About this site

Welcome to Castelsarrasin.  This site’s been up and running for just a couple of years now, and I’m still tweaking and adding to it as I go along.

This is a site that embraces my major interests, writing, cruising the French waterways, and animals.  It’s less of a blog (though there is a page for that) than it is a record of things I’ve seen, experienced, written about and photographed.

So you take your pick, whatever your particular interest, by selecting one of the pages across the header bar above.

Cruising in France will take you to an index of historical trip reports, so fellow cruisers and waterway enthusiasts can browse and select as their interest (and their proposed travel routes) dictate. I’d just ask you to remember two things; firstly things change, so don’t treat the information as ‘gospel’ – it’s merely a guide.  And secondly, the trip reports were originally compiled for the benefit of an old family friend in America, who for various reasons hasn’t been able to get out and about much.  If, as an experienced boater, you think the language is a bit ‘teach your granny’ then forgive me and bear the origins in mind.

Published Works will take you to an index of the work I’ve had published in various media, electronic, paperback, magazines or newspapers.  You can either click on the index to reach the site of original publication, or you can read a copy on this site by clicking on whichever category in the sidebar is of interest to you, flash fiction, short stories, magazines articles or poetry.

Just Sayin’ (Blog) is the truly interactive part of the site.  I’m not much of a blogger, but here’s where I do it when the spirit moves me, and also where I take part in weekly flash fiction prompt activities.  There are sites where writers from all over the world participate by responding to prompts (photos, videos, words).  Some sites stipulate word count restrictions (Friday Fictioneers aims for the 100 word story) whilst others have no limitations. Writers comment on the prompt originator’s story, leave a link to their offering, and the circle of communication mushrooms from there.  If you’re a writer you might enjoy seeing what we get up to … you might even want to join us.

Creatures Great and Small has now been expanded and has migrated to a site of its own at Fur Feathers and Flora.  A replacement page, Book Worm, will shortly be published.

So that’s it.  Hope you enjoy browsing around the site, and that you’ll come back from time to time to see what’s new.

Sandra Crook

93 Responses to About this site

  1. jennifer walmsley says:

    Lovely blog, Sandra. That cat looked just like a stray, a real feral Tom, we adopted many years ago. Shadow, we called him. Our other female cats hated him but he didn’t want to come into the house. Always defended our females when a fight broke out. Once day, a few years later. Shadow disappeared. I still think of him.

  2. I assume *I am the old friend in America – - hope so would welcome e-mails from anyone interestd – and I did watch the wedding — how about that bald spot!!!

    Hi Sandra -

    • Sandra says:

      Hey! I’m so proud of you – you made it here. Hope someone drops you a line to brighten your day. I made sure we were moored up somewhere with good satellite signal so we could watch the wedding – enjoyed it. There’s something refreshing about this pair.

  3. Hi Sandra – thanks for all the info on the canal. My wife and I are starting our first full summer of cruising. Starting at Agde where our boat has been for the winter and at a very slow pace will take on the Canal du Midi.

    David & Carol Gardner

    • Sandra says:

      Hi David and Carol. Glad the information has been useful. If you have any specific queries please feel free to post them. Alternatively, the Can2Mers group will be able to help, and I think you are in contact with them. We will probably cross paths after mid August, when we will begin our journey to Agde to take the boat out of the water for checking before we set off up the Rhone. We’ve had three great seasons down here on the Midi and our favourite, the Garonne. Now it’s time for a new adventure. Enjoy your summer, and make sure you book your winter moorings early as Castelnaudary might be out of service this winter. Other moorings will therefore fill up fairly quickly. Happy cruising!

  4. fishlovesca says:

    Sandra, I got a link to the microhorror contest through flash fiction chronicles to your stories and read them. Impressive work.

  5. catwoods says:


    Thanks so much for commenting on my blog and allowing me to follow you home. Imagine my surprise when I found out you had, indeed, married your ouija board husband!

    Love it!

    You have a beautiful site here and I’m glad I got to stop over and see it!

  6. Sandra says:

    Thanks for taking a look at the site, and many thanks also for taking me back down memory lane with those paper fortune tellers. Daniel sounded to be a real charmer! Look forward to reading more of your blogs

  7. Oonah Joslin says:

    Together again in Postcard shorts Sandra – nice site :)

  8. Sandra says:

    We can’t keep on meeting like this Oonah! ;)

  9. Bluebethley says:

    I discovered your site after reading your Christmas “shame” story just published in EveryDayFiction. Congratulations! The character is deliciously revealed. And here, I find the life of a writer also revealed in a beautifully organized blog that shows persistence and just good writing. Consider taking that novel out of the drawer.

