Legends from our own lunchtimes

Friday, September 22, 2017

Cushions- Tuesday 19th September
Sarreguemines


I’ve been rabbiting on about the inclement nature of the great outdoors for weeks now.   We’ve been content thus far to wait it out, to scamper out when the sky clears just a bit and make the best of it, but by lunchtime, with visibility still barely enough to find the back door we gave up and wandered off into the mist regardless.

We are not the kind of people who are normally moved to buy stuff just because it's there, however while wandering through the city streets the combination of cabin fever and finding what we both agreed were exactly the right cushions for our couch proved to be a potent mix.   If the words “by lunchtime” in the paragraph  above had been noted, then one would understand that the time the perfect cushions were discovered in the shop window coincided with that great hour or two in France when shops remain steadfastly closed, and our credit cards remained once more un-tattered.

With no ball of string handy to enable us to find the place again, defeated, we disappeared into the gloom wondering if we would ever find them again or if they had merely been a trick of the light.

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Sarreguemines at last. - Monday 18th September
Sarreguemines


Having only travelled or not travelled as the case may be through forests and farmland since our return to the northern hemisphere, when the sounds of a city began to make themselves heard above Mr Perkins’ flatulence it came as something of a rude awakening.

The silence to which we have very much become accustomed was replaced initially with the unmistakable sounds of vehicles travelling on damp highways, then stuck in traffic, interspersed with the odd siren, truck brake and motorcycle.   This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it signals that we are about to arrive at our destination, and while the presence of the ambient noise of a city is perhaps a little less pleasant than the lack it, it can also serve as a reminder of how privileged we are to be able to move at will, and simply stop in the middle of everything for a time.

So here we are, privileged this time to be camped opposite the very heart of Sarreguemines, with our choice of bridge to cross when we wish to immerse ourselves in it, and our choice of bakery to sample when we don’t. 

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A change of culture. - Sunday 17th September
Wittring


It’s a bit of reflection on the pace of our travels that Maggie and Jacques were able to join us for lunch today.  Seventy-five kilometres we’ve travelled, that’s an hour and a half by car along the scenic route, or as it happens, three weeks by boat.  

The weather robbed us of a perfect end to a very pleasant day by intervening just as we were about to set out on the customary Sunday post-luncheon walk.  Our little explorations yesterday had confirmed that Wittring is a pleasant little village that like so many places in this region offer small clues that its place in France is an accident of politics rather than of culture.

For instance, it exhibits a different sort of “tidy”, which is not particularly obvious until one notices that everything is painted to within an inch of its life.   Shutters have ancient hardware that is still functional.   Gardens are carefully tended with graphic effects in contrasting gravel.  There’s an order that seems to be underlying. Could it be that what we had taken for security fencing surrounding the boat club is actually the opposite?  Perhaps it is we who are carefully screened from view so that our scruffiness will not offend.
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Wires crossed. - Saturday 16th September
Wittring


I should have suspected something when I called out in French enquiring if there was any room for us for the night, and the Port Captain understood what I was saying.  To compound our astonishment we understood him. 

Here, just a few metres from the French-German border French is spoken with a particular accent which I suspect has evolved from the Alsatian language.  Since most people speak all three of the local tongues, our mono-lingual heritage puts us at a clear disadvantage in the communication stakes. 

It’s not normally a simple matter for us to understand or be understood.  For instance there are at least four ways to correctly pronounce “Wittring”  ranging from the “wit-ring” to something like “vit-rung” and everything in between.   That means there’s a one in four chance that the person one is addressing will actually catch a hint of what the message actually is.   None the less, buoyed by our introductory success, the Captain and we seemed to be getting along quite well until he asked if we’d like him to pick up some bread for us in the morning. 

“About ten o’clock on Monday", I replied, "but we’ll only be going as far as Sarreguemines”.
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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The calm after the storm. - Friday 15th September
Sarralbe


Penny and Bob had not been gone ten minutes when the sun came out.   

The morning had begun with more promise than we’d seen in some time so after replenishing our stock of strawberry tarts and baguettes, they with their bags packed and neatly stacked ready to leave, we cast off for a little joy ride up the lock before returning to drop them by their car.

