Chevroches, Canal du Nivernais

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Rainy Days in St Jean de Losne


Smugness is a fairly unpleasant quality so if you were one of those irritated by the closing sentences of the last blog post I apologise and blame jet lag. Be assured that the scales have tilted and all feelings of self satisfaction have been tipped out and washed away by the deluge of rain we've endured since that one sunny afternoon. Mother swan and cygnets haven't been seen since, the champagne remains undrunk and on chill (although it now doesn't require refrigerating) and the daily trip to the baker for the baguettes has become someone's 'turn'. And anyway, how do you keep the baguette dry on the way back? Cabin fever is setting in.

On the plus side the 'flurries of snow' forecast for today haven't eventuated (yet), the river level has gone down and the sun is rumoured to be making a reappearnce next Sunday
 - and the cheese really is delicious.

Monday, 27 May 2013

7 hours in the Gare de Lyon

Le Train Bleu, Paris

Here we are once more. 40 hours from door to door via car, 2 buses, 2 planes, 2 trains, a taxi. and now, finally, our boat. I feel exhausted just writing that. Quite a lot of those long hours were spent waiting for connections in airports and railway stations.

When, on touchdown in Paris, our pilot cheerfully announced that we'd made good time and arrived early it was good news for everyone- almost - we now had even more than 7 hours to kill before our train to Dijon. Should we leave our bags in left luggage and go sight seeing? When the automatic doors of the airport swished open and we were blasted with freezing wind and rain we decided that no, we had neither the energy nor will to drag our leaden feet anywhere, not even Paris.

So, after an hour on the Air France bus ( the memory of last year's rush hour experience on the Metro still brings me out in a cold sweat) we found ourselves in the vast and draughty confines of the Gare de Lyon.We had the choice of sitting in the frigid main hall (as we've done every time in the past) with attendant pigeons, beggars and patrolling heavily armed police or saying to hell with the expense and climbing the stairs to Le Train Bleu which must be one of the most oppulent railway station restaurants in the world.We climbed the stairs.

We decided on the bar rather than the restaurant purely on the basis of the chairs.The bar has beautiful old leather chesterfieds and armchairs to sink into and enjoy the view over the city towards the Place de Bastille.

Too bad that my first attempt this year at speaking French has to be with a Parisian waiter.
Me (in French), ' Good day sir. 2 Caesar Salads please. '
Waiter (not so fleeting frown, pained expression) - ' Did you mean 2 Caeser Salads Madam?' (in perfect English)
Now, I know I asked correctly. There's not exactly much to get wrong. So, I have a choice. Do I persevere in French? 'Oui, merci' or concede his superiority. I am too tired for this and back down. ' Yes. Thanks' We continue in English.

Incidentally, one of us is a Caesar Salad afficianado and gave this one only 7 out of 10. Something to do with a missing poached egg and lack of visible anchovies -perhaps that's the Aussie version.

So, we are now onboard and going nowhere for a few days. L'Avenir needs to be gently coaxed from her winter hibernation and given, if not quite a face lift, a rejuvenating deep clean and touch up.Rain has been pouring for weeks and the rivers are all in flood.. Today, for the first time since we arrived 5 days ago we have had beautiful sunshine but more rain is forecast.

But - a cuckoo is calling. A swan  and her 2 cygnets are circling our boat waiting for me to throw the remains of my baguette. Which I will do after I eat the delicious cheese. Champagne is chilling,
C'est la vie.

Friday, 3 May 2013


Not France! Bushrangers Bay, close to where we live in Australia.
May Day. Or perhaps mayday!! Time, almost, to fly north once again in our pursuit of an endless summer. This year will be our sixth season on our boat and whilst I wouldn't claim we have the house winterisation down to a fine art we have, at least, learned the value of making a list and realised that it doesn't change greatly from year to year. The final couple of weeks at home are always a bit frantic as we attempt to catch up with jobs, family and friends.A lot of rushing around White Rabbit fashion. ''No time to say Hello, Goodbye! I'm late!"
Speaking of rabbits we have had a plague of them on our property this summer. Those of you in the northern hemisphere may think it charming to look out of the window each morning and see dozens of bunnies cavorting in the grass or perhaps on the verandah looking in. I occasionally, fleetingly, think similarly - the baby ones, of which there are many (so many), are admittedly cute. 'What harm can they do?' I hear you ask. They just eat a bit of grass, some plants, the veggies. Well, there are 3 things that rabbits like doing; eating, procreating and digging. The first 2 I'm fine with. It's the obsession with tunnelling that's the problem. Hundreds of holes all over the place multiplying in line with the procreation. Some small, cleverly concealed holes in long grass are perfect ankle twisters or even leg breakers and others, out in the open, are big enough down which to lose a small child. I have never seen as many as this year and I've no idea of the reason.

There are more welcome visitors to our backyard. Here are a few.

The next blog post should be at the end of May by which time we will be afloat. So it will have something to do with France and boating rather than bunnies and birds.
The plan - yes we have, for once, the vague beginnings of a plan - is to first cruise the Canal de Bourgogne. Let's hope we have more success than our previous attempt on this waterway a couple of years ago when we were defeated by weed and 'technical difficulties'. Don't ask....