  10. Hi Sandra I would like to mail you about some problems I am having with H2O at St Jean De Losne. I sensed that you had difficulty too when you were there way back. My direct email is davidlymn@gmail.com

  11. Sandra says:

    Happy to help where I can. I’ll drop you a line.

  12. janetkoops says:

    Hi Sandra. I came across your name while reading at Postcard Shorts and really enjoyed your stories. I look forward to more.

  13. Sandra says:

    Thanks Janet; I took a look at your site too. Impressive.

  14. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Sandra,

    Thank you for following Ironwoodwind. (The name comes from the sighing of the tradewinds in the treeline that forms the border Parker Ranch and the smaller ranch where I make my home.)

    Your life sounds idyllic, but having been a licensed captain and running herd on a fleet of four surface vessels and one submarine for fourteen years, i know different. Still and all, I can’t wait to read more of your passages.

    Aloha for now,


  15. Sandra says:

    Thanks for dropping by Doug. Life is fairly idyllic on the waterways in France, though I’m always a bit less relaxed about navigating the Rhone. :) You must have lots of good memories to look back on from your life afloat though. Look forward to meeting you again on the Friday Fictioneers. Yesterday’s exercise was a real eye-opener for me.

  16. miq says:

    I know I’ve already nominated you for an award, and you probably have too many followers to get this one, but I’m nominating you anyway.

    Check out my post here: http://threedescriptors.wordpress.com/2012/04/05/liebster-blog/

  17. Sandra says:

    That was really kind of you to do that miq. I’m not really a blogster, in fact I think I’ve only one blog proper on the entire website. But I appreciate your thinking of me. :) Yours is a really good blog site – well done.

  18. jean says:

    Sandra, thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment on my blog.
    Jeanelaine http://jemcogdell.blogspot.com/2012/04/no-time-for-tears.html

  19. jean says:

    Sandra, Thanks so much for taking the time to comment on my blog about my FSF No Time for Tears

  20. Thanks for visiting me! I really appreciate it!

  21. Brian Benoit says:

    Sandra – I see you’ve already been nominated for the Liebster before, but your posts are always so good (and your comments on mine always so thoughtful) that I couldn’t help but throw it your way again:


    Even if you don’t do awards, just thought I’d let you know I enjoy your writing!

    • Sandra says:

      Hi Brian, thanks for that. The only reason I don’t ‘do’ them is that a lot of the time when we’re afloat we’re on a dodgy, limited and intermittent connection, and the admin seems to require a lot of on-line time. Thank you anyway, and I’m glad you enjoy my work.

  22. Janet says:

    I’ve just nominated you for the Genuine Blog Award and the Reader Appreciation Award as a thanks for all your visits, likes, and comments. The information can be found here: http://postcardfiction.com/2012/06/07/thursday-thanks/. Don’t feel obliged to participate, it’s just my way of saying thanks.

  23. Mayumi-H says:

    Hello, Sandra,
    I’ve nominated you for the Beautiful Blogger award! For more info, you can read the entry about it here: http://bonusparts.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/beautiful-bloggers-unite/
    Best, Mayumi

  24. JKBradley says:


    I was reading over Doug’s posting and noticed a link to your floating home. I looked over a few parts of your blog and now am going to save the cruising the French waterways for this evening while enjoying some French wine. I must confess I am so curious about the layout of your barge. Do you have a posting showing the transformation of the barge into your home? Have you shared photos of the inside? Also, I wonder how you came to this lifestyle, as I am completely green with envy. I suspect these questions will be answered as I go over your older posts.

    Thanks in advance.


    • Sandra says:

      Hi there! Thanks for dropping by. I’ve done a posting with photos describing the interior of the boat at http://castelsarrasin.wordpress.com/2012/07/01/desormais-facts-and-photos/. We started boating with a 40ft Liverpool Boats cruiser called Kulmbach, after the town where we lived in Germany. We liked it, though it was a bit small for us and our two border collies, so we had a larger (59ft) semi-traditional narrowboat built (De Nada) which Neville designed using a CAD package. The construction of that boat was somewhat traumatic, with the builder going into liquidation part way through, but eventually it was completed. We only ever narrow-boated in England, and when we went to live in Spain we decided to sell De Nada. Eventually, having had enough of Spain, we searched for a dutch barge and… hey presto! Hope you enjoy reading.

    • Sandra says:

      Hi Emma! Thank you so much for that. Because we’re away so often, we’re on a limited internet connection, and I can’t do the necessary to comply with these awards procedures. It doesn’t stop me appreciating them though, and I’m very grateful.

