August 2009 Cruising from Toulouse to Moissac
This bridge is the entrance to the Canal de Garonne in Toulouse
Entrance to the Canal de Garonne in Toulouse
Eighty-three over bridges on this canal. Many were rebuilt in 1933 to allow for the requirements of larger boats - we note a few more bridges are being built this year.
The canal Garonne for the first 15km is very long and straight, it follows the railway and right bank of the Garonne river. This canal is fed by the Garonne in two ways from the Canal de Brienne in Toulouse and Laboulbène drain in Agen (underground).
This canal is 193 km long, with 53 locks (40.5m) except for the Montech four locks (30m) - the water slope which is used for longer boats over 20m was not in use. The difference in level on canal is 128 m.
This motorway bridge above the canal is a home
Railway follows close to this canal
A lot of homeless people live near the canal in Toulouse, we have ourselves never encountered any problems at the locks other than friendly waves and the shout of nice boat. It took us over two hours to pass through the three automated locks here, not sure of the reason, many boaters said the same happened to them, it was a long and slow process coming through the three Toulouse locks.
Blissful over night stop near Saint Rustice at PK 24
Many boats this month complained of the depth of this canal being too shallow, also complained of much weed in parts, (we ourselves did not experience this, having a keel cooled tank helps), we did notice in Toulouse they had a special boat pulling up the weed here. The weed is especially bad towards the end of this canal. The farmers used lots of water from this canal for their fields, it has been a very hot summer so far. The sunflower fields are amazing, a wonderful glow of colour as we passed by. We enjoyed our cruising especially the few days spent on our own. Nice to see much improvement to the canal banks in many parts with new cycle paths in place. John enjoyed cycling into the hill's this month, he needed new cycle tyres, he's worn his old ones out.
Much needed repair work to the crumbling canal banks - farming life goes on beyond.
We both really enjoyed seeing beyond the canal banks, especially on our walks or cycle rides, sadly no cycling for me this month, oh dear I found it hard going not exercising as much as I would normally do, due to poorly knee.
The locks are mostly automated on this canal with the exception of Montech 4 locks and the locks leaving Castelsarrasin to the road bridge at Moissac, then the lunch time rule applies to these locks, closed 12.30 to 13.30. I was pleased to see the locks were up graded to a much better system than previous years.
Two nights in Montech port, we enjoyed a blissful time.
Our mooring in Montech port
We thoroughly enjoyed our mooring in Montech port, we stayed on for two nights with some real peace, we enjoyed slowing ourselves down and catching up with ourselves. Gorgeous sunsets and wonderful wild life to watch. Sadly the banks of the canal's are being damaged by the Coypus - especially building their nests in the banks.
This was the first port we have moored without meeting someone we know, "I think this is a record". The canal of two seas is I think the longest village, we know most of the boats traveling, (this is our third year). We have met up with new boaters too this month.
Moissac port is very busy indeed, remember to book with Iain & Kaz
We enjoyed cruising the Garonne canal, to Moissac, not as many hire boats around this year. I love this photograph, which Kaz took, now it is proudly on a postcard.
We had a wonderful warm welcome on our arrival in Moissac Port, 'Noble Marine' are doing very well since Iain and Kaz took over.
I needed to rest my knee, (old) orders from a doctor. I am booked in to see a knee consultant, here in Moissac hospital beginning of September. Thankfully my knee settled down after the right medication. I was in a lot less pain, able to carry on except for biking or walking too far the doctor said.
A problem with our Westerbeke generator's lift pump - a new pump was delivered to us.
Our generator stopped working - John was able to pin point the problem to the lift pump - our research into buying a new pump gave us many different prices, as much as £80 difference in the price. Thankfully the part we ordered came from America, the quickest to respond too. John also helped out friends when they needed a helping hand, he was kept busy. He also enjoyed much cycling, the hills and places around Moissac are a dream for his cycling. at present he awaiting to re-new his tyres (worn out). But lots of time still for social events. It was no hardship spending a very social month indeed in this port amongst friends, with many invites out.
Descending the double locks onto the Tarn River with the ski boat, all ready to play.
Ski boat in Moissac lock
Two locks lead from the canal at Moissac on to the river Tarn, a wonderful cruising river, many boats just anchor on this river and go for a swim. With good moorings on the river with electric (see photo below) with water - these moorings are managed by Iain and Kaz who run Noble Marine.
