|Serenity, tranquillity & peace after being released from our lock home|
|Similar designs in Cendrecourt|
At Ormoy we found three lavoirs, two of which were simple, waterside washing stones on the lock cut through the village.
The picture on the left also shows the flood gates under the bridge. These were preventing the swollen river from damaging the lock cut; they will open automatically when the levels either side equalise.
When we arrived at Corre we were surprised how many boats were in the marina and visitors' mooring alongside but soon realised that quite a few were holed up there waiting for the river to reopen. As soon as we got out of the car, we met a British couple who were off to meet friends for lunch but not before they explained how they were travelling down to the south on their boat having finally got over to France in May. We were particularly looking for Sally & Glen who we knew were moored at Corre and finally found them on the visitors' mooring.
We sat chatting on their back deck for a couple of hours and it soon transpired how many friends we had in common on the waterways in France. As they are heading north in front of us, we asked them about the mooring that we weren't able to find on the journey up and they explained how to find it from the road. We would see a La Poste sign outside a house that opens as a post office for a couple of hours on two or three mornings a week. The mooring would be reached by walking down what appears to be the cottage’s drive – no wonder we couldn’t find it. On our way home, we stopped at Montureux-lès-Baulay again and this time found the mooring which was in a wonderful location just as the pictures described.
By Tuesday morning the level gauges showed the water in the lock had gone down by nearly 1.50 metres since we were moved into it and the reach below had dropped by 2.70 metres.
|Two days ago the water was 20cm from the top of the gauge and the weir couldn't be seen|
We were definitely getting back to normal and expected the river would open later in the day. Of course, it couldn’t be re-opened where we were until VNF disconnected us from their electricity supply and opened the lock for us. They turned up at 8.00am and told us the river was reopening that morning so we could move out of the lock as soon as we were ready. Like when we went into the lock we jumped at the chance to move out, albeit for about 100 metres upstream back to the lovely mooring we'd been on when we were moved into lock five days previously. Our plan was to stay there while Karen worked for a couple of days and then we'd head to Corre and the Canal des Vosges on Thursday.
|Moored back above the lock on Tuesday morning|
|Buddy’s favourite place|
Once we were settled back on the mooring, I took the car to Corre to meet Sally. She was kindly driving me back to the boat so we wouldn’t have to worry about moving the car while we travelled up the remainder of the river. The journey there and back went without mishap, and we now owe Sally & Glen a return favour. That won’t be difficult as they're car hopping this year too and following the same route as us so we’re bound to bump into each other again.
It was another hot day therefore Buddy still didn’t need walking much and I rigged up our spare parasol to cast some shade for him on the bank. I also took advantage of the parasol shade as I ‘d removed two of the side hatches to revarnish them and had somewhere to let them dry between coats, out of the direct sunlight.
I came across a photograph, dating from the 1900s, of the weir next to the lock we’d been in. In those days it was a needle dam which was controlled by men having the arduous task of removing or inserting needles as appropriate, according to the levels and the flow. When we were on the River Marne in 2019, we were amazed to come across two needle dams that were still in operation. The photo was taken in the summer judging by the fly netting on the lock cottage door and the fact that there are only a few needles removed. Mind you, if it'd been like the week we'd just had then there wouldn’t have been any needles in at all, so you can’t always tell 😉
Buddy caused us some embarrassment on Tuesday evening. Every morning and evening a small herd of Charolais walk along the road opposite us and over the bridge. It generally goes without mishap, but Buddy decided to bark at them from the back deck (the only time he barks is if he sees something unusual) and this unnerved them, and they went crashing into the wood beside the road. The farmer appeared and after some while finally managed to get them to come out, but we kept ourselves hidden inside in case he realised the cause of the skirmish came from the boat.
August is usually the hottest month over here, so we’ve often thought that it would be a good time to take a holiday and catch up with the family back in the UK. The heatwave of 2019 set us on that track but last year it wasn’t possible because of the health situation. This year suddenly looked promising when the UK announced that fully jabbed visitors from the EU could avoid isolating for ten days. This soon backfired on us when they then said it only applied to people vaccinated in the UK followed quickly by saying it wouldn’t apply to France anyway. As it now seems both France and England are getting closer to at least one of them putting the other on their red list we’ve decided to bite the bullet and go over before it’s too late.
Of course, we’ve a few things to arrange like covid testing, vet visit for Buddy and not least, finding somewhere to leave the boat for a month. After a successful couple of hours of research and planning we think we can make it back next Thursday so have booked return tunnel tickets. We will stay with our friends, Maureen & Garry, for a couple of nights on the way back to Calais. They are in Metz, taking part in the biennial hot air balloon festival and this will be a good opportunity to attend. Records won’t be broken this year as many participants from outside of Europe won’t be travelling, especially the Brits.
