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Old 07-22-2018, 10:51 AM   #41
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I'm just happy you enjoy the thread and if it gives you inspiration to visit, then all the better. Not all humour travels internationally but the Irish seems to.

The first book was written to guide people looking at the onset of the 3rd age and want to go cruising on a boat and is called 'How To Cruise Into Retirement'.
At the time I'd been single about 18yrs and looking for a lady to do the trip with me was hilarious, the books worth it just to read about that escapade.

Followed by 'How To Cruise between Two Seas'.

Then came the Wolfs Lair which is non boaty and traces the history of logistics.

'Encore' cover the purchase of an ex hire cruiser and how we sailed her from Ireland to Dunkirk, France.

'Windmills and Wine' covers the journey from Dunkirk up into Belgium, Holland, Germany and back to our home port in Narbonne, France.

All the books are available as paperbacks from Amazon, but a bit pricey because of the printing costs with so many photo's, alternatively they're available on Kindle.
If you don't have a Kindle reader you can download Kindle programme to your laptop free so you can read any Kindle books on your laptop.
As to which one is best ? They were all written at different times and different things interest different people so that's a difficult question to answer.

I hope you enjoy them and I would greatly appreciate a 5* review, consider it a kindness for me writing this blog for you.
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Old 07-23-2018, 11:13 AM   #42
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We've had a little disappointment to our planning as we've just discovered the river Lot is now closed to navigation. It was always necessary to be careful as it was a tad on the shallow side in mid summer.
Farmers with land adjacent to the river have the right to pump water from the river for irrigation, unfortunately their consumption of water has reached such a stage that it's now denied to cruisers.
The reason we wished to go apart from the fact its beautiful bucolic scenery was to visit the town of Condom.
I kid you not, the town is genuinely called Condom and my plan was to visit and take some photographs in Condom (pardon the base humour).

You may also be surprised to know that a famous American car was named after a Frenchman.
Antione Laemet was born in a small hamlet of around 200 people called Saint Nicholas-de-la Grave, situated at the junction of the Tarn and Garonne rivers, and he rose in life to become the Chevalier of the region, Lamothe-Cadillac.
He left to go to America in 1683 and had a colourful career as a pirate, explorer, alcohol and fur trafficker.
In 1701 he built the fort Pontchartain du Detroit, which was shortened to simply Detroit, which in 1902 became the home of General Motors.
He became governor of Louisiana and eventually returned to Castlesarrisan, France where he died in 1730.
The house where he was born in is maintained by an American foundation.

The car ?

Why of course it's a Cadillac.
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Old 07-26-2018, 09:34 PM   #43
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Like most places in the Northern hemisphere the weather here has been extremely hot, we've spent time just tied to the bank under the shade of the plane trees.
It also means that we have to be aware of our electrical consumption as the fridge, freezer and aircon are working overtime.
All the little ports and 'Halte Nautique's' have shore power so we can go in and get a periodic top up charge as were not doing sufficient hours cruising for the engine charging system to cope and noisy generators are not our thing.
Our solar panel helps of course, but were caught between a rock and a hard place as full exposure to the sun for the solar panel =more heat and electrical consumption to keep things cool.
The silver foil covered reflectors one sees in car windows to reflect the sun may not look elegant on a boat but they certainly help to keep heat down to a manageable level.
We'll enjoy it while we can because after August things will begin to cool down again. Even now the days are shorter bringing the welcome cool evening breezes, it's still around 18/25 at night and although we sleep virtually nude we don't look good naked anymore !
Talking of enjoying oneself, we always enjoy the French markets, you may say that they're all the same, they are in principle but differ slightly depending on the time of year and place.
We're now in a beautiful place called Valence D'Agen, it's dotted with several large square's some and really nice 18th century houses, they hold a festival of music here in the first 2 weeks in August, although we'll miss it.
Come and have a look around with me.

Photo's.
1, Explanation of the wash house with photo's 2&3.

4,Ticket office for the canal festival of food and music to be held between the 8th and 14th of August.

