I’m trying something new – basically a diary – but I can’t find a template that I like, so each day I will add a new day above the previous ones and publish every day. Let’s see if it works!
or, if you know of a good diary template that I can share, please tell me.
I’m not sure if you are told of updates so you might only hear of day one!
I lost everything I’d done in the past 10 days so decided to give up the full version for this year! I’ll just put up the photos with a few captions to keep them company.
And to keep it speedy I have shrunk the photos more than usual. Do tell me if they are now blurry and not worth looking at!
We ended the season by mooring up in our winter berth at Castelnaudary, in weather that ended up being far from wintery!
Tuesday 26th – our last day of the sailing season, spent in Castelnaudary
A lovely morning, especially welcome after the storms of yesterday.
Castelnaudary port looking shiny in the sun;
lovely weather for the final work on the boat, cleaning fridge, winterising the engine etc.
Then out to lunch (and what a lunch!) at the home of our friends Chris and Ursula – plus of course their three wonderful pigs and the giant dog Cartouch.
The grounds of their farmhouse were glowing in the autumn light, where the log pile caught my eye.
Back to the boat via our favourite wine cave where we bought more than we should have done, but will enjoy the purchases for months to come!
Stu was drummed into service to plait the poor excuse for a pigtail that I have taken three years to grow! It has to come off!
Back on board we packed the cases, packed the bags, packed the car. Then time for a last relaxing drink of the season on the back deck.
Bye bye followers. See you next year.
Monday 25th Le Ségala to Castelnaudary
Final day’s cruising for this summer. Plenty of locks, singles, a double and a treble.
The last lock of the day, the month and the year was Le Planque and an opportunity for a few photos.
Last lock of the summer
It was an autumnal lock.
Calliope approached the last lcok of the summer
Calliope waited patiently while a barge came up and two other boats went down. Then came smoothly in.
Soon after we arrived in Castelnaudary, along with a thunderstorm and downpour.
Woke to a gentle dawn. Brisk walk into Gardouch to buy early bread before we set off.
The morning sun caught the quayside houses as we left.
Four hour cruise from Gardouch to Le Segala, followed by lunch and more work on the boat.
Nice mooring near the bridge and lavoir, except when other boats went past too fast and threatened our mooring stakes!
including me getting tied up in grey paint and sticky masking tape. Not a pretty sight!
A day at Gardouch working on the boat
I did the grey water tank, amongst other things.
There was an invasion of mini beasts (green shield bugs, or stink bugs) in the evening.
A race to Gardouch, arriving just as Chris and Ursula arrived to go out for lunch with us.
Nice meal at this place.
After our restaurant lunch out with Chris and Urs – coffee and chocolate course on board
Not much else to report – a good lunch, a pleasant afternoon and evening, and bed!
Thursday 21st – Négra and Montesquieu de Lauragais
Montesquieu de Lauragais
Montesquieu de Lauragais
Tjalk at Negra
Wednesday 20th – Toulouse to Montgisgard
Leaving Toulouse ……
Eclectic mix of boats on the way out of Toulouse
Pigeons on a rooftop
Bridge to somewhere
Midi bridges, often on the skew
Midi locks – oval and sometimes fierce
Helped through the last lock, a double, before we hit the strikebound ones and ground to a halt.
Arriving at Montgiscard
Moored at the Montgiscard quay
Montgiscard bollard and chain
Monday 18th and Tuesday 19th – Gristles to Toulouse
The transfer from Canal de Garonne to Canal du Midi
Set off in plenty of time and in plenty of rain! Had a wait at the first lock, next to a lovely old mill.
Quite a few locks to negotiate, including l”Hers, near Castelnau d’Estrédefonds, where there is a double dog leg to get in and out of the lock, then a point de canal over the river.
Stu;s design solution
Stu had by now designed a way to press the operating button from the bottom of the lock.
Last (or first) lock on Canal de Garonne
Leaving Canal de Garonne
Got to the last lock on the Canal de Garonne and soon passed through the bridge that marks the end, before through the bridge that marks the start of the Canal du Midi!
