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


welcome to the November edition of the Lock-keeper.

This month in the lock-keeper, we encounter James Bond in Venice, on the film set for Casino Royale.

We introduce Saint Louis - the latest vessel to join our GoBarging fleet, cruising in Bordeaux, France, and thinking about Bordeaux got us talking about the fine wines from that region.

We have some photos of La Belle Epoque's trip to the shipyard in Holland for routine maintenance, and Chef Louis returns home from his French Odyssey to get married.

It's not even winter yet, but our thoughts turn to Spring flower shows, especially the two great annual flower shows at Chelsea and Hampton Court in England, and those wonderful Tulip displays in Holland.

We announce October's Actief cruise competition winner, eagerly anticipated my many of you I'm sure. We continue our Scottish Traditions series with a Hogamanay First Foot and have a great new competition to win a discount on a spring cruise on Scottish Highlander.

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....

best regards,

Derek Banks, Chairman

Derek Banks - Chairman and Barge skipper

in this issue:

Bond in Venice

Saint Louis

Shipyard Secrets

Chef Hitch

Spring Flowers

Bordeaux Wine

Actief Winner

First Footing

November Competition

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A little story from Venice
La Dolce Barge cruise in Venice, Italy

In the new Bond movie, Casino Royale, actor Daniel Craig is filmed sailing up the Grand Canal in a beautiful 54ft classic yacht with glamorous Eva Green.

Our on-the-spot reporter reliably informs us that the Bond girl did not in fact do any of the sailing (because she can't sail!) and the stand-in was the wife of the owner of Spirit Yachts, who built the vessel.

When the main scene was shot on the Grand Canal, the mast of the sailing boat had to be unstepped to pass under the Rialto Bridge (this is the first time a sailing boat has been on the Grand Canal for 350 years).

You can imagine the excitement, and when filming began the local Carabinieri held-up dozens of vaporetti, gondolas, water taxi and the usual assortment of watercraft found on the canal in the high summer, so as not to intrude on the scene. When the first rehearsal was finished, and the director shouted out "cut!", the police interpreted this to mean that the filming was over and released a torrent of assorted river craft on the Bond sailing machine!

Fortunately you don't have to be Bond to enjoy the delights of Venice! A week on board La Dolce Vita will enable you to relive the romance of the Bond movie and see the lagoon at a much more elegant pace. Visit our website for details of her unique itinerary.

Saint Louis Barge cruise in Bordeaux, France

In last month's Lock-keeper we informed our readers of the re-introduction of Bordeaux as a cruise region in our portfolio.

We are now proud to introduce you to the latest vessel to join our Go Barging fleet, Saint Louis, a beautiful barge run by Barbara and Alasdair Wyllie, which cruises two routes in the Garonne valley, from Castets to Agen and from Agen to Montauban. The Saint Louis was built in Holland in 1923. Some ten years ago she was expertly renovated into a luxury hotel barge, keeping all her original lines, while converting her interior into modern accommodation for six passengers, including central heating and air conditioning.

The three cabins are spacious (127 square feet each), light and airy, can be configured as twins or queen-sized doubles and are equipped with wardrobes, full-length mirrors, dressing-tables and storage. All have fully tiled en-suite bathrooms with roomy showers.

The beautifully decorated saloon has a well stocked bar, a dining area and a "sitting room" area, a small library and music centre.

The large sun deck has loungers for lazing away those sunny afternoons, and tables and chairs for all those alfresco meals, all prepared by Barbara, a talented cook, who uses nothing but the freshest regional produce and whose repertoire is full and imaginative.

For more information about Saint Louis and her two cruise routes, please visit our website or contact us here.   back to top

Secrets of The Shipyard
La Belle Epoque in the Dry Dock
La Belle Epoque, barge cruises in Burgundy France

These shots were taken in November 2006 when we needed to do La Belle Epoque's 4 yearly hull survey.

