November 2007 Friends, Family and Art classes

John takes the wheel of Barge Colibri

Fiona shouts which route should we take.

Fiona & Earl gave my sister Kathy & husband John a taste of cruising the Midi Canal in style. It was so nice cruising again. Earl asks John to take the wheel, take over while I get some beers - this is the life. The sun was out and we enjoyed the few hours we spent together cruising the canal and taking Barge Colibri back to Carcassonne port. One lock keeper was working all the locks as the canal is about to close for the season, on days like we wish we could cruise on.

Earl hands Fiona the wheel your turn

It's been a very busy season for them both, Fiona has not had much chance to take the wheel - though she did bring the boat herself from Holland to France after their purchase of Colibri. Now a days she is in the galley or engine room, they are looking forward to a rest before they start work on their latest property venture, two houses and the boat to work on this winter.

Lunch on board Colibri when we arrive in port of Carcassonne

We enjoyed lunch on the deck of Barge Colibri before John drove a happy & relaxed Kathy & John back to Toulouse airport. It was a long journey back to South Wales but all the traveling went like clock work, when she rang me later.

Kathy & I said our good byes here in the port. Unfortunately I still can't travel in the car due to my back pain, so I am walking a lot.

England - Flying overnight visit

John drove back to England with David's help. We needed an MOT and David had things he needed to sort out in England. Both shared the expense and two days driving. They stayed over night in Dover with good friends of David's who also organised the MOT the following morning at 8am MOT was won in a raffle by David's friends.

Straight on the ferry after the MOT to drive the 13 hours back again. It was a marathon trip for both of them, as you can imagine they were a little tired when they got back again. John repaired a leaking injector on our boat on his return and gave himself a pat on the back - well deserved too.

Art classes given on the Moet were a great success

We needed some de-stressing in the port and I started an art class. I had just room for three people on the front deck to paint in the wonderful sunshine this day offered.

I set my students a task of drawing their boats from a photograph of which I had printed for each of them - budding artists Ursula, Mike and David came with bundles of talent, flare. I hope I gave them the confidence to become artists of the future.

I enjoyed being introduced to oil's a few days later by Ursula. I loved every minute of giving and sharing my art & material's.

We all join forces together in the port office - for art sharing our skills together.

I spoke to Stephanie our port captain and asked if we could have some space for drawing & painting. More boaters wishing to join in the sharing of art. I did not have enough space on our boat for everyone.

Our first session together in the office was a great success and a willing start was made for the winter season of art - perhaps an art showing in March for the boaters of Carcassonne ~ if I can arrange this.

It was so nice to have our first get together of the season. I am so looking forward to more get togethers, art can be fixing an engine or sharing a skill you have have, sharing a skill makes boating life all the more pleasurable. What a wonderful mix bunch we are this year, all artists in our own right.

Sheila's house warming party, she loved our present of bringing her boat to the house.

We enjoyed a meal in the countryside, the drive with the autumn colours followed by a wonderful home cooked lunch before arriving in the village of Trausse for Sheila's house warming party ~ most of us the water gypsies from Carcassonne. Sheila has been working hard over the last few weeks getting her new home ready. She had such pleasure hanging some of her floral art - water colour paintings. Sheila loved the photograph we had framed for her as a house warming present, it brought a tear to her eye, she had some wonderful gifts for her new home.

Earl & John play golf - girl's enjoy a day in the Spa

John & Earl enjoyed a day on the golf course in Carcassonne, though cold it was nice and sunny and the views were very good on such a clear day.

A few days later Fiona & I enjoyed a fully body massage and the Hamman Spa not far from the port - how I wished we had found this tranquil place long before now - It was a blissful afternoon.

We enjoyed another great day out with Fiona & Earl when they introduced us to a new destination here in the Languedoc and treated us to a meal In Domaine Gayda's restaurant.

Domaine Gayda

Domaine Gayda is situated in the foothills of the Pyrenees, surrounded by vines yards.

