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Old 09-09-2016, 11:43 PM   #141
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Imagine if you will a high plateau, then coming down off that plateau you enter a saucer shaped depression roughly a 100 kilometres in circumference. This is what the Marne au Rhin canal does and as we descend into the depression we discover that it's the largest inland salt producing area in France.


Below the surface is rock salt mined just like coal, there's also very large liquid saline deposits which are pumped out just like oil.
The rock salt is used for roads and industrial purposes and the saline solution being very pure is used in medicines and dried for human consumption.


Photo's.


1. An old disused private shaft salt mine.


2.The old salt port, this once had 2 steam tugs for moving barges to be loaded and made ready for collection. In France and Germany the tugs initially towed barges but Europe then adopted the 'Pusher' tug idea from America as being more efficient.


3.The salt works are still very busy, this pipeline was one of the lowest obstacles on this canal.


4. The modern salt factory.


5.The politicians of the 'green' party wouldn't allow the widening of the canal to European dimensions so the barge trade was lost to the railways.
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Old 09-10-2016, 02:59 PM   #142
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You've all heard of the guy we all know as Father Christmas ?

He was born Nicholas of Myra on the 15th of March in Pastara in the 4th century.
He came from a wealthy family and gave many gifts and became known as Nicholas the wonder worker.
He died aged 73, after he was granted his sainthood God must have been going through one of his time and motion study periods and St Nicholas was given the extra duties of being the patron saint of, Sailors, Merchants, Archers, Repentant thieves (no mention here of politicians) Children, Brewers, Pawnbrokers and Students in addition to his usual Christmas duties.

The basilica was badly damaged during WW2 and lay in bad repair until 1980, amazingly it was cupid that came to the rescue.

A pretty Mademoiselle from St Nicholas de Port met an American soldier and despite the horrors of WW2 the young couple fell deeply in love and after the war went off hand in hand to make a new life in America .
The American soldier turned out to be a very astute businessman and made a fortune.
After his death his widow wanted to build a lasting memory to the love they found all those years ago in St Nicholas de Port and hearing of the war damage to the basilica she made an astonishing donation to completely restore the basilica.
In the photo taken at St Nicholas de Port, you can see the basilica as it is today in all it's glory, it's two tall towers are 85 and 87 metres high respectively.
Built originally in the 15th & 16th centuries in honour of the patron Saint of Bargee's and renewed in 1980 with love.
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Old 09-15-2016, 12:26 PM   #143
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Crossing the Marne au Rhin canal we approached the town of Nancy, Nancy is built around some hilly country and obviously that means locks, 15 of them to get up around Nancy from where we join the canal which runs alongside our old friend the river Moselle.
The mountains are known as the Vosges mountains, it has one of the largest forests in France and short sections of the canal have different names which are referred to collectively as the Vosges canal.
The canal passes through diverse countryside as it follows, and criss-crosses the river Moselle. there are large sand and gravel deposits as well as arable and dairy land.


Photo's as follows.
1, Not everyone who enjoys the canal are on a boat.


2,Sign showing distance and lock number.


3,I was a bit amused to see this replica on a roundabout near Nancy, about as far inland as it's possible to get from the sea.


4 & 5,
Viaducts crossing the Moselle river.


6,7,8,9, Although distorted if you click on them for a larger version they will open properly on your laptop.


6,Welcoming port sign.


7, As part of our ships equipment we have a fruit picker.
The banks of the Vosges canal gives wild Walnuts, Apples, Pears, Hazelnuts and Plums in season to make jams etc.for consumption over the winter months.


8, This unusual forward control barge was built for a local company to transport sand and gravel from the extraction point to the factory manufacturing cement blocks, pipes and even asphalt.


9, 10 Idyllic cruising.
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Old 09-15-2016, 01:04 PM   #144
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To help with geography and show our route so far.
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Old 09-15-2016, 06:57 PM   #145
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I hope you have time to visit Nancy. A pretty compact town with a magnificent town square. It has a history of art, and art glass production. Some excellent and reasonable prixe fixe restaurants too.You may see some nancy boys.
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Old 09-15-2016, 10:24 PM   #146
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You may see some nancy boys.
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Old 09-16-2016, 01:07 AM   #147
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Wink

We managed to get a quick look around Nancy town and enjoyed our delicious 'plat du jour' with a carafe of local vino collapso sitting outside in the square.
We saw some Nancy boys alright but I'd be lusting after Nancy Sinatra, or the gorgeous Bette Midler ! Mmmm very tasty !
I surely wouldn't be needing Easy Start.....


