The lock re-opened this morning despite the lock keeper's refusal to answer the call the Americans made at just after 8.30am. Yesterday's wildcat strike was in support of the ferries in Corsica which are about to become privatised. Why this should be of concern to lock keepers on the inland waterways in the heart of France is a mystery to me, but no doubt it makes sense in what passes for logic among the striking workers who marched in their thousands in Paris yesterday. MWNN returned very disgruntled from looking out for the bread delivery van that the Capitain assured us would be at the mooring at 8.15 sharp. Perhaps he was out in sympathy with the waterways' workers too? Who knows. Still no sign of any bread van by the time we walked the dogs at 9.30. As we'd had a very peculiar high tea yesterday with the remains of the contents of the fridge and some cans in the larder, due to the lack of shopping at the Old Lock, we were quite looking forward to fresh croissants and bread for breakfast. But, as MWNN said, with fresh coffee, Normandy butter and French country jam, he would have been happy with anything and 'made do' with 2 day old pain complet.
We passed through the lock without incident having waited the customary 20 minutes for a peniche to be let down ahead of us and a dredger barge let up. This was one of several taking the spoil that the dredger was removing about a kilometre below the lock. One of them had passed us while we were still moored at the Old Lock, gunned his engine so that we were almost swamped then turned his barge and gone back downstream and through the lock ahead of us. As we waited to enter the lock, he came back out again so fast that we were almost thrown onto the lock approach wall. When we finally exited the lock and approached the dredger itself, on the side indicated by his flags (pass on the side with the red and white, do NOT pass on the side with the red) only to find that the boat was _working_ the side on which we passed (his starboard side). This put the narrowboat in a somewhat risky position; if we steered well clear on him, we were in the shallows, too close and we were in danger from his bucket arm. At least he had the grace to stop dredging as we came alongside, but not before I snapped a pic of him working on the wrong side for MWNN to add to his collection to send to the RYA.
We made Tournous just in time to give the dogs a short pee outing and then we headed into town to eat my 'formal' birthday lunch. We ate at the 'Aux Terraces', where for the same price as Chez Margot in Chalons, we had the most wonderful 4 course meal with all the little 'surprises' between courses, and the same vintage Chenas. We both had what was described as 'terrine de fois gras', but in our opinion it was one of the best pate de fois we'd had in a long time - served with figue compot. MWNN had duck in a rich dark sauce with perfectly cooked melange of vegetables for is main course. I had pigeon in a lighter sauce with a different selection of vegetables. The cheese course followed and while MWNN indulged himself with a little Epoises, I had two sorts of goat's cheese. We chose the same desert mandarins on an orange cream atop a 'pain de Gevres' (a sort of cake base), with honey ice cream on a base of biscuit 'bouls', and two sorts of spun sugar accompaniments. A plate of petit fours came with the desert, whereas the coffee was served with chocolates and pate de fruits. We staggered back to the boat vowing not to eat again until next week. MWNN is now fast asleep on the sofa while I type this entry. My stomach needs a complete rest.
Aux Terraces is a family run hotel with three restaurant rooms and 18 bedrooms; website www.aux-terraces.com Madame was very pleased to hear that we rated the meal we had _way_ above what we'd eaten in Chalons. We now have to test the Hotel du Commerce for an evening meal in our home port town. We've eaten there at lunchtime and found it to be very good, very traditional, whereas Aux Terraces was more modern in its interpretation of Bourgundiun gastronomy.
Apologies to my French (and English) speaking friends for all the spelling errors I have made during my cruising log entries over the past month. I blame it all on French keyboards in internet cafes, and the lack of a French spell checker.
Thursday: Leaving Tournous earlier than planned as the weather remains grey and overcast. Our car is garaged at Pont de Vaux and it is much nicer to be able to do the laundry at the laundrette and the shopping at the supermarket using the car as the beast of burden instead of hauling the shopping trolley through the pouring rain. We may head further south via car for a few days if the weather forecast is better down there, before we start the long job of preparing the boat for the winter lay up.
All the ports de plaisances have told us that October will be a good month. We shall see what tomorrow brings.
Friday : The bluetooth technology has given up the ghost and the laptop is refusing to acknowledge the presence of the phone. There is Internet Access in the town and I have an account with them. Unfortunately, their internet connection is 'coming and going' so this will be the last entry from the French waterways Chez Hesadevil. We should be back in blighty by the end of the month.At least the sun is out again and I am warm - it was definitely brass monkey weather last night.