Never on a Sunday
There is an argument for doing nothing in France on a Sunday- if you're in a good place (fed and watered also
). We should know that by now!
But the lure of the snaking river was strong and we gathered our goods and chattels aboard Merlin leaving hospitable Dinan behind. Stowing away was a much more casual affair, as, travelling at 5 knots one can even read the Sunday papers and make coffee (if one happens to be navigator at the time! )
Civilisation gave way to lush green verges once again and the river cut through a deep gorge before the landscape opened out to the tranquil sylvan setting of our third lock : Léhon.
Locks were still a novelty to us and we admired the lock-keeper's cottage and surrounding garden before tying up next to a SIB on the little pontoon. The couple on board nodded politely before attending once again to organising their picnic lunch on the grassy bank.
Even that didn't remind us.
We walked on cheerily to the cottage and knocked whereupon the surprised lock-keeper rose from his table where he was feasting 'en famille' to grin and say 'but we are closed until after lunch!'
Lunchtime is still very important in France though the multinationals (and consumer demand) are eating away at it in the big towns. Not a snowball's chance in a fiery place of this lock opening in the next hour , so off we went to the village for a quick coffee. It was a rewarding walk past a 14th century Abbey which graced the water's edge. In the little restaurant Madame was appalled that we were not having a three course meal (futile to explain that we'd recently had a 'Great Western All You Can Keep Down and Still Walk'- type breakfast an hour or two before) and banished us to the outside chairs and tables where she grudgingly got us a couple of coffees.
Back we sloped to be greeted by the Lock-keeper wiping bits of wild boar from his cheerful countenance and the SIB couple having a post-picnic read in the sun.
photo : Paul
We got it at last. We weren't going to be able to charge through this bit of the journey (in the way that we imagined Pete, Martin and Anto were charging at that very moment towards Fareham). Distance means nothing on the river. And pace is calculated taking account of a range of variables including the day of the week, the time of the day (locks shut for lunch and by 7.00 ish in the evening), the things to see and do on the riverbank and whether the helmsman is in need of a sudden snooze in a watery lay-by. Our usual success criteria as ribsters needed to be chucked overboard as we settled into an entirely different boating experience.
Over the next few days, we were to gain enormous respect and liking for the friendly and helpful Lock-keepers and the wonderfully maintained cottages which were to be our new waypoints on this stage of the journey.
Onwards to Pont Perrin.