vendredi 31 décembre 2010

New Year's Eve 2010

We are now back on the boat and ready for our first New Year's celebration on board. Sadly, however, I have brought back an awful cold and chest infection from UK and feelawful!! No partying for me.... We reached the boat at 4am yesterday having caught a ferry 2 hours earlier than we had booked. The journey was made longer by snow still being evident and thick fog bringing visibility down to very little at times. This was enhanced by my nose really waking up and it dripped and sneezed the whole way back!! Yesterday I didnt go out and today I havent even got dressed..... so hopefully tomorrow I will feel ok.  John has had to go shopping on his own so at least that has boostered his french (which is beginning to come on nicely) and today he brought me this back.
I thought he was being sooo romantic but evidently the town was doing a roaring trade and this is traditionally given for New Year!! Well, enough for now I shall return to the sofa and write more Next Year!!

lundi 13 décembre 2010

monday 13.12.10

The weather has been very surprising, from snow to heavy rain to flooding of our river, to heavy rain, to now where it is cold but calm and sunny! The river level before the flood, and this is how the river looked at the flood.
We went into auxerre and saw the abbey there and the statue of St Nicholas the patron saint of boating people (Us!!!) and lovely old parts of the town.

The old town houses,

It really is the most beautiful town.
Yesterday was John's 60th birthday, we celebrated with a little party and had a really good time. I had to visit the cake shop where the window fascinated me, including a cake that was a lady in a hat!!

Well today we must secure the boat as we go back to the UK until 29th December, so must finish now, more next year!!!!

vendredi 3 décembre 2010

Friday 03.12.10

We went out to a Blues Club last night and had a fantastic time!  They had live music in the shape of Ezekiel Kelly, a folk guitarist from Alaska, he was absolutely fantastic Ive never seen a guitar played like that!! The beer was very expensive but the company was good, as we walked back at midnight there was no-one else out so we had the cold streets with their very pretty xmas lights all to ourselves!

We woke up this moprning to a snowy land, and very very cold..  The 'boys' ( a family of 3 swans who were babies when we first arrived), now come knocking on the boat for food, they are really hungry at the moment, and I buy bread from the supermarket for them every day.....
We saw a small barge delivered on the back of a lorry today, its quite the smallest barge we've ever seen, we also spent some time watching a cormorant fishing right outside our lounge window!

The small boat arriving!!

jeudi 25 novembre 2010

Thursday 25.11.10.

Last week we saw a whole load of common cranes flying off in wonderful 'V' formations as you can roughly see in the above photo.  The locals said it was going to snow! Yesterday we checked the forecast on the computer and I'm afraid that the BBC could learn from them because they forecast snow for today... Its now 11.50am and it has been snowing for about an hour and although it isnt entirely settling it IS laying on the ground!! So, exactly one month before Christmas we have snow!  Yesterday we tried to install the central heating timer (thank you czech rebublic - yet another thing that didnt work) and John got so fed up with it, he smashed it!! Well we got another one from the DIY shop and between my french knowledge (really taxed me this time), the dictionary and John's electrical know-how we have today got it working!! HOORAY!! Our boat is very snug now so it can snow all it likes!!!!
The Puddle Stone is nestling in her snowy waters!!!

The trouble with 2 day old bread is it is impossible to cut............... Hahaha!!

lundi 22 novembre 2010

Monday 22.11.10.

Yesterday was a reasonably sunny day so we got out the electric bikes and started exploring.  It has been a while since we used them, so we stuck to the towpath. It was good seeing where we had come from on the boat, but after a little way it became a reclamation yard so we had to abandon that! We went back and continued on past the boat and found a flat cycle path which had been an old railway track! England could do with doing this, it was delightful and took us all through wooded sidings and over all the roads! We could see for miles and realised for the first time that Auxerre really is quite big. All the french were out 'promenading' and unlike the British they all wished us 'Bonjour' as we cycled past. Its going to be strange when we return to UK and start talking to everyone.  Once the sun went in though, we were reminded that it is the end of November and we became really cold. We couldnt feel our fingers when we returned to our cosy boat but were very glad of the woodburner which had merrily filled our home with warmth!!   Today we checked the local weather forecast on line and we are to have snow tomorrow night and all this week! We will see how warm we are then....

