Splash, fairies and a wasted day

You’ve got to laugh sometimes when things go wrong and today was one of those days.  There were good parts and a not – so – good realisation.

Today has been the first day for ages with lots of sunshine so my bruised legs came out to catch some rays as we cruised along.  I got some company in the form of this little chap … I always think dragonflies are related to fairies somehow … This one was quite magical and I was lucky enough to keep his company for several minutes.

image

One of the many locks we went through today was strangely attractive … sadly I didn’t have my camera to hand but the sides were adorned with lots of green foliage sort of like a mini hanging garden of Babylon.

As it’s been such a lovely day we were  quite happily cruising along enjoying ourselves when it suddenly occurred to us both that we’d been going quite a while and yet Nancy (our destination) hadn’t appeared.  We pulled over to check the map and yes we were on the wrong canal … on our way to Dijon!

Herbie took the opportunity to leap onto the bank for a runaround.  He did this for a while but suddenly he missed his footing and in he went.  He’s never fallen in before but to his credit he calmly swam to the side for me to haul him out.  He then went crazy bounding up and down the towpath and shaking himself over the passers by.

So now we are back where we started this morning, hopefully tomorrow we will get to Nancy!

image

Advertisements

Rain is evil!

We are still holed up in Toul and getting lots sorted out.  Kev has changed something or other on his bike which gas ‘transformed’ it’s performance, we managed to get a local lady to mend an area on the pram hood which was threatening to split, I managed to dodge the rain drops to get in some retail therapy (a few lovely shops here) and today we took a trip up to Metz to Ikea  to buy a folding table that we had seen on another boat … perfect for Avalon!  Of course I came away with a few other bits and bobs including this useful little chap.

image

Metz was sunny and bright but on returning to Toul the rain was coming down in rods (as seems to be the norm). 
I have always been proud of my track record of safely embarking and disembarking from the boat but today I let myself down.  My foot slipped and down I went … thankfully not into the drink but I am now sporting Michael Jackson – type plasters on my fingers, a few spectacular bruises, one huge bump and a grazed arm.  I’m quite proud of the bump which is growing by the minute.

image

This is not my knee – it’s my shin!

I guess my luck couldn’t last for ever!!

Visitors from England

Yesterday my brother in law Malcolm and his girlfriend Dawn came over to see us for the weekend … Our first visitors!

image

We cruised to Commercy where we stayed overnight, and ate the best steaks ever!  I also saw the most opulent Town Hall that I’ve ever seen …

image

The building encircled me pretty much.

This morning we took off for Toul,  passing through one tunnel

image

and countless locks (18).  

We moored up opposite a marina where will stay for a few days. 

It’s a short walk into the centre.  I saw this interesting flower display on the way

image

plus some rather large flower pots.

image

This marble fountain was indicative of the town’s former wealth.  It’s very old but still rather grand and imposing.

image

Today the men had to collect vehicles so myself and Dawn decided to have a look around the shops – went in at lunchtime where of course all the shops are closed.  We popped back with the men for lunch but were too late … All restaurants had run out of food!! We ended up with kebab and chips from the one takeaway that was open.  It was delicious but not really what I would have chosen!

Dawn and Malcolm have now left to go home. It was great to see them and hear some gossip from home.

It just keeps getting better

Lacroix sur Meuse proved to be a very enjoyable mooring. The town wasn’t particularly large, indeed only a couple of shops and an allotment plus the usual memorials but I found a lovely long dog walk with plenty of off – lead opportunities for Herbie.  There was also an opportunity to dust off the Boules and have a few games with Graham and Jill.  It was men v women and of course the women won 13-11!  It was a lot of fun.

image

Thank you Jill for the photo.

Daisy the cat tried to join in but Herbie put her up a tree so she retired.

Next morning (yesterday) it was time to move on.  Only two locks today and a 2.5 hour trip to St Mihiel where we managed to squeeze Avalon into the last remaining space on the town mooring.

image

St Mihiel is a slightly larger town and we discovered a lovely brasserie nearby where we had lunch.  We met up with Graham and Jill and had a wander about before spending the evening in multi cultural company with the owners of barges Iron Lady, Nautilus and Doorengone (Britain, New Zealand and South Africa).  I also got to know a beautiful lurcher called Elvis.

