Fading Memories

Legends from our own lunchtimes

Friday, July 01, 2022

The Joy of Paperwork
Thursday 30th June - Diksmuide


In simpler times, one got one’s act together a long time in advance of travel, and if correspondence was entered into it was by a thing called “sea mail”.

Then a decade or so ago the internet happened and with a bit of luck, for the price of a cup of coffee at a certain Scottish hamburger chain, one could collect one’s electronic mail, perhaps even send a reply or two before getting on with the business of being out of touch.

These are not simple times.   The Flemish Waterways Authority for instance, have “simplified” their system, which means It’s no longer possible to walk up to a counter, pay a nice man some money, and walk out with a shiny new registration sticker.   Everything must be done online, through a website which has an English version with a hundred-item menu still in Flemish, which is a kind of Double Dutch.

To the surprise of all we did manage to get the necessary documents uploaded, the form filled in reasonably well, and even got to the part where we had to pay the bill, before simplification got the better of us: The credit card sent a code to our "home" number, which was not particularly helpful, but by turning off the phone and swapping swapping SIM cards and restarting it, we did receive the message, along with warnings about the cost of data roaming.  This process of course disconnected our internet connection, and by the time we restored it the payment session had timed out and our window of simplification closed.

A visit to the office forty kilometres away, yielded a friendly conversation, which had we been in France would have been punctuated by a dozen shrugs, and the phone number of another nice man who might be able to help.   He couldn’t, but he gave us the number of yet another nice man who was also befuddled by the simplicity and gave us yet another number to call.  The nice man who answered our fifth call wasn’t sure what he could do, but he has a dog with the same name as our boat, and very kindly pulled some strings and pressed some buttons and apologetically charged us an extra 25% to sort out what turned out to be the fault in their website.

Of course the only way of paying for this particular simple service was by money transfer, and it probably goes without saying that when our Australian bank’s online services went down at the exact time we pressed the little blue button to complete the transaction, the air turned the same colour as the button!

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Wednesday 29th June - Diksmuide


When Thijs sent us this photo yesterday recording the moment that our “Joyeux” was reunited with water it triggered a series of irrational emotions.

The first was a distinct sense of urgency for us to get aboard, something we’d either not felt or was deeply repressed for the past several years.   The other was as it turned out, a false hope that after three years idly resting in a shed, she would be in as tidy condition as the day we left her.

What a grubby little thing she was too, despite first appearances, but she seemed happy to see us.  When Davy, (the technician who’d been charged with making sure everything that was supposed to move did, and everything that was supposed to be bolted in place was), fired her up for the first time in three years, one could almost swear she was trying to wag her stern.

There’s nothing particularly exciting about cleaning a boat that has been stored for several years, nor anything glamorous about moving aboard that same boat without access to potable water while undertaking those tasks, yet I may have written about it endlessly had Dave and Ria not turned up, to distract us for the rest of the evening and to save you, dear reader, from that particular pain!


As one pair of gates closes..
Tuesday 28th June - Saint-Pierre-Sur-Dives to Diksmuide

If we thought time flew by while were were away, it flew even faster while we were here.  

We had barely caught up with each other’s news, perhaps we hadn’t covered all of it, but all we had other places to go, people to see and things to do and the time had come to set about doing them.

As is our custom we have made no  particular plan other than to hire a car for longer than we need it, just in case we need it longer than we think, and we vaguely thought that we might gently tour the Normandy Coast on our way north, just as we did on our last visit.   

That clearly didn’t go as well as it might, as once ensconced on those motorways, our little car showed no sign of wanting to leave them, and by mid afternoon we discovered we had checked into a charming B&B just a few kilometres from our final destination.

Tomorrow, if we don’t get too terribly sidetracked along those last four kilometres, we might be boat dwellers once more.


Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Monday is Market Day
Monday 27th June - Saint-Pierre-Sur-Dives

We thought we’d got away lightly on the jetlag front this trip.

For a few days we felt a little discombobulated, but generally all our bits were working as they should and we appeared to be holding up our end of conversations various quite well.   The effects of long distance travel in our experience at least, are often felt most three or four days after arrival, so when the three day mark passed quietly by without incident yesterday, we thought we were out of danger.

Our amble round the markets today was as delightful as the pictures in the glossy brochures would have you believe it should be.  The strawberries were stunning, the bread divine, the endives caress-able, the stall holders special characters to a man (and woman).

It was only when we stumbled across the nice man selling rabbit eggs that we suspected that our synapses  were still not firing in the correct order.   

We backed quietly away and retired to spend the afternoon deep in slumber, in the hope that all would be well when when we woke.


A walk in the garden
Sunday 26th June - Saint-Pierre-Sur-Dives

There’s no better way of spending a Sunday in France than going for a gentle drive in the countryside, having a large-ish lunch and following it all up with a gentle walk in one of our favourite gardens in the entire world.

Last time we visited the Jardins du Pays d’Auge we spent the rest of that evening filled with adrenalin soaked inspiration frantically sketching planting plans for our own back yard, as well as for Maggie and Jacques.   

On our return home we just as furtively put that plan into place complete with winding timber pathways.

It really feels as though we were only here yesterday, so the realisation that the planting we did after that visit has now been aggressively thinned to make way for (although we didn’t know it at the time) some more inspired work when we return, is a little disorienting in a timeline sense.   

Chez Maggie is even more puzzling in that regard.   In the instant that we’ve been away it has been transformed from “project suit handyman” to in the words that Kevin Mcleod might use, “something of a triumph”.

Perhaps we need to start reporting time in the same way we do weather - 

Time away: - Three years

Feels like - Yesterday


Sunday, June 26, 2022

A Mating Pair
Saturday 25th June - Saint-Pierre-Sur-Dives

It’s a bit hard to tell whether it’s been jetlag or a hypnotic fascination with the whereabouts of my bag that have kept me up at night.  Whatever the reason I can report that it arrived at Paris Charles de Gaulle yesterday, moved from the international terminal to the domestic one and then to a freight terminal all before bedtime.

By bedtime it was barely 280 km away, disappointingly by 2:00 with half that distance to go, activity ceased but sometime between then and 6:00 there were only 45 kilometres separating me and my razor.   

May I suggest that if you show even the tiniest symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, it would be a great idea NOT to put a tracker in your luggage?

Clean shaven, bleary-eyed, but with a fresh shirt that actually fitted, there was nothing left to do but to leave our bags to be reacquainted while we toddled off for a long and very convivial celebratory lunch. 


Saturday, June 25, 2022

A shave!
Friday 24th June - Saint-Pierre-Sur-Dives

We’re with Maggie and Jacques and the good times are back, and we haven’t drawn breath yet catching up on almost three years of news.

By this morning my clothing and bathing accoutrements were lounging in Thailand according to our nifty little tracking device.  

This was slightly reassuring news being 7,000 kilometres closer than they were, but with 9,640 still to go it may still be a day or two until we are reunited, it meant that for now at least there is hope that I can avoid filling in all that nasty insurance paperwork, and perhaps put off that (shudder) trip to the shops to buy some replacement garb.   

Given that Jacques and I are of exactly different builds, with bodies that could best be described as going in opposite directions, why should we have been surprised that his clothes could do an admirable job while we wait.  “Admirable” in this context means everyone here prefers me me hanging around in slightly ill fitting shorts than in nought but my (thankfully brand new- there’s a lesson in that kiddies,) undies.

After no small effort on behalf of the entire team, I was deemed tidy enough to accompany them and the other of us on that most sacred and serious of French national sports.    

Shopping for food. 

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