lundi 15 novembre 2010

Monday 15.11.10

Forgot to say but last saturday was a bright sunny warm day and we were working hard on cleaningthe boat. We became aware of lots of 'tooting' car horns along the other side of the river.  The sounds came closer and parked in the road near us. Out got a bride, lots of arabic music, and many people all taking photos.  After a while one of the party asked us (in french of course, so it was the usual:-  'Liz, someone wants to talk to us!') if they could take a photo of the couple in our wheelhouse.. It was duly taken with them pretending to drive , and then they moved on to take photos at the next boat! (It was unoccupied, a massive 30metre boat owned by a great chap from Denmark). They then asked us to be included in a photo with the happy couple, so we are in someone's memories of their wedding day! We couldnt find our cameras but I managed to get this one before they moved off..... May all their troubles in the future be 'little ones'....

dimanche 14 novembre 2010

Sunday 14.11.10

Sorry about the huge gap in communications but our furniture arrived on 1st November and we finally unpacked the last box yesterday... in time to host 7 guests for supper!! 
The boat had looked like someone had burgled an antiques/ secondhand shop up until yesterday, here are a few shots of what it was like...

We worked really hard though and yesterday, heres some photos of how it looks now:-

It has been hard work but as we waved our guests off last night (all the way back to their respective boats ) we both remarked on what a transformation our home has undergone!!
We are still best buddies with the local duck and swan gang who now arrive at the boat at midday ready for their free lunch....

Today its raining hard again (no wonder there are so many ducks..!!) and we feel a bit lost as there are no more boxes to undo.....

vendredi 29 octobre 2010

Friday 29.10.10.

Yesterday we decided to explore our locality a bit more and ventured forth into the St Etienne cathedral. What a beautiful and fascinating place.  We were quite bemused to see 'The Green Man' so clearly etched on one of the main pillars of the cathedral!! Reminded us of our old life as we had a copy of the Green man outside our front door at Barnfield Farm, Pudelston!!
We also found a lovely gate which led to a minor church (still fantastic) called St Pierre
The town is really very distinctive and we have to walk a long way before we encounter suburbia and modern buildings. Its mainly really old fascinating buildings many of them showing the distinctive black and white (or beige and white) of the 13th century!!
At present John is sitting in the bows playing guitar to any who will listen, basking in the midday sun.... I think I'd better get dressed and join him, once again we had wanted to go to the market today but I didnt wake up until 11am and the market shuts at 12md......
Us sitting in the sun last Sunday evening, the boat is now named and sporting it for all to see on both the bows and the stern.  Including our SSR number, so there is no doubt that we are british and proud of it!!!

Well that's all for now, must go and get dressed......

dimanche 24 octobre 2010

Sunday Evening 24.10.10.

The Puddle Stone resting in the sunday evening sunlight.....isn't she beautiful???

French strike 19.10.10

Some photos we took during the demos last tuesday the 19.10.10. and showing our proximity to the display.  It was the only time we've had any sign that there was a problem and life has been totally normal since then!!

Sunday 24.10.10

We are now moored in Auxerre, France where we will spending the winter as the locks are all shut for several months for winter maintenance.  We wont bore those of you who received our earlier e-mails but in future we will be putting news up here from time to time so our friends and family can read about our adventures in france if they so desire....

Yesterday we had 2 mini adventures which I shall endeavour to tell you. Ive already done it once but some gremlin in the system moved all the words around and inserted random capital letters... I dont know what I did wrong but if someone can tell me I would be glad to know!!