Toulouse , Canal du Midi , coming into lock 3 at station
Three quite spunky locks to negotiate as the start to Canal du Midi – here’s the one by Toulouse station.
The weather was improving casting a nice light over the canal.
Finally we arrived at the port and Stu put his feet up and slippers on.
Next morning the sun was shining.
Moored up in Port Saint Saveur
Route through Toulouse looking for Stewart’s best tarte (quiche) in the world
Port Saveur at night
Lovely by day and by night
Sunday 17th – St Porquier to Grisolles
Woke up to a chilly day – first three layer day of autumn.
Water slope rails
The water slope engines
water slope sluice
Went up the ~Montech flight of 5 locks, alongside the now defunct ‘water slide’ that used to transport large boats up and down in a basin of water, moved by two engines, one each side.
Stopped in Montech for lunch – a butcher’s rotisserie chicken stuffed with olives and garlic – and the bird’s heart, gizzard and liver! Yum Yum.
Made it to Grisolles, worth Stewart having to climb out of the bottom of the locks to press the operating button, until he came up with an ingenious design solution.
Our garden for one night at Grisolles
Saturday 16th – Moissac to St Porquier
Good morning Moissac
Fetons Chasselas bread
Special Chasselas pie from butcher
Our last Moissac morning and it is the Fetons de Chasselas – the festival of the Chasselas grape.
Leaving Moissac port
Final time over Tarn on Moissac aqueduct
Time to go. Goodbye Moissac – as the clouds begin to gather.
Waiting in a lock that was not working – more clouds arrive
Getting darker near Castelsarassin
Wet day on way to St Porquier from Moissac
Arrived at St Porquier on the rain. Stu was a hero helping a stricken vessel moor up!
But sunshine arrived too, with wonderful rainbows to complete our day.
Calliope under a rainbow at St Porquier
Wednesday 13th, Thursday 14th and Friday 15th – Moissac
Shopping in the rain, preparing for Phil and Geraldine to come
Leaf and weed swirls as we left Tarn mooring, Moissac
Geraldine looks out
Passing a Piper
A trip up the Tarn with Phil and Geraldine
Lunch yp the Tarn
Ste Liverade weir
Ste Liverade church
Good lunch at Set Liverade
Fishing hut, Tarn near Moissac
Weighing the anchor
L and G enjoy the sun
The trip back down stream
The evenings entertainment
Sudden sun on the silo
Tarn mooring at night
A pleasant, non-exciting day, with a fun evening. I plastered up Calliope in the morning, marking with blue masking tape the little scratches and marks that Stu would paint over. Then up to town, this time fir slightly more than our daily bread as I needed a birth congrats card. Always fun buying cards in a foreign language! Does it really say what I think it sa?
We began the ‘evening early, at four thirty, going aboard Daisy to try out gin, and have a look round their lovely boat. Stu’s worried face is more about whether I can do a selfie with the camera than concern about afternoon gin drinking, I think.
There was a good variety to try. And a Happy Hour later Nicky and I set off to meet five other WOBs for some early evenig wine sampling in the Café de Paris.
A good time seemed to be had by all!
On the way back lengthening shadows gave Nicky and I sylph like figures. Actually mine is more triangular! Blame it on the dress.
Stu was patiently waiting with supper ready. Our after supper entertainment was one episode of The News Quiz and one episode of West Wing, accompanied by a fantastic sunset.
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a relatively quiet day today. very windy in the afternoon when we went for a walk along the canal to the viaduct.
we walked back along the river side under the plane trees, with leaves blowing everywhere. Stu found a hedgehog at the side if the road, maybe looking for a hibernation hideyhole.
lovely social evening with Ian and Nicky from Daisy, reminiscing about Gosport!
