Chevroches, Canal du Nivernais

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Au Revoir

My phone call in French was a success! As you can see, our taxi not only turned up but was precisely on time. Furthermore the phone call must have been convincing enough as our charming driver chatted away to us as if he expected we should have no difficulty at all in understanding.
Departure day itself was a bit dismal weather-wise which seemed appropriate as the end of season pack up is always a little sad. As we are in a different winter port this year we didn't have any farewells to make other than to L'Avenir herself.
A night in Paris meant we had a good sleep before the 2 long flights to Melbourne about which there is nothing interesting to be said which I suppose is a good thing. There is nothing remotely glamorous about long distance flying; it is just something to be endured. Perhaps it's different behind the curtain in Business and First and the champagne makes the films look better. I suspect I'll never know.
So, that's it for another year. As always we've had a wonderful time Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read the blog and an even bigger thank you to those of you who joined us on the boat. If you didn't - well there's always next year.
I haven't calculated distances and locks for this year. At the moment I just can't be bothered. Maybe I'll get around to it over the long, hot Melbourne summer.
In the meantime,
à bientôt!

Monday, 7 October 2013

Crossed Wires

Restored round lock at Apremont. Now unused this lock once allowed barges to navigate between  the river Loire and the canal system

The taxi to the station is booked for tomorrow morning. At least I hope it is. Conducting a phone conversation in a foreign language is just about the most excruciatingly difficult task you can put yourself through when travelling and best avoided if possible. Those finely honed miming skills are completely useless and if you can’t see the baffled look on the person you’re talking to how can you tell if you’re speaking complete gibberish? Anyway, I hope the taxi will arrive here at 10.30 and take us to the station. But did I tell him to pick us up at Chatillon sur Loire or Chatillon sur Saone? I meant the former but I’m worried that I got a bit confused. Unfortunately for both of us the two places are nowhere near each other. I should really phone him back and check but somehow I’d rather miss the train than go through all that again.
In the meatime, here are a few photos from the past couple of weeks.
At the top of the double lock near Apremont

and the bottom. Lock keeper seeing us safely on our way.

Paddling at the junction of the rivers Loire and the Allier. Looks placid but the current was running fast and I was staying very close to the edge.
Crossing another aqueduct. This time over the Allier.

Last lock for the year
Approaching Chatillon - this year's winter mooring
The local horsemeat butcher - Chatillon. And no, we haven't been in.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

All Tied Up

Mural in Chatillon sur Loire. Figure on right is Robert Louis Stevenson (Chatillon is on RL Stevenson Trail)
With 2 days to go we are finally tied up for the winter. Right up until this afternoon we were worrying that we might have to make an expensive last minute change to our flights and head south to a different mooring at speed – well, 6kph. Uncertainty has been something we’ve had to get used to this summer and normally our plans are so vague that we barely notice if they have to be adjusted but changing the date of our flight home is an organisational step too far. Now, we just have to get on with the cleaning, packing and winterising of the boat.
L’Avenir’s home for the next few months is the port of Chatillon sur Loire, not far from Briare. The Tourist Office window has a notice which caught my eye. A happy, bouncing kangaroo is shouting ‘G’Day!’ The town, according to the poster, considers itself ‘Australie sur Loire’ with further information to be found on their website. Chatillon apparently has some links with a town in Queensland but I’ll have to wait until I have better access to the internet to find out more. In the meantime none of the locals strolling past the boat has expressed any interest whatsoever in our Aussie flag so perhaps the enthusiasm of some ‘Aussiephiles’ has not percolated through to the many.
The past few weeks on the boat have been very pleasant. The rain stopped, the sun made a reappearance and we were back into shorts and t shirts. In good weather Autumn is a great time to be cruising and the hireboaters are still out in force. It’s considerably cheaper to hire at this time of year and this canal seems to be very popular mainly due to its lack of locks I suspect. Fewer locks means flatter countryside of course. The main feature of interest on this waterway is the River Loire itself which is sometimes right beside (or even beneath) and always within bike riding distance. Parts of the Loire were once navigated and have substantial old port towns but the only short section of the river which is now cruisable (for us anyway) is at Decizes where this canal joins the canal de Nivernais. We had visited Decizes a couple of years ago when we cruised the Nivernais so we decided that was to be the furthest point of this year’s trip before retracing our steps to Chatillon.
There were several noteworthy stops on the way but as I mentioned in the previous post the internet is so bad here that I doubt I have enough hours left (in my lifetime) to upload any photos so I’ll post more about them as soon as I’m able. Please check again!!

Friday, 4 October 2013

Wifi Woes

It’s been a while….
Ever keen to save a dollar (or Euro) I’ve been hoping that we would arrive somewhere with free internet in order to update the blog. Now with less than a week left onboard and moored at our final destination in what seems to be a wifi wilderness I have been forced to attempt to resume my relationship with Monsieur Orange France. Unfortunately, he’s proving more than a little reluctant to cooperate. First off he flatly refused to accept my mobile internet recharge voucher online and after several unsuccessful attempts locked me out of my account. Okay, I thought, I’ll try the personal approach and phone the number on the ticket. No joy there. We haven’t a French mobile this year and I wasn’t able to get the number to connect on the phone we do have. That, possibly, may have been my fault or could it be that M. Orange is upset at my taking up with his UK counterpart? ( credit on UK mobiles doesn't expire and you therefore don't risk losing your account and number - not to mention your money).  Anyway, as a last resort, I went in search of a phone box. I didn’t have to look too far as France has maintained its good network of public phone boxes and the country’s inhabitants have behaved in a civilised manner and refrained from vandalising them. So, success – well, sort of.  My account may be topped up but around here the network apparently has next to no strength. 
Monsieur Orange- your dongle, disappointingly, just isn’t up to the job.