The Canal Lateral a Garonne, Toulouse to Meilhan,(June/July 2009)

Sunday 14th June

After leaving the centre of Toulouse and turning onto the Garonne, we went past a lot of moored live-aboards on the outskirts of Toulouse, before getting onto quieter water out in the countryside.  We did a lot of locks, (one of which was broken, delaying us for 45 minutes whilst it was fixed) and had only a short break for lunch.  We carried on along a fairly dismal stretch long after we both wanted to call it a day, but we couldn’t find anywhere to moor and the water was really shallow, which meant that we couldn’t get much speed up.

We’d hoped to moor at Grissoles, but there were a lot of empty boats taking up the space there.

Finally we found a place at Deupentale, right by a railway line where there was a lane leading to a village.  We needed to be up early in the morning as we were meeting some friends at Moissac.

(Since writing this log, a long stretch of the towpath approaching Deupentale from Toulouse has been cleared and steel shuttering has been installed.  If you have chains and eyebolt you can moor quite securely here, or use mooring pins.  Last time we were there the earth was quite soft, too soft to rely on mooring pins alone, thought that might have changed now.)

We had one of those experiences today that shakes you out of your complacency and reminds you that you have to stay alert all the time whilst locking.  We came to a lock which had a by-wash feeding off just before the entrance.  All these locks are automatic, and you have to twist a pole hanging above the canal before you get there and then wait for it to set itself for you.

Neville kept moving forwarding slowly whilst we waited for the lock to fill, and then got caught in the current of the by-wash.  This made it difficult for us to line up to get in the lock when the gates eventually opened and we took a bit of a knock, but we managed in the end.  Then we secured our ropes,  (my bow line being looped round the pole set in the wall of the lock, which enables the rope, once secured to the boat, to slide down the inside of the lock wall).  As we started the descent, Neville pointed out that a fender had lodged on the quay wall, and I was trying to push the boat away from the lock wall so that I could drop the fender down into position.

In doing so, I failed to notice that my rope had got caught in a crack in the stones on the quayside and that the rope had tightened quite a lot as the boat descended.  Too tight for me to pull the loop off the boat bits.

You have a few options when this happens.  Do nothing and the boat will be left dangling at an angle as the waters underneath recede, until  the rope breaks!  Or you can cut the rope (for which purpose we usually keep a sharp knife at hand when locking down.)  Or, as we realised afterwards, Neville could have driven the boat forward a bit in the hope that the rope would slacken and enable me to pull if off the bits, or out of the crack.  What I did do was to heave myself off the descending boat onto the lock side where I could have halted the locking procedure by using the red button.  As it happened, I had one attempt at frantically pushing the tightened rope out of the crack on the quay side.  Fortunately it worked!  If we’d halted the cycle we would have had to wait for a lockie to come and reset it.

(These days we don’t generally put two ropes up when descending the lock unless it’s a curved lock, very deep or when we’re sharing the lock with other boats, but this was early days for us in terms of boating experience.)

Monday 15th June

Castelsarrasin

We were up early and underway.  We had a steady day’s locking, and arrived at Castelsarrasin early afternoon.  This is a lovely little town with a couple of duck “houses” anchored in the middle of the basin.  The ducks seem to love these houses, and some mother ducks put their chicks “to bed” in there.  The harbour has been very well looked after, and there are lovely fragrant flowers along the waterfront.  We moored up next to Ave Sol, with whom we had wintered at Carcassonne.  When I went to pay for our overnight mooring I found that they had winter moorings available but that you had to pay the total fee up front as you reserved them.

Castelsarrasin

This is quite unusual, as at Carcassonne we reserved with no fee, and indeed didn’t pay anything until the season was over.  Most places would take a reservation only with a deposit though.)

But we were relieved to find that we had got somewhere at last – so many places were already booked up.

Tuesday 16th June

We left early, did six or so locks and then arrived at Moissac around noon.  This is a lovely town with a lot going on, a river as well as a canal, lots of shops (a proliferation of hairdressers and florists!) .  This is the town where Drumsara (our Aussie mates) and Moet & Chandon (Irene and John) have booked winter moorings for this year.  So we will only be about 8 kilometres away from them.

Moissac

Our friends arrived and after lunch we wandered around the town, looked at the ancient abbey (very interesting) and had a drink at a nice little bar where we sat out in the sun.  The temperatures were still up in the thirties.

