Sunday, 18 June 2017

Auxerre to Joigny (Or Hingin' Aboot With Bow Thruster Problems!)



Sunset over Auxerre

Well, my worry over where we would keep the car were unfounded – we didn’t win the duck race, so consoled ourselves with a visit to the cheese shop and two Saint Pauls from Maison Roy.
 
The townsfolk of Auxerre gathered for the Duck Race
12000 ducks......


Not the fastest of races.....

........one car to win!
Monday 5th June meant an early start on the 8.55am Flixbus to Paris, where we would then catch a shuttle bus to Paris Beauvais airport to fly back to the UK for Mike to do a couple of days work and have a follow up with the knee man at York hospital, me to settle the new tenant into the Edinburgh flat, and then both attend a Murder Mystery evening in the Peak District.  Quite a busy week for us!

For anyone remotely interested, Mike has officially been diagnosed with Tendon Access Point Inflammation, or Th..?.?.?.?. Arthritis (yes, it has a proper scientific name which I can’t remember or find online!).  This explains all the problems he’s had with both knees, his heel and the flare-ups of plantar fasciitis he has had over the years.  The good news is it doesn’t damage the joints so the likelihood of him needing joints replaced over the years is low and if the flare-ups become so regular they impact on daily life, there is treatment.  However, having not had a flare-up for a good 8 months now, it’s felt not necessary to take any treatments for the moment.  It’s good now to know exactly what it is, and that it’s not anything he does that’s causing it, as the consultant said, it’s just him, how he’s been made.

That meeting over we set off in the hire car picked up at York for Scotland spending a rather dull two and half hours sitting still on the A66 following a serious crash involving two motorcyclists, reaching the sunny climes of Dalgety Bay at 10.45pm.  Mum had got ready for bed but waited up, knowing she wouldn’t sleep until we were back – old habits die hard I guess….

An early start on Wednesday morning sent Mike back over the Forth Bridge to his clients near Penicuik and me to the docs at Inverkeithing for a routine appt, followed by a bus trip over to Edinburgh to meet Fife Man with a Van (Rob – highly recommended if anyone ever needs one!) to remove some bits and pieces from the flat for the new tenant and then move the tenant in.  All went smoothly with the handover completed by 2.40pm I then headed into town for some shopping before meeting a friend whom I’d not seen for 13 years!
 
Janet is from Ohio and we met back in 2000 online on a pet rat forum!  I met some wonderful people on that forum some of whom have become lifelong friends; my English Princess, Ali namely, and Janet, Marie and Therese who was in Arizona at the time.  On a trip to the US for a holiday in 2004 I visited Janet in Ohio and 13 years later she was coming across the pond for a conference.  We spent a very happy couple of hours catching up on all our news and lives, exchanging plans for the future – it felt as if we’d just seen each other yesterday and the time just flew in.  Thank you so much for squeezing me in on a hectic day Janet, especially as you were still feeling a bit under the weather!

Thursday for me was slightly more relaxing and having waved Mike off to work just before 8am, I went back to bed – mwuahahahahahahaaa………  Once up properly, I sorted out the changeover of utilities with the flat then hung out with my mum.  Mum and I like hanging out together, it’s very chilled and we put the world to rights over a milky coffee and home-made shortbread.

After packing on Friday morning, we got back in the car and headed back to York, with, thankfully, a much smoother trip and we were there in 4 and a half hours.  Accommodation was yet again provided at Norfolk Towers, for which we are eternally grateful and the impromptu night out hugely enjoyed, although we felt none-too-crisp the following morning.  Vicki had been sensible and headed home after a meal out, involving cocktails and wine, whilst James, Mike and I stopped off at The Habit (Mike’s old haunt is probably the politest way to describe it) for a nightcap, which became three and swaying home at 1am.  Vicki – stop being boring!!!
 
Drinks!
Saturday saw us on the train again heading for Chapel-en-le-Frith, via Manchester which allowed us to enjoy fleeting glimpses of the Huddersfield canal followed by the Peak District canal.  There was something comforting seeing the clusters of narrowboats along the way.  We were headed to Simon’s where we had been cast for the evening in his Murder Mystery; Mike typecast as the local cad and me as a retired doctor.
 
