34. On dry dock

In this posting, I cover our short trip to Castelsarrasin, and the time we spent settling La Caunette into her winter home.

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Wednesday 18th September.  I woke with mixed feelings – it’s hard to believe how quickly time has flown by, and I felt sad that our time this year in France is coming to an end.  On the other hand, I am really looking forward to catching up with family, friends and work colleagues.  It’s also been great spending those last few days on the Tarn.

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Dave went to check out where the bollards are on the double lock that would take us back up to the Canal.  As he was coming back past GEM, Mike came out and said he would help us at the locks.  As we left the wharf , I couldn’t help but notice how much weed had accumulated around the boat – I’m glad I didn’t go for a swim there.

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We arrived at the lock by 9.30 am – there was a bit of a delay before the éclusier turned up (this is France after all).  Mike and Gloria helped with the ropes, which I really appreciated as it meant I didn’t need to get off the boat.  All went well with going through the double lock system.

We came out of the locks and straight into the first of the seven locks we had to go through today (on our 8.5 kilometre cruise to Castelsarrasin).  Once again Mike offered to help.  He and Gloria had a bit of trouble getting to the lock as the pathway to it had been blocked off due to work being done on it.  However, they managed to get to the lock, just as I was getting ready to go up the ladder.

This lock was the first of a chain of three – meaning that as we left it, the next lock in the chain was readied for us. There are no landing pontoons which would normally mean I’d have to go up the ladder in the lock to take the ropes, then push the button to start the locking process.  However, once again Mike offered to walk to them (just under 600 metres between each).  It was very kind of him and it made things so much easier for us.  There was also a bit of an audience at one lock, including two young boys who seemed to be quite fascinated by the locking through process.

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This is a very attractive stretch of the canal, and the third lock in the chain is in a particularly pretty setting.

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As we came out the last lock in the chain, we arrived at the beginning of the 356 metre long Pont Cacor (canal bridge) that crosses the Tarn – we had cruised under the bridge in the boat the other day.

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Half way along, we saw a woman killing weeds with a fire torch – she was distracted for a short time and seemed to just drop the torch – it kept going but luckily she didn’t burn herself.

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At the end of the bridge, there was a group of men chatting away – the cat and the tent we had seen on Monday were still there – we think one of the men must ‘live’ in it with his cat.

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As we moved along the canal, it was a bit strange to see the sun was on our left, but then we realised we were actually heading south-west.  It was a lovely warm autumn day and there were lots of people out walking and cycling.

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We went by a woman fishing – it’s not very often we see that – especially a woman on her own.

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We then approached another chain of three locks. There was no landing pontoon, so I had to turn the pole and then go up the ladder once we were in the lock.  We have heard that you’re only meant to use ladders in an emergency, but there is nowhere to moor on the edge of the canal, in other words, going up the ladder is the only way to get to the top of the lock to take ropes and push the button. The ladder was quite slippery but I got up it okay and all went smoothly with locking through.  I then walked up to the next two locks (both about 500 metres apart) and got back on the boat at the third one.

I usually get to the lock a few minutes before Dave, which gives me a chance to admire the quaint houses, with  more often than not, interesting gardens (in earlier days the lock keepers used to live in these houses).

There was a landing pontoon at the seventh and last lock, so after I’d turned the pole, Dave let me off there and I walked up to take the ropes.  All went well with our final lock for this season.

We soon arrived at the boatyard, and squeezed in behind Rangimãrie (she had been pulled back into the water earlier in the day).

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Kathy and Richard still needed to put the sliding hatches back on before we could move into position for being taken out.  We also had a couple of hours to wait, so I made us some lunch.  Dave off loaded the bikes and then took the ladder on his bike into the yard.

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In due course Sébastien (one of the two sons of the boat yard owner – Christophe had left earlier in the day in their truck with a boat he was delivering to Utrecht in the Netherlands) turned up with a mechanic from the boatyard, to help Richard (and Dave who had volunteered to help) lift Rangimãrie’s hatches into place.  It certainly was a four man job.

