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


Hello,

welcome to the October edition of the Lock-keeper.

This month in the lock-keeper, we have an introduction to our latest barge Bonne Humeur which cruises Western Burgundy and the Upper Loire. This beautifully equipped hotel barge has four spacious suites with great en-suite bathrooms, and with a crew of 5 and a cruise route along the most ancient man made water way in France, this is the no 1 vessel for the discerning traveller and friends.!

We taste a sample of the good life on board La Dolce Vita and relive a fabulous cruise aboard the Scottish Highlander with Steve Gogh.

We discuss the wonderful fine wines of Burgundy and in this month's competition we give you the opportunity to win a fantastic cruise aboard our luxury barge La Belle Epoque travelling through that very region.

We reveal the winner of the Go Barging Photographic competition, which has been a great success. The standard of the photography was very high indeed as I'm sure you will agree.

We also announce the winner of September's Spectacular Scotland competition and finish with the usual round up of travel and cruise news.

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:

Bonne Humeur

The Sweet Life

Scottish Highlander

Burgundy Revisited

Book Competition Winners

Cruise Competition

Photo Competition winner

Cruise News

back issues:

Archive

May 07

June 07

July 07

Aug 07

sep 07

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



Bonne Humeur (now Renaissance)
Our newest barge Cruising the Upper Loire and Western Burgundy

About Bonne Humeur ... For the 2008 season, Bonne Humeur will sport her new European Waterways exterior livery, a refitted interior which will delight the most discerning passenger. Improvements include a new galley, a re-floored forward deck with roof extension for dining al fresco, an expanded, "guest-friendly" wheelhouse, upgraded suites and an additional silent generator.

La Bonne Humeur salon features a Bose CD system, a cozy bar, and great library, providing the amenities of a yacht on one of the most beautiful canals in France.Cruise Route. In 2008, the well established cruise route will include cruising on the River Seine, the Canal de Loing and the ancient Canal du Briare with stops in the beautiful towns of Samois-sur-Seine, St Mammes, Nemours, Nargis and Rogny les Sept Ecluses.

In keeping with its tradition over the years, European Waterways has engaged an outstanding, experienced crew that will continue to keep Bonne Humeur's guests cheering about the care and enthusiasm the crew bestow on their guests during a fabulous cruise week in the Upper Loire and Western Burgundy regions.

Bonne Humeur accommodates up to eight passengers in ultimate luxury. The beautifully appointed lounge has comfortable seating. A cosy bar is stocked with your favourites and bookshelves contain a Bose CD system, current books, and up-to-date periodicals and magazines. She has 4 suites, which can be configured as twins or doubles. Each has a 60ft sq private bathroom. Bonne Humeur has a sundeck with Jacuzzi and bicycles for clients use.


Deck plan includes cabins on the lower deck and an upper deck with salon, dining room, and sun deck.

Cabin A - Moliere Cabin B - Dumas Cabin C - Hugo Cabin D - Voltaire

Year 2008 Rates in US Dollars per person

Season

Value Season
6th-19th Apr & 19th-25th Oct

Regular Season
20th April - 18th Oct

Individual Cabin Bookings:
(Two Cabins Minimum Booking)

Single Supplement


$4,750

$1,750


$6,000

$ 2,250

Charter for up to 6 guests

Charter for up to 7 guests

Charter for up to 8 guests

$35,000

$36,500

$38,000

$44,000

$46,000

$48,000




Bonne Humeur
Our newest barge Cruising the Upper Loire and Western Burgundy

Itinerary: Samois-sur-Seine to Rogny-Les-Sept-Ecluses

Sunday
We collect you from Paris at 1.30pm for the drive by private, air-conditioned minibus to Bonne Humeur moored in the colourful river-side village of Samois-Sur-Seine on the peaceful wide reaches of the River Seine. A champagne reception awaits you before a short cruise on the river takes us to our first overnight mooring in the bustling waterside village of St. Mammes. The cruise today includes the passage through one of the mighty River locks on the Seine - capable of holding up to 8 barges the size of Bonne Humeur at a time.
Monday
Our cruise schedule continues this morning as we enter the Canal de Loing to begin the ascent of the locks which lead up to the summit level of the canal. Our excursion today is to the glorious Chateau Vaux le Vicomte - setting for the film "The Man in the Iron Mask". The chateau has a fascinating history - which provided the inspiration for the film made there - and the visit includes a chance to walk in the gardens which are widely regarded as some of the best formal gardens in France. Our mooring tonight is in the town of Nemours on the Canal de Loing.

