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    • Day 2

      Day 2 - Oslo

      August 14, 2023 in England ⋅ ☁️ 20 °C

      Mietta joined us at 1am from Budapest. We went back into the City and took a boat tour to visit the museums - the Open air Museum of Culture and the Fram museum documenting Norwegian voyages to the Arctic and Antarctic. We picked up a rental car at 4pm and drove to Donbas. Some roads were still flooded and we took a few detours, but made it by 9pm. No food available so Raph went hungry :-(Read more

    • Day 45

      A beach day in Ireland

      August 15, 2023 in England ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

      Short ferry and lousy sleep. Arrive In Ireland just as sun is rising. Make coffee and watch ferries come and go. Ride/walk along a short cliff path and then find a beach. Amazingly sunny day - mostly (still below 70 though numerous swimmers). Relax! Get our ferry food and grab a good spot for our journey to France and hopefully a return to summer. The weather has been tough and very unexpected for midsummer- even in the UK. Thus we take a major detour from the plan to go up the Irish coast. We will return in early September to continue on. If it is wet then, at least that is more expected.Read more

    • Day 13

      Final day's Adventures on the Canal

      September 29, 2017 in England ⋅ 🌧 16 °C

      Friday was our last full day on Le Boat. Thursday we moored over- nighted in Capestang. Steph and I set our alarms and took our bikes out early to line up at the boulangerie for some warm croissants and pain chocolat. A big hit with the crew. Our Captain had us untying the lines well before 9 . The crew's decision was to get ahead of the rental boat crowd and get at the front of the line for the 9 locks near Bezier called The Fonserannes Staircase - which has a complex schedule for boats going in each direction. Fiona was clear that we could not afford to miss the 1300 downstream operations if we hoped to make our scheduled distance. Such a whip our Navigator. I think she's sleeping with the Captain - is that allowed??

      Along the way on Friday morning we passed through many vineyards and a number of small towns including Colombiers. Mac and Steph hopped off with bikes and toured around some of the area. The rest of us tied up at the locks and took a 1 hour tourist train ride around Bezier. Bezier seems like a lovely Languedoc town with shaded squares, some interesting ancient sites and lovely gardens. It was also the birthplace and home town of Pierre Paul Riquet - the master planner of the Canal du Midi. We would like to have stayed longer to look at some of the historical sites but, alors, it was time for the 9 locks. We descended 6 times - so that's 7 gates. Then did a sharp right turn to sail over the beautiful Pont Canal du Bezier aqueduct high above the Orb River. Great fun. It was the. Down another 2 locks. Fortunately, the only other boat packed into the locks with us on this sequence was crewed by a friendly Scottish family.

      During our final lock of the series of 9 everything stopped. We were stuck due to something about water pressure. Never did get the technical explanation - that's why you bring an engineer on these journeys. After
      Much yelling and hand-waving (in both official languages) Steph and I helpfully suggested it was perhaps wine time and broke out the white. The men grabbed a beer and miraculously just as the caps came off, the lock started to operate again. Admittedly, given this is France and half of everything is closed at any one time , I wondered if the lock- keepers had simply gone on break and left us stuck there. In fact we've run into so many "fermé " signs that it has become a standing joke with the group - we came to France for a holiday but it was closed.

      After a short stop for water fill up and some local charcuterie, we sailed through the last couple of locks and moored along the canal in a beautiful spot. We are only 1 km from the Med and there is a large marsh on our starboard side. We can see lots of waterbirds in the distance.
      Last night we enjoyed our left-overs which Helen adeptly cooked into a lovely pasta meal. We were originally concerned about the amount of wine left, but by 930 we had finished it all. Mike pulled out his speaker and we used Spotify to play some great tunes. Our trip theme song is now "Pontoon" by Little Big Town.
      It certainly has been a blast doing this with our family. We sure have some memories and stories. No one will miss the bunks and small spaces - you pretty much had to leave the cabin to change your mind - but we all managed very well. Fortunately, everyone was great about pitching in and doing what they could.

      This morning we finish packing up as we are due to return this beast at 9. Plans are to take a hired van at 11 which Mike has arranged. Then we will try to see a bit of Montpellier before 5 of us fly to Corsica later this evening.
      Mac and Steph split off and stay in Montpellier for a few nights before starting a tour of some of the Dordogne area with a rental car. Helen, Fiona, Jiggs , Mike and I will have a week touring Corsica.

      More from there.
      Signing off from the Canal du Midi.
      Au Revoir,
      Heather. Xx
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    • Day 11

      Flat Mary Joins our Crew

      September 27, 2017 in England ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

      It is Wednesday and we have a crew member who has not been properly introduced - Flat Mary. We have a picture of Mom taken on her last cruise to Alaska (7 years ago?). We brought Mom along in spirit so that she can see all the great things she's been doing. Flat Mary has been particularly helpful at the helm of our beastly boat. Poor Jiggs has been rather stuck with most of the driving and the bow thrusters keep giving out. Early this afternoon they gave out at a very inopportune time - just as we were entering a very low, narrow stone bridge. Crunch went the front! Fortunately, there are big bumpers and so the damage appears to be cosmetic. One of the boat bases was just 1 km away so we decided to pitch up and get it repaired.
      While the boat was under repair Mac and Steph went to explore Homps. They found a shop with local wines so we are stocked up again. We always think we' ve bought too much wine and then, poof, it's gone. ( Flat Mary strikes again)

      We had a nice stop this morning at the Port Minervois where we went out for baguettes and some other provisions. Funny thing about those baguettes, by the time you get them back to the boat seems about 1/2 of the baguette is missing ( I blame it on Flat Mary). So we always buy 2 baguettes.