This time we chose the De Schroef yard in Sluiskil, Holland, which has a very substantial slipway arrangement. Every winter we work on our barges. They are made of iron and are extremely strong with the oldest, dating from 1894, being La Dolce Vita in Italy.

La Belle Epoque is 128 feet long and weighs 200 tons. The shipyard can take 300 feet and 1000 tons, so we are small fry!

Place your mouse over each image to see a decription, and use the controls to navigate between images.
The slideshow should automatically move between images every few seconds.

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Anjodi, barge cruises in Provence France

Chef Louis ties the knotWe're happy to announce that our most famous chef, Louis Dutton, got married to his beautiful wife Rosalind a couple of months ago in Shakespeare's town of Stratford-on-Avon.

If you are a fan of the Rick Stein French Odyssey TV programme, you may remember Louis taking Rick Stein to his favourite restaurant "Lou Pescadou" in Agde. When asked by Rick why he became a chef, Louis' classic and modest response was that he "loved eating"!

Having received raving compliments from Rick during a filmed cookery demonstration on board Anjodi, when offering to cater for the film crew, he was surprised when all they wanted was "bangers and mash"!

Although we must lose Louis from the ranks of the great Go Barging chefs, we wish him and Rosalind well in their new married life in England and congratulate anyone who finds themselves on the receiving end of Louis' culinary creativity in the future.


Here in the UK, our flower beds are getting ready for their winter rest, the leaves are falling and just a few roses and pansies stubbornly remain to provide colour among the bare shrubs and evergreens. The bulbs have been planted, the palms have been wrapped up in their protective coverings, the squirrels are busy burying their nuts and we're already hungrily scouring our gardening magazines for news of next year's big event, the Chelsea Flower Show!

Tickets are already on sale for this spectacular event (see January edition of Lock-keeper) which takes place between 22nd and 26th May 2007 and bookings are coming in for Actief and Magna Carta which offer cruise packages inclusive of tickets to the show.

If you are looking for a unique way to combine a short break in southern England with a visit to the Chelsea Flower Show, look no further than Go Barging! You'll need to act fast, though, as these cruises are very popular!

Another flower show not to be missed lasts only one day - it's the Bulb fields Flower Parade in Western Holland and takes place on Saturday 21st April 2007 between Noordwijk and Haarlem. Twenty floats decorated with hundreds of thousands of flower heads make their colourful and carnival-like progress through the bulbfield district starting at 9.30am in Noordwijk and finishing at 9pm in Haarlem. The procession goes through several villages, the route lined with cheering spectators and friends, accompanied by musical bands and accompanying cars also decorated with wonderful flower arrangements. The themes of the floats range from animals to fairy-tale monsters and characters, sphinxes, butterflies and bees, fish, pirate ships.


The most perfect place to stay to continue your holiday through the wonderful bulbfield district is the Savoir Faire, whose circular cruises start from Haarlem and continue along the peaceful waterways visiting Delft, Kinderdijk, Gouda and a host of charming locations in between.   back to top

Saint Louis, Bordeaux Wine cruises, France

Enjoying a glass of wine to celebrate the introduction of Saint Louis to the Go Barging fleet, we got chatting about the food and wine of the area.

Saint Louis cruises through an interesting and varied landscape, which yields a cornucopia of treasures. In the east it is hilly, in the west it is wooded, and in between its a flat area into which the many tributaries of the Garonne, flowing down from the Massif Central, have brought fertile soil.

With the favourable conditions of a very mild climate and a fertile alluvial soil, fruit and vegetables of high quality grow in abundance: peaches, apples, pears, grapes, tomatoes, asparagus, melons, aubergines and garlic.

One food speciality from the Saint Louis cruise region is Cassoulet, which is a very tasty dish consisting of haricot beans, goose confit, bacon rind and sausages. A favourite of Rick Stein's, this dish requires long, slow cooking and is ideally accompanied by a glass of Bordeaux wine!

