(22) Adam and Maria’s Visit 14-21 July 2011.

Bastille Day dawned and I hoped that the trains and shuttle buses would be running normally, so that meeting Maria at Beziers Airport would go smoothly. Peter and I were up early so he could drop me at Narbonne Station on the motorbike. I needed to be on a train to Beziers by 9am in order to catch the shuttle bus just after 11, there being no later one that would get me there in time.

I ended up having about two and a half hours to kill in Beziers and explored the ‘Plateau des Poetes’ opposite the station (which is full of worn statues of unrecognisable French poets) and parts of the old city. Far from everywhere being closed, there was a carnival atmosphere with stalls being set up in the wide Allees Paul Riquet. The shuttle bus arrived on time and twenty minutes later dropped me at the airport where I waited just over an hour until Maria’s plane landed.

Maria and I had never met, but owing to pictures on Facebook had some idea of who to look for. We met up and retraced my steps back to Narbonne Station intending to join Adam and Peter at Narbonne.

Meanwhile, Peter had returned to the barge and he and Adam were busy cruising down from Salleles d’Aude. They made good time despite forgetting to take the wheelhouse down at Raonel Lock prior to entering, as the bridge at the down side is very low.

 Adam has a steer after a hasty downing of the wheelhouse inside lock Raonel.

They had just moored up below Gua lock in Narbonne and cast their fishing lines, when Maria and I arrived on foot from the station. Later on while we were relaxing on deck two lock keepers arrived and told us we couldn’t stop there as it was reserved for boats using the lock. Unwilling to dismantle the wheelhouse again for the low bridges further down, I managed to persuade them to let us stay if we moved as far away from the lock as possible.

 His first decent carp just outside Narbonne.

 William arrived to collect some more of his payment and we enjoyed a pleasant aperros session on deck as the sun set. Peter and Adam also caught several carp. At 10am the next day we took the wheelhouse down and cruised the short distance to ‘our’ mooring by the fountain and footbridge in the city centre. This gave Adam and Maria the chance to explore and do some shopping. After a light lunch, we spent the rest of the afternoon cruising down to Ile St Lucie where we decided to moor up in the first part of the lock as it was 6.30pm and shortly to close for the night. This saved us from messing about putting planks out to keep us off the rocky bank.

A stiff breeze and he manages very well.

While Adam and Maria cycled to the ‘wild’ beach nearby, Peter and I relaxed on deck and were rewarded by the sight of a wild boar which was not sniffing for truffles but snuffling around the bins at the lock house! Peter managed to catch it on camera and we were able to give a copy to our friendly lady who monitors the site the next morning. She was really pleased with the photos….so much so that we got the impression that they don’t actually see them that often !

 Wild Boar – came quite close in order to raid the bins by the lock.

 Just as it was getting dark, we remembered to put the wheelhouse back up as we didn’t want the cats from the sanctuary at the lock paying us a visit during the night. This was not easy, being done by torchlight.

We cruised down to Port la Nouvelle the following morning, spending three days there, as we didn’t want to damage our new anodes by staying too long in sea water. The weather was not great, being very changeable and rather windy, but we managed two days on the beach and had a nice meal on the sea front. Adam and Maria used the bikes and Peter and I the BMW to transport everything required to the beach.

 Dinner on deck Port la Nouvelle.

 We stopped before the lock at Ile St Lucie on the way back to Narbonne and Adam and Maria walked around the island as we had done a few weeks earlier. It is a popular spot for walkers and cyclists of all ages, but I doubt many of them see the wild boar!

We left early the next day, eager to clear the lock before the passenger boat ‘Tramontane’ came up. As we turned the corner above the lock we were amazed at the strength of the wind which made steering very difficult.

 Heading back towards Narbonne and an indication of the strong prevailing winds.

 After a brief ‘pancake’ stop at the ‘Memorial mooring’, we carried on into Narbonne and moored up for the night at our usual spot. Adam was very keen to catch some more fish.

 A little later on and the treeline provides some shelter from the wind.

 Adam gets back into the fishing in Narbonne.

 Sadly, this was their last day with us. While they explored together, I walked to the Archbishop’s Palace and somehow got in without paying. Narbonne has a certain charm -at least the part near the canal has and we were not bothered by ‘clochards’( down and outs) or vandals as we had been warned we might.

Adam and Maria left by train from Narbonne the next morning and repeated my journey of the previous week, including a walk around the old part of Beziers. We were sad to see them go, but had enjoyed a lovely week together.

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