Monday, 8 August 2016

31st July - 6 August 2016

A lovely week on the Luciole, the sun shone and the atmosphere blossomed as the Luciole cruised from Clamecy to Auxerre.  Delightful passengers joined us from the UK and Mexico and we were treated to the sound of Spanish as our tri-lingual Captain Francisco communicated in his native tongue with the warm-hearted Squire family.

This week, we were saying 'goodbye' to four crew members (replacements, familiar with the Luciole traditions ready to take over!). Chef Marc and hosts George, Amelia and Arthur have come to the end of their half season stay with us, before taking the chance to travel. There were also 'hellos'. At the beginning of the week, we were joined by Penny and at the end of the week John Liley, Arthur's father arrived and Richard Parsons, George's father.  Richard began hotel barging cruising in 1966 on the Palinurus.  John Liley bought the Palinurus from Richard thirty years ago, and she was renamed the Luciole.  It was memorable to have these two highly respected Captains of yore, cruising with us.

Arthur, Amelia, Penny, Marc and George 

Outside: Richard and George Parsons.  Inside: John and Arthur Liley

In the galley, Cornish pasties, with a twist were made by one of our passengers Clive and savoured by all for lunch on Thursday.  Erika and Theo, winners of the France Magazine competition, could not have been nicer. 

All in all, such a memorable week, before we take our summer break and the Luciole takes a well earned break and mid-season touch-up. Safe and happy travels to one and all from the Luciole crew, past and present!

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

24th - 30th July 2016

It is the final week of this beautifully warm July in Burgundy, another week in which we've been blessed by the sun's presence. Not only that but by the presence of our honoured guests from the land of the rising sun itself, the ever happy Murakami family. Joining us on the Luciole for the second time since 2012, long before most of this young crew had stepped foot into barging, but not too long ago for Captain Francisco to remember them and remember them well.

This was one of those weeks you can't forget, even with at times a bit of a communication difficulty, but it didn't cast the slightest of shadows on everyone's enjoyment of the week. None of that mattered in the slightest, all was brushed aside with laughter, good spirit, hand signals and red wine.

The family opted for an adventurous week with us, going horse riding and kayaking as well as walking through Auxerre, visiting pretty Noyers and stopping off at the Chartreuse de Basseville as we cruised beside it. Grandparents Yoshiniko and Kazuko joining the family even for the more adventurous visits, Yoshi never failing to get a photograph or 3 of all the action, and getting involved enough themselves! The 3 youngsters Taro, Toko and Sara spent half the week replacing the Captain, steering every day, otherwise showing off their boundless energy running and cycling around, usually off out to play badminton. Taro in particular showed us the reasons why he is Japan's number 1 youth tennis player, thrashing Francisco at badminton, the closest thing we have to tennis on the boat.

Captain's dinner was a very warm, touching and emotional affair, family and crew starting to get blurry eyed or more as we exchanged words and gifts after dinner. The youngsters created a delightful floral thank you and the Captain offered the youngest, Sara a photograph he took back in 2012 as the much smaller Sara and Toko steered the boat from the wheel house, huge smiles on their little faces. Much like the smiles we've seen all week with this very gracious, friendly and eternally welcome family.

 Taro, Captain Toko, Arthur, Sara and ex-Captain Francisco.

 Taro and Francisco face off

Floral thank you - Japanese style - much appreciated!

Thursday, 28 July 2016

17th - 23rd July 2016

We've had a wonderful time on board the Luciole in bright and sunny Burgundy this week. Thanks in no small part to our contingent of fantastic guests, 10 people in total with an abundance of nationalities between them, predominantly English and Australian with an American or two and a smattering of dual nationalities from all over the place. Combined with our mixed crew of English, Scottish, French and of course Chilean, we have had a very international week around here and a very enjoyable one at that. This mixed group rallied together from the start and ended the week as the best of friends, countless glasses of wine surely had something to do with the quick familiarity and team spirit that arose. A highlight of the week was the absolute joy everyone took from the short explanatory speeches about the cheese and wine, leaving the group howling with laughter as hosts explained their cheese of choice and told the many (mostly terrible) cheese related jokes we've obtained over the years.

