Anjodi, cruising along the Canal du Midi, painting by Stanley Rose

Hello,

welcome to the July edition of the lock-keeper.

Its high summer here in Europe and the weather is wonderful.

Our fleet of barges are cruising slowly along the canals and waterways, and our staff are working hard to make each cruise perfect for our discerning guests.

In this month's issue, we feature Antiques cruises on Actief, we introduce chef Rebecca Clair, tell you about Wine Harvesting with a complimentary AOC Languedoc Roussillon wine competition where you can win a case of this appellation to taste and enjoy.

We cruise in tandem in Provence on Anjodi and Impressionniste, and walk the paths and byways of Burgundy on a Belle Epoque walking cruise.

Rick Stein's TV series French Odyssey aboard Anjodi begins on BBC 2 in August, so watch out for that - see our News section for more detail.

So, hopefully lots of interesting information for you.

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


Derek Banks - Chairman and Barge skipper



in this issue:

Actief Antiques cruise

Chef profile

The Wine Harvest

Tandem Barging

Afoot and Afloat in Burgundy

French Wine competition

News


back issues:

january 05

february 05

march 05

april 05

may 05

june 05

(please note that past competitions are now closed)

visit our website

www.gobarging.com


ACTIEF ANTIQUES CRUISE
23RD TO 29TH OCTOBER 2005

If you switch on the TV in the UK today, it is amazing how many programmes are based on antiques.

Almost every day TV presenters encourage you to scour your attic to see if you can uncover something which could be your ticket to untold riches, while others give information on how to date and restore antique furniture or where best to shop for antiques. It's a popular theme!

An original way to combine your love of antiques with a relaxing holiday is to come on board our delightful 1907 Dutch barge Actief - what better form of accommodation could you wish for on this specialist holiday!

The interior décor and overall charm of Actief, refitted this year, cannot fail to delight, and harmoniously built in are all the amenities the modern-day traveler needs.

The speed at which she travels, coupled with serenity of the Thames will also transport you into a world without cares where life is not governed by the computer and the clock - a bit like going back in time.

To give you a taster of this special cruise, it starts with a visit to Windsor Castle, repository of one of Britain's finest art collections and one of the Queen's favourite homes.

Fine crockery, furniture, tapestries, chandeliers, clocks, not to mention the amazing sculpture and wood carvings are other sights to behold.

You can find more information on our Actief Antiques cruise here
Actief Antiques cruise, Windsor, Wallingford Eton is the first in a top-class choice of antique centres visited along the cruise route, a town with 7th century origins and an internationally famous 15th century college.

Further along the river, an antique emporium in Wallingford is encountered in an historic building divided into 25 or so small shops showcasing a wide and varied range of collectables.

During the cruise, gourmet catering is offered to our guests and on two nights, dinner is preceded by interesting and witty talks by local antique dealers.

Other gems include visits to England's oldest inn, dating to 12th century, a beautiful old tithe barn (which coincidentally doubles as an antiques centre!), an awe-inspiring 15th century church, the boat building workshop of a family involved with the river for 800 years, a stunning Elizabethan manor house and a 500 year old working watermill (famously used during the filming of 'The Eagle Has Landed').

There are countless other treasures on this cruise which we'll be only too pleased to tell you about if you would like more detail.

It's an Aladdin's cave of a tour!

The whole cruise is capped by a visit to the annual Oxford Antiques Fair where a cornucopia of delights awaits your inspection.

Contact us today to enquire about this Actief Antiques cruise here.

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CHEF PROFILE - Rebecca Clair

GoBarging chef Rebecca Clair This is Rebecca's fourth year as a chef on barges with European Waterways. She has worked on Scottish Highlander, Nymphea, Anjodi and L'Impressionniste, cooking up all sorts of delights from glorious game in the beautiful green rugged mountains of Scotland to tasty specialities of the sea along the sun baked shores of the Mediterranean.

Growing up near Montreal, Canada, Rebecca had a keen interest in cooking from an early age. Getting her cookery badge in the Brownies, she improved on this with the help of her grandmother who taught her the basics of decent Canadian family food. Savoury and fruit pies, Sunday lunches and buffets were just some of the things which came out of the kitchen and Rebecca's grandmother's recipes were a great base on which to build.

