This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
POSTCARD FROM LEONIE


upon thousands of mayflies and dragonflies; a polecat running across a lock gate; countless herons; little and large egrets; grass snakes swimming across the water and birds of prey everywhere (red kites, black kites, honey buzzards) including a cloud of some 70 – 100 above a dump, possibly, on the west bank near Chalon-sur-Saone. We have also seen


four storks soaring high above on the rising ther- mals, a huge eel bigger than my arm twisting at the surface of the river, a South American coypus, frogs, a mink swimming towards the canal bank, herds of cows cooling off in the river, and the amazing sight of a sparrow hawk swooping down on a colony of irides- cent bee-eaters at eye level some two metres from our boat while in a tranquil anchorage. And of course we have been


bitten by vampire mosquitoes and midges, suffering our most gruelling night of insect-feasting at a grain silo mooring dense with overhanging trees and muggy air preceding a huge thunder and lightning storm. After we left the Champagne re- gion the scenery became even more rural (if possible) with crop fields stretching as far as the eye could see on either side of the canal, hay bales scattered across fields and stacked up in barns, and villages few and far between.


We breakfasted on the biggest,


most buttery croissants here though, thanks to a fab mobile boulangerie and one night ordered kebabs from a caravan café beside our remote mooring. On July 15th


we Ginny at the helm


began to descend the high plateau after motoring for 45minutes through a 5km tunnel. From then on the locks were all downhill (which is much easier than going up) towards the Mediterranean. A few days later


we got stuck in one of them for an hour-


and-a-half as the gates wouldn’t open to let us out and we had to wait for the VNF man to come and rescue us. At Maxilly-sur-Saone we found a


very old fashioned village shop run by a nice old lady who, by the sounds of it, took a break from watching Kill Bill, out the back, to serve us. That evening,


after drinking a bottle of white wine, we were invited for drinks on board another boat by an English couple, Lisa and Jeff, who run carp fishing lakes in France but escape to the canals in their motor boat whenever they get


the chance. The next day saw us leave the canal system and enter the beautiful River Saone. As much as we enjoyed the canals,


it felt great to be back on a wide open river with, this time, a 1.5knot flow in our favour. our first stop on the saone was at


a marina in Auxonne where I treated Carl to a birthday eve meal on the terrace of a riverside restaurant, fol- lowed by a birthday picnic and swim in the cool blue river the next day. The Saone is a stunning river with lots of pretty towns to stop in and it is full of wildlife. While travelling on the river, the Sirocco wind blew up, a hot wind from the South. It blew a force 4-5 and created white horses and biggish waves in the wider, more exposed parts of the Saone and we both received face-fulls of water sev- eral times while helming Leonie. At one point we found ourselves


travelling in a huge thunderstorm with rains to match a tropical monsoon. Carl helmed as there was no point in us both getting wet, so I stayed down below (apart from going up to help out with a lock, when I got absolutely soaked anyway as our wet- weather gear is


Carl’s birthday at Auxonne


rubbish) and tried to keep Leonie dry. Leonie leaked a


bit in the rain as the fierce sun had caused her wooden deck to shrink. Our bed got damp but luckily we were able to plug into electricity at a free halt in Belleville and use the hairdryer to dry it. The storm abated overnight but its ferocity was echoed in the brown and faster-flowing river that was full of debris including trees, logs and strangely, lots of footballs. Less than two weeks after entering


Champagne Region


the River Saone we had reached the city of Lyon, where the Saone merges with the Rhone (or vice-versa) so we arrived on the Saone and left on the Rhone, heading onwards and down- wards towards Arles and the open mediterranean sea.•


85


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92  |  Page 93  |  Page 94  |  Page 95  |  Page 96  |  Page 97  |  Page 98  |  Page 99  |  Page 100  |  Page 101  |  Page 102  |  Page 103  |  Page 104  |  Page 105  |  Page 106  |  Page 107  |  Page 108  |  Page 109  |  Page 110  |  Page 111  |  Page 112  |  Page 113  |  Page 114  |  Page 115  |  Page 116