Anjodi, cruising along the Canal du Midi, painting by 

Stanley Rose
Hello,

welcome to the December edition of the lock-keeper.What a year for the Go Barging team!.This was our best year ever with all barges busy from early April to the end of October. We carried a record number of discerning clients, discovered new routes and made many new friends.

As 2005 draws to a close, we cast a wave in the direction of our last clients and crew barging this year, as L'impressionniste heads for Amsterdam for a December 23rd arrival. Having travelled nearly 1000 miles across France, Belgium and Holland over 6 weeks, this unique trans-europe voyage clearly shows the enthusiasm and skill which sets GoBarging apart from other holiday companies.

2005 also marks the year we took Monarch from Amsterdam to Constanza - North Sea to Black Sea, a 3000 mile 9 week cruise.

As the oldest established hotel barge builders and operating company, GoBarging has pioneered many new routes: a short list over the past 30 years includes:
  • 1st hotel barge in the Loire Valley - Nymphea
  • 1st hotel barge in the Venetian lagoon - La Dolce Vita
  • 1st hotel barge in Scotland - Scottish Highlander
  • 1st hotel barge company to host Rick Stein's French Odyssey cruise between Bordeaux and Marseille - Anjodi
  • 1st Tandem barging in Burgundy, Provence, Holland, England with groups up to 20 persons
  • 1st barge company offering theme cruises such as Golf, Wine, Walking and Tennis
At Christmas we remind ourselves how fortunate we are to be healthy and safe. Its a time we will be spending with family and friends which once the festive season is over allows time to reflect on the past and look forward to the future.

From all at Go Barging, have a very Happy Christmas and a healthy and safe 2006.

best regards,

Merry ChristmasDerek Banks, Chairman


Derek Banks - Chairman and Barge skipper



in this issue:

This Is the Life!

Chef Proifle

The Burgundy Canal

Wine competition

Hamper winnner

News


back issues:

january 05

february 05

march 05

april 05

may 05

june 05

july 05

august 05

september 05

october 05

november 05

(please note that past competitions are now closed)

visit our website
GoBarging.com
barge cruise at
www.gobarging.com



Savoring and Sipping Our Way Through Burgundy "This Is the Life!"
Story by Cheri Sicard, Photos by Maurice Newman and Cheri Sicard

CANAL DU NIVERNAIS, BURGUNDY, FRANCE - I recently had the pleasure of spending a week on the Art de Vivre, a floating hotel barge cruising Burgundy's Canal du Nivernais.

A luxury trip - only eight passengers and four crew members -- the crew was outstanding, almost genie like, in their attempts to please. Guests on the barge merely had to mention they might like something - a specific cheese from the region, perhaps a favorite wine or brand of spirits, paté de foi gras or escargot.

Whatever it was, the crew went out of their way to get it, and almost always succeeded (not a small feat considering we were cruising rural Burgundy).

Once the week long cruise was well under way and we'd become comfortable with one another, my fellow travel mates and I reluctantly confessed to each other our initial disappointment upon learning that the Art de Vivre was staffed by a young Australian chef.

We shared this information somewhat sheepishly, in hushed tones, over dinner one evening, taking care not to be overheard by crew members -- although by end of the cruise we had all become such good friends, we shared this story with them as well. Everyone had a good laugh.

The reason for our reluctance is that we all relearned the fundamental childhood lesson not to judge a book by its cover. We all just assumed we would have a French chef while traveling through Burgundy. But Australian Wayne Martin had won us over completely, and we wouldn't have traded him for all the native chefs in France.

Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams - Upon boarding the barge the night before beginning our descent down the Canal du Nivernais, Wayne greeted his guests for the week with flutes of perfectly chilled champagne and tiny toasts, artfully prepared and covered with generous blankets of caviar or smoked salmon. Hey! This was good!

L'Art de Vivre
Nonetheless, most of us still retained some skepticism. After all, the guy couldn't have been more 24, maybe 25 tops. And he hailed from a beach resort on Australia's gold coast. He looked more like a surfer than chef. OK, he had a charming "shy little boy" personality and a ready smile. But could he really cook?

Our skepticism was blown away at the first dinner, just an hour or so after our welcoming cocktail party. The salad was simple but elegant, perfectly dressed in a flavorful vinaigrette. The entrée, again elegant simplicity - filet de bouef in a red wine reduction sauce. The

vibrant orange baby carrots - cooked tender yet crisp -- that accompanied the meal surely had to have been contently resting in the Burgundian soil of a nearby farmer's field mere hours before.

