Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Making hay in the sunshine
Lumes to Le Chesne

The plan was a good one, verging on great.

We wouldn’t leave too early, there would be no need, as we had to travel barely ten kilometres to get us off the river and onto the Canal des Ardennes, where it would be a simple matter to find a place for two boats to while away the afternoon, and what would be left of the morning.

It all went so well too, for about an hour until the malady that has been plaguing our Mr P returned.  His intermittent coughing and spluttering did put a dent on progress for a time, but disappeared as quickly and mysteriously as it had appeared and by mid morning we found ourself at our planned destination.

The only difficulty we encountered with that particular plan, was that the quay that we had planned to moor against had been removed, as had every other solid edge for a dozen or so kilometres as the entire stretch of waterway seems to be under reconstruction.  

We were forced therefore, through no fault of our own, to forgo our post-luncheon snooze, to struggle on into ever improving weather, through more of the sort of countryside that one sees on postcards that are without doubt complete fabrications by some photoshop artisan.

When we could take no more, we stopped under some trees, by a green field full of white cows with hills behind that framed the purple sunset as the last of the post-dinner coffees were being drained.

It may well have been a perfect day in paradise, were it not for the lingering doubts concerning the reliability of our means of propulsion!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Onward!
Charleville-Mezieres to Lumes

When it’s time to go it’s time to go, and sometime after lunch with the sky vaguely clearing, for us that time arrived.  We could have easily spent more time in Charleville-Mezieres, but for reasons that are not completely without logical explanation, given Mr Perkins’ tenuous state of health, we are a little anxious to get off the river and back into the much more sedate canal system.

So we shopped a bit in the rain, and abandoned plans to wash sheets and sometime after lunch with the bit well and truly between Mr Perkin’s teeth we left Dave and Ria floundering in our wake, or perhaps they were just following at a safe distance lest something should explode from within our engine bay.

Not wanting to overtax ourselves nor overtax our machinery, we feigned tiredness after not quite a dozen kilometres and settled down for a quiet night in the middle of almost nowhere, wondering why our Mr P had not so much as missed a beat all afternoon.

Perhaps he likes being back on the "road" as much as we do.

Monday, July 28, 2014

For Ducks.
Charleville-Mezieres




Today was going to be our last with power and water for a while.  At first we thought we’d get the washing up to date, then clean some stuff and get some groceries and generally be busy little bees, before exploring a bit more of the town.

But the rain didn’t let up, so we didn’t do anything.

We watched the ducks wafting by, noted they seemed quite comfortable just hanging out with their mates and went to lunch in a warm dry cafe with Dave and Ria.

We took the long way home.  It was a sort of progressive supper/conversation really, the sort of afternoon from which a play could evolve:   Coffee with Dave and Ria, and then with Steve and Peta, then drinks with Bob and Anna and then with Bob and Anna and Steve and Peta, before moving eventually to Ian and Lynda and Dave and Ria.

The rain didn’t stop, neither did the conversation, nor did we get wet.

Tomorrow perhaps we’ll get some washing up to date, then clean some stuff and get some groceries and generally be busy little bees, before exploring a bit more of the town.

Or perhaps we’ll simply move on.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Lazy Sunday Afternoon
Monthermé to Charleville- Mezieres

In a week the town square in Charleville had been transformed to a place of summer celebration.  

When we walked through it last week, it was an empty space, hot and barren in the summer sun and paved with ancient cobblestones with a Carousel revolving endlessly in an apparent attempt to relieve the  the spirits of those traversing the square.

Today, it was filled with sand and beaches and volleyball and badminton and pools with boats and plastic ducks and children playing and swimming and driving bumper boats.   The inflatable bumper boats really spoke of summer.  

What a joy it must be to cruise in a vessel so reliable and vibration free!

We shouldn’t complain.  Our Mr P had brought us back after all, with only a few hints of protest along the way; a few minutes of belligerence every now and then to shake us out of our complacency.  Even the normally unflappable Jacques seemed nonplussed at this behaviour, but it wasn’t enough to spoil our somewhat idyllic day with Maggie and he.   Perhaps still one more round of tightening is in order.   