I made up the beds in the guest cabin (no mean feat in this weather), and we went out to a restaurant in the town for a meal, which was very nice.

Wednesday 17th June

Our friends left towards midday and I kept the washing machine going all day, what with their bedding, our own bedding, two sets of towels etc, etc.  The washing dried in no time at all, so hot was it.

A relaxing day after that.

Thursday 18th June

Another hot day.  I walked into the town to get a haircut, which turned out quite short, but

The port at Moissac

would be reasonably manageable in this heat.  Later on we were invited to the capitaine’s 40th birthday celebration, which was held on the quayside.  We met quite a lot of the other boaters.  The capitainerie, Ian and Kaz, were very helpful people.  We thought we might book here for the winter after next and perhaps spend a bit more time on the boat and less in Spain.  There is certainly a lot to do here and you would have no problem keeping yourself occupied.  There  seem to be a lot of English people in the town.

Friday 19th June

At last – a break from the relentlessly hot and humid days.  It was cool, the temperature dropping about 10 degrees and it was quite overcast.  A few boats passed, but the revolving bridge at the end of the canal here appeared to be malfunctioning, and a number of boats were not able to pass through.

Saturday 20th June

Much cooler and sunnier, very pleasant.  Walked into town to see the market which we thought was not as good as the one we had visited at Carcassonne.  We bought strawberries and some Comte cheese.  A couple of the boats on the mooring set off this morning – the big old barge and a cruiser.  Avesol arrived yesterday evening.

Sunday 21 June

Again cool and sunny.  We went to the morning market again, which was much bigger than Saturday’s.  Watched the British Grand Prix and then went out on the bikes for a six or seven kilometre ride down the canal and back.  We went to settle our bill, paying 73 euros for six nights, including 5 euros for internet, as we were leaving next morning.

Monday 22nd June

Walked into the town to get some bread but all the shops were closed.  In some parts of France the shops close on Monday, but just lately we had not found that to be the case.

We did about 20 kilometres and five locks to find a remote mooring near the village of Golfech, which surprisingly had  free electricity points.  We went into the village on our bikes, but again the shops were all closed.  I used the breadmaking machine to make some bread earlier this morning, but forgot to put the yeast in!  It came out as a flat one inch thick soggy mess.  So I made two more, properly, during the course of the day and froze them.  We prefer buying the bread but it’s good to have the option on days like this.

The village is very well cared for, windowboxes of bright flowers everywhere, several restaurants, very clean and tidy. It has a beautiful church with a tall carved spire….. which nestles under the shadow of two enormous power station cooling towers.  I guess the village gets plenty of financial aid from the government, and probably a lot of the people who live there actually work at the power station.  Certainly it was a very sophisticated scenario, so far as French villages go.

During the afternoon another boat arrived, squeezing in between us and another moored boat.  Quite cozy – but the far boat belongs to a guy who seems to spend all his time drilling or filing.  Must be irritating for the boat next to us.  Something kept on squawking through the night.  We decided it must be some kind of toad calling to its mate further up the canal.

Tuesday 23rd June

This is a very beautiful stretch of the canal with pretty, well tended gardens, wide stretches of canal, and not too many other boaters about.  We travelled through Valence d’Agen and Boé to the larger town of Agen where we moored in a big basin.  There was no electricity on our side but we were in a pleasant grassy suburban area away from the busy road and the railway line, .  The big old barge which had been moored at Moissac was already there, together with their travelling companions.

(NB: at that time you could get internet access at Boe, but it wasn’t available last time we passed through.  However, it is now available at Valence d’Agen.)

We went for a walk into the city, a very long walk as it turned out because we had to keep retracing our steps in our search to find the Tourist Information Office, but at last we did, and we obtained a map of the town.  The assistant there showed us where the farmer’s market would be held next morning, warning us to be there early as it tended to pack up around 11.30am – noon.

A pleasant evening, where the sun set behind some trees giving us a pleasantly shaded and cool atmosphere.

Wednesday 24th June

We got up early and went straight out to the market, which was about a kilometre’s walk away, over the bridge. It was a truly lovely market, with fish, meat, vegetable, fruit and cheese stalls, probably one of the best markets we had come across so far.  I practiced my French with the man at the cheese stall, (who also wanted to practice his English) and we bought some 18 month old Comté cheese, which we absolutely love.  We also bought some peaches and cherries, for which Moissac is famous, and some rough country bread.  The French must have jaws and teeth of  iron to be able to deal with some of this crusty bread.  I had to cut the crusts off, as my jaw is still a little dodgy from the bread we ate in Auxonne, last August, when I ended up with a very uncomfortable clicking in the jawbone by my ear.

