Joie de Vivre the adventure begins

A final few days of provisioning the boat we were off for a 2 sojourn in the Cotswolds. Pretty villages, a church with Anne Boleyn’s christening cup and Roman ruins keep us  entertained until the Wednesday morning and our launch. Once we saw her kiss the water it was off to Waitrose for the final provisions. In the afternoon we had a trial motor down the river and then she was ours to create new adventures!

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On the truck
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Launched!!!
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A trail drive down the river

Originally we thought we would venture up river but changed our minds and headed towards Henley. Easy cruising with only 3 locks with very helpful lock keepers made our first day a breeze.

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Champagne on our back deck!

After days of endless sunshine, the weather broke and the rains came. We stayed snug and dry in our boat and even got the chance to try out the heating, yes it works. Needless to say the weather did not encourage us to venture out on the Thames so our second day was spent at rest, Reading and finishing those little jobs that help make a boat a home.

At last the rain cleared and we had another day of motoring. We saw another Piper boat heading up stream. We exchanged greetings with Proper Job, who was launched 10 days before us. Tonight we are tied up along side a Dutch barge owned by a couple from the Dutch Barge Association, who Peter has been corresponding with over the last year. Our first visitors!

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One of the ancient piles along the river
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Peter has his flags up!

After a lovely night with Caroline and Andy Soper, and a great wealth of information we headed back down the river, arriving at Windsor. We were lucky enough to get a single mooring just past the pedestrian bridge, before the next lock. Well all I can say is that we are back with the tourists. Walking through the town I don’t think I heard a word of English spoken! And you should have seen the queue to get into the castle. I’ll check it out tomorrow, but Windsor Castle may have to be crossed off the list.

Today was also my first on board thermomix creation. Pumpkin soup

 

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Firing up the thermomix!

Yes Windsor castle is off the list. The next day the queue was around the castle. I may have missed my opportunity, as I could have visited when I was over here for work a few years ago, in February and could have walked straight in the door!

The flag on the castle was up, indicating the Queen was at home. I’m sure she pecked out the window and glanced across the river to admire a pretty little boat moored below!

But now we must get on with the job. We need to have 40 hours on the engine so it can be serviced before we cross the channel. So it was onto Staines and then to Kingston. At Kingston we moored next to the Hampton palace gardens with another Piper boat! Anticus was launched a few months before Joie de Vivre. Yes it was after dinner drinks with Martin and Nicola exchanging information and ideas. Sometimes it seems as though you just haven’t bought a boat but also gained a whole new group of friends.

I can’t believe that we have been to n the water for nearly a week. The boat is just perfect, my only real issue is drying sheets, but I’m sure I’ll find a better remedy in time.

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Another Puper
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Coming down the Thames
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Relaxing after a hard days work

Back to Croatia part 2

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Sunset over the habour at Sibenik

From Ploce to Stari Grad, not a breath of wind, clear sunny skies and a swim stop along the way to immerse ourselves in the sparkling clear waters of the Adriatic. Lying on a lounge on the back deck, reading a book I can’t remember when life has been so relaxing.

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My day bed!

Stari Grad is a small town with a great harbour, which filled up with various size boats and yachts by the late evening. We left our explore of the town until after 4 in an attempt to avoid the afternoon heat. The highlight was a local poets house built in the 15th century, and constructed around a pool and a renaissance garden.

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The poets renaissance garden in Stari Grad
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A new friend

Another day and another port, this time Trogir. This town is famous for its Venetia architecture and yes, another Croatian town that features in Game of Thrones. While my travelling companions explored the town, I went to the hairdressers for a much needed tidy up  with the bonus a a little local gossip. Well worth the $60 for a colour and blow wave,

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Arriving in Trogir
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In the port of Trogir

All too soon we were at sea again. As we travel further north there seems to be a lot more traffic on the water, but the crew had a surprise in store for us. On the way to Siibenik we stopped off for lunch and a swim, but today lunch was served while we floated around in the water! It was not without a little difficulty that you balanced a glass of wine as you flopped around in the wash from passing boats.

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We admired this yacht sailing up the coast
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Lunch is served

Arriving in Sibenik we were assailed by a hot gusty wind, which forced us to retreat into the air conditioned comfort of the boats lounge. We can sit here incognito as the darkened windows do not allow the passerbys to look in. Great spot for people watching!

Our next adventure was a ride on the tender to Skrandin, then a trip further up the river to the Krka National Park and it’s beautiful water falls. After an hours walk around the falls we swam in the pools to cool down. Words really don’t express the beauty of these falls, so I will include a few pictures.

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A view of the falls with the swimming holes below
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At the top of the falls
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So many fish in the pools

Back to Sibinek, a little shopping and a barbecue dinner on the top deck completed our second last day in what I can only describe as heaven.

