March 30th, 7am, UK. Time to leave our house in Hampshire and head back to Calliope. It felt so good to arrive at the Newhaven ferry port, not just in time, but early – and with the house all packed up, cleaned up, everything done. Phew!
By 4pm the next day we were in Castelnaudary, having spent a very pleasant night in Chartres on the way down.
It’s Spring. We are aboard. And we will set off from here soon for our 2017 trip. Calliope was looking good, though appropriately needing a bit of a spring clean after her cold winter of -7°C, gale force winds and an iced-over canal!
So plenty to do, and plenty of people to catch up with. Life was a social whirl for a week, meeting up with other ‘mariners’, local friends and Odile, the Capitainaire. There was also the delight of the local markets, including a trip to Revel and a great cheese counter with ‘spooned’ Gorgonzola – yum yum yum.
We decided to pay for an extra week in the port to allow time for settling in again – good value!
Our events included lunch and dinner with our friends who live in an old farmhouse nearby – piglets, hens, horses and dog included!
There was also a port barbecue and a ‘Homage de la Fromage’, both well attended with food and drink fun.
I should include photos of all the work we did – scrubbing decks, servicing engine, cleaning windows, airing bedding, sorting out the PV panels (thanks Martin), removing spiders – even the one that bit me, etc etc – but other things are more fun.
I decided to get back into my daily 30 minute fast walk regime, which is great for getting to see the area. First walk was to retrace some of or autumnal steps ,going back East, down stream, from Castel – as the locals call it!
There were several walks around the port and the Grand Basin plus some lovely sunsets before we slipped our ropes seven days later and went on a mini cruise, under the Pont Neuf at the west end of the port, and into a grassy mooring two hundred yards further.
There had been a plan to stay there just a few days, but with Easter weekend looming, and the possibility of a crowded canal, we decided to have another ten days enjoying the town, the port, the sunshine.
And then, after 18 days, Castel became our springboard for exploring new territory towards Toulouse, the Garonne the Lot and the Tarn! Off we go again.