Fading Memories

Legends from our own lunchtimes

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Watching You.
Tuesday 12 June - Toul


The cathedral in Toul is a ginormous thing completely out of scale with the rest of the town, which by virtue of a curious dichotomy actually makes it completely in scale. 

One would think with streets that are not at all straight yet terribly narrow that it could never be seen from within the town itself, and if one thought that, one would be wrong.  Like Gulliver among the Lilliputians it has an uncanny ability to peek down the smallest of alleyway, no doubt curious about what is going on, as though ready to admonish any doer of evil.  

In other places, just as one thinks one has achieved respite from its steady gaze, one rounds a bend and it sort of leaps out and shouts silently “Aha!”.

It’s quite possibly a thousand year old version of a video surveillance camera, you never know if it’s really watching, or if it is, whether all will be on tape for future review.  Quite possibly the best approach is to do no wrong, just in case.   

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Then The Rains Came Again.
Monday 11 June - Toul

While the mystery malady may have been “better” yesterday, it was “worse” today, although “not as bad” as the day before.  There seemed little reason therefore not to malinger.

Then the rains came again, and having no need nor being in any mood to spend any time outside, we simply called a lay day.  

For the second time in three days we confined ourselves to barracks.  Luckily for us there’s a very, very good bakery just across the road and we can have no qualms at all in considering it to be part of our barracks complex!


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Monday, June 18, 2018

All Storm, No Teacup
Sunday 10 June - Nancy to Toul


With one of us grateful for feeling “better” when he woke, “better” in its literal sense rather than the colloquial “no longer ill” sense, and with the expectation of rain tomorrow, lots of it, and even more day after as well, we made a simple decision.

We would make haste while the sun shone or at least while the rain held off.  We’d scamper at the speed of sound, for all speed is sound according to Mr Perkins, in direction Toul. With luck we’d be there before a recurrence of yesterday’s storms or yesterday’s illness, in no particular order.  Such was our haste that we even managed a mind blowing eight and a half kilometres per hour occasionally when the wind was from behind and the already negligible current slackened.  At that mighty pace that we’d surely be in Toul high and dry before we knew it.

Anyone who has visited Toul by river will understand that the entry process is delightful in a scenic sense, meandering beside the towns ramparts below postcard-bridges through crystal clear water with all manner of aquatic life quite clearly on display.  From a navigation perspective however there are three reasonably challenging (read brutal if one isn’t careful), locks separated by narrow channels filled with weed ready to render a straying propeller or rudder temporarily useless in the blink of an eye.  The route between these locks is punctuated by even narrower bridge spans and a lifting bridge that appears to be programmed to respond more slowly as wind speed increases.  

Someone must have switched the difficulty switch on this game to “advanced” just for our arrival.  There it was, as the outskirts of Toule came into view from the river.; a raging thunderstorm sitting stationary over that last little bit.  Wind in nasty gusts, frigid rain in bucket-sized drops, generally the sort of experience that makes one glad one’s alive, (as if waking up this morning wasn’t good enough).   As soon as we’d battled our way into a berth and snugged ourselves against further tempest, the storm moved on without further thought as they often do, and suddenly we had arrived.
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The day that never was.
Saturday 9 June - Nancy


We hadn’t planned to go far today anyway, just down to Champignuelles where we’d stay the evening near the park and wander up to watch Emmanuel’s AC/DC tribute band in concert.  Perhaps we’d wash the boat first, to get rid of all that tree muck.

Then daylight came after a night of storms and the boat was shining once again without human intervention.  This was just as well as one of us was not particularly fit for intervening anyway.  It’s odd the way nasty illness descends on a weekend, when medical assistance is at it’s most scarce.  In the absence of genuine help or the energy to seek it out, a quick check of Dr Google assured us that he was possibly having a heart attack, a dose of bubonic plague, malaria, brain disease, kidney stones or ingrown toenails, or quite possibly any or all at the same time.  Curiously, one of the symptoms of heart attack is “a sense of doom”, which it seems is also one of the outcomes of consulting Dr Google.

