many friends here to greet us. A sadness for us both as our cruising for this season has ended for now... we have enjoyed every moment of our time cruising this year and wished it was April and we could start all over again...

Port de Plaisance Carcassonne

Next door neighbours David & Renate on board Suki

On arriving in the port Renate & David had a special celebration dinner ready for us we shared many hours together celebrating their birthdays, we had much fun catching up... we had moored together in the port of St Jean de Losne for our first winter in France 2004/5. They spent last winter in Dover, England and are looking forward to a winter in France again enjoying visitors and exploring the south of France.

Happy Birthday David & Renate...

David celebrated his 70th birthday with friends & family in England. This card was made for him with a wonderful poem. Renate decided to celebrate her birthday with a trip to Lordes...and came back with a hand injury needing medical attention... after a hand shake from a well wisher in Lourdes, (she sustained a trapped nerve in her hand)... some birthday she shouted, as they had to cut their trip short and come back.

Coach trip to Andorra

6.45am 13 of us traveled by coach to Andorra ( 13 euro's return each). It was a spectacular drive through the mountains with the full force of autumn colours as we climbed high... in a bus with clutch problems, stop the bus I want to get off!!! We have only visited Andorra in snow - It was nice to see this country without snow and in sunshine. the journey back was too long well over 4 hours - many tired people to drop off - all with their shopping. Ursula, Mike, David & Renate also found the journey too long.

Sheila found it hard going as her hip has deteriorated even more now, she is undergoing tests and may need a full hip replacement or re- surfaced before the year is out she is investigating all possibilities of what will be best for her.

90km cycle ride enjoyed by John & Peter + 280 other cyclists around four vine yards...

Peter from Escargot rang John to ask if he would like to join him on a sponsored wine tasting cycle ride,to included wine tasting along the way including lunch. The Randonnee des Vins Primeurs 2006 round trip was from the village of Lezignan starting at 9am returning at 5pm. I drove John to the start of the race and wished I could of joined the 282 cyclists on the trip. They enjoyed such good weather, perhaps a little on the warm side for cycling. I enjoyed a shopping trip in the village then drove back to Carcassonne. Peter & John thoroughly enjoyed the day returning with some good wine for us to try. John has joined the Carcassonne cycling club and hopes to enjoy more team cycling, when we return from England.

John & I have been cleaning and packing up preparing for our trip next month - we are still enjoying meals on the deck in the sunshine. Glad to be back in Carcassonne amongst friends, 19 boats are here for this winter.

Carcassonne Port - got together 28 degrees end of the month.

We all enjoyed each others food and getting together in the port having a great afternoon in the sunshine... lots of artists in the port offering support & help in all area's of art, photography, music, computers too. Des has been busy helping set TV up in the port also helping out with computers... even getting my old lap top to work... wow. Everyone is out sprucing up their boats and you can't get work done for stopping & chatting.

Sheila presented John & I with three water colour paintings... we are a lucky couple indeed.

Sheila has a special talent for flower painting and has now turned professional, she has orders for her wonderful water colour paintings... she presented us with three of her paintings which we are proud to own... I am take orders if you would like to commission her for a painting, please e-mail me your order, Sheila hopefully hopes to have a web site of her work up & running in the new year. I continue to dabble with painting when I can, busy life this boating.

We are now getting ready to visit friends, family and have a break from the boat. We hope you have had a good month and we look forward to hearing from you with your news and up dates from where ever you are.