A really good article and photographs of the port and river and surrounding are in "Fluvial magazine" this month, talking about the work that is taking place to re-open the 9 locks on this river, cruising eventually into the city of Montauban. I personally look forward to this happening, it will be a good cruise to take. No mention of dates of the grand opening this could be years away!
Good moorings on the river Tarn in Moissac, these moorings were often empty.
Moorings on the River Tarn in Moissac
We spent time with Iain and Kaz we especially enjoyed the fun and games we had on the river Tarn. It was John's first time in the big tube followed by lesson's to drive Iain's ski boat.
John is so used to the slow speed on the canal he tried to keep to the same speed, poor Iain was not impressed, he was not able to get out of the water for his ski boarding, more lessons from Kaz needed, speeding John up. At last Iain was boarding away up and down the Tarn. But later it proved the fan belt was not working as it should, so not all down to John's slow speed.
John wants less speed, Iain wants a lot more, as we speed up and down the Tarn River
Less speed Iain
More speed John
John held on for dear life - I was surprised and shocked he said 'yes I will have a go in the tube'. Usually John is one to stay away from such thrilling rides. I would not have a go especially due to my knee and spine, I loved the trill of the boat ride on the river Tarn.
Fun day on the Tarn, Moissac - John forgot he was in a ski boat - Iain forgot who was in the tube.
Preparing the ski boat
Alan's evening birthday party was in Moissac where friends gathered to celebrate.
Sheila gave Alan a lovely surprise for his birthday, a party + an afternoon on the Tarn, water skiing, and the tube. Iain was unable to put Alan in the water, a very fit young 65yr old we all thought.
We met up with our friends Bernie and Warren, and enjoyed time with them, Warren celebrated his birthday this month in Toulouse. We went from one celebration to another, we got invited to four 60th birthdays this month.
Moissac port was busy with boats pulling in and out every day, many boaters we know, we always had a cup of tea or glass of wine at the ready, when they arrived.
We celebrated Sheila's birthday here also, the best birthday she can ever remember. (Alan has made it very special indeed, she later said).
Radio interviews with John and Sheila, during her birthday breakfast, held on the Moet Chandon
Sheila and Alan joined us for a special birthday breakfast on the Moet. As we were about to tuck in to our eggs and smoked salmon, a knock on the boat, we were asked if we would be interviewed by the local radio station regards mooring in the port of Moissac. Iain and Kaz had been interviewed also. The interviews were broadcast a few days later with much admiration for the stars running the port Iain and Kaz.
I arranged a social gathering for everyone to meet those moored in the port, around 38 people said yes. I asked them to bring a dish to share, it turned out to be a real good social evening, and we met a lot of new people this is a good way to sample different foods, oh boy we had enough for double the guests.
Evening gathering for the boaters moored in Moissac port
I arranged a social gathering for everyone moored in the port. I enjoyed cooking many different dishes to share, everyone brought food to share also, it was nice getting to know each other over a glass or two of wine and a feast of a table too. Around 36 people enjoyed this summer evening, some of us stayed on till very late chatting. A real good social evening for meeting and talking, John and I enjoy meeting new people. This was certainly a good way to meet up and sample lots of different foods - oh boy we had enough for all the neighbours. Cooking was the theme for me this month.
Friends from Carcassonne, including the family of 6 dogs all here in Moissac today.
Picnic for 12 on the bank of the River Tarn under the shade of tree's for Jane's birthday
Our boules game lasted the afternoon
Mike and Clive won the 1st prize - hand shake from us all!
In the shade of the trees we enjoyed helping Jane celebrate her birthday with much laughter, plenty of good food lots of champagne and wine. John and I were the only couple not to have a dog - so we borrowed one from Mike and Jane. Earl and Clive enjoyed swimming in the river, so did the dogs. Not sure who had the most fun us or the dogs.
We had dinner later in the evening enjoying the company of Fiona and Earl at the restaurant "Le Moulin" our lovely table overlooking the Tarn was delightful. F & E had booked themselves into this hotel for the night - sadly we were not impressed with the food or this restaurant this evening.
Tina and Steve live in the village of Montesquieu-Esmes - our hosts on many occasions this month
Montesquieu-Esmes is 12 km North from Moissac.
