European Waterways The European Waterways Newsletter
Issue 76
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New Video
Our new 2 min video
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Special Offers
We have some great Spring 2015 offers

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Champagne Cruise
Bubbly and Brie on Panache
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Welcome to Issue 76 of The Lock-Keeper 

Hello Lock-Keeper Reader and welcome to the 76th issue.

This time, we have news of a brand new summer cruise itinerary through the glorious Sancerre wine-growing region of Western Burgundy aboard hotel barge Savoir Faire offering some wonderful new excursions and of course, wine tastings! More details later in this issue.
 
With Spring in Europe only a couple of months away, here in the UK during a dark January, we are already looking forward to some colour and sunshine. So we are suggesting some revitalising barge cruises to cheer us, as well as something for all you ‘Downton Abbey’ fans.
 
We also have two delightful articles written by distinguished travel writers for you to read, one featuring a cruise aboard La Bella Vita from Mantua to Venice and the other describing a gentle voyage along the Canal du Midi aboard Anjodi.
 
This issue’s ‘Cheese of the Moment’ is Coulommiers, a delicious cheese produced in the Seine-Marne region of France that is similar to brie and will be served aboard Panache during her special ‘Champagne Cruise’ at the beginning of June.
 
To celebrate Burns Night in Scotland, our Chef’s Recipe this time is for that most Scottish of dishes – the haggis. However, be warned as although it tastes great, the cooking of is not for the faint-hearted!
 
Finally, why not take a look at our YouYube Channel where we have just added our latest video, a great little 2-minute overview of the ‘hotel barging experience’.
 
Please also visit our website for new offers, articles, videos and other barging news, or perhaps follow us on Twitter, or like us on Facebook.
 
With best wishes,

Derek Banks
Derek Banks - Chairman
Anjodi
 







 

 

A New Cruise for Sancerre Wine Lovers

This summer we are offering an exciting new itinerary through the renowned wine-growing region of Sancerre in Western Burgundy aboard Savoir Faire between historic Rogny-les-Sept-Ecluses and the town of Marseilles-les-Aubigny. These cruises will be for just 12 weeks with the first departure on 31 May and Savoir Faire will be the only 12-passenger hotel barge navigating the delightful Canal de Briare and Canal Lateral à La Loire.
 
Highlights of the cruise will include traversing Gustav Eiffel’s remarkable 662 metre aqueduct, the Pont Canal de Briare, visiting the world-famous Gien Pottery and a private wine-tasting at the renowned wine producer Henri Bourgeois in the hilltop village of Sancerre.
 
There will be visits to the 1,000-year-old Châteaude Saint-Fargeau, the stunning Floral Park at Apremont-sur-Allier and to Chârite-sur-Loire, a medieval UNESCO World Heritage Site that continues to attract pilgrims from all over the world.   There are also wonderful walking and cycling on the ever-present towpath alongside these scenic canals.

These new cruises are sure to be popular with wine and history lovers alike.

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Spring Cruises in the Sunshine

We all love the Spring, when landscapes are starting to burst with colour and the days become warmer. Certain places are synonymous with Spring, such as Holland with its miles of tulip fields, or the South of France where the Mediterranean climate offers some welcome early sunshine.
 
It is a perfect time of year to take in the view from the deck of a hotel barge and here are some of our favourite Springtime cruises:
 
A ‘tulip cruise’ aboard hotel barge Panache along the waterways of Holland, with an itinerary that includes not just visits to ‘must see’ places such as the world-famous Keukenhof Gardens, but also more unusual ones like witnessing the Aalsmeer Flower Auction where millions of cut flowers are traded every day - fascinating!

Or perhaps join hotel barge Rosa on a voyage of gentle discovery through the Gascony region of Southwest France. In the Spring it is a landscape offering trees in full blossom, scented orchards and vineyards, as well as medieval ‘bastide’ towns, where you can sample some wonderful local wine, cheeses and Armagnac en route.
 
Finally, how about a cruise aboard Enchanté on the Canal du Midi, when you can do some star-gazing after enjoying a delicious dinner onboard. The skies in Languedoc-Roussillon are very clear in the Spring, so much so that the hotel barge’s spacious four cabins have now been named after constellations – Cassiope, Orion, Andromede and Pleiades.

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‘Downton Abbey’ Cruises – Latest News

On a number of cruises on the Royal River Thames this Spring aboard hotel barge Magna Carta we are including a visit to Highclere Castle, otherwise known worldwide of course as “Downton Abbey”. Although it is the iconic home to the fictional Crawley family on the show, this impressive Victorian pile has actually been owned by the Carnarvon family since 1679 and Lord and Lady Carnarvon still live there today.
 
The huge popularity of this period costume drama has resulted in an understandably high demand for our ‘Downton Cruises’, with only the March 29 departure now having any availability. However, you Downton Abbey fanatics should not despair because we will be offering more of these special cruises in the Summer - just as soon as we know when the TV production company have finished filming the next series! We will be announcing the dates on our website and in the next issue of The Lock-Keeper, so watch this space.

