Where have we been? 1/9/20 – 21/4/22

Sunbury – Sunbury – Moama – Sunbury – Hobart – Sunbury

What happened?

Our last post on this blog was on 31st of August 2020. Deathly silence since then. Why?

Well, as you’re aware, we are always well behind in our postings, having way too much fun while we are cruising, but our last post was sent at the end of August 2020 where we described the horror trip to Chatillon-en-Basois. That article covered our 2019 cruise up to the end of July. Given we did not return home to Sunbury until late September that year, we still had two more months of cruising to cover.

Obviously, by August 2020 everyone was battling Covid. Here in Melbourne, we were still in the first year of what was to be the longest lockdown in the world. Surely then, we should have been churning out the rest of our stories? However, immediately after that final post, in September 2020, we started the purchase of a new house. We discovered it on one of our Covid walks – and only about 500 metres as the kookaburra flies from our then-current home of nearly 30 years. I maintain (and will continue to do so) that the new house was an exercise in downsizing. We did go from 5 bedrooms to 4! But the main result was to find a much flatter place, resulting in the welcome loss of a total of more than 40 steps to navigate through the steep gradient and multiple stories of our previous house. But the new garden is much bigger, so that keeps one out of mischief.

The process of buying the new house, getting the old house ready for sale, packing, moving, unpacking and Christmas kept Ian and I very busy until early 2021. Isolation restrictions meant the two of us had to do almost everything for this major change. We are heartily glad that part is over. An upside we both agree on is that having to remain in Australia through 2021, we did get to experience a full year of seasons in the new house, with the garden providing a constant stream of ever-changing delights.

Just three steps up to the door
Camellias in bloom
Garden beside the house
Flowers
One of the nearly 20 camellia bushes in flower
Lebanese apple - fragrant and noisy with the hum of bees
Brazilian flower - popular with the honeyeaters
Just three steps up to the door

 

 

Right about then, we did start planning for a trip back to Catharina Elisabeth but soon after, we realised we had to abandon that plan. We could have made a case to leave Australia to look after Catharina, but at that time there was no guarantee our government would let us back in. Back to writing the blog? No – frankly we couldn’t face writing about barging in France such was our disappointment with this second lost season. We’ve been variously busy and engaged in blog procrastination since then but a swag of them will be dispensed over the next few weeks – hopefully, to close out Season 2019 before the start of Season 2022.

What we did during the last two years

Well, we were certainly suffering Covid isolations like many of you. We took every chance to catch up with children and grandchildren between lockdowns and with quite limited travel distances allowed (initially from as little as 1 km from home, later up to 5 km, eventually to 25 km – which still kept us from much of the family). There was obviously a significant amount of work around buying and selling houses.

One very welcome highlight was that we managed to have a short cruise during one of the gaps between lockdowns. With some other Melbourne bargees, we had a four-night cruise on the Murray River. Those of you in DBA the Barge Association can read about it in this issue of Blue Flag.

Crews of Moondance, Fairhaven, Matilda and Catharina Elisabeth
Four days of cruising down and back to Moama
Very comfortable at the helm
Mooring - run aground and tie up to a tree
Bit more luxurious than on Catharina
Cute paddlewheeler
The port of Echuca - high quays to cope with floods
Crews of Moondance, Fairhaven, Matilda and Catharina Elisabeth

 

 

Our other major event was the birth of our fourth grandchild. The wonderful news of the impending arrival of our daughter Laura and her partner’s first child did carry with it some implications, that Ian picked up, for our future cruising plans – the birth was expected in the middle of June 2021. Those of you with grandchildren would know this meant that, certainly for 2022, any departure would have to be delayed until after Amelia’s first birthday. Probably also for years to come. As a fellow bargee once quipped “Grandchildren – the natural enemies of extended cruising”, which remains one of Ian’s favourite quotes.

I simply had unconstrained joy!

Imagine our delight when Amelia decided the time was right, nearly a month early (while we were enjoying the one and only brief interstate visit we have had since COVID, with our friend Steve in Hobart) – fully developed and a healthy 3.1 kg. Ian immediately gave her favoured grandchild status for this upcoming cruising season. Amelia was born on the 19th of May which probably has a lot to do with the date on our tickets to fly to Paris – the 23rd of May 2022.

Silvia, Laura and Amelia

For Christmas, Ian gifted me tickets to the theatre. He had organised this to take place on the 50th anniversary of our first date which was to the movie ‘Fiddler on the Roof’. Ian managed to find a copy of an original movie ticket on the internet and edited it to reflect the actual date of our date. (Sidenote: for my 50th birthday, Ian had taken me to a stage performance of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’, starring Topol himself. So when I opened this envelope at Christmas, I honestly thought we were going to see the original movie. Again.)

January 7, 1972. First date.

But along with that memory ticket, was the real gift. This time, for the stage production of Moulin Rouge, a movie we both adore, and in a step up, for one of the can-can tables that are set right in front of the stage! A bridge comes out around these tables, with dancing taking place all around you. I know, cool on so many levels, right?

Moulin Rouge theatre tickets for the 50th anniversary of our first date

We arranged to stay in a lovely old hotel in the city, and had a meal in one of our favourite French restaurants to get the show on the road. We checked into our hotel, kicked off our shoes, and prepared to have a celebratory glass of Pinot before changing into our glad rags and a stroll to the theatre. An email arrived pretty much as we were toasting our excitement which put a serious halt to the festivities. Catastrophe! The show was cancelled with only a couple of hours’ notice. Thanks again, Covid. (Footnote: we were able to rebook tickets, for a performance due to take place in a few days’ time, just before the Melbourne production closes.)

What we might do this year

Well, this will be our longest stay in Europe and we will be using a Long Stay Visa to allow us to remain in France now that, following Brexit, our British passports have become useless for long-term visits. That’s all under control, however.

When we get to Catharina in Migennes on the 24th of May, we will spend the first few weeks working to get her ship-shape after nearly three years of exposure and neglect (other than checks by the excellent Simon Evans and his crew). We will then cruise around to a shipyard near Moret-sur-Loing where we have been booked since early 2019 to be hauled out for hull blacking, new anodes and a hull survey. We hope that will all be completed by the end of June.

Then, we’ll decide where this season’s cruising will take us.

Excitedly and apologetically,

Lisette and Ian

Now, where were we …

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