Soon

I’ve finally got started on editing some holiday photos.
Well, I say that. What I’ve actually done is to upload some of them (the first 8GB) to my laptop.

It’s something.

So I have randomly selected this one – taken in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris – to illustrate the fact that I’m all over this photo stuff like a particularly aggressive moss.

Looking at the first lot of pictures, there are an awful lot of of images taken inside churches. But then, there were an awful lot of amazing churches. And you don’t have to be religious to appreciate the architecture and beauty of these places of worship.

Because of its location and size, Notre Dame is obviously well known and much visited, but we found equally breathtaking churches (if not quite to the same scale) in much smaller places like Auxerre, Clamecy and Châtel-Censoir. More of those later, but it’s worth noting that in many places, they would be huge tourist draws in their own right, yet they sit quietly and humbly with no signage, no pre-recorded audio guides, no nothing.

And I found that the experience of visiting them was better for that.

Not yet

Regular readers will have deduced from the rather technical, niche (but probably very useful) post published earlier this morning, that I have not had chance to look at any of the photos from our trip away just yet.

I’m still a bit knackered, to be honest.

And that’s raised an interesting and rather worrying question in my currently overstretched and under-rested mind:

Are long haul flights like hangovers?

There do seem to be some similarities: they are both self-inflicted, they both leave you feeling dreadful the next day, they both cost a lot (although if you knock back a CPT-LHR BA ticket’s worth of booze, you’ll likely be dead so it won’t matter anyway), and the recovery from each seems to be taking longer and longer as I get older.

I used to bounce back after a good night’s sleep. This time, I’ve already had two decent sessions (careful now), and yet I’m still very definitely struggling. And you don’t even know if I’m talking about a flight or an evening of boozing.

Or both.

Has anyone else noticed this phenomenon?

I don’t like it. I don’t like the idea of it. I don’t like the way I’m still feeling so battered this morning. I don’t like the way that this sort of thing reminds me of my mortality.
And I fully plan to combat these negative thoughts with booze and travel.

Although I’m not sure that’s going to help.

Le Boat – Canal du Nivernais advice

Or: Notes from Le Boat

For the record, I have no affiliation to Le Boat or France or canals or whatever. I’m not being paid to write this. I doubt that anyone influential in any of those companies or fields will even ever read it. It pains me that I feel that I have to tell you this sort of thing, but there are so many paid-for posts out there that it’s actually getting hard to find an honest positive review. This is one of those though. Promise.

We’ve just finished the Le Boat 7 day trip from Tannay to Migennes along the Canal du Nivernais and so I thought I’d put finger to keyboard and give future visitors some advice on what to do, what not to do and what to expect generally from your boat and your cruise.
Just a few things that if we had known before we started would have made our trip that bit easier. Not that it hasn’t been great anyway: none of these are dealbreakers.

I thoroughly recommend this as an absolutely fantastic experience.

Getting to Tannay isn’t the easiest. It’s not a big place. There are trains, but they are few and far between (two a day when we were there and at unhelful times too). Rather get a train to Auxerre or Clamecy and grab a taxi from there. The convenience outweighs the extra cost.

We set off from the Tannay base at about 4pm on Wednesday. Our itinerary was completely up to us, just as yours is completely up to you, but this worked perfectly for us and so I’m sharing it here. Feel free to save or share this page, and ask any questions and share your thoughts in the comments below.

[The PK references relate to Pointe Kilometrique – you’ll see them in the map book that comes with your boat.]

