Monday, 3 October 2016

Gien and Briare

Friday, 30th September 2016

The weather forecast says, rain, this evening, but, as I lie in bed at 7:00am, I can hear rain pattering on the roof, this is not good.

Surprisingly, after the poor start, there is no more rain, although, it stays cloudy all day, temperatures are still reasonable however at 18C.

We set off on the scooter to find the Le Clerc, Hypermarket, to do the obligatory shopping for Wine, etc.

We do not find the Le Clerc, but, we do find a Carrefour, and do some serious (ie lots of) wine buying, to fill up the available carrying space on the scooter.

After lunch, another attempt to find Le Clerc, success, more wine is acquired.

You may gather from this, signposting and advertising of Supermarkets is not a French strong point, you would be right!

Eventually, 19:00, the rain comes.

Saturday, 1st October 2016

Torrential rain, all night, not that it bothers me, I am a sound sleeper!

Rain slowly clears, by 10:30, we are able to walk to the market, without being soaked.

Typical market, we actually buy something (universal plug, for the sink, ours appears to have been lost, by someone, who uses it when washing their hair, no names, no packdrill), a whole 1Euro, spent, on a pack containing four universal sink plugs.

In the evening, with black clouds threatening another downpour, which, fortunately, did not materialise, we take a three mile scooter ride to Saint-Martin-sur-Ocre, so Kathleen can go to Church.

Sunday, 2nd October 2016

Brilliant sunshine and a clear blue sky this morning, but, it is a very autumnal 9C, warming to 17C by mid afternoon.

Sunday morning, for Kathleen, is taken up with major hair-care operations. In addition, we wash everything which can be washed and charge everything which can be charged, fill up with water etc, because we expect to spend a few nights "roughing it" on Aires, as we make our way north to Dunkirk.

Scooter loaded onto trailer, along with bicycles.

All packed and ready to go, by 17:00.

The site had been almost empty, but, around lunch time, we get new neighbours, a very elderly French couple, with what appears to be enough equipment for a months stay, and, it all appears to be brand new.

Late in the afternoon, there is an influx of campervans and caravans, mostly Dutch (no surprise there) and, it would appear travelling in groups of two or three.

Monday, 3rd October 2016

Autumn is here today, only 1C, and fog on the river. But, the sun clears away the fog, for a very pleasant sunny day, with a balmy 20C by mid afternoon.

I cannot resist an attempt at some "arty" shots of the fog, on the RIver Loire.

Plenty of time, because today, we plan to travel only about nine miles, along the Loire, to Briare.

Briare, is the meeting point of two canals, and, there is an impressive acquaduct
carrying the Canal over the River Loire.

We cycled there a few days ago, and, there is an Aire, where we plan to stay for a couple of days, and cycle along the Briare Canal.

We call at Le Clerc, to fill up with diesel and do some food shopping, then, final alcohol shopping, at the Lidl, just outside of Briare.

There is at actually at least two Aires, possibly three. We choose the most scenic one, along side the canal. No Services, but a pleasant view. N47 38'3" E2 44'25". It is just across the road from the "official" Aire.

It is such a short distance, it is hardly worth the effort of giving a map, but, for completeness, here it is.

The short journey, in video.

We arrive, just after 12:00 lunch time, and get one of the last two spaces, so, clearly a popular spot, the moral of the story is, be early!

We are parked next to another English couple, Deryk and Lesley, from Hampshire, although, Deryk is really a Sunderland lad, his parents emigrated to the Hayes in the 1930's!

A delightful couple, who are indulging their love of "geo-caching".

Once settled, and a quick lunch, Kathleen suggests she will treat me to a glass of Rose, in one of the village cafe/bars.

All very fine, we select a bar, Kathleen orders to very nice, but, rather expensive (12Euro) glasses (yes, that is 6Euro per glass, not per bottle!) of Rose, and, we are given "free" local spicy sausage, in a small bowl. 

Fortunately, Kathleen does not like the sausage, so, I get to eat it all.

Now for the finale, Kathleen has forgotten her purse!, so, I get to pay for my own "treat".
While sitting in the sun, watching the boats go by, an elderly chap, riding on a mobility scooter, towing a cycle trailer, with a collie dog riding in it. Stops, and chats to us. 

If his tale is even half true, he has had a remarkable life. 

Joined the Sutherland Highlanders as a boy soldier, became an explosives expert and rose to the rank of Warrant Officer. 

After retirement from the Army, he sailed the canals of France, for several years, in his canal boat. 

At some point, at Briare, he was initially "delayed" by a defect on the Pont Canal. When that was repaired, and as he prepared to leave, he suffered a heart attack, and was further delayed. He subsequently had heart surgery and a tumour removed from his lung, courtesy of the French Health Service. 

Now, aged 82, he is still here, living on a house boat, attended by a daily carer, and a series of nurses, all provided by the French Healthcare System.

He also "works" as nightwatchman in the Marina, exchange for a free berth and services.

As I say, hardly a "standard" life story.


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