The meat was fork tender and perfectly done to everyone's liking. We learned the beef came from Charolais cattle, just like the white cows that we would regularly see grazing along the canal's grass lined banks.

The first night's dinner set the pattern for all the lunches and dinners to come. The meals would begin with a beautifully set table enticingly filled with plates, lots of wine glasses, a basket of good French breads, fresh flowers and a new creatively folded napkin design every day. The artistic touches came from the the Art de Vivre's hostess, Laura Windsor.

In addition to napkin origami, Laura specializes in creating butter sculptures - a beautiful butter rose accompanied each dinner. It almost made it difficult to eat the butter - who wants to destroy such a thing of beauty...I said almost.

In fact the sweet butter was the perfect spread for the variety of crusty, chewy, freshly baked and utterly perfect breads that were always available at every meal.

Visit L'Art de Vivre



"This Is the Life!" - continued

Laura officially began the lunch or dinner festivities by introducing her guests to two new wines -- one white, one red, along with mineral water served in the typical French fashion - one pitcher of still water, one "with gas," which typically means San Pelegrino, Perrier or some other brand of sparkling mineral water.

After a soup or salad course, there would always be a fabulous entrée, followed by a cheese course - two cheeses hand selected by Laura and Wayne. I'm talking the kind of cheeses I'd have to save up to buy (in any kind of quantity say over a few ounces) at my favorite Silver Lake or Beverly Hills cheese shops.

The dinner cheese course would no sooner be cleared away when Laura would appear with desserts and coffees. Chocolate Mousses one night, Chocolate Soufflés another, wine poached pears the next. This was the life!

Wayne spent some time with his passengers the first night, to get a feel for everyone's likes and dislikes. This is France - a land of culinary adventures. Luckily everyone in our group was up for anything, but Wayne is happy to prepare menus to accommodate each passenger's tastes.

As we all agreed to let the chef do what he does best and prepare the menus according to the ingredients that were best at the markets each day, we were treated to an eclectic array of some of the finest dishes any of us had ever had. In fact everyone amazedly admitted that Wayne's Onion Soup was the best any of us had ever tasted.

One of this young chef's greatest talents is his ability to season subtlety yet effectively; creating a mélange of flavors that lingers and entices much like the finish of a fine wine. He even grows his own herbs on the barge's back deck.


L'Art de Vivre
Throughout the week we dined on such dishes as Duck Mousse Foi Gras in Strawberry Sauce, Quails in Fig and Sherry Sauce, Olive and Anchovy Tart on a Smoked Duck Salad, Goat Cheese Soufflés, Escargots in Garlic Butter, Roast Lamb with Rosemary and Thyme Sauce and more. With each meal Wayne would manage to top his previous achievement.

One evening, at the passengers request to dine with the crew, Wayne prepared what he called a "barbecue." It bore no resemblance whatsoever to an American barbecue. Instead of ribs and burgers, we feasted on Duck, Perch and Salmon Skewers, a Ham and Orange Salad and Sun Dried Tomato and Beet Root Salad.

We sipped on a delightful Rose Marsannay (French roses make perfect light summer wines), a very nice Pinot Noir, and some celebratory champagne.

The entire evening was perfect -- good wine, good food and good company. The setting made things even more magical - picnic tables arranged under age old shade trees, the canal and our floating home for the week resting in the background.

As the sun set, Captain Julian illuminated the darkness by lighting the tiki torches, giving the entire scene the feeling of a celebration at a gypsy camp.

Throughout the cruise the quality of the cuisine, the wines, the cheese and other amenities were outstanding.

Passengers are treated as though they honored guests in the crew's home. Nothing is skimped on.

Kudos to European Waterways for far exceeding expectations.



"This Is the Life!" - continued

Our favorite off the barge excursion gave us the opportunity to meet the fascinating Jean Frambourt at his wine bar in Dornecy.

If you didn't know any better, it would be easy to pass this humble little shop by - you'd never realize it housed a priceless collection of wine overseen by one of Europe's top sommeliers.

The regulars at the bar resemble a French equivalent of Cliff and Norm, but get Jean talking and you'll soon realize you've stumbled onto a treasure.

His knowledge of wine seems as endless of the varieties he stocks. We sampled some mighty fine wines here including 1969 Pean Vouvray, along with a 1998 Premier Cru Vosne Romanée.

Throughout the tasting Jean shared his thoughts on wine, taught his guests the proper way to savor these treasures, and explained what made the wines he chose so special.

