Saturday, May 5, 2012


Well here we are again bringing you an update of what has happened since our last blog which we thought may well have been the last one before we sold the boat and returned to New Zealand but due to circumstances beyond our control we were delayed so a new season moved into view. Our buyer for “Somewhere” unfortunately had difficulty in selling his home in the UK so had not been able to finalise the deal we had with him. As a result we put the boat back onto the market and life just went on so we went back to our earlier plan to try to get out to The Lot for this cruising season.

With the locks due to open on the 10th of March we were getting the boat ready to set off once the weather had improved so much after the coldest February in 40 years. The ice and snow coupled with the cold weather in general made this period one of misery and one which I sure don’t wish to experience again.

"Bye Kaz and Iain", another cruising season begins.

For nearly 3 weeks we were surrounded with snow and ice and as it was so unusual for these conditions to get to this area the local authorities had not bought any supplies of grit or salt so the roads and footpaths stayed like skating rinks which was so dangerous for cars and pedestrians alike. The cold affected so many things but the two I suppose are worth highlighting was the skating on the ice by our pal Alex at Buzet and then the collapse of the facade on our 3 storey Post Office (La Poste). Water must have got between the brick veneer and the old surface and as it turned to ice it pushed off the veneer so the wall came tumbling down luckily at night so nobody was injured but meant the closing of the post office for 3 weeks at least.

Once the temps had risen all the ice melted away thank goodness and there was a feeling of spring in the air. Even the fish are seemingly plentiful in the canals again so the fishermen are out and about again.

Taking our wares for sale to the Vide Grenier
 We finally got our new (old) car sorted out and it seems to run pretty well and gives us wheels to at last get around and will be a boon for the coming season. Cars here are expensive and this 1995 Ford Mondeo with 275,000 kms on the clock was a cheap buy at 850 Euros plus 400.00E required for a brake job as well. With all its rattles and dents it would have been unsaleable in New Zealand but beggars can’t be choosers so it will have to do.

When we set off from here we headed to Boé on the outskirts of Agen where we have spent many pleasant weeks in the past so at least Harry would be really happy as he has a whole bunch of mates there. While there I should be able to finish off my paint touch ups and give the boat a good polish too.

Harry meets up with his friends every morning in Boe

Well after another few days we got clearance to move down the canal so with help from our friends Linda and Graham off “Effie” we moved the car down to Boé and hitched a ride back to Moissac leaving the “bucket of bolts” in the car park right by the canal. This allowed Rhonda and me to travel together on “Somewhere” for a change so we set off at 10.30 am and was the first boat through for the season so had an escort by the VNF (the canal authority officers) who drove to each lock and set them and opened them etc to ensure they worked ok which was just as well as we experienced three failing so having experts on site meant we were not held up for too long.

When we drove down with the cars it took about 45 mins but by canal it took us 3 hours each day but it was lovely really. With an overnight stopover at Valence d’Agen it was a pretty lazy voyage and we arrived in Boé, tied up on the quay and Harry was right back to his favourite park and by late afternoon a few of the old regulars had come walking past and heralded our arrival again.

Another wonderful evening with Gill and Alan
With spring conditions being apparent it has been easy to enjoy this area and as a result we have been out and about in the car and even back to Moissac to go for blood tests, followed by doctors appointment and then on Saturday we drove to there again to see Alan and Gill who had just returned from their camping car trip to Spain where they had a great time. We were able to watch a couple of the 6 Nations Rugby games with them before heading off to celebrate Irene’s 60th Birthday party at the old Sunbeam Bar which has been the boaties watering hole for the past few years. A nice evening was had and we drove home to the boat on Sunday to rest up and relax again.

We began spring cleaning of the boat so it was paint touch up time and polishing wherever plus cleaning the windows and all the brasses etc. We had the hotel boat “Rosa” call in and tie up in front of us while they went off to collect a new bunch of cruise people so it is a real memory jogger to us in that this was the boat which featured the chef Rick Stein doing his French Odyssey TV Series we had watched in New Zealand that got us convinced that we should sell up and come to France for our own adventures and we sure have had some wonderful cruising and visiting of towns and villages along the way. There are only words like "amazing" and "wonderful" which can describe the countryside and the people who are wonderful and accommodating if one can overcome the language difficulties.

