Legends from our own lunchtimes

Friday, September 30, 2011


Today is Thursday apparently.

 The fact that I could correctly answer that particular question should it be asked is apparently a good sign, but I am reminded of another exchange in the Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy just after the two central characters have materialised inside the Vogon ship which perhaps better describe the way we feel:

 Ford Prefect: How are you feeling? 

Arthur Dent: Like a military academy. Bits of me keep passing out.

It's noisier here than I remember, there's a sort of background buzz and things seem a bit blurry, I can't put my finger on why, perhaps after a day or two I'll have regained my composure.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Half Way House

Sitting in the shade of a mirror tree, while reflected sun rays made of fluorescent lighting bask the windows of the lounge is something that probably only happens in Singapore.

In time we are almost two thirds through our journey, another few feature length movies and it will be Brisbane!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Time to Fly!

The lag in body clock which comes with travel has begun, waking as we did before six this morning, not out of excitement or anticipation or any of those things, but because it was seven according to our brains, which hadn't computed that we'd not got to bed till midnight in yesterday's time zone.

We must now fly south for the winter.

By the time the day is finished it will be the day after tomorrow and we never quite come to terms with that bit.   It's late afternoon now, we have time for a quick goodbye on our way to the train, then our airport sojourn begins.

When next I type we will be in Singapore.  If that is not the case, the tale will be really worth reading!

Monday, September 26, 2011


Our journey of a thousand leagues begins with a cab ride, or actually with a Maggie ride to Luneville. There were little lumps in our throats as we glanced back at the harbour, and we weren't sure if it's because of the farewells, or the anticipation of the "hellos" in a day or two, but once again we couldn't help but notice the lack of emotion attached to the journey itself. 

Perhaps as travellers we have become "seasoned", comfortable with being "on the bus" that takes us to our next . 

Five trains later (if we count the change in the tube at Edgeware Road) with only a break for coffee with apple and caramel crepes in Paris, and a bit of a wander round the Galleries La Fayette, we were tucked up safely in London with Shelley and Julian.

Tomorrow evening, another train and then the journey begins. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011


All we had to do was sleep late, lunch, zip up our bags and the boat covers, have dinner and go to bed one last time in Lagarde.

But we woke before dawn, which is a reasonably simple thing to do as it's dawn around half past seven, If it hadn't been for the hint of fog and the stillness of the sunrise we may even have felt cheated by the early rising.  With so little left to do, the morning was sort of frittered away sorting photos and updating blogs, and Jacques suggested that we do dinner instead of lunch, as the restaurant would be a bit quieter then.  

He was smiling as he spoke.  It's been a two year labour of love getting it together and he's somewhere between terribly pleased and just plain terrified that in these early stages of the teething troubles that the crowds can bring.

So we did, and it was splendid, although much to his chagrin or is that big grin, not much less busy than earlier in the day.

Our bags are packed, we're ready to go.

Now we just have to work out how to sleep till a reasonable hour tomorrow


Saturday, September 24, 2011


It's completely uncharacteristic but I think we're almost done.  All we have to do is to pull on the covers now nicely custom fitted, lock the door and leave.

OK, we do have to pack and have a couple of lunches and a dinner or two, but by and large the boat is looking like something that's had an awful lot of attention this year, which is actually quite gratifying, because it has.  It's been hobby stuff of course, but it will be interesting now that the back of the major renovation is complete, to see what crops up next year.  There's always painting the outside I suppose, and a window or two are still awaiting sealant, but they can wait.

The photo by the way, is for Gerry who needed to see the new floor.  It and a few others suitably annotated may be viewed on our Flickr Album by clicking this link  for those interested.  Beware though, the album also contains the original "purchase" photos from 2009.

In summary, we've sorted most of the potential mechanical failures, replaced the 12v wiring, installed 230v wiring, a fridge, a washing machine, a new hot water unit, new flooring, replaced some plumbing, cleaned everything, made new floor hatch surrounds, stripped and relacquered internal timbers, rebuilt the aft cabin, and probably a few other little tasks, all while having a jolly good time in our spare time!

We aren't sure though, whether we are ready to tackle renovations on the house any time soon.  I don't think we'll be finished those for Christmas!

Now to pack the bags and off to dinner.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Some people, it must be said, go to ridiculous extremes to make things ship shape.  Just exactly why every speck of dust must be removed from a boat which is about to be left outside in sleet and snow for six months, and will be covered in all manner of fungus when we return, has never been explained to me, but that is just the way it is.

Everything is almost ready, the outside has been scrubbed to within an inch of its life, we've stripped all the stain from the timber trims internally and given them a few coats of clear, I've finally found a solution for our steering inconsistencies, a few mechanical bits have been finished, we've made new covers for the boat, and our food supply looks as though it'll see us exactly through to the end.

