Guess what....we are late (yet again) with this update!
What a long winter we have all had. It was a cold one both in France and
in the UK. But here we are looking forward to a nice spring and as we look
out at the rain, we think it's about time. We tend to keep an eye on weather
forecasts in different parts of world, especially within France and places
where we have friends wintering. We just like to know that it isn't just St.
Jean de Losne that is having a cold snap.
But even when it is cold, if it is sunny, it's great and we all enjoy the
Monday morning walk.
WALKING THE DOGS
We weren't to know at this early stage that our new winter visitors were
going to be some of the best we have ever had. Friendly, helpful, funny and
lots from up north. "What a good do"
The winter activities were soon underway
Tuesday: Helping Jean-Pierre
Wednesday: Art Group
Thursday: Card making for Pamela and David odd jobbing at Les Charmilles
Friday: First Aid Class
When Christmas arrived Ann and Lawrence invited the art group around for
what has become a traditional lunchtime drink on Christmas Day. Then John
and Hazel invited the First Aid Class around for Sunday afternoon tea. It
was a lovely day.
New Years Eve approached and there didn't seem to be anything happening.
This was mentioned in passing to Sylvie and Gérard of Les Charmilles
B&B and after pondering a while they suggested that they could maybe accommodate
a dozen or so people around for Reveillon (New Year's Eve). It was a very
nice invitation but not easy to start selecting who should be invited. So
we looked at all the activities that were taking place every week, counted
all the people who had joined in those activities and came up with more than
a dozen. Sylvie and Gérard both thought the number would be ok. Brilliant!
Pamela's sister Pat was over for her Christmas/New Year pilgrimage to St.
Jean de Losne. She didn't fancy staying on Lea Crest with Gromit whilst we
were out revelling so Pat also accepted the invite.
We were also invited for dinner with Gérard and Sylvie, with Gérard
being the Chef for the evening. It was an excellent meal with an introduction
to a local speciality called Tourte du Fete (Holiday pie). Then it was Reveillon
proper with the breakfast room at Les Charmilles as the venue with everyone
doing what you tend to do at these functions . eating, drinking and dancing.
We thought that just a couple of pictures of this event would be enough and
our next photo is of Pamela and Terry (the odd couple) dancing. You will see
as this update unfolds, that Terry is a man of many other talents too.
As the evening progressed, I was asked if Gérard and myself would
pose as a couple of drunks.
Gérard agreed, but as you can see, we aren't very good at it.
You may remember that at the end of our last update, we had a picture of
our friends Ali and Karen who had just got married. They sent us this picture
of a box that contained some snow chains.
They live in Bulgaria and the translation on the box does seem to leave a
little to be desired.
TAKE THESE CHAINS
One Sunday in late January we were very kindly invited to celebrate Uschi's
birthday and it was excellent, with lots of good company. Certainly these
girls seem to be enjoying it (Pamela, Ilse, Uschi and Sylvie)
Our next photo looks like it is of an unwanted Christmas present as it is
still wrapped up. But rumour has it that this is actually a new idea for wintering
your boat. If so, it might be a good idea to make sure you don't leave anything
behind as in this case it looks like some-one had to go back in for something!
I wonder if it was for the car keys?
Now Terry (otherwise known as Fred Astaire) is also an accomplished artist
and did this very flattering painting of us. He has done quite a few paintings
in this style this winter and we don't think he has done a bad one yet! (unless
of course he hides them on his boat?).
PAMELA AND DAVID
In early February we were invited to have lunch with our Dutch friends Pim
and Karen who have a farm in the Jura region. This was a perfect opportunity
to give Louhans market a visit as its not far from there and, as you can see
in our next photo, it makes a change to see livestock for sale.
Pim and Karen keep their boat JONGE JELLE in St. Jean de Losne and when
they visit it they usually drop in to see us at the same time. At the farm
we couldn't help noticing that they both wear clogs outside the house and
each keep a pair at both front and back doors. Now as we both wear plastic
versions of clogs, we took a keen interest in Pim's wooden ones and before
we knew where we were, Pim produced a brand new pair in my size. Then on their
next visit, Karen produced a new pair for Pamela. We are trying to steer clear
of any morris dancers now!
NOT MORRIS DANCERS
So . the continuing story of Terry (Fred Astaire) (Van Gogh) He
just happens to be an accomplished Guitarist too! Is there no end to this
Now Jo, who looks up to Terry (as we all do, with Terry being about 9 foot
13), is also a man of many talents and annually he has a birthday. His wife
Janna (also very talented) thought it would be a good idea to have an evening
of entertainment that he wouldn't forget. Jo had always wanted to see the
northern lights (Aurora Borealis) as a 50th birthday treat. But, like us,
they aren't rich either. So Janna went to France Decor (which is now a bazaar
and sells everything you never needed) and bought 2 packets of fireworks (seven
big fire works in total) so that Jo could have northern lights of his own.
If only they had all gone off! Still 3 out of 7 wasn't too bad!
