Wednesday, 21 September 2016

11th - 17th September 2016

Another week aboard the Luciole, another week of peace and serenity surrounded by the natural majesty of Burgundy. We had with us a full boat of 14 passengers, a combination of Brits and Americans, all strangers to begin with but that lack of familiarity soon melted away as it always does. Roughly around the time main courses are served on the first night, as the wine is beginning to flow and the festivities are starting, you wouldn't believe you were witnessing a group of strangers dining together, not amongst all the chatter and chuckles of laughter. By friday everyone was practically inseperable, spending all day as a unit. That is aside from one member of the group, Keith, who spent a good deal of his time with our Captain Francisco, steering the boat and doing a fine job of it, including entering several locks unassisted. I can testify to how difficult that is, regardless of how easy and casual Francisco makes it look.

Bizarrely this week we were accompanied by a few new and slightly unusual members of the team. First of all there was a snake which somehow managed to drop from the underside of a bridge and land right in the middle of the deck, causing quite a bit of panic, mostly for the snake itself however which beat a hasty retreat! It's very rare to see snakes in this part of the world, and of course the ones you see are typically very small and (thankfully) completely harmless, still quite a shock to see one on board! Our second uninvited guest was quite a lot more welcome than the first, an inquisitive little cat that no matter how many times he got shooed off, would for sure reappear sooner or later stalking the place and trying to make himself comfortable on the deck cushions. Our final little visitor of the week was anything but! An absolutely enormous moth, quite stunning really and discovered munching on the Chilean flag we fly from the stern. For 3 days we kept discovering this moth, hanging around the boat and keeping itself to itself, he must have come for the atmosphere like the rest of us!

Finally I would like to offer our congratulations to Stan and Vicki on their 45th wedding anniversary, Mindy on her 65th birthday and lovely Pat for her 80th birthday. Sante!

Michael Moth as he affectionately became known. 

Saturday, 17 September 2016

4th - 10th September 2016

Once again we've been blessed with another sunny and marvellous week aboard the Luciole, departing from Auxerre and heading in the direction of cheery little Clamecy. Joined this week by an exceptional and mixed group of people, 11 in total, 10 outstanding Americans and our unforgettable resident Canadian Julie. Not only that but we're very happy to welcome back technical man of the business William for the week as well as his mother; our very own irreplaceable Penny! It's always a good atmosphere with these two present, laughs a plenty and their boundless enthusiasm for the Luciole spurring us all on.

Glorious cruising days on the Nivernias Canal

This past week felt very easy and enjoyably relaxed and it passed by far too quickly, it was Friday night and Captain's dinner before we knew it. That seems to be the nature of this place when we have such a relaxed and easy going group of passengers on board, it feels somewhat more akin to providing for friends and family than it does to working. Days were spent as they often are around here, cruising and walking in the sunshine, fantastical meals and  phenomenal cocktails, fascinating tours of the region and perhaps a snooze or two - just to check the AC is working correctly in the cabins I'm sure! On top of that we had a little tournament of petanque in play most evenings, I won't bother to list the scores as the team comprising of William and myself was pretty abysmal and I'd prefer not to give too much glory and attention to our reigning champion, the Captain.

I'd like to extend a special mention to Matt and Julia, a big thank you to the two of you for the amazing slide show of photographs taken throughout the week and shown on Friday evening, as well as being the all round genuinely excellent people and good guys that you are! In fact for the latter reason alone thank you to everyone who joined us and made this, the  memorable week what it was.

Monday, 5 September 2016

28th August - 3 September

It's been a beautiful week in Burgundy, it may only be September but the beginnings of autumn have started creeping in, littering the paths (and the Luciole!) with leaves of red and brown. The sun however is still very much on our side, and is thankfully starting to lose it's sting somewhat. 

Joining us onboard our happy boat this week was a very friendly and constantly amusing family of Australians, the Messenger family, ranging from grandparents Philip and Pauline down through the generations all the way to 11 year old Sebastian, a fine young chap and our local skateboarding champion for the week. Indeed that's how half of his time was spent, careening down the towpaths with the rest of the family cycling along trying to keep up! Otherwise it was a lovely, calm week with everyone out and about enjoying the sunshine and swimming from the boat at every opportunity, crew included. It was perhaps the first time that I've seen every single member of the family deciding to have a go at steering! With grandad putting us into a lock immaculately, followed by son Mark nailing it too, or at least on the second attempt anyway!

In other news our new arrivals Jade and Kim are settling in wonderfully! It may only be their second week on the boat but already they're looking and sounding like old bargees, professionals through and through and from the looks of it having an excellent time in the process. The ambience on board is truly excellent, completely jovial, relaxed and as perfect as ever.

Skate boarding super hero - Sebastian

Monday, 29 August 2016

21st - 27th August 2016

After 2 very enjoyable weeks of rest and recuperation for the crew, everyone is back onboard the Luciole fresh and raring to go with another charming group of American passengers, 13 friends travelling together. It's hard to think of more welcome guests to restart the season as we head into our final couple of months. They were gracious, easy company and always joking, getting into the swing of life around here and doing it with a glass in hand and a smile on their faces.

They however were not the only new faces onboard this week, as we are very fortunate indeed to be joined by 2 new members of the Luciole team, taking their first steps into barge life and wondering what on earth they've gotten themselves into. First of all we have the extremely professional, unerringly calm and most talented chef Jade, a fellow Glaswegian and close friend to our dear old former chef Marc. Also stepping aboard for the first time and occupying the role of hostess is the bright and cheerful, smiley and lovely Kim from England. Welcome aboard to the both of you, and welcome back to Emma, hostess extraordinaire from last season and back with us now to brighten our days, never a dull moment with Emma around, particularly when there's rum in reach!

This week was the perfect example of a group working in harmony. With new members on board it can of course become a little chaotic as there is so much to learn and life is so different here to a regular workplace. Despite all the obstacles things ran perfectly without a hiccup and the ambience really could not have been better, thanks in no small part to the understanding and very helpful nature of our guests, they couldn't have made things much easier for us short of doing the washing up themselves!

Unfortunately there is one piece of sad news alongside all the good this week, as much loved and highly respected host Arthur finally took his leave and headed back home to England, time for him to see the very missed former hostess Amelia who departed a few weeks ago, and perhaps even more importantly his great big dog in a tiny body, Buster, who he hasn't seen since April and who has been causing all kinds of mischief at home being shared between Penny, John and William. So to Arthur, best of luck with all your travels and beyond, you'll be missed!

The group all together outside the Chartreuse de Basseville.

The Luciole passing through Pousseaux lift bridge.

Steering lessons from Captain Francisco.

7th - 20th August 2016

The Luciole and her crew took a well earned break from cruising to recharge batteries.  We also said goodbye to crew have been with us for the first half of the season and welcomed new crew who are with us to the end of the season.

We thank Marc, George, Amelia and Arthur for their wonderful work and welcome back Jade, Emma and say a new 'bonjour' to Kimberley, who has joined us for the first time.

The first photograph below, shows the dad and lad teams of Richard Parsons, who began barging fifty years ago in 1966 with the Palinurus (now the Luciole), and John Liley who began cruising with Secunda in 1976.  Each with their sons, who have worked together as hosts this season, George and Arthur.

George and Richard Parsons on the left.  John and Arthur Liley on the right.

Goodbyes to Arthur, Amelia, Marc and George, with Penny in the centre

Jade returns to finish the season after her 10 days in June

Our new hostess Kimberley pairs with Emma, who returns from last season

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!