Jackie Parry – author


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Tackling our Nemesis

It had rained for two nights a bought flood waters.  So, of course, we decided to tackle one of the lowest bridges: The Capestang.

Not helping by raising the water levels and decreasing our likelihood of getting under the bridge.

Not helping by raising the water levels and decreasing our likelihood of getting under the bridge.

It’s not so much that it is low, but the curved arch reduces the height dramatically, the wider the boat.

Brilliant!

Brilliant!

We inspected the bridge, and there is not one inch of it that hasn’t already been gouged-out by previous boats. More rain was forecast, we had to have a go.

Really?

Really?

With sweaty palms and flip-flopping stomachs we puttered up to the bridge. The game plan? I was on the bow indicating centre – then watching the stern and pointing in the direction the stern needed to shift to keep us in the centre.

Flip-flop, flip-flop (my stomach!)

Flip-flop, flip-flop (my stomach!)

If we scratched the paint we didn’t care. We went that slow, we could stop, reverse out and go back to our mooring with nothing more than our ego damaged.

My cool cucumber!

My cool cucumber!

Noel, as usual, was great on the helm and cool as a cucumber. I matched his coolness on the exterior but inside my stomach was making its way up to my throat.

Phew!

Phew!

With an inch gap each side of our wheelhouse roof we glided under and it was then  that I remembered to breath – we made it!

Farewell to the lovely village of Capestang, and Jane (fellow WOB – Women on Barge member (FB)), (and John and Sophie), hope to see you again when we’re heading north!

Leaving Capestang.

Leaving Capestang.

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The good, bad, ugly, interesting and amusing

We’re having a grand ride south, assisted by the current, a twenty knot breeze and a rather splendid DAF motor. We are now near Avignon and enjoying swinging at anchor again.

Here’s a summary of our eight-day trip so far:

The ugly

A pretty child painted on the side of a nuclear reactor chimney – the child’s legs glowing with what can be assumed as contamination: The de-nuded hill-side to fulfil the desire for pretty stone houses.

Nuclear power station and denuded hillside

Nuclear power station and denuded hillside

The good

Fine views, striking ruins, tranquility, safety, enjoyment, togetherness, travel and movement watching France pootle-past; while autumn gathers momentum.

A pretty place

A pretty place

The interesting

The vast stone towers remind us of wombats. What do furry Australian creatures have to do with French ruins? Well, wombats have this odd behaviour where they pooh on stones – not grass, or pavement; on stones and only stones. The French have this odd behaviour of finding the tallest, skinniest, highest peak and building a stone fortress upon it.

The Australian wombat!

The Australian wombat. (Picture not taken in France!). Image courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The amusing

While coming out of a rather large lock (drop of 17 metres or 19 metres, depending which book you read) we were met by three ships all vying for the right position to make an entrance or to tie up. The vast volume of water that had just been disgorged from the massive lock left swirls and eddies to test the most skilled skipper. I was at the helm, Noel looked at the wall of ships, spinning with the currents and said, ‘Yikes, just tell me when we’re through safely, I have my eyes closed.’

‘That’s okay,’ I said, ‘so do I!’

Door opening but eyes shut!

Door opening but eyes shut!

The bad

… well, there isn’t any really.

france