Dormans (battery, what battery?)

Our mooring for Wednesday night
After three days in Château Thierry we fancied moving on on Tuesday morning.  Even though there wasn’t a lot of sun it was a fairly warm day, so we had a pleasant cruise.  We are still on the River Marne trying to stay at and visit places we haven’t been to before.  We have until Sunday to get through a lock at Vandières which is closing for a few weeks for maintenance.  

Once through the lock it is only 18 kilometres to the end of the navigable river where we will join the Canal latéral à la Marne.  Our current plan is to stay at the far end of the river until well into October so we can finish off touching up the paintwork.  We know of three pontoons that are low in the water so we will have easy access to the sides of the boat.

We went up the lock at Mont-St-Père and moored up so we could fill up our water carriers  It was only noon when we finished so we carried on to Jaulgonne where we moored up for the day.

Tuesday mooring at Jaulgonne
I know it’s off at a tangent but when Karen was cooking later and needed a few cloves of garlic we were reminded once again that we have never bought garlic over here that fits in our English garlic jar 😊

After lunch we took a walk to the village of Varennes which turned out to not have a lot to offer other than a few farms, a mairie, a couple of champagne houses and a lavoir.

Unfortunately, for us, the lavoir had a solid door which was padlocked shut and also there were no windows.  This meant we couldn’t see inside until Karen noticed that the door was a sliding one and she was able to pull it back a couple of inches so we could see inside.

It was clearly used to store community items, but it was interesting to us as it had three wash pools.  This was the first we have come across with multiple pools.  Not only that, the pools were raised so the women had to stand to wash their clothes.  This was also unusual and is only the second one we have seen of that type.

The three wash pools of the Lavoir de Varennes
As usual, more information and pictures can be found by clicking here.

Whilst reading the notices outside the mairie it was interesting to see they suffer from the same invasive plants as we do.  There were warning posters about Himalayan Balsam and also Japanese Knotweed.

On the mairie noticeboard
When we returned to Jaulgonne we had a quick look around but there wasn’t really anything there.  They seemed to be proud that several of the vineyards around the village are owned by Moet & Chandon as was the same in Varennes earlier.

As it was the first of the month, we checked the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.  The fire alarm near the kitchen goes off fairly often when we create steam through cooking but we had noticed that it hasn’t happened over the last few days.  When testing it we found it didn’t work and upon opening the back we found there was no battery in there! 

This completely flummoxed us as we wouldn’t remove a battery without replacing it with a new one.  All we could think was that it was taken out during a particularly steamy cooking session with the intention of putting it back.  Then maybe it got mixed up and lost in the recycling pile, which is directly under the alarm, and then moved, unbeknownst, to the recycling bag in the cratch later. 

Anyway, all the other alarms were fine 😊

Our evening view at Jaulgonne
On Tuesday we cruised 14 kilometres up one lock.

While Karen was out on her run on Wednesday, she passed some stone kilometre markers.  We haven't seen many on this river and they have all been set a fair way back from the riverbank.  In the horse drawn days the markers would have been easily seen by a person walking the horse(s) or from the boat but nowadays, trees are allowed to grow so they end up hidden away.

Pk40 – 40 kilometres to the end of the navigable river at Dizy
Reading up about the history of the River Marne later I was surprised to learn that men also towed boats right up to the end of the 1800s.  They could pull a Freycinet sized barge, 38 metres long weighing 250+tonnes, up to 800 metres an hour.  This was compared to a pair of horses who could operate at over 2kph.  Of course, horses had to be fed and housed so were more expensive compared with a bargee towing his own barge.

We set off at mid-morning and even though it was a lovely sunny day there was a stiff breeze.  This made it ideal to dry the washing as we cruised along 😊

Fortunately, those black clouds missed us!
We did drop the whirligig down going through locks to ensure we didn’t catch it on anything.

We stopped for lunch when we reached Dormans and ended up staying there for the rest of the day.  On a walk later, we went through the town to top up with fruit from the greengrocer that we rather liked when we visited previously.

Moored at Dormans – ideal for paint prepping
As the sun was still out and no rain was forecast, we got on with prepping the left hand (port) side of the boat.  For some reason this side has very few paint chips compared with the other side and we’re not sure why that is.

We'd managed to avoid hearing the result of the French rugby match during the day so had a tense evening watching it on catch up.  Yet another game that had us on the edge of our seats but at least the French came through in the end.  Sorry Kiwis, but we're rationing our viewing of games to the UK home nations and the French until we get to the knockout stages.

On Wednesday we covered nine kilometres and went up one lock.

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