Okay, it't not my best angle, but i so love that my 79 year old mum deliberately photo-bombed the shot I was taking of Mike's bowtie :)  She was actually sticking her tongue out but I wasn't quick enough to catch that!
Dr Bruisyard I presume?
Miles Earnshaw (the cad!) and Dr Bruisuard (PS Dress code was 1940s evenging wear in case you were wondering!)
I was the murderer, and two out of the dozen or so guests guessed correctly, but I was quite satisfied that I’d pulled the wool over the majority’s eyes.

Sunday and it was the train to Birmingham, where I had an eye test booked at Specsavers as my reading glasses are no longer sufficient and my arms not long enough.  I love Birmingham.  We spent the night at the airport as Mike had a hire-car booked there for Monday morning to visit his client to do a couple of days work.  On Monday after he’d headed off, I went back into the city to collect my new specs and killed some time looking round John Lewis and revisiting the Old Rep Theatre, where I studied for a year back in 1993-94.  I’d been back and looked at the front of the theatre with Mike, but this time I went round the back where we’d all pitch up at the stage door on Hinkley Street for our 10am start.  It brought back a lot of memories, very happy memories, and allowed me to remember my wee pal Kelly, who sadly died a year after the course was finished, in a car accident.  She was 19.  I think about her quite a lot even though I only knew her for a couple of years, she was a bubbly, vibrant girl who I loved being with.  One day in an improvisation class we were all paired off and given a phrase and Kelly and I were given ‘Puppy Love’.  We had to act out the phrase and the rest of the group guess it.  We took it literally and Kelly was cast (type cast!) as a golden retriever puppy, which she absolutely nailed and had the rest of the group in fits of laughter – bless you Kel, wherever you are xx.
 
Happy Days - the door was green in 1993-94 and the signage not as good :)
My trip down memory lane complete, I picked up my glasses and headed back to the airport for my flight back to Paris, this time to Paris Orly, so I have now flown in or out of all three Paris airports.  With my flight getting in early, I junked the bus ticket I’d booked for 7.45pm and paid an extra 20 euros to board the 5.30pm train which had me back at the boat before the bus had even left – good move.

On Tuesday morning I got on with the laundry and did food-shopping then at 2pm I went for my appointment with the bank to open a French bank account.  It was exhausting.  The very nice bank man didn’t speak any English and my French is limited, to say the least, so much of the meeting was conducted courtesy of ‘retro transduct’ which is like a less-accurate version of Google Translate, so you can imagine the pain.  Anyway, an hour later, he’d explained everything and I assured him I understood (I mean, I think I did, what can go wrong opening a bank account…), he copied all the paperwork provided, arranged another meeting for me to come back with Mike and his passport the next afternoon and I went out to phone Liz to see if she could shed any light on what I’d been told.  It turns out I have an old number for Liz, but it was nice to hear her voice on the voicemail system.

Mike’s flight also landed early which meant that with a sprint that would’ve impressed Linford Christie (but without the lycra thank God), he managed to catch a train instead of waiting for the 10.45pm bus which would have returned him to Auxerre at 00.50am.  He was back on board by 10.30pm which was great.

Our meeting at the bank on Wednesday was at 3pm and we figured it would take half an hour or so to sign papers, present Mike’s passport.  We were there for just under two hours.  Our papers from the previous day had been accepted and our application to open an account approved, so now Bank Man had to actually open the account which involved putting all the information from the papers onto the computer system…… It took ages and further confusion occurred when some of the charges he mentioned yesterday seemed to have changed………  We have had to take what appears to be a monthly assurance charge, 4euros 52, otherwise if we don’t and there is fraudulent activity on our account or our card is stolen, they will not help us.  Apparently.  When we questioned this, Bank Man looked quite hurt and said that he represented The Bank and had to give a fair and honest impression.  So, we have that monthly charge, a one-off payment of 45 euros to join, as it is a mutuality and I think an annual card charge of 40 euros 90 on top of that.  It all seems a bit much for a current account that does nothing but provide you with a debit card so I think we’ll give the English helpline a call just to make sure we’re not buying something we don’t need!

Anyway – we now have a French Bank Account – we must surely nearly be French!  Exhausted by the meeting, we got back to the boat and headed off at 5pm to reach Gurgy by 7pm or thereabouts.  We still had the not insignificant problem with our bow thrusters, as while we were away, the team at Auxerre had indeed lifted the floor boards to the engine room and ‘looked’ at the hydraulic reservoir, but had not put a screwdriver to it or run the thrusters to try and diagnose where the leak was coming from.  Add to this the “Didn’t I give Aileen the keys back yesterday….?” (NO!) and “hmmmmm…..no, don’t remember you giving me a manual.” (WE DID!) we weren’t in the best frame of mind.  We did get our keys back when we tried a second time but the manual is gone forever, festering under their paperwork on their intray somewhere.  They’re nice people to get a mooring with, but don’t ever ask them to do any work on your boat, they’re just not interested and should have said so to us at the start when we asked if our bow thrusters were something they could look at.