It seems as though we had barely completed our farewells, perhaps we hadn’t, when the sun began to shine and the breeze dropped to a whisper, creating perfect weather for moving on.   We looked at each other and nodded knowingly.  Communicating wordlessly we grabbed our books and lay in the sun, deciding as one that tomorrow might be a better day to think about moving on after all.
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Not good. - Thursday 14th September
Sarralbe


One is not filled with hope and joy when one checks the weather forecast before retiring to be greeted by this description: 

“The morning will be raining with temperatures reaching eleven degrees and winds at forty kilometres per hour.   The afternoon will be not good.”

We could of course have taken the opportunity in the morning before the weather turned “not good” to run across the road and taken refuge in the bar with its wonderful crocodile shaped shutter cutouts, but more than our sorrows would surely have been drowned on the way.  

Instead we frittered away the day with our little heater chugging away, playing dominoes and drinking coffee and laughing and reading between snoozes, along the way discovering that the life of a wastrel does have certain attractions, unless of course one is living in our fore cabin where things were starting by now to become quite damp in places.
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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Cabin Fever. - Wednesday 13th September
Sarreguemines


Had things gone according to plan, we may have arrived in Sarreguemines today instead of being cooped up in a boat the interior of which was becoming smaller with every passing storm.   But things did not.  To distract ourselves from the sloth and gluttony which had pretty much consumed our lives for the past few days we thought perhaps a day trip in the car would be in order.

Of course, now fully in the swing of taking things easy, by the time we managed to collectively drag ourselves out of bed, there was only time for a half-day trip.  Thankfully though since it doesn’t take terribly long to drive fifteen kilometres even in lashing rain, we did make it to Sarreguemines for lunch, just before the restaurant kitchens closed for the afternoon as it happens.

We found a bit of colour the Ceramics Museum in the afternoon. As we sheltered in its “winter room”, designed for keeping exotic plants from the tropics alive during the cold winter months, we discovered it had benefits for exotic people from the sub-tropics as well, and we noted as we basked in its colour and its quite artificial warmth that the pair from South Australia weren’t complaining either. 

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Will we go or will we stay. - Tuesday 12th September
Sarralbe


The weather forecast suggested that while today’s weather was nasty, tomorrow’s would quite possibly be a lot worse, and the day after is likely to be worse still.

The last time saw sunshine while peering through the arch in the centre of the village was last Thursday, and the fourteen day forecast suggested that that could well be the last time we’ll see it.  Ever!    With guests aboard who had travelled from Australia then driven half way across a country to be with us, there was just a little pressure from within (no matter how kindly their assurances,) to give them a taste of the cruising life by moving on.   We would have too if the forecast had only been for cold, or rain, or cold and rain, but instead cold and rain was going to combine with increasing gale force gusts which were already appearing intermittently, and these conditions were set to worsen.

We’d like to think it was wisdom and experience that came to the fore when we opted to remove all uncertainty and give them a taste of the cruising life by simply staying in one spot and doing not much for the next few days, but really we’d had a lot of practice at dominoes lately, and if ever we were going to beat anyone, this could be our opportunity.
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The wait ends. - Monday 11th September
Sarralbe


We were going to wander over to the supermarket so we could be fully provisioned by the time Bob and Penny arrived, but it was blustery and cold and wet and the thought of taking a four and a bit kilometre walk in the rain, half of it carrying a week’s worth of stuff wasn’t a terribly exciting one.

Instead we sat around snug, waiting for them to arrive in the not terribly vain hope that we could cajole them into driving us.  They did of course, and while we shopped we talked without ceasing in the way that people do when they haven’t seen each other for years.   Why is it that we try to tire each other out in the first few hours, when we could be pacing ourself for a week?

Perhaps it’s to leave time for new conversations, to solve the problems of the world, or just to endlessly discuss the meaning of the bronze sculpture that we can see from the boat, vaguely in the form of a fish but containing so many other forms…

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

We’ll wait here. - Sunday 10th September
Sarralbe


It’s turned chilly now, seriously so, and blustery and wet with funny patches where the sky turns blue for a bit apparently to let a bit more wind through.  It’s a very good day as it turns out, to be going nowhere so we decide that this is where Bob and Penny should meet us and we settled in for the wait.

One of us decided she’d try to complete her knitting project from hell, the one that started as a jumper for a barely newborn, then was going well enough sized for a two year-old before the almost two year old started growing to the point where he’d fill the space of a four year-old.   Yes, that very same one where sleeve patterns didn’t match and the back was skew-whiff and now the shoulders need re-construction.

