Sunday, 18 June 2017

Auxerre to Joigny (Or Hingin' Aboot With Bow Thruster Problems!)

Sunset over Auxerre

Well, my worry over where we would keep the car were unfounded – we didn’t win the duck race, so consoled ourselves with a visit to the cheese shop and two Saint Pauls from Maison Roy.
The townsfolk of Auxerre gathered for the Duck Race
12000 ducks......

Not the fastest of races..... car to win!
Monday 5th June meant an early start on the 8.55am Flixbus to Paris, where we would then catch a shuttle bus to Paris Beauvais airport to fly back to the UK for Mike to do a couple of days work and have a follow up with the knee man at York hospital, me to settle the new tenant into the Edinburgh flat, and then both attend a Murder Mystery evening in the Peak District.  Quite a busy week for us!

For anyone remotely interested, Mike has officially been diagnosed with Tendon Access Point Inflammation, or Th..?.?.?.?. Arthritis (yes, it has a proper scientific name which I can’t remember or find online!).  This explains all the problems he’s had with both knees, his heel and the flare-ups of plantar fasciitis he has had over the years.  The good news is it doesn’t damage the joints so the likelihood of him needing joints replaced over the years is low and if the flare-ups become so regular they impact on daily life, there is treatment.  However, having not had a flare-up for a good 8 months now, it’s felt not necessary to take any treatments for the moment.  It’s good now to know exactly what it is, and that it’s not anything he does that’s causing it, as the consultant said, it’s just him, how he’s been made.

That meeting over we set off in the hire car picked up at York for Scotland spending a rather dull two and half hours sitting still on the A66 following a serious crash involving two motorcyclists, reaching the sunny climes of Dalgety Bay at 10.45pm.  Mum had got ready for bed but waited up, knowing she wouldn’t sleep until we were back – old habits die hard I guess….

An early start on Wednesday morning sent Mike back over the Forth Bridge to his clients near Penicuik and me to the docs at Inverkeithing for a routine appt, followed by a bus trip over to Edinburgh to meet Fife Man with a Van (Rob – highly recommended if anyone ever needs one!) to remove some bits and pieces from the flat for the new tenant and then move the tenant in.  All went smoothly with the handover completed by 2.40pm I then headed into town for some shopping before meeting a friend whom I’d not seen for 13 years!
Janet is from Ohio and we met back in 2000 online on a pet rat forum!  I met some wonderful people on that forum some of whom have become lifelong friends; my English Princess, Ali namely, and Janet, Marie and Therese who was in Arizona at the time.  On a trip to the US for a holiday in 2004 I visited Janet in Ohio and 13 years later she was coming across the pond for a conference.  We spent a very happy couple of hours catching up on all our news and lives, exchanging plans for the future – it felt as if we’d just seen each other yesterday and the time just flew in.  Thank you so much for squeezing me in on a hectic day Janet, especially as you were still feeling a bit under the weather!

Thursday for me was slightly more relaxing and having waved Mike off to work just before 8am, I went back to bed – mwuahahahahahahaaa………  Once up properly, I sorted out the changeover of utilities with the flat then hung out with my mum.  Mum and I like hanging out together, it’s very chilled and we put the world to rights over a milky coffee and home-made shortbread.

After packing on Friday morning, we got back in the car and headed back to York, with, thankfully, a much smoother trip and we were there in 4 and a half hours.  Accommodation was yet again provided at Norfolk Towers, for which we are eternally grateful and the impromptu night out hugely enjoyed, although we felt none-too-crisp the following morning.  Vicki had been sensible and headed home after a meal out, involving cocktails and wine, whilst James, Mike and I stopped off at The Habit (Mike’s old haunt is probably the politest way to describe it) for a nightcap, which became three and swaying home at 1am.  Vicki – stop being boring!!!
Saturday saw us on the train again heading for Chapel-en-le-Frith, via Manchester which allowed us to enjoy fleeting glimpses of the Huddersfield canal followed by the Peak District canal.  There was something comforting seeing the clusters of narrowboats along the way.  We were headed to Simon’s where we had been cast for the evening in his Murder Mystery; Mike typecast as the local cad and me as a retired doctor.
Okay, it't not my best angle, but i so love that my 79 year old mum deliberately photo-bombed the shot I was taking of Mike's bowtie :)  She was actually sticking her tongue out but I wasn't quick enough to catch that!
Dr Bruisyard I presume?
Miles Earnshaw (the cad!) and Dr Bruisuard (PS Dress code was 1940s evenging wear in case you were wondering!)
I was the murderer, and two out of the dozen or so guests guessed correctly, but I was quite satisfied that I’d pulled the wool over the majority’s eyes.

Sunday and it was the train to Birmingham, where I had an eye test booked at Specsavers as my reading glasses are no longer sufficient and my arms not long enough.  I love Birmingham.  We spent the night at the airport as Mike had a hire-car booked there for Monday morning to visit his client to do a couple of days work.  On Monday after he’d headed off, I went back into the city to collect my new specs and killed some time looking round John Lewis and revisiting the Old Rep Theatre, where I studied for a year back in 1993-94.  I’d been back and looked at the front of the theatre with Mike, but this time I went round the back where we’d all pitch up at the stage door on Hinkley Street for our 10am start.  It brought back a lot of memories, very happy memories, and allowed me to remember my wee pal Kelly, who sadly died a year after the course was finished, in a car accident.  She was 19.  I think about her quite a lot even though I only knew her for a couple of years, she was a bubbly, vibrant girl who I loved being with.  One day in an improvisation class we were all paired off and given a phrase and Kelly and I were given ‘Puppy Love’.  We had to act out the phrase and the rest of the group guess it.  We took it literally and Kelly was cast (type cast!) as a golden retriever puppy, which she absolutely nailed and had the rest of the group in fits of laughter – bless you Kel, wherever you are xx.
Happy Days - the door was green in 1993-94 and the signage not as good :)
My trip down memory lane complete, I picked up my glasses and headed back to the airport for my flight back to Paris, this time to Paris Orly, so I have now flown in or out of all three Paris airports.  With my flight getting in early, I junked the bus ticket I’d booked for 7.45pm and paid an extra 20 euros to board the 5.30pm train which had me back at the boat before the bus had even left – good move.

