Cell in Canal – Episode 7 – La Marseilette to Narbonne

Unable to document, even name so many of the places the Canal du Midi took us on that seven day adventure, again, I can but recall moments of exhilaration and mirth! Once the loss of my smart phone had sunk, sic, in, the party just had to go on, and on no particular day we found ourselves at an ecluse, slightly less crowded than Fontfile with only two other boats, awaiting for their turn on the downward cycle. One of those boats stuck out like a sore thumb!

Cell in Canal bow side thrusters

36 Side thrusters built into the bow of your boat makes for great manoeuvrability, fun and churned up water!

There was loud rock music, and just as loud American voices emanating from their cabin cruiser as their skipper made full use of the huge boat’s side thrusters, as he guided the gargantuan to the jetty. Meatloaf was Under the Dashboard Lights and later on Jon Bon Jovi was Wanted Dead or Alive! The two lively boats talked to each other and before you knew it Linda was off, down the canal walkway on a bicycle with one of the mature rocker dudes! And it had taken me decades to try and charm the lady! Rock music and cheap Love….! Bah Humbug!

Cell in Canal bike or barge

Whilst the rocker and the teeny bopper were still taking cycling lessons, the ecluse cycle called the serious crew members to attention and we eased into position in the lock, making ready for the descent, all to the tune of Aerosmith and Dude (Looks Like a Lady)! We floated downward and minutes later were moored on the lower river bank, ready to collect the two bikers onto their respective boats.

Next stop, Chateau de Paraza,  in a sleepy hollow named Minervois, a must visit vineyard, and an easy walk from the river bank, well for us an easy walk, but I believe the Yanks called an Uber! We thought we had the place to ourselves when a noisy group, without their rock music, invaded Paraza! We greeted like long lost friends and took group pics of each other except the side thruster skipper, who took a selfie instead of a pic of Le Group. It was a wine tasting party, as you might imagine! Awesome poetry with a built in parable was printed on the label of the Paraza rouge and I quote Charles Baudelaire:

So as not to feel the terrible burden

That breaks your back

And bends you to the Earth

One should be continually drunk!

But with what?

With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you choose!

But be drunk!

Cell in Canal Poetry and ParazaThe Paraza rouge, poetry and a parable!

 

Cell in Canal Le Group with crazies

37 Le Group with the noisy Crazies

We stopped often and tasted the local cuisine, topped up our proviand and wine, (and Desperados tequila infused beer which had become a favourite!), had a near miss at one or other manually operated ecluse when an unmentionable person from another cabin cruiser pressed the Go button too early! Somehow Ronnie, who had manned the shore based operations, managed to force the gates open and stop them crushing our boat! We heard later downstream, that that ecluse had to be repaired after that incident! It was out of action for hours! At least we made it through!

Cell in Canal - ecluse doors

38  As we entered the ecluse, these massive doors started closing and only Ronnie’s quick action prevented them crushing our Le Boat!

During a quiet moment, as our skipper guided our cabin cruiser past planted sentinels of plane trees on the canal’s banks, under centuries old arch bridges, which often entailed ducking so as not to get your head chopped off, past fellow canal travellers whom we always greeted with an “Ahoy me Hearties!”, I set to and repaired our tethering rope professionally, splicing it and trimming the rope so that we wouldn’t be booked for a new rope!

Cell in Canal Splicing-Rope

39 A lost craft – I was a natural, inherited from my Norwegian Dad, Anton Nilsen Vardoy who grew up on an island called Vardoy, near Bergen! Yes, we have our own Island in Norway!

As mentioned elsewhere, this adventure had few still moments and the time to write my journal and awaken to 5:00am’s Golden Hour seemed to get lost in translation, and the loss of my companion, my smart phone, took its toll on my record keeping! At one stop where a monster barge was moored, we came to realize that this particular barge was limited to a certain section of the canal as there was no way it could ever negotiate many of the ultra low bridges along the Canal du Midi. How did the monster get there in the first place, one asked oneself? At this jetty Linda and I walked into centre ville looking for proviand, vin and a dozen Desperados, but we had timed our walk badly! We were smack bang in the middle of siesta time and anyone with common sense was snoozing!

Cell in Canal siesta

There is a popular misconception that the French are an unfriendly people, unlike the Kiwis, Bokkies and Yanks mentioned above! Linda and myself beg to differ! As we trudged back empty handed to our Le Boat, we came across a gentleman, in a Peugeot, stopped at an intersection. We took a chance and asked the question: Pardon monsieur, ou se trouve le supermarché? The gentleman gave it some thought and replied: Si desolé le supermarché qui ouvert fait cinq kilomètres! We thanked him and off he went in the opposite direction. Now whether it was Linda’s damn good looks, or whether Pierre le Gentil Homme is just a nice guy, we had walked fifty odd metres and the Peugeot slid to a halt next to us! Pierre asked if we wanted a lift to le supermarché, which we deferred as we were almost at the jetty and our skipper, we knew, was anxious to depart for our next destination.

Cell in Canal gentilhomme

40 Not exactly our Pierre, but this dude obviously fancies himself as a gentleman!

Myth exploded, we thanked Pierre le Gentil Homme profusely and off he went about his business!

What song better to finish off with than Aerosmith and Dude(looks like a lady) enjoy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nf0oXY4nDxE

Next up: Narbonne by Day

St Vincent School For The Deaf helping the hard of hearing to listen:

http://www.stvincentschool.org.za/

Down Durban way The Fulton School for The Deaf:

http://www.fulton.org.za/

Abraham Kriel Childcare group, caring while we work:

http://abrahamkriel.org/

The Avril Elizabeth Home for the Mentally Handicapped was opened in 1970, and for the amazing work they do for the less fortunate they deserve great accolades:

http://www.avril.org.za/

2 thoughts on “Cell in Canal – Episode 7 – La Marseilette to Narbonne”

  1. Ahoy Dan! We are enjoying your account of your trip down the Canal du Midi very much as it brings back many pleasant memories when we did the exact same trip many years ago. We were only 3 adults and 2 children and we were going upstream, which, in my humble opinion is more challenging than going downstream, so we had to endure lots of shouting (at us) from the lockkeepers when our cruiser turned sideways in the locks. As you may remember we mentioned during our pleasant unexpected meeting at the airport on our separate ways overseas in September, that we were on our way to Norway and we raised our glasses to your ancestors on Vardoy Island as we sailed past (twice). Sorry about your smartphone :) Enjoy the rest of your trip, Lovies, Cecilia and Dennis

    1. Ahoy back at you Cecelia and Dennis! :D So glad that chance encounter eventuated in so many parallels! From your words I too can picture you and Dennis learning the ecluse system and by the sounds of things a few near misses happened along the way! Expect one more episode, and a postscript. :-)

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