  25. So much to see here… I am going to have to come back later for a “proper visit.” xx

  26. sphrbn says:

    I love your blog and writing, so have nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award, the link is here:http://sphrbn.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/one-lovely-blog-award/

  27. sphrbn says:

    I love your blog and writing, so have nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award, the link is here: http://sphrbn.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/one-lovely-blog-award/
    (Not sure if you have 2 of this comment as I’m not sure whether is worked the first time, whoops!)

  28. Melanie Cole says:

    Great site! I can’t wait to peruse it all!

  29. eikenlaan says:

    I read your poem in Every Day Poets today and gosh, it said so much for me too. I write also, I am writing about 3 years and just set up a blog…..very amateur at the moment but will get there in time. I am Irish and live between Ireland and Germany with my husband’s work. Thank you for your poem today, it expressed my relationship with my mother but it can be a relationship with anyone. Wonderful :) Maire

    • Sandra says:

      Thanks for commenting. I’ve been to your blog and it looks really good – enjoyed your latest poem too. I think you’ve been published on EDP haven’t you? Coincidentally, we lived in Germany during the late nineties, due to my husband’s job. And even more coincidentally my poem was inspired (if that’s the right word) by family conflict. :)

      • eikenlaan says:

        Sandra, I am on EDP also usually with Haiku. I have written standard poems about “family” and have had two published by EDP (Hair Washed in Beer and The Red Crayon). I have only started my blog so it needs a lot of work, my German project LOL. I live in Trier on the Luxembourg border but am more often in Ireland in Greystones – next to the sea on the East Coast. We have lived abroad in various places in Europe, mainly Holland because of my husband’s work. Lovely to be in contact. Maire (Morrissey-Cummins), if you want to do a search on EDP. x

      • Sandra says:

        Ah! I’ve seen you on the lunchtime poetry club on Facebook I think. I’ll have a look at your other stuff on EDP, I remember the name, and will look out for future work. We lived close to the Czech border and the original East/West border when my husband worked in Germany. We loved it!

  30. doverock says:

    You description of the site wooed me into digging right in.

  31. Sandra Tyler says:

    Cruising in France? I’m there. Without the kids.

  32. Loved the free flowing nature of your post. What are the areas out of those you have mentioned that truly hold your passion?


    • Sandra says:

      Thank you! I think I feel equally passionate about all of them, but at the moment due to our lifestyle we can’t indulge in having animals of our own. So I miss that. I’d miss writing too, if I couldn’t do it whilst we we’re travelling, but we always take enough equipment with us so that I can. :)

  33. Love your writing style. I learn from allot about developing story lines and characters from reading your posts :)

  34. Suzanne says:

    Hi Sandra — I’ve nominated you for a couple of blogging awards (please don’t feel obliged to participate – just know that I love reading your blog). Here’s the link: http://lucidedit.wordpress.com/2013/03/24/id-like-to-thank-the-academy/

    • Sandra says:

      Aww thanks Suzanne. I’ll participate if I get the time (and a sufficiently reliable internet connection) :) I enjoy your stories too and congrats on your win last week. Still thinking about your first line prompt for this week.

  35. Congratulations; you’ve been nominated for the Epically Awesome Award of Epic Awesomeness! Click here to find out more http://theimaginator.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/awesome-again-only-epically-so/

  36. Hi Sandra, I enjoyed reading through your stories here in your site. I am glad you commented on my site, or else I may not have found yours. Thanks!

    • Sandra says:

      Two awards in two days! I’m honoured. I see you’re a fan of Radio 6 Music – I listen to Radcliffe & Maconie most afternoons. Thanks for tagging me.

  37. Gray Dawster says:

    What a truly delightful introduction my friend and I will take
    some time out to venture deeper into your world of blogging
    and the like :)

    In the meantime do have a most
    exquisite weekend and have lots of fun :)


  38. David Nell says:

    Dear Sandra,

    Forgotten Tomb Press just recently opened submissions for Miseria’s Chorale, a non-paying horror anthology to be headlined by some of the best writers from around the world.

    Since we do not have much in the way of exposure, we are busy personally inviting contributors. We would like to make this project into something special, and we believe your talent could greatly bolster the anthology.

    Please have a look at the short, concise submission guidelines for Miseria’s Chorale: http://forgottentomb.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/anthology-open-miserias-chorale-volume-1/

    Current Lineup:
    - Becoming The Beast by Christian A. Larsen
    - Visit by Richard Godwin
    - Because The Night Is Dark And Full Of Monsters by Sergio Palumbo
    - Give Me Convenience by Shaun Meeks
    - King of a Distant Star by Tim Jeffreys
    - The Wind by Ryan Neil Falcone

    If you are interested in being a part of this for-the-love project, we eagerly anticipate your entry. Thank you for your time.