We were very honoured to be joined by several special guests this week, including the lovely Sheila coming for the 4th time to the Luciole, as well as her marvellous age defying husband John, cruising for the 2nd time with us, it's always a pleasure to see a familiar face back amongst us. Unfamiliar but extremely welcome was Penelope, the twin sister of our weeks resident American, Cleopatra, joining us just for the evening on Friday, getting to enjoy Captain's Dinner from the quayside of beautiful Auxerre. After dinner it is tradition for the Captain to deliver a "short" speech detailing the week and thanking everyone involved. This week English passenger Nick very kindly took to the stage and delivered a few words of his own, thanking all the crew individually in a very nice way, it's a pleasure to hear such kind words spoken and such affirmation for all of us here, so thank you Nick for the kind words, we will try not to let it go to our heads!

 Chef Marc's Crab Tian ready for service

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

3rd - 9th July 2016

Burgundy is heating up and summer is well and truly upon us, much to the delight of our all American charter group, the Gilmer family. An excellent group of people spanning from grandparents Gary and Marilyn all the way down to little Maggie, 5 years old and from the looks of it future boat pilot! Monday was of course the 4th of July, American Independence day, a day to celebrate as our guests certainly did, arriving to breakfast with their red, white and blue beads around their necks, themed socks, USA t-shirts, stars and stripes everywhere you can imagine. We even dug out the star spangled banner of our own to mark the occasion, replacing our slightly contentious Chilean flag representative of our Captain Francisco. The 4th of July wasn't our only celebration of the week with Charlie turning 11 on Friday. Captain's dinner was therefore enjoyed surrounded by balloons, or at least the sound of popping balloons as the kids delighted in jumping on them all. The evening was ended with a huge chocolate celebration cake of Chef Marc's creating, complete with firework candle bigger than Charlie's head, he never did stand much of a chance blowing it out, not for want of trying however!

All in all we had a very enjoyable week in the sun, kids playing all day long, off on long cycling adventures searching for football pitches and basketball courts, steering with Francisco, or out on tour with Andy, enjoying the adventurous activities they had signed up for. Adults staying behind during cruises showing us how it's meant to be done, relaxing like professionals and knocking the cocktails, aperitifs and beers back like they were going out of fashion. A really great week with a spectacularly nice group of people, a perfect note to end on before a passengerless week of maintenance in Auxerre.

 Everyone together after Captain's dinner.

A very happy Amelia indulging in her favourite past time with the passengers.

Monday, 4 July 2016

26th June - 2nd July 2016

What a week to remember onboard the Luciole, joined by the wonderful Marinace and Tomas families. Organised by delightful Grandparents Joyce and Frank, they brought three generations along with them, all excited and raring to go, ready to face the adventures ahead. This group was very sporty and always on the move, using all the options the boat could give them to get around and experience the local environment. Cycling en masse was a daily outing, the kids blazing a trail with all the adults rushing to keep up, they must have cycling half the route over the course of the week, stopping to scale the impressive Rochers de Saussois and disappearing off the beaten track to explore nearby towns. Alongside the bikes we also have two canoes on board, exceptionally for this and the following weeks adventure charters, though with the amount of use they have had from both the family and the crew, I think they should become a permanent fixture!

Amongst the activities for the week we had horse riding, cave climbing, canoeing, zip lining in the trees, visiting Guedelon, a castle in construction using only medieval techniques and playing lots and lots of football. As well as our regular visits of V├ęzelay, Auxerre and Noyers, all beautiful towns and villages with various draws and attractions at each. The most memorable however may well be the most simple on this occasion, a nice "gentle" game of football near the boats mooring in the town of Lucy, where a game was played of epic proportions, all the crew and all the passengers making up two teams, it didn't stay so gentle for long! Captain Francisco fearing for his life being charged down by Lea and Ella, 12 and 13 year old girls respectively, our own hostess Amelia letting out a glimmer of her competitive side screaming for offside or disallowed goals, or worst of all our poor host George, reduced to limping off the pitch after a crunching tackle from 15 year old Lucas. Thankfully as we didn't have a referee we continued play as always, much to the dismay of our now very hobbly George. The final score 5 - 4 to the passengers!

