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!

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!