Thursday 28th May was another of those BIG DAYS, the day when the French government were due to release details of the next stage of de-confinement. It hardly seems possible that the last of these ‘big days’ was just under three weeks ago. Time flies and we so quickly forget things.
The announcement wasn’t due until 5pm, so to keep our minds from dwelling on it we cycled down the Moselle to Sierck-les-Bains, a round trip of twenty six miles. I’ve seen photos of this little hamlet with its atmospheric chateau perched on the hillside and it looks lovely. We moored here for one night in August of last year as we travelled up the Moselle and my memories are not at all lovely.
It was not a mooring of choice, more of necessity as the day was drawing to a close and we had nowhere else to go. We had attempted a few other moorings, barely big enough for one boat, but on closer inspection found that they had barbed wire along the gangways and the gates were padlocked, not something we had seen before in France. The mooring we ended up in had previously been a hire-boat base, a small one for no more than eight to ten boats, but was now disused. We moored up on rotting timbers, rusted, loose cleats and a walkway that looked as if it would disintegrate beneath our feet at the slightest pressure. We gingerly tip-toed our way to the gate to find it was padlocked and overgrown with brambles. Luckily someone had kindly vandalised the six-foot high wire fencing next to it so we managed to squeeze our way through the gap on to the cycle track. The dogs were desperate for a pee so this was for their benefit rather than ours!
There was nothing wrong with the town, or the little chateau, but on a drizzly, glowering day, the inhospitality of the mooring coloured my perspective of the place. Going back there this week in bright sunshine was a more positive experience but it still served as a timely reminder that there are bad moorings and good moorings, and we do not want to be stuck on the former if lock-down comes back to haunt us. The joy of being on a boat has always been that if you didn’t like where you were, you simply moved on. Happy days. But in our new world that sort of freedom still seems a fragile thing.
Later on Thursday evening, having listened to the government announcement, I opened a bottle of our home-made cider to celebrate. As of June 2nd the 100 km travel restriction will be lifted, we will be out of the red zone along with most of the country, campsites and restaurants will be opening, and by June 15th cross-country borders will be opening.
Is it too much too soon?
Whichever way it goes we are ready to move on and take our chances. That isn’t quite so rash as it may seem for it is relatively easy to keep yourself-to-yourself on a boat if you want to. We have a choice of routes from here but we are likely to avoid the big towns and moor up bankside by ourselves wherever possible. Another factor influencing our decision to go is that sadly our peaceful haven in Basse Ham isn’t quite so peaceful anymore. The local lads are constantly out playing raucous basketball across the water, boats on both sides of us are getting stuck into renovation and cleaning, with the accompanying din of pressure washers, sanders and grinders. It’s just normal human activity, but it was so peaceful before, and now all this noise grates on the nerves. It feels like the right time to leave.
Our next hurdle is waiting for the VNF (the organisation who manage the waterways) to decide if they are opening up the canal network as well. Friday is the day when they update their website but information is coming through slowly. It looks as if the canals will be opening up next week but it will probably take a few more days to be absolutely sure. We shall spend this weekend working out which of our possible routes we are going to take.
We have been here for ten weeks now and I have no new photos for you. Instead, a real treat for all of us, me included! Here is a selection of photos I would love to have included in my book but the cost was prohibitive. For those of you who have read Just Passing Through, these pictures may give you a better idea of some of the places I talk about in the book. For other boaters who have covered the same ground it may bring back happy memories. Or in the case of these first two pictures, stormy wet ones. Enjoy!
Next week’s blog WILL have some pictures of Olivia Rose on the move once more. (I know I’m tempting fate but I have faith.)
Apologies for lack of drawings from Michael this week but he has been replacing the wood panelling around our back hatches – one of those jobs that once you start you have to keep going or your wife gets irritable with all the mess – and so he has had no time for leisure activities!