2018 Season starts with new crew member

May 24, 2018 - Buzet-sur-Baïse, France

We have started our boating season a little later than usual this year.  We attended a beautiful sunny wedding in Cardiff in early May, and were reminded that when the sun shines in Britain it really is the place for such a happy occasion.

On return from Wales, France beckoned, and we had a new crew member to train up.  She is nine months old and her name is Daisy.  She is another Westie, though very different in character from Bonnie.  She is small and fearless, and up for anything.   The first thing we did on board, was dispose of the TV and DVD recorder so  that we could liberate two cupboards for Daisy.  The doors have been removed from one of them so that Daisy has a sweet little open kennel in the saloon, and the other cupboard is full of all her stuff - toys, treats meds etc.  She also has a little bed in the cockpit like Bonnie did and this year she has a crate in the front cabin to get her used to sleeping well on board.   She is actually a very good sleeper, and this has continued  since she has been on the boat.  As at home, she is leaping about on all the furniture and climbing into places that Bonnie never discovered in thirteen years!  She has been playing with all the French dogs- big and small, and has proved to be very well-behaved when we are under way.  We tie her up when we are in a lock or unable to watch her carefully, and like Bonnie, she seems to sense when it is time to keep out of the way and let us throw ropes and run up and down the side decks.

We were ten days in Castets-en-Dorthe cleaning and dewinterising the very dirty Cassandra that we found on arrival.  Luckily skipper had treated himself to a new Worx mini power washer, and it proved to be just the job, along with all the usual quantities of elbow grease of course.   This year Cassandra looks as sparkly as she has done for several years, so thank you  Worx!   The weather was not that brilliant during the ten days, but we managed to dodge the showers, take off the windscreens and put them under the bed for the summer, put the Bimini in place, store the tonneau cover and David spent two days cleaning the teak and reapplying the Semco product which protects it during the season.  I have filled the cupboards with a lot of the things which we cannot buy on our travels.  There are actually lots of food shops and markets in this part of France, so my shopping is mostly Anthisan, Piriton etc and heavy or bulky stuff like bottled water which we do not want to lug back to the boat in the sun half way through our summer.

Each year we return to Castets to different neighbours: one year lively energetic Aussies, another year extremely aged English, this year a very sweet Frenchman and his cat.  He was very friendly, and somehow his elderly cat and our adventurous little puppy managed to coexist.   This year there was also a change of capitaine in the port.   Pierre, the new capitaine and his assistant Christelle decided to have a little party for us all to get to know one another.  It happened to take place on the evening before we left Castets and was a great chance for me to catch up with my friend Valérie Anne who I  had met in Castets at the end of last season.

I always meet people when out walking with Daisy and last Saturday I met a man who proudly told me all  about his own prize-winning Westie. He then went on to recount that he had spent the morning walking to the nearby town of La Réole in order to buy the ingredients for his signature recipe which he was going to cook on his return home.  When I asked him what this was he told me the whole recipe  and method and with one or two modifications I cooked it one evening!   It seems to me that this is a very French conversation and experience, and one which I thoroughly enjoyed.   Food is so central to French life and brings pleasure to everyone.  When I bought some boudin noir from  the local butcher and asked  how and how long I should cook it for, everyone in the shop had an opinion about how I might cook it  and what should accompany it.   I listened to them all and even David who claims not to like boudin noir admitted that it was good!

it was with the usual sense of anticipation and pleasure to be on our way that we left the port of Castets on Sunday morning and started the long journey east.   Our first two days went very smoothly, but on the third day we found ourselves waiting for a long time for a broken down lock to be repaired.   We have experienced creaky old  mechanisms before, but generally the lock is fixed very quickly.  Today we waited three hours and it finally dawned on us that today was a General Strike day in France and that we were probably lucky to get any service at all from the VNF.   Anyway, two lock keepers did finally arrive in one of their little vans and quickly reset the lock so that we could carry on to Buzet-sur-Baïse home of David’s all time favourite restaurant, le Vigneron.   We have succeeds in having two very nice lunches at le Vigneron as well as spending a bit of time in one of our favourite ports.  It is a perfect place for Daisy to run about off the lead which is nice for her and for us. Tomorrow  we shall set off towards Agen and then Moissac.


All packed to go
Daisy’s day-bed, ex TV cabinet
Chateau de Castets en Dorthe
Daisy on deck


May 24, 2018
Glad you are on your way again and congratulation on Daisy!!

In about three weeks we are setting off south from St Jean de Losne. Are you able to recommend a boatyard in the canal Du Midi area where we could winter, ideally within a strikingly distance of Nimes airport?

Have a good summer

John and Marlene
May 25, 2018
Good to hear you are under way again and that Daisy has adapted so well, can't believe she's already 9 months old, it hardly seems any time since I last saw her as a tiny scrap. I'm enjoying the last few days in Kalyves which has been pretty hot for the time of year and much warmer sea too. All has changed where I stay with new Swedish owners, but have seen a lot of Janet and Brian socially, only last night up at Megala Chorafia. Judy x
May 27, 2018
Very happy to read your new 2018 blog. I hope you have now a good travel through the French locks. I also hope you are in a good health and send a stroke for Dajsy.
Best regards. Guy
Roberta Bailey:
May 30, 2018
Happy travels, Anne, David and Daisy! Looking forward to following you via your blog. We’re flying back this evening after three wonderful weeks in Canada, and I wish I’d started a blog as it’s a great way of recording where you’ve been and what you’ve done. It all becomes a blur after a while. See you sometime at the end of summer! Xxx
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