Our first full day on the Canal

Tuesday 29th June

The sun was shining as we woke up on our first morning after a reasonably comfortable night in our new surroundings.  A good sized comfortable bed was only spoiled by the limited amount of bed covers causing a little grief in the middle of the night to one of us, hmm!!!

During the customary cuppa in bed we suddenly realised we had cereal, but no milk, bread for toast, but no butter or marmalade, oh dear🤭🤭🤭 and as we didn’t see any shops whilst walking about last night, headed off “before” breakfast with a plan to stop at the first place we came to with a shop.  Our chart told us the next shop was in Ventenac-en-Minervois, three and a half kms further downstream.

Arrived and moored up ok then headed to the shop which was on the quayside. We found a shack selling all manor of general groceries etc., but was very small so headed into the village.   Again up hills, again nothing, as dead as a doe-doe, so it was the shack or nothing.  To be fair we got what we needed so we’re happy, Christine could have her porridge and I had the usual Bran flakes but the shop also sold fresh baguettes, so naturally we had to have one which we enjoyed for breakfast.

Lovely scenery

We’re off, winding our way through the countryside, passing numerous vineyards but no wine to sup as we went😡😡😡, note to self, must get some as soon as possible, after all we are in one of France’s major wine region. 

When we collected the boat from “Locaboat” christened “Daisy” incidentally!!!, we noted all their other boats moored in their Marina and as we chugged along at 8-KPH, we passed another boat rental company, and their marina was also full of hire boats, we presume COVID has caused all this, but as I say, every cloud and all that, the canal isn’t busy!!!

Miles miles of grapevines

Our next stop  30-km’s further on at Capestang, an old canal port that has re-invented itself into a mooring destination with bollards on both sides of the canal, plug-in points and water points. This place has history going back to Roman times but that’s for another time.

Geoff meandering all over the road

After lunch we decided it was time to un-leash the bicycles, one was supplied so obviously we were “forced to get a second”!!!!   The last time I had been on a bike was about 5-years ago and I fell off so this was a challenge that has to be taken.  So with Sat Nav set for the local “Intermarche” and set for “bikes”, we were on our way.   Apart from the Sat Nav falling over in the basket, it was plain sailing as we wobbled along, well we were going down hill which helped!!!  We arrived but first I had forgotten my pesky mask so I waited outside whilst Christine bought me a packet of them.   That’ll teach me to forget them, these are heavy, thick and just plainly awful.

Fully loaded!

Shopping complete including fizzy and plain water, wine, Pastis, bleach and washing up liquid; all heavy items that had we to get back to the boat.   Fortunately these old fashioned bikes had a shopping basket on the front, though I’m not too sure if they were designed for such weight!!!  so off we wobbled even more than before when we spotted a sign pointing to the canal for pedestrians, obviously a different route than we had on Sat Nav, still we went that way.    Travelling twice the distance, navigating steps and a reshuffle of our loads as the basket on Christine’s bike came apart, we arrived back on Daisy, still the good news was, neither of us fell off.   Will we use them again?? I wonder!!!

Back on board and we’ve decided to stop the night, we are opposite a restaurant that seems to have a nice menu, so we may be tempted.

Daisy has a way of her own, steering in a straight line takes all our concentration. I suspect she is keel-less and a rudder the size of a small spoon, her reactions to the helm are extremely slow but to ensure she goes where you want, one has to anticipate when to correct her but hopefully we have the measure of her now and she will do as she is told🤞🤞. The prop is electric running off batteries and they are charged by a generator, a sort of hybrid, halfway to being eco friendly I suppose.  

Trying to keep boat on course!

The lure of the restaurant was too much so we went across, fortunately they had a spare table as they were booked up and by the time we had settled into our aperitifs, the restaurant was heaving, obviously very popular.

After a superb meal washed down with copious amounts of local wine, we staggered all of 20-meters back to the boat and bed.

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