Tuesday
A morning cruise takes us to an idyllic mooring at Beau Moulins where we pause for lunch before visiting the town of Moret Sur Loing - the medieval walled city famed as the home of the impressionist painter Sisley. Our local guide will help you explore the charming town where the River Loing flows into the River Seine. The church here inspired the style of the Cathedral de Notre Dame in Paris and the scenery of the many authentic town houses and narrow streets are an inspiration for painters to this day. Our mooring tonight will be in the quite hamlet of Nargis on the Canal de Loing.

Wednesday
Our day begins with a morning excursion to the hill-top medieval town of Chateau Landon with its 10th-12th century church and fortified battlements. The town is best seen from an open vehicle, so today we ride into town by horse drawn carriage before stopping in the town centre to explore the narrow alleyways and reinforced battlements of the city. After lunch, our cruise continues to the pretty waterside village of Cepoy on the Canal de Loing where we moor in plenty of time for a pre-dinner stroll or cycle.

Thursday
Today we join the Canal de Briare at Montargis - regional capital of "the Gatinais" - with its flower bedecked bridges and a network of miniature canals which once fed the walled city with produce. A morning excursion to the town is the perfect opportunity to take in a little souvenir shopping in this bustling market town, to visit the world famed "Mazet" Pralines shop or simply to sit and watch the locals going about their business. Our cruise today takes us past the town of Montargis and on to the village of Montbouy - renowned as one of the prettiest villages on this stretch of the canal. Our mooring tonight will be in the shadow of the splendid 12th century village church in Montbouy on the Canal de Briare.

Friday
An early start is in store for those who would like to see a traditional country market, since Chef will be off the barge early today to pick up freshly grown vegetables and local cheeses for this evening's farewell dinner. Our final cruise takes us to one of the oldest canal side villages in Burgundy, Rogny-Les-Sept-Ecluses, where a staircase of seven locks (now adopted as a French National Monument) stand as a testimony to the 500 year history of the canal. Our final excursion takes us to a privately owned Loire Valley Chateau - the Chateau de La Bussiere - for a guided tour and a visit to the splendid vegetable gardens (which supplies the vegetables for the local Michelin starred restaurant). Since we are also now moored on the borders of the Burgundy and Loire regions, our visit to the chateau will be rounded off with a private tasting of some of the regions best known and most popular wines. Our mooring tonight will be in the village of Rogny-Les-Sept-Ecluses on the Canal de Briare where we enjoy a celebration farewell dinner hosted by your barge Captain.

Saturday
After breakfast, we return to a central Paris drop off location. You should expect to arrive in Paris before midday.

visit Bonne Humeur
or contact us today about a cruise on Bonne Humeur.  back to top




The Sweet Life


La Dolce Vita, Venice, Italy

Susan Pigg - Associate Travel Editor

VENICE, ITALY - Daniel Sak looks right at home manning the kitchen - and the ropes - of La Dolce Vita, even if this 110-year-old Dutch barge doesn't look quite like she belongs among the dozens of sleek water taxis and multi-million-dollar yachts jockeying for space in the bustling lagoon. Sak, a self-confessed "water gypsy," is on what might be considered a busman's holiday. Better yet, a boatman's holiday.

When he heard through the barge grapevine that La Dolce Vita was in need of a chef for a week, he decided to take a break from his regular job - as chef on his own France-based barge - to see the "City of Bridges" from the water.

"I've been hearing about this boat going through Venice, and the first three days have been stunning," says Sak, 35. "I've been to Venice before, but you see it so differently on a barge. The little fishing villages, being mixed in with all this life that's going on around Venice in boats - it's been spectacular. It's been fantastic not seeing a car for days."

Sak was just six when his mother moved his family onto a barge in Amsterdam, beginning a lifelong adventure on the water that would carry him through much of Holland and France before setting him down on the shores of the 17th-century Canal du Midi, one of the most spectacular waterways in the world. Since 2001 he's been navigating his six-passenger boutique boat, Tango, through southern France (his mother runs its sister ship, Fandango) while serving up a feast of gourmet Mediterranean food, Languedoc wines and regional history from the barge's open galley.