Rebecca's debut as a professional chef was eight years ago, when she took an apprenticeship in the delightful Flemish town of Bruges in Belgium (known by some as Venice of the North). The Belgians and the French have always contested superiority on the subject of culinary expertise, so with Rebecca's knowledge of Belgian and French cuisine, our barge galleys have seen the creation of the best of both worlds!

After her apprenticeship, Rebecca spent a few years as chef in restaurants and providing catering services. During this time, someone introduced her to the possibility of expanding her horizons on a hotel barge and that was enough to spark her curiosity. She still says that she can't imagine a better situation as a chef. She loves the daily change of scenery from her galley window which stimulates her creativity.

As Impressionniste travels through one of the gardens of France, Rebecca is able to buy fresh local produce where it is farmed and reproduces regional specialities following traditional methods, as well as adding interesting touches from her own travel experience.

Rebecca finds that the direct feedback she receives from the guests throughout the week and their enthusiasm at mealtimes is very inspirational, enabling her to add to the efforts of the whole crew in making their Go Barging experience that much more personal.

We are very pleased to have such a talented chef on board and know that all visitors to l'Impressionniste are in for a treat.

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Wine Harvest
by Bobbie Latter

Looking out across the cheerful waters of the Thames from my garden, wine glass in hand, with the swans and their cygnets gliding by, thoughts drift from time to time to my wine's origin in the hot dry vineyards of southern France.

The area through which l'Impressionniste and Anjodi sail is covered by France's biggest vineyard, which produces 40% of France's wine. In a couple of months time, those vineyards will be a hive of activity.

Harvesting the grapes traditionally occurs during September and is a fast and furious race against time. The enemy is the oxidisation and premature fermentation of the grapes before arrival at the wine press, so the team of grape pickers has to be lively and strong, conscientious and discerning. A bit like our crew members!

Although it is possible to pick grapes mechanically with special machines which can harvest 10-20 acres a day, many farmers feel that picking grapes by hand is the best method, even though it is much slower (four grape-pickers can collect about one acre of grapes a day).

The trick of harvesting is to only pick ripe bunches, which have the ideal sugar/acid balance and get them to the wine press as soon as possible. The picking days start early in the morning and can go into the night, depending on the weather conditions.

The labour force comprises grape pickers, porters (or "heavies"!) and transporters, along with accompanying fan-clubs, masseuses and wine-and-sympathy pourers.

The grape pickers have the finicky job of selecting the ripe bunches and cutting them off the vines, leaving the right amount of stalk on the bunch. It's messy, sticky and stains your clothes, so you need a trendy plastic suit if you don't want to get plastered.
Wine Harvest It also subjects your body to some rather awkward contortions as you try to get to that awkwardly situated bunch.

The heavies are the ones who have to carry the bunches to the tractor in huge panniers, which, when full, weigh between 30 and 40 kgs (60-80 lbs). Now you can see why I mentioned the masseuses.

The regular breaks for sustenance are perfect times to massage aches and pains, exchange a few kisses (because you know these French are great romantics!) and have a glass of wine which is well known for its healing and resuscitative qualities!

The transporters have to take all the bunches of grapes to the wine presses. Although nowadays lots of farms have huge washing-machine-like presses, there are still farms where the old-style presses are used and even some places where people tread the grapes with their bare feet. It's not as easy as you'd think - treading grapes with your bare feet - they are very heavy to wade around in and they come up to the average person's thighs.

Not only that but with several of you in the vat and everyone else standing around singing to keep up the rhythm, you have to get used to getting up close and personal with people.

After several days of hard labour, everyone is keen to have a good old knees-up, a filling meal of Cassoulet and copious glasses of wine to celebrate their achievements and wish good luck to the new vintage!

With all these imaginations passing before my mind's eye, I sometimes ask myself if the grape pickers ever look up from their work when l'Impressionniste or Anjodi go by, with passengers in mid-sip of a glass of Picpoul de Pinet, and think "I wonder if they are drinking my wine?"