"Somewhere" meets "Rosa"
 “Rosa” has an interesting life plying the local waterways and seems to be well supported by Americans and Australians who say they just love the peace and quiet of the region with its fruit bowl capabilities and lots of wine varieties to work ones way through.

Sadly like the rest of the world it would seem that France has got its share of “bloody lunatics” roaming around with whatever twisted thoughts and minds they may have and in the last few weeks we had 3 soldiers shot and then executed by a gunman on a motor scooter while they were waiting for the cash machine to respond to their requirements at the bank in central Montauban just 30 mins drive from here. After finishing the soldiers off by shooting again in the head he drove off and police seemed to have no idea who the perpetrator was but there was also a report that another soldier was shot in Toulouse about an hours drive away and then this morning we received the terrible news that 3 children and a Rabbi had been gunned to death in a similar manner at a Jewish school in Toulouse and again the murderer had escaped on a motor scooter so the country was on high alert and we hoped that this dreadful series of events was bought to a satisfactory conclusion quickly. At least we do know that the French authorities wouldn’t be applying too much “health and safety” to the evil mongers who had stolen so many innocents lives. Provided we don’t get another English soccer player suffering a serious illness or a damaged toe or similar we waited to get some coverage on our TV networks so be able to keep track of how the case progressed.

Blossom Time

Well talk about The Keystone Cops (those of my vintage will remember the old movies showing farcical behaviour by these coppers who always got it wrong by doing the most ridiculous things). After someone advised the police as to the identity of this killer, they arrested his brother, girlfriend and mother. They then decided that the perpetrator was alone in an apartment but heavily armed and in fact had shot at more police as they walked up to his door and knocked to see if he was in. Amazing.

Well a siege took place with no less that 300 heavily armed police standing around outside and covering all aspects of the building. A communication line was set up with him and he strung the police along for over 30 hours with promises to give himself up at various times but saying he really wanted to die with a gun in his hand.  For some reason, no knock out gas was pumped into the building but finally the next day flash bang grenades were shot into the building but as he was hiding in the bathroom, they were ineffectual but eventually he made a break for it shooting wildly and injuring more police before a marksman on another building shot him dead.  After it taking all TV channels about 2 days before they started live coverage this then became the occupying main news every hour.  What a shambles and while the 300 cops were tied up with this one wonders what was happening to the rest of the civilians who had to just get on with life.

Take your pick - yum

Market Days will be just one of the many things we will miss about France
 We took a break off the boat on Sunday and drove up to Buzet to join Louise and Alex on "Riccall" for a home cooked meal and a glass of wine. In the beautiful sunshine we were able to sit outside and soak up the rays. While there we also called on Terry off "Felix" who was baching while Sandra was back in the UK. A good day was had with a fair exchange of gossip and news so suitably loaded up we drove back to “Somewhere” enjoying all the beautiful rural scenery which is just bursting with the spring growth.

We met up with the new group who had joined “Rosa” in readiness for their 4 day cruise. They were all from Neutral Bay in Sydney and were amazed at the beauty of the countryside so were excited about getting going to Montauban before heading back to Paris and all the bright city life that huge city offers.They were stunned by the lovely evenings and commented on the canal which at night looked to have a surface of polished silver as we seemed to be back to those still days and evenings we have come to love and know we will miss when we leave here.

As a part of selling and thinking about “going home” we have had to make arrangements for Harry to meet the NZ quarantine regulations. Despite being told when we left New Zealand at the start of our adventure that provided we kept his inoculations and vet checks done every year on or before the annual date due he would have no problems getting back into New Zealand. Well sadly this is not the case due to these new regulations and if we wanted to fly home from Heathrow in London he would have to spend 6 months as a permanent residence of that country and if we want to fly home from Paris he has to have a rabies blood test and await the results for 3 months before he can travel, again despite the annual inoculations.. Put all these costs together and we are looking at almost NZ$5,000.00 to get him home. He had better behave for the rest of his life eh.  Isn’t it weird though that all these regulations apply including the quarantine time in New Zealand and $1500 worth of N.Z. govt vets fees and paperwork just to get him home again yet we allow goodness only knows, to walk in through our borders carrying whatever disease and nobody gives a hoot. Bureaucracy gone mad I feel.

