|Ecluse de la Saigne in the early morning|
This was the first time on this canal, although we had a drive along it a few years ago, and decided it was a "must do". We picked up the hire boat from the base in Châtillon-en-Bazois, where the castle overlooks the wide basin. Fortunately, as every interesting building in France seems to be covered in scaffolding when I arrive, there was a handy clump of trees in front of the château.
When we started off again, the lock keeper at Mingot, a student holiday stand-in, asked us if we'd like to listen to his music, and of course for entente cordiale's sake we said yes. When the lock was full he picked up his vielle (hurdy gurdy) and gave us three marvelous traditional French folk tunes. A cheerful interlude after an annoying breakdown! He was a skillful player and the instrument was beautiful with hand inlaid mother of pearl. I forgot to take a photo, but here is one I took earlier at a show though it isn't nearly as pretty. It's quite a popular instrument in France and looks quite complicated to play.
|A vielle or hurdy gurdy|
|The wall separating the lake from the canal at Baye|
Setting off after a moment of relaxation on deck, we headed back South stopping above Bazolles overnight, a pleasant rural stretch surrounded by fields and not much else. Due to foreseen circumstances, we had to be back at the boatyard by Monday evening for a spare part to be fitted to the oven, and to hook up to power. Typical of French canals, it's quite hard to find a power connection - they're either not working, need a card or some such from the mairie which is closed by the time you get there, or everyone else has got there before you and there are no places left. This was the case when we got back to Châtillon, the only available spaces were too far from the power sockets, though we did try draping the power cable over a for sale boat which had been there for some time, it wouldn't quite reach. No matter, the engineer came and fitted the part while I walked the dogs, and we had tartiflette for dinner.
Next morning bright and early, we entered the lock out of the basin at Châtillon with another privately owned boat. We could see that they were concerned about the proximity of our boat to theirs, so we were using the controls to keep away, when suddenly - no forward or reverse! I went to the inside steering position and managed to get us gingerly out of the lock from there, peering through misty windows. We moored up again, still within sight of the hire base this time, so went and gave them the glad tidings. While there, I had time to get out my long lens and caught a black redstart on the fence.
Making up for lost time again, we pushed on through the winding section until we came to rest below Sauzay lock, operated by a very cheerful lock keeper so he got two bottles of beer instead of the usual one. The whole southern part of this canal is very rural but this part seems particularly isolated - lovely!
To be continued....
|Soggy doggy on the sun deck - Ginny and Raffles relaxing|