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Kathy drove Rangimãrie away from the boat ramp when Sébastien came back with the tractor and trailer for our haul out (so we could move onto the slipway).  Sébastien then backed the trailer into the water, but had some difficulty lining it up it under La Caunette.  However, with a bit of pushing and shoving and other manœuvres,  La Caunette was sitting snuggly on the trailer.

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She came out smoothly.

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Kathy brought Rangimãrie in behind us, facing the other direction, so the other sliding hatch could be put on.

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La Caunette had quite a bit of green muck on the hull, but she was looking good.

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Sébastien towed her into the boat yard.

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As I followed, I stopped to say hello to Christophe’s assortment of hens (and rooster).

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Dave then set about cleaning La Caunette’s bottom, with a high pressure hose.

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However, when he moved onto the sides, disappointingly most of the blacking came off.  It seems that the rust treatment paint that Dave had applied before we blacked her in April, meant the blacking hadn’t stuck.  Luckily, it is only on the sides and within easy reach, and the surface doesn’t need much preparation.  Nevertheless, having to paint with that black mucky stuff again is not something I’m looking forward to.

Once Dave had finished washing La Caunette down we still had to wait a while before Sébastien reappeared and towed her into her winter position.  It took him and his mechanic (with the help of Sébastien’s big dog and Dave) a good hour or so to get the correct supports in place (this included needing to weld a new one).

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However, they did a really good job and she feels a lot more stable than last year. There is also no bowing so all the cupboards close properly and none of the wood panels popped out (as was the case last year).

It was 6.30 pm by the time we were able to get on board again.  We were both whacked, so Dave cycled around to see Kathy and Richard (who were by then moored in the canal next to the boat yard) to take a rain check on drinks and the BBQ they had invited us to have with them.  I made us a light meal and I was asleep by 8.30 pm.

Thursday 19th September.  Dave was wide awake in the small hours of the night (and surfed the net for a while) but I slept through until 7.30 am – I must have needed the (11 hours of) sleep. Dave ended up sleeping in another couple of hours – so we had a very late start to the day.

As we were having breakfast we noticed that the yacht next to us, owned by Jean-Yves who we had met in April, had a ladder up to it.  Last evening we had checked with Sébastien and taken back the green stairs that Christophe had positioned for us and which Jean-Yves asked if he could use when we left. We thought he was away as his windows were covered over and there seemed to be cobwebs on the stairs.  However, it seems he is still living on his yacht (he works in Montauban but spends weekends in Perpignan where he owns a home).  We hope to see him and confirm that it is okay for us to have the steps until we go, as it is very difficult for me to come and go on the boat using a ladder.

While we had lots to do to ‘winterise’ La Caunette, we thought we’d go to the weekly market in Castelsarrasin.  We cycled over to the village centre and were surprised by how big the market was.

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Part of it was made up of clothes, bags etc but the rest of the stall, which spread over several streets and several blocks, was selling local produce. After a long period of not having seen many big markets, we have been spoilt in the last month with several.  I may have said it before, but this really was the biggest one we’ve seen this year.

We bought some of the famous local Chasselas grapes.  These are table grapes and, although small, they tasted incredibly sweet and flavoursome.

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We then went back to the boat.  We had a quick word with Tony, who lives on his boat in the boat yard – we had met him in April and he had been very helpful with getting our gas bottles filled.  We were pleased to hear that Erik, another character we met in April, also still lives here – he is away in Nice but should be back before we leave.

After lunch we cycled over to the port to see Malcom and Deborah on Janna II (they are the first people we met last year in France, and we have kept in contact with them since we picked up La Caunette last year – Malcolm had been out walking his dogs and had stopped to chat when he saw our NZ flag).  They offered us a beer which we enjoyed on the front of their big barge. They have been busy with renovating the boat and it was great to see the progress they have made, and to catch up more generally on what we have all been up to.

We returned to the boat and pottered around until we went back at 6.00pm to the port to meet with Kathy and Richard at the Rest’eau Bus (a bus set up as a bar and small restaurant) parked at the boatyard end of the port.