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Lazy slow start to the day, with my last pêche de vignes for an outdoor breakfast.
off to the market together to buy a few things, but cannot resist taking photos of the Autumn produce. The famed Chasselas grapes are now in season; next weekend is the Chasselas Festival.
stopped at the boulangèrie for bread – always so temped to buy gateaux, quiches, pastries, and just more, different bread.
wondered why there were guys putting out tables and chairs 20′ from our barge, and a band sound checking . Soon found out. The local Rugby club were having a 7 hour ‘Journée Bodega’ on the prom next to us, so we were serenaded all day.
Some of the children for the party spilled over onto the quay as a fishing party.
having been so useless with a bad back for several days I decided it was high time I did something useful. I asked Stewart to remove all the sink and basin traps so that I could do a deep cleaning job on the pipes. Very satisfying.
we had a pleasant, unexpected, visit from Anne on Rodi and enjoyed a cup of tea and energetic chat together.
evening approached, and it was my first no alcohol day – must lose some weight!
to keep me occupied we played Scrabble – Stewart’s victory this time, despite me picking up the ‘Q’ with a blank (all the ‘U’s were used) and making ‘Quaver’ on a Treble word, using the V that Stu had recently placed! Hmmm, should have won!
Woke to a much better back, and much worse weather!
It was a chance to try and get to know Instagram – but definitely need lessons from grandchildren!.
Once it cleared up a bit Stu and I strode out (I did my best striding as my back was quite a lot better) to the Casino – for shopping, not gambling. I’d kind of given up trying to find Châtaigne or Picon, so I was stopped in my tracks wen I came face to face with both, at eye height, when I wasn’t even looking. Trophies were bought and taken home.
Something to add to my beer and something to add tho my wine – I’m no purist!
It began to pour down again when we were about three minutes form the boat. Luckily we had closed all hatches before we left – except the hatch that is also our cabin window.
Soggy bed clothes.
Towards the end of the afternoon we had another break in the clouds and set off for Monsieur Delmas, who makes chåtaigne and other delectable liqueurs etc, including violet, pêche, noir, truffle, mure and many more.
On the way we stumbled upon a lively wedding at the Abbey, complete with an orange theme, Harley Davbidsons blaring out music for the bride to arrive, and an authentic 1930s Citrôen Traction.
Monsieur Delmas lives up a pretty, winding lane leading up and out at the top of the town. Very pleasant man, and a very pleasant aperitif, that he the;ls me is good with foi gras!
As we got close to the quay on the Tarn we met up with Michael and Tali (short for Talisker) on their daily constitutional promenade to the Moulin de Moissac. We decided to join them for a beer on the terrace.
An excellent conversation ensued, covering boating, dogs, Yorkshire, restaurants, dogs again, fish and chips and some parts of how yo put the world to rights.
The wind began to strengthen, the parasols were wound down, and it was time to retreat to the boat …..
…. where we watched an ever changing sky ….
… and I sampled Ms Delmas’s châtaigne. Mmmmm, delightful.
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Looked at the calendar and realised that in 3 weeks we will be back in UK – not sure if I am happy or sad, but certainly look forward to seeing family and friends.
back still playing up so more Deep Heat, and lying around with hot water bottles, plus some walking to loosen it up.
first walking to get bread and paté for lunch – luckily the best boucherie and boulangerie in town are next to each there and the first shops, apart from a pharmacy, that you reach from the port.
Stu cycled off to the brico for stuff because he is starting to get the boat ready for winter, rubbing down and touching up ……
my efforts were on the laundry side.
I don’t think we will need a sun cover over the dog box any more this year so it can return to it’s winter job as sofa-bed cover.
at 5.50 I set off slowly to meet two WOBs (Women on Barges) at the Sunbeam bar, not named after ‘le soleil’, but after the Sunbeam Tiger ‘crashed’ through the wall.
Lawrence, Anne and I enjoyed a couple of drinks and a good conversation, with the 80/20 rule – 80% Englas and 20% in French!
Then on the dot of 1900 I collected my pre-ordered pizzas and delivered supper to Stu on board. Gentle evening – more West Wing!
Damn. Not as much better as planned, although I am fairly sure it is easing. Nice slow start with tea in bed again and a hot water bottle to the lower back!