All this in French, being ably translated by our Captain, Julian Allsop. Jean is so passionate and animated about his subject, he almost didn't need a translator - you could just about catch his enthusiasm and appreciation for the wines by osmosis.

L'Art de 

Vivre, Burgundy, France
While Jean held court, his wife Elizabeth tended shop and prepared fare for hungry customers, and his cute little dog Petrus kept everyone entertained with his playful antics.

Some of us were going into dog withdrawl (our canine friends being left at home), so Petrus was a delightful addition to an already outstanding day.

All too soon our time in Burgundy was over. Despite the fact that the barge moves at a snail's pace (we only covered about 40 or 50 miles in a week), the time seemed to fly by.

At the captain's dinner on our final night aboard there were a lot of addresses being exchanged, a lot photos being taken, and a lot of promises to keep in touch being made.

The following morning, after feasting on another wonderful continental breakfast of croissants, pastries and French breads, cereals, yogurts and fruit, we were on our way back to Paris.

When our bus arrived in the city it was lunchtime. Still reluctant to leave our new found friends from the cruise, we all went out to a local brasserie. The food was very good. But not as good as the traditional French fare prepared by our young Australian chef, Wayne Martin.   back to top



Chef Profile - Hannah Spurge

Hannah in a moment of repose with husband Phill, barge captain.Hannah Spurge is one of the most experienced chefs of the Go Barging fleet, providing guests on board Meanderer with mouthwatering and impressive culinary creations since 2000.

Cooking is in Hannah's blood - brought up by a family who owned Michelin accredited coaching inns, becoming a chef was an obvious career choice for Hannah! Formal training at a leading UK culinary school led to a period as chef in the family business before moving on to work in the demanding environment of event catering and management for ten years.

Like other chefs we've profiled over the months, Hannah lays the credit for her success at the door of the barge, saying that being on a barge has made her rediscover her creativity and passion for cooking. What is it about barges which inspires our chefs - is it the pace of life, the joy of being surrounded by beauty and greenery, the atmosphere of the barge, the company of the passengers? Who knows? One thing is for certain - that all who come on board Meanderer leave with nothing but the highest of praise for Hannah's cooking!

Says Hannah "Cooking for small groups allows me to cook absolutely anything I want - there is always time to make everything from scratch, accommodate special dietary needs and create new dishes. The local markets offer an incredible array of fresh produce and France just never fails to exceed my expectations as I discover new foods, wines and unique suppliers each season.

Selecting the local girolles mushrooms at the market - this grower is only at the 

market for three weeks of our season each year - he literally picks the mushrooms in the morning then brings them to the market to sell - 

fabulousBefore barging I was so immersed in catering for vast numbers of guests with tight budgets, temporary kitchens and impossible deadlines that I had almost forgotten what a joy cooking is. Five seasons later on with stress just a distant memory, an unlimited food budget, charming guests that I get to talk to several times each day and working in the culinary capital of the world, I often have to pinch myself to make sure this is really what I do now!"

To further boost the culinary experience aboard Meanderer, the kitchen is being refitted this winter to make it a more welcoming space for guests to watch Hannah at work.

Visits to local markets and cheese producers are a regular feature for guests aboard Meanderer with the opportunity to browse the stalls and help pick out unusual offerings.

Visit Meanderer   Sample dinner menu
Avocado and Bacon salsa recipe   back to top



The Burgundy Canal

Go Barging is pleased to add a new cruise route to its repertoire in Burgundy. It is now possible for lovers of all things Burgundian to barge even further into this delightful region on the Burgundy Canal.

"Reine Pedauque" and "Niagara" are masters of this route, accommodating 8 and 6 passengers respectively.

Both barges cruise along a delightful stretch of the canal between Dijon and Vandenesse. The countryside in this part of Burgundy is very beautiful, incorporating Lake Kir (named after an ecclesiastical gentleman of that name, sadly nothing to do with the aperitif!) and heading into the glorious Ouche valley.

Beaunevisit to the memorable walled town of Beaune comes next, with wine tasting and entrance to the superb Hospices with their multicoloured tiled roofs, typical of the Burgundy vernacular from the 15th century.

Cistercian abbeyAnother highlight is La Bussiere Cistercian abbey which is visited further along the route. Some 45 locks are passed during the week, allowing plenty of opportunities to cycle or stroll along the tow path and which are valiantly negotiated by the skilful captain.

Rural Burgundy is something you cannot tire of and we are very pleased to be offering this new cruise route, widening the choice of barging possibilities in this charming region!

