Degoin - July 12th
Moored up at our favourite mooring, bankside, well away from the pontoons but with water and electricity available. Gadabout passed us and moored at the pontoons. Sandra had decided that Degoin, not Roanne, would be their turnaround point. They plan to phone the Paris Arsenal to confirm their winter mooring, do their laundry and head for Briare to leave the boat for August. They have time shares in apartments and have to use up this year's points or lose them, so are heading somewhere exotic for a couple of weeks.
The luxemotor Vrijeid is moored just ahead of us, flying its owners' version of the Irish tricolour from its stern. The flag is an Irish cruising club ensign with the tricolour in the top right corner. I think I offended the Irish owner when I told him he should be flying the red duster as the boat is registered in Britain. He gave me some blarney about Ireland being a divided nation and that half the crew were from the Republic and half from the North, but I pointed out that still didn't absolve him from observing maritime law. Of course he is perfectly entitled to scold me for having pointed this out as I am one of the hated English who held his country captive for centuries. I can only plead that as I'm married to an Irishman, I'm entitled to take the mick now and then. MWNN was even more wicked. He suggested we offer him the spare red duster we carry to replace the flag he is flying, thereby saving him from draconian punishment. Luckily, no one was aboard when we passed them on our way out of port this morning.
Paray le Monial stopover 13th and 14th July.
We now know what all those marquees are all about that were being erected when we came through last month. There is a big Catholic Pilgrimage centre here that holds a summer camp for families and young people. The park beside the moorings is full of these huge tents. The biggest is where services are held each day, the smaller ones house cafes, administration, sales, (get your relics and plenary indulgences here folks!). There are also dormitory tents, loos and shower blocks, it's like a mini village. We asked a couple who had come out of the big tent what was happening and they gave us a leaflet. What interested me was the rip-off prices being charged for 'economy' (under canvas) accomodation. It was as much as a room in the budget hotels we use on our way to and fro' the boat.
The Brit couple from the cruiser behind us tell us that this Pilgrimage happens every year and that come the 14th, the town is very divided between the republicans celebrating Bastille Day, and the Catholics (who supported the aristocracy and the Church at the time of the Revolution.) The Pilgrims spend the evening in the Cathedral (remember this is the town where the Sacred Heart was discovered.), the Republicans gather in the park for music and fireworks.
We had moored the boat about 1km from the park, in readiness for the fireworks on the night of the 14th. We walked the dogs up just as the final light was fading from the sky, to listen to the music and experience a traditional July 14th, prior to the big display. What a let down. There was a pop band playing under the canopy. As we approached, I caught snatches of Hotel California, I'm sure it was that, drifting over the park. So much for a traditional family celebration. As we walked the dogs back to the boat, children were letting off fireworks and a 'banger' exploded quite close to the towpath. Loony GSD didn't flinch, but poor little Killer Terrier leapt about 10 feet into the air with fright. He marched the mext 200 metres or so with his tail metaphorically between his legs (he's had it cropped so it doesn't reach very far). Then he bounced back and stomped the rest of the way with tail erect as usual. By the time the fireworks began, at 11pm, both dogs were fast asleep and didn't budge throughout the 15 minute display.
15th July - Paray le Monial
Still here! MWNN needed electricity to be able to write an article for the OE (Old Elizabethan's) Newsletter. Of course, he left it until the day the article was due before starting to write it. So here I am, at the mooring, between two big barges - Vrijeid and Joli Jolie. Jo and Lisa are the most recent of our American aquaintances. They're all geared up to laptop, mobile phone and satellite TV reception so, no doubt I will pick up some tips from them about the best way to get emails using the Dell and the bluetooth phone. It sounds as though it's all down to the ISP provider. They use Compuserve or take their laptop to the Tourist office and ask to use the telephone line for their Wanadoo account. Not keen on either of those solutions. I'll have to have a talk with NTL when we get back to see if the can't provide us with something. Or if you believe in flying pigs, perhaps totkat will help set up the Dell and bluetooth phone for me.