    David Nell
    Forgotten Tomb Press

  39. Kwadwo says:

    I’ve enjoyed this site and will definitely come back for more.

  40. Bams Triwoko says:

    Hi Sandra… glad to connect and interact with you… :)
    Thanks for stopping by my blog. Blessing to you.. !!

  41. smilingbug says:

    Hi Sandra, I nominated you for a WordPress Family award. Maybe you already have one. It takes some time to participate but I hope you enjoy it. Here is a link to my post about it. Thanks for being part of this community that inspires and enlightens me. Take care!

  42. Sandra says:

    Hi there, thank you very much for thinking of me. I’m very honoured. :) I’m not sure I’ll have the time, (nor the broadband allowance) to meet the conditions for this award as we’re on the move once more, but I really do appreciate your comments. Good luck with your blogging. x

  43. Jim Kane says:

    Thanks for liking my Friday Fictioneer post and best wishes on your continued blogging journey as well!

  44. MidwesternBill says:

    Hi Sandra, thank you so much for your hard work! We now have a clearer vision of what canal travel is about. We are renting a boat in late August 2014 and are considering several routes. Canal Lateral a La Loire between Dompierre and Briare or Canal du Rhone au Rhin and Saone between Scey sur Saone and Besancon. One note, boat handling is not an issue we have plenty of experience. This will probably be a once in a lifetimer for us so we are looking for a good combination of history, vineyards, and scenery. Can you offer us any advice or thoughts. Thank you again, we have enjoyed reading your work.

    • Sandra says:

      Hi Bill, glad you’ve enjoyed reading the trip reports. You’ve posed a difficult question there, as there’s much to recommend both routes, though we’re not yet familiar with the Saone further north than Auxonne. Besancon and Dole are beautiful, well worth visiting with lots of history, and there are several nice villages along the way. I don’t recall vineyards though. If I could only do one, I think I’d probably go for the Lateral a La Loire which to me seemed to be essentially ‘French’, very relaxing and also had a lot of mooring possibilities. (If you do choose that one, don’t miss Apremont sur Alliers, whatever you do, and allow plenty of time – it’s near the locks at le Guetin and you can moor there quite easily and cycle to Apremont quite easily.)
      With the Rhone au Rhin, it’s a canalised river which can run fast very quickly. We were along that stretch when there was a torrential downpour/thunderstorm and we were relieved that we were on the derivation at that time. Late August is a good time for thunderstorms in France! The scenery on the two routes is quite different, the Rhone au Rhin passing between wooded slopes (reminiscent of Switzerland) whilst the Lateral a Loire offers rolling flat countryside, very pretty but perhaps not so spectacular.
      If you choose the Lateral, why not tag on a couple of days and hire a car to visit Besancon and Dole so’s not to miss the opportunity? If we can help any further please don’t hesitate to contact me. We’d be only too pleased to help with specific queries. Sandra & Neville

  45. znjavid says:

    Hi, I’ve nominated you for the Sunshine Award. Congratulations! Please see the link for details: http://zainabjavid.wordpress.com/2013/10/26/sunshine-award/

  46. Patti Ross says:

    What a fun eclectic blog! I like the notion of your life, writing and blog all evolving as your enjoy life and have adventures. Your visit to my blog led me back to you–thanks! I am sure I will visit your pages again and again.

  47. I like what you have done with your site here. This only goes to prove that WordPress certainly isn’t just a blogging platform.

  48. likeitiz says:

    Hello, Sandra. Thanks for dropping by. One day, I’m going to do just what you’ve been doing! I love the trips. My hubby and I love France, among other countries. The leisurely exploration is more like it, as far as I’m concerned.

  49. I’m so glad that you checked out my entry to the Weekly Photo Challenge Threes because it lead me to your site. I am now a faithful follower. I have another site twobroadstravel.com and share my love of travel and food there. Thanks again.

  50. Popped over from Tedstrutz/Ted Book. Had me at waterways and canal boat. Will be back to tour more…but weather is nice…and soon it will be oppressively hot to horrid to go out. Hasta later – it looks like all fun here

  51. themofman says:

    Sandra, thank for taking a look at Modes of Flight.

  52. Johanna says:

    Thanks for popping over to my blog Lifestyle Fifty recently. Looks like you’re having a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to read more about your adventures :)

  53. Great blog you have dear!

  54. goannasnake says:

    I’ve looked into cruising the waterways in France but haven’t managed it yet. I’m off to have a look at your posts on that now. Looking forward to it.

I'd love to hear your views; it reassures me I'm not talking to myself.

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