With the air in the boat turning almost as blue as the sky without, the other of us took off fearing to look back lest he should  be turned into a pillar of salt, for a walk up the tow path to check out the finer details of the prefabricated iron canal bridge, assembled in place in 1864 that a chap named Eiffel either did or didn’t have something to do with, leaving the other to knit and purl in solitude.
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Washing Day. - Saturday 9th September
Sarralbe


Juergen and Ele lingered as long as they could, choosing a brief break in the drizzle to make their escape, leaving us to all those feelings one has when a visit that is too short comes to an end.  

Feelings such as: “Will the washing dry in this weather?”

The answer to that should have been obvious, but one of us is undauntable,  and therefore proceeded to hang, unhang and rehang smalls (and a few larges) on our trusty clothes line, racing in an out in the lulls between squalls to give them as much “outside time” as possible, while the other watched in his usual state of bemusement.    

Perhaps the greatest bemusement of all was provided by the small procession of bridal parties intent on having their big day recorded with our fabulous boat in the background oblivious no doubt until they view the proofs for the first time, to the gorgeous array of underware behind their heads.
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We'll be watching you. - Friday 8th September
Sarralbe


Juergen and Ele are travelling between visiting a friend somewhere in the Black Forest and their boat somewhere on the other side of France, and while they didn’t actually need a stop, we all agreed it would be a great opportunity to catch up if they’d care to stay for a night.  

It’s fair to say that a rollicking good time was had by all, tucked snug as we were,  cosseted even in the little quay with its private parkland and services and internet provided for our use courtesy of the local community.  

While security is rarely a concern for us in our travels, it is fair to say that the community here treats security fairly seriously.  It’s rare to find a place so meticulously free of graffiti or even litter.  While it's probable that the level of lighting and the security cameras contribute significantly to that outcome, we wonder if the fact that the cameras aren’t exactly covert helps just a little as well.
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Monday, September 11, 2017

And now for Sarralbe - Thursday 7th September
Sarralbe



Although it goes a little against the grain when one is trying to explore at random, we used the GPS today to find the supermarket that we knew was somewhere on the outskirts of town.  What we didn’t understand at the time was the word “was”, so we cleverly moored on the quay we’d stayed at last time we were here as it too was on the outskirts and closer to the supermarket than our final destination.  Armed with this technology we confidently set off to replenish our somewhat depleted larder at the supermarket just one-point-two kilometres away.

The problem with that was that the supermarket had closed since our map was last updated, but one-point-two kilometres from that one, there was another, which curiously was also exactly one-point-two kilometres from where we’d started out.

After lunch and a good, but altogether too brief lie down after our excursion, we cast off once again and descended down one more lock to find our place on the town quay, a puzzlingly yet gorgeously well prepared spot with free electricity and internet and just a few hundred metres from the centre of town.   

Sarralbe is truly a place of contrast.  It is well cared for and clean and in good repair and closed.   There is nothing to compel one to stay at the best facilities that EU money can provide, yet we feel we owe it to the town to use them for just a bit.  So we will.

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Friday, September 08, 2017

Weather. - Wednesday 5th September
Harskirchen


Harskirchen is a much prettier place than the above photograph might imply, but the weather today did it no favours.  Someone has awarded it a two flower ranking in the flowery villages of France at some time in it’s history. No doubt that was on a bright sunny day, not at all like today which was neither bright nor sunny.   

The first squall of the day, and there were many to follow, arrived as they always do exactly as we were trying to dock.   Because the port was devoid of boats and there were no witnesses to tell the tale, the wind just took us in exactly the direction we would have preferred to have gone.  We were able to tie off without fuss, looking as though we really knew our stuff, and quietly retired to a warm coffee leaving the squall outside to do what squalls do.

By mid afternoon, tired of retreating from the weather, we decided to take our chances between weather fronts and set off on our bicycles to find one of the still working water powered flour mills that the district boasts.  If we were lucky, we’d be able to have a pizza cooked from the flower we had watched being ground.

It seems that we’d used all our luck in our docking procedure this morning though, as when we arrived at the mill, naturally it was closed now that the holiday season is over, and is only open on weekends.  It was so closed in fact that we weren’t even able to sneak a view of the wheel,  although we could hear it turning and that probably counts for something although we did manage to get ourselves home dry and warm which probably counts for something more!