Anyway, at Gurgy we met up with some more boaters heading to the Dutch Barge Association Rally at Auxuerre and they all said to try Simon Evans at Migennes, where we were dropped in in December.  We rang Simon and straight away he said, “Hydraulics aren’t my thing, but stop in and I’ll have a look.  If it’s a leak, I might be able to find it and tighten stuff up, but if it’s something more serious, I can put you in touch with a hydraulics engineer at Sens.” That’s the sort of response you want!  We hung out with Simon’s lifeboat collection for a few hours whilst he lunched and did some other tasks, then he popped over for a quick look.   
Lifeboat Aberdeen 02
Then he went off to do something else and returned just after 7pm with his screwdrivers.  As soon as we started the engine and used the bow thruster he could see the top plate vibrate and move and oil leak out, and was shocked when he managed to turn the screws with his fingers.  So he tightened them all up, cleaned up the residual oil and we tried again.  There was still a little bit of leakage, but nothing like what it had been, and probably liveable with to be honest.  But we decided to order some new seals from Beta, now we could tell them exactly where the problem was, get them to send a new manual, and Simon would then do a bit more work to change the seals and tighten things up again.  Unfortunately Simon wouldn’t be around on Friday, then it was the weekend, but regardless of that, we had to wait for the seals to arrive.  With Simon’s yard not being the most scenic mooring, though the old lifeboats are wonderful, on Friday we headed up one lock into the port at Migennes where we stayed the night and took advantage of the nearby ATAC supermarket to stock up on food and diesel.
 
Swan posing at Migennes

The railway on the other side of the port - quite a noisy mooring with lots of trains, freight and passenger.

On Saturday we headed back down the lock onto the Yonne and headed to Joigny where we’ve not been before so might as well take advantage of having to hang around.
 
Big hotel boat behind us in the big lock
Eglise Saint Jean in Joigny
Gate to the church which was part of the old chateau back in the day.
Joigny is a lovely medieval town.
Sadly, it looks as though we will not make our reserved mooring in Paris for 23-26 June and will have to rethink our plans, but we should have non-leaking bow thrusters which is more important I suppose……

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Completing the Bourgogne and Back to Auxerre




Mike and Richard chewing the fat over lunchtime....
The eclusiers at Pouilly-en-Auxois were keen to put Kendra Erin and us through the locks together but the crews of each boat felt this was ambitious.  The crews were right – we pulled into the first lock at Pouilly behind Kendra Erin, but the lock keeper said no, we were too close to the cill at the back, so we backed out, waved goodbye to Kevin and Michelle, promising to see them later at Pont Royal.  The flight off the summit is a long one and best split into two days but even then it is quite monotonous, although incredibly beautiful.  The locks are spaced just a few minutes’ cruise from each other, so it’s not like the Caen flight in the UK where once you’re on your way the locks are immediate.  It was more like Heartbreak Hill on the Trent and Mersey where they’re just far apart enough to get settled but too close to do anything in between.  The first day however, was a series of just twelve locks, followed by a longish, lock-free stretch through beautiful countryside in the sunshine.
 
This is what it looks like when the lockie doesn't speak english and Mike doesn't speak French.....
Tractor crossing!

This stretch of the Bourgogne is very rural and although there is the occasional village and mooring, there aren’t many shops or things to see or do.  At Pont Royal, the port is well kept and we managed to squeeze in front of Kendra Erin, joining Kevin and Michelle for drinks before having a bar-b-que for dinner.

