Friday, 8 July 2011

Wendy's Diary Thursday 7th July

It has been a quiet few days, hidden up the rivers of Brest. The scorching weather changed as we left Landerneau to sunshine and showers with strong winds! The motors sail down the river was a little bumpy as we got neared the Rade de Brest (think Plymouth Sound) and we headed straight for the other river, the Aulne to keep out of the wind. We retreated round the bends of the river, past some pretty villages, retired French Naval vessels and a wide range of waterfowl, some of which we didn’t recognise. We found a quiet little anchorage in the entrance to a creek where we noticed the nearest boat was flying a Cornish flag – the owner soon appeared and informed us his wife was Cornish and they knew SE Cornwall well.
Next morning (6 July) we had a catch up on tidying, and unsuccessful attempt at fishing and a good snooze waiting for the tide to turn so that we could head further up the river. This was a lovely cruise of about 10 miles, most of which was down purely under sail – something we seem to rarely manage in rivers. The pull of the sails as the wind gusts is a pleasure to experience, such a peaceful way to sail and at one with nature. Not that the hundreds of ducks thought that as the scattered on our approach, along with egrets, cranes, curlews and many others. We passed pretty houses on the river banks that if global warming ever happens will be several feet underwater. We eventually reached a lock alongside a weir that would enable us to continue our trip further upstream.
Having spent a summer in Sutton Harbour I thought I knew what to do in a lock. What I failed to appreciate is that Sutton Lock has a mini pontoon that you tie up to, which rises along with the boat as the lock is filled. All you had to do there was make sure you didn’t untie too early before the water had calmed down. So we entered the lock and were thrown ropes from above to tie up to. John instructed me to keep tightening the rope as the water level went up. It was a polypropylene rope, (the sort we don’t have as the skipper doesn’t rate them) and as I loosened it from the cleat so I could pull the rope through, it slipped through my hands and the cleat letting the bow swing out into the middle of the lock. John shouting me to pull it in, me shouting I was trying to (did I think I was letting it go for fun?) and eventually working out how to get this awful piece of rope to do what I wanted it to rather than allowing it to do as it pleased.  A few minutes later we were safely out of the lock and apologising for the shouting under panic.
About a mile up the river is Port Launay, a very picturesque village/town with grass covered banks in front of the road for around a mile, which boats can tie up to free of charge. We stopped in the first space we came to, behind a boat flying a Cornish flag!  An enjoyable evening was spent over a bottle of wine or two with the owners, who were on the way back from doing the Atlantic circuit. He grew up in Millbrook, but like us, home is now wherever the boat is!
This morning we cycled to Chateaulin, it looked like the road would follow the river (so be flat) and we knew there was at least one decent supermarket.  It was a nice easy ride, and we spotted E LeClerc on the other side of the river as we approached the town.  We carried on into town to find a bridge and found a market in full swing so had an amble around the stalls. Back on the bikes we crossed the river and did our shopping, making note of the free WIFI.  On the way back we spotted an old road that looked like it could be interesting so followed it. John then decided he fancied going up the hill rather than back to the river and on the basis that I am very unfit thought the exercise would do me good.
Up the hill led to that increasingly common sign “Lidl” further up the hill, so as we were short of milk, thought we could pick some up cheaply. Six litres of milk and a bottle of Pineau de Charente later, we returned to the bikes once more. At the exit John was keen to go uphill again...think of the exercise I told myself, and agreed. A long way uphill, a few turns and a dead end, he finally consented to going downhill J The ride back along the river was easy with the wind behind us and we soon returned to the boat, feasted on an enjoyable lunch before nodding off for the rest of the afternoon.
Late afternoon the WIFI was calling so we moved the boat up the river to Chateaulin, walked the hundred yards or so to E Leclerc to find the cafe closed. Reminiscent of our second visit to MacDonalds, we sat in the car park and did our stuff.  Or tried to..we could receive but not send emails, and halfway through downloading some podcasts John was given the message that he had broken the terms of the free WIFI and would not be able to log on again for 2 days!! How we will live without the Archers for another 2 days I am not sure. We can get radio 4 on longwave but someone at the BBC in their wisdom has decided that cricket is more interesting than the Archers so whenever there is a match – there is no Archers!
So back to the boat to respond to the latest emails, drink tea, eat chocolate, drink Drambuie, and write my diary. Another day has come to a pleasing end. For those who may ask about my health, I am pleased to report that my neck is good, my nerve pain the same; it hurts when I touch/rest my head but is generally OK whilst I am up and about. The mozzies have found someone else to feed on and we are both feeling very well and enjoying not working.

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