We decided not to stay longer in Agen, though it was very nice, and set off just before the other two boats to do the four locks dropping steeply away from the town.  In our later experiences, we found that this set of locks quite frequently break down, and we have experienced lengthy delays there, but on this day everything worked fine.

Then we entered  a cutting, with steeply wooded sides and overhanging branches.  It was 14 kilometres to the next lock, which gave me time to update this journal.  We passed through Serignac, a lovely town well worth a visit, though the moorings were quite full, so we had to continue through.

We had lunch at the bottom of the next lock and then cruised on to Buzet.  It was too hot to go out on the bikes yet, but we decided we would explore the village in the morning. This was quite a small mooring, smaller than we had imagined, and it is quite near to the point where the River Baise joins the Garonne.  We will be going up the Baise probably in our autumn cruise.

We moored outside a small restaurant, and decided we would probably eat there that night.  Our meal was very nice, Neville’s better than mine.  I had seafood salad, he had confit de canard with gorgeous chips and lovely roast courgettes/aubergines.   The restaurant did a roaring trade, with two other tables of two and a table of eight women.  One of the couples were from Capelan, the yacht that we had been moored beside at Toulouse. It’s funny how you keep bumping into the same people day after day, so not a good idea to fall out with anybody!

Thursday 25th June

Rode up to the boulangerie in the village for the bread first thing, legs feeling like lead for some reason.  Later in the day we went to the Cave and stocked up on wine.  Buzet is famous for its wine, so we bought several boxes of red and rosé, managing to fit them into the saddlebags either side of Neville’s bike, into a rucksack on his back and stacking a big heavy box in my front basket, following which we careered down the hill at a great speed, back to the boat.

The Buzet Moggy

When we arrived the day before there had been a dreadfully mangy looking cat sitting around outside the restaurant, and I mentioned it to the young woman who runs the capitainerie/restaurant with her husband.  She seemed a bit off hand about it, and I guessed it was a sore point with her.  During the day I had fed the cat some small pieces of ham, but the poor thing seemed to start retching as soon as it swallowed something, and I was worried it might not keep it down.  It was really scraggy round its neck, and painfully thin.  Yet it would have been a beautiful cat if healthy, as it appeared to be a tabby/Persian mix.

Later on we saw the young couple who run the capitainerie put a cat carrier basket down, open the door, drop several pieces of ham inside, and then when the cat ventured in, they gave him a hefty shove up the backside so that he was safely inside.  They then locked up the restaurant but by the time they had done this, the cat had managed to open the door at the other end of the pet carrier and had strolled out!  So the rigmarole was repeated again, and off they took it in their car.  I wondered whether they were taking it to the vets to have it destroyed, but a short while later they came back and the cat could be seen contentedly lazing on the step.

We ate at the restaurant again and she told us that the cat is one of 17 or 18 that live in the house behind the restaurant, along with dogs and a donkey.  The woman that owns all these animals also runs a restaurant/bar a bit down the canal towards the village.  They had offered to take the cat off the woman’s hands, with the intention of getting it fit again.  The woman had refused, but seemed unwilling do anything about the pitiful state of the animal and so they have assumed a partial responsibility for it, worming it, deflea-ing it and feeding it, although it never gets any fatter.  The vet had said it was too old to treat/operate, and that its teeth were diseased, but gave it an antibiotic injection and some tablets to control the infection, and charged them 45 euros.  Later we saw them leaving food for it at the side of the restaurant, before they went home.

We spoke to them about leaving our boat here when we went back for the summer in the UK, rather than going all the way back to Moissac.  They offered a reasonable rate, but we would be moored on the inside of Pomme de Mer, the ancient barge we helped to moor at Carcassonne.   When we talked to them at Carcassonne, they had said they were bringing their barge up to Buzet, though we had never seen any sign of them along the way.

When we paid for our stay at this mooring, we were charged only 6 euros per night including electricity as we had eaten there!