We've has a brilliant adventure so far, we only got chance to see the main attractions as we were behind schedule due to the floods on the Rhine.
The leaves are just starting to turn colour a wee bit heralding the coming of Autumn and when you see how much wood everyone has stacked outside their house for the winter it means it's time I was thinking of heading South.

Seriously the winters here in the Vosges region can be very hard and the local people have maybe 4 tonnes of wood for heating (bois du chauffage)stacked and drying close to the house for the winter.
Apparently they can buy from the government a 500 metre square of local forest and they have to cut and clean it all by a fixed date.
Many spend hours cutting trees, splitting logs and carrying it home over the summer.
Those without any facilities can buy a pallet (called a stair) of ready cut, dried wood from the local DIY shop who will deliver it to the house.

The farmers likewise have their barns packed full to bursting with round bales of hay, silage is shrink wrapped and stacked outside ready for winter feed.
These guys take winter very serious and living in the South it's an eye opener, I should know better as I grew up on a farm in England and would have had to do the same, living in the sun those memories tend to fade with time.
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Old 09-27-2016, 06:08 PM   #148
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The canal du Vosges is a beautiful canal in it's own right if you like forests (the region boasts one of the largest in France) and lots of locks, roughly 1 every kilometre.
You can have a winter ski-ing holiday here,mulled wine round a log fire and if forest walks are your choice then look no further than the Vosges region.
Bains les bains spa town is one of the prettiest towns we cruised through in this region if you like laid back rural living.
For us boaters we've now reached a watershed in more ways than one.
As we pass along the canal du Vosges we wave the tributary of the Moselle river flowing North on our left Goodbye, and just a few kilometres away we say Hello to the river Saone on our right flowing South.
The limestone hills and slightly acidic soils of the Rhine and Moselle valleys that give the Sylvaner, Riesling, Gewürztraminer grapes the crisp fruity taste from the region are now giving way to Grenache, Pinot Noir and Merlot grapes.
Our female crews are also in great form as we've reached the last summit, all the lock are 'downhill' and much farther apart easing the workload.
It was hard work for them on the Vosges canal as they hardly had time to boil a kettle before the next lock was in sight.
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Old 10-01-2016, 09:53 AM   #149
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Just a few more photo's for you to enjoy before we pass over the watershed and leave the canal du Vosges.


1,When a nearby factory closed down there were 4 blocks of houses like this one which fell into dereliction when the workers left. They could be used to house homeless or immigrants but they don't want to live out in the country and refuse to go.


2, Although the locks are now automatic, lock keepers had the choice to buy their houses, many in the middle of nowhere were abandoned but this one in a village is kept very pretty.


3, Glazed tile roofs on churches are a feature of the area.


4, A different system of opening locks on the next leg of our journey, a pole is suspended over the canal and given a quarter turn as you pass to activate the lock procedure.


5, A sign preceding each lock reminds us.


6, An old plough now used as a garden ornament, interestingly it has only one steadying handle, it must have been hard work for the ploughman. We used 2 handles in England when I was a young lad many years ago and you needed to be as fit as a butchers dog to control the darn thing.


7, Do you think Mistletoe comes from a shop at Christmas ? It's a parasitic plant and the round growths you see growing on the tree's are Mistletoe, it's seeds are transported by birds. Apple trees are a favourite host tree.


8, One thousand of these old DAF jeep/utility cars were produced and after 10 years service in the Dutch army have been sold off but according to the recycled teenagers who own this one parts are still readily available. This family own a holiday home nearby.


9, Hunting is strictly controlled in France and these deer are living in protected area before being released into the wild.
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Old 10-02-2016, 12:24 PM   #150
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As we enter the river Saone we're pleasantly surprised to find it wide and well maintained. It's also noted for it's fishing judging by the amount of anglers who fish from it's shores but we can never understand why fishermen cast their lines across the navigation channel and refuse to wind them in when they see a boat approaching.
Overnight stops must be planned well in advance and you must be moored up by 3/4 pm if you wish to have a comfortable place as stopping places few and far between and quickly get filled.
There are few locks on this river and a tunnel at St Albin.


Photo's,
1, Tunnel entrance with guard gates that can be closed in an emergency.


2, Nice, clean well lit with a chain hanging from the wall in case anyone falls in.


3, Brickwork look in need of maintenance but it's still solid.


4, Lock keepers hens and his donkey, did you know that all donkeys have a cross on their back ? legend has it that it's because a donkey carried Christ to the cross.


5, Beautiful glazed tile church steeple.


