welcome to the December edition of the lock-keeper.

Christmas is approaching..fast, and it will soon be 2005. A new year which will bring new challenges for us all, no doubt.

The GoBarging team are looking forward to the holiday season, some time with family and friends, then its back to work getting ready for the new season.

In this month's lockkeeper, Belle Epoque returns home, we announce our Provence cookbook and Languedoc Wine book winner, and we have a final 2004 competition to win a marvellous cruise for two next year on L'Impressionniste in Provence.

We also have an update on refits for L'Impressionniste and Scottish Highlander.

For next season, we have an offer for anyone cruising on Highlander with proven Scottish connections, and some great news for keen Salmon fishers. For any cheese connoisseurs out there, we also have a guide to the 'smelliest' cheeses in France.

Something to interest everyone we hope... ...

From everyone at European Waterways GoBarging, we wish you all a Happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

I look forward to hearing from you, and seeing you at our website, where you can find out all about GoBarging and keep up to date with the latest news as it breaks....

please read on and welcome aboard,

best regards,

Derek Banks, Chairman
Happy Holidays to all our readers

Derek Banks - Chairman

in this issue:

Belle Epoque homecoming

Dry docks

The smelliest cheese in France

December cruise competition

Book competition winner

Scottish Connections

Festive Recipe


back issues:

january 04

february 04

march 04

april 04

may 04

june 04

july 04

august 04

september 04

october 04

november 04

(please note that past competitions are now closed)

visit our website


La Belle Epoque homecoming
La Belle Epoque, cruises in Burgundy, along the Nivernais canal and Yonne river
In Belgium, we have arrived with Belle Epoque and started the various maintenance items on her 10 year on schedule.

It was a refreshing and somewhat nostalgic experience, making the trip back across Picardie and the Somme valley to the Zelzate shipyard on the Belgium/Dutch border, and there's a story I would like to share with you.

In 1930 when the original hull was laid down, Belle Epoque (which was called Savornin Lohmann after a Belgian General) was destined for a working life hauling logs all over Europe.

Something else happened in 1930. The original Kruijt family who had commissioned Belle Epoque's building had cause for a double celebration.

Not only did they launch their new barge but they also had a baby son. Thus started a remarkable period of 65 years during which this child grew into a man and eventually became the Captain, continuing the work when his own father retired.

The next 60 years were spent by the Kruijt family living on board, navigating virtually every main river, canal and estuary in Europe.This was an amazing life with a different school every week for the children, new moorings every night and the real life of the mariner.

In 1994 when we bought La Belle Epoque, we spent several days talking with Mr Kruijt senior, then 64, looking through photos and hearing about his whole life travelling Europe on his barge.

I have great memories of that time, as it allowed a glimpse into an era which today is virtually gone. It was definitely a great wrench for old Mr Kruijt to sell us the vessel, his home, but it was time for him to retire and he seemed happy that we were giving his cruising home of 65 years a new lease of life. I would like to think we parted friends.
We spent over 12 months gradually turning her into the powerful river and canal luxury hotel barge she is today.

Her classic line and shallow draft make her ideal for the upper reaches of the Yonne valley in Burgundy. Visit La Belle Epoque

During the last 10 years we have kept in touch with the family; Our insurance agent, who lives in Champagne, is Mr Kruijt senior's son , Leendeert Kruijt. He handles all the French Insurance for our barge fleet and vehicles.

We have had a successful 10 years working with the insurance side of the Kruijt family, including a few strange claims (but that's a story for another time!)

This story has a sad but somewhat touching ending. Old Mr Kruijt has been in failing health for some years, and we had heard news through his son Leendeert from time to time.

Two things happened on Wednesday 17th November 2005. Firstly, Belle Epoque returned to the shipyard exactly 10 years to the day that she left. That in itself was a coincidence.

As Belle Epoque cruised into the Belgian village of Zelzate, she passed a row of houses just a few hundred yards from the shipyard. It was late and the wind was blowing fiercely from the North Sea.

That night a page turned in the Kruijt family's fascinating history and old Mr Kruijt slipped away. His passing happened just a few minutes after his birth place and home of sixty five years passed his window...

We'd like to pay our tribute here, and we are proud to have been a small part of the Kruijt family history.

back to topHappy Holidays to all our readers

Dry docks
Happy Holidays to all our readers From the North of Scotland, through England and the Royal Thames, to Belgium, and down to the South of France, our winter refit crews have been turning their hands to the regular task of updating and upgrading our fleet of luxury hotel barges.

