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French Inland Waterways

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John and I are just getting ready for our cruise in France for the summer of 2011. The spare room has been taken over by boxes and cases containing items that we want to take with us, there is a pile in the garage and more stuff is awaited in the post.

What are we taking with us? Well, this year there are 4 new batteries, a folding bike and a gas hob (both of which John brought home from the boat to overhaul), clean bedding, English food which we take to supplement what we buy out there (tea bags, bread mixes, tinned beans, custard powder, gravy granules – all of which are not quite the same in France), enough books to stock a small library, DVDs to watch in the evening, and so on. We are also waiting delivery of a hydraulic steering system which John plans to fit this year.

Our boat, La Vie en Rose, is a Dutch steel canal boat and is moored in Auxerre , Burgundy , France . We have kept her there for the last 3 winters and think that maybe this year we will travel down the Canal du Burgogne and up the Petite Saône to the Strasbourg area. How far we get this year will depend on my arm – I developed a tennis elbow last year with all the locking we did when we travelled down the Canal du Centre. It has troubled me all winter and so far has not responded to treatment. I have my faith pinned on some ultra-sound which I am having at the moment. Rest seems to be the answer so I am glad John will be taking a week or so to fit the new steering system and I will not have to do my lassoing act in any locks for a while. He has also made me a ‘bollard grabber’ after a design produced by some Australian friends, Kevin and Yvonne. It is based on a bicycle wheel on the end of a broom handle. With it I shall be able to loop the rope over the bollard instead of throwing it and that should make life easier.

I have just downloaded the details of canal and lock closures during the summer. This gives details of all repairs taking place on the canals during the year and we need to take note of this when planning our trip. I cannot see any that will affect the area in which we are planning to travel but three years ago when we travelled along the River Aisne there were 4 different closures, not in sequence, so planning our trip was quite a headache. At one place they had already begun repairs and switched off the electric mechanism for operating the lock gate. Four muscular canal employees sweated on a rope to open the gate for us! I wish I had got that on a photograph.

I plan to update this blog at intervals during our travels, so watch this space.


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Summer cruise, 2011

Auxerre, France