When boating, you have to grab your minor luxuries wherever you can. Even in an awful place like Agen. And when you’re a giant and a proper shower presents itself…well, it’s pretty obvious really.
The one redeeming thing about Agen is the fact that the canal port has a shower and toilet. This makes life a lot nicer for everyone in more ways than one.
So, freshened up and ready to roll (we can never leave too early because locks and swing bridge opening times determine our schedule) by quite late we headed into the sun which, unfortunately did not shine on the boat at our mooring thereby delaying it.
We didn’t get very far.
After the Agen aquaduct there is a flight of three locks. We were in the middle one. The gates behind us started to close, like normal, then they stopped halfway, not like normal.
The green button which is pushed to begin the lock procedure was flashing and even after about 124 pushes, refused to do anything else.
There was nothing to be done but talk to the box on the wall in patchy but understandable French. A man said he’d be with us in 15 minutes. His French was perfect.
In the meanwhilst, and the next lock, a boat was emerging and just flowing around in front of the locked lock gates like a drunken sailor. Or so Lorna reckoned given she was down there with Darren and Anthea.
Suddenly we were joined by a woman.
“Vy are you vaiting?” demanded she in perfect English surrounded by a German accent.
John explained it to her. We had hoped she was the engineer but she was merely the drunken sailor’s wife.
And so we all waited. True to his Gallic word, the engineer appeared after 15 minutes and started fiddling. When he reset the circuit breaker and the gate closed we all cheered. We were a tad preemptive.
He opened a bigger box and twiddled. He went and collected a very big cocktail stick like thing and started digging around the lock gates and reserve pool inlet. He moved a lot of debris.
We felt sure there was the bloated remains of some unfortunate tourist gumming up the works but if there was he didn’t tell us.
And finally the lock started working and we were on our way once more.
Most of the rest of the day was spent driving down to Buzet so we could join the River Baise. Another great chunk was spent in a queue waiting to enter and leave the lock.
And then disaster almost struck. Or stuck as our boat became lodged in mud as we waited for a lock to open.
Darren was strapped to the helm, manfully trying to blast us off while Bev and I pushed with all our might off the stone wall at the bow. The boat started to move a bit. I then moved to the stern to push some more.
The wall at the stern was a little further away but Lorna saved the day by saving me joining the boat in the mud. Finally mud free, the boat slipped off and into the lock.
I have to say it was the most exciting part of the boating trip so far.
Certainly more exciting than Lavardac where we moored up for the night.
A promise of fine eateries was severely broken. One had closed and the other had moved. We walked a few miles to a not very handy supermarket to stock up.
We stopped off at the sports bar for a much needed cold beer (or two) on the way back. Actually the barkeep was a very friendly chap and the grizzled bunch of locals didn’t stare at us for too long.
So, another meal on board, prepared this time by John (salmon, cream, pasta, cheese) with copious amounts of alcohol.