June 28th, 2004

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Lunch at the Hotel de Gare

was a typical bourgeoise meal, served on 'fiance de Digoin' (MWNN asked if I'd prefer to live in Paray or here - it's like asking 'Brighton or Stoke'.) The silver and glassware were gleaming, linen tablecloth and napkins startched to within an inch of their lives. MWNN declared his meal 'acceptable', mine was better than that. Civilised behaviour from the only two teenagers in the place and attentive but discreet service made it a lovely experience. After we had paid the bill and mentioned that my cafe creme came 'sans creme', Madame came out to bid us farewell and apologised most profusely for the oversight. MWNN had to return to the restaurant to retrieve his hat and noticed that a sign announcing an 'extraordinary closure' of 3 days due to family difficulty.

Seven hours later and I am suffering the effects of a mere 'coup de champagne' and one glass of Pouilly Fumee - doesn't seem fair. (The Pouilly Fumee was wonderfully floral and herbal - nothing wrong with the wine, something wrong with me!) As I drifted off into uneasy, headachy, sleep I could hear the sounds of the Junior Orchestra and students of the music school doing their bit for the music festival in the square across the canal. Only doting parents sit through concerts of this sort so I felt no guilt at sleeping through it all.
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Digoin stopover

Lesley can't come for lunch today or tomorrow, Hans, her German neighbour, has guests until Tuesday, and I assume she has the 'overflow' in her gite. Pity - we've had many recommendatiions to eat at the Hotel de la Gare. It's cool enough to stay here for a while and do some serious cleaning but not beyond Sunday. MWNN headed into town for a haircut and has just returned with 'an appointment' at 12.30. The nearest baker is a Banette baker who has introduced us to new varieties. Madame recommended the banette aux lardons for MWNN's petit dejeuner and, on being asked for the classic fruit load, produced her own speciality which contains raisens, apples and nuts - not nearly so full of fruit as the bakers in Auxonne, but delicious with yesterday's afternoon tea.

MWNN and I walked to the Place de Greve, overlooking the Loire, where the first night of the Music Festival took place. We arrived just as the local country dance troupe ended their final piece. Killer Terrier begged to be lifted up so that he could see the proceedings over the crash barrier (little short arse that he is). The dance troupe made way for the 'Rock Band' who, having opened their set respectfully with an old 'Cream' number, quickly deteriorated into 'French Pop'. Killer Terrier became bored, despite the 'hip hop' practicing going on beside use on the promenade wall.
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Paray le Monial to Digion

I'm not very fond of canals, much preferring the 'living' water of the river. Paray le Monial has both river and canal, but unfortunately, the navigation is by the latter, the Loire is untamed and full of sandbanks and natural weirs. Nevertheless, I was intrigued by the behaviour of the catfish at Paray mooring. Sprinkle some stale bread on the water and nothing happens for a while. Then, suddenly, from nowhere, a herd of catfish appears at the surface, scooping great mouthfuls and gulping without chewing. There can't be good eating on catfish, they are all head and mouth (that's probably why you don't see them on menus). Try feeding the ducks and the catfish are there, biting their bums and feet. The bigger fish could, I'm sure, swallow a chick whole. There was a particularly savage big bugger that attacked everything that came between him and his bread.

The cruise down to Digoin was delightful, just two locks and 14km. A quick bunkering stop at the Intermarche before the first lock replenished our diesel, gas and provisions. The final stretch of the Canal de Centre is tree lined and the red kite is particularly active along its borders. What a magnificent bird it is! We pushed one fellow from tree to tree as the noise from our engine flushed small prey along the banks. Finally, the hawk stopped and watched with a regal stare as we slowly passed beneath the overhanging branch on which he was perched.

Into Digoin to the mooring we were shown on our last visit by an old man who has his boat here and lives in the town.
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Personal message from Irishnoodles

Sorry that entries from "hesadevil" journal are not in sequence and double - the problem lies in the hands of LJ who are having difficulties over the past couple of days.
Hopefully from today the problem will be solved.
Best regard and good wishes to all who read "hesadevil's" journal.

Irishnoodles.
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Digoin to Coulanges

A short hop, through the Digoin lock onto the Canal Lateral a la Loire, 8.5km of wooded towpath to the Coulanges lock. We are the only boat at the mooring. There is a tap with a sink, a Turkish loo, and shady picnic tables. Coulanges boasts a 12th Century Church that might be worth a visit and the baker/alimentation is literally beside the boat, across the towpath.

After a lunch of hot goat's cheese salad (Charolais goat), we settled down to some serious window washing (narrowboats have LOTS - ours has 8). I managed to wash all the cafe-net curtains AND the front cabin door net that keeps out most of the flying insects that like to invade boats, and provides privacy when we leave the door open on hot nights. The curtains turned from a dull brown, full of the dust and debris of last year's cruise, to near enough their original cream colour. They are now drying on the rack that hooks over the semi-trad side (over the water). Personal laundry is drying on what I call the 'twirly whirly' (a wheel with pegs along its spokes), that hangs under the cratch board over the front deck.

MWNN is having his siesta in the front cabin as I plan tonight's dinner; pate de fois gras followed by grilled Charolais sirloin steaks in a Provencal sauce, new potatoes and petit pois, Osau Iriati cheese (a hard sheep's cheese from the Pyranese) strawberries and cherries to finish I think I'll open the bottle of 1998 Cassis to try with the beef. We've never had the wine before and I just LOVE to experiment - hope I don't regret it after the reaction to the Sunday lunch wine.