6, Road bridge over the river Saone at St John des Losne.


7, War memorial at St John des Losne.


8, Church in St John Des Losne, barge depicts close ties with local
bargees.


9, St John des Losne riverside.
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Old 10-02-2016, 01:12 PM   #151
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During the canal building frenzy in Europe in the mid/late 1800's France had 3 main barging centres, Conflans St Honorine just North of Paris. The banks of the river Seine from there to Paris is lined with ex working barges now used as live a boards because of the exorbitant house prices in Paris, some tastefully renovated and others a rusting eyesore.

St Mammes to the South of Paris still has a few old barges working and an odd live a board but not to the same extent as the river Seine.

St John des Losne in the South on the river Saone also has a few old barges but most are kept in good repair.

Sadly these ports are hardly used for freight anymore, with the rise in pleasure boating these ports have found a second life to support them, St John des Losne is a pretty market town with several hire boat companies based there as well as private marina's who also sell boats.
One such is a company called H20, there have been many tales of boat owners 'issues' both selling a boat through them and disgruntled buyers. Be very careful if you wish to do business with them, better still give them a wide berth.
Another 'gentleman' who has a boat sales business on the canal du Midi at Villeneuve de Beziers is called Berend Goosens. Caveat Emptor. Don't get caught.


Wines from this region are generically called Cotes de Nuits, going a little South it becomes the Cote de Buene.
The grapes most suited to this region are Pinot noir, Merlot, Syrah, Grenache and Chardonnay. Because a grape is a natural plant they are affected by nature's weather cycles like all plants and of course individual grape tastes vary. Which is why all of them are blended by the sommeliers to maintain consistency.
Virtually all wines are best drunk young within 4 years and only a few suitable for laying down.
I've tasted some wines that had been laid down for many years and frankly they were horrible but to save the owners pride I simply said it was a rare and interesting experience.
You can have a very good wine around 10 to 15 Euro's and anything above that is not worth the money as it's priced either due to it's small production or fancy packaging.


Many vines can grow up to a hundred yours old and as our tastes change so the vine variety's need to change to reflect this, the fact that more people are drinking wine, once the prerogative of the rich.. France, once the wine growing capital of the world with 350 million hectares has to react to successes of the Australian, South African and Chilean wines and is now giving grants to vintners to rip out old vines and replace them with modern disease resistant types more suited to modern methods.
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Old 10-03-2016, 07:35 AM   #152
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Many thanks for interesting posts and stunning pictures. You learned me about many places (and some wines) of my country where I have never been yet. I loved the story about Father Christmas (Le Père Noël).

In 3 weeks from now I will be sailing from Aberdeen (North Sea) to Inverness then to Isle of Mull (Atlantic ocean) cutting through the Caledonian Canal & Loch Ness. Have you been there ?

Thanks again, I wish you well and and especially long & fun coming trips ⚓️ .

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Old 10-03-2016, 11:50 AM   #153
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Bon Jour Pilou.
Merci beucoup pour le gentiesse.

There's more to come and I'm glad you enjoy following our adventure.
You could follow a similar route via the Grand Gabarit.

Unfortunately I didn't get up as far as Aberdeen by boat due to work commitments although I'm familiar with the region through my business.
I've only cruised from Belfast over to Bonnie Scotland and then up the West coast via Inverary for the Highland Games, then back through the Crinan canal as far Glasgow, then up round Rothesay, Oban and the island distilleries, round the Old man of Hoy and back to Belfast. Fitting it in with summer holidays and weekends.


You will enjoy the West coast cruising and the Islands, absolutely fabulous cruising ground, go slowly, visit the distilleries and taste the whisky and above all enjoy every moment, the only problem I had was the accent.
Beautiful friendly people and wonderful Scottish hospitality.
I really miss the deep fried cod in batter and chips after a good night in the pub with friends.
Safe cruising Mon Ami.
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Old 10-04-2016, 02:05 AM   #154
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In St Jean de Losne there has for over 200 years been a military academy, it's still there in fact and young recruits can be seen around the town in uniform, what a joy it is to see the cream of France so neat, polite and well behaved, smartly turned out and a credit to their country.
One of the young volunteer recruits who passed through it's hallowed doors was an 18 year old young Corsican lieutenant who wished to study artillery.
His name ? Napoleon Bonaparte.
There's a museum in St John de Losne and some of his personal belongings are on display there.
He was the first to try and make a European Union for himself as the chief, it collapsed around his ears just the same as the modern European Union is even as you read this beginning it's death throes.
Hitler made the same mistake as Napoleon many years earlier by opening a second front in Russia without the logistics to support it because for every soldier in the front line it takes 10 in the supply line supporting him.
In Napoleons Russian campaign his men were so hungry they ate the supply horses and donkeys speeding up their own demise.
Hitler army, like Napoleons men many years before in Russia were so badly prepared for the conditions that their guns and vehicles froze solid and became useless, many good men lost their lives to the atrocious conditions.