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Dinner on the top deck

Our final destination was Split and after a swim stop we arrived at the marina a little out of town. Split is famous for the most complete Roman ruins in the world, and we were lucky enough to employ a guide that bought them to life for us. Instead of being locked up in a museum these ruins are part of a bustling vibrant city and although packed with tourists it did not seem as overwhelming as Dubrovnik. Definitely a town to visit and yes I would return here.

Our final night on Beyond Capricorn, and though sorry to leave the resort life we were returning to the uk and completing the final touches on our boat and the launch on Wednesday morning!

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Diocletian’s tomb that is now a church
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Farewell to Beyond Capricorn

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to Croatia

The bombed remains in Mostar

After deciding that we probably would not visit the Balkans again (not realty a canal boat destination) here we are again cruising the Adriatic, this time from Dubrovnik to Split on Geoff McGearys 80ft, 4 story motor boat. If you have ever wandered along a dock on the med wondering what like life would be like cruising from port to port in absolute luxury, I have to tell you it’s not too shabby!

we joined the boat at Dubrovnik and cruised up the coast to the medieval town of Korcula. This is a mini Dubrovnik, with fewer tourists but quite a few big cruisers in port.

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Back in Dubrovnik. Very hot and the queue behind Peter is waiting to walk the wall in 30 degree plus heat
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At the dock in Korcula
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On the back deck

The following day we returned to the walled city of Ston. Too hot to walk the walls we retired to the top deck to read, enjoy the sun and of course swim in the crystal clear waters. Tough life!! That evening after dinner of oysters and duck we enjoyed an uninterrupted view of the red moon spectical.

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Beyond Capricorn in the harbour at Ston
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A view of the red moon

Instead of being awakened early the next morning our captain left Ston just as dawn was breaking, arriving in Ploce just in time for a leisurely breakfast, followed by a car trip to Mostar.

Ploce is just a port surrounded need by communist style apartments. Nothing to recommend this destination. I’m sure you have heard of Mostar with its high bridge that young boys jump off for entertainment. The bridge was destroyed by the Croats during the war and rebuilt in 2004. Add a kilometre of  a winding, cobbled, medieval street  bordered each side by tourist shops, a renaissance Turkist house and a few old mosques that that is Mostar.

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The bridge at Mostar
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The crowded bridge
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The bombed remains in Mostar

 

 

 

An English road trip

 

We enjoyed our 3 days in Cowes at a fabulous B&B, the North House. When we were not enjoying their hospitality we spent our time wandering around the harbour, visiting yacht clubs and searching for small treasures in the nautical shops. The best find was a folding teak table that can be used either outside on the back deck or in the salon of our boat.

Another great find was a nautical shop run by a trust that is raising funds to complete the replica of King George’s Britannia. Not just a shop, more like a museum as it contains some of the artifacts from the original Britannia.

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The hull of the new Britannia waiting on the Solent to be rigged and fitted out
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Osbourne house, Queen Victoria’s home in Cowes

From Cowes back on the car ferry and to another sailing port, Lymington. We only stayed one night, which was a blessing as our room in the b&b was in the roof area, with no air conditioning and in the heat wave that the UK is experiencing, just stifling.

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Boat cleaning in Lymington

We drove to Bristol via Salisbury and a visit the cathedral.

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Salisbury cathedral

We arrived to n Bristol in the middle of a pride festival. Very entertaining but our highlight was a visit to the Great Britain, Brunell’s famous iron ship which was the pre curser to the era of ocean liners.

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The hull of the Great Britain
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And the stern

Next stop was Cardiff. I couldn’t say this was one of our great destinations, though Cardiff castle was a highlight. It was also interesting to see the bay and the locks that regulated the extreme tide. Other than that there was very little else to recommend Cardiff.

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Cardiff castle
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The gothic revival interior of Cardiff castle
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The tidal locks at Cardiff bay

Only two hours away was the book town of Hay on Wye and of course a must go to place for Peter. We stayed at a lovely b&b,The Swan , and that night going to the bar we found the only 5 customers were all Aussies from Melbourne. One of the guests was Peter Lowe, who had the Ferrari dealership for Australia.  The 2 Peters enjoyed a lively conversion down memory lane especially the history of peters Ferrari an another he nearly purchased.

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Hay on Wye

our final destination was stoke on Trent and our nearly finished boat. 4 days were spent ferrying our goods from helens barn, unpacking and setting up house. Exhausting, I think I need a holiday!!!

Paris and the sales

So you may mistaken in think that a trip to Paris has nothing to do with yachts and barges, but I will have to correct this mistaken assumption.