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We bought a drink and while we were waiting for Kathy and Richard, Dave spotted a notice board that detailed a number of bike rides in the area.  He suggested they would be good to do next year.

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Unfortunately, the ‘bus’ was tarting to close up, so we decided to go to a pizza restaurant in the square.  It was closed so I cycled to see if the nearby Le Saigon (a Vietnamese restaurant we had got takeaways from in April) was open.  It was, so I proposed three options – buy take away pizza and eat them by the port; go to Le Saigon for a sit down meal; or take up Kathy’s suggestion that she had the wherewithal to make pizza on the boat.  After some discussion we ended up with a fourth option – buy takeaway pizza and eat them on Rangimãrie.  I went and ordered the pizzas and Dave went back to La Caunette to get his (rapidly emptying) 10 litre barrel of Buzet wine.  I ended up needing to call Dave to bring some bungee cords because I couldn’t fit the pizzas (that turned out ot be much bigger than I expected) onto my carrier or in my bike basket.

We had a very enjoyable time with Kathy and Richard.  The pizzas were delicious and a lot of the wine barrel got drained by Dave and Richard.  I stuck to a glass of rosé and Kathy had a tropical rum cocktail.  The sunset was lovely.

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It was quite dark by the time we were ready to go home – we had to cycle along a rough pot holed track – but it wasn’t very far and luckily we have good lights on our bikes.

Friday 20th September.  It’s nearly 8 am before the sun is up now, which means we are also  later with getting up.  But it was a nice cool morning and after breakfast, Dave busied himself preparing the underwater areas of the sides of the hull, that have lost the blacking cover, as well as chipping away spots of rust and cracked paint while I finally got my new sewing machine out and repaired damage to the bimini, gazebo, net curtains, a number of Dave’s clothes (three shirts, a pair of shorts and a pair of jeans).

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I was very pleasantly surprised with how well the machine functioned and all the options it has (it only cost €75).

Kathy and Richard called by to say farewell – they were heading back towards Buzet-sur-Baïse.  They also wanted to have a ‘test’ ride on our bikes.  They are the third couple we know who are keen to buy eBikes (after what they have heard we have done on ours).

After lunch I did a couple of big washes in the laundry here – including curtains, the bimini, and gazebo top.  Even though I didn’t hang any of it out till late afternoon everything quickly dried (it was very warm and there was a good breeze).

Dave was keen to go to 6 o’clock drinks at Le Paris Bar in Moissac – I wasn’t that keen so he went off on his own.  He met up with about 30 other English speaking canal boaters but ended up chatting to an English guy who regularly cycles around parts of France, sometimes by himself, but mostly with a cycling group. An hour after sunset I got a text from him to say he was on his way home.  He said he had a great evening out and ride back to the boat was good.

Saturday 21st September.  I needed to get some oven cleaner and a few other bits and  pieces for cleaning and sprucing up the inside of the boat.  Dave also had a list of things he needed for outside.  I therefore offered to get his things from Mr Bricolage (similar to our Mitre 10) which is next to the supermarket (just a few kilometres away).  I checked with him a few times about what exactly he wanted.

It was very windy biking back – at times the sudden gusts made riding along beside the canal a bit scary but I was very pleased when I got back to the boat to hear from Dave that I had got everything correct.

I then did a bit more sewing/repair work while Dave carried on working on the outside of the boat and in the engine bay. I wanted to get started on some of the cleaning but Dave suggested I put that off, as he would be spending a bit of time sanding areas in preparation for their next coat of paint, and with the wind it was likely to get inside.  I therefore started sorting through maps, documents etc we have accumulated – it’s surprising how much there is!

Even though we are in the boatyard – the view from our boat at sunset is still lovely.

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Sunday 22nd September.  Today was more of the same, that is cleaning, sanding, rust killing and painting, and other jobs on La Caunette.  I spent most of the day giving the heads (bathroom) a very thorough clean and then moving on to the cabin (bedroom), sorting out and tidying cupboards as I went.  It’s surprising how much stuff I can accumulate in six months.

