March 2010 Spring and birthday celebrations in Moissac

Ziggy settling in with Kaz & Iain

Iain and Kaz have a new dog "Ziggy" a one and half yr old Dalmation. She is settling into port life but was so fearful of people when she arrived, she could not go outside. It has taken a lot of patience and understanding to guide her through such a difficult settling-in period. She now loves her walks along the canal and is slowly getting to know us all. We hope as she grows so will her confidence and she will come to realise that we are not such a bad lot here.

Finally boats were beginning to move, the canal was flowing gently and the trees were budding. It seemed Spring was here at last, with beautiful blue skies and everyone in the port sprucing up their boats ready for the new season.

And then it snowed for a day in Moissac, 8th March

A wintry March day in Moissac

This month the weather was quite mixed with a few wintry days, some gorgeous spring days and some great summer days. It was nice to see the cafes bringing their tables and chairs outside again. It must be spring – the markets are full of spring flowers.

March has to be my favourite month, perhaps because it’s my birth month. Or is it that spring is in the air and summer is around the corner?

Canal de Garonne re-opens for cruising again, warm sunny days are upon us again.

A Chinese meal together in Moissac on mother's day.

Chinese restaurant "Le Truong Tho"
7 Rue Jean Moura 82200 MOISSAC

Our friends Earl and Fiona drove up from St Jean de Losne, staying overnight with us. Their dog "Harry" almost fell in the canal when jumping off our boat : he had his hip re-placed last year, and we had a few worrying moments but luckily all ended well.

It's always good to see Earl and Fiona and a good time was had catching up with all our winter stories and showing them photos of our "Oz" trip. My birthday gift was some very special wine and a gift token to have a book published of my photographs.

I was overwhelmed - one day soon my photographs will be in print. "No excuse now" said Earl and Fiona "we look forward to the book". They are very busy preparing their barge "Colibri" for the new season They report that said she looks stunning already for her 2010 cruise on the Burgundy Canal (the first canal we ever cruised in France). We miss them not being around, but so pleased they had time for a visit.

We were certainly pampered by them, we bid our farewell's they were now heading for Limoux, before driving back to Burgundy. The Burgundy Canal was the first canal in France we cruised, so very special indeed, we miss them not being around, but will be back cruising the Midi in 2011, so pleased they had time for a visit, they have Earl's parents arriving soon from Perth.

Friends with Tina sharing afternoon tea and homemade cakes.

John and I, Wendy, John and their friends were invited to Tina's in Montesquieu for "High Tea".

Tina and I spent a fair bit of time together this month, cooking, painting, entertaining and just enjoying friendship. Tina lost both her partner Steve and her mum last November, so it's been a very difficult time for her. Tina joined the French class with John and they enjoyed a few lessons together in Moissac, I enjoyed catching up with the web site and our stories of Australia.

Friends arrive from Carcassonne and Toulouse for early birthday celebrations

Pre- birthday nibbles & drinks on the Moët.

John, Desmond, Mike, Jane, Ursula, Mike, Huge Alan, Beate and Megan all enjoyed meeting up on "Moët" for drinks and nibbles then a lovely afternoon in Lou's Grill, near Moissac square. My wonderful cake from Mike and Jane came along with some lovely bottles of champagne with hand-made birthday cards & presents.

Next on our agenda was a surprise holiday on "Moët" for my aunt and uncle, so we were busy sprucing up the boat and getting excited for the big day.

Toulouse airport - I was not recognised by my aunt and uncle

I was ready and waiting in Toulouse arrival lounge - John was behind the pillar with my camera (sadly he missed the vital click at right time, but he did take this photograph). John and I spent weeks e-mailing my cousin Angela to arrange a surprise holiday for my Aunt Pat and Uncle Terry. They were coming to stay in a Gîte in Toulouse - or so they thought. I wore a wig and glasses and held a big sign up to hide my face.

My aunt and uncle were expecting the owner of the Gîte to pick them up. Her name was "Eneri" (mine spelt backwards). The address was "Happy holidays". My aunt presented herself to me, saying : "Hello my name is Pat and this is Terry". I could not conceal my laughter, removing my wig and saying "I know". They nearly collapsed. It took a while for all this to sink and they were a little worried about staying on the boat, but they need not have worried : they soon settled in.

It was St Patrick's Day ; we asked Pat and Terry if they would like to celebrate in Toulouse with lunch, a pint of Guinness, with our friends in the Irish Pub. But since they had been up since 4am we quite understood that they wanted a rest.

Irish Bar in Toulouse

We were half way back to the boat in Moissac, when Pat changed her mind.

