To read from the beginning use this link – Barging in Burgundy
Day Thirty-Seven – 3rd August 2017
One thing we’ve noticed, almost every town in France has a few street names in common – Rue Charles de Gaulle, Rue Gambetta and Rue Victor Hugo. Lucky for her, Digoin deigned itself to name a street after Edith Piaf. We wandered up to the ceramic museum, the ceramic shop and popped into E.LeClerc supermarket across the way. We also went to a bricolage (hardware shop) in the other direction. Our shock cord was disintegrating. As we were walking there, we found blackberries growing on the path. Been a while since we were able to forage and they would be perfect in a smoothie.
Just when I think I’ve seen it all on the waterways – and the cycle path next to the canals – I see something new. Two sun burnt young blokes were settling down under the shade of trees with two donkeys tied to the trees. The guys were wearing unsophisticated clothes and home-made pointy toe boots. The donkeys had rustic saddles on their backs. These guys were unloading bags and bags and bags from these donkeys. They removed these unusual looking wooden saddles from the donkey’s backs. I was concerned for the welfare of the donkeys and didn’t want to leave. Did they carry these boys as well? How far had they come? Were the donkeys OK in this heat?
Then one chap started off down the road and I swear his donkey turned around, looked at him, and cried. It was heartbreaking. The other guy had to console the donkey. Clearly his donkey wasn’t that unhappy with him. I would have loved to know more about this adventure. If only I spoke decent French. Sigh!
My other half had been wanting to make a French Onion Soup. Today was the day. While he was getting all creative in the galley, I took a container and set off to forage blackberries. They look so luscious on the bushes, but picking them wasn’t easy. They were next to a deep, but narrow, water-filled furrow which I was trying to step across, but not fall in. Their thorny branches were piercing my hands and fingers. Stinging nettles were attacking my ankles. I had bees, ants and lizards all trying to get me. I got half a bowl of berries and gave up.
Back at the marina a few new boats had arrived and two groups of people came back to their closed up boats. They parked their cars on the side of the road and were loading up provisions. We sat on the deck again sipping chilled wine and enjoying my better half’s great French Onion Soup.
Day Thirty-Eight – 4th August 2017
Digoin to middle of nowhere
Another perfect boating day. Not too hot. Not raining. And a bit cloudy. We left Digoin via the aqueduct and headed in the direction of Digoin. It’s all farms and haystacks and cows. Not as lush and green as the River Seille, but just as beautiful. We spotted a deer lurking on the side of the canal. Pretty butterflies were flying among the flowering weeds. The ambiance is tranquil and wholesome.
The obligatory fisher men and fisher women with their fisher families were settled on the banks of the canal. I’m amazed at how passionate the French are about fishing. It’s not only old folks at it. Youngsters too.
The first lock out of Digoin is assisted. Then the first lock in the direction of Roanne we had to manage ourselves. The bollards were set so far back, no way could we lasso them. My other half climbed up the railings and clambered on to the top of the lock. Fortunately the next two canals we had a lock-keeper. The third lock was particularly deep. With no floating bollards. Good thing we had assistance. Our lock-keeper hurried us to the last lock so he could take his lunch break. I suspect he may have been hoping for a tip.
The River Loire flows alongside the canal. You can sometimes see it. It’s weird that the canal is higher than the river. In fact it’s higher than most of the surrounding area. Good for sight-seeing. But the canal is very shallow. Even at slow speed we were making a wash.
We tied up in an amazing spot. No roads, no people, no nothing. The pair of us sat naked on our back deck having supper by candlelight. Around 22.00pm we got all loony and went for a stroll along the canal. There was a bright full moon. We tried to make out the constellations of stars, but are not overly familiar with those in the Northern Hemisphere. It was wonderful to be all alone with no noise other than those from the canal and nature. We heard owls, bull frogs, fish leaping and insects chirping. One of our best nights ever!
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