We noted with something akin to envy that not one of those kids had grease under their fingernails.  Perhaps we could just give up our quest for reliability aboard, and trade our entire catastrophe for one of those little bumper boats!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Water under the bridge.
Revin to Monthermé

We even set the alarm this morning.  

Monsieur Biadelle had said he’d be with us at eight and that was one appointment we didn’t want to miss.   I explained as best I could, that Mr Perkins problem was simple, it was just getting to a solution that was complicated, which I thought was no mean feat in my haltering verbless French.   

He nodded politely, tilted his head and told me he could fix it within the day, ten hours at most, he would just need to go back to his workshop, take the part to a guy who knows a guy, then bring it back, “or perhaps” I could see him thinking to himself, “I could hit it with a hammer”.

We cancelled plans to move,  and had barely sent off messages to those who were to meet us later, confirming that we would still be here, when he returned triumphant, reassembled injector in hand, but no hint as to how he had achieved it.   He borrowed some spanners, assembled the disassembled bits, bled the fuel, waited till we’d started the motor and as efficiently as he had arrived, disappeared with a week’s worth of grocery money in his pocket, a very fair sum indeed for the time he’d spent.

We stared at each other.  The sound of Mr Perkins starting had flicked that inner switch.  Within minutes we had cast off our lines and were on the river, heading in direction Monthermé, communicating our change of plans to they who were trying to find us.

While in the sense that we arrived at our destination without incident the story has a happy ending, Mr Perkins was not his old self, some adjustments will be necessary.  Some cleaning and tightening of nuts will be involved.

We will keep a cautious eye out, and a spanner handy, and perhaps a hammer just in case, but our week in Revin is now water under the bridge.

Friday, July 25, 2014

A patch of blue
Revin

We both woke up this morning.  That is always a good thing.

Then, without even waiting for coffee I checked the Royal Mail tracker and it said the package was in Paris and they’d get around to delivering it sooner or later.  That was not quite so good, but rather than dwell on it we made plans fill in the day by cruising with Dave and Ria to Monthermé and riding our bikes back.

So we got all excited and one of us hurriedly cut lunches while the other jogged to the post office “just in case”.

If we’ve ever been as disappointed to receive a package that we’d been desperately awaiting, we can’t remember when it was.   We couldn’t bring ourselves to entirely abandon our cruise aboard Max so hitched a lift as far as the first lock, bade our sad farewells and walked back the couple of kilometres to where the greasy mess awaited.  Max had not disappointed, although having to leave him did.  For just a moment, without a tinge of jealousy, we found our gratitude for our own lot wavering ever so slightly, but we soon recovered.

Of course mid-waver, as if to throw fuel onto some smouldering ember, there was one nut in our repair process that wouldn’t come undone without a special tool.  There always is.  Despite the best effort of the gardener in the park next door, who threw his mower repair shed to our mercy, we couldn’t find a Perkins injector undoer for love or money.   He didn’t even have a bigger hammer than the one I already had hit it with.

So we called for help from the guy in Charleville with the special tool (and perhaps a bigger hammer) and now we wait once more in Revin, until the dawn of a new day, full of hope and promise, although with no need to check the Royal Mail tracker.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Twiddling our thumbs.
Revin

Royal Mail parcel tracking, says our part “has arrived in ROISSY CTCI IMP RAP and is being processed for delivery.”  

We are just a few hours from Roissy by fast train, but we have no idea how long a postal van will take.   “Perhaps tomorrow”, said the nice man at the Post Office, without having to say, in the way of these things, “or perhaps not”.

So we’ll walk and explore and read and hang around under the shade for at least another day, presuming all the while that the part in the post is the one we need, and that when it arrives installing it is within our collective skill set.  

It doesn’t seem possible that tomorrow we will have been here a week, but we have, and we know that while we are completely content to sit and wait, the moment we are able to move, the switch in our head will fire and the need to move will hit with some urgency.

We can’t explain that, it is just the way it is.   

In the meantime, we’ll settle in and wait for another sunset.