Having waved goodbye to Sue and Vic and recovered the car, ready for G to make a long overdue trip to the uk, we re-stocked the boat at the fantastic Saturday market ready to move on. Except the fire had failed again and PK Fluvial were posting out yet another part – we can get the fire to work, but only by jamming a fork in and by-passing the safety valve! After 3 trips in vain to the Post Office, we ‘phoned them again to find out that they had ‘forgotten’ to post it. By now it was the following Tuesday, so I suggested G went back on Thursday (a week earlier than planned) as we had to wait for the spares anyway and we didn’t want to move any further out of the area until the problem had been resolved. So a frantic 24 hours of booking of ferries, car MOT and diesel loading took place and by 7.30 am G had gone.
15 minutes away Muttley and I had discovered the glorious Parc Nature Patis. It starts formal with a beach and adventure playground and then gets wilder and wilder with acres and acres of pathways, lakes, woodlands and fields. More walking than I can handle in one go these days. Fabulous.
On the Sunday, I was sat on a bench in the park in the sun talking on the phone to Sue when a swarm of little dogs came charging up to us at full yap. I tried to count them and told Sue that there were 14; the lady, in perfect English, corrected me and said that there were 17!!! Muttley was totally overwhelmed – I think he thought he was going to be eaten by the canine equivalent of Piranhas. You will understand why the photo isn’t very good, but the little one nearest us was soooooo cute and licking Muttley’s leg – he was very reluctant to leave us and I could have very happily popped him into my pocket and taken him home.
G left Thursday and the fire went out Friday – no disaster as I was on leccy so could run the central heating. On Saturday I had a visit from 2 ladies from the tourist office which is responsible for managing the town moorings. Rather mysteriously, they handed me a leaflet saying that the moorings were limited to 48 hours and asked me how long I wanted to stay (I’d already been there 11 days); so I answered the question and said 5 nights. They then charged me 4.50 euros a night for 4 nights – mine is not to reason why!
Apart from the fact that I was completely shattered from doing all the night and day shifts with Baxter single handed, we were all bumbling along fairly nicely until ………. En route to the park I had Muttley on the flexi lead and he took off after something, I locked the lead – which failed – and he hit the end at high speed (I should have let go but it all happened so quickly). The next thing I knew is that I was airborne and horizontal to the ground before hitting it hard and it was concrete. I bent up all my glasses, had ripped a wedge of skin out of my thumb and my right wrist hurt like hell. A lovely couple picked me up, literally, recovered Muttley and walked me back to the boat. There is a large element of shock involved in something like this and I confess to splinting my arm with a wooden spoon and a scarf, tying my glasses up with string and sticky tape, pouring myself a glass of wine, watching a bit of TV and having an early night; putting bed pads down for Baxter (resolving to clear up as necessary in the morning) and letting Muttley out by himself for last wees – how’s that for irresponsible dog ownership. Amazingly I slept really well.
In the morning the shock had worn off and it was clear all was not well. G was adamant that I needed to seek medical help and Sue sent me a map of the nearest Urgence (French A & E) – it was a long way away and I really wasn’t feeling up to it. In the UK you’d call a taxi but it’s not that simple here, so around 4pm I girded my loins for the inevitable and headed off. The gardeners were out in full force at the mooring, titivating it ready for their summer visitors, so I asked them to clarify which street I needed to head up, they took one look at me and called the pompiers. In less than 4 minutes I was air bagged by 4 fireman (Holby City style) and on my way to Urgence under blues and twos – I can laugh now, but I was so embarrassed at the time. 10 days later, I am recovering a lot quicker than I had dared hoped – obviously not weight bearing yet, but I can use my hand again. Last pic shows the original swelling and the 1st shows the bruising coming out after the swelling subsided. I am now able to take the brace off to wash up. I am not showing you the bruise on my head, hip or shoulder.
My paid time was up and Evans (French, not Welsh) was dispatched from the tourist off to find out why I was still there. As he reached my pontoon he encountered the gardeners that had called the fire brigade and a lengthy discussion took place; his English was perfect and he said that I could stay as long as we wanted without charge and if there was anything at all he could do to help I was to ring. I rewarded him by throwing up – Holby City style – narrowly avoiding his shoes. He was true to his word and sent someone out within an hour when I rang to say the electric had gone off.
I don’t know if she reads this, but I also want to say thank you to Veronica who was available to talk to me whenever I needed a bit of a boost and helped me keep a sense of humour – on your own with a boat, two dogs and one hand is quite taxing; thank goodness it wasn’t for too long this time; not like when I broke my shoulder.
Before this happened, and after G was back, I managed to have a good old explore around Meaux; a nice little place without being madly exciting.
Obviously I am not going to be able to do any ropes or serious steering wheel turning for a bit longer but I should be able to hold the boat in the locks so, yesterday we came off the pontoons and moved 300 metres upstream across onto the right bank. This would give us a number of advantages – G could get the car close by and get the new dining room table on and the old one off; it would give me a chance to see if I could handle the boat at all (didn’t find out as G set the boat up so perfectly for mooring that all I needed to do was jiggle the throttle a bit); stop us from taking advantage of Meaux’ kindness; provide a change of scenery and most importantly of all get us so close to the park that Mr Baxter could get the sand under his toes again – he was raised by the sea. Look at our boy, so happy.
What I probably didn’t mention is that our boiler (central heating and hot water) has always lost pressure, due to a slight leak somewhere, and every 4 or 5 weeks needs topping up with water – the piping is old and rigid. When the guys were here to fit the fire we arranged with them to come back and replace it all with new flexible piping.
We were all set to leave this morning after 3 weeks! Flicked the switch to heat the water for showers and the boiler wouldn’t fire up as it had dumped it’s water into the bilges – the guys are coming out tomorrow afternoon to fix it as it’s not a joint G can get to. So here we stay until Saturday……….sigh.
I will leave you with one for the ladies should they ever find themselves in need.