And typical Spring weather it is, with a few days of sun - then showers. Angie came back from England with a bad cold which meant Kes had to continue with Peter's limited dog walking stamina - but that doubled when the fair weather dog walkers from 'Linda' joined in. The canal and town edged into tourist mode on 1 March and we had our first early season plaisanciers through. First a job lot of paint leftovers:
Then the ugliest boat for a while (though very quiet given its electric propulsion)
In a really warm spell we decided on an 'end of Winter' BBQ - which as usual started early and finished late.
Peter was feeling virtuous after changing the antifreeze in the main engine in January but, when he went to sort out a minor leak in one of the header tank feeds, found a nut had dropped off into the tank - so out it all came again - then on re-assembling/refilling a washer dropped in - all out again - and not a swear word heard. It is not possible to drain anything on the engine without some liquid going into the bilge, so he is now an expert in cleaning that as well! His final piecé de resistance was fitting additional solar panels, where he found the 12V panels were running at 20V so a quick unplanned change from series to parallel wiring. They are doing a great job of charging the batteries so fingers crossed they keep it up for the season.
Back to more cultural activities - the town is waking from hibernation with the pavement cafes springing to life., beggars on the corners and lost looking tourists asking for boat rides. A local town guide offered a trip to the bargees around the 'nouvelle ville' (as opposed to the ancienne Cité) in preparation for his real tourist work - some interesting spots - especially tucked away in courtyards. In general, the French don't maintain or present their old buildings to a UK standard though.
|Lots of old remnants built in|
|Still keeping good time|
|Derelict underground chapel - lots of potential but needs updating!|
|The English speaking contingent plus Stephanie|
|Another possible winter bolthole for Angie?|
The seasonal sport of watching hire boats attempting to moor up (with a crew of thousands) has started. A nice Dutch sailing barge joined us to add a bit of class.
and a lovely little Pilot Cutter
Our son has just been on holiday in Abu Dhabi/Hong Kong and the photos have triggered the wanderlust - we are planning another year in the South but we can sense a few 'off barge' trips later in the year.
Our neighbours on Sirius decided to have the stern gear checked 'Yes the propeller is in situ'.
Our last week in Carcassonne was beautiful sun. Angie farewelled her French and Pilates courses and a couple of impromptu gatherings on the quai side meant trips to the local pizzeria for takeaways (who wants to cook after lots of vin rouge) note the Pizzeria gave the ladies a glass of wine each whilst waiting and a pleasant bottle on the house to take with them (only in France).
Then it was off westwards - only one day earlier than planned. Only a 3 hour run (to make sure nothing was going to drop off - Angie extracted us well - beautiful day and only Kes a bit down in the mouth.