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.