5,Here's an offer by the town of free games on market day to entertain the kids.

6,Every town has a designated market area called 'Les Halles'.

7,Happy children.

8,Free childrens circus with clowns, magicians, and performing dogs.

9,Beautifully kept old buildings, cloisters are popular because of the weather.

10, Remember I told you about St Jacques D'Compostela ? here's a poster for an evening of explanation in the local church.
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Old 07-26-2018, 09:57 PM   #44
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Photo's.
1, Oops duplicate.

2,I've mentioned in earlier posts about the Knights Templar and even today the name is carried on in many ways.

3,Line of traders vans on market day.

4,Eat your heart out Colonel Sanders, these chickens are finger licking good too. Usually the trader peels and cuts up small pieces of potato and places a layer in the bottom of the rotisserie and they're cooked in the chicken fat dripping off the rotisserie. Boy are they delicious.

5,Nice juicy melons for a refreshing bite on a hot day.

6, This man is selling hand made nougat.

7,The atmosphere here is happy and relaxed and makes a great environment to shop.
Sure beats supermarkets, no piped music, no buy one get one free offers, no searching for things moved to another aisle and your money goes into the local economy.

8,9, & 10, Three things which are famous in French everyday cuisine, bread, cheese and garlic.

8,
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Old 07-26-2018, 10:18 PM   #45
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More photo's in and around Valence D'Agen.

1, 'Art' takes many forms.

2,Old fashioned Hessian sacks, a rare sight today. Growing up on our farm rainy days were spent darning holes in sacks like these ready for the summer wheat, oats and barley.

3,For French people the capitol of the world is Paris, and they're proud of it. Mon Dieu ! Only the bloody Irish can get the photo wrong way around.

4,Healthy cooking No deep fat fryers here.

5,This chap buys old violins and refurbishes them like new again.

6,This man repairs, re-upholsters all types of antique chairs. French country people tend to hold onto their furniture for generations and a discerning collector could find many valuable antiques.

7,If you want to get ahead, get a hat !
These are made locally by weaving the straw in a flat circle, then placing it between two halves of a mould shaped like the inner and outer profile of a hat. The mould is heated by steam. When the two halves of the mould are pressed together and steamed for 5 minutes the hat is formed.
Bands and ribbons are then attached.

8, The tranquil little port of Valence D'Agen.

9, Lack of care and maintenance caused this old lady to sink.

10, When it all gets too much its time to have a siesta.
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Old 08-02-2018, 04:04 AM   #46
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Off thread for this post.
A few days ago someone was looking for details about fitting and wiring up twin alternators. We were in a Wi-Fi black spot and I couldn't reply, if you know who it was would you please pass on this info to help them.
Thank you..
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Old 08-02-2018, 07:34 AM   #47
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Copied to "Convert to 8V Serp Belt", Thanks IR
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Old 08-02-2018, 09:02 AM   #48
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Agen on our route up through the Garonne canal is famous as being the prune capital of France.
Prunes or more correctly, the small oval purple coloured plums, originated in China and arrived here with the early Greeks and Romans bc who valued their properties.
In America they're known as dried plums to try and shake off all schoolboy jokes about prunes laxative property's, here they're still known as pruneaux.
Once the plums are ripe they are picked and dried on racks in bakers ovens or ventilated lofts.
In fact they're grown and produced in the countryside around Agen but Agen got the name because of the canal port, the boxes of prunes were loaded onto barges and taken up to the sea port of Bordeaux for shipment, the boxes were labelled as originating in Agen so the name stuck.

Some photo's up to, and around Agen.
1, France has 28 aging nuclear power stations that are expensive to maintain and would like to build new ones but the 'greens' won't let them, with an all time high in electricity consumption supply will be a problem in the future.

2,The old and the new. The old Chateau on the hill and the solar panel farm below.

3, Without the plane trees to give shade and water fairly clean the sunlight can reach the canal bed and these weeds can grow, careful watch on the temperature gauge is part and parcel of canal cruising to spot a clogged engine cooling water filter.