John and I had lovely long afternoons and evening meals with Tina and Steve. I enjoyed great Greek cookery lessons from Tina. We cooked Greek rabbit, (wonderful), Greek meat balls, (um um), humus, and a dozen other little dishes, fresh Tuna and salsa another night. I must write all the recipes out before I forget. Tina and Steve owned restaurants and pubs and are very keen to cook. It was so nice to cook, between swimming. Chatting the evenings away especially in the pool - the glass of bubbles helped.
I am saving recipes from people, one day I do hope to put some of these on the web site. If you have a good boating, one pot recipes please send them onto me with your name and I will add these to the list, who knows cook book one day.
Durfort-Lacapelette, 12km North from Moissac
BBQ outside Glen and Angie's newly built shed, celebrating the two year wait to get onto their land.
We had some great times with Glyn and Angie, either up at Tina and Steve's house or here on their land, or sampling the beer at their local pub. Glyn and Angie will be building a house here. The local people who live in the village of Durfort-Lacapelette or near by, have made their family feel very welcome, offering help, their neighbours are also sharing their produce with them. Glyn Angie with the help of Steve built the shed (adding windows, patio doors). A parking space for their camper van home. Angie and Eve are putting together the garden.
The shed is giving them sun and weather protection for the summer's and winter's to come. It has been a hard struggle to get to this stage, it's been nice following their story over the past two years.
Sunset in Moissac port
Easyvie bed breakfast boat with family
Our month of celebrations continued with friends and family when we flew to the UK for Mathew and Katie's wedding - see next page for wedding photographs. We attended 12 birthdays, it was my Niece's 18th, Louise's engagement, a wedding in Leeds, made this a very expensive month, hopefully not as many celebrations next months.
David's "Cornish" birthday picnic in Valence d'Agen was a treat
We met up with David, Rosey, Alan and Beate in Valence-d'Agen, they were moored here heading for Buzet. Rosey surprised David with a Cornish birthday picnic, with good friends around. Home made cornish pasties, home baked cornish cream and jam scones and a cup of tea (for me), all home baked on 'Grass Matinee' by Rosey and Beate, lots of fun in the heat of August. This was an extra special treat which David loved.
The six of us played boules till the sun went down. A another lovely birthday celebrated. It was my turn to drive back to Moissac so little alcohol for me today, we need to go off for a week and enjoy some free alcohol days and some fruit and veg days on our own.
September, "some quiet us time" with lots of cruising, we are so looking forward to being on the move again, my knee feels ready to move on again, just waiting to see the Consultant in a few days.
Friends Sue and Matt proudly introduce us to their 11 week old son Daniel.
We spent time visiting my mum in Liverpool and catching up with most of my family, they all descend on mum's when they know we are coming - so nice to see everyone.
We also visited sister Sharon and husband Tommy's wide beam boat in Fettlers Wharf - wow what memories this brought back from when we were moored here. We enjoyed a good steak and a couple of pints in the local pub. The following morning we joined John's family in Leeds, after visiting our dentist and doctors appointments for much needed catch up treatments.
We met up with Sue, Matt and Daniel at our hotel on the Sunday after the wedding. I especially enjoyed taking photos of Daniel, who was smiling away. Time for us goes by too quickly, it's hard keeping up with all our close friends since we started traveling, though we do try our best to make the time, thankfully friends do make time to visit us in France which helps us all catch up.
John and I spent time in Leeds with his mum and sister Susan
John, Olive and Susan
Sadly we did not get to see all our friends or all John's family, since we did not have enough time to spread ourselves around, sorry for missing you out if you are reading this, John and I will hopefully visit you on our next visit to the UK. We did have a lovely day with John's mum and Susan and her son's, but all too quickly the time flew by after a superb pub meal together in Oulton just outside Leeds, we drove back to our hotel for a busy time with friends and their families. Thankfully the weather was good during our stay, but strangely coming from 40 degree heat in France 18-20 it felt cold to me, I was unable to keep warm so enjoyed the sauna in the hotel, this warmed me through after a swim.
Son Mike (right on the photo) in the newly formed "Just That" (tribute) Band, Manchester
A very special Indian meal in the restaurant Zouk with son Mike and partner John we very much enjoyed Mikes birthday celebrations on this night. Mike was excited showing me his groups new web site and photographs, creating a new look for the band with his photography, we share a passion for taking photographs. I click he studies photography, I can see the difference this makes to creating with the camera.
The bookings for this group are now coming in, we are looking forward to seeing the band with family in Nov all hoping for an early Christmas party.
Very exciting times, we wish you all every success and lots of forth coming bookings