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Thursday, September 07, 2017

...but we can’t hide. - Tuesday 4th September
Neuweyerhoff


We weren’t long back from our ‘bread run’ to the bakery in Harskirchen half a dozen kilometres away when we noticed a pair of cyclists on the other side of the canal staring at our boat.  It turns out they were staring at our bikes initially, then they noticed our flag and became curious.  

Paul and Shirley were from somewhere in New South Wales, camping and cycling on their very nice folding bikes on a route that scribed rather a large arc from Frankfurt to Amsterdam by way of Switzerland and we were only the second of their countrymen that they’d met since setting out.  It seemed only proper that we should invite them to stop for lunch and they graciously allowed our intrusion on their schedule.  Since one of them was restricted to a gluten-free diet, this turned out to be quite an economical affair from our perspective, and as a bonus there was enough of our baguette left to last us till tea time.

A rollicking good time was had by all until, as if to highlight the contrast in our chosen means of transportation, they rode off toward the horizon with sixty kilometres or so remaining to complete their day, and we settled in for a gentle nap.
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Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Lonely as a cloud! - Monday 3rd September
Neuweyerhoff


Today the summer holidays are over and it’s back to school, not just for the children apparently but also for all the parents and grandparents who variously own or hire boats.  

We  don’t have to work too hard any more to find another nice quiet little patch of forest, so after an arduous five or six kilometres travelled and three more locks successfully negotiated this one with a cleared spot and picnic tables seemed like the perfect spot to rest for a couple of days while we recovered from the morning’s effort.

Now into our second week of almost solitude, we are starting to become a little foggy from all the lying about and reading, so we’ve resorted to something we’d heard about some time ago.  It’s called conversation and it’s really quite pleasant as long as it’s not overdone.   Too much conversation can lead to things called “games” involving playing cards and dice and scores written on scraps of paper.  These were apparently quite popular in lesser times, before television and the internet were invented and it must be said in the right circumstances seem to provide a good deal more amusement than for instance, simply staring into space for hours on end. 

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One man's trash! - Sunday 3rd September
Mittersheim


Mittersheim is a quiet little village where nothing ever happens, yet the town has provided a lovely marina structure and promenade right at the edge of a beautifully maintained park, so we always feel it would be rude if we didn’t avail ourselves of the facility.  

When we arrived yesterday afternoon, there were few boats to keep us company and there was someone hanging safety tape along the water’s edge.   That perhaps should have given us a clue.

We really couldn’t say what time the sound of vehicles being unloaded began this morning, but it’s suffice to say that it was long before the time we would even consider leaving the warmth of our bed to find out.  By nine, even with the morning fog showing no sign of lifting, the flea market was well underway albeit with a lesser crowd than we were accustomed to at events such as this.  We needn't have worried.

The sun did come out eventually, bringing with it the Sunday hordes both pre and post-luncheon and despite being moored in the absolute thick of it, we did manage to get our washing up to date without anyone knocking on the side window and making an offer for our undies as a job lot.
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The day we rode to Rhodes - Saturday 2nd September
Ferme d’Albeschaux to Mittersheim



We could have just moved on without visiting Rhodes, but had we done that we would not have had bread for lunch, nor could we have said we’d been to Rhodes and we'd like to go back one fine sunny day.

Etang du Stock, the great lake on which it is situated is doubtless many times the size of Sydney Harbour although for reasons which I’m sure are quite clear to a Commission in the EU Parliament, the “Syd’arb” had not yet been approved as a unit of measure of waterway volume in France, so we shall probably never know.  Of course even with this great volume of the wet stuff, and even though the water is used ultimately to feed the canals on which we travel, boats such as ours are prohibited from the lake.   Something to do with stuff we have already digested finding it’s way into what appears to be a reasonably well cared for, but quite sensitive ecosystem.   

Fair enough too, and the bikes did seem to enjoy the run although given that the lake is not much more than a metre below the level of the canal, it was a bit of a surprise to discover that the road was not the usual pancake flat affair, but seemed to undulate more than was absolutely necessary in half a dozen kilometres.  At one point in our little adventure one of us has to admit to dropping back to second gear on one little hillock although he would offer that he quite possibly only did so so as not to get too far ahead of the other.
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Tuesday, September 05, 2017

The last of the Summer Jim-Jams - Friday 1st September
Ferme d’Albeschaux


We slept late today as people who have perhaps been a little chillier than they’d prefer during the night are wont to do.   As the forecast had warned it would, a twenty five degree reduction in temperature overnight had brought with it an element of sombre mist and an absence of sunlight that was still with us well after ten.