To be honest there is so little to report apart from it always being lovely to be on the Tarn at Moissac. I sort of walked, rather crablike, to the boucherie and got some bacon and boudin noir to go with the eggs and potato gallettes tonight.
That was sufficiently exhausting for me to retire to bed with the radio for a couple of pleasant hours before a late lunch.
The afternoon’s activity was a walk to the local wine ‘cave’ where I had hoped to find crème de chatâigne – Moissac having one of the few producers of this in the country. But he had sold out so I compensated myself with a bottle of Îsle de Quercy and drank a grande verse aver glace while I cooked a traditional English breakfast for our supper.
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Not adding much today because annoyingly I ‘put-my-back-out’ this morning – only slightly, but enough to wear me down a bit
Up to a nice morning, tea in bed, breakfast, and realised we had left our super tasty tomatoes out all night, but luckily no-one had taken them.
By 9.30 off to Moissac we go, saying good bye to Valence d’Alene. 5 locks and 3 hours later we are moored up in the port for lunch, and a wait to drop down the locks into the Tarn when the lock keepers come back at 2pm.
Soon moored up on the quay, and saw Kathryn’s ‘scary’ nun walk by smiling and swimming her rosary beads. She seems very happy and pleasant to me.
Then whilst Stewart enjoyed the river air and sunshine, I went for a good flat lie down with a hot water bottle.
Later, thinking I was somewhat improved, I offered to walk to the Boucherie for some supper. I made slow progress there, and slower back – giving me the excise to stop at the Sunbeam bar for a restorative beer. One phone call later and Stu joined me.
Back on Calliope he cooked us a delicious supper of moussaka, oven sautéed potatoes, and giant tomato salad. Following this we sat on the back deck in the evening sun until a gleaming full moon appeared behind the trees.
I’m going to be better tomorrow!
woke up really late – don’t know why.. Stewart had been up well over an hour and was waiting for me to go to the market. We like Valence market, spread around the two market places and nearby streets.
you can but anything from naughty knickers to saucepans, courgettes to mattresses, beer to prunes, cake to paella.
I was pleased with some good local specialities, in season; giant tasty salad tomatoes, fresh prunes, squishy and delicious, and pêches des vignes, a red fleshed peach.
just caught the cornières round the old market place at the right sun-lit time.
spent the afternoon rather lazily while Stewart walked to and from a now non-existent brico where he had hoped to buy stuff to treat rust spots.
Lots of rain last night, washing Calliope down. Set off around 9.45 heading for Valence d’Agen. I didn’t offer to do any driving practise today as several bridges were narrow and on bends. Reckon that’s lesson 22 and I’m on lesson 3!
Arrived in Valence to find one neat space on the pontoon just right for us. Hooray. Moored up and went in search of good bread and a quiche. Found both – chèvre et épinards quiche. Totally delicious.
Realised over lunch that things were noisier than usual in Valence, and worked out that we were mid event change overs. On the bank opposite they were taking down the stage and seating from earlier concerts whilst ne trucks arrived for Friday’s fairground.
On our side of the bank the next event was piling up and parking, because they couldn’t get in the other side! So the makings of a funfair, outdoor cinema, and cabaret concert began to line up their caravans.
Went for a walk round town, something we have done many times before, but always missed the ancient pigeonerie. This time we found it.
This one is a bit different because it is not walled in at the bottom in any fashion – not sure if the dove droppings fell to earth, with danger of falling on the farmer’s head, or were trapped above.
Nearby are some of the many lovely trumpet shaped flowers – my photos never do them justice.
sat by the fountain and mother/child sculpture, outside the church, for a while before returning to our noisy berth. Ordered on-line various ships maintenance products and ‘cannot do without’ UK foodstuffs that brother Phil can bring next week.
sat down again, this time in shade of sun on back deck, writing this and watching fishermen fish.
and then, great excitement, recognised that we were in for a bit of a spectacular sunset, so leaving Stewart aboard with a glass of wine ….
