mardi 27 mars 2012


Well, we are busily getting ready to leave our winter moorings in Auxerre on 29th March for our summer season of cruising the waterways of France once more.
last weekend was another very busy one! We went to a musical soiree last friday night in a luthier's shop in the town. We all stood around feeling very french, listening to a fantasic selection of french songs played for us by a gentleman on a keyboard (who also sang in a very sexy voice), a young man with his guitar and another gentleman on violin. It was a fabulous evening thank you Marie-Jo for inviting us!

Saturday night we spent with our Australian friends on Philosophe. We had a match of Petanque (we won!!) followed by a delicious BBQ.  We left them fairly early for us, as we were going out for the day on sunday, but on our return to Puddle Stone we realised that we had to put the clocks forward one hour too.........

Sunday the alarm went off at 06.30am and we left at 7am with our friend Elodie who drove us to the battlefields in Verdun. We were delayed by Patrice who got out of the boat and ran around the port with all of us chasing him until I at last managed to catch him! He obviously knew we were leaving him for the day, alone!

Our time at the battlefields were very thought inspiring. Verdun was the site that had the biggest losses for the french army in the 1st world war.
 Here are John and Elodie outside the Verdun war memorial depicting from left to right a cavalryman, a sapper, an infantryman, a gunner and a member of the territorial army, built in 1928 to depict the siteof the military butcher which was destroyed in 1916.

 The official entrance to the town the Porte Chausee built in the 14th century, and was part of the ramparts which encircled the town in the medieval times.

Elodie and John starting up the steps to the Monument of Victory symbolising the french victories of 1916 and 1918. The soldier gazes to the eastern borders. There are 73 steps (I counted them!) but the view were wonderful. Verdun was 86% destroyed during the conflict.
We went to the Ossuary at Douaumont and climbed the tower. These were the views from the top of the tower showing row upon row of the french war graves.

This grizzly picture was taken through a window of the ossuary. There are the bones of 600.000 men between thw inside and outside walls of the monument. There are no outside pictures of the monument as it had scaffolding up and you couldnt really see anything.
 We then went to Fort Douaumont, but were 5 minutes too late to go inside! We walked around the outside though.

 The bomb crater are clearly visible wherever you look.

 John and me 'saluting ' the european and french flags!!
After that we went to the site of the village of Douaumont. A village that was totally destroyed in 1916 all that is left is a tarmacam road which was the main high street of the village and a small chapel built on the site of the village church.

We found some evidence of trenches but most of them have been filled in and grassed over.

The village of Douaumont showing the road of the village and the chapel now built to replace the village church.

We eventually returned to the boat at 10pm, I was very tired but we had a really interesting day which gave all of us in our own way a great deal to think about.  I cant stop thinking about all those bones stuck between the wall and I just wish they would bury them somewhere. I would hate to think of one of my loved ones being there.

lundi 12 mars 2012


Another busy weekend has just gone!

Last Friday a friend returned to his boat in Auxerre bringing with him much needed supplies of white bread flour, cheddar cheese, bacon, and baked beans! Thank you so much Mike, it is much appreciated!

Saturday was the Dutch barge association Flag Day and we had 17 people on our boat for a buffet lunch followed by a spirited Boules match on the quayside!! When we finally waved off the last guests it was 7 hours since we had welcomed our first guests!! Thank you so much to everyone who came and made this such a fab day!

I still had to add the desserts brought by 2 of the ladies but it was well appreciated and all the food disappeared!!

Last night we had our friend Mike (of baked beans fame) to dinner with us and we all had a lovely evening, I didnt give him beans though but he DID have the audacity to ask for cheese...... Im afraid I didnt give him any cheddar either....???!!

mardi 6 mars 2012


Well the last weekend has been truly hectic!!! Our old friends the "Cave Vagabonde" were back at Auxerre last Thursday so as usual a very enthusiastic taste went on of their latest wares...... Also a bit of creative cookery from me when I had to extend a curry leftover (which was our supper for thursday night) extend in order to feed two young, and very hungry frenchmen. We hadnt wanted to be rude, so we didnt have our dinner but when it got to 10pm and they still hadnt left I just had to get on with it!! They seemed really happy with the meal although it lacked my usual thought..... But seriously it was lovely to see them all again as they were our mainstay last winter when the boat was being finished here in Auxerre. Im ashamed to say that the bottle count the next morning ran into double figures.....
On friday night we had our friends from the port in to supper as it was Phil (from Philosophe) birthday so we had a dinner party and had a very good evening with them, I did my roast salmon special and strawberries, meringue and cream for dessert, they rolled home about 1.30 am......

On Saturday we met up with old friends again and were invited to dinner at 'Milly' a little village near Chablis. Our friend Adrien lives there and is the producer of some very fine wines which all had to be tested.... I drew the short straw as I was driving home but I did have a sip of most of them and very impressive they were too!! Adrien and Gabrielle are getting married this November and Gabrielle cooked a lovely meal, even doing me a special vegetable moussaka as she had done a huge casserole for the others, John loved his turkey with prune dish and also ate some of mine!! Gabrielle also made spring rolls with bean shoots, mint and prawns as a starter. They were quite substantial and difficult to eat with nicety but who cared, we were with friends after all...... We spent a fab evening , with those who could, speaking in english whilst we communicated in a strange mixture of french and english. I must say John is beginning to get the hang of the language and now tries to communicate very well. He has at last got over his shyness and is beginning to extend his french knowledge.  We are grateful to them for inviting us as Im sure we are probably older than their parents but they all make us feel most welcome in their group.
So, this is how the french spend their saturday nights, when we are looking in vain for somewhere to go in the local bars which all seem to shut about 9pm....!! 

Sunday night we were happy to hunker down in front of the fire, with the TV, chocolate treats and poor old Patrice who was feeling a little neglected we think!

Yestewrday was Phil's actual birthday so we went for drinks on board 'Philosophe', our poor livers were to be tested for a fourth time in 5 days!

This morning we woke to great activity in the port, apparently some of the boats had been burgled over the weekend, thank goodness they missed ours........