Everything is sparkling, it feels as though we should just go somewhere.   (Boring before and after photographs will appear shortly on our Flickr stream - stay tuned.)

We are of course about to go somewhere, we are excited to be on the move, but can't bring ourselves to describe our destination as "home" exactly.   "Home" it is of course, but we are here and this is home too.

We have become migratory animals we think.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Storm Looming

For the first few days after arriving back, we knew we had almost two weeks to clean up, pack up, do a few odd jobs and generally get ready to leave.

So we did what any sensible person would do in our situation.  We lay in bed till late, read books, made lists, had coffees, designed kitchens for house extensions, played on other people's boats and generally resisted the urge to move on every couple of days.   Each day was such a perfect replica of the one before that it seemed pointless writing about it even.

The date of our departure was getting closer, the list longer, a storm was brewing!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Home at last
Parroy - Xures - Lagarde

We were faced with eight kilometres to travel to the end of summer, and the sun was out, the sky blue and we couldn't think of a way to extend our journey any longer so we eventually slipped away from Parroy. Then we realised we hadn't really explored Xures. The reason for that is that there is little to explore, a handful of houses and a church, and it's not much more than a brisk walk from Lagarde in any case, but today seemed like the perfect time and place. Eventually, despite our best efforts to delay progress we happened upon Lagarde. Home. We were barely at our mooring before we were being called on to see progress on the house, and visit the new restaurant, and check out the boat next door. We hadn't even completed writing our list of jobs before we were being invited out to dinner. Yes. We were home.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Stalling the inevitable
Champigneulles - Parroy

We could have easily made it back to Lagarde by mid afternoon, but the day was overcast, and there were intermittent showers and we really had our heart set on finishing our season bathed in sunshine, returning triumphantly with the roof back so we stopped at Parroy, concerned that the six kilometres per hour or so we'd been moving at was a tad on the hectic pace anyway.

After all, we'd passed a boat today.


Monday, September 12, 2011


Now where was I?

Some have noticed a certain absence for a few weeks almost exactly, and that has been for a very good reason.   I've been completely slack.  Despite the date of this post, I am writing in restrospect.

It's just that as we were approaching Nancy we had but a day left on the water, so we started to slow down.   When the rowing scull overtook us on the inside, we knew the pace was close to right, but even so it would take barely two days to get back to our base.

After a small dose of hardware shopping we had enough supplies to keep us occupied for the next ten days or so, and reluctantly set off in pursuit of the rower.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Slow down, we're going too fast.
Pont-A-Mousson to Champigneulles

This is Sunday, the day that all of France and if our experience from a fortnight ago is anything to go by, half of Germany as well, goes fishing.

There being no point in leaving in the fog, we had another coffee and wandered over to town to buy baguettes and perhaps a little something for morning tea.

Often one can find the bakery early in the morning by simply walking in the opposite direction to the line of baguettes walking to homes various, but occasionally in places such as this, things become a little more complicated. There is a shop in Pont-A-Mousson we quite like and as we cross the bridge that gives the town its name, the line of happy customers walking towards us laden with pastries and bread confirm that we are not alone. The equally large number of similarly people walking in the same direction as we are tends to give one the the impression that healthy competition exists in town, and this on a day when most of the bakers and pastry cooks can be found sitting on the banks of the river with a fishing rod in hand.

We eventually putter off up the river, with coffee and escargot au chocolat, in hand, having suddenly and for no logical reason realised in the process of buying the bread that we have exactly two weeks until we begin our return journey to Australia.

We drop the throttle back a notch or two trying to prolong our time on the river, knowing that we could easily be in Nancy tonight, but we stop five kilometres short without really knowing why.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

On the road again

Some days it's just time to go.

The sun comes up, or in the case of today the fog lifts after breakfast, we look at each other and we just sort of can't find a reason for not moving, so we do. We don't always move exactly there and then of course, a long voyage entails provisions, it could be hours before we stop somewhere near a bakery after all.

We thought maybe we might stop at Ars-sur-Mosellle, and wander round the "Aqueduc roman" for a bit or stay at Corny-sur-Moselle and perhaps cycle back to Jouy-aux-Arches, but we pushed on past and took another photo from the water making a note to stop next time. Then we thought we might poke around Pagny-s-Moselle too but by the time we got there it really wasn't all that much further to Pont-A-Mousson and about that time a fitting in the water system popped off and made a valiant attempt at draining our entire tank into the bilge before we discovered it, so Pont-A-Mousson became a port of convenience as well.

Suddenly we can't escape the feeling that we are on our homeward journey, we have our head down and our tail up.

