Friday, 30 September 2016

18th - 24th September 2016

The Luciole has been heading towards Clamecy for the second last time of the season, it's absolutely astonishing how quickly it all passes. For Francisco, Andy and myself, us old boys that have been here since the start, it seems only a matter of weeks since we first set off from Auxerre all the way back in May. Despite how late in the season it is the elements seem to be continuously smiling on us as the weather is holding out wonderfully. We're fortunate to still be enjoying long sunny days and crisp, cool and clear evenings, the skies lit up by a plethora of stars.

We had on board with us this week a full boat of excellent and most amusing people, a mixed group of Americans and Australians, a very chatty bunch, brightening all our days with their ceaseless joking and boundless curiosity. This curiosity which led to Andy bringing along several bottles of Ratafia, a local fortified wine similar to Marc de Bourgogne. Served as an apperitif and created from the mulched grapes remaining from the production of wine, which are then fermented and blended with grape juice. This gives Ratafia a deliciously sweet flavour with an extremely potent kick! No wonder it was so popular!

Other happenings of the week include 89 year old Peter amazing everyone, including his wife Evelyn, with his distance walking skills, something he apparently hasn't done much of for many years. He did the whole walking tour around Auxerre with the rest of the group and hopped off at least once per day to keep pace with the boat while we navigated. On friday night during Captain's Dinner we celebrated the 23rd anniversary of Lisa and Denny with Cremant de Bourgogne and Jade's specially made Chocolate celebration cake. The night concluded for the gentlemen aboard with Hank's very kindly donated and absolutely enormous cigars out on the deck. A most fitting end to a very special week.

 Mailly le Chateau as seen from the maze of streams and rivers beneath it.

Chateau de Bazoches. Former home of Vauban, tactician, inventor and adviser to King Louis XIV One of our regular visits and a firm favourite.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

11th - 17th September 2016

Another week aboard the Luciole, another week of peace and serenity surrounded by the natural majesty of Burgundy. We had with us a full boat of 14 passengers, a combination of Brits and Americans, all strangers to begin with but that lack of familiarity soon melted away as it always does. Roughly around the time main courses are served on the first night, as the wine is beginning to flow and the festivities are starting, you wouldn't believe you were witnessing a group of strangers dining together, not amongst all the chatter and chuckles of laughter. By friday everyone was practically inseperable, spending all day as a unit. That is aside from one member of the group, Keith, who spent a good deal of his time with our Captain Francisco, steering the boat and doing a fine job of it, including entering several locks unassisted. I can testify to how difficult that is, regardless of how easy and casual Francisco makes it look.

Bizarrely this week we were accompanied by a few new and slightly unusual members of the team. First of all there was a snake which somehow managed to drop from the underside of a bridge and land right in the middle of the deck, causing quite a bit of panic, mostly for the snake itself however which beat a hasty retreat! It's very rare to see snakes in this part of the world, and of course the ones you see are typically very small and (thankfully) completely harmless, still quite a shock to see one on board! Our second uninvited guest was quite a lot more welcome than the first, an inquisitive little cat that no matter how many times he got shooed off, would for sure reappear sooner or later stalking the place and trying to make himself comfortable on the deck cushions. Our final little visitor of the week was anything but! An absolutely enormous moth, quite stunning really and discovered munching on the Chilean flag we fly from the stern. For 3 days we kept discovering this moth, hanging around the boat and keeping itself to itself, he must have come for the atmosphere like the rest of us!

Finally I would like to offer our congratulations to Stan and Vicki on their 45th wedding anniversary, Mindy on her 65th birthday and lovely Pat for her 80th birthday. Sante!

Michael Moth as he affectionately became known. 

Saturday, 17 September 2016

4th - 10th September 2016

Once again we've been blessed with another sunny and marvellous week aboard the Luciole, departing from Auxerre and heading in the direction of cheery little Clamecy. Joined this week by an exceptional and mixed group of people, 11 in total, 10 outstanding Americans and our unforgettable resident Canadian Julie. Not only that but we're very happy to welcome back technical man of the business William for the week as well as his mother; our very own irreplaceable Penny! It's always a good atmosphere with these two present, laughs a plenty and their boundless enthusiasm for the Luciole spurring us all on.

Glorious cruising days on the Nivernias Canal

This past week felt very easy and enjoyably relaxed and it passed by far too quickly, it was Friday night and Captain's dinner before we knew it. That seems to be the nature of this place when we have such a relaxed and easy going group of passengers on board, it feels somewhat more akin to providing for friends and family than it does to working. Days were spent as they often are around here, cruising and walking in the sunshine, fantastical meals and  phenomenal cocktails, fascinating tours of the region and perhaps a snooze or two - just to check the AC is working correctly in the cabins I'm sure! On top of that we had a little tournament of petanque in play most evenings, I won't bother to list the scores as the team comprising of William and myself was pretty abysmal and I'd prefer not to give too much glory and attention to our reigning champion, the Captain.

I'd like to extend a special mention to Matt and Julia, a big thank you to the two of you for the amazing slide show of photographs taken throughout the week and shown on Friday evening, as well as being the all round genuinely excellent people and good guys that you are! In fact for the latter reason alone thank you to everyone who joined us and made this, the  memorable week what it was.

Monday, 5 September 2016

28th August - 3 September

It's been a beautiful week in Burgundy, it may only be September but the beginnings of autumn have started creeping in, littering the paths (and the Luciole!) with leaves of red and brown. The sun however is still very much on our side, and is thankfully starting to lose it's sting somewhat. 

Joining us onboard our happy boat this week was a very friendly and constantly amusing family of Australians, the Messenger family, ranging from grandparents Philip and Pauline down through the generations all the way to 11 year old Sebastian, a fine young chap and our local skateboarding champion for the week. Indeed that's how half of his time was spent, careening down the towpaths with the rest of the family cycling along trying to keep up! Otherwise it was a lovely, calm week with everyone out and about enjoying the sunshine and swimming from the boat at every opportunity, crew included. It was perhaps the first time that I've seen every single member of the family deciding to have a go at steering! With grandad putting us into a lock immaculately, followed by son Mark nailing it too, or at least on the second attempt anyway!

In other news our new arrivals Jade and Kim are settling in wonderfully! It may only be their second week on the boat but already they're looking and sounding like old bargees, professionals through and through and from the looks of it having an excellent time in the process. The ambience on board is truly excellent, completely jovial, relaxed and as perfect as ever.

Skate boarding super hero - Sebastian