Both Reine Pedauque and Niagara's design incorporates all the facilities required for those with restricted mobility, making barging even easier for everyone. They cruise for 6 nights from Friday to Thursday every week between April and October. Every 6 night cruise includes all meals, open bar, regional wines, daily escorted excursions, local return transfer between the vessel and Chateau la Chassagne Hotel near Dijon.

Description of Cabins 7 days / 6 nights
Friday - Thursday
Commodore Suite-Per person £2,060 $3,550
Ambassador Suite-Per person £2,180 $3,750
Royal Suite-Per person £2,295 $ 3950
Supplement for single cabin £525 $900
Charter 8 pax Reine Pedauque £17,500 $30,000
Charter 6 pax Niagara £13,000 $22,500
Tandem Charter 14 pax £30,500 $52,500


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This month's competition

Belle Epoque, luxury barge cruises in Burgundy, France

To celebrate the holiday season, we are offering a new fun competition to win six bottles of fine Burgundy wine. All you have to do is visit the December competition page and follow the instructions there...

November competition

Win the Ultimate Christmas Hamper

Win a bumper Christmas hamperTo celebrate November's edition of the Lock-keeper newsletter we ran a competition with a bumper prize. To win, all you had to do was answer a few simple questions. Answer all questions correctly and you could be selected at random to win the Ultimate Christmas Chocolate and Champage hamper...packed to the gunnels with essential Christmas luxuries: See who's won our great prize



News

Routine maintenance

art de vivre, high and dryart de vivre, high and dryThis winter sees three vessels having shipyard work. Art de Vivre, Impressionniste and Belle Epoque in Three different shipyards in France, Belgium and Holland. Every couple of years we slip the barges checking rudders, propellors, hulls for wear and generally making sure everything is up to scratch.

GOLFING HOLIDAYS - Calling all golfers!

Are you looking for a different base for your golfing holiday? How about a barge! A golfing holiday with European Waterways gives you an interesting mix of cruising, relaxation, sightseeing and golf, all complemented with gourmet cuisine, a well-stocked bar and attentive service from a friendly crew. All your tee times are booked for you and private transfers to and from each club are included in the cruise price. Here is a list of the golf courses you can play at:

l'Impressionniste:

Gran Avignon golf course (18 hole, 6037m, Par 72), Grande Motte golf course (18 hole, 6161m, Par 72), Fontcaude golf course (18 hole 6250m Par 72), St Thomas golf club (18 hole, 6130m, Par 72), Cap d'Agde golf club (18 hole, 6279m Par 72)

Magna Carta:

Hampton Court Palace Golf Course (18 hole, 5953m Par 71), Walton Heath Golf Club (18 hole, 6198m Par 72), Wentworth (optional) (18 hole, 6142m, Par 73), Sunningdale Golf Club (18 hole, 5526m Par 70), Temple Golf Club (18 hole, 5697m Par 70)

Meanderer:

Fontenailles Golf Course (18 hole, 6256m par 72,), Fontainebleau Golf Course (18 hole, 6074m par 72), Montargis Golf Course (18 hole, 5914m par 72) Roncemay Golf Course (18 hole, 6401m par 72), Sancerrois Golf Course (18 hole, 5828m par 72)

Scottish Highlander:

Fort William Golf Course (18 hole, 5377m, Par 68), Fort Augustus Golf Course (18 tee, 9 hole, 4970m, Par 67), Nairn Golf Club (18 hole, 6705 yards Par 72), Royal Dornoch Golf Course (18 hole, 6514 yards Par 70)

Shannon Princess:

Lahinch Golf Club (18 hole, 6115m, Par 72), Portumna Golf Club (18 hole, 6123m, Par 71), Galway Bay Golf Course (18 hole, 5958m, Par 72), Athlone Golf Club (18 hole, 5937m, Par 72 for men and Par 75 for women), Glasson Golf and Country Club (18 hole, 6400m, Par 72)

Actief:

Huntercombe Golf Club (18 hole, 5770m Par 70), Sunningdale Golf Club (18 hole 6187m, par 70 heathland course), Denham Golf Club (18 hole, 5890m Par 70), Wentworth Golf Club (18 hole, 6142m, Par 73) , Stoke Poges Golf Club (18 hole, 6106m, Par 71)

Anjodi:

Cap d'Agde golf course, (18 hole, 6301m Par 72), Lamalou-les-Bains golf course (9 hole, 2600m, Par 35), St Thomas golf course (18 hole, 6130m Par 72), Carcassonne golf course (18 hole, 7200m, Par 72)

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..!

Thats about it for this 30th edition of the Lockkeeper, 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 2006, so we'll see you then.

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