October 2007 Carcassonne - Lifesaving

Carcassonne Port - As the hire boats leave - house boats move in.

We settled into our winter mooring. John was able to start job's in the engine room which have been awaiting for attention, we had a long list of job's. With a busy social life work some times comes second on our list.

The weather was not so good the start of this month, real autumn feel (perhaps my mood too). Not much sunshine for first 10days. The south of France can surprise us with it's extremes of weather, (fully experienced this month). The change in humidity and the unsettling winds can stay for days. The hire boats are still out in force as you can see in the above photo. But less hire boats around as the month progressed.

Carcassonne Wine festival under way - no the fountain is not full of wine but red dye.

Four nights of wine celebrations and a festival here in Carcassonne's main square. Live music every night, fun in the city especially because of the World Cup Rugby which brought more tourist to France. One evening in the port we had about 40 hire boats all with Australian tourists staying on boats for the Rugby. It was an amazing sing song evening with lots of banter in the port.

Sampling wine at 1 euro a glass during the wine festival. We talked to local vine growers, from the Languedoc-Roussillon which includes 5 departments Aude, Gard, Herault, Lozere & Pyrenees-Orientals. This area includes 150 miles of coastline.

Ken & Betty invited us to their house warming party - local wine for the celebrations.

It was so nice catching up with friends in Marseillette again. Ken and Betty's lovely holiday home was a joy to see. They are so proud and love to spend time here in this village. Four years of hard work went into this property. It was nice meeting some of their family.

Ken informed us of a house which went up for sale that afternoon. It was next door to Andrea, we promptly went to view the outside and take the telephone number. Needs much work and we pondered what to do. Ken and Betty's wonderful roof terrace used for the party gave us some idea's.

Andrea booked us an appointment to view the house, she also visited with us to help with the language and idea's. We need to see the Mayor and enquire if permission would be granted for an outside terrace.

House for sale in the Village of Marseillette some parts date back to XVth century.

Friends Fiona and Earl bought a house in the above village this year. The house we are interested in has a small vegetable plot of land (10 - 15 minutes walk away) runs down to the river Aude. The house ticks many of our boxes but not all. We have friends living in this village and around the area this is a big plus. We are viewing the house again next month, we have made a list for and against and will take our time, perhaps too much work for us to take on.

Sheila has bought a house to rent out in the village of Trausse, Minervois

Trausse is not too far away from Carcassonne. If you wish to take a look and book Sheila's house for a holiday or a spot of house hunting, take a look at this web site www.holiday-rentals.co.uk Sheila's property reference number is 86784. You might like to book in and do a spot of property hunting yourself.

We celebrated at "Le Parc" and enjoyed a lovely meal out on the day Sheila received her house keys. A house warming party soon is on the agenda. Sheila is thoroughly enjoying dressing up her house especially hunting for furniture ready for future guests. Big difference in Sheila since she had her hip replaced - one year on and she is running about enjoying being pain free and a none smoker. Good luck and well done.

Janet & Desmond look on as our hot soup is served from this strange glass tube.

Our experience at Celine & Frank Putelat's restaurant called "Le Parc" near the Ramparts of Carcassonne's. We all appreciated the gastronomic pleasure the food brought to our eye's and oh the taste buds were working over time. A good choice of restaurant to celebrate with friends Sheila, Des, Janet. John & I were also celebrating the day we met, (lucky day for us both). Our lunch lingered on as Frank created in his kitchen - he won "Bocuse d'Argent" during the 2003 cooking world completions. We loved our experience, such a pleasure " he is an artist of food", this year he was awarded a Michelins star. I recommend this restaurant ~ top value lunch was my opinion. "Restaurant: Le Parc Franck Putelat".

Our bathroom on the Moet

John was just the man to help piece together new pipe work.

The Moet underwent some transformations this month. The hot water system needed replacing. John fitted a new hot water cylinder and upgraded our system (old one had sprung a leak last year).

Our bathroom/utility room, benefits a much better hot water system. Poor John spent days cramped in the tiny engine room and our new airing cupboard. He fitted a 75ltr Vetus hot water cylinder. Renewing all the pipe work to fit was in it's self a big job. Fitting pipes all together was a bit like this lovely jig saw of a photo created by son Michael.