This momentous event took place on and around Ken and Rhonda's boat SOMEWHERE.
Their dog Harry decided that fireworks weren't his idea of fun so he decided
to get back onto the boat.
Unfortunately for Harry the gangplank was full of spectators. So he decided
to jump for it instead. But his tremendous leap left him in the Bourgogne
canal. What comes in handy in such circumstances? The doggy paddle of course
and Harry is a dab hand/paw at that so he wasn't in there for long. What a
little character Harry is.
After all the excitement, we all settled down to Terry and Jo playing tunes
and songs from way back when, whilst Vivienne turned over a new leaf for them.
TAKE IT AWAY JOE
On a more serious note, we were walking to the supermarket one Sunday morning
when we came across an elderly lady sat by the canal. She was wet and very,
very, cold . There was snow on the ground and the lady was clearly in need
of some help. Fortunately she was able to tell us where she lived so we managed
to get her home and, with help from her neighbours, we were able to get the
medics etc. Later we learned that she had hypothermia and some sort of heart
problem. But thankfully after a short stay in hospital, she is now on the
The Sunday after, Ilse, our friend and neighbour, who lives in the house
by our boat, came rushing over at about 8:30 to say that the house was on
fire. So Pamela rang the emergency services, got dressed and then ran to the
end of the towpath to direct the oncoming fire appliances to the right spot.
There was lots of smoke coming from upstairs and Jean-Pierre (Ilse's husband)
had tried to put out the fire. But to no avail. It's the first time we've
been so involved with a house fire and it is frightening. The speed of it
all, the noise, the smoke, the flames and the destruction of someone's home .awful!
Looking back at both events, we realised that we had dealt with them in
textbook style. So all of those fire drill classes and first aid classes that
we have attended over the years paid dividends! Pamela did say however, that
we should not get off the boat on the following Sunday. Didn't want to tempt
It was very fortunate that Jean-Pierre and Ilse had another property that
they were able to move into.
So in our next photo we have Ilse and one of their cats Maurice (the original
scaredy cat) moving to their new home with Jean-Pierre locking the gates.
After the fire, the same night in fact, Jean-Pierre's remaining sheep gave
birth to 2 lambs and all 3 are healthy and doing well. Maybe one of the lambs
should be called Phoenix?
FROM THE ASHES
Now that Jean-Pierre and Ilse's 2 cats have moved, Gromit has more of a
free rein and is able to wander without the risk of being beaten up by Filou
and Maurice. But he still doesn't wander too far and has taken to sitting
looking at the hens for hours on end. There is of course a fence between them
so he can't get too close. But he does seem to like them a lot.
Gromit's other big distraction is of course food. Any movement on a work
surface or near the oven might mean a tasty treat.
IS THAT FOOD?
Another Monday walk in the sunshine and this one made us all feel much better.
Ken and Rhonda had surprised us all by bringing some coffee and biscuits secreted
in the boot of their car. How very civilised.
TIME FOR TEA
Now it's time for a very small lesson in French.
Gérard told us of a Vide Grenier (empty attic - the equivalent of a
car boot sale) being held in the next village. So the 3 of us went and had
a good look round and managed to buy nothing except 3 glasses of vin chaud
(mulled wine). Then back to the boat and feeling a little hungry after all
that walking, we had a French style picnic, which in France is often referred
to as a casse-croute (literally meaning to break crust).
Pain (bread), fromage (cheese), and a verre du vin (glass of wine) and Gérard
is in heaven.
This next photo is yet another view of St. Jean de Losne taken from across
the river in Losne.
DÉJÀ VU (ALREADY SEEN)
I offered to have a go at making Sylvie and Gérard a sign for their
B & B. Now one of the striking features of their garden is a beautiful
Wisteria. So that, and the wooden cladding that overlooks the garden, became
the theme of the sign for "Les Charmilles". I took this to the art
group on Wednesdays (usually on the roof rack of the car) and after a leisurely
few weeks it was ready for the lettering. We knew that we were due to be visited
by a good friend who just happens to be a retired professional signwriter.
So it seemed like a good idea to be at the lettering stage as he came through
St. Jean de Losne. You can see some of the various stages of the sign in the
next photo, including the professional at work and the finished article.
LES CHARMILLES B & B
Janna also made a contribution to Les Charmilles having done a lovely painting
in the Art Deco style for a door in the newly renovated kitchen area. She
also has undertaken 4 more paintings to be used on door panels in Sylvie and
Gérard's living quarters. We hope to get pictures of these for the
Our last photo includes the latest addition to our extended family, Pamela's
newest great nephew Nathan, with his mother Sammi and father Drew. Nathan
will be the grand old age of 1 on the 13th of May so we hope that he has a
very Happy Birthday!
NATHAN, SAMMI AND DREW
We are going to have a very busy month now, trying to get ready for cruising
with 1 or 2 major projects ahead. So, fodder for the next update hopefully!!
Best wishes to you all and thanks for taking the time to read these ramblings.