Sunday 27 October 2019

Reims (eavesdropping on the radio)

The dragon ladies of Reims
When Karen & Buddy were on their morning run on Friday Karen rang me to suggest I could leave and meet her a few kilometres upstream at the first lock of the day.  This was a good idea, indeed one we both rejected earlier for a reason neither of us could remember, as it would save some time on the longish journey we had planned for the day.  There was a hitch, a commercial was just coming out of the lock where we were moored and as he was laden, he would hinder our progress.  So, I said no and we left when she returned 30 minutes later.

Friday was another one of those days where the forecast promised much, full sun all day and temperatures 20+.  The sun hardly made an appearance and I doubt the temperatures reached more than 16 so it was on with a coat for much of the journey.

After a few kilometres we were at the first lock.  This was one of four in a chain meaning that once you get in the chain, the following locks set themselves ready for you. 

Flowers beginning to go over on the lock bridges
As I approached the lock, I could just see the commercial leaving it and ended up following him to the outskirts of Reims leaving about a kilometre gap between us.  One of his mates was obviously on a boat in front of him but out of sight as they were having a good old radio conversation on the ship to ship channel.  It’s always funny listening in to these conversations; they tend to speak really fast so consequently only about a tenth of the words are recognisable, so you don’t get much of an idea what they’re chatting about. 

I just about made out that they were planning on meeting up on Sunday, but I couldn’t work out where or at what time.  At least I didn’t hear them mention the p√©niche Anglais or the bateau saucisson ūüėČ   

We pulled in at Port Colbert for lunch and tucked ourselves right at the end of the quay, so we were out of the way of the long line of commercials that were in various stages of loading and unloading.
After lunch we carried on and stopped at a supermarket the other side of Port Colbert.  I know we normally do a food shop on a Monday but as we could moor right next to this one it was ideal to stock up on bulky items.

Next stop was practically in the centre of town where a couple of bollards are provided by a fuel station.  I just did the two trips with the trolley and jerry cans and put 80 litres into the tank.  I could have got more but with such a busy road to cross and walk along decided to leave the rest until we are in Ch√Ęlons-en-Champagne next weekend.

Moored for diesel
The next stop would be the last of the day back at some bollards on the far side of the port at Reims. We have stayed on them before as it's handy for walking into town and also close to the stadium for tomorrow night’s match.  Karen & Buddy walked this last stretch as Buddy had been cooped up on the back of the boat most of the day.

Just before reaching the port at Reims there is a narrow section which is not wide enough for two large boats to pass but fine for us to pass one OK of course.

On the narrow stretch through Reims
On Friday we cruised 18 kilometres up four locks.

My first breakfast on Saturday contained a surprise; a birthday candle ūüėä

My daily pain au chocolate with an embellishment
The path opposite the boat had plenty of runners going up and down before the sun was up and, as it was Saturday, the rowers were setting off on their practice runs from about eight o’clock. 

Even the local dragon boat ladies were up early
Give them their due they were keeping perfect rhythm as they went off down the cut accompanied by the beat of a drum from the front.  They must have been fit too as they were gone for a good 40 minutes.

Following a long leisurely breakfast, we settled down to watch the England – New Zealand game and this was the first we have managed to watch live as opposed to on catch up which, for an unaccountable reason, added to the trepidation excitement.

As one of our Southampton supporting sons said after the match, ‘At least Saints didn’t lose by as many as New Zealand’.

After lunch we went for a walk up the cut and then out to the north east of Reims to find the large Parc de Champagne.  Considering Reims markets itself on being the capital of Champagne (other towns have the same claim), we have seen very few champagne houses here; however, on the way we passed Veuve Cliquot which seemed to have a few visiting tourists even this late in the season.

Looking across Reims from one of the Veuve Cliquot show vineyards 
It was a lovely warm day and we were surprised that when we entered the park it seemed practically empty.

Just a few people sitting on the benches
As we went further in, we could hear a loudspeaker and soon found that a cycling competition was deep in progress.  It was a sort of obstacle race through the woods, paths and grassy areas as the circuit contained steps where the competitors had to dismount and run carrying their bikes.  Anyway, it was exceedingly popular, and it seemed that everyone who would normally be promenading or picnicking in the park were spectating instead.  We watched for a while and then continued our walk.

After an early dinner we joined the crowds walking to the stadium to see our first French football game.  Rather ironically Reims are third in Ligue 1 (the French top league) whereas our UK team is third from bottom of the premiership.  Although there were no goals we 're still glad we went and fortunately Reims are red & white like Southampton so we could wear our supporter's scarves.

Sunday will probably be a stay at home day, at least for the rugby, as we're expecting rain.

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