In the last lockkeeper we reported that Impressionniste and Belle Epoque will be benefiting from the addition of a Chart room.

Work has just began on these two projects and come the spring we will include some pictures of the new additions. We also have been visiting shipyards again and detail some of the work below.

Scottish Highlander refit update 3 - 16th November 2004

Scottish Highlander, high and dry in the Corpach Boatyard - visit the photogalleryWe spent about 10 days in the Corpach shipyard, mainly sorting out the rudder and painting. We took the opportunity to take the propeller off and size up a new bronze one which we will keep as a spare. The beauty of Corpach is that we are in a nice big dry shed, no excuses for not getting that paintbrush out. We've included a few pictures just to show what we did.

Scottish Highlander's classic barge route across the North of Scotland shows off probably the finest highland scenery in Northern Europe accessible by canal barge. Our week long cruise traditionally starts in Inverness, capital of the Highlands and start of the Great Glen which was forged out in the Ice Age thousands of years ago.

The Highland scenery is reason in itself to cruise there. Throw in the Jacobites, single malt whisky, some splendid castles and Scottish Highlander's itinerary takes some beating.

Visit Scottish Highlander in the dry dock

Impressionniste refit in Arles November 17 - 22

Impressionniste by the river Rhone, at Arles - visit the photogalleryThis brief shipyard visit was mainly to sort out the barge propeller. We thought we had hit something coming down the Rhone earlier on in the season and a quick lift out confirmed our fears. Fortunately the damage was repairable and we whisked the propeller over to the Propeller manufacturers in Cannes who not only repaired the prop but also altered the pitch slightly which has increased the speed and hopefully lowered the fuel consumption of the new 210 horsepower Scania we installed last year.

Over the weekend we also gave the whole hull a coat of paint and welded on 20 Zinc sacrificial anodes which help protect the steel hull from electrolysis. We use Zinc anodes in Salt water and Magnesium in Fresh water for the technically minded!

Impressionniste's route is a mixture of 6 very different waterways, The River Rhone, the Petite Rhone, the Rhone to Sete canal, the saltwater lagoon of Thau, The canal du Midi and the River Herault. This enchanting voyage is right through the heart of Provence and the Camargue National park.

The variety of waterways means that as well as the mass of Roman architecture (there's more in Nimes than any town outside of Rome), mediaeval Aigues Mortes and Van Gogh's Arles there's also plenty of opportunity to see the pink flamingos and egrets, white horses and black bulls, Oyster and mussel beds and to experience the finest Chateau Neuf du Papes vintage wines.

Visit Impressionniste in the dry dock

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Smelly French Cheese

David Derbyshire, consumer affairs editor of the Daily telegraph, wrote on 26th November about the findings of Cranfield University, Bedfordshire UK, naming the top 10 smelliest cheeses in France.

The top ten are;

A selection of fine french cheeses, courtesy of www.fromages.com. All our French barges offer a selection of the best locally produced cheese
  1. Vieux Boulogne ; Cow's milk cheese from the Pas de Calais
  2. Pont L'Eveque; Cow's milk cheese from Normandy
  3. Camembert de Normandie; Cow's milk Cheese from Normandy
  4. Munster ; Cow's milk cheese from Alsace Lorraine
  5. Brie de Meaux ; Cow's milk cheese from Ile de France
  6. Rocquefort ; Sheep's milk cheese from near Toulouse
  7. Reblochon; Cows milk cheese from Savoie
  8. Livarot ; Cow's milk cheese from Normandy
  9. Banon; Goat's milk cheese from Provence
  10. Epoisse de Bourgogne; Cow's milk cheese from Burgundy
The Fine Cheese Association of France commissioned the study: They apparently wanted to find out if France's reputation for producing smelly cheese was true - 'The sign of a fine cheese is often its characteristic smell as well as its flavour and texture'.

Cranfield scientists used an electronic nose - a device which is used also in the drinks industry for quality control - and a panel of blindfolded judges!

Vieux Boulogne is a young modern cheese with a surprising mellow and gentle taste that's perfect served with some crusty bread and a beer, it doesn't have the farmyard flavours that some people find overpowering.

Washed rind cheeses such as Vieux Boulogne were originally made by the monks who used beer wine or spirits during the final wash to help preserve the cheese (at least that was their excuse). The biere blonde used to make Vieux Boulogne gives it a distinct orange color and a tangy alcoholic taste.

The British Cheese board said several British cheeses could give it a run for its money, Stinking Bishop a semi - firm from Gloucestershire, Cardinal Sin and Blue Stilton were also contenders.

