Sunday 9 August 2020

Caversham (Buddy’s on holiday)

Whilst catching up with the news before breakfast on Wednesday we sensed the lock next to our overnight mooring was filling up.  Looking out we saw it was Paul & Sue coming up on their way to Châlons-en-Champagne.  Like us, they are popping back to the UK for a few days but, unlike us, are leaving their boat in the port at Châlons whilst they’re back.  They managed to moor behind us and we sat outside for a relaxing breakfast together.  Buddy was beside himself when he saw their boat as he remembered being spoilt by them when they had him for a week last summer on one of our trips to England.  I should have said they half moored behind us as they were partly blocking the lock entrance but would have moved in the unlikely event a commercial wanted to come through.

After Paul & Sue left, we got on the move and moored up below the lock at Vraux which is a lovely mooring but unfortunately has no shade. 

Moored below the lock at Vraux

We walked back to Juvigny to pick up the car and when we returned, we realised that if we moved the boat over to the other side, we may get a bit of shade later in the day.

Moored on the other side 😉

Later in the afternoon we drove to Châlons to have dinner and a proper catch up with Paul & Sue.

On Wednesday we cruised three miles down two locks.

With a very hot day forecast for our last day in France for a while, we got ready to set off early but had to wait for a péniche to come past and up the lock before we could leave.  Because they take up the whole lock, the water that’s displaced from around the boat really struggles to find a way out.  This makes it a slow process and it takes them up to five minutes to get into the lock before they can close the gates.

Going in

We timed this guy and he wasn’t as slow as some – he managed it in under four minutes.  His wife was outside as they approached and went into the lock.  She was on the phone, talking to someone in a very animated and excited way; we assume she was talking about us or our boat as she was videoing us nearly the whole time they were inching past us.

Just in case proof were needed (of the time taken not the woman filming us!)

We didn’t have far to travel to Condé-sur-Marne and had no locks to negotiate so were there quite early in the day. 

Turning off the Canal latéral à la Marne onto the Canal de l’Aisne à la Marne at Condé

Moored at Condé

When we walked back to get the car, we decided we wouldn’t keep the car with us when we get back from the UK.  We had several ideas of where we could leave it for a few months and, as more than one person had mentioned trying Épernay, we drove over there in the afternoon to check it out.  The drive between Condé-sur-Marne and Épernay brought back happy memories of last year as the roads took as through the champagne vineyards. 

The suggestions had been that we ask at the port if we could leave the car in their carpark for a small fee.  The port's in the middle of town and doubles as a yachting and kayaking club.  There were no boats moored there which didn’t surprise us as there's so little pleasure boat traffic this year and it looked like there was no one around behind the security fencing. We found an unlocked gate and wandered around the site.  At the last shed we heard some noise and came across a guy who was rearranging some oars and other rowing accoutrements.  I assumed he was the capitaine and addressed him as such which seemed to please him.  It turned out he was the capitaine and we had one of those stilted French conversations where we got it across that were looking for somewhere to leave the car for a few months while we cruise and that we were prepared to pay a fee. 

It turned out that Bernard lives in the house on site and he was more than happy for us to leave our car next to his where he could keep an eye on it.  He really didn’t want us to pay anything, but we do feel duty bound to spend a night at the port when we return even though it’s an eyewatering €34 a day.

When we got back to the boat we did our packing for our UK trip and realised we (Karen 😉) have really got this packing thing off to a tee and only had a couple of bags to bring back.

On Thursday we cruised three miles through no locks.

We left soon after six on Friday morning and drove north for a couple of hours to Givet on the River Meuse which looks to be a beautiful river to cruise on.  The girls had arrived in Givet the previous evening and were kindly looking after Buddy whilst we went back to the UK.  

We had only been driving for five minutes when we passed a lavoir in a place called Val de Livre.  I don’t think we’ve discovered a lavoir that early in the morning before.

The lavoir at Val de Livre

It was good to see the girls and Buddy seemed to be happy to see Bailey.  We stayed for an hour or so and enjoyed a delicious and leisurely breakfast before setting off on the next leg to the tunnel.  Most of the trip was through Belgium and as soon as we crossed the border, we could tell we were in a different country.  I know there are obvious differences between countries, but it always fascinates us.  Simple things like the design of buildings, road signage and road markings are instantly different but what is really noticeable is the fact that the car registrations change.  It seems that as soon as you cross a border all the cars are from that country and very few from the previous.

Buddy clearly missing us five minutes after we left

When we popped back to the UK at the end of June we arrived on the day before quarantine was imposed for travellers from France.  It seems to be following us around as were getting back to England on the day before quarantine was being imposed for travellers from Belgium.  Mind you we didn’t stop in Belgium let alone get out of the car, so it was safe just like using the tunnel where occupants are not allowed out of their vehicles.

Other than an M25 that now seems to be back to pre-lockdown volumes so we were delayed by over an hour, the rest of the journey home was uneventful.  Even the traffic news mentioned that the volume of traffic and number of accidents on motorways are back to their previous levels.  Such a shame as, like most people, we had hoped the volumes would remain low; maybe there’s a lot of holiday traffic at the moment and it’ll die down again in a month or two.

We took it easy on Saturday, sorting out the post and doing other admin-y things.  We went for a couple of walks which was really strange without Buddy.  In the afternoon we went to find Wilder’s Folly in an area of Reading called Tilehurst.  It was built in 1769 and has a wonderful love story associated with it, Henry WIlder who had it built lived in a large country property called Sulhamstead House and the girl he was courting lived in a similar mansion called Sulham House.  The bottom of the folly had two pairs of arches; looking through one pair one of the houses could be seen and the other could be seen through the other pair.

Wilder’s Folly

The windows were bricked in at the end of the 1800s and the folly converted to a dovecote.
Sulham House is the large light-coloured stone building in the distance

We felt it was a fitting place to visit as it was also our wedding anniversary 😊


Anonymous said...

I'm jouralist, I met you in Langres..Do you remember?
How can I send my article ?
Good night on the boat

Neil & Karen Payne said...

Hi. Yes, I remember you. We looked out for you again but didn't see you. My email is Cheers, Neil