End of Season

Once again the end of our boating season came along quickly. Autumn had begun and the mornings were so cold that in Toul even the trees were wearing woollen dresses! Only the local youths knew how to stay warm. 

Our last week was busy with scrubbing, painting and all the little jobs comparable to moving house. It’s something most boaties loath! 

But while doing the end of season chores, we experienced great friendship and hospitality, and this can be said for our whole boating experience: “it’s not so much the places you see but the people you meet, which makes canal boating so enjoyable”.

Our boating buddies Jennifer and Bill met up with our Aussie friends Sandra and Reg in Verdun and being stuck due to storm damage along the canal, they jumped into Bill’s car and paid us a visit. We enjoyed the day with a few Champagnes and a delicious lunch together.

On the way to their winter mooring in Lagarde, Aileen and Graham from NZ, whom we first met on the canals in 2013 stopped by. We had a lovely night on their boat eating Aileen’s yummy Queue de Boeuf, and the following night had dinner on our boat - great fun! We hope to do it again next year somewhere!

Port de France regulars and longtime bargees, Patty and Don from Arizona, invited us onto their beautiful grand barge “Maria” for drinks. We were offered champagne and gorgeous delicacies( Patty doesn’t do things by halves!). We really enjoyed our chats with Patty and Don this year, and it was sad seeing them leave and the “Maria” all wrapped up, minus Patty's flowers, herbs and tomato plants.

You must think all we do is eat and drink, and you wouldn’t be so wrong, as the following night, Jennifer and Bill had us over for drinks and dinner. Jennifer had cooked a ‘mean' curry. They are great hosts - no wonder the local French love to visit them!

Up to now we had only little time to reflect on what we have learned on this trip. Here is what we think so far:

1. There are some great towns in Belgium, see Antwerp, Ghent and Brugges!

2. You can travel through too many tunnels and get utterly sick of it!

3. Sadly we didn’t have many visitors this year. The good news: Austin and I didn’t kill each other (often).

4. Beware the Belgian beer! It knocks your socks off!

5. During the Rugby World Cup, don't wear an Aussie Rugby Shirt in a UK dominated harbour! (It didn’t deter Austin though!)

6. We do get the French way of living, but we still don’t get the French numbers. “Quatre vingt.. what?"

7. You can’t go on a "no-carbs-diet" in France. How can one do without baguettes and patisseries. 

We are so desperate baguette eaters, that we will go to any length to get our “fix”:

a. Kick Austin out of bed at 7am by 6 degrees Celsius to go to the bakery.

b. Go to the ”drive-through” bakery and queue up with the cars.

c. Cycle to the 24 hour Baguette Distributor.

But everything has to come to an end, and so we said our good-byes to the wonderful people, the English, French, Belgians, Australians, Americans, Swiss, New Zealanders and Germans we met and hope we can all do it again next year!

© Austin Robinson 2019