There’s a hint of nostalgia in the air during these last few weeks before we start our journey home to New Zealand. The weather has been autumnal, the breeze is cooler, the nights cold at times with temperatures down to 8°. I’m really enjoying this transitional weather, I’d rather be cold and add a layer of merino so I’m happy. Alan prefers it hot though. And it has definitely been hot this year!
The last week or two has proved to us there’s no point in trying to keep to a plan. In fact this whole year has been like that. Last week our lovely new friends Lyn and Bob picked us up in their car from our boat, moored in Clamecy, and took us for a day out to visit Guédelon, an old quarry where a team of master builders are creating a 13th century castle, reviving heritage crafts, using medieval construction. It’s not near a canal so requires a drive. It was so funny when we finally arrived to find that, as it was Wednesday, and now September, the site was closed for the day. After much consternation and grumbling about the bloody French and their habit of closing whenever they felt like it we all suddenly realised that the hours were indeed advertised in the brochure. Of which we had two. Oops. Desoleé! We should have checked. We weren’t the only ones though. A constant stream of cars arrived behind us, all looking confused. Oh well. We decided to head off to a lake nearby for a delicious picnic lunch made by Lyn. It was still a wonderful day out.
We were also planning on welcoming friends from NZ onto the boat that weekend which was then rescheduled to Monday and finally cancelled altogether due to their work commitments. C’est la vie. By this point we were hurrying our way to Auxerre to pick them up so we slowed down a little, had a nights stop in Mailly-le-Château to check out said Château, a couple of days in Mailly-la-Ville and another stop in Vincelles.
We had some entertainment during a lunch break one day. The locks close for lunch between 12 and 1pm and usually the lock keepers close one on the gates as an indication it’s lunchtime. Occasionally they do leave them open and in the past we have stopped for the lunch break tied up in the lock so we are ready once the eclusier has finished his/her déjeuner. Doesn’t happen very often but we have never had any problem. However. This time we had just tied up and about to make some lunch when a guy came storming out of the lockeeper’s cottage (not the lock keeper though) and started abusing us in French, lots of arm waving and plenty of “Merde” and other choice words, yelling at us to get out, it is forbidden, merde, merde, merde. Bloody hell. Turns out he didn’t want us in the lock at lunchtime. In fact he didn’t want us in France at all as far as I could tell. Realising that reasoning with him was a waste of time we untied and slowly reversed out of the lock and tied up on the side of the canal. It was all very dramatic and I wouldn’t be surprised if that guy has a heart attack one of these days. Talk about high blood pressure, he almost has steam coming out of his ears. I’m assuming there’s a back story as to why he felt the need to abuse us rather than calmly explain but it was a bit of a laugh. I told him no problem (pas de problem) and to keep his hair on (doesn’t translate).
We finally made it back to Auxerre, our boat’s home base for the Winter, and now we are just relaxing, catching up on reading and wandering the streets of the old town. Auxerre is absolutely gorgeous, one of our favourite places so far. We think perhaps a few day trips would be fun, perhaps Vezelay or Chablis. There are plenty of boats coming and going here and lots of new friends to make and aperitifs to share.
Aquarelle France run the port de plaisance here and they will be taking Silver Fern out of the water and putting her inside their indoor storage facility where they will give her a repaint and fix a few mechanical issues. Sounds expensive, non? Oui! Got to be done though.
At this stage our plan (and we know what happens to plans!) is to head to Geneva, Switzerland in early October for a couple of days then onto Milan (by train). There we will hire a car and take a jaunt up to the Italian Lakes, stay a few nights with Mr and Mrs Clooney (ok that might not happen) and eventually fly home via Singapore arriving in Christchurch October 20th. If anyone has any recommendations of car rental companies and place to stay please leave me a comment.
Here are a few pics from the last two weeks…