We had a lovely time in Chalon and enjoyed the company of Haans, Erica and Danai (the correct spelling I think!). Chalon is a surprise in the sense that you expect it to be something really special but it just doesn’t quite live up to it. There is a lot of poverty, people living on the streets, a drug culture, alcoholics and an undercurrent of threat that never really goes away. You’re on your guard in Chalon – even walking the dogs first thing in the morning. Alongside this moody element is the most fantastic park for everyone to enjoy. Dead-flat football pitches sunk into the ground with solid wooden goal posts and long deep steps to one side creating a stadium effect. A brilliant skateboard/scooter jump and trick area with every imaginable wall, slider, chute and curve to test even the most daring rider. A great play area with swings, stepping posts and a huge triangular climbing net. Not to mention the climbing wall, table tennis tables, tennis court, badminton court, beach volleyball area and a crazy golf course. All free. All there for the community to use and enjoy. It’s like they cater for the 0-12 year olds then after that you’re on your own. It’s a shame, because it has the potential to be a superb town.
We left Chalon on Tuesday and found a great stop at La Chaussée sur Marne. A big grassy area with no traffic at all to worry about with the boys – and across the canal and river bridges a lovely little beach providing the perfect swimming place for us all. We had a lovely swim among whirlpools and back eddies that pushed and pulled us all over the place. We all loved it.
The following morning – after a horsefly took an enormous chunk out of the back of my knee, we moved on to Vitry Le Francois. What a dump. As we approached we didn’t like the look of it and as we berthed in the port we knew we were only making do because there were supermarkets nearby and we needed to restock some provisions. We walked the dogs then headed to the nearby L.Eclerc. When we got back to the boat Frank could see the Capitainerie had returned from lunch and went to pay. “How much!?” Could be heard in Chalon when he was asked to cough up €20 for the night. No no, we left and spent a very pleasant evening on the canal bank near Goncourt.
What a surprise it was to wake up list!!!!!
The minute I put my feet on the floor I knew something was wrong. I walked the length of the boat and up into the wheelhouse to look along the coach roof. Yep, we were definitely listing to starboard. I alerted the captain and we got onto the bank to see if we could move Thirza away from the side. No we couldn’t. She was stuck fast to the canal bed. Looking at the canal wall under the bridge we reckoned the water was between 100mm and 150mm (4-6in) lower than it had been when we went to bed.
We fired up the engine and between that and the bowthruster she was soon free of the bank and we were underway in no time…….phew!!!!
Just 6kms into our journey we came across a lovely shaded halte and as my insect-bitten leg had become infected (swollen, red and rock solid in the direct area of the bite) we decided to trust the navicarte book that reliably informed us there was a pharmacy in the village of Orconte, just a few hundred metres from the canal.
As we were mooring a German guy from the boat already moored there came to help and I asked him if there was indeed a pharmacy here. “Nein, hier ist nur ein Bäcker”. In truth he spoke perfect English and said there was only a bakers in the small village, but he and his wife were going to Vitry le Francois and they could get me something whilst there. Yes please.
They came back with hydrocortisone cream and within a few hours my leg had returned to normal size and the redness had reduced. There are a lot of nice people in the world.
The halte also caters for Motorhomes and we were joined by a local Frenchman and his wife during the evening. They were both teachers and happy to give us an entire history lesson on the towns and villages along this stretch of water. It was nice to chat with them but eventually the bored student came out in both Frank and I and we brought the evening to an end by walking the dogs. They come in handy occasionally!!