CRUISING THE BARGE FOOD & WINE

Catching up on the French Canals…

“Time flies when you’re having fun” — who first said that?? I seem to have been starting each blog with apologies for not writing more and more frequently. It is always my good intention to write more often but….. But on the “Time flies” thing….. We have been at this now for EIGHT years – -well almost. We are half-way through our eighth season. When we started out we really weren’t sure how long we would do this but here we are still! And, we are still having fun!!!

The first half of this season started out with all sorts of challenges – -some I can share, and some left better unshared! Pre-season was fantastic weather – we couldn’t have asked for more. We were able to get all the outside work done in plenty of time for the start. And then……… it started raining! And it rained, and it rained, and it rained. Apocalyptic rains that caused widespread flooding and rushing rivers that deposited copious amounts of mud where they cross the canals. The canals closed a couple of times but we weathered that and made sure that our guests didn’t miss out despite curtailed cruising. But the big adventure came when they re-opened just for the hotel barges and we were told we could move. So off we set from our mooring and headed towards the next port. All was fine until we came out of a particular lock which exits right where a river crosses and then……. we hit the mud! And how -no matter how hard our pilot tried, Meanderer was NOT going to move. One of our hotel-barge friends roped up to us and did their best to help us move but in the end we became even more entrenched. So, nothing to do but have the VNF (the French canal operating authority) come and pull us off with a tractor. There are adventures and adventures!!! No damage done and we slid off and went on our way. But then the VNF decided that the mud was so bad in a couple of places that they closed the canal again!!! And this time they sent a dredger to clear the worst spots. They are muttering about proper dredging this winter — we can hope!
Now we are in the middle of a drought — we have had record heat and there are canal restrictions for small boats — not us, fortunately. Never a dull moment.
Our exceptional crew has kept smiling all along the way and we could not be happier. Let’s see what’s next…..
Watch this space!

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