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Wine Harvest - continued

Wines lovingly chosen and currently appearing on our menus are:

White:

Chateau Mire L'Etang
Chateau de Gourgazand
La Liviniere

Red:

La Voute Gasparet 2001
Corbieres
Chateau La Liquiere

Rose:

Domaine de Guery
(10 generations of vintners have refined this renowned rose wine)

Recipe for Cassoulet

Serves eight to ten people
  • 1 1/2 lbs. white beans
  • 1/2 lb. bacon
  • 1/4 lb. salt pork
  • 2 large and one medium onion
  • 2 cups diced ham
  • 2 sweet Italian sausages
  • 8 oz. sausage meat, made into 1/2-inch balls
  • 5 medium-size garlic cloves
  • 1 more garlic clove for rubbing the pot
  • 3 or 4 cups beef stock
  • 1/2 can tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 or 4 twists of the pepper grinder
  • 3/4 cup of fairly coarse bread crumbs
  • One large pot
Soak beans overnight. Drain; put fresh water in to cover. Cook uncovered (not boiling) until nearly cooked - around two hours - check fairly frequently. Make sure the beans are constantly covered with water.

Heat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut bacon strips into squares; separate and put in good-sized skillet.
Wine Harvest Slice onions (less than 1/4-inch slices), add to skillet. Fry bacon and onions together on medium/low heat, stirring frequently to keep from sticking, until very soft. Dice up two cups of ham.

Slice Italian sausages down the centre lengthwise, chop into 1/2-inch pieces. Fry both kinds of sausage at the same time on medium/low heat in a different pan until slightly brown. You'll probably have to leave the Italian sausages in a little longer than the sausage-meat balls.

Peel and crush garlic cloves. Cut the tomatoes into smallish pieces, without the juice.

When bacon and onions are just beginning to brown, add the crushed garlic, mix it in and cook a couple more minutes. Then add 2 cups of stock. Add the tomatoes. Add the seasoning - not too much salt. Stir, cover, and simmer at least 20 minutes. Rub cooking pot with garlic.

Pick the bacon squares out of the skillet and put them in the bottom of the pot. Put the pieces of ham and sausages in the pot. Stir to mix up all the meat.

Fry up 1/4 lb. of salt pork. Put the juices from that in the stock skillet. Don't put in the fried salt pork; throw it away. Put the beans on top of the meat in the pot. Pour the stock mixture from the skillet over the top of the beans. Add enough plain stock to not quite cover the beans. If you find you don't have enough stock, use water. Bring the pot to just boiling on the stove top, and turn down the heat as soon as it boils.

Put a good layer of bread crumbs on top. Put the pot in the oven and cook uncovered about 45 minutes or an hour. Just watch to see that the bread crumbs don't start turning black. They should be crisp, not burnt.

Bon appetit!

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Tandem Barging in Provence

Anjodi in Provence During the first three weeks of November Anjodi is going to leave the Midi Canal to join l'Impressionniste on her cruise route between Avignon and Agde along the French Mediterranean coast.

If you are looking for a smaller barge than l'Impressionniste to take you on a Provencal journey, Anjodi's your girl! Twenty-eight feet shorter than her colleague, she offers a slightly cosier environment for up to 8 passengers and can also be chartered for 6 passengers.

It is an especially good time for larger groups or families to take advantage of a French barge holiday, as when Anjodi and l'Impressionniste meet up like this, they can travel in tandem, accommodating up to 20 passengers. Guests can hop on and off each other's floating home, host little parties and enjoy the hospitality of 9 attentive crew members. The cosy atmosphere of a barge can still be enjoyed, while sailing along with your friends and family.

L'IMPRESSIONNISTE & ANJODI
Provence Tandem Cruise for 16-20 passengers

Sunday
You will be met at 16.00 at The Grand Hotel in Avignon and escorted by minibus to the the barges for a Champagne Welcome on board L'Impressionniste for everyone and the barge Captains and crew introduce themselves and outline the weeks cruise. Dinner on board Spend the night onboard in Avignon.

Monday, Avignon to Arles
Palais des Papes, Avignon This morning we visit the Palais des Papes, an impressive monument to the era of the 'Other Rome', when the popes moved to France. After a stroll though the vibrant shopping district of Avignon, we return to the barge for lunch. In the afternoon we cruise down the mighty Rhone River to Arles, passing the intriguing citadel of King René at Tarascon, Chateauneuf-du-Pape and the foothills of the Alpilles. Dinner on board.

