Friday, October 7, 2011


With the first signs that autumn may be coming with shorter days and longer nights, it was time to turn “Somewhere” around and begin the journey back towards our winter mooring home of Moissac. We have lots of time though as the canals do not close until the end of October so once we had left behind our mates at Meilhan we wandered up the Canal de Garonne which has been one of our favourite cruising areas with great views across the countryside and lots of small villages, some with neat mooring spots to be able to rest up in.

As we have reported in earlier blogs, we seem to be going slower and slower which really makes the travel even more enjoyable. With Rhonda driving the car from lock to lock to take the ropes as we are working ‘up-hill’ now while Harry and I take the boat from mooring spot to mooring spot. After a couple of canal bank stopovers, we made it to Le Mas d’Agenais again and settled in as it really is a neat place to stay. We caught up with some old acquaintances who had also been staying there for a few days and then had a visit from Alex and Louise off “Riccall” delivering a whole range of purchases they had made for us while on their visit to England so a great night of tales and laughter followed.

Rhonda's Comments: Harry's little friend wants to come out to play.

The next day we drove to the town/city of Tonneins where we did our supermarket shopping and followed up with the so called computer expert who had fiddled around with our unit when we were heading down the canal some several weeks ago and had charged us €90 to achieve nothing. The computer just would not nor could not link to Google hence the reason why the previous blog was sent out in Word only, so we apologise to those readers who could not download it at the time. After a couple of hours of fiddling around he advised Rhonda that the computer was “kaput” and as it was lunchtime rushed her out of the shop so he could get to his “munchies”. Apart from the sky being blue so was the air due to the explosion of expletives coming from a very frustrated lady, so it was a very quiet driver who bought her back to the boat.

We learnt the next day that there was another computer expert living in our village and he was reported to be able to speak English so Rhonda headed off to find him, however, he could not speak English but his wife could manage a few words so between her and Rhonda using the translator on his computer they spent 4 hours working through all his suggestions to come up with a big Zero at a cost of another €55, so the air was even more blue upon her return to the boat. Even Harry stayed at a respectable distance.

If it wasn’t for the interruptions of having the World Rugby Cup games being shown on TV and which the New Zealand All Blacks played reasonably well in their opening round, I hate to think where the computer may have ended up. Well at 3.00am the next morning I was awakened to hear Rhonda mucking about on the computer clearing this and adjusting that and eventually at around 9.00am, BINGO, she yelled to say that she thought she had fixed the problem and hoped it would all work ok. What a legend she is as it all works just fine, in fact better, simpler and faster than it has for about 6 months so after spending time and money on so called experts, it just took care and thinking to get to the bottom of the problem and then to correct it all.
I am so glad I taught her correctly, Yeah right!!!!!!!!!!!!.

While at Meilhan we decided to collect any reasonable sized branches which had fallen from the trees alongside the canal as we went along and there were plenty of them so we loaded them onboard for firewood ready for winter. As I had bought a small chainsaw which was “On Special” last winter I pulled this out of the bowels of the boat, started it up and within a few hours had a full bow locker of nice mini logs so that is a start anyhow. I have also been doing a bit of touch up painting and odd jobs around the boat so she is looking good for any visitors or prospective buyers who have advised they will call to view later this month.

The weather has been wonderful really with the odd cool day and a few evenings of heavy showers and thunderstorms but in general it has been 30 degree plus days and nice nights for sleeping with only a small fan going. Harry just loves it here in Le Mas as we call it, as while there is a nicely mowed park and pond right by the boat he looks so forward to Rhonda taking him for his morning walk up to the bluff which has a big park and looks down over the canal and Garonne River. He just loves this spot and goes quite crazy tearing around watering all the trees etc. He sure has a good life I believe.

Likes and dislikes about France.

Dislike. The fact that I can’t speak French and am too lazy to get on top of the problem.

Like. The way the French will generally tolerate our efforts at using some French and if it is accompanied with a smile, they too will make an effort to speak English.

Dislike. The queues at every La Poste (Post Office) in the land. It appears as though these public service houses have no business systems at all.

Like. The very friendliness of the French people and their willingness to help out if they can.

Dislike. The huge beauracracy which surrounds every business transaction.

Like. The way in which the road systems have been changed from using traffic lights on every corner to round-abouts.

Dislike. The number of round-abouts set up even on very minor country roads.

Like. The layback manner of the general populace when attending public gatherings. No shoving, pushing or jostling for position. Patience is a virtue.

Dislike. The French love of fishing and hunting. They will hook, shoot or trap anything which is regarded as game as being sport. The largest selling French sports magazine is “The Chasse.”

Like. The way French folk greet each other with a handshake or a kiss on each cheek. This is carried out even by children.

Dislike. The way French shop keepers, staff and general business staff will almost run over you at lunchtime when they are vacating buildings and driving to homes or going to restaurants when they close down for up to 2.5 hours.
Most babies are conceived during this period it is reported.

Like. Generally, children are not permitted to run loose in restaurants or to handle food at smorgasbords etc. No yelling or screaming seems to be tolerated.

We never stop learning ….I hope.

Rhonda's Comments: The kids come down to the quai in Villeton for "fishing lessons" - just love it.

Rhonda's Comments: Watching the All Blacks win against Argentina

With the RWC being well televised we have enjoyed watching the All Blacks progress through the first rounds and in particular beating our nemesis France so now wait for the Quarter finals to see how well The AB’s can handle the pressure.

Rhonda's Comments: The owners of restaurant in Villeton - they were so friendly.

During our stay at Villeton we have met with many folk who call by for a chat or enquire about our boat or ask, about the rugby etc. Yesterday a man called by to advise that he had travelled to New Zealand as a Les Blues (French Team) player in 1987 and still had great memories of his tour where he and his team mates were treated so well apparently by the New Zealanders wherever they went. We are so proud of the general great comments most visitors to New Zealand make about the hospitality extended to them while there. Sadly we read so much about negative events which tend to sour ones feelings about the state of behaviour of some of the locals who can spoil many great memories and it is typical anywhere around the world today.

Rhonda's Comments: Gill and Allan came to visit us in Villeton to wish Ken a happy birthday - it was great to see them.

While we have been at Villeton we have continued to experience fabulous weather and while it is autumn the temps are still around the high 20s with clear blue skies and no wind other than light breezes. It is now the main harvesting time so the combine harvesters and tractors seem to be working 24/7 cutting the huge fields of corn which are as high as an elephant’s eye and other crops so a really different landscape is appearing as the height of the crops is lowered and the soil reappears. Apples and Kiwi fruit are in abundance and the grapes are now ready for picking for this vintage of fine wines.

Rhonda' Comments: What a great day, good food and great friends.

On 30th September it was my 70th birthday (I am amazed that I have got this far) so Rhonda organised for about 10 of our nearby boating mates to join us at a neat little canal side restaurant about 1 km from here (so we walked there but got a ride back!!) to celebrate the big day. It was a beautiful day having a long lunch at the Bistrot-Restaurant on the canal at St Christophe. They came from Buzet and The Lot regions so under umbrellas set at tables out on the quayside we wined and dined and enjoyed each others company. Jude, Alan, Niki, Sandra, Terry, Louise and Alex all made this day so very special. Despite being told “No gifts” they obviously thought I might need topping up, so some great bottles of local products were passed on to me. All in all it was a great day and one which I will long remember for sure.

Rhonda's Comments: Ken even had his own stripper. Louise and her sexy legs.

To all the folk who have emailed birthday wishes and to those who have mailed cards a really BIG Thank You.

Ken, Rhonda and Harry

Locks: 597
Kms Travelled: 2825