As usual (for Weasel things) John & I were first up. Having abluted in the very handy, very clean and, obviously, quite new, toilet block (we endeavoured to seek these out at each stop and each became known as ‘the happy crapper’) beside the creperie, we set off for the nearby village for a visit to the patisserie for some fresh baguettes (we also had a sneaky pastry each). It was then on with the kettle and, after John woke the various weasels with a morning cuppa, we set off to continue our way down the river Vilaine.
Things cruised along very well. We spotted two otters and a kingfisher (John’s first) but best of all, we saw what was either a fairly sizable weasel or a normal size stoat or, what it probably was, a mink. It was black and was bouncing along the bank as if following us. While most people were asleep for the otters, everyone rushed to see the weasel off the starboard bow. It was very exciting.
It is very relaxing just moving along the water at a leisurely pace. We have to negotiate quite a few locks but, unlike England, they are all manned. It’s all very simple because of this. We just need someone at either end of the boat and someone at the helm. Either we hand ropes up to the lock keeper or the lock keeper hands us ropes from the shore. We hold these to keep the boat steady as the water is let out or in. The back gates close and the water fills up. The front gates open and we move out. All very simple.
Not so simple, however, at Redon. This is where the Vilaine River joins the Brest & Nantes Canal. The lock passes under a footbridge which must also be lifted. We had a rather large audience for this one and they were royally entertained. At one stage the lock keeper thought that two boats would fit. Our boat is so long, this is pretty impossible so, having managed to negotiate the narrow entrance and pull right up to our stern, it was then sent back out…because it wouldn’t fit as well. Anyway, we eventually left the lock and joined the canal.
We stopped at what appeared to be a scouting for boys type adventure park. At least there were ropes and bridges and things in the sparse woodland, tracks and trails everywhere and lots of scouts. There were no berths to be had on the pontoons so we stabbed the bank with our nose and made ourselves fast with a stake, using the handy aluminium drawbridge for egress from the boat. The photos of it look like we ran into the bank but it was all carefully planned.
Most of us headed off to check the place out. Matt went for a jog. Sean and Carlee went and took photos of each other climbing rocks and it rained. Quite a lot. Those that remained aboard the boat were rewarded by remaining dry as well. I was drenched. Matt was drenched-er. We had a lovely lunch, waited for the stragglers and set off, once the rain had moved to another part of France.
We ended up at a small place called St Martin sur Oust where we bought gallons of cider and a cider boule each. John cooked his world famous pasta and tuna dish while the rest of us changed into our pirate gear and a jolly good pirate party was had, with lots of ‘Argh’s and general over enthusiastic boisterousness that anyone listening or watching would have not understood. In fact, cars would slow down, check us out and drive quickly on.
We dined al fresco as the evening was lovely and rain free. We had a very funny night, full of weasel silliness and a lot of cider.