Dave started the morning finishing wire brushing the hull, ready for me to black it tomorrow.  Mid-morning it started to rain and he moved back inside and made a start on catching up writing his Captain’s log.  It’s a good thing he bought those new spectacles recently.

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Later in the afternoon the rain cleared and Dave went back outside to work on the hull, while I carried on with sorting, tidying and cleaning shelves and cupboards.

Later in the day, when I was going to put on some washing, I got an electric shock off the boat as I was getting off it.  Dave confirmed that it was more than ‘static electricity‘.  He said it was probably an earthing problem (and this could in part be why the blacking has come off along the water line).  Anyway, he says he doesn’t have the necessary tools to identify the problem and so he will speak to Christophe about getting an electrician in (assuming it’s not a problem with the boatyard’s wiring).  Hopefully, the problem can be fixed without too much cost.

Monday 23rd September.  Dave wanted to get some ‘bulky’ items (anti-freeze, oil etc) from Mr Bricolage this morning – that became our first mission.  I left before him so I could drop off some books at the Capitainerie in the port.  Despite there being a huge book shelf of books other boaters had left, there weren’t any books I wanted to exchange them for.

Dave had a quick word to Christophe to say there was a problem with the boat (i.e. getting electric shocks) and agreed to meet with him at 11 am to discuss more fully.  It’s a very busy boatyard – the owners (father and two sons always seem to be working hard and there are several other people working on their boats – some of them were here in April and still seem to have plenty to do).

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I had a few cleaning things I wanted to get from the supermarket and when I had finished went to meet up with Dave, as agreed, at Mr Bricolage – there was no sign of him there – he had gone to another shop – we soon reconnected and went into the Intermarché supermarket.  It was in the process of setting up an interesting display for their fête du vin (wine festival/sale) including a really old three-wheeler Peugeot delivery motorcycle,

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and vintage fire/water pump.

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Cycling back, as we joined the canal towpath, we saw Tui moored up on the side of the canal, but there was no sign of the owners (they were moored at a pontoon that provide easy access to the supermarket, so presumably that is where they were).

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By the time we got back to the boat yard it was midday, and Christophe was busy with another boat and then he went off for lunch until 2pm.  Dave set about fixing the exhaust (he discovered it doesn’t have a leaking gasket – which he thought had broken and was the problem – the system hadn’t been fitted properly).  The boatyard mechanic did a small piece of work grinding a piece off ‘something’, and then Dave fitted it to the boat.  He took a photo of the bits he used to fix it.

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Meanwhile I did a bit of spot painting on the flybridge control –  Dave had previously treated these for rust.

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Once Christophe was ‘back on deck’ he came and had a look at the boat – after checking voltages he confirmed he would check the boat yard’s electrical wiring as the earthing system was not intact.  He also said we needed to apply a special treatment (a chlorinated rubber undercoat) to the areas of the hull that were now bare, before we put on any blacking.  He provided us with a tin of Mistral Fondo and I set about applying that.  Dave came and helped after a while, with the areas out of my reach.  It is coloured grey so La Caunette had an interesting look when we’d finished.

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Dave carried on working in the engine bay, while I cooked our last meal of duck – something we may miss once we are back in New Zealand (but then Dave can enjoy pies, Burger King, fish and chips etc).

Tuesday 24th September.  Our plans to apply a second coat of the grey this morning, and then the first coat of blacking this afternoon were scuppered by scattered showers, making painting not possible.  However, on the positive side Christophe came and said that the ‘earthing problem’ was due to a fault in their system.  Dave went and watched as Christophe checked a few things – their earth wire was disconnected – I don’t understand what all that means but apparently the whole boat yard was affected and it could have caused serious injury or even death if someone had a damaged lead or a faulty appliance on board . Christophe went off and fixed the problem – it was a relief that it’s fixed and also that there wasn’t anything wrong with La Caunette.

