Friday, November 18, 2011


23 October 2011

Well the saying “4 more years” is well and truly over, with the win of the Rugby World Cup by the famous All Blacks this morning in Auckland over France. We watched every game we could over the past 10 weeks of the tournament with our fingers crossed that we would make the final and despite me predicting at the start of the competition that the final would be between the All Blacks and les Blues, I did not imagine that the French were good enough to get there in the end but that’s sport for you. With our hearts in our mouths we sat and watched this game and it was not until the final whistle that we breathed and shouted our delight to the world.

Our French friends and associates sure won’t be feeling that way, but I have to say that New Zealand played the best rugby of the tournament and it would have been a tragedy for them to miss out. After a year of coal mine disasters, massive earthquakes and oil spills from a stricken ship onto some of the most beautiful beaches, the country will feel a whole lot more up-lifted by this great win.

We have been at Boé for a few weeks so far as we love it here on the outskirts of Agen (the prune capital of the world) and it is here we will stay for another few weeks before heading off to Moissac for our winter berth. From our little port here we have been able to drive to see new towns and countryside and enjoy the tail end of this magnificent autumn.

Being so centrally located we have had visits from folk from Buzet, Moissac and other locales but it has been the locals who have been so friendly. With the canal path lying right alongside “Somewhere” we get waves and smiles galore from passers by and the odd few who speak some English calling out as we have been flying the All Blacks and Kiwi flags since arriving here and added the French Tricolour when it became clear that they would be our finalist opponents.

The banter has been great and even today we had a lovely young couple with their children sitting outside on the grass and realised that they were talking English and it turned out that they are Kiwis from Glenfield, a suburb back in Auckland but now they live here so the partner can play rugby for Agen. For 6 years he has been playing here and they too love this area. They hope and plan to go back to Queenstown after next season to start their own business all being well. Andrew who originates from the UK and where he played for Bath before taking up a contract in New Zealand with Thames Valley, then North Harbour where he met Laani (his partner) who it turns out is Slade McFarland’s sister, a name synonymous with North Harbour and New Zealand rugby. Andrew received a contract from Agen which meant shifting his family of daughter and two small sons to this region of France so he could play in the BIG league. One has to admire so much, folk who will get off their bums and take chances and opportunities to advance their careers no matter what or where it takes them. The other evening they invited us to go to their home to enjoy a great roast meal of New Zealand lamb with all the trimmings. Wonderful meal and wonderful company and we look forward to seeing Andrew playing later this season.
Rhonda's Comments: Sunset at Boe

With the weather still holding in a mild warm pattern we have taken the opportunity to travel about this area and yesterday we drove to the Lot river to Port Lalande. It is here that another couple of our boating mates, Alan and Nicki off “Finca” who are a bit stuck at present due to the lack of water in the river preventing boats making the “crossing” a short area where it is necessary to engage a tug guide to ensure you can clear the rocks etc before one can move on to some 50 kms of beautiful gentle flowing clear water and where it’s possible to visit towns and villages along the way. It is reported to be one of France’s best loved waterways but is limited to seasonal water levels so one has to give care to planning such a trip in this area.

Rhonda's Comments: What a happy looking foursome - Nicki, Ken, Me and Alan

We went with Nicki and Alan to a restaurant perched high up on a high knoll village which gave magnificent views over the marvellous rolling country which spreads out below. Just stunning in every respect so we have decided to change our plans for next season and make every effort to get “Somewhere” onto the Lot for the cruising period so fingers crossed.

Over the past few days we have had a deluge of rain which has lifted the rivers by about 1.5 meters so “Finca” and others are still on the Lot due now to the water level being too high and too swift so as the saying goes “it never rains but it pours”. The canals do not alter very much at all so that is one of the good things that people enjoy as it makes boating easy really.

Rhonda's Comments: Another fabulous restaurant we found - Chateau Allot just near Boe.