Tuesday, Arles to Aigues Mortes
This morning we explore Arles, the Roman Arena, St. Trophime's Basilica and the Museum of Provencal life. We visit some of Vincent van Gogh's haunts on foot through the heart of this old capital of the Camargue. Then a cruise down the Petit Rhone and on to the Canal de Rhone a Sete, passing several herds of wild black bulls and sea birds. We moor at the medieval fortified town of Aigues Mortes. Dinner on board.

Wednesday, Aigues Mortes to Frontignan
Aigues Mortes Stroll from our mooring outside the Aigues Mortes town walls to visit the Tour de Constance, built in 1248 as a lighthouse for the returning 13th century Crusaders. In the afternoon, we cruise the Canal du Rhone à Sete through the Camargue National Park with its wild horses, abundant sea bird life and flocks of pink flamingos, to the hamlet of Les Arsquiers where we are 200 yards from the Mediterranean. Dinner on board.

Thursday, Frontignan to Marseillan
Abbaye de Valmagne An early start to pass under the lifting Bridge at Frontignan, then we sail out onto the Etang de Thau, a large, inland salt water lagoon full of oyster beds. Mid-morning we stop briefly at Bouzigues to visit the Museum of the lake with its exhibition on oyster culture, which is the main activity of the many local fishermen. After lunch on board, we have a short minibus ride to the 12thC Abbaye de Valmagne with its vast Cistercian church and beautiful cloister. Our tour ends with a chance to taste its award winning range of wines. Returning to the barge, we have an afternoon cruise on the lake to the port of Marseillan, where we stroll into the marketplace for dinner ashore. This gives you a chance to taste many of the local seafood delicacies.

Friday, Marseillan to Agde
Before the ship sails we have an opportunity to tour the cellars and distillery of the world famous aperitif Noilly Prat, followed by a tasting. Then an afternoon cruise on the Canal du Midi, through the renowned round lock and finishing our voyage on the River Herault. We will be moored in the shadow of the Cathedral of the fishing town of Agde, built of lava blocks from the nearby Black Mountains. Joint cocktail party on board L'Impressionniste for everyone followed by the Captains Farewell Dinner on board.

Saturday
Return transfer by minibus to Montpellier's Metropole Hotel, Montpellier's TGV Station or Montpellier Airport. This is a sample itinerary and is subject to change. On alternative weeks the cruise in reverse direction and the pickup and drop off points are reversed.

Provence Tandem Cruise 2005 Prices

CharterVALUEMIDREGULAR
14 passengers $38,475 $46,550 $57,475
15 passengers $39,663 $47,738 $58,663
16 passengers $40,850 $48,925 $59,850
17 passengers $42,037 $50,112 $61,037
18 passengers $43,225 $51,300 $62,225
19 passengers $44,175 $52,250 $63,175
20 passengers $45,125 $53,200 $64,125


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Afoot and Afloat in Burgundy
on La Belle Epoque with The Wayfarers

The Wayfarers, walking holiday specialists since 1984, join forces with Go Barging to bring travellers an unforgettable week of walking and barging with an exclusive chance to see Burgundy at its best this autumn.

Cruising the Canal du Nivernais aboard the luxury barge La Belle Époque sets a leisurely pace for the Afloat in Burgundy 7-day/6-night tour, with walks led by a Wayfarers' expert guide across scenic pathways and visits to historic hilltop towns, castles and parks, vineyards, markets, museums and churches.

Dining is forever fabulous in this celebrated centre of gastronomy, and accommodations on the barge are elegantly appointed with marble-fitted bathrooms, air-conditioning and on-deck Jacuzzi. Gentle walking through river valleys and rolling hills will take in just 3 to 5 easy miles a day. Romance, luxury and a grand culinary adventure are priced from $3600 per person on this walking/barging trip, with two departures: 2 - 8 and 9-14 October 2005.