The next morning was my BIRTHDAY!!!!  And I feigned surprise at opening the bag containing shower gel (I’d seen it in the basket at the last supermarket stop), nougat (that I’d put in the basket at the shop next to the supermarket) and a bottle of Premier Cru Chablis (that I’d stored in the wine cellar some weeks back…..).  We set off after Kendra Erin again with a short section of lockless canal to enjoy before the onslaught of 15 locks before our next stop.  All was going well, our accompanying lock-keeper spoke little English but enjoyed a coffee with us, then some nougat and as the day got hotter and hotter and he worked harder and harder on the locks, some light refreshment in the form of l’eau minerale.  Being able to go through one gate in and out of the lock, we were going through much quicker than Kendra Erin and were soon on her tail, waiting for her to leave the lock in front before it could be set for us.  We had intended to stop at Marigny-le-Cahouet, but all the eclusiers hummed and hawed and rubbed their chins seriously and said it would be better if we continued on to Pouillenay today as there were three hotel boats going through the next day and if we were still on the flight there could be problems (more problems!) with the water levels.  We said okay, not knowing we would live to regret our compliance…….

We stopped at Marigny for lunch, with the eclusiers breaking into their lunch hour by 15 minutes to get us there, before continuing on towards Pouillenay.  As we sat in the bottom of our twelfth lock of the afternoon (bearing in mind we’d done 15 in the morning), our lock-keeper seemed to be having a considered conversation on the phone and then came to us with the news that the lock two ahead was broken, so we should wait where we were in the lock and he’d be right back.  This was at 4.15pm.  With various updates between times, at 6.30pm we were told we would need to stay in the lock for the night as an engineer had arrived but the lock would not be fixed before they finished at 7pm for the night!  The next 45 minutes was full of typical frenchness…… One eclusier told us to go out into the pound to moor, which we tried, but couldn’t get into the side, so were preparing to moor up against the lock gates to the lock in which Kendra Erin was to spend the night, as she was also now stuck because of the broken lock.  Their lock however, had an upper paddle open meaning a current and a lot of noise as they tried to sleep if it was left open.  By this time most of the crew had gone past on their motorbikes waving goodbye and wishing us a pleasant evening – yeah, right.  So, Kevin took things into his own hands and closed the paddle – one of the most heinous crimes on the waterways – non-VNF staff tampering with the locks!  Then one of the eclusiers reappeared, bellowed at them, opened the paddle and shouted “Allez, allez!!!” and gesticulated wildly that they should go.  We guessed (we had to guess because no one seemed to be telling us anything we understood) the lock must have been repaired and he’d stayed back to put us through to a safe mooring.  On Quaintrelle, we watched and waited as Kendra Erin left the lock and headed round the corner below out of sight.  A few moments later her rear reappeared and she reversed all the way back and into her lock………  We were then told to get back in our lock as we couldn’t stay in the pound as the water levels were too erratic overnight and we’d be safer in the lock.  Meanwhile a top paddle was open and pouring a torrent of water in the lock, but Mike did a great job of fighting the current backwards to get back in and we roped around the ladder entirely meaning we could use it as a floating bollard if the water levels moved.  A short time later Mr Shouty the eclusier came back and shut the paddles, it transpired he was running extra water in for us to keep us afloat overnight.  By this time, we’d had a birthday bottle of fizz so were feeling quite chilled, but drew a chalk mark on the wall to keep an eye on the levels.  We’d told our lock-keeper it was my birthday, so as the others had all left, they’d shouted Happy Birthday at me, and seemed hugely amused I’d be spending my birthday night at the bottom of a lock!!  Poor Mr Shouty looked knackered and stressed as he bid us a good night and set off home – we asked if he was okay and he said he’d been better……….  If only they’d let us stop at Marigny…………
Birthday night mooring!
The next morning we were up and ready to go at 9am, just in case, but suspected it might be lunchtime before we got on the move.  However, at 9.30am an eclusier with a huge smile on his face peered down at us, “C’est reparais!!! Vous allez – toute suite!!”  We whooped and bravo-ed appropriately and set of, passing our destined mooring from the day before after 5 locks, the culprit lock 41 now with some red tape around it’s little grey box for controlling the automatic ground paddles.  Another 11 locks took us to Venarey Les Laumes, our stop for the next couple of nights.
Nice stop for a spot of lunch
Venarey is a strange place.  They seem to have replaced the traditional French town centre, usually a small square near the church with small bars and cafes round the edge, with a large American-style strip mall built around the Super U supermarket.  The supermarket was great and we stocked up on produce, loading up our bikes and heading back to the boat.  Bouncing up a kerb to get on to the cycle path, I hesitated (bad move) and took a tumble skidding gently along the ground a couple of feet.  I was a bit grazed but nothing too bad, but a lovely driver coming along the road pulled in and wound down his window to check if I was okay – how sweet!!  That evening we invited Kevin and Michelle for drinks and they appeared with a bottle of fizz for my birthday – the benefit of being stuck in a lock was that I got to celebrate twice as we then had my birthday dinner at the restaurant in town, a day late, but never mind.  The next morning Kevin and Michelle set off and we stayed to have a day catching up on admin stuff, booking some travel, and having a look at our bow thrusters which are leaking hydraulic fluid all over the place, so we’ve had to stop using them.