*Presidents/Prime ministers will lay down your life for his country*


Napoleons approach to logistics during his campaigns in Spain and Portugal were that his army lived of the land and commandeered/stole whatever they wanted, that of course turned the local population against them.
The British 'Iron Duke' Lord Wellesley, when facing Napoleons army in Europe first captured seaports in Portugal and from there his supply line provided food, equipment and men. Probably the first demonstration of winning the 'hearts and minds' of the local population. Any men committing offence against the locals were severely dealt with.

Back to St John de Losne,,
Here is a museum dedicated to mariners, it's open from May until September and well worth your time if your passing. The reason for St John de Losne's importance for the bargee's is because of it's strategic location at the junction of the river Saone, Bourgogne and Rhone-Rhine canals. In surface area it's not a large town but that belies it's significance.
There's an Inland waterways festival held here on the 3rd Sunday in June, or, the 1st Sunday in July, no it's not poor research on my part, apparently it's decided locally by the organisers according to water levels and weather so if you wish to visit check with the tourist office first.


Now look closely if you will at the map below.
At the top of the map are located the Belgian port of Antwerp and Hollands Rotterdam, if you've been following our journey you will know the importance of these ports to container traffic and the barges that service those ports.
Now look at the bottom of the map below Avignon to the Rhone delta, you see the small blue line indicating a canal just below Montpellier.
There lies France's Mediterranean port of Sete.
If you were a commercial container vessel operator/Captain coming through the Suez canal wouldn't it make sense to be able to discharge your cargo at Sete and send it on by barge direct to the factories around Europe, thereby savings days at sea, fuel and time and the long haul through the straights of Gibraltar, up the Portuguese coast, around France and up the English channel To Belgium or Holland.


Somebody wake up and smell the coffee !


All because there's a small bit of canal that needs upgrading from Nancy to Luxembourg piercing right into the very heart of Germany's industrial heartland.
If that upgrade were to include hydro electric schemes what could be better for France the country and revitalize it's barge industry ?
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Old 10-04-2016, 04:22 AM   #155
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Originally Posted by Irish Rambler View Post
Bon Jour Pilou.
Merci beucoup pour le gentiesse.

There's more to come and I'm glad you enjoy following our adventure.
You could follow a similar route via the Grand Gabarit.

Unfortunately I didn't get up as far as Aberdeen by boat due to work commitments although I'm familiar with the region through my business.
I've only cruised from Belfast over to Bonnie Scotland and then up the West coast via Inverary for the Highland Games, then back through the Crinan canal as far Glasgow, then up round Rothesay, Oban and the island distilleries, round the Old man of Hoy and back to Belfast. Fitting it in with summer holidays and weekends.


You will enjoy the West coast cruising and the Islands, absolutely fabulous cruising ground, go slowly, visit the distilleries and taste the whisky and above all enjoy every moment, the only problem I had was the accent.
Beautiful friendly people and wonderful Scottish hospitality.
I really miss the deep fried cod in batter and chips after a good night in the pub with friends.
Safe cruising Mon Ami.
Bonjour mon Ami et merci beaucoup for your great wishes,

I trust I will enjoy my coming sailing in Scotland, I am looking forward to discover this part of the world, meet people, visit the distilleries and taste the deep fried cod as well.

Please keep going on making us dream with your beautiful cruises.

Bon voyage !

Pilou
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Old 10-04-2016, 09:08 AM   #156
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Thank you for a great trip through Europe.


Thought is to go to the Central European channels, over a period of years to get to. Have you ever been to the cruicing in the Baltic Sea? If ever you are looking for variety in a healthy income and explore the unique archipelago sea area in the North of the Baltic Sea. Archipelago is Sweden (Stockholm) and Finland (Turku and Ahvenanmaa) areas. "


Your image and the description is really cool, thanks to you and bon voyages!


Litles trip argipelago sea...!




And info https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archipelago_Sea
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Old 10-04-2016, 03:58 PM   #157
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Thank you for a great trip through Europe.


