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


Hello ,

welcome to the October edition of the lock-keeper.

well, summer is almost gone and we are well into our end of season on the European waterways.

Its a time of mixed emotion, the end of a good 2004 season on the canals and rivers, but the beginning of a well earned rest to look forward to. However, we won't be sitting by the fire and thinking of past glories - not for too long anyway. There's plenty of work to be done over the winter months to follow.

This year was a great success. The weather stayed fine all year, even in Scotland, where we had our best year ever for bookings.

As the winter draws closer we are beginning to close departure dates for this season and start our annual winter refurbishment program - more on this later. As well as all the practical work, we are also busy with next year's bookings.

The traditional season for whole boat charters being booked for the following year is from September until March. With probably half the charter bookings coming by Christmas. For 2005 we are well ahead of the last two years at this point and fingers crossed the pattern will continue. So book early to guarantee that space!

In this month's lockkeeper, we announce our Burgundy wine winners and we have a great new competition to win a cruise for two aboard Actief, cruising the upper Thames in England.

We talk to our La Dolce Vita Venice cruise winner who tells us that life really does begin at 50..! There are various news items and offers, so, please read on and enjoy the October lock-keeper.

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

in this issue:

Winter work

Dolce Vita winner's surprise

Actief cruise

Burgundy wine winner


back issues:

january 04

february 04

march 04

april 04

may 04

june 04

july 04

august 04

september 04

(please note that past competitions are now closed)

visit our website

Winter maintenance
Every barge will have some work. There's always painting and re-varnishing, checking over the plumbing and electrical systems, winter engine maintenance, re-carpeting and so on.

Virtually all our barges carry three engines and some four. In addition to the main propulsion engine there is sometimes a bow thruster for manoeuvring around the tight bends, generators to provide power for heating and air-conditioning and complex battery charging systems for silent night-time running.

Our team of mechanical and electrical engineers gradually check everything out, replacing worn parts and carry out a series of preventive maintenance schedules which help ensure there are no surprises during the next season.

Impressionniste and La Belle Epoque upgrades.

For 2005 both La Belle Epoque and L'Impressionniste will have their 'fitness studio' converted into a 'Chartroom'.

cycle alongside La Belle EpoqueThis space has always been under utilised, and we have found clients happier taking one of the barge's 18 speed all terrain bikes along the tow path , a healthier and more interesting prospect, than a static ride below decks.

Over the last 2 years we have been asking our clients what they think we should best use this space for and this valuable feedback has greatly helped us make the decision.

La Belle EpoqueIn its new guise, the Chartroom will have dual roles; A source of local and regional maps,books and periodicals with a pair of comfortable leather arm chairs for those who want a quiet, out of the way spot to catch up with some reading or research.
This primary role will add to the passenger living space... allowing the chance to slip away for a quiet read or snooze.

La Belle Epoque saloonWith groups of 10-20 we are sometimes asked to provide a guest speaker or specialist guide.

Both La Belle Epoque and L'Impressionniste's cruising regions lend themselves to our special interest theme cruise charters, such as walking, biking, wine & vineyards, and painting.

During these cruises which are sometimes run in tandem with our 8 passenger vessels l'Art de Vivre in Burgundy and Anjodi in Provence, our barges can carry the maximum number of guests and now allow space for the Tour leader or guest speaker to be lodged on board.

Actief refurbishment program:

  • Air con throughout - we already have a super silent generator (installed last winter)
  • All bathrooms enlarged and refurbished with floor tiles, larger basins, new showers, trays, tiling and sliding shower doors, new extractor fans and where appropriate, new shelving
  • Cabin doorways heightened and upgraded doors and furniture
  • Cabin shelves upgraded to hardwood
  • Extra sockets in all bedrooms
  • All cabins re-decorated in country house style, each room with its own personality
  • Re-carpeting throughout
  • Astor suite to be completely rebuilt giving particularly large bathroom and twin/double option
  • We will be looking at the possibility of lower window and front door replacement
  • Actief will adopt the EW fleet colours
In addition, we will be reviewing Actief's itineraries, menus and wine selections
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La Dolce Vita cruise winner
Sometimes, just sometimes, strange coincidences occur. We chose Christina Tarantelli as our La Dolce Vita winner only to find out that she has a really good reason to celebrate, and continue celebrating.

Christina told us, ' I had looked into GoBarging's vacations earlier this year, because I turned 50 in May, and wanted to vacation with friends & family to celebrate! So far this year I have vacationed in London, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico. I also have trips planned to Breckenridge, Colorado, and Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia.

I am thrilled about having this opportunity to enjoy a vacation aboard La Dolce Vita! I have travelled extensively over the last several years, but have never travelled on a barge!. I definitely wanted to take another trip to Europe as part of my 50th birthday celebration, and this will be perfect!'