Friday 26th June

I gave the cat some milk at breakfast time, which it seemed to like very much. The woman at the restaurant had told us the night before that it had stowed away on the boat of other holidaymakers who had not discovered its presence until they had reached Agen.  They had rung her up, and (even though it wasn’t her cat) she had driven to Agen to pick it up and bring it back.  So I kept the door very carefully closed before we set off and was rewarded by the sight of it running after the boat as we pulled away from the quay!  Sad…. We will be back this way again soon but I doubt whether we would see it next time.  Poor thing.

We didn’t travel very far.  Stopped at La Gruere where we decided to eat out that evening.  It was very quiet there, no other boats and only a handful going went past.  There was more cloud today and a stiff breeze had picked up, making it quite cool.  Made a pleasant change.  Emailed Mike and Jane from Drumsara to see if they were still at Meilhan, and found we were moored just 4 kilometres upstream of them!  Pity we didn’t push on a bit today.  Still we will see them tomorrow morning, and may stay on for the evening if it’s OK.

Had a nice meal at the restaurant.  Neville had salmon in a kind of filo pastry and I had Salad Landaise, which was basically a salad with a warm leg of duck, cold duck breast and pine nuts.

Today was the day we heard Michael Jackson had died.

Saturday June 27th

We set off about 10 ish, having slept until 8.30am.  After half an hour we encountered Drumsara, with Mike, Jane and the huskies on board.  They didn’t hear us pull quietly into the quay, so we surprised them somewhat.  We had a cool drink with them (it was already boiling hot) and then Jane showed us where the shops were.  We agreed we would eat together with each of us providing some of the meal.  They put a table out under the trees, and Jane made Bolognese whilst I prepared a salad and provided the nibbles and a cheese-board.

Sunday 28th June

Mischka cooling off

We had a great evening last night.  We ferried the salad, cheeseboard, chairs, wineglasses, wine and port down the quay to Drumsara’s berth and sat outside all evening with the dogs cooling off in the communal shower block for most of the time.  They really are an entertaining couple and the time just flew by.   They are so naturally outgoing that they know practically everyone on the canals, and their life must be one long round of reunions and goodbye’s.

We decided to round off the evening by opening a rather expensive bottle of vintage port that had travelled round the world with us for 20 years or more.

Mike doing the honours with the vintage port

Not having the wherewithal to decant it, we eventually hit on the idea of straining it through a bright orange napkin into a bright yellow teapot.  It was delightful; soon gone though!

More than a little hung over this morning, we set off at nine o’clock for Meilhan.  We arrived around lunchtime having been through plenty of thick weed in the water.  Just before we arrived the sound of the exhaust changed slightly, and we knew that the cooling system was probably blocking up with weed.  When we stopped, Neville emptied both chambers twice, but the pipe leading to one of them is still blocked up.

The port looked  nice, with extensive views of the River Garonne below us on the one side, and steps leading up to a village on the other side.  It was way too hot, (35 degrees in the wheelhouse) to even think of stepping outside the boat, so I just set the washing machine going and retreated to the cool of the bedroom.  Later on a bit of cloud built up, which was a relief.  It seemed that England was suffering from the heat too, and this week record temperatures were predicted both in the UK and on the continent.  We decided we may stay here for a few days.  With electricity we could at least have the air con on to help us at night.

The canal here is slightly higher than the Garonne, and in between the river and the canal there is a very nicely equipped camping area, with shower block, toilets, shady pitches and a baker calling every morning with fresh bread.  A couple, who live aboard their boat more or less permanently at this mooring, quite often have friends and family coming over from England to camp below the canal and come up to their boat for meals.

Monday 29th June

A very restless night.  The temperature in the cabin was 25 degrees, even though we had left the aircon on right through dinner.  We were both waking up and tossing and turning.  I was careful not to throw off the sheet, as you are then fair game for the mozzies, but Neville was not so cautious and woke up to find a nasty bite on his leg, two on his hip and one in the centre of his back.  Even with the anti-mozzie device plugged in!  Still, whilst they were biting him they were leaving me alone.

Looking down onto the port area

This morning we walked up the steep steps leading from the canal up into the village and found a boulangerie and a small store.  It’s quite a nice village, and it had a branch of our bank, which is great.  We certainly chose the right bank, (Credit Agricole), as we’d found that there was a branch almost everywhere we had been.  From a vantage point, half way up the steep hill, you could see the Garonne, (very low), and our boat moored down in the port below us.