1) When we woke up on Saturday it was to find that our toilet had joined the French strikers and would not accept any more offerings.... We then were made accutely aware that the Czech builders had let us down again by not installing a 'sea-cock' and instead providing us with a pump out outlet. Fortunately we are moored in 1 of 3 marinas in the whole of France who has one! However we wont be able to use it once the locks are shut as no boat is allowed to move in this time!! Memo to ourselves to sort out a pump out kit asap as a matter of urgency!! We finally got permission to use the pump at 2pm but this invloved leaving our moorings, turning the boat around and heading up river, turning again and the mooring alongside another barge near the pump.  With a high level of adrenaline pumping through OUR internal systems (making this process even more necessary!!) we negotiated the waterways again.  We connected to a reverse vacuum cleaner (who seemed very happy with our offerings) and then we watched our tank indicator go from red, through orange, to a very satisfactory green.  We gingerly edged our way back to our former moorings hoping that no one else had got there whilst we were away....

2) Having got over the strain of that we decided to go for a drive to view the countryside, as this had been limited by our rather singular view from the water. We arrived in a town called 'Chablis' and to our delight discovered that the 62nd Wine Festival was in full swing so they had closed the town to through traffic.  We parked up and walked towards the sound eminating from the loudspeakers.. a sort of unintelligable French (remember British Railway stations??!!) and bizarrely old english Christmas Pop Songs, 'So this is Christmas' and 'Santa the Snowman' to name but a few.

We encountered a meandering road with many marquees installed each containing about 5 different wine growers displaying their wares.  On the purchase of a very posh wine glass, one was able to taste as much as one wanted...Well John was driving and we thought it would be such a waste not to indulge, so I was appointed wine taster and John had to make do with being a 'sniffer' (more about that in a bit!!) After about 5 stalls I was feeling a bit 'fuzzy' and didnt really care if I was drinking white, rose or red but the stall holders were very particular in washing away the previous contents! Some of the wines coated the glass beautifully and the tastes were very varied. I managed several premier Cru, dating as far back as 1995 (which incidently was so very smooth and tasty). Poor John , not to be outdone, tasted some 'saucisson' from a French Fancy who was proffering her plate of 'morceaux' to him.... Wish I'd had a camera his face was a picture... John described it as the 'taste of bad breath following a night before of garlic and gallons of wine'!!

We then encountered a tent with huge array of glass sample flasks, which had to be sniffed though a large glass mask shaped effort attatched to each one. The first was various white flowers which naturally smelt lovely, but then followed a mixture of strange mixtures.  Milk, off yoghurt, stale milk and smelly cheese was the first, quickly followed by various ground coffees, chocolate and red berries, vanilla and finally offering leather of different types rounded off by half a lady's shoe....!! Everyone was being very serious but we got the giggles imagining other more risques flavours ( you can imagine) and for once I was really glad of the language barrier.....

Everyone was wandering around with wine glasses (akin to Ludlow Food Festival, without the food!) but we decided that we had had enough and headed for the music tent. We found 4 rather murky looking frenchmen with guitars and drums and decided that we would both appreciate a dance in the square.  After ages in setting up their intruments, they sang two songs ( in Franglais) and then cleared off!! The drizzle turned to a downpour so we headed home via the local 'LeClerc' for provisions.

We thought it would be clever to have a french storecard and we are spending loads on food but caused utter chaos in the queue as they have their loyalty cards protected by individual security numbers, and we werent sure of ours... Of course no-one speaks english, but eventually we understood what was required from us and we headed back to the barge.

We were just snuggling down to an evening of English TV, when the heavens opened and caused rain-out in our French satellite system. We had to keep attending the satellite with a towel, trying to dry it so it would donate us a quick fix of english TV.  I enjoed 'Strictly' and 'XFactor' (much to John's chagrin) but then he paid me back with a Cohen brothers film 'No country for old men ' which totally bemused me!! I was glad when he admitted he was confused by it too!

A note to any friends who might join us one day - avoid Maplins Fortec Star system! We're afraid that it just didnt work and although difficult to understand the french instructions the French one is Fab! We also like the fact that the satellite dish is a discreet white rectangle, unlike the common black english round ones!!

Do please join our blog and add your comments as you see fit (so long as they dont offend the internet systems) and look forward to finding out which members of our family and friends really do understand how to use a 'Blog'... More soon.....