|Back to the garden mooring at La Falotte where we could be firework free for 14th Juillet|
|This was dessert at Ecluse 52 - the little boat even had Quaintrelle green!|
As Mike continued thrashing away the undergrowth and trying to get higher, I walked up into town and along the road that was at the top of the verge and called and called, but no Eiffel. Back at the verge, we were despairing with no idea of where he was, but Mike was determined to get the collar, as he was worried that Eiffel was attached to it but injured or something hence no meuwling. It was all a bit distressing and Mike started to look along the verge to see if there was an easier way to get up it. That’s when I heard Eiffel’s bell….. Such a little tinkle I thought I’d imagined it. Then I heard it again and called him and he mewed back. I shouted to Mike and with a rethink, we got the mooring pins from the boat and the hammer and Mike started to climb using them to make hand and footholds. He got so far up, and at last we saw Eiffel still a few feet above on a ledge – too afraid to come down off it, so sheer was the verge. We coaxed and coaxed and he finally came within tickling distance to another ledge Mike had created above a rock and sat there a few moments whilst Mike assessed his hand and foot holds for coming down. Alas, a flurry of traffic sent Eiffel scuttling back up to the ledge he’d been on…….
A sudden brainwave – “Amber, I’ll get Amber, she’ll call to him and he’ll come down.” I ran back to the boat (quicker now that Mike had also cut a path directly through the overgrown verge between the road and the towpath), grabbed a slumbering Amber from under the settee and took her up to the road side. By the time we got there she’d woken up and was so terrified herself of the traffic going past, there was no way she was going to be any good and we didn’t need two cats stuck on the ledge so I quickly retreated back to the boat with her, put her under the settee and reckoned she’d think it was just a dream she’d had…..
We didn’t know what to do. We were realising we’d need to stay another night and maybe just leave him to get down on his own once the traffic stopped in the evening, when a voice piped up beside us, “Where is your cat?” In the maelstrom of cat rescue, Anne had gone along to the capitain to ask if anyone had a longer ladder and had bumped into Louic and his wife and told them the story. They were out walking their dog and seeing we were still at the roadside came to help. Well, we pointed Eiffel out, Louic handed his dog to Anne, and like spiderman, he began to ascend the verge, kicking footholes with his toes and moving fast before the soft earth fell beneath him, up, up and in no time at all was at Eiffel’s ledge. “How do I lift him?” was the next question. A good question. Eiffel hates being lifted with a passion…… “Erm……” Probably not the best time to go into Eiffel’s neurosis… “….by the scruff…..pick him up by the back of the neck, like his mum did when he was a kitten.” Something Ann, his foster mum had told me had come back and rung a bell. The first attempt was met with a loud snarl and hiss and I hope Louic wasn’t injured. He tried again, bingo!! Once in this grasp, Eiffel dropped all defences and hung there like a great big lanky legged baby, and Louic started the descent with him, passed him down to Mike and then to me who promptly burst into tears.
Eiffel was taken back to the
boat where he once more performed the ‘I don’t
know what all the fuss was about….’ preen and settled under the settee
with Amber. We thanked Louic with a
bottle of wine and got all our paraphernalia back on the boat and made ready to
leave, 5 hours after we’d first tried to go………
Delayed departures were to become a feature of the holiday…….
|Eiffel's Cliff - rather hard to see.. The pathway cut through the undergrowth in the light, by Mike, was between the towpath (where the parked car is) and the road above. The cliff is in darkness beyond this cutting....|
Just as we were casting off, Louic returned by car with a box of biscuits for us. This is the second time this has happened to us..we thank someone with a gift and they then give us something back in return?? It must be a french thing………
Then Dave pitched up to chat… A New Zealander who was currently moored at Meilhan sur Garonne. A lovely chap, so we made our apologies for being rude and darting off but said we hoped to see him that evening as we were going to Meilhan.