We are all most ship shape and ready for the winter months. The engine room has been over hauled the four batteries were all removed re-checked and a lick of paint in the engine room will help keep us smoothly running during the winter months. We had some really good sunny days middle of the month and high temperatures - which did not help John when he was coupe up down below. Winter clothes one day tee shirts & shorts the next we were blowing hot & cold.

I enjoyed shopping for material to make new blinds & some curtains for the Moet windows in need of a little spruce. John & I decided we needed a day off from work and rest. We were sat chatting when I heard shouts outside our boat and went to investigate one Sunday morning.

A man went too close to edge of canal in his wheelchair and fell into the Midi Canal.

No one went to the aid of a person in the water which still shocks me now. I was inside our boat and came out to see what was happening. I saw a body floating in the water, the person appeared to me to be unconscious and no struggle.

I stripped off ( to vest & knickers), I dived off our boat into the water. I needed to lift up his head out of water. I was scared when I got to him. I thought I was too late.

John dived in to bring the life ring already thrown into the water. Together we swam with the man back to the pontoon at the side of our boat, we had no other way of getting out of the water. We were lifted out of the water which was not an easy task.

Our son sent us this photo to say how proud he is of his parents, it made us laugh so much.

Several people had stood and watched this man in the water, till he lost his fight and his lungs took in too much water. A life ring was thrown into the water, but the drowning man needed more help ~ which made me react the way I did.

We do not know how long this man had struggled to get out of his wheelchair underwater. He may not have struggled for too long on the surface of the water as hypothermia had set in.  We fear he would have drowned had we not acted so quickly.

The pompiers arrived with a doctor within minutes of pulling him out of the water, he was now in good hands. The electric wheelchair was recovered later in the afternoon using police divers. Later we were told he is a professor teaching Spanish here in Carcassonne. We have not yet met the man hopefully we will one day.

Willem sent us this photo ~ the lifesaving story was also in the local news paper.

A lady from the Marie (Mayor's office) arrived at our boat in the afternoon to say thank you for saving a life. We feel proud that we acted without thinking of ourselves.

I did suffer later from bruising under my arms when I was pulled out of the water, I also scraped my right leg on the pontoon. We were given lots of hot tea & brandy and had hot showers to warm up.

The police arrived at our boat later in the day to say congratulations ~ the man you saved is doing well.

Stephanie - Carcassonne Port captain was so supportive.

I kept seeing the man's face "bloated, blue with bulging eyes". My body did not react to the cold water till two nights later. I woke up several times holding my breath and diving in the water, must be what they call post traumatic stress, I never once felt the cold at the time I dived into the water. John says he felt the cold water straight away.

We are glad the man's relatives are visiting him in hospital and not going to his funeral. We hold that thought in our head now. Our port captain at the time fully understood how I felt. Stephanie had herself found a lady floating in the canal three years ago. She had jumped off the bridge, sadly she was already dead when Stephanie found her next morning.

Port of Homps and Beate's birthday BBQ celebrated with friends & neighbours.


We enjoyed celebrating Beate's birthday a few days later in the port of Homps. Several birthdays & celebrations this month with many invites out it's so nice to be included by so many people. We were lucky the weather changed enjoying a great BBQ with Alan working hard to feed everyone, the food kept flowing as did their wine. It turned out to be a good day we were pleased we did not have to drive back to Carcassonne.

Bon Adventure arrives in time for Beate's birthday gathering - then cruises into Carcassonne.

We stayed over night in Homps on "Bon Adventure" with Ursula & Mike.

If they were unable to get their boat to Homps in time we arranged to pick them up in our car. Thankfully they made the journey along the Canal du Midi from the coast to Homps with a day to spare.

Ursula, Mike,Alan, Beate, Huge, Jane John and I shared pizza & beer later watching the Rugby final in a bar. John & I fell into bed in our wonderful cabin for the night. A long breakfast followed before driving off to meet friends in Marseillette for tea and a house viewing. Another week passed us by so quickly.

We enjoyed some good live music this month from many different venues during our walks

I arranged a welcome party in Carcassonne for Ursula & Mike on Bon Adventures their arrival in the port was shared with their friends David & Maureen on board. We sat and enjoyed afternoon tea at the side of Moet in the sunshine.

Dinner all together in Tex Mex to catch up later. It's good John and I walk & cycle a lot, all this wonderful food and eating out would all be adding to our waist line, some times we have to take stock - no drinking alcohol and sensible eating with lots of exercise.

