Wednesday, 21 August 2013

We've run out of Marmite - It's time to go home

Yes, after ekeing out the marmite that we were given in the spring, it finally ran out at the beginning of August. Serious problems call for serious solutions - it must be time to go home.

Actually, we had always planned to go home in mid-August; Emma starts school in September, so we wanted a few weeks to get settled back in, buy school shoes, re-acquaint ourselves with the washing machine etc.

But, since after leaving Germany there were still sights to be seen, fun to be had and new people to meet.

We came back up the Moselle, which is a much more gentle river than the Rhine, but which still has fabulous scenery. Very orderly vineyards, fairy tale castles and lots of speedboats (the boat of choice for the German weekend boater).

Once back into France we stayed in Metz, a really nice, compact, city with a great marina. Immediately adjacent to the marina is a lake which, while fairly nondescript by day, turns into a wonderful sound and light show in the evening.

We were in Metz at the start of Bastille weekend, so watched the military and emergency services parade through the city before moving on to the small town of Pompey (which, sadly, is not twinned with Portsmouth; a missed opportunity there, I feel) where the Bastille fireworks took place on the opposite bank to the moorings, meaning we were in prime position! Emma slept through the entire display!


From there, it was onto Toul. Regular readers will know I am a fan of the French "shabby chic" look. Well, Toul is definably at the shabby end of shabby chic. It does, however, have a magnificent cathedral and a lovely, new, shiny marina. With A Washing Machine!!!

By now we were needing to make tracks to Roanne, where we had arranged a winter mooring for the boat, so it was off down the Canal des Vosges, which is one of the most beautiful stretches of water we have been on. It passes through the Vosges mountains and is, in many places, lined either side by forests. The area is very sparsely inhabited but we did stop at Menomenil on my birthday to have a meal at the wonderful gite there, run by Maryline and her family.

Basically, you eat what the farm produces and what Maryline has decided to cook that day. You are given a menu and a wine list, which appears to offer quite a large choice. However, in reality you get a choice of two starters and Maryline tells you what you are having for your main course. You might enquire about the red wines on offer, but Maryline will tell you that you are having Cotes du Rhone, so that's what you have. And very good it all is too.

It's all very relaxed, Emma played with the farm children and no-one was at all worried when she was sick on the floor. Thankfully, it was a tiled floor.

A sunflower field in the Vosges

Me, working one of the many, many locks on the Canal des Vosges
We had some very hot weather; one day I remembered to look at the thermometer in the saloon (sitting room) on the boat at about 8:30pm and it was still reading 36c. Way too hot for me, but Emma and Stephen are much better at dealing with the heat than me. But the wet spring followed by the hot summer meant that everywhere we went the flowers were fabulous and the butterflies numerous.

Before very long we were back at our home base of Roanne. The boat is now up for sale (wanna buy a boat? Two careful owners) and all our belongings were loaded onto a van and sent back to the UK whilst we headed back by air.

So, we've been back almost a week now and Godalming feels like home again. I was very happy to be reunited with the washing machine (I never, ever want to wash stuff by hand ever again) and Stephen is very happy to have the dishwasher (he feels he's done enough dishwashing to last a lifetime).

But we are missing the constant discovery of new places and new people, the gradual improvement of our French, the wonderful bread and the overwhelming choice of cheese!

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