Monday, October 20, 2014


3 October - Lagarde

One of the really nice things about this time of year, is that one can go for long walks in the crisp morning air, or the soggy morning air as the case may be, and not have to roll out of bed particularly early to do it.  

The mist seems to try to lift sometime after eight, but just as often gives up and pops back down again for another hour or so, making getting up early to catch photographs of it a particularly civilised experience.

Things may appear calm in port, but on the boat chaos is beginning to ensue.   The sort of chaos that is born of procrastination and waiting for parts before starting to do anything while a deadline looms large over the not too distant horizon.

It will probably work itself out we think, so settle back into finishing our respective books while lazing around in the sunshine.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Never do today what you can do tomorrow
- Lagarde

The trouble with having a few more days than is necessary to complete a relatively few number of tasks is that those days seem to slip away without any of the work actually being started.

To be fair one of us tends to be rather more productive than the other in times like this.  She’s the one sifting through things, getting them cleaned and ordered, having cups of tea or walking with Maggie and so on, while the other tends to get flustered and grumbles about working in a confined space with grease and diesel on his hands while white linen is hanging around everywhere drying and being sorted.   The solution is simple, and involves quite a lot of freshly brewed coffee and a book.

There is no point in getting stressed about the work that needs doing, and  life in a boatyard provides plenty of opportunities for distraction.

For what it’s worth, we did get a few things ticked off, but we have a week up our sleeves and where in the coloured brochure does it say we need to be busy every minute of the day anyway?

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Looking on the bright side.
- Lagarde

After two days of mind numbing electrical trouble shooting, it turns out the battery problems that we’d been quietly experiencing during the year were exactly that: battery problems.  Not refrigerator problems, or inverter problems or some other major electrical fault created problems: just a pair of year old batteries that decided they didn’t want to play any more.

The good thing about that is that they are under some sort of warranty, so with just a little bit of luck will be replaced one day by a nice man who will just turn up in a truck and if he gives us a bill at all, we should have enough left over to buy airfares back next year.

Duncan will turn up one day in his truck with the replacement for the replacement parts in the injection system too, and just maybe we can get rid of the horrible old diesel smell that emanates from Mr P before we go home.  It's probably the engine equivalent of the olfactory welcome one receives when entering a cat refuge, but it's not good enough - we just won't let his incontinence get the better of us after all we've been through.

With just a little more luck than we seem to have had this year, we may (he stupidly says, committing it to writing) start the next with nothing to do of a mechanical repair nature.

Meanwhile in the village, the sun was shining and the sky clear blue, the autumn leaves were exactly a complimentary colour to their surrounds and all seemed particularly well with the world.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The cleaning
- Lagarde

Winter can do funny things to a boat, or anything that’s left outside if it comes to that.  Even though we leave everything as clean as we can, we always seem to return to a mess, a vessel covered in a thick grime of pollen mud, green slime and muck.

I have to confess that we have thought about the futility of cleaning things before we go, but there is a trigger somewhere in both our heads that won’t allow us to relax in that state of mind.   Therefore while one of us took herself away to Maggie’s for the day to catch up on a little mending, and probably just to catch up, the other set about scrubbing the decks and running the mooring lines through the washing machine, so they would be fresh and soft for next year and would smell vaguely like lemon.

It’s odd though, as excited as we are about returning to the Antipodes for a time, and that builds as we bustle around, there’s a certain dullness that is exactly the opposite emotion that creeps in to oppose it.   Now matter which side of the world we are on, these conflicting emotions descend.   Perhaps they are something to do with some sort of nesting syndrome that causes this wild rash of cleaning.   Do birds tidy up before they fly south for the winter?

Perhaps we should just lie down for a bit and it will pass!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Mondayitis
- Lagarde

We thought we’d spend a night in Lagarde, perhaps head out again for a few days or even a week, before coming back to a frantic half a week or so of concentrated effort.

That was before lunch yesterday of course, which left us in no mood to do anything at all, not even to move the boat.  We had a classic case of Mondayitis.  Later in the day the sun came out and it seemed like the obvious thing to do was to wash everything that wasn’t hiding somewhere already freshly washed.  This of course gave us the opportunity to intersperse short bursts of loading the machine and hanging things out, with longer periods of inactivity.

We thought about checking our lists of things to make and do, and we thought about making new ones, but mostly we thought about not thinking about much because it didn’t seem to be the day for it, so sat in the middle of a row of empty boats, mostly reading and watching the washing dry.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The last leg
- Einville-au-Jard to Lagarde

A “brocante” or as my dictionary describes it, “junk dealing”, is a tradition that happens in many villages once a year.  Curiously “once a year” turns out to be three or sometimes even four times if one actually counts them, but in order to maintain the level of excitement that only an annual event can muster, when they are held at other times of the year, similar (also annual) events are called “Attic Sales” or even simply held in conjunction with a summer fete.

Collectors and bargain hunters and people who would like to own two decades old baby toys flock from everywhere to find something that they will no doubt regret purchasing long after the thrill of the hunt has subsided.

We are not collectors or bargain hunters, so would not have been up early enough under normal circumstances to wander the streets as the stalls were being set up, but we do like to watch though but we really did have to be in Lagarde in time for lunch so we really did have to depart in time to get to the first lock when it opened, and that left us with precisely ten minutes up our sleeves to browse the kilometres of stalls.

We moved for just a few hours through clearing fog, past throngs of Sunday fishermen, with the old familiar happy-sadness creeping in to the periphery of our brains as we entered each lock, drawing inevitably closer to the end of another season.

We consoled ourselves with the thought that Lagarde wasn’t supposed to be a homecoming.  We were just going to stay for lunch and return in a week or so to start the wintering process.

But as the day and the conversation rolled along we felt ourselves settling in, becoming comfortable in our old surrounds, among old friends, and wondering if we have moved for the last time this summer.




Saturday, September 27, 2014

Diversion of the pleasant kind
- Nancy to Einville-au-Jard

With a concerted effort, an early start and everything going our way, it’s possible to  travel between Nancy and Lagarde in one day.

So it was that with that one thought in mind, we timed our departure faultlessly to arrive at the first lock at precisely the time its gates were opening for the day's business.    Our perfect plan was going well until that point and didn’t start to unravel until the time came when one would normally exit the lock.  All that is required to enable forward motion is for the gates to open automatically as they are supposed, and that is exactly what they failed to do.  

At this time of year itinerant lock keepers are a bit thin on the ground it would seem, so it was a little less than an hour until we were set free and able to continue happily for another few kilometres until the next lock once again required manual intervention, this time leaving our plan looking decidedly unachievable.

But the sky was blue and even the smoke from the salt works gave us a cheery wave as we passed, so there was little reason to feel any angst.  A new plan would surely form given enough time.    

As it happened, Rob and Janet, trapped by the ship-lift still broken in the opposite direction,  themselves still coming to grips with their own change of plans, had them changed again when we pulled in behind them in Einville for a belated lunch time stop.  It didn’t take rocket-science for any of us to work out that in all probability none of us were moving again today, and that the probability of achieving the statutory eight hours sleep was not entirely large.

It would be nice to have a lottery ticket with the same winning probabilities, but it’s hard to imagine that a winning ticket could provide a more enjoyable outcome!