"Barging is the ideal vacation for those who really want to relax but see a bit of the country at the same time. It's a lot more personal than on a cruise ship - a lot more intimate," says Sak. "And there's nothing like enjoying great wine and incredible food while sailing past fantastic scenery."

La Dolce Vita is a rarity in Italy on many fronts. While dozens of these converted cargo ships have been cruising France for decades, making it the barging capital of the world, they are almost non-existent here. In fact, La Dolce Vita is touted to be the only hotel barge plying Venice's legendary waters and, from its black-and-red hull to its diminutive captain - the only Italian male for miles who would dare to wear a sou'wester - this 21-metre tub certainly is a standout in a crowd.

Today it's carrying a full load - three crew and three couples - on a seven-day Italian journey that will meander around historic Venice and up the Brenta River, although navigating through the famous Grand Canal will be done on a much smaller water taxi.

Between brief sightseeing tours of San Marco Square and Doge's Palace, shopping excursions and a trip to market with the chef, there will be stops at the islands of Burano (famous for its intricate lace and colourful fishermen's houses), Torcello (the first island to be colonized 2,000 years ago), Murano (a must-see for its famous blown glass) as well as at San Giorgio and Lido where there will be memorable snapshots of the locals swimming at sunset and warm encounters with characters such as bartender Anna at the aptly named Bar da Anna.

"The best thing is that we're not leaving a very big carbon footprint. It's better than a car," says passenger Pippa Pettigrew of New Zealand, on her first visit to Venice with her husband Peter, as La Dolce Vita eases up the Brenta River, past willow trees, waving children, curious locals and grand villas created by some of Italy's most famous architects as summer showcases for Venetian nobility.




The Sweet Life

La Dolce Vita, Venice, Italy

The Brenta River, once a critical route for transporting goods, produce and people from the countryside into Venice via horse-drawn boats, is more a relaxing break from the bustle of Venice than a spectacular waterway in itself. But its numerous old swing bridges, locks, tiny villages and ostentatious country villas - especially the 18th century Villa Pisani with its magnificent baroque façade, sprawling gardens, elaborate frescos and fascinating history (it was owned briefly by Napoleon) - are all pleasant diversions and completely lacking in crowds. A fleet of bikes on board make a jaunt beside the slow-moving barge, or a quick trek into villages along the way, a pleasant break. Although even that proved to be too much effort for this easy-going crowd.

"I may have touched a bike, but only to stabilize myself," jokes retired Connecticut businessman Dick Van Horn, on his second barge trip with wife Irene. The real fun comes in sharing stories and sipping Campari and soda decktop while glimpsing everyday life in Italy. Or breaking bread over delicious regional specialties cooked up by Sak with local ingredients not usually part of his French fare. Thankfully, steward Karim Bekkous, 30, is all too willing to steer Sak on the straight and narrow - and jump onto shore for critical supplies, such as Campari.

"Now that's customer service," laughs Irene Van Horn as she watches the captain nose the barge toward shore at the tiny town of Mira so Bekkous can leap off the boat, nip into a shop for a bottle of the Italian aperitif and bound back onto La Dolce Vita from the deck of another boat, all in the time it takes for our barge to pass through a swing bridge.

"It was dangerous, but I did it," says Karim with a smirk, onboard for just two weeks after 14 years in the hotel industry. "It's not much different, except for having to be careful not to bang your head." He also proved invaluable at helping Sak navigate in the galley.

"My challenge was to do Italian - and that means three courses (rather than the four he serves in France)," says Sak. "The first night I was about to serve a fish entrée and then a meat dish and Karim said, `No, no no. In Italy, never.' It's either all fish or all meat. It's been a real challenge to do typical Italian as much as possible."

It's that personal touch - along with local food, fine wine and, usually, a deep insider knowledge of the barging route - that has made canal cruising so popular, says "The Barge Lady," Ellen Sack.She has been helping tourists book excursions on barges carrying anywhere from just four to 50 people in France, Holland, Germany, Ireland, England and Scotland for more than two decades (although 95 per cent of her booking are in France, she notes.)