This may not be winter, but it will serve as a warning that a change of season is on the way, and we can now look forward to a different kind of discomfort perhaps not involving solar hitting panels at all.   By the time we’d cycled into the village to find some bread and pottered around and eaten it and checked the forecast several times more, it was clear that no change in outlook was expected.

Given that a change is a good thing, if none in the weather was forthcoming, then we would make one of our our own.  

We moved a few kilometres to a new piece of forest or technically to a small clearing on Albeschaux’ Farm and amazingly, before we could even say “afternoon nap” and no doubt to the astonishment of forecasters around the globe, we were bathed in sunshine under almost clear blue sky.  

This of course made us feel just the slightest amount of guilt as out of respect for the forecasts perhaps, we wasted the afternoon horizontally immersed in the depths of our respective books.
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A blog post about staring into space. Thursday 31st August
Diane Capel



Well now it’s raining, and if we’d spent our time installing “cloud panels” instead of solar ones, perhaps we’d have enough battery reserve so that we didn’t have to watch everything quite carefully, but it’s five nights since the last proper charge and we were just starting to look ruefully at the empty can of generator fuel.

We were starting to look ruefully at the only piece of exposed wiring in the panel installation as well,  the bit with the plug to allow the roof to slide, in the hope we could see some current pouring down it, but alas the only thing pouring down was rain outside.  We needn’t have worried though, even if we had been, as our friend Phllippe happened to be passing in his car between showers and decided to drop in to see if we, marooned as we were so far from civilisation, were in need of anything.

By mid afternoon he’d returned with a jar of generator petrol, and a few hours later our state of charge was once again ready for all that the weather could throw at it for at least a few days to come.    

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Sunday, September 03, 2017

The theme becomes recurrent. - Wednesday 30th August
Diane Capel


Tomorrow it will rain all day according to the forecast, and that may not necessarily be what the solar panel doctor ordered.   With battery power already somewhat diminished after two days of inactivity, high temperatures keeping the refrigerator drawing more than the usual current, and of course our insistence on finding shade for our own comfort, we thought it best to move on just a bit.

After barely enough time to replenish the batteries for just one night, we err… found a tree under which we could while away the warm if somewhat sultry afternoon, and began to wonder why we hadn’t bought fuel for the generator “just in case”.
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Shade is good. - Tuesday 29th August
Bataville


With nothing to do and all day to do it, and with no relief from the heat in sight, we thought perhaps we’d best find some deeper shade for the entire day.

This turned out to be a splendid decision, although it did involve travelling almost two kilometres and negotiating two locks, leaving us sufficiently fatigued by ten in the morning that we were able to rustle up just enough energy to scavenge a large bowl of blackberries before assuming our respective recumbent positions and resuming where we had left off yesterday.

Sadly the depth of shade left us no wiser as to whether the solar panels were a good thing, but sufficient current was flowing to assure us that all was probably well.
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I think that I shall never see a thing as lovely as a tree. - Monday 28th August
not far from Lagarde


The last heatwave of summer continues unabated, and it seemed logical that we should begin our cruise by seeking out the only form of relief open to us.  We could we thought, sit or perhaps even lie under a shady tree for the day, and we know this spot less than a kilometre away.

We did have rather a pleasant time of it all, absorbed in doing nothing at all, reading, dozing, perhaps occasionally sucking fingertips devoid of prints, but thanks to the immediate application of ice (and perhaps to the fact that the burn was nowhere near as bad as it felt at the time), with no obvious long term damage.

To add to the perfection of the afternoon, there may have even been chocolate.

Unfortunately this  shade stuff gave no indication of whether the solar panels were working adequately but we at least we knew that current would flow with the roof rolled back. 

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The stuff of nIghtmares - Sunday 27th August
Luneville


Having spent all of yesterday and a little of the day before spreadeagled, inverted and jammed into tiny spaces of a sauna, while bits of fibreglass and sawdust worked their way into sweat filled body crevices, it was difficult to see how connecting a few wires could be anything less than a doddle.   That was before one of us picked up the soldering iron, cleaned the tip, removed it, warning the other that it was very hot before immediately picking said tip up with bare fingers to put it away.