Firstly, as my fashionista friend Margaret would know, you need the correct boating attire. Secondly a visit to Paris allowed us to assess the suitability of the basin at Arsenal to house our precious Joie de Vivre for a future visit to Paris

After a diversion to Mulhouse to look at  the museum that held an array of classic Bugatti’s it was to Paris for five days.

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Peter enjoying the spectical of vintage cars

For all my friends who are bargain specialist, it seems to be more difficult each year to find that little tantalising morsel that is just right. However the shoes this year certainly made up for the disappointment in the clothing department.

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Not even a €5 bargain could tempt me
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Shopping at the kitchen shop in Les Halles

Unfortunately the basin at Arsenal is fully booked for this winter so we will need to find another home for our barge. Surprisingly there was a couple of Aussie boats in the basin, I’m sure we will find a few on the French canals!

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The basin at Arsenal
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From the port of Melbourne!

We left Paris at Gare de Nord on the Eurostar. Unfortunately there had been an electrical fault early in the morning resulting in cancelations and delays. Gare de Novo d was chaotic. Our train was luckily not cancelled, only delayed by two half hours. The joys of travel!!!

Our destination was Cowes on the Isle of Wight. With our train delay and then getting lost and caught in traffic driving out of London, we finally arrived at our hotel about 9pm.

 

 

Rambling in Switzerland and the boat update

Hot in Zurich, hot in Lucerne, thunderstorms but still hot in Basel. We originally travelled north to enjoy cooler weather but the weather gods were against us. Wandering around Zurich in 30 degrees was not pleasant, at least our hotel room was air conditioned.  In Lucerne it was even hotter, but no air conditioning. So we escaped up  Mt. Pilatus to enjoy a fresh breeze and majestic scenery. Then out onto the lake for a different view.

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Peters favourite restaurant in Zurich
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Dinner and drinks
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The flea market in Zurich. Anyone need a silver spoon?
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Cable car up Mt. Pilatus
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I climbed to the top, 7,000ft

We decide to take the path that lead to the top of the mountain, which was dotted with wild flowers. Only a 40 minute walk, but when the incline became steeper Peter bailed out.  Bravely I went on and was rewarded with a breathtaking view.

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A stroll through the old town the next day along with a thousand of our closest friends completed our visit to Lucerne.

Interestingly most of the tourists in Switzerland are Chinese, which you would expect, but also a lot of Indians.

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A lot of tourists in a small park with a lion sculpture
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Lunch by the bridge

Next stop Basel, which was a trip down memory lane for Peter. Each year, for almost 30 years he came to the fair here to purchase jewellery.  This time he came as a tourist to see the sights.

But now to our boat. We received a new batch of photos today and she is starting to look like OUR BOAT. We are counting the days until we are happily ensconced on our Joie de Vivre.

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Just love the colour!!

A few views of inside

The 8 metre worlds

After 4 days in Vienna, immersing ourselves in culture we took a 6 hour train ride across Austria into Germany and the 8 metre worlds.

 

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Klimt up close
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And Bruegel

We arrived in the small town of Langenargen and after descending from the train, much to Peter’s horror there was not a taxi to be found. The preferred transport in this part of the world is a bicycle. After a few calls we finally convinced our hotel to send a car, but the mould was set. If we wanted to reach the harbour that was sheltering the 8 metres the following day we needed to hire bikes!!!

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Peter and his bike

I don’t think I need to say anything about how we felt looking at a flock of beautiful 8 metre yachts. But it wasn’t just the yachts. As most don’t have a motor they have a tender to assist them. Even the race committee boat was a sight to behold!493F21E5-06B9-4664-92B2-5BD6F59B9F0C

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On the dock
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Saskia’s tender
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Race committee boat!!! We need one of these for the classics

We spent our 2 days chatting to yachties and admiring boats. I even managed to encourage Peter into a 2 hour bike ride to the next town along the lake (Freidricheshaven). I think that covers his exercise for the next 6 months!

 

With a purchase of a 2018 International 8 metre cap we left the boats to their racing and travelled to Zurich. We are just wandering at the moment. The lastest info on the barge is that it will not be ready until the weekending 20th July. But no date is confirmed🙁

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A view of the lake
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Running repairs on the rig
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It’s a tight squeeze to moor the yachts
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Coming into the habour with an 8 sailing in the background

 

 

Travelling North

Segway fun
Segway fun in Belgrade

Unfortunately the Balkans are not home to an efficient railway system, so we were forced to fly from Tivat to Belgrade. I have to report their airport at Tivat is seriously lacking. Image your worst experience at Melbourne airport and multiply it by 10 and you have Tivat airport. Mega queues at every check point, then no seats in the waiting lounge.