"Even I need to do some shopping for the family"

Only in France can you take your dog with you shopping into the supermarche
 Well since leaving Moissac for our stay at Boe where we intended to hang out until the boat is “sold” and all the paperwork done, we missed a double tragedy of a Portuguese couple and their dog drowning in the canal just behind where we were berthed. Apparently they drove into the canal (we don’t know if it was in error or was a suicide) but were not found for almost two weeks after being reported as missing. So sad and frightening really. Glad we weren’t there to see the grizzly find.

After 3 weeks of fabulous spring/summer weather we had a real change which bought light rain and cooler temps so according to the long term weather forecast we have a while to go before the best of the best returns.

No wonder I never wore it,
I don't think I will take this hat home!!!
 We have begun packing our belongings and personal effects so the cabins are full of packing cartons and the rubbish bags are full of “not required” clothing etc. It is amazing how much some clothes have shrunk since last worn plus a certain little dog is not happy at all. He seems to be fretting about the change to the normal situation so hope this doesn’t carry on for long. Spring cleaning has gone well as has the touch ups to the paint etc. “Somewhere” looks great and we are often complimented by passers by, some of who speak English so we trust the new owner will enjoy the great look she is carrying. At this time we look to be handing the boat over to the new owner on the 13th May 2012 so we will all be facing a new way of life from there on in.

Luckily we have been offered a free home to look after just north of here as the couple have gone home to New Zealand until June so we will move in there and look after their dog Sativa and a couple of piglets and to mow the lawns with the ride on tractor mower. It will be fun, I think.

How many frenchmen does it take to float a boat!!
 At our marina here at Boe we noticed a yacht similar to a 20 ft trailer sailor sinking at its mooring so advised the police and marine authorities who were all excited. Our concern was the amount of fuel and oil escaping into the canal so imagined rapid response would be the “go” but after a week, a hi-hab turned up with 8 workers to try to attempt to lift it out, however after standing around for a couple of hours I flagged the watching so will look forward to seeing if they get it out by tomorrow.  Eventually the boat was lifted to a floating position, tied to the jetty and has been left. Well done VNF.

Well after the most beautiful March weather we have now had the worst April weather for 20 years with rain and wind every day. Just awful and it has delayed my final painting and finishing work on the boat but has allowed me to proceed with packing some 30 cartons and wraps as we have received firm advice that the boat is sold and we need to get it ready for handover on the 13th May so another chapter of our adventure will draw to a close. A carrier will call at Moissac and collect all the packages and ship them back to New Zealand for us.

"Riccall" says goodbye to "Somewhere"

We will of course be sorry to leave behind so many “longest village” friends and the great beauty of this country and all its great offerings. To anybody planning to come to France for any sort of period of time I cannot suggest strongly enough that one should learn as much French as is possible and can assure people that while we have coped well really despite our very limited ability of using the French language, I am first to admit that we have missed out on so much by not being able to at least have an ability to have what is referred to as conversational French. I envy those folk who we have met along the way who for whatever reason learned French from their Primary School days in the United Kingdom or from frequent visits to France. Sure there are many things the French do which we can disagree with and a number of these are very annoying but as they say C’est la Vie. “that’s Life” “this is France” and we will be forever grateful for the opportunity, experiences and adventures we have had in the 3 and half years of being afloat on the canals of France.

The garden flourishes

As Steve Bridges will be the new owner and skipper of “Somewhere” after the 13th May and who I am sure those of you who get the opportunity to meet him will find him to be charming and hospitable and ask you to welcome him to “our” part of the Village.

Good luck to you all and we hope that we can at least stay in touch via emails etc and hope that one day you too get the opportunity to visit us in Godsown. There will always be a cuppa and or a glass of wine for our friends and as we say farewell we wish you great cruising or vacationing and may your safety and health be premium class.

The final Farewell will be Sunday 13th May, 2012

I think there is still one more Blog in us.

Love Ken, Rhonda and of course Harry


  1. It has been an interesting journey to follow and we have been regular readers to your blog. We'll be a little disappointed that it all comes to a finish.

  2. It has been an interesting journey to follow and we have been regular readers to your blog. We'll be a little disappointed that it all comes to a finish.