Meanwhile, I started my sorting and cleaning of the galley/kitchen.  It took me the best part of the day – not that anything was very dirty but I wanted to sort and tidy the pantry, cupboard and drawers.

I sprayed the oven with oven cleaner and took the racks outside and sprayed them.  About 10 minutes later Dave came back with them – he had thought he was helping by washing the oven cleaner off – he didn’t realise that it needed to stay on the racks for 30 minutes minimum – I had used up a whole can of cleaner, so ended up having to scrub away at them with a goldilocks.

Later in the morning the weather cleared, and Dave went about applying the second treatment coat to the boat.

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That took him quite a while – fingers crossed we won’t have the same problem again next year.  We would like to put on a couple of coats of blacking before we leave, but rain is forecast for tomorrow, so we may not achieve that.

Dave also changed the engine oil and did a few other bits and pieces that he could cross off the winterising to do list.

I cooked up a good meal from the remaining vegetables and a chicken casserole I had frozen a couple of weeks ago – it seems we won’t have much uneaten food before we go.

Neither of us are sleeping very well – so many things to do before we leave, churning around in our heads so we had an early night.

Tuesday 24th September.  Our plans to apply a second coat of the Mistral Fondo this morning, and then the first coat of blacking this afternoon were scuppered by scattered showers, making painting impossible.  However, on the positive side, Christophe came and said that the ‘earthing problem’ (that meant we were getting electric shocks if we touched the boat and the ladder at the same time) was due to a fault in their system.  Dave went and watched as Christophe checked a few things – their earth wire was disconnected – I don’t understand what all that means but apparently the whole boat yard was affected and it could have cause serious injury, or even death if someone had a faulty appliance on board that was not earthed properly. Christophe went off and fixed the problem – so it’s a relief, not only that it is fixed, but also that there wasn’t anything wrong with the boat.

Meanwhile, I started my sorting and cleaning of the galley/kitchen.  It took me the best part of the day – not that anything was very dirty but I wanted to clean and tidy every nook and cranny of the pantry, cupboards and drawers.

I sprayed the oven with oven cleaner and took the rack outside and sprayed them.  About 10 minutes later Dave came back with them – he had thought he was helping by washing the oven cleaner off – he didn’t realise that it needed to stay on the racks for 30 minutes minimum – I had used up a whole can of cleaner so ended up having to clean them with a goldilocks.

Later in the morning the weather cleared and Dave went about applying the second treatment coat to the boat.  That took him quite a while, but fingers crossed we won’t have the same problem again next year.  We would like to put on a couple of coats of blacking before we leave, but rain is forecast for tomorrow so we may not achieve that.

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Dave also changed the engine oil and did a few other bits and pieces on our winterising checklist.

I cooked up a good meal from what I could find in the fridge and the chicken casserole I had frozen a couple of weeks ago – it seems we won’t have much uneaten feed before we go.

Neither of us are sleeping very well – so many ‘to do’ lists churning around in our heads so we had an early night.

Wednesday 25th September.  After breakfast, Dave started applying the first coat of blacking that was needed to cover the grey ‘treatment’ coat.  He said it would take him only half an hour – two hours later, he was only half way through and Mike and Gloria arrived – we had arranged to go out for lunch.  I hadn’t realised that they had booked a place about 30 minutes drive away, so we were a bit late leaving (while we waited for Dave to get cleaned up and changed), but arrived in time, thanks to Mike’s speedy driving, at the pretty little village of Castelsagrat.  We enjoyed a €13 set menu lunch at the Bar Restaurant Le Sîecle – there was no choice and no explanation – the meals we just brought out to us (the slice of what looked like brawn on Dave’s entrée fell off the plate – it was replaced with a bigger slice).

The restaurant was very busy but the man running the bar and serving us was good fun – he spoke some English and was very chatty and friendly.

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After lunch we had a look around the village. It was very attractive with its typical large village square, church (which was closed), narrow alley ways, archways, and half-timbered buildings.

There were a couple of wells and lots and lots of attractive plantings of flowers.