      Tonight we decided to stay in Homps . Lovely restaurant up the canal where we were well fed with local wines and entrecôte, duck and lamb,

      Onward tomorrow ,
      Love Heather
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    • Day 13

      Chateaus, Aqueducts & low bridges

      September 29, 2017 in England ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

      Things have become much smoother with our at-sea operations. Jiggs is looking more relaxed, Mac has taken on much of the longer stretches to give our Captain a break. The rest of us are adept at ropes, locks and generally being more useful than in the way- but it has been a relatively active holiday.

      I've taken a break from drafting the news and following are Mac's notes which provide a good description of Thursday's activities.

      We started Thursday in Homps. We set out promptly to clear the first locks early. No such luck as there was a small line up but it was a pretty spot for the wait, including an old aqueduct (here, as has often been the case, just a small structure where the canal crosses a stream). Heather and Helen thought we would walk to the next, nearby lock but discovered that the next lock was not in use so we had to pull-over to shore to rescue them!

      Steph and I then got off to go for a run along the canal. As we were moving much more quickly than the boat we took the time to go up to the top of a local promontory to look over the valley. When we met up with the boat, Helen joined us and we continued on foot to meet the boat at Argent Minervois, a charming little town with a welcoming cafe on the waterfront. Helen walked around town, to see what there was to see - a derelict castle mostly - then we met up with the boat and continued on our way.

      Le Somail was our early afternoon stop. Another charming waterside village- a little larger than most. Many boaters had stopped to lunch there, so it was quite busy. We explored what we could, including a giant second hand book store in a local cave - then persuaded a somewhat reluctant waiter to serve us a late lunch.
      After lunch, we passed a key point in the canal where a branch heads south to Narbonne. We continued east direction Beziers. Mike and Helen decided to bike into Capestang, our destination for the evening. The canal really meanders on this section with many twists and turns and remains on a surprisingly high elevation compared to the Aude river offering many views over the Aude valley.

      Capestang is one of the larger towns along the canal, with a very grand church on a small rise, soaring over the other buildings. It is also a very busy port. Many boats had stopped there for the night and as a result we were not able to get a serviced berth for the night so tied up on a grassy canal side.
      Capestang also boasts the lowest bridge on the entire canal. We inched through with only millimetres to spare all round. No surprise, mike and Helen were sitting nursing a beer at the first riverside bar in town.

      After tying up and tidying up, we headed into town for dinner, enjoying a stroll through town en-route. Capestang is prosperous with many handsome stone town houses and a marble paved town square beside church. We also checked out the location and opening times of the Boulanger in in anticipation of an early morning croissant run.
      Dinner was at a little family run restaurant that gets great reviews on Trip Advisor. Well deserved, we discovered. Our host was very attentive, the food was excellent and we tried out the wine that the restauranteur had been making with a friend -also successful. Three hours later, we waddled back to the boat after another convivial evening dining in France.
      That's all for now. I'll send the pictures in 2 batches
      Heather ( and Mac my ghost-writer)
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    • Day 3

      London (M&M World)

      August 29, 2017 in England ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

      The kids discovered M&M World in Leicester Square which I kid you not was 4 levels of prime real estate dedicated to selling a mountain of M&Ms. We escaped financially unscathed, which is code for "we were mean parents and refused to buy very expensive M&Ms".

      Craig's comment: I can't believe we have flown half way around the world and this is where we end up.
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    • Day 2


      August 28, 2017 in England ⋅ 🌙 18 °C

      Today we headed out to see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. I have seen this spectacle a few times now, but this was the first time I saw the full blown ceremony. We started with a stroll through St James Park and like obedient tourists, got there an hour early (although that was more accidental than planned). You can imagine Craig's delight at waiting for an entire hour, in the sun!

      The Band of the Irish Guards accompanied the parade today, so there was lots of pomp and pageantry (or standing around and being yelled out by the head Guard if you ask the kids).

      We left a little before the main crowd and was rewarded by a very short queue of less than 5 minutes at Westminster Abbey, and a good chunk of that was waiting for the ticket man's machine to connect to the payment network to take our money. I can never get tired of coming to this place. It is quite simply an awesome spectacle. This time around, audio guides were issued as part of the ticket and Finn and Kate listened with great interest to all the commentary as we moved throughout the Abbey.

      The rest of the day consisted of walking various Monopoly landmarks along Pall Mall past Downing Street, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus and onto Euston Station to catch a train out to the Harry Potter Studios.

      The journey home was an interesting one. We got off the train to change lines at Shepherd's Bush and was confronted by thousands of people making their way to the same Tube station. When the authorities tried to close the station because it was too crowded there was a surge of people into the station trying to keep the gates from closing. Given it then looked like a riot was about to start, we decided to catch the bus instead, but the sheer volume of people made that an impossibility so walking 30+ minutes home was the next option. Picture four tuna trying to swim in the opposite direction to several thousand tuna. It was hard work. Katie was at the right level to take a few elbows to the head, so even though quite "intense" (code for freaked out a little), it was still a spectacle.
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    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Southwark Bridge, Southwark, Садърк Бридж, Pont de Southwark, גשר סאתק, サザーク橋, Ponte de Southwark, Мост Садарк, 南華克橋

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