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(Right) Under the Citadel at Dinant, Belgium. Very impressive scenery !
(Left) A typical canal scene. still water, reflections, trees.
(Right) The Chalk hills of Champagne seen above the houses in the middle right. The chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes grow on vines whose roots find their way into and through the chalk which, when moistened, is very porous. The chalk holds the moisture and warmth through the cold winters and is cool in the hot summers allowing the grapes to continue growing, taking on sugar and avoiding damage. The vendage (picking) begins in October and new grapes start soon after that. We are told that all the premier label grapes are hand picked (and given the steep slopes, would have to be), and that champagne begins to go off before release, due to air being introduced when the dead yeast is removed (degorgement) - so - drink it when you get it !
(Below) Just a few of the more than 7,000,000 bottles undergoing the processes in Piper Heidsieck's caves in Dijon. They have some 10km of underground tunnels (caves) in which the wine from up to 5 years is processed.
(Right) A champagne tasting session in the Maison L'Amiable in Tours sur Marne, a town on the canals in Champagne. Dr Amiable is second from the left, his son to the left of him. Others in the party are Tam and Di Murrell, Laurie and Marlene O'Meara, the McDaniells and Tam and Di's Barge Handling Course students.
(Left) 'Australians all, let us rejoice' - The flag raising by Laurie and Marlene, first guests on board Van Nelle in October 2001 in Champagne. The O'Meara's very kindly lent us the Australian flag they had taken throughout Europe many years before. We had a formal flag raising ceremony.
(Right) Laurie the new helmsman , hard at work in the demanding Champagne canals. Laurie, who has been an aircraft pilot, showed great talent and skill at handling a big barge in the short time he had with us.
(Below) What better way to spend the afternoon than a long French lunch - pate, cheese, baguettes, wine, sunshine and friends.
(Right) One of the tunnels on the waterways, this one in Champagne is some 4.5km long and just above 3.5m clearance.
(Left) Rows of chardonnnay waiting to be picked to make up about 60% of the mixture of three types found in champagne. Chardonnay is used for finesse and flavour
(Right) Pinot Noir, used to provide for body in champagne, accompanied by it's cousin, pinot meuniere, used for length and flavour.
(Left) The beautiful gardens at Monet's former residence near Paris.
(Right) A Halte Fluviale. Places for 'plaisanciers' (pleasure boaters) to stop overnight, or for some days. Some are provided free of charge, others cost either a set fee or an amount per metre per night. Some provide electricity and water, others do not.
(Left) Picnic time 'a cote de canal'. A lazy Sunday lunch taken on Tuesday or Friday. Marcus and Else Leguyt's boat 'ST 53' is behind.
(Right) Our transport is a motor scooter that has to be winched on and off Van Nelle's bow, but only if we moor with the port (left) side of the boat against the shore.
(Left) Humerous statues in the double towns of Charleville-Meziers. This is a place of national prominence for it's artistic programs and has a beautiful theatre in the town square.
(Left) Sunset on the canals can be very spectacular.
(Left) The park in St Dizier has four statues depicting the seasons, each, according to the temperature of the season, with more or less clothing - this is Summer !
(Right) A swing bridge open for us by the accompanying eclusier who is standing on the bridge. In this part of France, each boat or small group are accompanied through each lock and on to the next one by an eclusier on a scooter. After each section a new one takes over so they don't get too far from home.
(Left) The Theatre - a jewel in a very pretty ville
(Right) The Chateau de Grande Jardin at Joinville
(Left) Van Nelle has a new driver
(Below) An old canal running through Joinville
(Right) Out of the mist. A great shot taken by Marcus Leguyt of Van Nelle as we approached the overnight 'halte fluviale'.
(Left) Steetside in Langres. This is a fortified town on the top of an imposing hill (2 km ride up from the canal !), which has been preserved very nearly as it was three hundred and more years ago. It has all the fortified walls, entrances and guard posts in place and most of the streets inside the walls are populated with the original buildings, many being refurbished.
On this street are the imposing Jesuit school (right) and cathedral (right rear). The statue at the left rear is of M. Diderot, a native of Langres, known as a philosopher and poet (?)
(Below) Roger and Lindy Tindley's 'Hoivande'
(Right) More mist in the morning, this time at Auxonne, the place Napoleon Bonaparte undertook his artillery training which led to his command of troops and his rise to power.
(Left) St Jean de Losne. Pretty as a postcard. VN is centre right, moored at the Quai Nationale, just in front of two cafes. After nearly three weeks in this place we were politely told that it was meant for short stays only. We left for three days in Chalons sur Saone and then to the Gardee, our winter mooring.