Later I took another cycle ride into town, slightly nervously, picked up some stuff from the supermarket and came back by the cycle path where I discovered a section to bathe in on the river.  All the locals were there enjoying the late afternoon sun and drinks from the little cafĂ© and I wished we’d spotted it sooner as we’d fancied a swim to cool down.

Our destination for Saturday was Montbard, where we would stay for three nights to wait for our friend Richard and his son Sam to join us on Monday night.  Now off the flight there were only 9 locks, all spread out, however, we got stopped above lock 9 for lunch, which was annoying as we could walk to the lock, past it and into the port where we were headed!  Just after 1pm we headed to the lock and there was a lock-keeper getting it set for us.  It seems we were lucky.  This lock is where there is a change of section of responsibility for the eclusiers and other boats had been left or forgotten about when the message didn’t seem to get through to the next section that they were coming through! 
 
Enjoying a bar-b-que on board Kendra Erin
Working hard keeping the wine cool.
Sunset at Montbard
We enjoyed our stay at Montbard, the first night enjoying drinks and a bar-b-que with Kevin and Michelle, and on Sunday we got the bikes together and headed off in the heat to the Abbaye de Fontaney.  It was hot and I found the going quite tough, but it was worth it.  The abbay is simply beautiful, wonderfully restored and you could get a real sense of what life for the monks was like.




We were moored next to Lyra, who we’d seen in Decize, and her captain and crew, Hank, Fabienne and Zeedan the softest, loveliest german shephard I’ve ever met.  Even Mike liked her, mainly because she’s named after a footballer…….  Hank knew a little about hydraulic bow thrusters and had spare fluid, so he had a look, got Mike to remove and clean the filter and hoped that that might have helped, but he agreed it looked like the leak was coming from the top or back of the box.

After visiting the abbey on Sunday afternoon, we headed to the local pool for a swim.  We’d tried to go on Saturday evening after exploring the town, but it was closing at 5pm, which was annoying because the information from the tourist office said it closed at 5.30pm, as did it’s ‘Horaires’ sign in the window!!  Some locals were also trying to get in but were refused, as it was 4.35pm, but we were all turned away, gazing enviously at the people still enjoying a last 25 minutes in the cool water of the outdoor pool.

Sunday’s closing time was also 5pm, but we were there at 4pm so enjoyed an hour splashing around with the town’s young and old, all trying to cool down.

On Monday 30th we did a bit more boat tlc giving her a thorough clean indoors and out before Richard and Sam arrived, and another shop at the Casino supermarket.  We took a bottle of wine over to Hank to thank him for his help with the bow-thrusters and he promptly invited us for drinks that evening.  They’d also invited Jill and John on Millie, who had now caught us up and taken Kendra Erin’s place, and we had a lovely evening and too much wine, and we ended up staying and having some dinner with them, cooked on their Cobb cooker – which is a really impressive piece of kit and I’m keen to get one.  It’s a bar-b-que, for all intents and purposes, but it had various attachments meaning you can cook pizza, or roast a chicken as well as the normal bar-b-que grill stuff.  Mike’s dinner was cut short as he went to meet Richard and Sam off the train, which was late, as was their flight which had meant they’d missed their original earlier train as well, so they didn’t get to us until after 10pm.

We sat and chatted til about 12 and Sam was almost asleep on his feet, then got to bed for a brief 8 hours before getting up and starting off again.
Millie lurking behind us as we leave Montbard
Some of the most scenic locks were on this stretch. (Please ignore the swampy boat to the right).
Geese and weed - the weed being a most unwelcome feature of the Bourgogne.
One of the hotel boats, La Belle Epoque, was due to go down the locks, but they are notoriously slow and you don’t really want to get stuck behind one, so on Monday morning, Mike had gone to the lock with Kendra Erin and asked the eclusier if we could slip in first.  He said this was fine as long as the pilot on the hotel boat agreed.  We didn’t think this would be a problem as we’d met them in Venaray and chatted to them as Bernard, whom we’d met in Chitry, is one of their relief pilots and we’d gone to see if he was on board.  He wasn’t, but we quickly got pally with the pilot and co-pilot and they were happy for us to go ahead in the morning.