On Tuesday morning I got on with the laundry and did food-shopping then at 2pm I went for my appointment with the bank to open a French bank account.  It was exhausting.  The very nice bank man didn’t speak any English and my French is limited, to say the least, so much of the meeting was conducted courtesy of ‘retro transduct’ which is like a less-accurate version of Google Translate, so you can imagine the pain.  Anyway, an hour later, he’d explained everything and I assured him I understood (I mean, I think I did, what can go wrong opening a bank account…), he copied all the paperwork provided, arranged another meeting for me to come back with Mike and his passport the next afternoon and I went out to phone Liz to see if she could shed any light on what I’d been told.  It turns out I have an old number for Liz, but it was nice to hear her voice on the voicemail system.

Mike’s flight also landed early which meant that with a sprint that would’ve impressed Linford Christie (but without the lycra thank God), he managed to catch a train instead of waiting for the 10.45pm bus which would have returned him to Auxerre at 00.50am.  He was back on board by 10.30pm which was great.

Our meeting at the bank on Wednesday was at 3pm and we figured it would take half an hour or so to sign papers, present Mike’s passport.  We were there for just under two hours.  Our papers from the previous day had been accepted and our application to open an account approved, so now Bank Man had to actually open the account which involved putting all the information from the papers onto the computer system…… It took ages and further confusion occurred when some of the charges he mentioned yesterday seemed to have changed………  We have had to take what appears to be a monthly assurance charge, 4euros 52, otherwise if we don’t and there is fraudulent activity on our account or our card is stolen, they will not help us.  Apparently.  When we questioned this, Bank Man looked quite hurt and said that he represented The Bank and had to give a fair and honest impression.  So, we have that monthly charge, a one-off payment of 45 euros to join, as it is a mutuality and I think an annual card charge of 40 euros 90 on top of that.  It all seems a bit much for a current account that does nothing but provide you with a debit card so I think we’ll give the English helpline a call just to make sure we’re not buying something we don’t need!

Anyway – we now have a French Bank Account – we must surely nearly be French!  Exhausted by the meeting, we got back to the boat and headed off at 5pm to reach Gurgy by 7pm or thereabouts.  We still had the not insignificant problem with our bow thrusters, as while we were away, the team at Auxerre had indeed lifted the floor boards to the engine room and ‘looked’ at the hydraulic reservoir, but had not put a screwdriver to it or run the thrusters to try and diagnose where the leak was coming from.  Add to this the “Didn’t I give Aileen the keys back yesterday….?” (NO!) and “hmmmmm…, don’t remember you giving me a manual.” (WE DID!) we weren’t in the best frame of mind.  We did get our keys back when we tried a second time but the manual is gone forever, festering under their paperwork on their intray somewhere.  They’re nice people to get a mooring with, but don’t ever ask them to do any work on your boat, they’re just not interested and should have said so to us at the start when we asked if our bow thrusters were something they could look at.

Anyway, at Gurgy we met up with some more boaters heading to the Dutch Barge Association Rally at Auxuerre and they all said to try Simon Evans at Migennes, where we were dropped in in December.  We rang Simon and straight away he said, “Hydraulics aren’t my thing, but stop in and I’ll have a look.  If it’s a leak, I might be able to find it and tighten stuff up, but if it’s something more serious, I can put you in touch with a hydraulics engineer at Sens.” That’s the sort of response you want!  We hung out with Simon’s lifeboat collection for a few hours whilst he lunched and did some other tasks, then he popped over for a quick look.   
Lifeboat Aberdeen 02
Then he went off to do something else and returned just after 7pm with his screwdrivers.  As soon as we started the engine and used the bow thruster he could see the top plate vibrate and move and oil leak out, and was shocked when he managed to turn the screws with his fingers.  So he tightened them all up, cleaned up the residual oil and we tried again.  There was still a little bit of leakage, but nothing like what it had been, and probably liveable with to be honest.  But we decided to order some new seals from Beta, now we could tell them exactly where the problem was, get them to send a new manual, and Simon would then do a bit more work to change the seals and tighten things up again.  Unfortunately Simon wouldn’t be around on Friday, then it was the weekend, but regardless of that, we had to wait for the seals to arrive.  With Simon’s yard not being the most scenic mooring, though the old lifeboats are wonderful, on Friday we headed up one lock into the port at Migennes where we stayed the night and took advantage of the nearby ATAC supermarket to stock up on food and diesel.
Swan posing at Migennes

The railway on the other side of the port - quite a noisy mooring with lots of trains, freight and passenger.

On Saturday we headed back down the lock onto the Yonne and headed to Joigny where we’ve not been before so might as well take advantage of having to hang around.
Big hotel boat behind us in the big lock
Eglise Saint Jean in Joigny
Gate to the church which was part of the old chateau back in the day.
Joigny is a lovely medieval town.
Sadly, it looks as though we will not make our reserved mooring in Paris for 23-26 June and will have to rethink our plans, but we should have non-leaking bow thrusters which is more important I suppose……

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