Digoin and back

On Tuesday the 18th of March we returned back from the UK , accompanied by a very good friend. The three of us cruised from Roanne to Digoin (almost 60 kilometers/over 37 miles – 11 locks) on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Starting the 1st of April the lock keepers are on duty 7 days a week; before this date not on Sundays. So we stayed in Digoin on Sunday. Lucky us, the weather was horrible, rain, rain and rain again. On the Monday we commenced the journey back to Roanne, typically facing the same distance and number of locks again. This picture shows the aqueduct on top of the river Loire with the town of Digoin in the background.

Ship and crew were in the trusted hands of our guest – an experienced boat-woman. She however discovered –as we did some years ago- that steering a barge differs substantially from steering a narrowboat!

Spring and sheep are inseparable we always think. Add the Loire valley to this and you’ve got a lovely picture. (The Loire hides herself halfway in the distance.)

Some locks in Le Canal latéral de Roanne à Digoin are fairly deep. This one some 6 meters (18 feet). We’ll get used to it again.

Just a nice picture of the canal and Le Loire very nearby. The river can be nasty but has been very gentle this winter. Well, winter… it’s safe to say that it has been worse in the past.

A day after returning from the UK 20 bags of coal, 500 kg (half a tonne somehow sounds heavier), was delivered to us. This way we are sure that the chance of suffering from cold before spring/summer arrives is minimized to almost zero percent. We remember last year when we were forced to use our stove till the end of May! Under the blue cover are 2 layers of 8 bags stowed away. It might be partly destined for next winter. But: foresight is the essence of government – it’s a sort of ‘investment’ and not in the way. Alongside the canal a lot of campervans are in sight; no exception here. Even the odd former commercial is present, too, this one changed into a large live aboard.

The picturesque town of Briennon, 15 kilometers (over 9 miles) from Roanne. Since Digoin 1 lock descended, 7 locks ascended, still 3 to go.

Briennon’s harbour. Nice enough, but not a match to Roanne as the latter town has everything on offer – like shops small and large, restaurants, a railway station, all sorts of services etc.

Not far away from Roanne this stately home is visible from the canal. It makes us think of a house made out of a box of building blocks that was almost invariably (birthday, Sinterklaas, Christmas) given to us when we were children. Yes, you absolutely have a point there, that is some years ago indeed…

Lock number 11, the last one. We had to wait for over half an hour because the lock keepers not only are off duty on Sunday, they also have a lunch break from noon until 1:00PM. Even in the season, we believe. Well, we are not in a hurry (nous ne sommes pas pressés).

After a long search we finally found a furniture maker (‘menuisier’) for making us a bench, to be placed at the front of our ship. Not only for sitting comfortably outside with a glass of wine (just an example, as you’ll have guessed) but for putting safely away our diesel-jerry cans as well. The bench is here still under a cover as the weather conditions didn’t permit us to finish the staining job.

The bench in its full glory – twice stained. Admittedly the bench has a somewhat different shape from the average bench. It offers us, however, the possibility to put away some jerry cans we do not want to store inside the ship for obvious reasons. Furthermore there’s some extra room created for storage of other stuff that is not in use during the summer, like the big contractor-bags we use for storage of wood during the winter. So we are absolutely satisfied with the result and will have (an)other job(s) for this guy we’ve traced at long, long last.

Summer season

Providing our central heating system is brought back tomorrow into full working order (we need the system in the summer for quickly producing hot water when moored for longer than a day) it’s the plan to leave coming Tuesday, the 1st of April 2014, for the summer season. See you hopefully next week.