Wednesday evening: Villiers-sur-Yonne (PK 105) – free power and water. Trees, countryside, tiny village.
Thursday lunchtime: Clamecy (PK 113.5) – a quick stop to look at the church and get some supplies at Carrefour City (Rue Marie Davy).
Thursday evening: Pousseau (PK 121) – simple anchor point with no facilities, but quiet and just 900m from the boulangerie in Surgy (just off traffic circle at Rue du Herisson).
Friday lunchtime: Chatel-Censoir (PK 132.5) – mini marina – EUR 6 for water and electricity. Connect up and a man with a book will come and see you.
Friday evening: Mailly-le-Chateau (PK 141.7). A basin to ourselves on the edge of a forest. A walk up to the town on top of the cliffs to get bread (Boulangerie, Rue du Jeu de Paume) will give you a superb view over the local countryside in the morning.
Saturday lunchtime: We did the Vermenton branch and ate at the very nice Hostellerie de La Fontaine restaurant in Accolay (PK 3.0).
Saturday evening: Cravant (PK 155.9). EUR 8 for unlimited water and electricity. The people at the tourist office right on the dock will help you out. Pretty little town, great boulangerie and grocer on Rue de la Poterrne.
Sunday lunchtime: We stopped off for a couple of hours at the Caves in Bailly (PK 162.4). Do the tasting, but save your time and money and avoid the tour. Unless it’s really your sort of thing.
Sunday evening: Nice spot on a pontoon near the lock at Toussac, Champs-sur-Yonne (PK 166.2), but tokens needed for services and nowhere open to buy them.
Monday lunchtime/evening: Auxerre (PK 0.5) – Remarkable churches, amazing city, great waterfront with bars and restaurants (we enjoyed the burgers, beers and hospitality at the Restaurant Le Saint Nicolas). Huge supermarket on east side of footbridge (Avenue Jean Jaures). Water and electricity tokens available from tourist office, east bank, near footbridge).
Tuesday lunchtime: Moored up about at a picnic spot about 2km south of Migennes (approx PK 20)
Tuesday evening: Migennes at junction of Canal de Bourgogne (PK 22.7) ahead of the boat return at 9am on Wednesday. Supermarket 150m, Boulangerie 200m, Station 350m (trains to Paris every hour).

So what should you take?

Well, the boats are really well-appointed. We didn’t need anything. We bought the grocery pack from Le Boat, so there were the basics waiting for us when we arrived on board. This was a good thing. If you don’t choose this option, you will need to bring some supplies along: water, wine, beers, bread, snacks or whatever to get you through the first 24 hours.

That said, you will need to stock up while you’re on the canal and you should do so whenever you get the opportunity. Part of the charm of rural France is the laid back vibe, but it can be frustrating when places aren’t open and you have an urgent need for a pain au chocolat.

We hired bikes, which you take with you on your boat. The towpaths are amazing for cycling along and it’s great to nip into nearby villages for croissants in the mornings.

Take a flag. Tie it on your boat. We saw visitors from the US, New Zealand, Holland, Russia, Canada, Australia, Germany, South Africa and more.
Don’t expect to rush. You can’t get anywhere quickly, so plan ahead and chill out.

Respect the lockkeepers. They are all so friendly and helpful, but be aware that they are (rightfully) strict about opening and closing times and their lunch hours. Many speak some English. Not all of them though!

Don’t worry about driving your boat: the demonstration when you arrive is very informative, and it’s really not that difficult anyway.

Download MAPS.ME on your phone before you go. It’s like an offline Google Maps and can be super helpful when there isn’t any cell signal.

 

Note: I’ll add some photos once I’ve had chance to edit them. And if anything else comes to mind, I’ll add that too. I’m going to stick this on TripAdvisor as well, because I’d love to have had this sort of info before we went away!

 

And that was it…

This morning – right now, in fact – I find myself sitting in front of a computer in an office adjoining a laboratory.

This isn’t right, is it? Is it?

Surely there should be boats and fields and seaside and beer and family and sunshine?

Sure there should be… freedom?

But no. We’re back, after yesterday’s marathon twenty-something hour trip. It’s been a truly amazing few weeks away and I’m not quite ready for this sudden return to work. There’s sleep to make up, thoughts to process, photos to edit, stories to share (oh, so many stories – this one was eventful), reviews to post.

And on top of all that, there’s real life to catch up on.

I’m in that weird place between the exhilaration of travel and the crushing realisation that it’s all over. Limbo. A twilight zone.

Forgive me while I get things in order here.

Believe me, I’ll be in touch soon.

Coming home spin off

I thought that given that we were Coming Home today, a Coming Home tune might be in order.
But then I found that I’d already featured the Coming Home tune I was thinking about in this post, entitled Coming Home.

Damn.

Still, deep in the aforementioned Coming Home post was this line:

Next up from the album is my favourite track: the rather Killersy Meanwhile Up In Heaven, whose video will almost certainly get a blog post of its own here.

I looked. And, as far as I could see, that suggestion had never been followed up upon. Until now:

Boom.

Ricky Wilson wanders around an ethereal fairground, which – it becomes clear – is populated by those whose loved ones have thrown a seven, kicked the bucket, shuffled off this mortal coil, joined the choir invisible.

Snuffed it.

Great song. Good video. Wholly inappropriate for a post about coming home after a holiday.

Never mind.