We had been hoping to get to Spain for Christmas but missed out on the really discounted apartments available at that time but Rhonda got cracking again on the internet and found a great deal. A 2 bedroom self service penthouse apartment normally listed for €840 for one week but they were having a promotional sale of €126 per week so booked this very quickly and so we will be in Marbella from 14th January for 2 weeks. It is located just off the beach and not far from other wonderful places such as Gibraltar, Seville, Granada and Ronda, so hopefully this will give us a good winter break. Harry is welcome. (Well why wouldn’t he be Ha ha).

This beach side area became famous in the 70’s etc due to lack of any extradition agreements between Spain and most of the rest of the world so criminals and tax evaders made it their hideaway. Apparently the goings on during this period and over the next 15 or so years was unbelievable as money flowed like water. Australians will well remember that Christopher Skace, the developer and wild investor who owned the Mirage/Sheraton group of absolute luxury hotels throughout Australia and in Hawaii went broke owing hundreds of millions to creditors plus the tax man and did a bolt for Spain to escape the horde of creditors etc. There he held out for many years living in absolute luxury before the Australian government forced Spain to stop this ludicrous situation and he was brought back to Australia to face the music.

Rhonda's Comments: This the hotel boat "Saint Louis" which passes us many times. We met Barbara and Alisdair, the owners last year and it was good to catch up with them again.

Having been told by our new friends Andrew and Laani about a neat restaurant in a little village some 35 mins drive out from Boé, we decided to take a drive out there last Saturday and found the township of Roquecor perched high up on a rock bluff as part of this small but steep mountain set right in the middle of a large plain. We had been told that the Café du Centre Restaurant was run by an Australian lady and her French husband and that they had built up quite a reputation as being a popular watering hole for English speaking folks from miles around and that they also served great fish’n chips but only on a Friday.

We walked through the town looking at the old 13th century walls and so on before heading for lunch where we met Michelle and Jean-Marc, the hosts. After much chat about where we were from etc and how we had found them (their son used to play rugby with Andrew) and where and how did they get together in Australia etc. We had a fine meal and it seemed as though the only people in the bar were English and after chatting to a couple of them we were asked if we knew a David and Rosey who also had a barge on the canal but were renovating a house for themselves in the village and it eventuated that they were old acquaintances we had spent time with in Moissac the previous year. So off we went to find David and Rosey who were just taking a break from the huge task they have undertaken refurbishing this old farm type cottage. It was good to catch up on what they had been doing and to see them looking so well. The work they have undertaken has sure trimmed David down and given Rosy a look of satisfaction and achievement with what they have done. Well done is all we can say.

This week has been celebrated as “Poppy Week” or “Remembrance Week” in the UK and France to acknowledge the armed forces personnel who died in the “Great War” 1914-1918 and all wars since up to and including Afghanistan where so many of our lads have given their lives. This all culminates with “Remembrance Sunday” services when the nation stops for two minutes silence at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month.

This year the recorded attendees have grown again and in particular by the young people who seem so much more interested in this part of history than we did as kids. The pomp and ceremony attached to this day is filmed mainly in London but is very moving to watch on our TVs and while us Kiwis and Aussies have our own “Anzac Day” 25th April to acknowledge in particular the ill fated landing of Australian and New Zealand troops in Gallipoli which forged the two armies together forever as they fought the Turks on the cliffs after being ordered by Winston Churchill (then chief of Admiralty) to ‘go ahead’ despite it being clear to all who were there that this was doomed to failure before it began. Despite the slaughter, so much gallantry was exhibited by the Anzac troops that this event has been acknowledged every year since.

Rhonda's Comments: This is our view from the stern looking down the canal in Boe.

Life goes on and every one of us must be grateful for all we have been allowed to take as our own while respecting others who may not have the strength to do the same. With autumn coming to a close it will soon be time to leave Boe for another season and head off to Moissac for our winter hibernation. To all our readers we wish you all the very best regardless of wherever you are or what season you are experiencing.

Kindest regards,

Ken, Rhonda and Harry