That does tend to take one’s mind off all the tiny splinters of copper, and cuts and nicks and bangmarks on every other part of one’s body, and it does take one’s mind off all of one’s other aches for a time too.   Suddenly one’s thoughts turned to that weaving exhibition in Sarrebourg of two days ago, and one began to understand with new clarity, exactly how Picasso was feeling.

Eventually though, the soldering was done, the new connections fitted and the teeniest bit of current flowing from panel to battery.  On shore power with batteries fully charged there is no way to do a complete test but we’ll be underway tomorrow and then we’ll find out if it was worth the pain.

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It all seemed so simple. - Saturday 26th August
Lagarde


We could have slept longer and almost did, but thankfully one of us remembered that we had to take the car back in the nick of time, and in doing so we managed to pick up just a few more last minute essentials before the taxi returned us well before coffee time to what would become become our oven for the day.  Outside temperatures were hovering once again in the mid thirties, inside does not bear further discussion.

Most people would think that installing some solar panels would be a simple thing, and to most people perhaps it would.   Most people don’ t have the complexity of a sliding roof to deal with, nor perhaps a personality that refuses to allow any visible evidence of cable betwixt battery and panel.   Most people might have packed their stuff in boxes before starting too instead of spreading the contents of all cupboards as well as half the bed structure where it would get in the way time after time.  It all just added to the joy of working in a steam box while contorted.

Thus the remainder of the day was spent trying not to spread too much sawdust or fibreglass dust mixed with sweat through all the cupboards, as pelmets and structures were disassembled, new parts inserted and all put back together again in an exercise that admittedly produced results which did not reflect anywhere near the number of bad words that were uttered during it’s course.   The wiring is in, the panels in place, tomorrow; we connect.
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Shopping and thinking of Solar panels Friday 25th August
Luneville and Lagarde


With Jørn and Birgit gone before most civilised breakfasts had begun, and now only one day left with a car to do our bits and pieces, a little serious providoring was in order followed perhaps by some solar panel installation or at least thinking about it.    

The day was the opposite of bleak, uncomfortably hot, relieved only by the few hours spent in the air-conditioned car and supermarkets and wandering in the giant hardware stores in search of parts to ensure that all the new wiring would be satisfyingly hidden when eventually it came to be done.   There’s nothing glamorous or even entertaining to tell of this day.  Like so many others it was spent mostly in ugly big box stores, or curled up in tiny spaces with tape and pencil in hand, making mental notes with the veil of jetlag ever so slightly obscuring every thought.

But the glow of yesterday in Sarrebourg remained cheerily embedded in our memory and desreved at least one more photograph.
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Surrealism and other arty things - Thursday 24th August
Sarrebourg

Jørn and Birgit had finished wintering “Miss Elly” a day early as it turns out, which would have enabled them to make a very comfortable two day drive of the eleven hour commute to their home had we not turned up when we did.   Over dinner last night we hatched a plan to waste their day too. Not only would they stay aboard with us this evening despite the less than advanced state of our unpacking, but we would declare this day a “play day”.  As long as they could cope with juggling our luggage, we would put off attending to the “lived in” state of the boat for another, better day much further into the future.

We’ve all been to Sarrebourg often of course, it being similar to Luneville in terms of proximity and size and supermarkets and railway station, although none of us had actually visited with our tourist heads on.   Thus it was that when we came at last to visit Marc Chagall’s famous and it should be said quite wonderful stained glass in the Chapel of the Cordeliers, we couldn’t believe we’d left it so long.  Then, when we chanced upon the adjoining exhibition of woven works by Yvette Cauquil-Prince  undertaken in collaboration with the likes of Chagall, Picasso, Ernst and Kandinsky it was like the icing on a very big cake indeed.

it’s astonishing to discover that these wonderful collections have been lurking right under our noses all this time although to be fair to us Mme Cauqul-Prince’s stuff is not a permanent exhibition.   Wondrously gob=smacking though it all was, perhaps the sweetest and for that matter surreal experience of the day came with our discovery that  the parking meters in Sarrebourg refuse to accept coins between mid day and two pm when they, like the rest of us, are at lunch!

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