Another hot and oppressive day.  It really is just too hot to do anything.  And we don’t have an endless supply of cold drinks either!

Tuesday 30th June

Weather hotter still.  We went down to the bar at the end of the quay for a drink in the evening.

Wednesday 1st July

We were up early and got a taxi to Marmande Station where we caught a lovely air-conditioned train to Carcassonne.  From there we took a taxi to the farmer who stores our car in a disused battery chicken barn in Pezens, and then had a long drive back  Meilhan, arriving mid afternoon.  The motorway and the railway line run very close to the canal, so we had the unusual experience of twice re-living a journey which we had originally done over four weeks by water.  The first time was through the medium of rail, and secondly, a couple of hours later, by motorway on the other side of the water.  It really brought back memories of our trip!

From now on, along our return journey, we would have the luxury of having our car with us.  This meant that we would cruise probably only 18-20 kilometres each day, and then Neville would cycle back to pick up the car, squeeze the bike into back and bring it to where we were moored.  It would give us the facility to do a bit more sight-seeing around the areas where we moor, but also would make shopping so much easier.

In the late afternoon we took the car to find the Intermarché (supermarket) at Reole, but the satnav for once let us down and kept depositing us in the centre of the town, announcing “you have reached your destination” when clearly we were some miles adrift.  Eventually we found it and did a fairly big shop.  Good not to have to lug the stuff around on our backs, or balance it precariously on a bike.

Went down to the bar in the port in the evening.  It is still overpoweringly hot, though we missed the worst of it by being in air-conditioned cars and trains for a major part of the day.

Thursday 2nd July

This morning it was thankfully overcast, and became darker with every minute.  Eventually we had a heavy rainfall and thunderstorm, with a bit of breeze, which was lovely.  Later it seemed to be a bit cooler, and although it was scheduled to be 29 the following day, the forecast temperatures for the remainder of our stay here seemed to be in the mid to late twenties. Better than the mid thirties.  The previous night had been a nightmare.

We went out in the car to take a look at some of the rivers that we didn’t get to this time, but which hopefully we will be able to do in September.  Went to Nicole, which is where the Garonne and Baise rivers merge into the Garonne and you need a pilot to take you downstream and then back on yourself to go into the lock which takes you onto the River Lot.  There is a strong current and lots of eddies at the point where you would moor to go up to the lock, and this is at a time when the river levels are extremely low.

Then we went to Aiguillon to look at the lock there, and then on to Clairac, which is where the dredging is taking place which is currently holding up Mike and Jane from getting onto the Lot.

Later on we went to St Leger, which is the junction where you get the pilot to take you down the difficult stretch.  Sometimes he will just lead you, sometimes one pilot comes with you in your boat, sometimes it’s one with you and a pilot boat behind.  In the case of leisure boaters, they tie all the leisure boats together, and make the passengers come into the pilot boat.

All very interesting.  Later we were glad that we had taken the opportunity to look at these places, as it turned out that we were unable to do any river cruising due to the river either being too low or too high!  The problem with not being live-aboard cruisers is that we always have a timetable to meet, and can’t afford to get stranded on a river.  Many of the boaters we later met along here had spent several weeks at a time being unable to move from one spot due to river conditions.

Friday 3rd July

Went onto Malcolm’s broad beam narrowboat (Body and Soul) for coffee this morning.  It is quite wide, and very comfortable.

Saturday 4th July

We took a drive back the way we had come on the boat to look at a couple of potential moorings.  Now that we have the car with us, we need to know where we can park the car close to the boat each night.  Caumont looks OK, though Port de Sable is a possibility.

Malcolm’s dog, Spud, a Jack Russell terrier type, was not well today.  He was spending long periods just standing, staring into space and trembling.  Malcolm said it happens periodically, and he thinks it is something to do with a twisted gut, for which the vet has given him pills.  He took him for a (carried) walk but later on we saw that he was walking for himself, and later on still he was happily trotting about.  We were both agreed that he deserved an oscar for his convincing performance earlier.

Malcolm has a website where he “blogs” his activities.  If you are interested it’s at www.tillersandtastebuds.typepad.com

The account of Spud’s encounter with a Coypu is worth reading.  The coypu and is considered a pest in France.  Imported by fur farms, which later went out of business when fashion turned against real fur, many were abandoned or escaped and have colonised the river banks causing great damage to the banks, and terrorising dogs with their nasty front teeth which carry dreadful infections.