Her nerves had settled and she was ready to party "Yes please let's go to Toulouse". John had turned the car around in a shot.

I telephoned Ursula to book us in for lunch at the pub. Ursula & Mike invited us for a cup of coffee first on "Bon Adventure", and then we all walked to the pub together. St Patrick's Day turned out to be a very special day. This was also Pat's birthday, (she is 10 yrs older than me and very young at heart – more like a big sister really. Ursula said she expected an aunt on walking sticks!).

Pat and Terry visiting Toulouse park, with new hats & sun glasses.

"Jardin Royal" park in Toulouse

We needed a walk after our lovely pub lunch - Pat and Terry seemed to have plenty of energy in spite of an early start. We had a lovely afternoon, showing them our favourite "Jardin Royal" park in Toulouse, so near to the port. Ursula joined us on the walk, after we said our farewells to our friends. Ursula and I were clicking away, some stunning photographs we gathered.

Moissac square (no snow !) the sun is shinning

We later drove back to Moissac, I had made Pat a birthday cake - we sat on deck with bottles of "bubbly" and celebrated their safe arrival. The following morning we too them off to explore Moissac.

Carcassonne Port (not opening this winter due to work the VNF wish to carry out).

We visited Stephanie in the port (one boat just passing through) Carcassonne. We visited the la Cité. Pat has so often heard us talking about it and she has received many pos cards from Carcassonne.

A most wonderful week was enjoyed by all many a late night Pat & Terry did not want to go home : they loved the south of France, especially staying aboard the "Moët" "The best holiday in the world" they said "When can we come back?"

My actual birthday was spent in Montesquieu with John, Tina, Pat and Terry

John & Terry enjoyed a few beers and wines - we enjoyed the "bubbly". The cake was a master creation, this was a wonderful surprised indeed.

Tina's wardrobe and our wedding outfits try on - John soon fell asleep.

What a feast Tina prepared for my birthday in Montesquieu.

The sun was shinning yet again and we had the most amazing,relaxing fun day, John even had time for forty winks. We had such fun especially trying on wedding outfits, Pat could not control her laughter, especially when I pulled my dress up to reveal I still had my jeans and socks on. One thing's for sure : all these wonderful birthday cakes and meals are adding inches galore to our waist lines. Memo to self : must get to grips with my weight. John's got started on his waist line by doing some more cycling and helping our friends Howell and Marie renovate their house. In return they will help us when we find our house.

Moissac port, end of season and birthday party celebrations for Irene and Chris

Noble Marine, Port de Plaisance Moissac

Kaz and Iain worked hard on the joint "end of season / birthday party". Kaz made Chris and me a birthday cake each and also designed our birthday photo tee shirts. Many good friends travelled a long way to be with us : we had a wonderful fun day and evening, with lots of delicious food cooked by everyone who attended. It will be sad to see everyone leaving their winter moorings at Noble Marine, Moissac. We wish everyone a carefree happy cruising season.

Pat and Terry depart Moissac, heading home to Macclesfield

We would like to say a big thank you to Pat's daughter Angela for arranging this holiday for us and your mum and Terry. Big thanks from John and Irene.

We have the most wonderful memories to hold onto - a very special time together indeed.

We have many family members who are ill right now, fighting for their health. We lit many candles over the week and send our love and healing thoughts /prayers? to both our families.

What appointment Irene? Booking my art and French lessons with Patricia

Patricia BlanchetPatricia Blanchet - L'association Rues des Arts

Money received for my birthday was spent on lessons.with Patricia teaching whose art work I so admire. I want to create an oil painting from our trip to Australia last winter and have decided to paint Uluru (Ayers Rock).

I would like to make greetings cards from my painting. These lessons have also inspired me to perhaps add a web page, of my paintings to date.

Practice, they say, makes perfect but the problem is never enough hours in a day to practice. I love to paint; losing myself in my art work, whether for an hour or a whole afternoon.

I hope to add to my French also from the class. I live in hope, I am afraid the French language does not come easy. John is doing so well, and his French improves every day - he just needs more practice .John met Howell and Marie at French class, here in Moissac. They have just bought a new home near the Abbey in Moissac, we have spent a lot of time together socially.

Maria and Howell's new home in Moissac.

We have enjoyed helping Maria and Howell with help and advice as they embark on renovating this lovely property. So many wonderful places to shop, especially all the charity stores across France, Maria I were searching for doors - so much choice for such low prices too!

Searching for doors and shutters

All this research will help us, when we find our property project, Maria and Howell will help us find the right house one day.

Next month - hopefully a painting of Uluru - to grace front page of my book of photographs when published.