"I say to people, `Banish all thoughts of cruising from your mind. This is totally different,'" says Sack, having just returned from a week-long barging excursion through Burgundy. "The thing about barges is they don't go very far. Our average itinerary is 30 to 50 miles (48 to 80 kilometres) in a week. You can walk faster than the boat floats. They're for people who are looking to get out of the cities and see Europe from a different point of view."

Many barge owners, such as Sak and his mother, Hazel Young, have lovingly converted these old barges into luxury hotels. The 80-year old Tango and Fandango, for instance, have been meticulously restored in the style of 1930s French passenger liners with antique mahogany, brass portholes and six tonnes of handmade tiles which provide both needed ballast and unique splashes of colour.

The open galley makes a welcome gathering point for both crew and passengers, not to mention a great wine-tasting spot in an area of France best known for just that. La Dolce Vita is far more rustic, with a charm all its own and somewhat tight, but efficient, sleeping quarters, largely because it's just 21 metres compared to the usual 30 or even 38-metre barges that sail the rest of Europe.

"You come on a barge to get away, to go back 100 years, to go somewhere different. You don't want to be anywhere near modern life." Taken from an article in the Toronto Star.

Visit La Dolce Vita or contact us today about a cruise in Italy  back to top




Scottish Highlander The Scottish Highlander

Steve Goch Remembers...

Steve and Sally Goch on cruise'My late wife Sally,and I worked in the aerospace industry, where we met and married 29 years ago. We have lived in the San Fernando Valley in California since then.

I work for a multinational company as the Program Manager on the new Airbus A380's fire detection system.

We have discovered that cruising fits our lifestyle perfectly, and try to do a few a year. We have worked our way down in size from the QE2 to river cruise ships, and finally to the Scottish Highlander which we enjoyed immensely.

Our next cruises will take us to the Caribbean where I will be exploring Mayan ruins, and in February we will cruise to Antarctica. We are both scotch drinkers, and my wife has acquired a taste for single malts, especially for the Oban 14 that was presented to me on the Scottish Highlander - Thanks GoBarging.'

Some highlights of Steve's Scottish Highlander adventure.......

Caledonian Canal Cruise: August 2004

It started as some of our trips do, with Sally asking a simple question. She asked if there were any river cruises in England. I just happened to have a brochure for European River Barges in our bookcase, and after looking at the itinerary, we thought it would be a nice thing to do.

The Scottish Highlander is small enough to negotiate the locks, and has a complement of 8 passengers and 4 crew. The barge sails down the Caledonian Canal from Inverness to Fort William. The canal itself was built in the 1800's to allow fishing boats to go from one coast of Scotland to the other without having to go around the northern tip where the weather was bad.

I am interested in trains, and one of the most picturesque trips is the West Highland Line that goes from Fort William to Mallaig on the West Coast of Scotland. The highlight is passing over the Glenfinnan Viaduct near Fort William.

The viaduct, with its 23 concrete arches, and the steam train 'the Jacobite' recently featured in the Harry Potter movies.

The Glenfinnan viaduct

We had an afternoon flight from LA to London Heathrow, then a flight from Gatwick direct to Inverness - the pick-up point for the Highlander. We arrived a day early, so I dug out my Single Malt Scotch books, and found a distillery named Glenmorangie just north of Inverness. I got on their web site and got directions and train schedules.

Glemorangie stills - the highest in Scotland

The next morning I headed out to the train station to catch the train to Tain, where the Glenmorangie distillery was located. I arrived at the distillery, and they had my name down for the 12:30 tour.

It was quite interesting, and this distillery has the highest stills in Scotland. After the tour we were taken to the tasting room to taste some of the product. Since I had tasted most of their products, I opted for a scotch that had been matured in casks that had held Burgundy wine, and liked it quite a bit.

visit the Scottish Highlander




The Scottish Highlander cont'd The Scottish Highlander

The next day we moved our luggage to the Glenmorriston Hotel to be picked up for the cruise. While waiting in the lounge, we met 2 fellow passengers, Mike and Mary Beth, who were from Florida, and we hit it off with them. I turned out they had worked for a company that made amateur radio equipment, and since I was a "ham" radio operator, I was quite familiar with it. We met the other two couples, Ken and Char and Dick and Pat, who were friends and were from the Chicago area. We were then met by Kirsten, who would be our driver and guide during the trip.
The Scottish Highlander moored overnight below Urquhart castle
The trip to Fort William from Inverness was to be about 2 hours, so we broke it up in the middle by visiting Urquhart Castle. When Sally and I toured the castle over 10 years ago, there was just a little trailer that sold tickets and a paper guidebook. There was now a visitor center, with elevator, and a large gift shop. The castle was as we remembered, and I toured the various parts of it, including the tower.