Millie also didn’t want to get stuck behind the hotel boat, so came along with us as we calculated we could lock share, so would still be faster than the hotel boat.

It was a lovely day for a cruise and having Richard and Sam on board to help with the ropes meant an easy, if long, day to Ancy-le-Franc.  We left Millie at Ravieres, where we’d intended to stop, but we needed to be at Tonnerre for Wednesday morning for Richard and Sam to get their train home, so it was a longer day than we’d normally do and arriving late meant space was tight at Ancy.  However, we squeezed in to the port, albeit with a bit of a leap from the back to the land, as a bit of wall had collapsed into the water, and we walked into the town for a look and to top up our wine supply at the little supermarket.  The little town was lovely, but the star was the Chateau, but unfortunately we were just a bit too late, feeling that 9 euros each for a whistlestop 25 minute visit was a bit much – we’ll just have to go back!  We bar-b-queued that evening as it’s too hot to use our heritage stove at the moment, making use of the picnic table at the port.
Lovely avenue leading to the Chateau d'Ancy
The Chateau
Very friendly white ducks keep the bread-meister happy
Richard, Sam and Mike tucking into the bar-b-que at Ancy-le-Franc
Another early-ish start and we were off towards the first lock for 9.30am.  As we pulled off our mooring and under a narrow bridge, past some moored boats, a fisherman suddenly started running towards three rods and shouting.  We seemed to be dragging one of his lines so reversed a little to slow us down more, though we’d only been on tick-over coming through the bridge and had only just set off so didn’t have much speed at all.  This seemed to do the trick and the line went slack and he shouted, “Merci – allizer…” or something that I think meant, “Thanks – off you go..”.  However, at the first lock, the keeper asked if I spoke French, I said, “Un peu.” But she started to speak really fast saying nothing I recognised.  When she clocked my blank look, she spoke in broken English.  “There was a fisherman back there says you were going so fast you broke his line.”  We were totally taken aback.  Firstly, we weren’t going fast, we’d just moved off, gone through a narrow bridge hole, past moored boats, and second, he’d shouted, “thank you, off you go now…”.  I realised he could’ve been being sarcastic, but I didn’t get that vibe from him.  So we gave her our side, and she said she just had to pass it on and in any case, all fishermen were liars – they say they catch a big fish and they have only caught a small one!  She was very lovely, and felt quite bad for us I think.  Later when we told another eclusier what had happened he shrugged his shoulders and said, “Boats have priority on the canal.”  It was annoying though because most of the fishermen we’ve encountered have thanked us for slowing down and moving out from them where possible – even though we’ve not seen some of them hidden behind the trees until it was almost too late!

We didn’t let it spoil our day and at our last lock before lunch were approached by the eclusier offering us a bottle of Chablis for 10 euros and a garden salad for 1 euro 50.  We accepted, not least by way of apology for Mike clearing the propeller of weed and throwing the weed onto the lockside, which is the eclusier’s garden and he looked at Mike like he’d dropped some nuclear waste on his land…..  Out of the lock I ran back to collect and pay for the goods and as I gushed, “C’est beau!!” at the beautiful flower of fresh green lettuce he presented to me, his chest puffed up with pride and peace was restored. (I’d also removed the offending bundle of weed and put it in our bin!).
 
Mike and Richard chewing the fat (or should that be lettuce!) over lunch

Excellent crew locking down
 At the next lock after lunch he was keen for my review of the lettuce which I said was the best I’d ever had.  When he asked after the wine, he was quite tickled when I said it was special and for this evening.

And so it was drunk in Tonnerre after we moored up, caught up with Kevin on widebeam Avalon and had a longer than intended walk around the town – just what the doctor ordered we reckon it was one of the nicest Chablis we have had.
Heart of Roses coming into Tonnerre

Fosse Dionne - a natural source that provided water for the old wash house.
Looking out over Tonnerre
Poor Kevin was at a low ebb as he’d had to have Teddy, his eldest Airedale terrier put to sleep that day.  He knew it was on the cards as he was such an old boy, but that doesn’t make it any easier when it comes.  He invited us for drinks later, but we were so late getting back from our walk that we had our Chablis, showered and were then heading out for something to eat, so I popped along and asked him to join us, which he did.

