the journey of a budding author

A river in France.


What does one do, when an adventurous husband decides that on our next trip we would hire a river boat and sail ( read chug) down a river in France, a river with locks. What does one do when husband says cheerfully, ‘I’ll manage the lock gates, you’ll have to steer the boat through the locks.’ I can tell you what this one’s heart does and this one’s heart sank to her boots.

It was high summer when we went to France in 2010. We were met in Paris by my sister who is now naturalised French and after a few days sightseeing we  found ourselves rushing at high speed through the French countryside, along with thousands of European tourists, heading west.

late on Saturday afternoon  we arrived at the boat base at the tiny village of Sireuil. Fortunately my sister  stayed with us to translate while the base manager explained ( in rapid French) how to navigate the Charente. By this time I was almost numb with worry. I can drive a motor car and have done successfully for forty years, without crashing into anyone, except maybe for the odd scape against various inanimate objects that jumped in my way. But a boat? Never!  The boat manager must have sensed my fear because he took us out on the river for a quick lesson in steering and then promoted me to captain! My husband protested, but that word of confidence in me gave me courage to get behind that wheel and head for the first lock. Yes. It was scary, but I didn’t hit anything and I found to my amazement that it was really easy! All that fuss for nothing.

We camped on a small island just past the lock because it was getting late and we took chairs up on the roof of the cabin and sat in the gloaming drinking in the beauty of the evening and toasted the week ahead on the Charente with cheap red wine.


Author: booksdefineme

I have always been surrounded by books. My parents had books, books and more books. I haunted the library as a child and when I grew up I worked in books shops. When I had children and they went to school I ran the school library. And my husband keeps on telling me there are too many books in the house. They somehow seem to pile up on every available surface almost of their own volition. I fight back and donate mounds of them to the local library but somehow it is a losing battle. I just find more taking their place! For the last eight years or so I have been wrestling with writing a novel and what a fierce tussle it is. I am about to publish this magnum opus in a few weeks time. I feel as I did when I gave birth to my children; nervous but excited!

13 thoughts on “A river in France.

  1. What a charming post. I can see you both now…toasting in the evening, new days ahead…all with confidence.

  2. It sounds lovely! And what a great lesson for all of us. How often do we resist a new experience out of fear, only to find out that it’s really quite easy after all? 🙂

    • Thank you so much for these encouraging words! Yes it is true, we fear the unknown and I felt rather foolish when I realised what fun it all was. I did feel tense going through the locks sometimes but I didn’t destroy the boat!

  3. But what happened in the following days? I need to read all about it! Don’t stop there. More please.

  4. Hi I live very close to The Charente and on my blog there are various posts about places along it like Civray, Jarnac and Cognac. I recently went to the source of the Charente and will be posting about that (2 posts) in the next few days. My blog is http;?? in case you are interested.

    • Thank you I enjoyed reading some of these posts in your blog. My sister lives in LaRochelle and we fell in love with the town while we were there. I am going to be posting more of my pictures soon.

  5. Very impressive that you actually navigated the boat. I have often thought about doing the barge trip down the Canal du Midi (as a passenger). Thanks for visiting my blog.

    • Thank you so much. Once you get the hang of it, the navigation is easy. The boat company gave us a detailed navigational map to follow and an instruction session before we left.So some of the mystique was taken out of the equation.No Hit and Miss hee hee, although once or twice I came into a dock a bit too hastily, on our second afternoon, and once the flow of the water into the lock was so rapid the boat got swept sideways almost hitting the doors. I had an amused and contemptuous audience of 11 year olds who laughed and jeered at my predicament, but I got through and thumbed my nose at them, to much hilarity. Try it! I feel as though I have another talent on my CV!

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