We were then take to Fort William to board the Scottish Highlander. We were greeted by Geoff the skipper, Davina the housekeeper, and last but certainly not least, Tommy our chef. After our champagne welcome, I was presented with a bottle of Oban 14 year old malt, my lockkeeper competition prize.

After getting settled in our cabin, which was more spacious than I had expected, we had a briefing from Geoff about our plans for the next day. He had a super map of the canal, and being a collector of maps, I was greatly interested in it. He explained where we would be going the following day, and what we would see.

We then sat at the dining area table for dinner, and Tommy came out and explained what he had prepared, and the wines that would accompany the meal. I also noticed that they were carrying some 10 single malts, and never having tasted some of them, I planned to sample them during the cruise.

Glencoe - scene of the massacre of the MacDonaldsThe next morning we set out with Kirsten driving and acting as our guide. Our first stop was at Glen Coe, called the "Vale of Weeping" because of the massacre of the MacDonalds while they were sleeping. The worst part of this was it happened after they had given their hospitality to the people who killed them.

From there we were taken to Loch Sheil, where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard to unite the clans against the English. There is a monument in the form of a tower with a figure of him at the top. We then climbed a hill on a 30 degree footpath that reversed itself half way to the top. Upon reaching the top, there was a great view of the Glenfinnan Viaduct! Unfortunately, we had to leave before the Jacobite steam train would pass over it.

We then returned to the barge for a great lunch and dinner. Before every meal Tommy would come out of the galley and tell us what the appetizer, main course, cheeses and wines would be. At the end of the cruise we were presented with a paper that listed all the meals, wines and cheeses that we were served!

the Commando memorial at Spean BridgeLater, we went to the Commando Memorial in Spean Bridge. This was an area used during the war to train commandos. There was also a Commando Museum nearby where the Victoria Cross citations were displayed. The Victoria Cross is the equivalent of our Medal of Honor.

Too soon, on Saturday, after our last meal on the barge, (sob) we were taken to the Inverness train station. Sally summed up the trip by saying," I am only sorry I do not have this trip to look forward to".

Contact us today about a cruise in Scotland.

visit the Scottish Highlander    back to top

  



Burgundy Revisited Luxury barge cruising in Burgundy aboard La Belle Epoque, France

Burgundy produces wine of magnificent complexity from only two grape varieties, writes Jonathan Ray in the Telegraph.

With one grape variety, Pinot Noir, for red and one, Chardonnay, for white, Burgundy should be the easiest of all regions to get to grips with. In fact, as any Burgundy lover will tell you, it would take a lifetime to understand its complexities, variations and nuances. Each time I visit this bewitching region, I learn something new. And, of course, the more I learn, the more I realise how little I know. In any other subject, this semi-ignorance would be deeply frustrating, but since the only way to learn more is to drink more, it is, in fact, rather marvellous.

So here I am in Beaune, in the heart of the Côte d'Or, conducting some serious research, with the best part of a bottle of Paul Pillot's 2004 St Aubin inside me and one of Louis Jadot's 2001 Beaune Theurons in front of me. I hasten to add that I'm not drinking alone, but with my old friend and Burgundy fanatic, Master of Wine David Roberts. He is here on a recce and I have tagged along for a Burgundian refresher course.

We have arrived towards the end of the harvest. It has been an early vintage, similar in style to 2002, which was a cracker. The yields are down on average, with smaller berries than usual, and a cold, humid July led to some rot but otherwise the fruit was picked in perfect condition.

