Rhonda's Comment: Oh my goodness, is that Onslow on board? I wonder where Mrs Bucket is? Still asleep I see!!!!!
Yep, there is a distinct cooler feel in the air in the early mornings and late evenings. The Plane and Elm trees which seem to dominate the canal paths are turning red in colour and starting to have leaf fall along with some of the other deciduous tree varieties. Sadly the evenings are getting dark earlier so no more sitting up on the top deck until 10.00 pm. Gosh what a whinger I sound to be, but we have been spoiled I guess and have such wonderful memories of this fast fading summer but still do look forward to what lies ahead. Today I have put on a tracksuit and socks for the first time since leaving England last October but the day has been perfect with no clouds or wind so by midday it was back to shorts and a singlet again. So life isn’t all that bad.
We left Decize and pottered along the Canal de Lateral stopping over at more little ports or mooring places finding so many amazing places to call in to or to see in passing. One of these was the Abbaye de Sept-Fons which appeared through the forest scenery alongside the Loire River and is so notable due to its huge sprawling size and history. The amount of spires first takes your eye, typical in its livery of lead coloured tiles and general great condition.
In my earlier blogs we referred to our sadness at finding so much rubbish in the canals in the north, so it would be remiss of me to not now say that we noticed a very different state applying as we have moved south. While some people may still get up from where they are picnicking and often leave their papers, bottles and scraps behind (they believe that to put them in the bin does someone out of their paid job), it is nowhere as bad and in fact the recycling facilities have to be seen to be believed.
Almost every where you go there are these large bottle receptacles for recycling and folk will drive to them to dump their empties as putting glass or cans or plastic bottles out with your general rubbish is frowned at. The reason I raise this now is that at our mooring there is a set of these receptacles which are approx 1000 litre capacity and even at the park I have written about had a set and there are sets of two standard size rubbish bins about every 25 meters apart right around the lake and then others are dotted through the park.
There were probably 50 park tables or as we call them BBQ tables set up ready for folk to use and I don’t know what is wrong with the kids over here but not one was burned or spray painted or vandalised. Gee they have a lot to learn. This same respect seems to apply to gardens, art works and street ornaments which show no sign of any damage. Wonderful.
Well this came about sooner than we had thought as after having a brief look about the town of Digoin and spending the night in the so called port, we felt it was not our kind of place so we left after lunch and pushed our way through three locks and about 14 kms to the town of Paray-le-Monial. We felt good about the port so we moored up and off loaded the scooter ready to take off to see the sights, however, we coped a real summer storm of lightning and thunder with savage rain and no TV so it was a quiet night on board listening to French radio. Gee, what a thrill! The next morning the weather had cleared so off we went to look around the town and to do the supermarket shopping as there are 4 very large places to choose from.
In the park next to our pier which Harry adopted to be his own play area, we learned that in August some 5,000 devotees to the church camp over in tents and camper vans etc to celebrate the churches festive period of celebrating the season of plenty.
The shopping centre looked pretty good so we visited that area a couple of times noting again how well the French blend the old with the new. One must realise that when viewing our pictures of old homes and apartments buildings that they are not just preserved etc but that they are current homes and may be bought just as you or I would buy a family home back in New Zealand but not think anything about its age or history.
We moved on after a couple of days through the Charolois Country which is very similar to the Kiwi landscape (great looking cattle which are so beef productive) arriving in Montceau-les-Mines, a very large town which grew during the 18th century due to the drive to get coal mined and for steel and power plants to be built in the area. The canal was a major transport route for the bulk products and some of the old photos of the town are amazing showing 50 to 100 barges lined up ready to ship the products. After the rush for these products slowed, the town died in part and has had to reinvent itself as being the centre of the rural district and Burgundy grape growing region. In the town there are a few unusual bridges which cross the canal. One is a lift-up bridge hinged at one end and then the next one lifted using a counterweight system then you encounter a pedestrian walkway bridge which looks to be blocking your passage but then it suddenly lifts from both ends to a height where you have clear passage under and on into the port to moor up.
Kilometers - 1155