Barging in Burgundy
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Day Twenty-Four – 21st July 2017
Chagny to St-Leger-sur-Dheune
The Waterways Guide Book gave St-Leger-sur-Dheune a good write up. All places in that book sound fabulous – not all of them are. But they actually say, “A pleasant stop-over.” The day got off to a great start. We saw a massive boat hotel was coming around the corner. My better half and I got going extra fast to get ahead of it. We followed behind an elderly French couple in a hire boat into the first lock. The blue cord (cord bleu) wouldn’t work. The female partner on the boat was yanking it violently – finally the lock gates closed. Next lock, there was a young lady lock keeper. She also had to give the cord a few tugs to get it working, albeit a bit less vigorously.
French couple did what French people do, and stopped for lunch. We pushed on. And then got stuck behind another hotel boat. We had to wait for an oncoming boat to lock down the other way. It was time to get a bit French, chill and have lunch. We made good progress at the next few locks. Bridges in France are low. We’ve had to take down our radar arch for most of the journey. One bridge – we scraped through. Literally. But we like some awning up to protect us from the heat. Just before St-Leger-sur-Dheune, it was clear we were not going to make it under the bridge. Mad panic. Full astern. Un-clip bits of awning. Fast. Try again. All in full view of a waterside restaurant full of customers. Stuff happens.
St-Leger-sur-Dheune is indeed a good place to stop. The guidebook was right. A helpful man was running the place. Usual problem, couldn’t get connected to wi-fi. Story of our waterways lives. We camped indoors shortly after tying up while a thunderstorm passed over. Then went walk-about. Fifteen minutes later, our walk-about was over. St-Leger-sur-Dheune is small town but it’s fresh and has everything you need. Just over the bridge we found a cafe type spot with high-speed wi-fi and a glass of good wine for €2. Hellava friendly owners. Our kind of place. The Saffas had also tied up in St-Leger-sur-Dheune. We’re both so shy to make friends with fellow boaters but I plucked up the courage to ask them to join us for a drink if we see them again.
Meanwhile I was on a mad mission to experiment making as many vegan versions of French foods as I could. Every time I went near a restaurant, bookshop or anything related to food, I was absorbing it all. I used up my battery life searching for vegan recipes while we had our wine at the cafe. For supper I used up the last of the squashes from the market by wilting them in a savoury sauce, then filling them with a stuffing of mixed veg, stale bread and French herbs, topping them with a vegan cheeze sauce. Even if I say so myself, it was good.
Day Twenty-Five – 22nd July 2017
It was reassuring to have a secure mooring again. The hotel boats seem to turn around just before the mooring. We hoped this was an end point for them. Turns out we had left the wine region and missed out on wine tastings. St-Leger-sur-Dheune offer bicycle hire so we decided to stay another day and cycle back to Santenay. If you ask, a few places loan bicycles – often for free. We like freebies.
I have no idea how people spend a day on a bicycle a la Tour de France or these zillions that cycle past the canal on the tow path laden down with paniers. Twenty minutes in, the area between my legs was numb. And sore. By the time we got to Santenay, I could hardly get off the bicycle. It was the same for my husband. Poor man was limping. So glad we don’t have bicycles on our boat. Up in the town square we found a few places that do wine tastings. It’s a bit intimidating walking in and seeing rows of bottles of wine with exorbitant price tags. We were heartened to see big gaps where the cheaper wines should have been. Clearly we’re not the only ones looking for the good things in life at affordable prices.
A group of people were offered wine tastings along with us. They swirled their glasses and sniffed with such enthusiasm that I didn’t even try. My swirls and sniffs would never match up. And then – they promptly spat out obscenely expensive wine right in front of us. I happen to think it’s rude to spit in public, but no way was I going to waste any of the fine wine offered to us. I would rather be considered gauche (unsophisticated) and drink the lot. We bought one slightly expensive wine and two cheapies. Then went straight to the supermarket and bought similar regional wines at less than half the price. Now laden down we got back on these flipping bicycles and cycled all the way to our boat. This time we stopped every 20 minutes to get the circulation going in our affected areas.
Both of us had been neglecting our beloved Shangri La more than a bit. She was dusty and covered with leaves. But first we had to recover from our wine tastings and a boozy lunch. A snooze was in order. Then we got going with a vengeance. My other half hosed down our boat and I got out the duster and vacuum cleaner. Our reward was a bottle of good wine from our day’s purchases. Much as we love our boat, it was nice to do something different.
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