I later had a poem published about the coypu, Monsieur Ragondin, (ragondin being the French name for this animal).  See published work.

We went down to the bar for a drink, and later stayed up talking on the boat until we realised it was after midnight!

Sunday 5th July

Today was our last day here, as we were leaving in the morning.  We had enjoyed it at Meilhan.  They call it “Hotel California” as people tend to arrive and then stay for a long while.  Mike, the capitaine, is an Englishman who lives with Kath on their narrowboat on the port.  A number of hire-boats operate out of this port, and he is responsible for the maintenance of the boats and induction of the holidaymakers on arrival.  Usually he takes them up the first lock or so, with his bike on the top of their boat, and then cycles back again.  There are narrowboats and the larger Euro cruiser type barges.

The last canal lock dropping down onto the Garonne

We went for a drive in the afternoon to Fontet (a beautiful lake-like mooring and camper-van site) just off the Garonne, and then on to Castets which is where the Canal Lateral a Garonne goes onto the Garonne itself.  It’s a really deep lock, but a beautiful place with an old chateau overlooking the lock and the broad sweep of the Garonne.

There is an interesting building here (probably the lock-keeper’s house) which has a measuring scale up the front of it, showing the height of the floods at various times.  It’s hard to believe the water could really get that high.

The flood level measure

This part of France is really lovely, and there are well-kept houses in the little villages, all decorated with hanging baskets, windowboxes and garden ornaments.

Monday 6th July

We set off around nine-ish.  Our entire eight day stay cost only 43 euros inclusive of electricity, water, and wi-fi.  Very good value and much cheaper than Moissac.   We did a few locks and then arrived at Pont des Sables where surprisingly there was a lot of space at the quayside where the services are.  So we decided to stay there rather than our proposed venue, Caumont. Both Caumont and Pont des Sables are small towns.  The weather was not so good, cloudy with occasional showers.  Neville managed to dodge the showers when he cycled back to Meilhan to pick up the car.

During the afternoon a group of youths collected at the canalside bench close to the boat and started doing wheelies and racing up and down the towpath on their bikes.  We ignored them, and in due course they moved further down the cutting to the bridge.  We had been very lucky in that respect whilst in France, nowhere near the same amount of aggravation that you get from the youths in the north of England canals.  .

Tuesday 7th July

Another coolish day, with a chance of rain.  We did not have far to go this morning.  Just enough time to heat up the water!  Whilst we are cruising there is a plentiful supply of hot water, though we have an immersion heater for the times when we are moored up.

There are some beautiful houses along this part of the canal, complete with swimming pools and landscaped gardens.  The construction is largely Spanish in style.  By lunchtime we had arrived at Mas d’Agenais, and Neville had cycled back to Pont des Sables for the car.  Shortly after he returned, the narrowboat Dillykin arrived, the Yorkshire couple we have met several times along the journey.

The afternoon weather was changeable, at one point a mini whirlwind came which threatened to blow the plants away, then there was a mini shower and then some sunny periods

We watched some of the Michael Jackson tribute concert on TV.

Wednesday 8th July,

About 10 kilometres and one lock was our progress for today, as far as Villeton, which was a nice mooring point currently under development.  There was some electricity but it’s from the old supply, the new posts not having yet been commissioned.  There was a nice restaurant with outdoor and indoor seating which seems to be fairly popular.

In the evening we went to the restaurant and had a pretty good meal.  Neville had the prawns with a timbale of rice, and I had lamb in a nice sauce with frites.

Thursday 9th July

Jane and Mike (Drumsara) were moored at Buzet, and we had arranged to give them a lift to Tonneins where they were to pick up their recently purchased car.  Jane had made hamburgers so deep (with the bun, onions and lettuce not to mention a one inch thick burger) that I could hardly get my mouth round it (with my strained jaw problem).  They were lovely though.  After we had taken them to Tonneins and waited to see that all was in order, we went off to LeClerc supermarket, where we got a few bits of groceries, and then to Intermarche bricolage, where we got some mosquito netting to try to alleviate the heat/mozzie problems we are having.  We can’t have our windows open at night at present, which with temperatures in that small cabin reaching mid to late twenties for most of the night, makes for uncomfortable and disturbed sleep.  You also daren’t throw the sheet off for fear of laying out a dinner table for the mozzies!