Wednesday dawned hot and bright, pretty much as the long-range forecast says it will be for the next few weeks with the odd chance of a thunderstorm thrown in.
|A bit of mist over the fields at 6.00am on Wednesday|
In the hot weather Buddy wants to get outside about two hours earlier than his usual getting up time of 9.00am. We don’t blame him as it is the coolest part of the day.
|Enjoying the early morning scents and sights|
The river was practically back to normal levels and looked like there was only about 20 cm further to drop. We never took a picture when it was at its highest and just about to go over the lock, but you can sort of see the then and now differences, especially looking at the lock landing. Fingers crossed that this is the last time we have to talk about floods this summer.
As expected, a lot of boats had come through on Tuesday once the river was open and we must have seen at least 15, all but two of which were heading downstream in the opposite direction to us. Wednesday started busy too but in the end, there weren’t quite as many boats but nearly all were going downstream again, so it bodes well for us finding a decent mooring when we set off on Thursday.
I spent a lot of Wednesday morning booking appointments which isn’t as easy as it sounds, not just because of having to have conversations in French, but because of the timings. Buddy needs his appointment between one and five days before travel and we need our covid test within three days of travelling. After sorting that out it was a matter of booking day two & eight mandatory covid tests in the UK and also the day five release test. Fortunately, the price of tests has come down dramatically in England and more than halved since we last had to have one back in February. The French ones are still free for nationals and residents, but this is coming to an end soon as one of the government ploys to encourage people to get vaccinated rather than keep testing themselves. They started charging tourists at the beginning of July but I must admit we couldn't understand why they were ever free.
During the afternoon Mary-Jane & Michael on Olivia Rose came past, and we chatted briefly as they slowed to wait for the lock. It was Mary-Jane’s book that Ian McCaulay had reviewed for the Dutch Barge Association and was the source of the lavoir joke in a recent blog entry.
In the evening we heard the first signs of local youth, since we’d been here, in the form of excited screams followed by splashes. They were balancing on the bridge railings, in pairs, before diving into the water below. I know swimming in the rivers is popular all over the world especially when it’s hot like now, but we were impressed at their balancing skills – each pair stood for ages before jumping in at the same time.
Following nine days without moving, other than going into the Conflandey lock for safety and then coming out again five days later, we set off for Montureux-lès-Baulay on Thursday morning. After five miles or so we were passing the mooring at Baulay where I’d stupidly left the car when the river was rising.
|Our car had been marooned behind the two poplars on the right|
A little further on we were approaching the only lock of the day:
Like all the river locks the water wasn’t particularly deep, at a little over two metres, but as the sides had added height to cope with raised water levels it meant Karen was up on the roof performing her own balancing act:
Coming into Montureux-lès-Baulay the first building we passed was the church whose Burgundian tiled roof was of a different design to others we’ve seen. Although it likely had the same number of tiles, and the colours are probably in the same proportion as the usual bell tower roofs, we were struck with how different the pattern made it look.
|Pictures can’t do the roof justice|
Soon after the lock we found the mooring we were looking for and saw that it was empty. About ten boats had passed us during the morning’s cruise so we were rather hoping that if anyone had been on the mooring overnight then they would have been one of the ones that had passed us.
|Moored at Montureux-lès-Baulay|
There were a lot of butterflies on the bank, but the heat of the day wasn’t making them very obliging. A painted lady did settle for a while and let me take a picture. For some reason, although they are very common butterflies, I always find it hard to find them at rest for any period of time.
|Painted lady (its fat abdomen indicates that it’s probably a female full of eggs)|
There was a water tap at the mooring, but boaters have to visit the post office to get it turned on. As the post office is only open for a couple of hours, three days a week, it’s a bit of a hit and miss affair. It was going to be open on Friday morning so we would be in luck, and when it opens I'll pop in and ask.
|La Poste lean-to behind the jeep|
As expected, the village was deserted when we went for a short walk after lunch. A small stream ran parallel with the main street through the village, and we let Buddy play and cool down in the water for a while.
|Playing hide & seek in the shade|
|Eastern exit to the village|
We tried to get better shots of the church roof but were still unlucky:
With a stream running through the village, we were duty bound to look for lavoirs. We found two, one of which had had its basin removed but had an attractive mural on the outside.
|The mural depicting lavandières doing their laundry|
Later in the afternoon a hire boat with two Swiss couples on board pulled up to share our mooring for the night. They were really rather sweet, asking if it was OK for them to moor with us. I do hope that it was out of plain good manners, and not because they’d had a hard time from another boater elsewhere. A bit later on a widebeam called Imagine turned up and the couple on board turned out to be English, Caroline & Tony. I went to help them moor up and said it would be fine to moor alongside us if they couldn't get into the bank. They managed to get in just in front of the Swiss boat and we popped around once they'd settled in and had a pleasant evening over a few drinks on their back deck.
On Thursday we cruised eight miles up one lock.