Tuesday 31 August 2021

Francd Day 5 - Marseillette


A leisurely start to the day. Roger went for his scouting run up the canal he was back by 7:00 but did set off at 6:00. We set off in the boat just after 9:00. There were several locks to negotiate. Each lock was manned and fully automated so our only Job was to hold the boat with ropes at the stern and bow to ensure the boat stayed in position in the lock. After the first lock we doubled breasted with a smaller boat and went up the canal together. The sculpture collection at the second lock of the day provided an amusing distraction whilst we waited for the lock to clear. We continued up the canal to Marseillette turning round just before the lock. The side thrusters and shorter length of the boat made turning the boat a lot easier to do than trying to turn a narrow boat. Gerry called Le Boat in the morning. Thet we initially going to send an engineer to look at our cooker in the morning but we had to call then later to give them our exact location. When we did, they we dealing with a major breakdown so send and engineer out in the afternoon instead.

At the fourth lock of the day the rubber bumper strip on the front of the boat came off and one end fell into the water. A swift repair using Roberts Swiss arm knife followed. It had been damaged previously and the screws pulled out. We will get it looked at the base in Homps on Tuesday morning. We told the engineer when he arrived to fix the cooker and it obviously happens all the time but needs to be repaired at the base.

After a pleasant al fresco lunch on deck Gerry, Chris and Louise went for a walk to Marseillette village. They were followed by Roger and when they came back Lyn and Robert cycled to the village and up to the watch tower. The engineer appeared could not fix the cooker at the first attempt but correctly diagnosed the problem and meet us later in the day with a new gas bottle a replacement regulator.

 We then continued towards Homps and moored to the night on the jetty at by the first lock you come to away from the town. We sat outside again. A pork all in one stew which we slow cooker on the stove.

Monday 30 August 2021

France Day 4 - Le Boat


A trip to the local boulangerie 50 yards from the house provided a croissant and cake for breakfast some bread and a leak quiche for lunch. We had time from a walk round the fortified village. The cross on the cake we selected was mirrored on the various signs around the town. Some googling required. The car was packed and ready just after 10:30 for the drive to the supermarket at 

Ozonac. The supermarket shut at 12:30  was we just had time to fill two trollies with 250 euros of provisions. Some careful packing was required but it was only a 6 minute drive to Homps. Gerry, Chris and Roger had already arrived and done the paperwork which took over an hour. They were in the café having lunch. The boat induction was booked for 14:00 so we found a shady parking spot and had a Brexton lunch.

On arrival in Homps we were able to park in front of the boat and unload the car. The 14:00 induction was delayed but by 16:00 the induction was completed and we have been for a test drive  and we were on our way heading towards Carcassonne. Our original plan was to go down the locks to Beziers but we were advised because the canal was busy we may not have time   get down and back up the locks. The complication of Gerry’s Chris and Rogers prebooked Covid test so they can return to the UK has meant we have decided to start by going towards Carcassonne for a day before turning round then going back towards Beziers.

The boats OK but showing signs of age and missing some basic items. We had to ask for a kettle and found when we went to cook tea only one ring on the cooker works at a time and if we could get the oven to light there is no grill pan and no pots suitable to put in the oven.

After a delay caused  cooking with just one ring vegetable pasta was prepared and eaten on the outside deck.

We sat out whilst it went dark looking at the stars.


Saturday 28 August 2021

France day 3 - Drive to Villeneuve-Minervois


The drive to Villeneuve-Minervois was scheduled to take around 7 hours, The routes selected by Via Michelin , google maps and Kate were all slightly different  but times were similar. We set off 9:30  as planned having allowed time to hand back the keys to Norma and say our goodbyes. We headed towards Brehemont where we ignored Kates initial directions and headed across country towards Poitiers and then south to Limoges. A Brexton coffee was taken around midday and a lunch stop taken at the Aire De Briance Ligoure services south of Limoges. After our initial route across country the rest of the route was on dual carriage ways and peage. Traffic was busy in places but we only had one significant delay of around 15 minutes. We arrived Villeneuve-Minervois just after 18:30. We called ahead and were meet by the owners mother who lives next door. We were able to park in a space directly opposite the accommodation and carry our bags across the road.