"I love so many things about Burgundy," sighs David. "It is such a romantic region and such a pretty one. The drive between Dijon and Beaune is a real joy, with all the vineyards laid out before you. It is far easier to grasp the topography here than in Bordeaux, where the vineyards are much more widely spread. And the people here are so passionate.

"They call Pinot Noir the heartbreak grape, because it is so vulnerable and tricky to grow, but the growers know their terroir backwards and are very hands-on, with small vineyards of only 6.5 hectares on average."

We start our trip by heading north out of Beaune towards Chambolle-Musigny, an appellation known for elegant wines full of finesse and pure raspberry fruit. There are barely 180 hectares under vine in the whole appellation, which is tiny when you consider that, in Bordeaux, Château Lafite alone boasts more than half that.

We visit Chambolle's only female winemaker, Ghislaine Barthod, and her partner and fellow winemaker, Louis Boillot. Accompanied by their dog Pinot (what else?), we try some juicy 2006 Chambolle-Musignys and weighty Gevrey-Chambertins from the barrel.

In Morey-St Denis we visit Domaine Dujac, which has enjoyed a meteoric rise since its foundation in 1967, and Clos de Tart, a single vineyard of 7.5ha, which is one of the most famous Grand Cru estates in the Côte de Nuits.

At Dujac we taste a number of 2006s from the barrel and, as a reward for our diligence, finish with a bottle of spicy, gamey and perfumed 1997 Clos de la Roche. David is thrilled.

"1997 didn't get folk that excited at the time," he says. "But taste it - it's wonderful. I would argue that there's always more complexity in a mature Burgundy from a slightly less good vintage than there is in Bordeaux, which can just taste disappointing."




At Clos de Tart, winemaker Sylvain Pithiot says that the key to Pinot Noir is to have old vines. "The average in this vineyard is around 60 years old," he says.

"And just like us, assuming we've not had too many cigarettes, women or late nights, vines are at their peak then."

We taste a barrel sample produced from vines at the top of the vineyard and one from the bottom. Same grape, soil, climate and winemaker, but they taste entirely different.

Pithiot smiles. "Pinot Noir has an extraordinary relationship with the soil," he says. "As you can see, one part of the vineyard gives elegance, the other gives weight and power. Nowhere else on earth does Pinot show such complexity as it does in Burgundy.

"I've had many fine examples from the New World, but I don't believe they exhibit such finesse and elegance."

We spend the next day and a half criss-crossing the region, visiting a dozen or so producers and tasting magnificent white Burgundies such as Puligny-Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet, and St Aubin, and further reds from Savigny-lès-Beaune, Vosne-Romanée, Echézeaux and Pommard.

After a while they begin to merge in my mind. Heaven alone knows how David can differentiate between them and write the absorbing, cogent notes that he does.

Our final visit is to Louis Jadot, in Beaune. Here we taste some 40 red wines and 20 whites. I finally crack and beg winemaker Jacques Lardière for mercy. I'm so confused, I whine. I can tell they are different, but can't tell why.

"Don't listen to me, listen to the wine," he says, roaring with laughter. "Pinot Noir and Chardonnay possess some 1,500 different flavours between them. What makes them similar is their minerality, from deep in the soil, from what I call the power supply. What makes them different is the topsoil, the microclimate and the methods of production.

"But relax," he adds. "I didn't make them for you to agonise over, I made them for you to enjoy." .

Our barge La Belle Epoque cruises through delightful Burgundy and offers a very special wine cruise for anyone interested in sampling the regions finest wines while enjoying a luxury barging.experience.

visit La Belle-Epoque wine cruise page .   contact us today about a cruise in Burgundy.   back to top




September Book Competition winnerLuxury barge cruises on TheScottish Highlander

For our September Lockkeeper competition we had a hard back copy of Spectacular Scotland by James Gracie to give away..

Find out who the lucky winner is;

Spectacular Scotland competition winner,

 

October Cruise Competition

We have a great new competition for October.


You can win a cruise for two on La Belle Epoque, cruising in Burgundy, during early season 2008.

All you have to do is visit our La Belle Epoque competition page, answer a few simple questions and enter the competition


  back to top




Photographic Competition

is it E.T.Thank you everyone who took the time to send photographs in. They were of a very high standard as you can see and it was very difficult to choose a winner.

