Come with us as we travel round Europe in our floating home

Thursday, 23 August 2018


Bonjour et Bienvenue,

Nice to see you here again. It's still extremely hot and sunny here in France, currently 33'C at 7pm 💥💥,

although we did have a few cooler days last week after a couple of spectacular overnight storms.  We woke up one morning to find that a tree had fallen down directly opposite us during the night and we hadn't heard a thing! Luckily it fell along the towpath and not across the canal.

After having the Canal de la Somme almost all to ourselves - where are all the boats? - it was nice to get back onto the hustle and bustle of the Canal du Nord. Even there it was fairly quiet and we didn't have to share any of the locks with other boats, which was probably a good thing as we got stuck in two of the automatic locks when the gates failed to operate and we had to wait for the VNF to come to re-set them.

That happened to us again at one of the locks on the Canal l'Ainse a la Marne . The green light was on for us to enter but only one gate had opened.  I'm getting good at phoning the VNF and to give them their due they always arrive within half an hour.  This one took 2 men 2 hours to fix as the hydraulic ram had become detatched from the gate.

I'm starting to think it must be the heat affecting the locks as we've also had 2 break-downs on the Canal de la Marne as well. It certainly can't be over use as there are still very few boats about and all of the moorings are empty.

There was a strange looking animal with a huge head beside one of the locks yesterday and we couldn't quite make out what it was until I zoomed in with the camera.  It was a red squirrel carrying it's baby in its mouth.

We're now on the river Marne and spent a night at the moorings of the Societé Nautique in Epernay.  It's the first time we've had to pay to moor for a long time and at 30 euros for one night it seemed really expensive, but we were made very welcome by the capitain Bernard and his wife and given a glass of champagne each as well as a free pass to visit the local champagne house which was right behind the mooring.

Our next stop was the village of Cumieres and once again the mooring was empty.

Cumieres has several champagne houses in the village but the most famous champagnes are grown around the village of Hautvilliers which was 3km away by bike, 120m uphill.......not a ride I'd like to repeat as the roads were very narrow and busy with vans and tractors.

It was worth it for the spectacular views across the vineyards

If the quantity of grapes is anything to go on,it may be a bumper year as every vine was as heavily laden as this

At Cumieres there are some amazing riverside metal statues epicting every stage in the manufacture of Champagne.

I never realised that there were SO many different Champagne houses. There are over 30 in Cumieres alone.  Just a shame I really don't like Champagne, although I bet our bank manager woud think it's a good thing as some of these wines start at 10 euros for a bog standard wine and rise sky high for a vintage one.

Bye for now, come back soon X

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Granny Time

Hi, welcome back

We had a fantastic time when our daughter and the grandchildren came to stay last week.  We'd managed to squeeze onto the pontoon at Sainte Valerie sur Somme despite the "lurkers" who had already been there for more than a week - the limit is supposed to be 3 days.

We took the steam train to the town of Le Crotoy across the bay

It's a pretty seaside town with rows of old fashioned beach huts

Although the sand looked white it was only on the surface. Below the top inch it was very black and unsuitable for making sand castles, so we made do with a paddle 

We stayed 4 days at Sainte Valerie as on the evening of the fourth day the local waterways manager came round and issued us with an overstay warning letter and told us we HAD to leave.  He also evicted a French cruiser who had been there for 10 days but didn't do anything about the Dutch barge that had been there for a fortnight. The Frenchman was very upset and was going to complain to his local MP!

So next day we cruised back to Abbeville giving the children chance to drive the boat and when we arrived the moorings were empty. Roger and our daughter cycled back 15km to collect her car. She hadn't been on a bike for 20 odd years and was dreading it, but she hadn't realised that our new bikes were electric and managed it easily.

Abbeville actually turned out to be a better base for the rest of their week. One day we drove out to the Chateau de Rambures which was built in the middle ages and is one of the first castles in Europe to be constructed almost entirely in bricks.

While Roger and I really enjoyed the guided tour inside the chateau the children would have been bored so they stayed outside playing with the medieval games that were on display. They tried their hand at archery, thankfully with rubber ends on the arrows 😀 and then lateer tried to play giant chess with Grandad

The rose gardens at the chateau were fabulous and the kids collected a bagful of fallen petals to make rose perfume back at the boat. It doesn't take much to keep little ones occupied 😀

While they were with us it was a "blood moon"

All too soon the week was over and they had to go home 😭 The boat is very quiet without them, thank heavens for video chat.

Chico celebrated his 13th birthday in his usual way - being pampered and sleeping in the shade. He's been suffering a bit with the heat and has been off his food but for an old dog he's still in pretty good shape.

We're now starting our journey back towards Roanne and are keeping a close watch on water levels as there hasn't been any significant rain here for weeks. There are also a couple of locks out of order on our route which we're hoping will be fixed by the time we get to them.

That's all for now, see you again soon X