Market days are back again

These red peppers I use to describe my burning back pain.

I really felt the change in the weather, the change was not helping my back pain. I was low in energy & mood. I had to seek medical help in the end. (I had waited too long).

X-rays - showed arthritis in my spine. Pain control was important, I needed to wait for inflammation to settle down before starting physiotherapy. I was banned from traveling in the car by the doctor till pain settled down, I suffered when traveling in car.

The problem with my lower spine was diagnosed within 24 hours. I was placed on medication which helped me cope better.

Support from friends was most appreciated. I have to admit I was miserable with the pain on occasions this month and retreated into the boat when I needed too. I was also sad especially canceling all further cruising on the Moet this month, our winter mooring came far too soon for us both. But on the up side we would have missed out on all we achieved this month in Carcassonne and the invites out we did manage to attend.

Chestnut & wine festival in the village of Saint-Martin-le-Vieil

Maureen & David invited Ursula, Mike, John, myself, Des & Janet to a chestnut festival in their village. For a walk and guided tour. Our guide was Alban Delpoux a very knowledgeable person, thankfully Ursula translated for us on the tour. We were taken into locked caves under houses and places of interest.

Maureen & David have lived in this village for five years they said it was so nice to enter places no one in the village is usually allowed, due to locked gates. Once a year they are opened.

At the end of our tour we watched the chestnuts as they roasted in an old washing machine drum over the log fire.

Wine & Chestnuts - delicious, cheers from Maureen & Ursula

Visiting the caves below ground in Saint Martin le Vieil

After our walk and tour of the village we joined the locals in the village hall together we mingled & sampled the roasted chestnuts. We drank Jean Servieres Voie Romaine, primeur wine - a good flavour & taste so enjoyable.

A very friendly village indeed as most are in France, We were made most welcome by the locals who also enjoyed hearing stories of our life living & traveling in our boats.

Afternoon tea and homemade cake in Maureen & David's home later enjoying views of the Pyrenees mountains before setting off back to the port. A well earned rest, feet up & Sunday TV bliss, a lovely different unplanned day out.

Sister Kathy & husband John enjoy 10kms walk along canal du Midi

My sister Kathy rang are you free next week. "YES we said" can we have chill out time together she said. Kathy booked flights Bristol to Toulouse were my John picked up Kathy & John. We spent four wonderful nights together eating, drinking, site seeing & walking.

We never tire of the different landscape here in the South of France, the different medieval villages we visited with Kathleen & John also the wonderful mediterranean light which draws me out of the boat time and time again to photograph and capture the moment, especially when sharing it with family or friends who are seeing canal du Midi for the first time that is always a bonus for John & I.

We explored together the audio tour (new to us) cite of Carcassonne 2,500 years of history, also the newer town. In the 19th century, the architect Viollet-le-Duc restored the city and it's mediaeval look. This was listed as a Unesco world heritage site in 1997. We see something different each time we visit here. Kathleen & John spent time here 26yrs ago when their children were young spending a whole summer visiting France.

The wind can take your hat, four on this roof top - then calm waters follow - twinkling stars.

We sadly could not cruise but walking was a tonic (for our backs, knees and all those joints that stiffen up quicker than we want them to). We each got lost in talking and the weather didn't matter to us. We got back from a walk one afternoon in time for cups of tea and Ursula's famous pear tart. We sat until the sun went down and a cold chill came upon us, especially now the clocks have gone back in time.

One of the wet & cold days we spent exploring & visiting the Medieval Cite of Carcassonne

The scenery is so varied and impressive this time of year especially the medieval villages, the wonderful Gorge's we also visited. The red patchwork of vines we explored just outside Carcassonne are typical of the Languedoc. We love this area and so do our visitors ~ hence we remember why we are spending our third winter back here.

Barge Colibri passing through Carcassonne - last trip of the season

A telephone call inviting us on a cruise came from Fiona & Earl on Barge Colibri now on their way back to Carcassonne after last guests have left.

We know you can't cruise with your family - would you all like to join us - we are bringing Barge Colibri back to Carcassonne. YES please we shouted. Earl said "I will pick you up 9.30 tomorrow".

Lets hope the start of November brings better weather and some pain free weeks which is my wish.

Happy November to you... thanks for all your lovely e-mails of support and all our cards - now we have an address.