September 16th, 2005

cruising log

The beautiful River Seille

Thursday 15th - After a lengthy session with the audiologist, the hearing aid manual, a French/English dictionary, and the lightening of the wallet by 60euros, I will be fitted with my new ear mould in exactly a week's time.

So a slight alteration in the cruise schedule is called for and, after an early lunch, we headed up the Seille towards Louhans for a week's diversion. This is one of the most beautiful rivers in all France and is marked as such in the guidebooks. The first mooring, just through the lock from the Saone at PK 106, is Trucherre. A mooring for the night, with electricity and water, can be had for free by eating at the restaurant L'Escale; speciality friteurs ( a tiny river fish (think whitebait) deep fried whole) or grenouilles (two 'escapees' from the kitchen hopped down the launching ramp as we approached the pontoon. We are the wrong shape for mooring 'stern on' (a requirement in these parts) so le capitaine has to settle for us mooring at one end of the pontoon with half the boat sticking out from the end of it. The bows are close to the escapees ramp but there has been no sighting of more fugitives.

10pm - A lovely meal at L'Escale. MWNN had the fish soup, followed by the friteurs and finished with meringue ice cream. He drank a half bottle of very decent Vacyeras. I polished off a fine piece of Charolais cooked a point, a mound of frites and heap of salad followed by the first vanilla and strawberry ice cream of the season; man can the French make ice cream, vanilla pods in evidence and chunks of strawbs.

Friday 16th -Today was another scorcher. After the sun had burned off the morning mist and I'd provisioned the boat, we headed back downstream to the entrance of the Seille. The Saone is running a little faster today and, with the prop cleared of weed, we made just over 7km per hour. The lock-keeper knows how to put a narrowboat through; just one gate opened to let us in and rope us off at the back end of the lock. He's worth a big tip in any boater's book.

The Seille is one long haven for flora and fauna. MWNN saw his first little bittern here a couple of years ago. Opposite the mooring is a small campsite with a shower and loo block. On one wall is an electronic board with pictures of various birds and frogs. Push a button and a recording of their calls thunders out of a pair of loudspeakers in the roof. Unfortunately the frog wasn't working but Killer Terrier remembers it from his last two visits and demanded to be lifted up to hear the swans and water rail. We spent the best part of the afternoon sitting in the shade of the shower block, reading and drinking ice cool orange juice and tonic water while the dogs lay on the cool tiles beside us.

Friday 15th The day started hot (up to 29 by 10.30 am) but shortly after leaving Troucherre, the clouds gathered and it started drizzling. On the way to the next port at Cuissery, we had many kingfisher companions accompanying us and even sighted a pair of little bitterns. The approach to the Cuissery lock was in driving rain and as we neared the waiting pontoon, a group of young 'travellers' asked me if we'd like help with the lock. We agreed on a Euro and they were very good, taking the instructions to open the slackers 'lentement et tres doucement'; one of them even asked if he could take my rope as I had climbed the lock ladder and was holding the front rope in the pouring rain. I explained that it was too dangerous to go back down the ladder to the boat while the lock was filling but that he was very courteous to offer. The youths had a few dogs with them, cross breeds with a lot of German Shepherd in evidence; one was a very young pup who was being trained to jump for titbits. We gave the boys their euro and a pack of James Welbeloved dog treats for the pup.

Oh - nearly forgot - I HEAR WE WON the ASHES (English papers can be got in Tournus - a day late but fortuitously Wednesday's paper covered the victory parade.