This morning I took the dogs for a gentle stroll to see Graham and Jill who have moored up further down the river.  I spied an open air gym which I may go back and try out later.

image

Part two:

We have so far spent 3/4 days here enjoying the local restaurants and the hospitality of the fellow boaters … Indeed yesterday we all gathered together for a barbecue.  A very mixed bunch from all over the world including a former ballerina and a coffee trader!

Good times over a few days

Verdun has proved to be the ideal place to stop and catch up with Graham and Jill. We have excellent moorings with water on tap (filling the tank up as I write), a good TV reception … even the radio is working.  The men have sorted out their bank accounts which means we can get better Internet deals and today there is a music festival being set up right by us.  It could get noisy!

This photo was taken at the beginning of the festival …

image

Here is a photo of our moorings …

image

And here is the view we had …

image

Yesterday was a bank holiday so nowhere was open but the men used the time to retrieve the motor home from Sedan. Today they are moving vehicles on to somewhere else (I have no idea where!). 

Part two:

We have just arrived at Lacroix sur Meuse after a long (it felt) day cruising and around 7 locks.  These locks are so easy and quick they are almost a pleasure.  As sing through the centre of Verdun I took a couple of shots of the waterfront which has a beautiful water feature.

image

In the background below you can see the memorial …

image

There is a hotpot cooking away in the slow cooker for me to share with Matilda Rose later.  It is smelling very good!

image

Good times over a few days

Verdun has proved to be the ideal place to stop and catch up with Graham and Jill. We have excellent moorings with water on tap (filling the tank up as I write), a good TV reception … even the radio is working.  The men have sorted out their bank accounts which means we can get better Internet deals and today there is a music festival being set up right by us.  It could get noisy!

This photo was taken at the beginning of the festival …

image

Here is a photo of our moorings …

image

And here is the view we had …

image

Yesterday was a bank holiday so nowhere was open but the men used the time to retrieve the motor home from Sedan. Today they are moving vehicles on to somewhere else (I have no idea where!). 

Part two:

We have just arrived at Lacroix sur Meuse after a long (it felt) day cruising and around 7 locks.  These locks are so easy and quick they are almost a pleasure.  As sing through the centre of Verdun I took a couple of shots of the waterfront which has a beautiful water feature.

image

In the background below you can see the memorial …

image

There is a hotpot cooking away in the slow cooker for me to share with Matilda Rose later.  It is smelling very good!

image

To Verdun … and a reunion

The locks appear to have been overtaken with a host of young male students acting as lock keepers,  I assume this is what happens when the usual keepers are on holiday.  They all appear keen to get the whole operation done quickly which is fine … but can be a bit rough on the rope handlers. I’m sure my biceps have developed today!  (For the uninitiated … A fast flow of water moves the boat about and you need to keep a firm grip on the rope to hold it steady to stop it slamming into the side of the lock.)

Well anyway we survived the rough(er) handling and reached Verdun where we moored up next to Graham and Jill and NB Matilda Rose.  How lovely to see them again!

Later Jill and Graham invited us for dinner which was delicious and spicy and we all convinced Graham to knock up a quick dessert … again, delicious.  It was a lovely evening despite Kev’s persistent yawning.

Today while walking the dogs along the riverfront I spied a beauticians and quickly made an appointment for my poor nails.  We all went into town, mainly to sort out bank accounts and Internet cards but of course I took advantage and Jill and I went off looking for bargains (well maybe not bargains but things we might want).

The rain was coming down in rods so probably not the best day but we achieved a lot …

a)  Lunch.
b)  Appointment at the bank.
c)  New boots pour moi.
d)  2 new sweaters pour moi.

Some failures though …

a)  SFR had no telephones or Internet working (!).
b)  The sweater I wanted to buy Kev and Jill wanted to buy Graham was out of stock.
c)  Jill couldn’t find a new dress.