Derek Banks recalls - 'Personally, I always used to adore the visit to Epoisses in Burgundy where the cheese, (ranked no 10) is still made but now closed to public scrutiny and unfortunately our visits due to health and safety reasons! That particular cheese stop was on the way up to the Epoisses Chateau on top of the hill when we cruised Burgundy with Impressionniste'.
back to topHappy Holidays to all our readers

December cruise competition

Happy Holidays to all our readers As a final competition for 2004, and to celebrate a very succesful year barging on the European Waterways, we are giving away a cruise for two on L'Impressionniste in 2005.

All you have to do is visit our
December competition page, answer a few simple questions in our fun competition and submit your entry....

The winner will be announced in the January 2005 edition of the Lockkeeper.

win this fabulous wine and cookbook prize in the November Lockkeeper competition
Last month, we thought we'd try something a little bit different...

We had two books to offer in our competition. Not just any books however, these two fine titles -

Provence: the Beautiful Cookbook comes from an award-winning series which offers an exquisite region-by-region taste tour filled with culinary specialties and surprises. Included in each large-format volume are gorgeous food and landscape photographs.

Paul Strang's 'Languedoc-Rousillon: The Wines and Winemakers' covers Languedoc-Roussillon - one of France's oldest wine regions. This illustrated book explores the terroir, traditions, winemaking practices, laws, personalities and wines of the region.

Chapter by chapter the author identifies each of the region's most important wine-producing areas, exploring their local grape varieties and influences on wine growing. He then highlights the winemaking methods used in each area and profiles the producers and their wines.

The book includes maps detailing rivers and roads, main wine towns and villages and where each producer can be found. The colour and black-and-white photography illustrates the diversity of the landscapes and personalities, while fact boxes offer information about the climate, soil and grape varieties in each area

Find out who's won the November wine and cookbook competition here.

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For anyone interested in exploring their Scottish roots, a trip on the
Scottish Highlander would be a perfect way to seek out your family lineage. The crew, being very familiar with the territory, can help you to find your way around, and many Clan seats are within easy reach of the Highlander's route along the Caledonian canal and Loch Ness.

Let us know at time of booking, tell us which Clan you are descended from and we will help you to plan your activites accordingly. If you book before the end of February, 2005, We will also present you with a bottle of Scottish malt whisky on arrival...if you can prove you really are a true Scotsman...


It has been recently been reported that Scottish Salmon catches in 2003 were the highest for 20 years. The Salmon Fishery Board said it was likely that the Salmon rod catch would exceed 80,000 for the first time since 1995, and only the 8th time since 1952. All four of Scotland's main Salmon rivers, the Tay, Dee, Spey and Tweed reported strong catches, with the Spey showing a 39% improvement over 2003.

So bring your fishing rod to to Scottish Highlander, or book our fishing theme cruise charter.

  • 6 fl oz Olive Oil
  • 5 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar (or Cider Vinegar)
  • 1 Tablespoon of Mayonnaise (optional)
  • 1 Teaspoon Soy Sauce
  • 2 Teaspoons of Mustard
  • 2 Teaspoons of Runny Honey
  • Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
Combine all ingredients in a screw top jar and shake very thoroughly until combined fully. Keeps for at least a couple of weeks in the refrigerator but always serve at room temperature and give it a good shake just before serving.

If this or any of your salad dressings don't taste quite right, try these quick remedies:

Too acidic - add a little mayonnaise and/or honey. Too oily - add a little lemon juice. Not savoury enough - add a little soy sauce.

Feeling creative? - try adding a tablespoon of anything from left-over pesto to cranberry sauce and create a brand new dressing!

Enjoy with just about any salad or Christmas left-overs!   Visit
Meanderer here.

back to topHappy Holidays to all our readers

Happy Holidays to all our readersComing soon....Our brand new website will be ready for early 2005, with a whole new design including a cruise selector which will help you to find your way around the countries and barges, to easily find itineraries and rates for any cruise. We also have some great new images of the barges and locations they cruise in, so look out for the new website.

If you have any suggestions, feedback or barging stories to tell us, then please e-mail us. We'll be glad to hear from you and share your inputs in the lock-keeper.

Why not email this edition on to a friend, and let them share the fun. New subscribers can sign-up here, and are very welcome. More people are joining every day, so let's keep building a great Barging community..!

That's about it for this eighteenth and final 2004 edition, and hopefully the above articles have whet your appetite for that well-earned luxury cruise..!

Please visit barge cruises and have a look around, or follow the individual links above.

The next edition of the lock-keeper will be out in January, 2005, so we'll see you then.

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