The next morning we were all up and ready to get going by 9; Richard and Sam to the station for their train at 9.30 and us to the first lock of the day at 9.30, which we would share with a French couple on their cruiser.  We planned a slightly slower day, but not quite as slow as it turned out in the afternoon after stopping for lunch at Flogny, leaving the French boat there for the evening.  At the first lock of the afternoon they had held back a hire-boat with four American tourists on it, so they could put us through together, fine.  What was not fine, was that they then crawled along at about 1 mile an hour….. we weren’t in a rush, but going at tick-over, we kept catching them up and having to reverse to slow down, and it was hot, and we were tired and just wanted to get to our next stop, Saint Florentin.  We’d aimed to get there around 4pm, but it was 5pm by the time we reached the port, and after a couple of attempts at mooring on the canal, were pointed into a deeper mooring on the edge of the marina itself.  It turned out that Vincent, the capitain there, has just bought a narrowboat – and it turns out it is a little one called The Otter that we’d seen back on the Nivernais at Chatel Censoir.  The Otter had been sitting desolate for three years, her owner who brought her across the channel having passed away, so we were delighted to find out she will have a new life and new adventures with Vincent.
Jim's parasol brackets in use on the move!
Fascinating to see the timber being preserved in these old houses in Saint Florentin.  Not so fascinating to see the UPV window frames in the building on the left being preserved........

The dragon fountain
Fantastic open-air theatre at Saint Florentin
Saint Florentin
Our mooring at Saint Florentin
This rose was given to me at the supermarket in Montbard, for Fete de Meres and it's lasted ages!!
Lacking bar-b-que materials and not wanting to cook in the heat, after exploring the town in the early evening, we returned to the centre and had kebab and pizza in the Batman restaurant, which was most acceptable.  As we left, the heavens opened and my heart sank as I remembered I’d left our washing out……  Luckily the really heavy stuff came on after we’d got back and taken the washing in, so we battened down the hatches and retired to bed to listen to the patter of the rain on the roof, cooling Quaintrelle’s hot steel down nicely.

Friday morning dawned bright and warm again as we concluded our navigation of the Canal du Bourgogne, turned left at Migennes and made our second navigation of the section of the river Yonne up to Auxerre.  Back on the 1 December last year we had done this stretch and stopped at Gurgy for lunch, but this time we stopped there for the night and it was much, much busier than the last time!
Another Pont du Canal takes us out of Saint Florentin

Not quite your usual canal-side animal life.
Like the Saint-Jean-de-Losne end of the Bourgogne, the Migennes end is a straight cutting.
Coming into Migennes - much more industrial.
Leaving Migennes and Simon Evans boatyard - not so much frost this time!
Still using the ‘lacking bar-b-que materials’ and ‘too hot to use the heritage’ excuses we ate at the little restaurant at Gurgy.  It was fine, we paid 18 euros for a three course dinner and it was worth that – not fine dining by any means, but reasonable food at a reasonable price.  The rain came again just as we got back to the boat.

We had a leisurely breakfast on Saturday and headed off at 10am from Gurgy for the couple of hours’ cruise up to Auxerre.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about coming back, I felt I should be excited as I used to enjoy going back to Weedon in the UK, but we didn’t really know anyone in Auxerre to catch up with so didn’t really feel excited.

Six months after the first time we cruised into Auxerre, it looked quite different!
Swan and babies at Moneteau
Ahoy me hearties - there be a storm a-brewin'......
The swans at Auxerre introducing their young
It did feel quite nice to be back and meet Lesley and Mike at the port, see our favourite duck, Whitey was still around, and the two resident swans came over to introduce their new fuzzy offspring.  It just feels odd not having De Halve Maen with Liz, Chris and the cats moored up in front……..  There is a fete on this weekend so we had a wander over to look at the stalls and buy some tickets for the duck race!  Then with great delight – we saw the burger van!!!! Les Cocottes were in town and their burgers tasted better than ever!  It was nice to see them again and catch up briefly before we headed to bank to arrange a meeting to open a French bank account.  We then bought some cheese from the cheese shop, and had a quiet night finalising our travel arrangements back to the UK on Monday, watching some tv and printing out documents needed by the bank.

The duck race is at 3pm this afternoon – keep your fingers crossed for us!!
The duck race - organised by the Round Table
Not that the prize is much use to us at the moment!