I stopped in at the beauticians and left the others to go back. I spent a lovely hour inhaling the scent of … whatever it is they scent these places with, drinking coffee (I am SO wide awake it is untrue) and trying not to misunderstand the manicurist (Fred) and emerged with my nails restored to normality.

image

I feel human again!

Going back to Stenay, I saw a wonderful sight.  A beautiful horse whose saddlery had leather bags and suchlike attached … plus a map.  The rider was obviously touring on horseback which I’ve never seen before.

image

Now I’d like to do that myself!

Stenay in the rain

As predicted by my phone’s weather app the heaven’s opened first thing this morning.  How delightful.  The dogs still needed walking so we waited for a brief break in the downpour to go into the town centre.  Plus we needed to top up the Internet and replace the beers that I dropped yesterday (oops).  Being a Sunday absolutely nowhere was open but I found a few things worthy of a photograph.

In front of the town hall I spied this pretty band stand.

image

A peaceful place to rest with a painted scene and a small fountain.

image

On the way back I took a couple of photos of the boat at its mooring.

image

image

Then the rain began again.

And so to Mouzon … then Stenay

After a lazy morning (for me anyway) and the heavens opening for a while we set off once more.

A pretty uneventful day by all accounts and so we cruised for around 2 and a half hours into Mouzon’s Port de Pleasance it was pretty busy but there was a space for Avalon.  Everyone seemed to want to help us moor and each had their opinion how best to achieve it.  When we finally got our ropes back … and ignoring the various instructions aimed at us … We tidily tucked in between two tiddlers.  I think they were nervous we were going to crush their little boats rather than being helpful out of kindness!

Of course this all happened while it was raining and by the time we’d finished the sun was blinking and waking up so I had a quick wander about with the boys to see the town.  Not a lot to see but boy is the church big!  I popped into the tourist information office and took some leaflets. .. apparently it’s not a church but rather an abbey.

After a night of thunder and lightning (which Teddy did NOT enjoy) this morning Kev wandered down to the local patisserie with Herbie and bought some ‘pain de jour’ and cakes to go with morning coffee.  I mention this as it is a rarity and therefore deserves recording!

The boys did manage to sample a tiny piece of my cake …

image

image

Afterwards a took Teddy for a gentle stroll around town to take some photos.

image

The town hall.

image

The abbey.

Next stop – Stenay.

The sky has been threatening all through our 4 hour journey today with heavy dark clouds.

image

But amazingly no rain appeared.

The first lock was broken and being a Saturday we had no idea how long the lock keeper would take.  A queue of boats was growing with one looking like he was trying to jump in front of us but I gave him my Paddington Bear stare and he soon backed up! After about half an hour all was working and the queue soon disappeared – hurrah!

image

I spotted some ‘ladies who lunch’ going along.  It made me smile.

The plan is to have a look around the town tomorrow.  I have read there is a beer museum which needs to be visited.

Meanwhile I have a new stowaway (don’t worry, the spider is fine and still growing) but I haven’t a clue what it is … any ideas?

image

A castle in the rain

After the initial sunshine the day decided to be very wet and so my umbrella became my companion today. Our neighbours changed in the morning and I soon got chatting with Claire and Andy and later, their friends Sandie and Brett of barges Rival and Albertine.

Teddy and Herbie had a good romp in the nearby gardens …

image

Herbie has a naughty habit of biting Teddy’s tail to get a reaction which is not well received!

I wasn’t going to allow the rain to spoil my day and went off into town and to visit the castle which is apparently the largest in Europe.  The town was a let down (maybe the rain didn’t help) so onward to the castle.

image

There were lots of steps so I got a good workout too!

Then I saw this baby in the car park.  Isn’t she beautiful?

image

There were lots of Rolls Royces in the car park especially for the WW1 100 year remembrance.

image

I got completely lost on the way back to the boat … Thank goodness for Samsung GPS!

Me and Kev were invited to join our new pals for a pre dinner drink when we got back so we boarded Albertine to a warm reception and spent a very pleasant couple of hours chatting and laughing while sharing boaty stories.

image

image