dimanche 24 octobre 2010

Sunday 24.10.10

We are now moored in Auxerre, France where we will spending the winter as the locks are all shut for several months for winter maintenance.  We wont bore those of you who received our earlier e-mails but in future we will be putting news up here from time to time so our friends and family can read about our adventures in france if they so desire....

Yesterday we had 2 mini adventures which I shall endeavour to tell you. Ive already done it once but some gremlin in the system moved all the words around and inserted random capital letters... I dont know what I did wrong but if someone can tell me I would be glad to know!!

1) When we woke up on Saturday it was to find that our toilet had joined the French strikers and would not accept any more offerings.... We then were made accutely aware that the Czech builders had let us down again by not installing a 'sea-cock' and instead providing us with a pump out outlet. Fortunately we are moored in 1 of 3 marinas in the whole of France who has one! However we wont be able to use it once the locks are shut as no boat is allowed to move in this time!! Memo to ourselves to sort out a pump out kit asap as a matter of urgency!! We finally got permission to use the pump at 2pm but this invloved leaving our moorings, turning the boat around and heading up river, turning again and the mooring alongside another barge near the pump.  With a high level of adrenaline pumping through OUR internal systems (making this process even more necessary!!) we negotiated the waterways again.  We connected to a reverse vacuum cleaner (who seemed very happy with our offerings) and then we watched our tank indicator go from red, through orange, to a very satisfactory green.  We gingerly edged our way back to our former moorings hoping that no one else had got there whilst we were away....

2) Having got over the strain of that we decided to go for a drive to view the countryside, as this had been limited by our rather singular view from the water. We arrived in a town called 'Chablis' and to our delight discovered that the 62nd Wine Festival was in full swing so they had closed the town to through traffic.  We parked up and walked towards the sound eminating from the loudspeakers.. a sort of unintelligable French (remember British Railway stations??!!) and bizarrely old english Christmas Pop Songs, 'So this is Christmas' and 'Santa the Snowman' to name but a few.

We encountered a meandering road with many marquees installed each containing about 5 different wine growers displaying their wares.  On the purchase of a very posh wine glass, one was able to taste as much as one wanted...Well John was driving and we thought it would be such a waste not to indulge, so I was appointed wine taster and John had to make do with being a 'sniffer' (more about that in a bit!!) After about 5 stalls I was feeling a bit 'fuzzy' and didnt really care if I was drinking white, rose or red but the stall holders were very particular in washing away the previous contents! Some of the wines coated the glass beautifully and the tastes were very varied. I managed several premier Cru, dating as far back as 1995 (which incidently was so very smooth and tasty). Poor John , not to be outdone, tasted some 'saucisson' from a French Fancy who was proffering her plate of 'morceaux' to him.... Wish I'd had a camera his face was a picture... John described it as the 'taste of bad breath following a night before of garlic and gallons of wine'!!

We then encountered a tent with huge array of glass sample flasks, which had to be sniffed though a large glass mask shaped effort attatched to each one. The first was various white flowers which naturally smelt lovely, but then followed a mixture of strange mixtures.  Milk, off yoghurt, stale milk and smelly cheese was the first, quickly followed by various ground coffees, chocolate and red berries, vanilla and finally offering leather of different types rounded off by half a lady's shoe....!! Everyone was being very serious but we got the giggles imagining other more risques flavours ( you can imagine) and for once I was really glad of the language barrier.....

Everyone was wandering around with wine glasses (akin to Ludlow Food Festival, without the food!) but we decided that we had had enough and headed for the music tent. We found 4 rather murky looking frenchmen with guitars and drums and decided that we would both appreciate a dance in the square.  After ages in setting up their intruments, they sang two songs ( in Franglais) and then cleared off!! The drizzle turned to a downpour so we headed home via the local 'LeClerc' for provisions.

We thought it would be clever to have a french storecard and we are spending loads on food but caused utter chaos in the queue as they have their loyalty cards protected by individual security numbers, and we werent sure of ours... Of course no-one speaks english, but eventually we understood what was required from us and we headed back to the barge.

We were just snuggling down to an evening of English TV, when the heavens opened and caused rain-out in our French satellite system. We had to keep attending the satellite with a towel, trying to dry it so it would donate us a quick fix of english TV.  I enjoed 'Strictly' and 'XFactor' (much to John's chagrin) but then he paid me back with a Cohen brothers film 'No country for old men ' which totally bemused me!! I was glad when he admitted he was confused by it too!

A note to any friends who might join us one day - avoid Maplins Fortec Star system! We're afraid that it just didnt work and although difficult to understand the french instructions the French one is Fab! We also like the fact that the satellite dish is a discreet white rectangle, unlike the common black english round ones!!

Do please join our blog and add your comments as you see fit (so long as they dont offend the internet systems) and look forward to finding out which members of our family and friends really do understand how to use a 'Blog'... More soon.....

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