Bordeaux is probably the most internationally well-known wine region of France, with the historic city of Bordeaux and the river Gironde at its western extremity, stretching out eastwards and southwards between the Garonne and the Dordogne rivers.

This large area produces more fine red wine than any other French region, with around 580 million bottles of red wine produced each year. Bordeaux reds divide themselves into "right" and "left" bank wines. On the left bank of the Gironde estuary the Cabernet Sauvignon grape dominates and the right bank is Merlot's stronghold. The key areas for Merlot-based wines are St-Emilion and Pomerol.

Having occupied 52% of the vineyard area in 1970, white wines now represent only 15% of the present 115,200 ha (284,500 acres) of vines. Dry, medium and sweet wines are all available and the most important white grapes are Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, which are usually blended together. Bordeaux's most famous whites are its sweet wines made from grapes affected by noble rot, particularly those from Sauternes and Barsac.

To learn more about the wines of Bordeaux, why not book a cruise on Saint Louis and see and learn everything first hand from your fascinating crew and the area's wine producers.

October CompetitionActief luxury barge cruises on the Royal river Thames, England

To help us celebrate the forthcoming 100th Birthday of Actief, our October competition featured Actief, cruising the Royal river Thames, England. You could win a cruise for two in a twin Stateroom onboard Actief in 2007 cruise by answering some easy multiple choice questions.

Find out who the lucky winner is; Actief cruise competition winner,   back to top

November Competition
The Scottish Highlander at Fort Augusts on Loch Ness

For our November Lockkeeper competition, answer the 3 questions based on Scottish Highlander's Christmas and New Year cruises with the prospect of winning a voucher entitling you to a discount of $500 (250) off the price of a cabin on a 2007 cruise aboard Scottish Highlander in April or May 2007.
Scottish Highlander competition.


We're on the count-down to Christmas now - the Christmas lights are up in town, Christmas music is playing in the shops and the adverts on TV for perfume, aftershave and workshop gadgets are stepping up!

Although it's only 4 weeks off, Dan, Captain of Scottish Highlander, has already placed his order for all that delicious Christmas and Hogmanay fare for the Christmas and New Year cruises where you can get away from all the commercialism, enjoy beautiful scenery and have everything done for you. There's still space if you would like to book!

Here is the second of our trilogy of articles on Festive traditions in Scotland - First Footing.

"First Footing" is a night-time door-to-door New Year tradition probably with origins deriving from the time of the ancient Celts. Custom dictates that at the run-up to midnight between the old and the new year, if you receive a visit from a "tall, dark stranger", bearing a lump of coal, a cake or a coin, you are assured of good luck and prosperity in the coming year.

It's very enjoyable, whether you are the first-footer or the person being visited!

The required physical attributes of prospective first footers are that they must be tall and dark-haired (and preferably male) and of such a calibre so as not to buckle under the obligations of the evening! The ability to pace oneself is of utmost importance as you'll see in a moment.

People who are still in a reasonable state of repair to be able to open their front door at midnight, on being faced with this tall dark stranger, invite him in, accept his gift/s and, in exchange, offer him food, wine or whisky (or maybe a concoction of ale, nutmeg and whisky). The first-footer definitely seems to have the better end of the deal and, as you can imagine, can become fairly inebriated after having visited just a few houses!

Why does the tall stranger have to be dark, I hear you ask? Well, apparently that dates back to the Viking raids on Scotland between the 4th and 12th centuries, where those blond Vikings were definitely "persona non grata", so, apologies to those fair-haired folk out there, but you're not "First Footer" material!

To be a first footer used to be, as you can see, a bit of a solitary role, but modern footers are often more fortunate, accompanied by a little band of groupies which makes perambulation around the houses a little easier with assistance being available in case the old legs give way!

Find out more about our Scottish Highlander Christmas and New Year cruises here.

Next month: Auld Lang Syne   back to top

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 41st 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 December 2006, so we'll see you then.

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