The boys fooled around, doing I’m not sure what!

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We then drove to charming little village of Montjoi.  Opposite the car park is an interesting statue, made in white stone, by the French sculpture Roland Masson.  It is called ‘Montjovia’ and appears to be part village’s rich art collection, rather than to commemorate or symbolise anything in particular.

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We wandered through the cemetery, but the church was closed –  we could however get a glimpse of it through a barred gate.  The pews looked very spartan.

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This is another very small village and we could easily walk around it.  We walked through an arched stone gate.

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The main street splits off into a Y shape with the Marie (townhall) in the centre.

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Sitting atop a limestone hill, Montjoi served as a fortified citadel during the 13th century.  As such, the medieval houses lining the street are a mixture of stone houses and half-timbered houses, many of which are still in excellent condition – or perhaps have been beautifully restored.

The village is a strong promoter of art and each year there is an exhibition of ‘street art’. One of this year’s exhibition of ‘large black woman’ was still in place, Gloria took rest on the seat beside her.

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There was also an exhibition of scarecrows over the summer and a couple of these were still to be seen.

We went to a look out that afforded a spectacular view of the Séoune valley.

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As we often find, we didn’t see anyone else but there were a number of glamorous cows decorating the streets.  These are on permanent display, and are the work of Christian Eurgal, and artist who lives and has his studio in Montjoi.

We were honoured with the presence of a cat. It was happy for me to stroke it, but when I tried to pick it up, it hissed at me and then sat and glared at me from a safe distance.

It started to rain, so we went back to the car and took a slight detour back to Castelsarrasin, via Lauzerte – a town Dave and I have been to a couple of times (including with my brother and sister-in-law).  It is one of Les plus beaux villes de France and it was interesting to see it again.

Dave stood on the uplifted corner in the square, to take a photo and Mike was interested to see what was under it.

This time the Église Saint-Bathélemy was open – it is very big with several different chapels – one of which dates back to the 14th century.  It is currently cordoned off due to the risk of falling debris.

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In another one, the walls are adorned with numerous wooden panels, painted at the end of the 18th century and attributed to a Toulousian artist Jean-Marie-Joseph Ingès.   Apparently the panels originally decorated the walls of a grand mansion, and were moved to the church at an unknown date.

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The church has a large organ, which is unusually positioned on the same level as the altar and chapels.

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The sun was shining through the stained glass windows behind the altar, casting interesting light rays that spilled down the wall.

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We walked around the village to the main lookout area – it looked quite different in autumn colours (from when we had seen it a lush green in Spring).

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A new chair made of horseshoes caught our attention.

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Before leaving we went and had a look at an exhibition in a small gallery.  It has featured different artists each month since April.

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As we went through the gallery, I couldn’t help but think what a magnificent setting it was (unfortunately, the photo below doesn’t do the overall impression and the view on out through the windows justice).

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We also stopped at another view point, where there are flowers made from horseshoes and other pieces of old ironware.

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As we drove out of the village, Mike pointed out a structure that used to be used to shoe oxes (or bullocks).  Since their hooves  are cloven, two shoes are required for each hoof, as opposed to a single horseshoe.  Unlike horses, oxen are not easily able to balance on three legs while a farrier shoes the fourth.  In England, shoeing was accomplished by throwing the ox to the ground and lashing all four feet to a heavy wooden tripod until the shoeing was complete.  However, in France and other parts of Europe, where oxen were often very large, shoeing was accomplished using a massive framework of beams in which the animal can be partly or completely lifted from the ground by slings passed under the body; the feet are then lashed to lateral beams or held with a rope while the shoes are fitted.

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We then travelled back through the beautiful rolling countryside Dave and I have cycled through a few time.  Back at the boat we said fond farewell to Gloria and Mike – we really enjoy their company and friendship and we have shared some fabulous times with them this year.  We look forward to meeting up with them again next year.

Dave was keen to carry on with painting the hull, but it started to rain, so he had to come inside and content himself with starting to tidy his clothes and personal belongings, and pack his suitcase.