…. I scampered ashore, scrambled to a vantage point, and took these towards the West and the Golfech nuclear power station.
also this towards the church.
before the moon came up and provided the final photo shot of the day.
Downloaded the WordPress app to my iPad ‘to make things easier’ but so far cannot see all the formatting options that I need, like text colour!
First day for months I’ve needed a jumper for the morning boulangerie run. And when I got there they were shut for annual holiday! Maybe make a warm potato salad for lunch. Or wraps. We’ve got some on board.
Used some of the time pottering along the canal to put a duvet back on the bed, and the warm mattress protector. Feel like a squirrel getting ready for winter, lining my nest. Lucky I like nuts. Along the way I spied some rogue runaway pampas grass -not for the first time.
Through three locks before sighting a delightfully empty mooring at lac bleu de Borgon. Tied up, wraps for lunch, then off to the lake with the camera. I love the lake. A comp,eye sense of tranquility descends on me as I wander along the shore, absorbing the flora and fauna. (Through my eyes, not my mouth!)
After lunch I was off with the camera, and also my mum’s old guide whistle in case I was accosted again by a slightly amorous French an who I met here last time!
previously dragonflies were everywhere. This time it’s butterflies. There’s 3 little ones in this photo.
one big one in this photo!
here are two who got away, blue and orange.
and here’s a reddish orangey one that stayed put.
little bees crawled in and out of the yellow flowers.
overall, just bountiful butterflies.
later we walked into Golfech, a village dominated by a nuclear power station, but that has resulted in money being spent in the community, with new pavements, lights, and a very modern Mairie. Many of the old buildings have also been restored.
as we walked back along the canal I took a photo from a bridge, looking back at a small ‘point canal’, or aqueduct, over the river Barguelonne. I didn’t notice it until I looked at the photo, but the narrowing for the point Canal very much reminds me of an hour glass figure!
the evening was calm and quiet, watching the sun go down.
woke up to sound of pouring rain, completely NOT on the weather forecast that says 0% chance of precipitation! But by the time I git out of bed the clouds had passed and a glorious day seemed in store.
talking of stores, Stu and I cycled over to Agen’s retail park. We bought me a super comfy memory foam saddle, and a sweet little basket to go on the back of his bike. Then off to Geant Casino for food staples and goodies. Came back loaded, and in full sun.
we spent the afternoon restfully …… zzzzzzzz ….. then I became energised by the idea of photographing the mini red-spectrumed flower meadow by the boat.
quite pleased with these close-ups, including the 2 butterflies.
rather disturbed in an upset sort of way by a lonely duck patrolling the opposite bank quacking loudly as if in search of a lost love.
finished the day with a delicious salmon parmentiere and fresh green beans, then an episode of West Wing. We are still on series 2, but catching up.
Serignac-sur-Garonne and the day began like this. Beautiful early autumn day. Not going to be too hot thank goodness, especially for the Agen flight of locks which we’ll reach at midday.
quick walk up to the village fir the last time to pay for water and buy bread and late for lunch, plus three gourmet treats for me!
i ate the first on the way back for breakfast – a flat crispy/squidgy chocolate and almond thing.
left Serignac at about 10, with a slightly sad ‘au revoir’ to one of our favourite moorings.
moved along a beautiful section of the Canal du Garonne seeing numerous kingfishers, always too swift, too sudden, too distant to be photographed.
got through the tricky Agen flight without any traumas, thanks to skilful captain.
up to Agen, crossing the Garonne on the aqueduct. As we left the Agen basin I looked back and understood why friends had mentioned the attractiveness of the hill and houses on l’Hermitage side. I’d always been too busy looking along the bank fir moorings before!
stopped for lunch, including gourmet treat two, prawn and mandarin salad, on the outskirts before moving on to Boé for the afternoon and night.
A major triumph – Stu and I completed the final level of Wordspark, with two hints to spare! That deserved a drink or two, and a square of dark chocolate with hazelnuts, third gourmet treat of the day.