Under the circumstances the only sensible thing to do in the gloom of a cool rainy day, was to stay snugly asleep in a cosy bed.  We figured if he didn’t wake up dead in the morning all would be well with the world once more. (Spoiler - this post may be late, but it has happened after the event, so a little logic applied at this point may give a hint as to the outcome.)  
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Let’s do lunch… and dinner.
Friday 8 June - Nancy


It’s not one of our regular haunts, but why wouldn’t it be one of our favourites?  Well there’s the service for a start.  On the one hand it’s impeccable, friendly even, not at all in the great French tradition alluded to in the travel books.  On the other hand well let’s just say there is plenty of time to enjoy the ambience, and thankfully in L’Excelsior there’s no shortage of that.  It's a simply stunning souvenir of a time long past.

It wasn’t really that Maggie had a dose of “missing us already”, when she suggested last week that we meet there for lunch, rather she was showing her friend Kate the town, and wanted to show her us and we, she. Naturally a stonking good time was had by all.  “Stonking” being a quite possibly made-up word that sounds terribly British, and stuck in just for Kate’s benefit.

Such a good time was had, (and so slow the service),  that we barely made it aboard “Miss Ellie” for round two for the day, an equally splendid time in an equally splendid although significantly less complicated ambiance, and with far better service! Was this really our fourth farewell to Jørn and Birgit this week?  It all has to stop - tomorrow we must away!
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Monday, June 11, 2018

The curse of disability
Thursday 7 June - Nancy


A Musée de beaux Arts is what we would call an art gallery, and Nancy has a very good one which charges an admission price for those of a certain age which is even more modest than for those who have not yet attained the same lofty heights.  It therefore would have been remiss of us not to have revisited it this morning.

During the course of that visit, one of us accidentally discovered a several adjacent upstairs floorboards that softly squeaked in what to his ears  appeared to be the same key.  Inspired by the “Nightingale Floors” we had trod in Japan last year, it was understandable that he would start to tap out an experimental beat with the three sympathetic yet barely audible notes.  How was he to know that those notes were not particularly inaudible to anyone less audiologically challenged than he?  In fact, it would seem that not only were they more than barely audible, but they echoed through the entire gallery sufficiently loudly to completely mortify the other of us who was busying herself by removing herself as quickly as possible from the source of the distraction, at the same chastising the distractor in hushed tones.  A (smiling and thankfully unarmed) museum attendant arrived at about the same time to find the cause of the cacophony mid-tap, and though she was clearly reminded of Fred Astaire in full flight, the performance was brought to a rather sudden end. 

We, having seen all we intended to see, (and one of us having heard enough as well) tootled off to find a bus to the Museum of History of Iron which has a permanent display of the work of Jean Prouvé the chap who designed our dining room table among other possibly more notable structures.  That’s not all it offers however. Many will not know nor probably care that the Eiffel Tower had been fabricated in Lorraine from iron mined and shaped from and in the surrounding regions. Much of the museum’s display is devoted to exactly how that occurred and while that visit seemed like a logical way to round off our afternoon, by late afternoon, we were just a little  museum overdosed.   With our minds saturated by a surfeit of facts and colour and a preponderance of Eiffel Tower images we set off for home into the face of a tropical downpour, managing in the process to just as effectively saturate our bodies too. 


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The Road Well Travelled (now with pikelets!)
Wednesday 6 June - Sommerviller to Nancy


As we drifted happily down the waterway this morning it was not without a strong sense of nostalgia as we thought about the good times we’ve had on this little wet highway over the past nine years. 

For instance, how many times we wondered, had we walked to a bakery only to find it closed on a Monday or a Tuesday, or for the rest of summer for that matter?   We were pretty sure we’d never found one closed on Wednesday AND Thursday before today, and as a result of this new experience, our walk into Sommerviller in search of something nice for morning tea yielded nought.  

Happily by the time Birgit and Jørn caught up with us for a third farewell in as many days, a fresh batch of pikelets had miraculously appeared in our galley replete with lashings of red jam, tea and coffee. It is suffice to say that none of this was in under supply, therefore by the time we once again went our separate ways, there a further stop for lunch was removed from our agenda.   

Delayed though we had been on our morning’s journey, we still found time to settle into our berth and then to stomp over our usual stomping grounds, breathing the familiarity and the brewing storm in equal quantities.  
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