Fading Memories

Legends from our own lunchtimes

Friday, September 22, 2017

Cushions- Tuesday 19th September
Sarreguemines


I’ve been rabbiting on about the inclement nature of the great outdoors for weeks now.   We’ve been content thus far to wait it out, to scamper out when the sky clears just a bit and make the best of it, but by lunchtime, with visibility still barely enough to find the back door we gave up and wandered off into the mist regardless.

We are not the kind of people who are normally moved to buy stuff just because it's there, however while wandering through the city streets the combination of cabin fever and finding what we both agreed were exactly the right cushions for our couch proved to be a potent mix.   If the words “by lunchtime” in the paragraph  above had been noted, then one would understand that the time the perfect cushions were discovered in the shop window coincided with that great hour or two in France when shops remain steadfastly closed, and our credit cards remained once more un-tattered.

With no ball of string handy to enable us to find the place again, defeated, we disappeared into the gloom wondering if we would ever find them again or if they had merely been a trick of the light.

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Sarreguemines at last. - Monday 18th September
Sarreguemines


Having only travelled or not travelled as the case may be through forests and farmland since our return to the northern hemisphere, when the sounds of a city began to make themselves heard above Mr Perkins’ flatulence it came as something of a rude awakening.

The silence to which we have very much become accustomed was replaced initially with the unmistakable sounds of vehicles travelling on damp highways, then stuck in traffic, interspersed with the odd siren, truck brake and motorcycle.   This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it signals that we are about to arrive at our destination, and while the presence of the ambient noise of a city is perhaps a little less pleasant than the lack it, it can also serve as a reminder of how privileged we are to be able to move at will, and simply stop in the middle of everything for a time.

So here we are, privileged this time to be camped opposite the very heart of Sarreguemines, with our choice of bridge to cross when we wish to immerse ourselves in it, and our choice of bakery to sample when we don’t. 

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A change of culture. - Sunday 17th September
Wittring


It’s a bit of reflection on the pace of our travels that Maggie and Jacques were able to join us for lunch today.  Seventy-five kilometres we’ve travelled, that’s an hour and a half by car along the scenic route, or as it happens, three weeks by boat.  

The weather robbed us of a perfect end to a very pleasant day by intervening just as we were about to set out on the customary Sunday post-luncheon walk.  Our little explorations yesterday had confirmed that Wittring is a pleasant little village that like so many places in this region offer small clues that its place in France is an accident of politics rather than of culture.

For instance, it exhibits a different sort of “tidy”, which is not particularly obvious until one notices that everything is painted to within an inch of its life.   Shutters have ancient hardware that is still functional.   Gardens are carefully tended with graphic effects in contrasting gravel.  There’s an order that seems to be underlying. Could it be that what we had taken for security fencing surrounding the boat club is actually the opposite?  Perhaps it is we who are carefully screened from view so that our scruffiness will not offend.
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Wires crossed. - Saturday 16th September
Wittring


I should have suspected something when I called out in French enquiring if there was any room for us for the night, and the Port Captain understood what I was saying.  To compound our astonishment we understood him. 

Here, just a few metres from the French-German border French is spoken with a particular accent which I suspect has evolved from the Alsatian language.  Since most people speak all three of the local tongues, our mono-lingual heritage puts us at a clear disadvantage in the communication stakes. 

It’s not normally a simple matter for us to understand or be understood.  For instance there are at least four ways to correctly pronounce “Wittring”  ranging from the “wit-ring” to something like “vit-rung” and everything in between.   That means there’s a one in four chance that the person one is addressing will actually catch a hint of what the message actually is.   None the less, buoyed by our introductory success, the Captain and we seemed to be getting along quite well until he asked if we’d like him to pick up some bread for us in the morning. 

“About ten o’clock on Monday", I replied, "but we’ll only be going as far as Sarreguemines”.
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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The calm after the storm. - Friday 15th September
Sarralbe


Penny and Bob had not been gone ten minutes when the sun came out.   

The morning had begun with more promise than we’d seen in some time so after replenishing our stock of strawberry tarts and baguettes, they with their bags packed and neatly stacked ready to leave, we cast off for a little joy ride up the lock before returning to drop them by their car.

It seems as though we had barely completed our farewells, perhaps we hadn’t, when the sun began to shine and the breeze dropped to a whisper, creating perfect weather for moving on.   We looked at each other and nodded knowingly.  Communicating wordlessly we grabbed our books and lay in the sun, deciding as one that tomorrow might be a better day to think about moving on after all.
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Not good. - Thursday 14th September
Sarralbe


One is not filled with hope and joy when one checks the weather forecast before retiring to be greeted by this description: 

“The morning will be raining with temperatures reaching eleven degrees and winds at forty kilometres per hour.   The afternoon will be not good.”

We could of course have taken the opportunity in the morning before the weather turned “not good” to run across the road and taken refuge in the bar with its wonderful crocodile shaped shutter cutouts, but more than our sorrows would surely have been drowned on the way.  

Instead we frittered away the day with our little heater chugging away, playing dominoes and drinking coffee and laughing and reading between snoozes, along the way discovering that the life of a wastrel does have certain attractions, unless of course one is living in our fore cabin where things were starting by now to become quite damp in places.
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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Cabin Fever. - Wednesday 13th September
Sarreguemines


Had things gone according to plan, we may have arrived in Sarreguemines today instead of being cooped up in a boat the interior of which was becoming smaller with every passing storm.   But things did not.  To distract ourselves from the sloth and gluttony which had pretty much consumed our lives for the past few days we thought perhaps a day trip in the car would be in order.

Of course, now fully in the swing of taking things easy, by the time we managed to collectively drag ourselves out of bed, there was only time for a half-day trip.  Thankfully though since it doesn’t take terribly long to drive fifteen kilometres even in lashing rain, we did make it to Sarreguemines for lunch, just before the restaurant kitchens closed for the afternoon as it happens.

We found a bit of colour the Ceramics Museum in the afternoon. As we sheltered in its “winter room”, designed for keeping exotic plants from the tropics alive during the cold winter months, we discovered it had benefits for exotic people from the sub-tropics as well, and we noted as we basked in its colour and its quite artificial warmth that the pair from South Australia weren’t complaining either. 

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