During the evening we decided to open the drop-down window at the back of the wheelhouse, forgetting that we had our internet dongle attached to the curtain rail.  The dongle snapped in two!  We are like people without legs when we can’t have an internet connection.  Rang Jane and Mike (who have a similar internet arrangement)  and asked them to search the web the next morning to locate the nearest SFR shop where we could buy a replacement.

We had a light evening meal, salad with some salmon and a reasonably early night.

Friday July 10th

Jane rang back to say Marmande was the nearest location for an SFR outlet, so off we went.  The shop was conveniently placed on the outskirts of the town, with a conveniently empty parking space right outside.  We got the replacement dongle (59 euros) and completed all the necessary paperwork.  Thankfully we were back on line before too long.

Went out to Damazon today for a few bits from the Casino shop there.  It’s very well stocked.

Saturday July 11th

The weather became much hotter again, and when we put the aircon on in the bedroom, the electrical supply on the moorings went off.  So no aircon for tonight.  Neville fitted mozzie screens to the bedroom windows so we can leave the windows open during the night.  Sadly, a mozzie was left in the bedroom before he did this, and I got a bite on my calf during the night.  It’s not a serious one though.

We had a barbecue on the quay next to the boat, burgers and pork fillet with salad.  It made a nice change.  We decided we might move on tomorrow after the race if we had no power.  We could possibly get to Buzet before the locks close at 7.00pm.

Sunday 12th July

Another warm day.

Mike and Jane had gone to Carcassonne today.  We were supposed to be going to Les Vignerons at Buzet with them the next night, (the eve of Bastille Day) but got an email saying it is closed on Mondays.

(The restaurant, Les Vignerons, is partway up the hill on the left hand side as you head towards the village.  We can really recommend this place, and never fail to visit when we are passing through.  Good food and reasonable prices.  It’s best to book, as despite there being a spacious indoor area and an attractive terrace, it’s frequently very busy.)

In the end, I offered to do a chilli at our boat and then we would go down to the park afterwards to watch the fireworks.

After watching the Formula 1 race, we decided to leave and go on down to Buzet where Mike and Jane are, principally because the power had gone down again at Villeton and there was no chance of anyone doing anything about it on a Sunday.  The weather was hot and humid, and it was very unpleasant on the lockside.

We had decided we would leave our boat at Buzet for the rest of the summer, whilst we went back to the UK.  We couldn’t leave it on the quay, so moved it to the grassy banked area just up from the slipway.  We would need a gangplank to get on and off the boat but that was not a real problem.  We tied quite a few mooring lines, including a spring line, as there is quite a lot of passing traffic along this stretch.

Monday 13th July

Started making preparations for our return journey to the UK.  Mike and Jane were moored at the other end of the quay, under the shade of a lovely willow tree. Another boiling day, and labouring over a chilli was quite an endurance test.  I decided to cook it in the slow cooker to cut down on heat from the oven permeating the boat.

We had a nice evening.  They brought the huskies who lay down in the grass beside the boat and then ventured up the gangplank onto the back of the boat.

Fireworks on the eve of Bastille Day, Buzet

At 11.30 pm we strolled down to the lower port to watch a firework display celebrating the eve of Bastille Day.  The dogs were incredible, just sitting placidly watching the fireworks lighting up the sky.  Our two dogs would have been beside themselves – these are two placid huskies!  There was music, dancing and drinks available, and although we didn’t stay late the celebrations went on for quite a while.

Tuesday 14th July

Last day on the boat for this trip.  Gave it a good clean, defrosted freezers and fridgers etc.  A reasonably early night.

Wednesday 15th July

We packed up the car and locked the boat up, saying goodbye to Mike and Jane.  Unknown to us, we also locked a field mouse in the boat, but that was a problem that would await us on our return.

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About Sandra

I cruise the French waterways with my husband four or five months a year, and write fiction and poetry. I love animals, F1 motor racing, French bread and my husband, though not necessarily in that order.
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One Response to The Canal Lateral a Garonne, Toulouse to Meilhan,(June/July 2009)

  1. Sandra says:

    We were shocked and upset to hear this week that Cossack, Mike and Jane’s (Drumsara) brown huskie passed away after a three month illness. He’ll be sadly missed along the waterways; he was a beautiful dog and a great character. Big hugs to Mischka. xx

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