Perhaps tomorrow when it rains again, we'll feel differently.

Friday, September 09, 2011

A lot of glass

I was going to describe in some detail how we hauled the plywood out from under the mattress and across to the picnic shelter at the rowing club, where we fiddled for a couple of hours dismantling our table and making an exact mock up of how we thought a new small table might be, and then decided we would be much happier not changing the original setup anyway, but there really isn't anything too interesting in any of that.

I wasn't going to mention that after lunch we finally succumbed to the lure of the illuminated monster that quietly guards our harbour.

Curiosity finally got the better of us so we popped inside the cathedral for a squzz. We don't normally do cathedrals unless there's something particularly significant about the architecture or the goings on inside, or we feel vaguely curious. We just don't have any desire to "tick the box" marked "cathedral" in every city we visit.

Through happenstance we often find something quite surprising or even satisfying when we do, and so it was today, having studiously avoided reading anything of the history of the building, and for that matter having studiously avoided the entrance even, when we finally succumbed we were surprised, to say the least.

When one finds oneself somewhat unexpectedly in a forty five metre high room (I'm sure it's not that tall outside) lined with six and a half thousand square metres of stained glass, one finds it difficult to maintain one's composure, let alone to keep up one's terribly blasé demeanour about such things. Yes, yes the Chagall windows are a wonder, as are the others produced by various artists over a five hundred year period, but heck this thing is more than a thousand years old. A thousand!

It almost makes me wish I'd listened during those history of Architecture lectures.


Thursday, September 08, 2011

Time Walk

We don't do museums often, and when we do it's because there's something we want to see.

In Metz we just had a suspicion that the museum, with building work interrupted in 1937 by the inconvenient discovery of an entire Roman Bath complex in the exact spot that engineers had suggested would be perfect for the building's foundations, may indeed be an ideal spot to shelter from the by now quite tiresome wind.

There's something definitely in the air that suggests that we may have seen the last of summer, although in a day or two we will have forgotten the wind, but not the museum.

The very fact that the history of three millennia can be recorded with artefacts collected within walking distance of their current resting place is thought provoking enough, but the story is beautifully told in a completely modern three dimensional game of snakes and ladders through which one makes a clear and logical progression through time, beginning a long time ago, descending through the Baths of only two millennia's vintage and arriving back near the entrance somewhere in the middle of the eighteenth century, after which one can wander round town and see the impact of "recent" history for oneself.

On the way back to the boat we told the harbour master we thought we'd hang around a few more days.


Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Looking out

I have been told that public servants are not allowed to look out of the windows of their offices in the mornings, to leave them something to do in the afternoon. One could ask how, with nothing to do, I can't even find time to report on the day's goings on on the day concerned.  I think it's the stress.

The front cabin floor you see has been decidedly spongy. We put off looking at it last year, deciding that one champignon garden at a time is enough to deal with, concentrated our efforts on reclaiming the after berth, and put the forward piece away for a rainy day. All year we've carried two half-sheets of ply under our mattress as a contingency against the time when we might peek under the vinyl, and it has to be said we've been delaying it all in the hope that it might just magically go away.

Today it was rainy, and time to attack the monster.

Strangely, extraordinarily even as these things go, after fighting with the vinyl for half an hour or so, when the ugly truth was revealed it did not lead to some massive amount of unplanned demolition and new construction. The floor had been repaired some years ago, and was in perfect condition, a few small adjustments to the access panels involving the use of a hammer and a screw driver and the sponginess was gone!

By the end of the day I hadn't been ashore for two days, another visit to the market by her good self had set the scene for a long and relaxed evening, and we have new flooring from stem to stern.

  (Yes Gerry, I'll take some photos as soon as I've put the tools away!)


Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Another Work Day

Fortunately the wind was roaring again this morning, so there really wasn't any point in getting out of bed.

Ahh yes, the floor.

Well it's just that it involved work.  Scraping and cutting and bending and so on, and the wind was blowing cool and probably ill and if she hadn't made me a cup of coffee while I lay in bed reading, and announced she was off to forage in the market and it would be nice if there had been a start by the time she got back, there may not have been.

Today it was the middle bit, two simple panels, each less than a metre square, with two thirds of the old vinyl already freed from the sub base, albeit after a few hours of prising and scraping over the last week.  How hard could it possibly be?

Six or maybe even eight hours hard, that's how hard!

But now we have only the front cabin to go, and the basket of goodies that turned into dinner was superb!