(Right) Steve and Akeyo visited us at St Jean de Losne on their way south. More showers for Akeyo ! This very pretty Japanese aid worker has very long hair and both she and her hair enjoy long showers.
(Left) The gang at St Jean on the back deck of Van Nelle for drinks. These quiet little drinks (qld's) tend to get noisier !
(Right) Dinner aboard Van Nelle with Marcus, Else and Lindy. Roger (Lindy's mari [husband]) was away flying a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) for an oil company, aboard a platform in the North Sea. The ROVs are used where divers cannot go to the depths required to weld pipes and make repairs or adjustments to the underwater oil drilling gear.
(Right) A dance party aboard Van Nelle after a quiet (?) dinner ashore - see below for the street scene !.
(Left) The party that started in the cafe L'Amiral and ended up on Van Nelle with a tour of the streets in between. And then, sadly, Marcus and Else left for Lyon.
(Left) The new home for Van Nelle and the McDaniells, the 'gardee' or 'ancien derivation de St Jean de Losne', an unused part of the old waterways system, now a part of the H2O Port de Plaisance.
This is where we will winter from mid November until some time in March. Last year the water rose above the level of the stone quais you can see the boats tied up to. If you did not have a floating set of steps and a gangway, you did not get ashore !
(Right) 'The Park' before we arrived and took the whipper snipper to it. In the next pic you can see a well tended garden in the mooring next to ours.
(Right) Van Nelle in 'the park'. We have inherited 40m x 10m of land against which we are moored. It was left derelict by the previous tenant who did not cut the grass for more than 2 years. We did it in a day in the first week with a whipper snipper (grass cutter) but it is still heavily covered by mole hills. The moles have been here longer than us so they can keep their little mounds.
(Left) If we thought we had problems, here is Ian MacLean and Helen Jordin's luxemotor 'Mea Vota' laid up for winter at St Symphorien which, as you can see, has no water, thus the boats there are high and dry on the mud. There are some people still living on board their boats !!!!! St Symphorien is near St Jean and has another canal starting there. The reservoir was damaged and hence the lack of water as repairs to it and locks are carried out over winter.
(Right) Van Nelle and the 'Park' covered in morning ice
Some ice on the table on the stern (these pics taken late November !).
(Below) This is before we set out and (right) after 6 months. The old couple are towing their barge, just as younger parents had their children do the same !
(Left) The Quai National at St Jean around 1915. See other pictures above for comparisons.
(Right) The St Jean brass band on parade on St Nicholas Day. St Nic is the patron saint of bargepeople and schools and on this day (9 Dec) he arrived by barge into the town that was furnished with a street market, mulled wine stalls and entertainments for the children.
One of a series of parties held over winter at L'Amiral. The owner, Giles. is second from the right.
You can't have a party at L'Amiral without the resident accordionist. No one has ever heard him play anything they know but he plays along anyway and provides interesting dance music.
While on the subject of parties, restaurants or food in general, here are some home cooked quiches, great for lunches while underway.
This is the Hotel Dieu in Beaune, the centre of Burgundian wine production. The Hotel Dieu, a gift from a 17th C Duke, was a hospital for the poor and the rich, built to alleviate suffering just after the 100 years war. It was a hospital until about 1986 or so and is funded by its own extensive vineyards and farming properties. It is now a fabulously re-appointed tourist attraction.
Two pictures of Lausanne in Switzerland, taken on a quick trip to renew the tourist visa. We stayed at the Munsters Castle (below), in Montreaux where the famous Jazz Festival is held.
Not really the Munster's house, this is the 2 star hotel at only $A 120 per night for the room. Breakfast was not served as the girl who cooked was off sick. I however reported my jacket missing from the room overnight only to be reminded by the owner (who found it under my pillow) that I had used it to bolster the sleeping equipment.
Who would have thought the Swiss made wine - and in quantity. It tastes Ok though a little bland.
Many will have read about Little Nellie and her escape from certain death at the hands (or flukes) of Van Nelle's propellor. Here she is, being repaired. You may be able to see the gash on the transom on the left and above it , large sections that had to be almost entirely replaced.
And here is Little Nellie being rowed for the first time since she was patched up. Unfortunately at this time she still leaked and had to undergo additional extensive skin grafts. At the time of writing, that had been completed and the sea trials scheduled for the next day.
Sunset on the Ancien Ecluse, you can see a commercial barge working it's way down river, outside the old lock.
This is a slightly different scene looking in the opposite direction. That white stuff is snow covered ice that formed before Christmas and stayed with us for weeks. Yep, it's snow on the deck as well !
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