Legends from our own lunchtimes

Friday, June 08, 2012

We leave the river
Villeneuve-sur-Yonne to Migennes

We started the day just one more lock to negotiate before reaching civilised country once more, that place where nothing happens before nine, and no-one can be seen at lunch time.  Even the locks close for a snooze in the middle of the day.

Just one more.  We thought if we could time our run so that we  arrived at the second lock a little after nine, we'd be well on our way to a well earned lunch in yet another mediaeval city, and who knows, we could be tucked up on the canal by mid afternoon at worst.  

Our friend at the last lock of last evening, the one whose dogs took great joy in accompanying him as he walked to each end, responding to the merest tilt of his head, had made an appointment for us and assured us his colleague would have the next lock ready at quarter past eight.   That seemed like the perfect time to arrive, so we did, not a minute before, to find the lock far from ready.

Not only was it still filled with water, which can be a great inhibitor for those wanting to go up, but there was no sign of life to be found.   The door to the office was open, the doors and windows to the cottage were open, the workshop also open, was completely devoid of life-signs.    I'm not sure whether he saw me first or vice-versa, but a harried looking lock keeper poked his head out from behind a curtain and explained with some concern on his face that he was very sorry to have kept us, he was not hiding, but his cat had gone missing and it was a very fat cat and would not be very good on the road.

He emptied the lock while absenting himself from time to time, and we entered and secured ourselves at the exact time an elderly lady made some signals for him to come and to be quiet as he did.  He excused himself and tip-toed over to his vegetable garden.  With the joy that only a father looking at a sleeping child could know, he smiled at the cat curled up in his turnip patch, hiding in the sun.   Returning to us bursting with relief and to his astonishment that he discovered that he could suddenly speak English, and proceeded to do so as if he had until the lock filled to tell everything he knew.

Tonight we are back on the canal, at Migennes at the very top of the Canal de Bourgogne.  A few days ago battling wind and ships and current and a schedule that was very close to being far too optimistic,  perhaps we would have been happy to have the river behind us.  

Tonight it is fair to say, we are going to miss it.


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