4,Fields of sunflowers are always nice to see.

5,When the railways were built, in many cases they ran alongside the canal because of the gentle gradients meant fast, easy building.

6,These steel gates drop into slots built into the walls of locks to close off sections of the canal for maintenance.

7, Anyone lost a prop ?

8,Romany's/Gypsies cause a lot of trouble especially if they get onto private ground, the crime rate soars when they move in and they indiscriminately dump tons of rubbish when they move out. Towns make special sites for them are made out of town like this one.

9,Disused grain chutes for loading barges to transport grain the sea ports.

10,This beautifully built aqueduct at Agen carries the canal over the river Garonne.
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Old 08-02-2018, 02:48 PM   #49
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OK, I am sold. Any recommendation for the most interesting route for a seven day trip in June or September?
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Old 08-02-2018, 04:05 PM   #50
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I presume your thinking of next year ?
Not knowing the things you like its a bit difficult.
I personally prefer to cruise the Garonne in the peak summer period with few 'bumper' boats around.
If you have kids then maybe the Midi would suit them better.
Check with Emeraude navigation, Nicholls and Le Boat hire boats for one way rental deals.
Then check out the route and research for things to see and do along the way.
If I can help in any other way just shout.
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Old 08-02-2018, 04:32 PM   #51
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Passing through Agen.
Photo's,
1,This fine old building was the old water distribution plant for Agen, now its cleaned up and the man on the roof is installing solar panels.

2, These little huts are designed to encourage insects to hibernate over winter and breed.

3,View from the top of the aqueduct to the river Garonne below.

4,A very hot spell of weather means the water level is low with many shoals in the river.

5,These pumps take thousands of gallons of water for irrigation of crops, fortunately the canal is well supplied.

6,This area was once the centre of tobacco growing and the wooden building was used to dry tobacco, you can see the louvre doors on the sides which were opened to create a drying wind.
The nearby tobacco factory was owned by the king and each farmers fields were checked to make sure he wasn't selling any on the sly. With a cash cow like tobacco the King wanted his share of tobacco tax much the same as governments today.
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Old 08-03-2018, 03:43 AM   #52
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Twisted things ?
In Chesterfield, England they built a church spire with unseasoned wood and over time the spire became distorted and is visually twisted and caused by incompetence.
I'm sure they had never heard of it at our next stop, instead they actually built one in a twisted shape. Come with me and lets take a look.

Photo's.
1, The twisted spire on Serignac church. The church itself dates from the 11th century and was built on the site of a previous Gallo Roman building

2,Inside view of its construction.

3,Old time steeplejacks and not a safety rope in sight.

4,The inside of this church is absolutely spotlessly clean.

5,6,7, Typical old building style of this region.

8,Skilled masons were the masters of these buildings.

9,Rue du Clocher, Cloche is a bell and Clocher is a bell tower.

10,Entrance porch showing the ancient oak beams. These beams were cut to shape and then passed slowly through a bonfire, the oak then becomes iron hard, they were affixed with wooden dowels as it was to hard to drive a nail in.
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Old 08-03-2018, 05:08 AM   #53
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Have you heard of a 'Bailey bridge' ? Of course you have, invented by Sir Donald Coleman Bailey and presented to the military for evaluation it was an immediate success.
His design went on to be built in many of the allies factory's, the first one went in service in North Africa in 1942.
It could be built with unskilled labour and thousands were used by British, American and Canadian troops.
General Bernard Montgomery said it contributed enormously to guaranteeing the allies success in war.

Photo's,
1, Ubiquitous 'Bailey Bridge' still in service over the Garonne canal at Serignac.

2,3, Remember before mobile phones, Internet, Telegrams and daily newspapers delivered to your door ?
The town crier would mount these steps at a fixed time, bang his drum to announce his arrival( in England they rang a bell) and proceed to tell the villager's all the news of the day.

4,5, The old blacksmiths shop and ancient hurricane lamp.

6, Before piped water the village pump provided water for the people.