We were both feeling a bit weary (and quite full) so we didn’t feel like doing (or eating) much so just relaxed and had an early night.

Thursday 26th September.  Today is our last day on the boat.  I wanted to wash all the bed linen and towels etc and so went and put on the first load when I woke at about 5.30 am, expecting to go back to sleep for another hour or so…. but Dave had other plans – he made a cup of tea and then got started on all the things that he still needed to do on the last day before we left La Caunette  (disconnect batteries, turn the gas off, flush every water outlet with antifreeze, open water the taps, seal hatches and roof vents etc).  He also had to empty out all of the water tank as well as the hot water cylinder – that seemed to take forever.  As with last year, we were surprised by how much water we still had on board, despite using it quite freely.  Dave also had some painting he wanted completed.

Meanwhile, I set about defrosting the fridge before going to the market (I had seen some curtains I was interested in for the bedroom last week, but didn’t have the dimensions).  On the way I went past the marché aux volailles vivantes (poultry market) which is held quite regularly at Castelsarrasin – I didn’t really like seeing all the hens and other birds crammed into cages – but they are probably destined for a free ranging life as it is very common to keep hens in back yards here.

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I walked on to the market – it was as big, interesting and lively as last week.

I decided against getting the curtains and walked back to the boat yard, stopping on the way at a boulangerie to buy a baguette and something for lunch.

Dave was still hard at work, and I carried on with a few bits and pieces that needed doing and helping him when he needed an extra pair of hands.  This included doing some spot painting of the flybridge steering area and helping steady the bikes as he did an incredible job lifting them up onto the boat.

There wasn’t much room left in the boat once they were inside.

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I did a bit of painting, but by late afternoon there wasn’t a lot else I could help with (having got up early and been on the go ever since, I wasn’t keen on doing any more blacking), so I went and settled up our account with Christophe.  Dave had got our 30 kilogram bags off the boat) and I set off with mine to the hotel – leaving Dave to do some final things to make the engine bay and inside of the boat water tight.  He also wanted to finish off the blacking.

With hindsight I should have accepted Christophe’s offer to give me a ride to the hotel as it was tough going – although it was less than a kilometre away, and the suitcase has wheels, the road and pavement surface was pretty rough and there weren’t many places to just roll it on and off the footpath to get across the road (i.e. the curbs didn’t lower down).  It was also quite hot (28°C) so by the time I got to the hotel I was feeling a bit hot and bothered.  We have stayed at this hotel (Hôtel Marceillac– a listed historical Art Nouveau style building, that has been run by the Marceillac family for five generations), twice before and were allocated the same room again this time.  It doesn’t have a lift, but the brother of the woman who manages reception kindly lugged my bag upstairs.

Dave turned up many hours later (7.50pm) – just as I was going out to see where he was and to buy a take away pizza for dinner.  We enjoyed that with a beer I’d brought from the boat and then had an early night, after what had been a long and busy day (especially for Dave, who I’ve never seen look so ‘knackered’).

While it was a bit sad to be leaving La Caunette, the weather is definitely getting cooler and I feel ready to return home – it will be great to catch up with everyone again.

I will end this post here, as it marks the end of our 2019 cruising season   We will be flying out of Paris tomorrow, around midday, on our homewards journey.  That will be via Singapore (where we have an 18 hour stopover, and a six night stay in Melbourne. This year we have taken La Caunette along three waterways (Canal Lateral à la Garonne from Castlesarrisan to Castets-en-Dorthe and the rivers Baïse – along its navigable length – and some of the Tarn) covering 463 kilometres and through 134 locks.  We also did a return trip to Bordeaux on the Garonne River (with our friends Gloria and Mike on GEM).  The time seems to have flown by, but reflecting back we have seen and done a lot. We had a brief trip by car to Spain, up through the Pyrénées and then the Dordogne area in France.  Dave has ridden his bike for over 3200 kilometres and I’ve done about 1,500.  This included a two day return cycle ride up the Lot River Valley.

 

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