On the final morning we were shown the real strength of this family, rescuing the boat in dramatic fashion from the bank at Lucy. The water level at this location has a tendency to drop over night, placing the boat very firmly onto the rocks by the morning, making departure pretty much impossible. If it wasn't for the combined efforts of all the men in the family, plus a few men of our own, dragging over 160 tons of steel off the rocks we may have had a lengthy wait for the water level to return to normal. It shows just what can be done with the right group of people, allowing us to carry on on our merry way along the river and ending the week in a familar and much missed location at the port of Clamecy.

The gang and their horsey companions all lined up, courtesy of our lovely Amelia.

Attempt number one, using the boom pole.

Attempt number two using a rope. Success!

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

19th - 25th June 2016

It's been a beautiful week in Burgundy and what perfect timing for such brilliant sunshine. We we're very fortunate this week to be joined by our old friends James and Diana, frequent passengers and the leaders of walking parties, where our guests are lead around the countryside on foot, taking in the sights and visiting interesting spots scouted out by James in previous seasons. All of this was done along side visits in the bus with tour guide Andy, and of course our regular schedule of smoothly cruising along the Nivernais. 

The Walking Party began their walk at the Basilica of V├ęzelay
Smooth sailing is what this week was all about, considering the amount of organisation that went into it, it really couldn't have been better executed. The group taking off together in the early morning sunshine, enjoying long walks by the rivers and hills, seeing all of the beauty Burgundy has to offer. Once the walking was done they would be greeted by Andy, happy and helpful as always, waiting by the bus to deliver them back to the barge, or perhaps to take them to some interesting locations, imparting his encyclopedic knowledge along the way. The afternoons were spent on the boat as we navigated the canals, basking in the heat of the day on the deck, or down in the crisp and cool cabins sleeping off one of Chef Marc's beautiful buffet lunches. The week came to it's conclusion in it's familiar fashion, Captain's dinner and Francisco's after dinner speech, always an hilarious spectacle. This time however, the reins were handed over to James to deliver the final word, a very touching and funny thank you to all of the crew and passengers individually. A wonderful week, and one we hope to relive very soon.   

Before long the walkers had a different view of the magnificent basilica

Thursday, 23 June 2016

12th - 18th June 2016

The Luciole season continues into June with our 6th group of passengers. Some of the crew used the opportunity of the previous week without passengers to go on various trips to far flung places so it's nice to have them back amongst us. Spoiling the peace and quiet perhaps but certainly being entertaining in the process! With the the crew 'home' the Luciole was ready to resume life as normal, winding our way along the Nivernais Canal. 

The biggest draws of the Luciole are not just the beauty of the region or the comfort of the boat, nor is it the exceptionally high standard of the food and the regional wines and cheeses accompanying it. It is a combination of both our crew and our passengers that make the Luciole such a special place to be. We are very fortunate here to be accompanied week after week by truly excellent groups of people, this week was no exception. We were joined by a group of 8 American friends travelling together, organised by the lovely Susan and Bruce. As well as English couple John and Joanna, honouring us by travelling with us for the second time, along on this occasion with their friend Patricia, and finally travelling alone, the marvellous Carol from America. 

This group bonded very well from the start, sharing stories and putting the world to rights late into the night with a brandy in hand. It was an artistic week around here as Charles our expert garden designer amazingly managed to decorate the deck with several 4 leaf clovers he had found whilst out walking from the boat, which has now prompted everyone to walk around with their heads down looking at the ground in an attempt to replicate his findings. We were lucky enough too, to visit the delightful garden of Jos and Loeloe, in Fontenille.  A garden full of textures and colours and from where they run their business 'Parterres en Kit' (buy a designed border of flowers from them, for your own garden).

We visited the lovely garden of friends Jos and Loeloe in Fontenille

John too revealed his talent and life long hobby of painting landscapes, creating two wonderful pieces of art that thankfully we took photographs of before his departure. 

                                   John worked on his delightful picture through the week and the crew were                                    particularly touched by his end of Captain's Diner thank you!

This week finally felt like a bit of a fresh beginning after the interesting few weeks we have had. As fun as the adventure has been, it's nice to get back to our slow paced routine on the Nivernais, seeing familiar places and familiar faces. It's a pleasure to return to the lifestyle we know and love so well.