Next stop Belgrade, a city at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers with an interesting history. Due to its location, over the centuries, it has been fought over and conquered 44 times. Last bombed by NATO forces in 1999; it boasts a mishmash of architectural styles, Russian style concrete blocks interspersed with Neo Classical, Art Deco and Art nouveau buildings.

The highlight of our visit was a 3 hour segway tour of the city. Just the best way to travel!!!
Below views of Belgrade.

After 3 nights we flew onto Ljubljana. To avoid the next airport queue, after spotting a sign at the checkin, for families with children and the elderly requiring assistance, Peter pulled out his walking stick and hobbled up to the counter. No waiting this time!!! We even had time for a coffee and a FaceTime call with Georgie before boarding our flight.

Ljubljana is a pretty medieval town surrounded by alps and overlooked by a castle. Part of the Austrian-Hungarian empire until 1919 it has hints of Salzburg in both its architecture and cobbled streets. Strolling the city was the order of the day, with a trip on the funicular to the castle thrown in. Unfortunately this castle has been modernised as a special events and wedding venue, so little history here.

The weather was unseasonably hot, and after 2 days of heat we left Ljubljana in the rain bound for Vienna.

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From the Adriatic to the Bay of Kotor

Leaving Budva there was not a breath of wind. Anna (one of the ladies on the boat) snd I sat on the duckboard with a dark aqua waters of the Adriatic ticketing our toes while we motored up the coast to Bigova. A small town with a dock and a restaurant. Ideal anchorage, good wifi and a delicious seafood meal.

The wind came in the next day, so we started a race up the coast, until a warning came over the emergency channel of a servere storm up north heading our way. The race was abandoned and we made for the safety of the Bay of Kotor, arriving at the Marrina of Montenegro. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it,

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The view from the restaurant at Bigova
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Infinity pool at the yacht club
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View of the coastlines ne from Budva to Bigova
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The rubble sh truck at Bigova????
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In the Marrina
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On the way to Kotor
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The Bay of Kotor
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The bay of Kotor
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Last last lunch on board

677C883A-3EED-4C29-8564-544293AE6C4BKotor is known as a city of catsF598AD45-6645-4EC1-AB77-ABF855EA714Bthe storm did not eventuate so we walked into town instead. This is a luxury marrina boasting a boardwalk dotted with restaurants and designer boutiques. The yacht club has a huge infinity pool which you can enjoy for the princely sum of €30. As Peter would say I don’t know how they can do it for the price!

The predicted storm did arrive 24 hours later but is ferocity had decreased. Thunder, lighting and rain but no wind. We tried a race but abandoned it after about 15 minutes. Oh well that’s sailing in this part of the world!

Our final destination was Kotor and motoring into this port must rate as one of the most spectacular sites in the world. Photos cannot do it justice. Monsterous dark grey mountains seem to slide into the water dwarfing everything in sight. Such a grand view belongs in tales of epic legends.

The old city is surrounded by a wall snaking up the mountain and within the town there is a picturesque sight around every corner.

Tonight we farewell the yacht rally and our new and old friends. Peter and I have another day in Kotor to explore around the bay, but by land this time, before flying to Belgrade and another adventure.

Croatia to Montenegro

We sailed past the ancient walls of Dubrovnik south towards Montenegro. Our next port of call was Cavtat where we did the exit procedure for leaving the EU. Montenegro is not part of the EU but uses the EU currency, whereas Croatia is part of the EU but uses their own currency. Go figure that one out!

Our skipper Damir went to meet up with the locals, only to discover that the Yacht Club of Montenegro was running a race the next day from Cavtat to Herceg Novi, which was our next port of call. So for the grand sum of €30 per boat, which included dinner and drinks for 2 nights we entered the race. That night we met and drunk with the opposition. I must tell you the Montenegrins can certainly drink!

We were a bit shabby the next day and were late to the start, but with a 25 mile race we had time to catch up. However after 5 hours of a rolling 2 meter sea, wind that was 15 knots one moment then nothing the next, thunderstorms and pelting rain we pulled out of the race. A shame that the hung over Aussies couldn’t show off our sailing skills to the locals.

Drinks and dinner at the club  that night with endless speeches, of which we couldn’t understand a word, ended a couple of days of getting involved with the locals.

The next day 5 of us hired a car and ventured inland. Montenegro has a population of only 600,000 people, who mostly cluster around the coast. Inland is mountainous, with deep gorges, high alpine plateaus, glacial lakes and snow capped mountains. We decided that if you were blindfolded and parachuted in you would think you had landed in Switzerland. We stopped for a lunch of freshly caught trout at a roadside cafe which cost the grand sum of €5 each!! The cheapest meal I think  have ever had in  Europe.

We are now in Budva. The town has an old town surrounded by newly constructed multi story apartments. It’s claim to fame is as a party town with lots of bars and restaurants, and of course lots of tourists.

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