The journey begins – here.

Barging from Loire to Burgundy

Us on the left - parked next to another Valk kruiser
Us on the left – parked next to another Valk kruiser

Wednesday 20th June 2018
Decize to Vanneaux
A last e-mail check before we left Decize and another e-mail had come in from the potential buyer to say he was unable to come to France to view the boat. Basically the whole thing was off. It was back to Plan A for us and that was to end this trip in St-Jean-de-Losne and get the a few minor repairs done. Have a chat to the agent there. Then decide how best to market the boat.

One day before summer solstice and it was definitely warming up. Good for the paint work on the boat. A bit hot for my liking. Our new friends came to say goodbye and they went with friends of theirs to collect a car in Roanne. I dashed across the way to Intermarche and topped up on provisions. Then we set off. A young couple in a hire boat joined us through the locks. The first lock keeper was trying to explain how to tie up and asked him repeatedly to move back as his nose was right up against the lock gate. His other half was hanging on to the rope so tightly that no matter how much reverese power he gave, the boat didn’t move. Fortunately it was an experienced lock keeper and he let the water in slowly.

Hire boat taking a lunch break
Hire boat taking a lunch break

As we arrived in Vanneaux who should be at the lock waiting for us? Our new friends. They had come to check on an elderly Swiss chap on a barge who had not been well. And were very worried about him. He had a friend helping him but that person had left rather abruptly. He had no food. And no way of getting his boat to Decize where he needed medical treatment. The husband asked if my other half would help him move Swiss guy’s boat the following afternoon. Of course he would. Vanneuax is a fabulous spot. It has free water and electricity and a restaurant right next to the marina. The restaurant was unfortunately closed for the day.

We decided to make a BBQ on the banks of the canal and the old man came and joined us for supper. Lovely person. Very interesting man. But I felt so sad for him. He spoke a lot about how wealthy he was, his three ex-wives, four children and huge divorce settlements. His expensive cars and his fabulous home. He’d paid for a Russian woman he met on-line to meet him in Paris in a few days time. And here he was sick and all alone. He didn’t want the Russian woman to know how ill he was. I couldn’t help but feel he had placed too much value on money and not enough on quality relationships.

Thursday 21st June 2018
Just when I think I’ve seen it all on the waterways, I get surprised all over again. A troop of horses with old fashioned carts rocked up to the restaurant in Vanneaux. The whole set-up from clothing to style of carts was from a century ago – if not more. Country style. People came out en masse with cameras and were clicking away. Turns out they offer horse and cart holidays. People pay to wander around the countryside inside a carriage and sleep in a coach while this lot fed them and the horses. Who knew stuff like this existed?

Old fashioned horse and cart
Old fashioned horse and cart

They set their horses free to much on grass while they camped for the night next to the marina. There can’t have been any paying guests around as they slept on the grass in the shade for the rest of the day. This group kept to themselves. Someone suggested they might be travellers.

Our new friends arrived with a sandwich for the old man. We had made him a smoothie for breakfast. The blokes got the barge going and I expected to see my husband 3 – 4 hours later. By the time it got to 6 hours later I knew either he was having far too much fun. Or something had gone wrong. He arrived back at the boat with the other couple and the Swiss man, who wanted to treat us all to supper. He didn’t have time tell me the full story as the old man was not feeling well and needed to have supper straight away.

Clearly it had been an eventful day. Firstly the barge was leaking copious amounts of oil and had little to no oil pressure. They had to figure out where to put in oil to avert a crisis. Then two locks in, the boat refused to idle. They were going into the third lock when they tried to switch from forward to reverse to slow the boat down and it kept cutting out. The lot of them were frantically trying to tie up so the boat didn’t go bashing into the lock gates. From that lock forward they had to enter the locks gingerly with ropes at the ready to tie up quickly as that was the only way to bring the boat to a stop. By the time they got to Decize all of them were glad it was all over.

The journey continues  . . . . . . here.

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