The house is on 3 floors with bedrooms on the second and third floor and sitting room / kitchen downstairs.  We decided to eat out so booked an outside table 150 yards from the house at the Auberge de la Clamoux. We were pleased to find our table for was spaced away from other diners. Our Covid pass was not required to be shown but masks were being worn when diners went inside with the locals attaching them as arm bands whilst they ate. After a good 3 courses, 2 in Louise’s case we finished with coffee / hot milk. But not before being “entertained “by a topless man being chased round the streets by 3 locals and then the local  gendarme . Extra locks we put on the bikes before we went to bed but are unlikely to be required.

It was 25 degrees so Louise took the opportunity to try out her artic clothing

Our accomodation is teh house on the right with the blue shutters.

Day 2 - Loire a Velo


After an excellent night sleep and a leisurely breakfast Lyn and I were ready for our fist ride of the holiday. We decided to cycle a section of the Loire a Velo towards Tours. We had a head wind all the way to Tours.  The benefit was only felt when we turned round and had a 4mph increase in speed for our journey back.


The route was along minor roads combined with dedicated sections of bike paths.  It initially followed the Loire but then ran alongside the Lot past the chateaux at Villandry and thought the pretty village of Savonnieres. We turned around on the outskirts of Tours and stopped in Savonnieres for lunch. As we approached the town we stopped for a photo of the river near a small creperie and decided to stop for lunch. We enjoyed a savoury galette and a Grande café au maison. Our pass sanitaiere  was not required to be shown. The route was popular with cyclists , walkers and even man with a dog sledge  but not so popular it spoils the enjoyment of the ride. We returned to the house around 15:30 . We need something for tea so had a short drive to Chinon past the Chateaux d’Usse . A large Le Clerc was located on the edge of town and after filling up with diesel Lyn sensibly waited in the car whilst Robert and Louise purchased something for tea and a few other provisions.

We drove back to the house stopping at the chateaux for photos. The outdoor grill was put to good use cooking a selection of pork kebabs and large field mushrooms. We sat outside to eat, finishing the complementary bottle of wine we had been given. Desert was tarte du Citron for Louise and raspberry tarts for Lyn and Robert. As the evening cooled we retired inside and caught up with some YouTube canal bloggers.

Friday 27 August 2021

France day 1 = Drive to the Loire

 France day 1 - Drive to the Loire

Lyn and Louise arrived in Boune just after 5:00 pm. The car was packed and after an excellent Indian takeaway it was time to leave for Ashford. The journey was uneventful until the Dartford crossing. The M20 was closed so we diverted onto the A2 only to join a mile long queue. The A2 turned out to be shut and the signpost diversion finished after one sign when we finally made if off. After several trips round a roundabout we diverted via Gravesend ignoring Kates advice, arriving at the Travelodge around midnight over an hour later than planned.,

We left at 7:45 the next morning for the 20 minute drive to Le Shuttle. The good new was they moved us to an earlier shuttle. The bad news was the queue and delay getting though French customs meant we arrived in time to catch our planned departure.

By 11:00 French time we were heading toward Rohen. We opted to avoid Paris and instead take the Peage toward Rohen then Le Mans and then heading towards Tours. A Brexton lunch stop was taken at the Baie de Somme. We purchased sandwiches from the services. Masks were worn but as we we not eating in our pass Sanitaire was not required.

When had stopped their on previous trips and were disappointed to find access to the viewing platform was shut this year.

We stopped in Aldi Marche in Langeais and stocked up with provisions. The excitement  of the automatic pizza self-service machine in Aldi’s carpark was saved for another day.

After a long day we arrived in Brehemont at around 19:15.

On arrival met by Norma and shown round the gite. She had been raised in Newcastle but although still a UK citizen had lived in France for over 40 years,

Our accommodation is excellent a newly converted Gite a few Km from Brehemont on the Loire.

Kebabs were cooked on the outside grill plate whilst potatoes and ratatouille was prepared in the kitchen. We sat at the table outside to eat and enjoyed a distant view if the Chateau and our complementary bottle of wine



Thursday 26 August 2021

Time to retire

After 40 years of service it was time to replace my Rogan bags. Well I  was banned  from taking them on holiday so a quick change was in order before our drive to Ashford.  

I was please to discover Rohan now make bags with and unfinished bottom so I could now buy trousers of the correct leg length. For my original pair I had to buy two pairs of trousers. One pair were turned into shorts and the other acquired a pair of turnups to get the required length.