Itinerary:

Sunday - We meet in Paris and travel to the barge - "La Belle Epoque" - to join fellow walkers for our Welcome Dinner and Introductory Talk. Overnight: Auxerre

Vaux on the river Yonne Monday - Our walk commences along the banks of the River Yonne and meanders through the vineyard-clad hills to the village of Vaux. Continuing along the river, we arrive at Champs-s-Yonne where we meet our barge. Following lunch on board we take an excursion to St Bris, with its extraordinary network of medieval passages beneath the town. Finally, we enjoy a local wine tasting, featuring the outstanding Chardonnay and Pinot wines at the 12c century cellars of Monsieur Bersan. We rejoin our barge moored in rural bliss by Bailly and have dinner aboard. Overnight: Bailly or Vincelottes

Tuesday - This morning we walk along the Nivernais Canal to Cravant Donjon, a tiny community priding itself on its fine church. A path through rich pastures with views of the valley brings us to Accolay, which sits beside the River Cure. Following lunch we continue our walk to Regny abbaye and Bessy-sur-Cure, situated on the river. Later we take the opportunity to walk into Vermenton before we return to our barge moored at Accolay and dine ashore in a local auberge. Overnight: Accolay

Vezelay Wednesday - Our walk takes us from Vermenton and heads towards a wooded hill on the edge of Regny, while our barge travels back into the Yonne valley. Back on board, we continue our cruise past dramatic steep cliffs to the market town of Mailly. In the afternoon we enjoy an excursion to Vezelay, one of Burgundy's most famous treasures with the Romanesque Basilica of St Mary Magdalene, craft shops and fine views of the surrounding countryside. We return to our barge for dinner on board at Mailly-la-Ville. Overnight: Mailly-la-Ville.

Thursday - We walk in the hills above the canal this morning to the pretty cliff top village of Mailly-le-Chateau. Here we are guided through the diverse fauna and fascinating archaeology of La Reserve Naturelle de Bois du Parc. Following lunch on the barge, we have the chance to visit Chateau de Bazoches or to continue walking along the Canal du Nivernais. We complete our day, moored at Lucy-sur-Yonne, with dinner on the barge. Overnight: Lucy-sur-Yonne

Clamecy Friday - From Lucy-sur-Yonne our morning walk take us onto the hills, eventually rejoining the canal at Pousseaux. We continue along the canal to Ferme de Basseville and Clamecy with time to wander through the narrow streets lined with historic buildings. The day includes an excursion to the logging and barging museum and Clamecy Cathedral. We moor at Clamecy on our final evening when the Captain provides a Farewell Dinner aboard. Overnight: Clamecy

Saturday - We travel back from Clamecy to Paris where you may choose to extend your stay in one of the world's most romantic cities.

Please note one of the departures will follow this itinerary in reverse as the barge will be travelling in the opposite direction. Pricing includes accommodation, all ground transport and visits as detailed on itineraries, all meals and wine with dinner. The Wayfarers is a member of the Travel Trust Association.

Contact us to enquire about this Burgundy walking cruise here.

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French wine competition

Fine wines from Languedoc Roussillon
For our July Lockkeeper competition we are offering a case of AOC Languedoc Roussillon.

Visit our
competition page to enter, and find out about this fine wine making region where Anjodi and L'Impressionniste cruise.


News

Rick Stein's French Odyssey

new TV series starts on Tuesday 9th August at 8.30pm on BBC2The new series starts on Tuesday 9th August at 8.30pm on BBC2 and book publication out at the beginning of September.

French Odyssey is a journey from Bordeaux to Marseille aboard Anjodi, finding all the glorious food and wine of the Canal du Midi - from entrecôte bordelaise and shad grilled over vine trimmings, to sarladaise potatoes fried in duck fat with garlic and parsley and on to snails Languedoc style and La Bourride and an epic Bouillabaisse at L'Epuisette a restaurant on La Corniche in Marseille.

Actief discount offer

We are pleased to offer a $500 (or £250 for UK bookings) discount per passenger for all bookings taken for Actief on the River Thames for the remainder of the 2005 season.

This offer is open until 31st August 2005.

A minimum of 4 passengers is required to guarantee departure during weeks commencing 25th September, 2nd and 9th October

In view of recent events in London we have also arranged an additional alternative meeting point (if required) at: -

Sir Christopher Wren's House Hotel & Spa Thames Street Windsor Berks SL4 1PX Tel: +44(0)1753 861534

Passengers should indicate whether or not they require this alternative meeting venue on their booking form.

We'd like to remind you that you can now easily
check availability for your cruise dates online - tell us when you want to travel and we'll reply within 24 hours with options.

We also have a new barging video online which gives you a real flavour of life on the European Waterways.

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 all for this 25th 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 August, 2005, so we'll see you then.

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