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Cruise Reviews

All Aboard for La Bella Vita
Juliet Rix, writing for UK national newspaper The Independent, was aboard La Bella Vita last summer and she certainly enjoyed this ‘Renaissance Italy’ cruise.
     
 
From Canal du Midi with Love
Mary Conisbee, owner/editor of up-market lifestyle magazine Surrey Occasions, has cruised with us before in Burgundy and like so many others before her, got the ‘hotel barging bug’. This time she cruised the Canal du Midi aboard Anjodi.

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Anjodi







 

Videos

In the last issue, we told you about some new videos featuring Italy and Holland that our clever videographer Kit Foreman had created and he has been busy again. This time he has put together a short 2-minute film to get across the ambience of the ‘hotel barging experience’ and it shows some of our finest cruise regions, such as Burgundy in France, the Po Valley in Italy and the Highlands of Scotland.
 
There are also clips of some of the fascinating excursions on offer and the wonderful landscapes our hotel barges cruise through. We think it is great and will appeal particularly to those of you who may not have yet ‘caught the hotel barging bug’.
 
And if you like what you see and want to see some more, there is always our YouTube Channel - more than 350,000 people can’t be wrong!

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Chef’s Recipe

As yesterday, January 25, was Burns Night in Scotland, we thought this issue’s recipe should be a tribute to Robbie Burns, the famous Scottish poet. It is for the unique haggis which will be eaten across the nation, accompanied by ‘neeps’ and ‘tatties’ – mashed swedes and potatoes to the uninitiated - all washed down of course with a wee dram or two.
 
For any of you brave enough to attempt making this iconic dish and assuming you can gather together the ingredients, here is the recipe: 
  • 1 sheep’s bag and pluck (heart, liver & lungs)
  • 100g suet
  • 4 medium sized onions (blanched)
  • 200g pinhead oatmeal
  • 2-4 level tablespoonfuls salt
  • 1 level teaspoonful black pepper
  • 1 level teaspoonful powdered herbs
  1. Wash the bag in cold water, scrape and clean it well. Leave overnight in cold water.
  2. Wash the pluck and put it in a pan of boiling water and boil for 2 hours, with the windpipe hanging out; have a small basin under the windpipe to catch any drips.
  3. Place the cooked pluck in a basin, cover with liquor in which it was boiled and leave overnight.
  4. Next day, cut off the windpipe, grate the liver, chop the heart, lungs, suet and onions.
  5. Add the oatmeal (which should first be toasted, but not coloured), salt, pepper, herbs and 1 pint of the liquor in which the pluck was boiled.
  6. Mix well, fill the bag rather more than half full of the mixture, then sew it up and prick it.
  7. Place in boiling water, simmer for 3 hours, pricking occasionally to prevent bursting.
  8. If preferred, the bag may be cut into several pieces to make smaller haggis; cook 1 ½ to 2 hours.
Serve with neeps and tatties
 
And the very best of luck to you!

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Cheese of the Moment

This time, we feature a cheese not widely known outside of France - Coulommiers - a creamy concoction named after the town of the same name about 1 hour’s drive east of Paris. It is sometimes known as the ‘little sister’ of the region’s most famous cheese, brie, and it certainly has some of the same characteristics and taste.
 
Coulommiers cheese is made either with unpasteurized cow’s milk on a farm as a ‘fermier’ version, or with pasteurized milk at a dairy, then aged for up to eight weeks before being sold. It is often called le Petit Brie de Coulommiers, as it comes in a round about 5 inches across, as opposed to the 14 inch round of a brie from say, Meaux or Melun.
 
It is often mistaken for the more famous brie as it has the similar snow-white rind and a slightly salt, nutty flavour. A young Coulommiers is perfect with a glass of champagne, while a more unctuous, mature, one is delicious accompanied by a glass of Pinot Noir. Try it – either at home, or on board Panache during her Champagne cruise this June.
     
 


 

A Model Example        

Our hotel barges come in all shapes and sizes, but the latest addition really is the smallest yet! This 2-foot long model of La Belle Epoque was made by 82-year-old Derek Tippett, the uncle of our Marketing Manager Chris Gant, and a life-long boat model-making enthusiast. Only 17 more barges to go Derek!

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And Finally…

The end of an era. With regret we were very sad to hear of the passing of an industry colleague, Guy Bardet, without whom “Barging “ may never have began. It all started back in the 1960s when a young English journalist, Richard Parsons, teamed up with Guy, also a journalist, to convert an old coal barge, the ‘Ponctuel’, into a 22 passenger vessel with only 2 bathrooms!  Guy, who died suddenly last week, probably cruised more barge miles over the years than anyone else in the industry. He will be sorely missed by the whole barging community in France.
 
That's about it for this issue of The Lock-Keeper. We hope that you’ve enjoyed it and the next one will be out soon with some more news, so we'll see you then.

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