7, Look at this beauty. Remember the Lee Enfield rifle ? What does a factory do when the war is over ? Why they turn their skills to make other things.
Sadly these bikes are now made in India. The first bike I ever owned was a 1947 25cc Villiers engined Maroon coloured Royal Enfield with hand change gears.
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Old 08-03-2018, 06:03 AM   #54
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Cruising on to our next point of interest at Villeton brings me a healthy dollop of Deja Vu.
Like everyone I've got loads of childhood memories and as a country boy interested in mechanical things, they naturally revolve around tractors and implements.
Come and have look at these beauty's.

Photo's.

1, Farmers produce food and like to eat it but the menu's are short on a farm as the sign points out.

2, This old lady is a Fordson Standard, I first learnt to drive one of these as soon as my legs were long enough to reach the pedals.
It started by turning the starting handle using petrol in the carburettor, then when the engine got a bit warm we changed the fuel over from petrol to Paraffin/Tractor Vaporising Oil. It had just 3 forward gears and 1 reverse.

3, This one is a French built Cletrac, similar to the Ford County bulldozer used to clear land and make silage pits.

4,Before the days of hydraulics and 3 point linkages implements were towed behind a horse or tractor.
Hay is an important product on a farm with animals and this machine fluffed up the grass to let the sun and wind dry it. It's called a Tedder.

5, This on was used to make 2 rows of hay into one, ready for collection and called A Rower.

6,So there was no waste the farmer would rake up any loose hay with this machine called a Buckrake.

7, If you needed to sharpen a knife for the kitchen or to cut hay then this grindstone was used with water kept in the reservoir below.

8,This is an early reversible plough.

9,One of the very first production baling machines for hay and straw.

10, And this Fella ? Why he's the Cock o' the North.
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Old 08-04-2018, 06:19 AM   #55
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Were nearing the end of the canal Lateral a La Garonne and this part of the country is experiencing a heatwave and that kinda interrupts our planning a little.
Us Irish boys are not used to temperatures up near the 40 centigrade so we have to be aware of heatstroke when piloting from the fly bridge even with the bimini which is up and down with the frequency of a lady of the nights nickers.
The crops around here are also getting baked by the sun and need water so the irrigation booms are in full use which of course means water extraction.
The rivers feeding into the nearby river Garonne are giving reduced water feed which in turn means that our plan to cruise to Bordeaux port has to be cancelled for safety reasons due to low water levels & shifting sandbanks in the estuary.
Having bought and studied Admiralty charts and tide tables the journey is simply not a sensible one so tomorrow we'll go the last lock at Castets en Dorthe.
As there's a music night here in Mas en Argenais Halte Nautique we'll do what the Irish do best, chill out and crack a few cold beers while being entertained by a local band.
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Old 08-08-2018, 08:55 AM   #56
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I omitted to mention that the Bimini has to be raised and lowered due to low road/rail bridges.

Now in Ireland we call a lady who continually keeps complaining and repeating demands a 'nagging' wife and the Irish had a great way to deal with such a person.
At the side of a river or lake a long pole was fixed on a swivel with a chair at one end and a couple of sets of handles on the other and it was called 'A Ducking Stool'.
A man at his wits end with her constant 'nagging' would get his wife strapped in the chair and with a couple of helping hands swivel the chair out over the water and in she went for a couple of minutes to teach her to shut her mouth and stop nagging'.
Several repeat ducking's would be the order of the day and there was never any need to repeat the process as the lady got the message loud and clear.

Here in Mas D'Argenais the mayor had a similar problem with his wife.
The church spire next door was slowly falling into disrepair and every night she kept nagging and said she had a dream that the church spire next door was going to collapse and kill them all.
She came from a wealthy family who supported the mayor so divorce wasn't an option for him.
According to local folklore she kept 'nagging' the poor mayor for years until one day he blew his top and ordered the spire to be taken down.
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Old 08-08-2018, 10:33 AM   #57
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Mas D'Argenais Ville originally dates back to Roman times but it's got other attractions than a nagging wife.

