We reached the Langres tunnel two days ahead of schedule, (allowing for the fact that we made an unscheduled stopover at Verdun sur Les Doubs) partly due to the stretch of 16 automated locks at summit. There was no wait to go through the 4.8 km tunnel either. Normally whoever starts the flight first triggers a green light at their end of the tunnel. This has been replaced by a Lock Keeper at either end, who switches the light to 'go' for whoever reaches their bothy first and phones the other Lock Keeper to inform them of an oncoming boat. It's then a long slow progress through the tunnel beneath the fortified town of Langres perched on the hill 2 km up above. Langres is the watershed. From the plateau surrounding the hill town, rivers flow north to the Channel and South to the Med.
Thursday 14th September
On our 'rest day' at Langres, MWNN replenished the fresh food with produce from the Champion Supermarket, 1.5 km uphill of the Port de Plaisance. I cleaned the oat, filled the watertank and washed clothes using the efficient little 'pressure cooker' washing barrel we keep aboard and dried them beneath the cratch cover on the front deck. I WAS going to wash the bed linen but rain was forecast and the only drying facilities are 'en plein air',
After lunch we went back to the supermarket where the (Monsieur) Coiffure had assured MWNN that I could get a haircut without an appointment. I could, and did. Cost = time taken = 1 hour's wait for a taxi to take us up the hill (the weather had turned hot and humid and no way was I climbing that hill) Euros. The cut is excellent, as always. French hairdressers are very good. On the walk back down the hill, we complimented an old couple on their garden - a typical French mix of vegetables and flowers. I admired what looked like huge yellow peppers growing beneath flower trumpets of the same stunning sunshine colour. Madame gave us two 'for decoration' in the fruit bowl, saying they may last until Christmas.
Friday 15th September.
Today brings the first REAL rain we've seen since our arrival on the 1st. MWNN donned hi9s waterproofs and cheerfully pointed the boat down the long descent to Conde sur Marne, where we begin our climb up to Reims and the Northern canals. The planned stop for tonight is Rolamport.
Loony GSD's leg is playing up again. She collapsed with a yelp yesterday evening so we have upped her pain killers/anti-inflammatory pills. If there's no improvement, we will switch her back to the steroids the French vet gave us during the last flare-up.