Saturday, 30 March 2019

Laroche St. Cydroine (it feels like we’re on holiday)


Our first orange tip of the year

When Karen went for a run along the river on Thursday morning, she saw lots of butterflies including our first orange tip of the year.  As I mention every year in the blog, this butterfly is really our harbinger of spring and what a warm day it turned out to be on Thursday.  Whenever we were on the boat Buddy seemed to be so happy as he just lay outside stretched out in the sun.

After lunch we walked into Migennes to get a French data SIM card for the boat internet.  On Wednesday we had walked down the right bank into Migennes, so we decided to try the left bank this time.  It was more wooded but sheltered from the breeze and we saw more orange tips and also lots of cuckooflower (aka lady’s smock) which is one of the two main plants that orange tips lay their eggs on and the caterpillars subsequently eat.

Cuckooflower
Their other main foodplant is garlic mustard (aka Jack by the hedge) and is the one that we have more success with when searching for the eggs.  As with many butterflies the specific name is akin to its food plant specific name.  The orange tip is anthocharis cardamines and the specific name of cuckooflower is cardamine pratensis.

I’m sorry to witter on about butterflies but one more fact about the orange tip.  It has been accepted since the early 1900s that the orange tips resident in Great Britain are a separate subspecies to those in mainland Europe.  Also, those in Ireland are yet another subspecies.   So, the full Latin name for the UK butterfly is anthocharis cardamines ssp. britannica and the Irish form is anthocharis cardamines ssp. hibernica.

Anyway, back to SIM cards.  On one of our regular phone chats with Mike & Aileen, Aileen told us this week where the shop was in Migennes that sold SIM cards.  It was over two years since she had bought a SIM there, but the shop was still in business and we successfully purchased a data SIM from Free to replace the UK one from Three that we used for internet on the boat.  Quite a difference in price; we paid £30 a month for 100gig in the UK, the one from Free is only €19.99 a month and we can also use it for making calls.

Our boat looking a bit small when walking past our mooring on the way into Migennes
We used our UK data SIM in our router but, after research, we have found that ordinary phone SIMs are cheaper in France, so we will use a spare phone for data tethering rather than the router. This means we will have no need for the router whilst over here which is one less (fewer doesn’t sound right 😉) appliance needing 240-volt power.  So now we only need the inverter on to create 240 volts when using the food processors or the washing machine.

It wasn’t entirely successful as the SIM didn’t work in the spare phone; it only worked in our regular phones which we really want to keep with their UK numbers at present.  So, it will be a trip into Auxerre tomorrow to pick up a cheap second-hand phone that we can use.

Flood levels on one of the bridges we walked under

Back to wildlife, we did see one solitary swallow in the morning taking insects above the water.  It hung around for a while before it looked like it was carrying on with its journey northwards.

Friday’s two main tasks were to get rid of the car and get a cheap phone to enable us to have internet.  Auxerre is the nearest large town, so we headed off there in the morning before getting rid of the car.

Weather looking promising on Friday morning
We found a mobile phone shop and bought the cheapest phone we could get that met our needs.  We had hoped to get a recondition/used phone but there didn’t appear to be any shops that dealt in such goods.

Pleasant looking buildings above the modern shop fronts in the centre of Auxerre
After our purchase we wandered down to see what was happening on the river as there were some celebrations planned to mark the opening of the river to navigation on Saturday.

It was quite surreal as we walked along the river front.  It seemed that we knew nearly everyone we saw as we had met them back in Migennes.  They were a mixture of English and French people who live on their boats there but had driven down to Auxerre for the day to watch the activities.

It was quite fun as each party grappled with the opposite language, but practise helps build confidence.  We and the other Brits would speak French to one degree or another and the French guys were trying out their English, again to a greater or lesser extent.

The Yonne runs through Auxerre and we plant to come through here on Sunday
The boats to the right have overwintered in the port and we could see quite a lot of activity as people were getting them prepared for the cruising season.  The boats on the left are a mixture of trip boats and restaurant boats.

With such glorious weather and seeing people eating and drinking outside it really feels like we’re on holiday at the moment.  Our children wouldn’t understand that as they think we’re on holiday all the time 😊

There were a few boats on the move taking people on trips up and down the riverfront through the town.  Simon was there on one of his many lifeboats; he buys old lifeboats and restores them at his yard.  This particular one was a French one and he was showing off its firehose to the paying guests.

Photo taken by Judy Evans
On the way back to Migennes to drop the car off we called in at a place called Gurgy.  We planned to stop there overnight on Saturday and wanted to check out the mooring situation.  Of course, with the river currently closed, the pontoons were completely empty, but the water was on, so we’ll get a chance to top the tank up when we stopover.

When we got back to Migennes we left the car at Simon’s yard and walked back to the boat in Laroche.  We both admitted that it’s a lovely feeling to be carless again but accept we need one for getting back to the UK when we need to.  It really does appear to be the easiest way to travel over here when you have a non-lap dog (dogs have to be on laps in public transport and are also not allowed on Eurostar).

So, the locks open on Saturday morning and we are now really excited (and nervous) about setting off.

Oh, and there were several swallows catching the insects above the water as we watched the sun going down on Friday evening.

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