Monday, September 05, 2011


We've driven in Metz a few times, and even with the aid of electronic wizardry just can't get the hang of it. Almost every street starts off being one-way and ends up one-way in entirely the other direction, which rules out things like having a destination in mind when one sets off, it's better just to wait and see where one ends up. Of course when one does end up the wrong way, one can choose to turn left, into the face of oncoming traffic as directed by the road arrows, or right, into someone's living room as directed by the arrows on the posts.

Our day went a bit like the road markings actually, we couldn't really work out what we wanted to do.

The weather was verging on indifferent, so we thought it might be a perfect day to spend in the museum. There again it was a perfect day to remain snug, warm and horizontal until at least museum opening time, and perhaps a little later I could battle for a time with the bits of old floor vinyl which still haven't released their grip on the plywood.

By the time we sorted ourselves our, completed our ablutions, put working on the floor off for another day, had coffee, wondered whether we might get a bus to see if we could find a mattress shop, and myriad other things, it was far too late to contemplate museums, so we wandered to the market to find something for dinner, but it was closed of course, this being Monday.

I suspect that tomorrow we shall begin this process again.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Centre Pompidou - Metz

I wondered about posting this photograph almost as much as I wondered about "the impression that the structure is exploding encourages the viewer to move not just with their eyes, but with their whole body".

I wish I'd thought of that, but by the time I got to that bit, which refers to a work "focussed on the ascendency of architecture, particularly museum architecture, over art", I'd read through three pages of justification for what is an acclaimed piece of architecture yet two of the four galleries could not be found by the busloads of german tourists arriving on a relatively quiet Sunday. It was on the fourth and fifth pages where the solution was to be found: the exhibitions on the first two levels were "until 04.07.11" a somewhat disappointing realisation after one had paid if not a king's ransom, at least the price of two coffees to wander through the interior of a gallery that by design, was half closed!

The visit though, was inspirational, the few dozen pieces on display truly modern masterpieces and it would be trite to suggest to those who clearly know a lot about this sort of thing, that perhaps signs are easier to read if they aren't in white on a white background.


Saturday, September 03, 2011

A lot of hot air

Things seemed to be going exactly according to plan as far as we could tell, the little hand was on seven and for a time we had been quite oblivious to that fact, eyes wide shut under the comfort of the doona, but then the roar of the montgolfiere interrupted our repose.

The hot air balloon festival is held every two years, although this year seems to be some sort of a minor fill-in with just thirty or so roaring into life a few metres from our berth each morning and evening before drifting silently away over the distant hills. Given the proximity, and despite the rather uncivilised time, it seemed to us that we would be in some way remiss not to drag on some more suitable attire and attend the proceedings for a bit as one by one the crew brought out their petrol powered fans to inflate their craft.

There's something strangely addictive about watching one after the other rise to a point where they can't possibly clear the trees, but they do, before falling almost back into the water, but they don't, then finally finding their ascendency and drifting off to the horizon each following the other as if joined by string.

As a mode of transport they make no sense at all, yet  at the same time if one can live with the randomness of the journey they make absolutely perfect sense.

Friday, September 02, 2011


Last year we discovered that we liked Metz a lot, and resolved to spend much more time here in future so true to our word we shall stay put for the time being.

Once more alone, we have suddenly had time to realise that we will be once again heading south this month and were suddenly hit by an urgent need to do absolutely nothing.

Metz is not an easy place to do that though, so we tried to fit it in between coffee with Gary and Robyn and drinks with Charles and Judy and ice cream in the cafe on the square, when we weren't poking in some of the older parts of town or foraging in the covered market for some artisanal sausage or an olive pickled in who knows what, or simply sitting watching the pilots take their hot air balloons over the hills and far away as the sun descended.

Even when civilised people are in bed, the illuminated fountains beckon with their music and laser lights and rear projection.

Perhaps tomorrow we shall try to do not quite so little.


Thursday, September 01, 2011

A good idea at the time

It may be nice, we thought, to deliver Shell and Jules to their German destination barely a hundred kilometres away. With visions of meandering through some of those little German villages we'd been going too fast to stop at as we'd tootled past during the week at seven kilometres per hour, we wandered down to the station and hired a car..

The reality of romantic meandering by car is that the romance is tempered somewhat by narrow streets and really fast superhighways and "no standing" signs and "I don't think we should have turned there" coming from somewhere behind the driver's right ear. If ships approaching silently from behind at ten kilometres per hour are something worthy of being alert, then cars approaching at three hundred are close to terrifying. It must be age which makes me think that the 130kph speed limit in France is something quite civli really.

Having entirely failed to meander, we abandoned all hope of a romantic tour, discharged our passengers, and after a fine lunch, slotted the little van into the fast lane home.

Autumn has begun and we have things to do, places to see, and in Metz we are unlikely to run out of either in whatever time we may allot to the task.

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