There is also another co-incidence invlolved. It turns out that Christina's sister Karen also turns fifty next year, so Christina has Invited Karen to join her on La Dolce Vita. Furthermore as Christina says 'The fact that we will be in Italy is very exciting, because our entire family lived in Milan, Italy for 2 years when we were teenagers. I have had a chance to return to Italy since then, but my sister has not. So this will be a 'homecoming' of sorts for her!'. We really couldn't have chosen a better winner, now could we...?

Christina (2nd from right) and family celeberating in El Yunque Rainforest in Puerto Rico Christina, pictured here (2nd from right) celebrating in El Yunque Rainforest in Puerto Rico, is a very interesting person it turns out.

She lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (the state capital) and works for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as an Adminstrative Law Judge, handling workers' compensation matters.
She told the lockkeeper, 'Law is actually my second career. After college, I worked as a retail shoe store manager for 12 years. I was able to see a lot of the US because I was transferred 14 times! I suppose that's why I love to visit new places! I discovered my aptitude for law strictly by accident, when I signed up for an adult education class in paralegal studies. I decided to complete the entire course of study, became a paralegal, then decided to enter law school at the ripe old age of 35! After 4 years of night school, I graduated, passed the bar, and began working for the state. A year later I was appointed a judge.

I've been travelling quite extensively for the last 3 years and visited Europe 5 times in 2002 alone! Other than Italy, my favorite destination was Africa! I was there last Fall with a team of 40 people from my church, working on construction of a medical dispensary for a small Masai village in Tanzania.

The experience was inspiring! The Masai people are wonderful! We were rewarded with a 2-day safari in Tarangire National Park and Ngorongo Crater! Breathtaking, really!'

Christina hasn't finished travelling this year either, 'I'll be travelling to Zurich, Switzerland over the Thanksgiving holiday with my friend Carol Swendsen, who also has lived in Europe.

This will be a very economical vacation! We used our frequent flyer miles to get our airline tickets, and are staying in Zurich with a friend of Carol's who runs a coffee shop! If we are lucky, we might even get a chance to work in the shop.'

Enjoy your cruise next year Christina.

If you have a big celebration approaching,
why not celebrate in style with GoBarging..? La Dolce Vita cruises past Venice and the famous Piazza San Marco with its Campanile bell tower, click here to visit La Dolce Vita
click on the photo to visit La Dolce Vita

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Actief cruise competition

Actief cruises the magnificent upper Thames
We have recently completed three new photo galleries for Actief, showing various views of Actief on the river, a sightseeing gallery which captures some of the interesting things you will see during your cruise, and a gallery of scenes on or around the river Thames itself.Actief

To celebrate our new Actief photo galleries, we have a new cruise prize to offer.

To win a cruise on Actief in 2005 we will ask you to visit our Actief galleries and then answer some simple questions.

As usual, the winner will be announced in next month's lockkeeper.

What does Actief's route offer..? Here's a list which we think sums it up....
  1. A cruise route in the heart of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  2. Idyllic scenery with medieval villages and outstanding country homes
  3. Probably the cleanest major river in Europe, along with very extensive flora and fauna, particularly wildfowl
  4. Villages, islands and backwaters
  5. Dramatically changing scenery from grassy meadowlands to steeply wooded banks
  6. Fashionable towns en-route that form part of the English summer 'social scene'
  7. Frequent events such as local regattas
  8. Pageantry such as Swan-Upping
  9. Various traditional craft events
  10. Excellent itinerary including private tours and exclusive moorings
Enter the Actief cruise competition here

Burgundy wine competition

fine Burgundy wines
In last month's Lockkeeper, we hopefully gave you a taste for Burgundy cruising and our September competition offered the chance to win a case or two of fine Burgundy wines.

All you had to do was take a tour around Burgundy via our photo galleries, learn about Burgundy wine in our wine pages and answer a few simple questions.

There was plenty of interest as usual, so thanks to all who entered. We announce the
Belle Epoque Burgundy wine winners here.

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The Magna Carta Christmas and New Year cruise itinerary is now available. This cruise runs from 23rd December though to the 2nd of January 2005. A new and exciting way to spend the Festive holiday season.

Try our 6 week Trans European Cruise departing 6th November 2005 to 17th December 2005 from Avignon to Amsterdam on board our luxury hotel barge L'Impressionniste. Available for charter groups of 8-12 passengers or individual bookings, subject to availability.

Our new 2005 rates and departure dates are now available on our individual barge rates pages.

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. There will also be some spot prizes for good submissions...What would you like to read about next month..??

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 fourteenth 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 November, 2004, so we'll see you then.

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