We enjoyed a wonderful long lunch here with Fiona & Earl's and their friends Timon & Stephanie. On the day of our visit we were lucky enough to sample some really good wines and Earl gave us a wine tour of this cave before lunch. This newly built cave and restaurant is only 4 years old and owned and run by David who is English. We enjoyed this trip very much indeed no problems with the language here. "Domaine Gayda"

A very nice wine to try "Chemin de Moscou 2005" a tasty red, I enjoyed this very wine much. I do like oaky wines but sadly David says they are going out of fashion, we watched some barrels being made at a festival.

Fiona & Earl's home in Malras - shared with friends is always such a pleasurable experience.

Malras which is near to Limoux had a warm log fire burning away soon after we arrived, donkey outside mowing the lawn - a pink sky so breath taking we had to take our time enjoying this sunset. Then an evening chatting around the fire.

Coffee and tea around many a fire this month as the weather brings lots of changes.

John helped Earl first fixing a second bathroom here in their home in Malras they enjoyed working together and learning from each other. Fiona stayed on their boat running new pipe work to boat heating system and new pump - then prepared us the most wonderful Xmas dinner with so many wonderful added touches, we sampled some very fine wines that evening too, .

Sadly Sheila had an accident this month and fell on her wood burning stove and burnt both hands she was rushed to hospital in shock. Thankfully no lasting damage and she is now healing and taking a rest from working in her home.

Our colour filled walks were stunning ~ the colours were just wonderful this year.

I especially loved my curry cookery lesson's on board Bon Adventure and the many curry evenings we shared with Ursula's & Mike also some good nights on the Moet this month.

Ursula & Sheila pulled a young man out of water... he had been acting strangely in and around the port, and jumping on boats he then fell or jumped into the water thankfully Ursula was watching him. Ursula thinks he was ill or on drugs. Another life saved.

I think John & I have had mast of the boaters over for a meal at some point this month. unfortunately we could not have them all at once.

Sea Wolf, Sanity and Biesbosch on the less sunny side of the leafy port

It was so nice meeting new neighbours like Geoff on Sanity, we had a good night on board. Bill & Sylvia (magic with wood) on Biesbosch they are from America. Jane & Hugh from the Welsh Valley on Sea Wolf big rugby fans. We had much fun this month entertaining and being entertained. The joy of swapping stories and visiting each new boat is always part of the life we all lead.

The line up on B Pontoon is much the same as last year with one change of boat, Alan & Beate on "Grasse Matinee Free" have joined the sunny side this year.

The canal has been drained again below the lock this year. It always surprises us that the VNF never clean the canal when it is empty they just refill leaving all the rubbish in.

My walks 3 x a week to the physiotherapist I discovered new fruits & streets of Carcassonne.

Physiotherapy three times a week working on my back - using massage, gentle manipulation, electronic impulse's into the muscles followed by hot pad therapy, relieved my pain and the stiffness. It was nice to be in less pain. I began to enjoy painting, walking and my photography again.

Unfortunately I cannot or do not accept my limitations with my spine and worse still I sometimes put myself at risk. One day... I might learn.

John had reason to visit the physiotherapist after injuring his knee on a 60km cycle ride to Limoux. John & I limped along together... to visit Phillipe, who worked his magic.

Sunrise in Carcassonne Port ~ boats settled for winter.

There are seventeen boats in the port this year and we have had a really good month for social activities. At one point John and I were invited out for several nights running our waists got bigger this month. A wonderful start to our winter season.

The temperature this month went from minus 4 to 23 degrees you can see I am sure from the different photographs taken this month. Hot then cold, thankfully again very little rain this month. Our visits out this month often take in the views of the Pyrenees and the changing views over the month were so breath taking. We did not find a suitable house for sale for us in France this year - but next year who knows we keep looking!

Pyrenees Mountains in the distance ~ getting ready for the winter skiing season.

Happy Christmas to you & our Very Best Wishes for 2008