Firstly, apologies for the long delay an posting an update. We've had a stretch of energy sapping heat when the only sensible thing to do is abandon the roasting decks and 40 degree interior of the boat and find a park (preferably with a fountain) or, if that's not available, any old tree will do. When even Les Toulousains are visibly wilting and begin conversations with a sigh and a complaint about 'la chaleur' (the heat) you know it's a little unusual. 'But you're from Australia. You should be used to this,' people say all the time failing to take into account the fact that we don't live inside a 13m steel oven in the heat of an Aussie summer.
Some of you may remember our previous experience with an onboard air conditioner - come to think of it that saga was concluded on our last visit to Toulouse - but we fleetingly toyed with the idea of buying one again. By fleetingly I mean as long as it took to read the price ticket - the cheapest on offer was just shy of 600 euros. What would you expect during a heatwave? We bought another fan instead.
In short, it was too hot to think never mind write and my computer agreed by shutting itself down every 5 minutes.
The ecluses (locks) don't much like the heat either. There are 9 locks in the space of 5km on the branch canal from Montauban back onto the Canal de Garonne. We got through the first without problem and that was it. Normally when faced with the 2 red lights of despair I go ashore and use the lockside phone to call out the cavalry but luckily for us there was a VNF (waterways authority) guy busily cutting grass around the lockside and he managed to get things sorted for us before going back to his lawnmower. Next lock, 2 red lights again. Fortunately, we were still in view of the previous lock so our VNF saviour abandoned his lawn mower for the afternoon and accompanied us through all the remaining locks. At the last one we thanked him with a cold beer and he offered to take our photo. We don't have a lot of pictures of us both with the boat so we happily handed over the camera and he took several shots. I'd like to show you one but my camera seems not to like the heat either and none of them came out. (I've had a lot of trouble with my camera this trip which is another reason for the lack of blog posts).
|The 2 red lights of despair|
|A friendly eclusier|
After rejoining the Canal de Garonne it was another couple of sweltering days into Toulouse and the beginning of the Canal du Midi. The final stretch of the Garonne is a bit dismal with a busy railway on one side and a busier motorway roaring away on the other. On the narrow stretch of land separating the canal and motorway people have erected flimsy shacks of packing cases and bits of wood and cardboard.
Then through the last arched bridge of the Garonne and we were inside the huge circular Port d'Embouchure and the start of the Midi. This was once the link onto the river Garonne. The port has some mooring space available but is surrounded by incredibly busy roads and not at all peaceful. We had a reservation at Port Saint Sauveur closer to the city centre. So, we made a hard turn to port (getting nautical here) hurriedly pulled down the canopy, flagpole etc (no nautical term for that) and squeezed through the short, low, narrow tunnel onto the the canal du Midi.