Thursday, July 28, 2016

Through the lock we go,
Wednesday 27th July

We had promised Ariel and Michael we’d show them the ropes before we left, but by the time we’d done that and taken them up a lock we were ready for lunch so we thought we’d best go down again and sort out that little problem before going further.  Then it was after lunch time and the inclination we had felt in the morning to get underway had faded somewhat.

The little remaining inclination dissolved entirely when Maggie suggested we join them just one more time tonight and the prospect of another evening spent under fairy lights and grape vines seemed like an entirely perfect reason for not leaving. 

We figure we’ve been through a couple of lcoks today, so we must be cruising.   Sure we’ve been to Lagarde before, but we’ve been lots of places before.   One more (slightly blurry) night can’t hurt.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A housewife’s work
Tuesday 26th July

We’ve both suddenly got the urge to move on.   “Suddenly” I suppose is a relevant term, since we’ve been away from Aus for almost four weeks, and the term “urge” is a bit of an overstatement too, but don’t be surprised if tomorrow, or perhaps the day after we write from another village.

We returned the car today, and with it went our tie with the shore.  Then we looked around a discovered that we hadn’t actually properly unpacked, so while one of us snoozed the afternoon heat away, the other busied herself packing, tidying and perhaps just doing the one last load of washing or seven to get things ship-shape for our forthcoming voyage to who knows where.  Thankfully our list of things to make and repair remains safely stored when we left the boat last year in a place we were sure we would remember, but don’t.  Therefore there are no repairs required before we leave!

All that was left was a farewell dinner, so we coerced Maggie and Jacques aboard, to cement our decision.  The trouble with farewell dinners is that they are quite fun.  I think I feel the urge to stay just one more night coming on.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Death by Tractor
Monday 25th July

It’s not really death as such, but one can’t help but get the feeling that one false move could result in a very nasty ending when one ventures onto any road at the moment.  If it’s not hay making time, it’s certainly the time when there’s some sort of contest going on to see who can fit the most hay onto the smallest tractor, and drive the furthest with the least amount of clearance between load and immovable objects.  

If you’ve never met a four metre wide load coming at you straddling a three and a half metre wide road, you probably won’t have any means of identifying with just how improbable it is that one can actually arrive at one’s intended destination let alone do so unscathed.

Since it was the last full day with the car, we entered the contest happily, shopping at Sarrebourg for an extra level of difficulty, then returning quietly from whence we came to while away the evening, oblivous to the tractors bouncing into the dusk across the bridge not fifty metres away.

They do go away at night, to where we have no idea, only to return at first light fresh and bouncing and ready to take new loads into the new day, which is more than we can say for ourselves sometimes.

Monday, July 25, 2016

On any Sunday.
Sunday 24th July

Did I hint yesterday that working on someone else’s problem was going to be painless?  That was clearly before a morning spent upside down while wedged into tiny spaces and bailing noxious goo from the bilge in full contortion mode.   It did bring back all sorts of memories of that wondrous first month aboard our “Joyeux”, some of them happily suppressed until now.   There was even a fleeting moment I confess, when thoughts of the car sitting idle a few metres away and images of the road out of town flashed temptingly before my eyes. 

But there’s something about being able to dismantle someone else’s toilet, declaring it beyond one’s ability to repair before handing them the parts and retiring for lunch that is entirely more satisfying than being unable to repair something belonging to oneself. By afternoon tea time the list of things in that category had grown to such a magnitude that one of us at least was feeling very satisfied indeed.  

On the other hand the list of things to be checked and tested and removed from lockers had diminished to the extent that we could take our leave, and be showered just in time, as it happened for the arrival of some not terribly retiring Kiwi mates in their appropriately named vessel; “Winedown”.

With their very capable assistance, that’s exactly what we did.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Some days are diamonds.
back to Lagarde!

And some days we go to the supermarket.  

We did have a little bit of boating fun this morning as we drove the two locks and four kilometres back to our little port for a teensy bit of maintenance.  

It’s our water you see, it went off while we were away.  Bit of a Nuisance.  Bad.  Smelly.  Yuk.   Not a big problem unless we want to drink, or eat, or bathe.  That’ll teach us for forgetting to turn the hot water off while we were away but not to worry, a few fills and empties of the tank and all should be well again.  At least having over the course of the past few years repaired or replaced pretty much everything aboard, some things twice, we have an idea of what is connected to where, and problems of this nature are a bit of a bother, but quite simple to resolve.  

A bit of a bother but simple, unlike those facing Mike and Aerial who we finally met this morning.   They are of that courageous breed the like of which refuses anaesthetic at the dentist, or buys boats in strange countries sight unseen, there’s quite a bit to be done and discovered on their boat, and no instruction manual.  Tomorrow might be quite fun for us as we poke around helping them unbolt things and finding how they work or why they don’t.  It will be  painless too for us at least, like talking to the dentist while he drills someone else’s molar.  For them?   The last we saw of them this evening they were off looking for anaesthetic.

Friday, July 22, 2016

We’re back…

Dave had all but promised us that the drive through Belgium would be much quicker than usual, after all it was a Friday and he thought that pretty much everyone would be at the beach.   Things turned out to be almost as he described too, with nary a snarl on the Antwerp ring road, and a almost a jog on the outskirts of Brussels where we’ve found a few hours of free parking on previous attempts to cross the city.

It wasn’t until almost through Luxembourg, our third country in as many hours that the first of the warning signs alerting us to an accident on the motorway ahead in France gave us a just a hint of what was to come.  The nice lady in the dashboard who turns the GPS maps knew about it as soon as we did, and began recalculating our estimated time of arrival.   At first the delay was a mere thirty minutes, no make that ninety, and perhaps we’d better go the long way round she thought.  The problem was that she didn’t just tell us about some secret traffic avoiding route, she obviously had also told at least a fifth of those who were by this time nose to tail in a winding snail across the landscape.

We made it back to the motorway in time to discover another accident ahead, and another detour, this one more sinister as it was long past the time that sensible people would have stopped for a quick snack and a bit of a stretch, yet every instruction took us to within a few kilometres of a village and the hope of sustenance, before whisking us away in a direction where clearly there was none.   Suddenly though, we were home.

Back to a place where farmyards are not neat as a pin, where no one will make a fortune selling paint, where electricity is shamelessly carried in big black lines that arc across the sky, where grass grows tall and unkempt.  Our holiday is over.  Tonight we'll celebrate Maggie’s birthday, tomorrow we’ll think about what happens next.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Finding Max.

When we were kids we’d go to the beach on holiday with the family and we’d eat as though we’d never seen food before, and sleep as though we hadn’t slept in a year.  “It’s the sea air”, my parents would say as though running ourselves ragged in and out of the water and up and down the beach from sunrise to sunset was entirely without impact.

Therefore after finding Dave and Ria moored in the salt water on Gravalingenmeer and enjoying a hearty lunch in the sun, a long walk or two and a cycle into the village with them, it can’t be a surprise that the “sea air” got to us, and we managed to get some serious horizontal time mid afternoon.

 More sensible people than we probably would have been making their way a little further south, but  the way we figured it the good times were rolling and, if we get a bit lucky with the traffic around Antwerp and Brussels  tomorrow we should be back as planned anyway.  So we made little sleeping nest for ourselves in the good ship Max’s cockpit and set out to enjoy the night.  

There’s something about watching the sun going down through the rigging of a thousand yachts, the joy of drifting off to sleep while the breeze gently whistles and clangs through them that evokes memories of a lifetime filled with good times in other places far away.  There’s no need to be moving to have a great day out on a boat!