Is it E.T...? Submitted by Paul and Lynn Adams, Australia, who write; In Sydney, Australia, a couple were having a problem with the plumbing of their house just before going on a barging holiday. They phoned a plumber, only to be told that he had gone on holidays, but someone else could be sent to fix it. Happily, they left on their holiday, a cruise on the "Nymphea" in the Loire Valley. There were two other couples on the passenger list, coincidentally both from Australia, but none had previously met. It was a great cruise, everone got on well and Leigh and Rebecca made sure we had a great time. During the course of conversation one evening, the subject of occupations arose, and you guessed it, the holidaying plumber was aboard!

Both pictures below were submitted by W. Tom Sawyer Bangor, Maine, USA. Senator Sawyer writes, "sorry to deluge you with so many of our photos taken during WONDERFUL cruises with you; but these hold very special places in our hearts... even compared to extraordinary cruises circumnavigating NZ, the UK, and sailings all around the MED and Baltic. Here're several recordings of the cherised cruise along the Thames with you. Hopefully, one will stir your heart as much as ours. Even the "clowning crew" generates hundreds of very fond memories... "

a happy crew and a perfect setting

These were some of the wonderful photographs sent in by clients. However, someone has to win and here is the winning photograph sent in by Bonnie Goren, I am sure you will agree that it is simply stunning. Bonnie writes Our holiday on the Nymphea stands out from all our travel in many ways. The beauty of the scenery, the wines and food, the good company (including the fabulous staff), visiting chateau and gardens, relaxing, all the pleasures of living and traveling on the water, I could go on and on. I just revisited the hundreds of interesting photos from our trip on the Nymphea and debated on sending you the best 10 to 20 that would show you a sample of the extent of our experiences (and enjoyment of them...) or trying to pick just one that you might be interested in selecting as the winning photo.

I don't know if my decision was the right one - but the attached image is one that delights everyone who sees it in our home. We enlarged it, framed and hung it. And since so many people comment on it, we have the fun of telling folks about our journey.

We love how this picture reminds us of waking up on the Nymphea with another perfect day stretched in front of us. We love the idea of the living history and beauty displayed in this serene scene, with a combination of architecture and nature, and the water.

Thanks once again to all who sent in photographs and congratulations to Bonnie.   back to top



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News

**NEW** Fly direct from London Heathrow to the US with Air France and Delta

Air France is delighted to launch a new daily service from London Heathrow to Los Angeles in April 2008. In addition, you will also be able to fly to New York twice a day and Atlanta daily with Delta Airlines from London Heathrow.

Air France has strengthened its partnership with Delta Airlines in order to offer you more destinations than ever in the USA, with direct flights from London Heathrow giving you more options to travel.

The magnificent Loire Valley has now been listed by UNESCO in its World Heritage.

The astonishing originality of the valley thus gains official recognition for the stretch of 260 km from Sully-sur-Loire to Chalonnes-sur-Loire.

You know the châteaux of the Loire. now discover their magnificent setting. It is these cultural landscapes that have recently been listed by UNESCO. The river is as much a part of these landscapes as the valley, for although it has been developed over the centuries by those who live along its banks, it has never been spoiled. These landscapes played their role in one of the high points in European culture: during the Renaissance, the influence of Italy and the Mediterranean met with those of France and Flanders here in the region.

And what, do you think, was the most original contribution of this Renaissance period? Its gardens - no longer merely useful, they now became beautiful. A new style of formal garden "à la française" appeared. This transformation went hand in hand with that of the great medieval fortresses into residential châteaux designed for pleasure and comfort: Royal power was now more secure and no longer felt such a pressing need to protect itself from attack. This movement has continued unabated to the present day and these landscapes are renowned the world over.

Special Offer for Lock-keeper Readers

Just in time for Christmas and New Year we offer a 2008 calendar from renowed Scottish Artist Ronnie Ford

"This unique 2008 calendar collection was inspired by the area surrounding Ronnie's home in France, and a recent visit to USA, as well as his native Scotland"

£1 from the sale of each calendar will be donated to the Esther Benjamins Trust, a charity that has released innocent children from jails in Nepal and runs care and education for street children and the under-privileged. Buy the Ronnie Ford 2008 Calendar here

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 fifty second 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 November 2007, so we'll see you then. back to top