Photo's
1, As you can see it's twinned with the German town of Biesheim.

2, This is the church with its truncated tower, the mayors house is in red brick to the right of it.

3, Obviously the entrance to the church so come with me for a wee peek inside to see what we can discover.

4, This is Rembrandts painting of 'Christ on the Cross' or is it ?

5, Or is this it ? Actually this is the original and was painted by Rembrandt in 1631, its currently being restored so photo No 5 shows the temporary replacement copy. I took this photo during the research for my book 'How To Cruise Between Two Seas'.
The painting was part of a set of 7 paintings and came into the churches possession by a circuitous, and not altogether clear, route. Its often loaned for world exhibitions by the church, for a fee of course.


6, This is the tabernacle to St Vincent.

7, This is the casket said to contain a portion of St Vincent's clavicle.

8, On a lighter note back out in the sunshine this is the open air farmers market, there's not one single nail holding it together, its all done with wooden dowelling and dates back 300 yrs.

9, For years a ferry was used to cross the river Garonne until this suspension bridge was built.
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Old 08-08-2018, 12:37 PM   #58
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Now we're nearing the end of the Canal a Lateral A la Garonne we'll take you along with us to the last lock on this canal.
You'll see from the maps below it wouldn't be too difficult to pop round by sea to Northern Spain, had we not have had setbacks in the early spring it would have been nice to cruise the canal 'Between two seas' as Pierre Paul Riquet envisaged all those years ago and then pop round to San Sebastien.

Photos.
1, 2, Here you can see its just a well planned 2 day cruise from France down to North Eastern Spain.

3, View over the Garonne river.

4, Tobacco drying house. Remember those old French movies when the 'stars' smoked those evil smelling Gauloise cigarettes, well the tobacco came from this region. No more is grown here but these houses remain as a reminder.

5, There was an old tradition in France that when a farmers wife had a baby girl the farmer planted these poplars, when the girl got married they were cut down and sold to pay for the wedding and provide a dowry.
Because they consume large amounts of water they were also planted on marshy ground to dry it up.
The trunks were used in house building as the central longitudal beam, due to its flexibility.

6, Corn on the cob anyone ?

7, What was he smoking when he designed this ?

8, This old lady was brought over by the Americans in the 2nd world war and worked the canals for years after, she's called Fort Lupin, if I won the Lotto she'd be given a new lease of life.

9, The world famous Bordeaux wine, actually most of it's grown to the North of Bordeaux.
This region we're in produces the delicious full bodied Cahor and Serignac wines, served at 18 degrees C and utterly delightful with red meat.
These wines don't have the 'cachet' of Bordeaux wines but believe me the vintners work damned hard to produce really good wine, and good wine it is so don't turn your nose up if its offered in a restaurant because its not a 'famous name'.
Incidentally a little wine etiquette, when pouring wine don't let the bottle touch the glass and give it a half turn after pouring to stop any drips. You always, without exception serve ladies and guests first. If a person drinks their wine and completely empties the glass its a signal that they don't wish any more, if they leave a little in their glass it means they'd like some more.

If you enjoy a brandy like me you'll be familiar with French Cognac blended brandy's which are produced in the region of Cognac.
Within Cognac is a smaller region called Armagnac and its the brandy equivalent of a single malt whiskey. BUT, if you are a connossuier within that region there's an even smaller region called Polignac, and that's simply gorgeous.
If you ever find a brandy called Hine then you're in the crème de la crème boyo, its just like your mothers milk and I'd be delighted if you sent me a bottle for all this legwork I'm doing for you.

10, When you've had a few of those fine brandies we chatted about at Christmas and forgotten all about boats and cruising, you'll be thinking more of carousing and wanting to grab the missus under the mistletoe.
This are bunches of mistletoe living off the host tree, its seeds are transported by birds, their favourite host tree is apple,
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Old 08-08-2018, 01:25 PM   #59
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OK lads now no jokes.
Whaddya think the locals are called ?
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Old 08-08-2018, 02:27 PM   #60
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