Thought is to go to the Central European channels, over a period of years to get to. Have you ever been to the cruicing in the Baltic Sea? If ever you are looking for variety in a healthy income and explore the unique archipelago sea area in the North of the Baltic Sea. Archipelago is Sweden (Stockholm) and Finland (Turku and Ahvenanmaa) areas. "


Your image and the description is really cool, thanks to you and bon voyages!


Litles trip argipelago sea...!

And info https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archipelago_Sea
Great video and sceneries, thanks for sharing.
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Old 10-04-2016, 04:20 PM   #158
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Vessel Name: Snow Mouse, Sanity
Vessel Model: BROOM 42, Birchwood 33
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Great video's.
Did you know that the Gota canal in Sweden was designed by Thomas Telford the famous British civil engineer who worked as an apprentice in the Portsmouth dockyard ?
HMS Victory is moored there and if you have time to look at our voyage of 2015 'Ireland to the Mediterranean Part 1' you will see a photo of a plaque on the wall dedicated to him..

I did business in Sweden for many years and the people are really wonderful to work, and play with, although by our standards the cost of living is very high.
I've visited some of the lakes with friends and while Sweden is very beautiful through all it's seasons the summer weather/boating season is very short. I can still remember working in 25 degs Celsius.
However you have every right to be proud of your country.

One of the problems in life is that by the time you've managed to earn enough money to follow your dreams, the older you get the more dreams you have.


TS, Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia)aka Aircraftsman Shaw said and I quote ' Beware of men who dream with their eyes open for their dreams come true' end quote.
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Old 10-05-2016, 01:02 PM   #159
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Since the upper reaches of the Rhine valley on our journey South to the Med it's been evident that Wine plays a significant part along our journey.
Both in the consumption in the Northern regions, to the production in warmer climes.
Harvesting, called (Le Vidange) has traditionally begun in France on the 15th of September but as the climate, geography and early, medium and late grape varieties vary it's not set in stone and is still in progress in early October for the later varieties of grape.
Villages and towns put up signs to alert you to 'grape juice on the road' and frenzied activity by the vintners as the farmers little tractors carry trailer loads of grapes to various co-ops.
99% of grapes are now harvested by machine, this of course demands the vines are well anchored and in arrow straight rows for ease of operation, the vines themselves are pruned to be receptive to the machine's method of harvesting the grapes.
The machine straddles a row of vines, as it drives along the row a large vertical brush on either side (a bit like a car wash) brush the grape bunches out from the vine stalk and a vertical cutting bar cuts and lifts the bunches and deposits them in a hopper.
Any stalks that are too low or too close to the vine trunk would be missed by the harvester and are cut off during pruning.
Many grape growers have no facilities to process the grapes and transport them to a local co-op and are paid by weight.
Others process the grapes and when their storage tanks are full of wine 2 special articulated trucks arrive with their own built in laboratory and bottling plant, often you see on a wine label 'Bottled on premises' or 'Bottled on Domain'
Each vineyard is called a 'Domain' and sports it own label. Co-ops usually sell wine from the region with a generic label.
The grapes bear little resemblance to the edible varieties you buy in the supermarket, as you can see the grapes themselves are much smaller individually and although juicy have very little flesh inside. The outside skin is tougher too and the seed inside is used to make very high quality oil for human consumption, salads, cooking etc.
The skin and grape stalks are taken away to a disposal site where they are left to decompose, they can't be used as fertilizer in case of passing any latent diseases.

Photo's.
1, Sample grape varieties showing size and colour.

2, New Holland/Braud grape harvester on it's way between vineyards.

Because vintners now have a new harvest arriving in their warehouses it means they need the space and must clear out any unsold pallets of bottles of last years wine. Supermarket buyers are not slow and offer 'we'll take the job lot' for a keen price ! even as you read this supermarkets in France are having 'Wine Fairs' and very good quality wines are sold off at bargain prices and our bilges are once more full of delicious wine.
The majority of wines are best drunk young, between 2 and 4 years, irrespective of what wine snobs will tell you.
ps. Don't panic, vines can live for up to a hundred years or more so we won't run out ! !
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Old 10-06-2016, 01:05 AM   #160
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City: Morrinsville
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All fascinating IR.
F.Y.I. our Nimbus leaves N. Ireland tomorrow and all is proceeding smoothly due, in no small part to your contacts in the region. She leaves Southampton RORO on the 14th October on the "Hoegh Trigger" autoliner (the worlds largest auto-transporter - an amazing vessel) .
We expect her here 4th December. Exciting times.
Keep up the good work. Looking forward to the next episode.
Cheers, G
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