In 2010 our friend Nico said he wanted to go on a barge trip in France. We booked a two berth barge for the Midi Canal, starting on Good Friday. 6 weeks before we were due to leave, his wife said she didn’t want to go overseas and so he cancelled. Upon arriving at the barge we realised this was a blessing in disguise as there is not much space in a barge for suitcases and we used the 2nd berth as a storage / changing room. Last year Nico once again expressed his wish to go on a barge and so we started looking at our options. We decided Burgundy would be a good area and went to chat to Greg, the chef at Waterkloof about which of the 2 canals to travel. He is from that region and after much discussion we decided the canal which takes us close to Sancerre would be most suitable for us. This is known as the white wine route. Nico asked us to make all the plans, and to include his school friend Andries and his partner Del in the plans. We booked an 8 berth barge for the 6 of us. The front two berths are en suite and have electric flush toilets and the back 2 berths share a bathroom that has a pump loo. The smaller of the back berths will be used to store suitcases.
After booking the barge we proceeded to sort out the flights. Once dates were confirmed and destinations dealt with we booked our flights as well as Andries’ and Del’s flights. This then followed with sorting out the travel insurance. I completed all 4 Visa application forms after Dave had booked the hotel for the night we arrive, and the hotel for the weekend after our barge trip which we will spend in Paris. After collating 4 sets of documents we took Andries and Del to get Visas. This process did not run smoothly as the collection agency has a check list and no discretion! The 4 hour round trip resulted in six month Visas for the ‘oldies’ and 3 year Visas for us.
I refer to them as ‘oldies’ as Andries and Nico are 84. Del is 81 and Wanette (Nico’s wife) is 70. This holiday will mean a lot of work for Dave and I in terms of shopping, cooking and logistics. We are responsible for getting Andries and Del to Paris and back to Cape Town.
Two weeks before we were due to leave Nico told us that Tim, Joyce, Frank and Bessie would be on a barge with us. We explained to Nico our feelings about this as neither Dave nor I want to spend any amount of time with Tim due to what he did to us in 2003. Up until now we’ve not said a word to Nico as it was not important. The Sunday before we were leaving we told Nico it would be best if we did not go on the barge. Nico said he would tell Tim to stay away from us and we compromised and said we would go. But I made it clear that if Tim came near us I would pack up and go! So, that is the plan…
And if you have read the blog you will see that Tim ignored his boss (Nico) and ruined our barge trip – a trip we had paid for ourselves and not like everyone else had been gifted!