We pushed off and continued east for a few hundred metres to the last lock on the canal, just so we know we’ve been right to the end, then turned and headed back the way we came.
|The last lock on the Canal Lateral de la Garonne|
|One of the few other boats on the canal - it's so quiet.|
|Anne enjoying her cruise.|
|From the Gironde department back into our home department of Lot et Garonne|
We got to Meilhan and decided that as we were on the end of the quay and near the road, this was not a cat-friendly mooring so shore leave was cancelled. This enabled us to relax with a glass of wine on the quayside and catch up with some fellow boaters, Dave and Barbara, and Trish and Tony, whom we’d met briefly at Moissac last year. In the port that evening there was a barbeque and live music, so we joined the festivities and thoroughly enjoyed the company.
Slightly woolly-headed the
next morning we woke to find a loaf of bread on the boat that we later found
out had been left by Dave – he’d been up at the bakery and getting bread for
others so picked up one for us too. Anne
headed up the hill into town for a look and came back with tarts as the bakery
had run out of pastries. We had a chat
with Dave and Barbara about their electric bikes, which we are keen to get at
some point. They kindly let us have a
try of theirs and we were amazed at how good they were – going uphill was a
|Little Narrowboats moored at Meilhan|
|All the way from Edinburgh!!!!|
For some reason I have no photos at all of Meilhan. I think my brain was still digesting Eiffel’s ledge and it just didn’t occur to me to take any.
Our target for Saturday 13th was to get back to Pont-des-Sables, as Anne was heading off on Sunday morning for Marmande where she would take a train to Aix-en-Provence to continue her travels. As shore leave had been cancelled the previous night, there was no problem herding the cats up to leave as they were already on board, so we cast off and had another very pleasant cruise along the canal.
|It was quite weedy towards the end of the canal and this weed cutter was out working hard.|
|Nice easy locks, even going up!|
|Anne's last night back at Pont-des-Sables|
We then headed into the small town for some supplies from the baker, small épicerie and butcher that has newly opened. We got some brochettes to barbeque and we reckon they’re amongst the best we’ve had. In the evening we had dinner at the restaurant L’Escale, right next to the port, with our meal only slightly interrupted when Amber appeared and started to make her way into the kitchen!!! I shooed her out, much to the amusement of the other diners…..
An early start on Sunday 14th and we were all breakfasted by the back of 9am and headed up to the Capitainerie for 9.30 where a delightful young chap was there waiting to take Anne to Marmande. She needed a cashline as well and he reassured her that he knew Marmande well and would take her to one near the station.
Back at the boat, the all-to-often ritual of hunt and round up the cats – or, nailing jelly to a wall – was begun. We knew exactly where they were, in the garden next to the mooring. We called and cajoled but they were having way too much fun and they just love playing tig with Mike – letting him get so close and then just staying two steps ahead……. The man and lady who own the garden came to watch the fun and invited us in to catch them. The man had little to no English but must have looked up, “My cats, they are my cats.” As the pair of little shits appeared to have moved in. Mike got Amber easily enough once in the garden and Eiffel was at the other end of the ‘lawn’ watching something in the undergrowth. Thankfully, such was his concentration, he didn’t notice me coming up behind him and asking for a cuddle, then picking him up. He snarked as usual after a few minutes but a loud, “NO!” from me usually puts him in his place. Once all the crew were corralled and safely under the settee we set off. Our original plan was to go straight to Buzet but we changed our plans and decided to stop once again at the cat friendly mooring at the little mineral museum at La Falotte. As it was in the middle of nowhere, we knew we’d be away from any firework celebrations for 14th July – Bastille Day.
|Although the mooring was free, we were so pleased with it, we left some money in the honesty box for use of the picnic tables.|
|Crew enjoying shore leave.|
With no rush, we let them out in the morning as we had breakfast, and with Amber on board, Eiffel was for once reasonably easily called back in.
We headed to Buzet where we pulled in alongside Spes to top up our water and use the car to go to the supermarket for supplies. By 3.30pm we were back on board and ready to continue our day’s cruising, down a double lock at Buzet which would take us onto new territory – the Baise. But that’s for next time!!
|Approaching the double lock to take us down onto the River Baise|
|Leaving the canal behind us.....|
|Down the first lock and into the second.....|