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This blog entry is not about coaching. It contains no deep insights, lessons or things to ponder. It’s simply fun, playful and humorous, because I am that too.

Our boys had not been to Europe and we figured 11 old year boys can only go to so many museums / monuments / attractions before they disintegrate into squabbling, mewling messes. So, we decided to go barging …

After walking our feet off in London, we headed for France. I speak French. Well, un peu. James, Liam and Kyle spoke none. Rural French people speak no English. My French got better, the boys got the hang of the language and soon started asking for what they wanted in French and by the time we left had a vocab of about 60 words. James still speaks no French, but cracks us up with his whacky words and very odd pronunciations.

Yes, it was beautiful. Burgundy in summer is pretty. Bland word I know, but that’s what it is. Pretty, pretty, pretty. The locks and lockhouses were festooned with flowers, the air was crisp and clean. The footpaths were beautifully maintained, the countryside manicured – and the houses, well, I reckon I could’ve blown a small nation’s GDP on a daily basis.

And yes, we really did moor wherever we wanted to at night. We really did get off the boat and cycle into the villages to buy provisions, we really did buy fresh pain au chocolat for breakfast, and yes, my hips were really 4kg heavier when we got home.

The wine … OMG it’s Burgundy !! The wine was practically free (try €4 – €6 for a good bottle of wine), and the food … well, you either love cheese and chocolate or you don’t.

Ok so we’ve established that you’re not going to starve, but are you going to come back in one piece? Well, that depends on how well you steer the barge, and how many accidents you have. They come equipped with big bumpers on the side – think bump-a-cars but on a boat. And you need them. I reckon we hit about 6 lock walls on our first day, and we almost capsized the barge on our second lock. I still have the bruise on my shin to prove it. Basically, the theory is that the bumpers are there so you don’t scrape the sides of the boat on the lock, but if the bumper gets caught on the edge of the lock whilst it is emptying – well, you’ll topple over.

But we laughed, because it was funny. Thank goodness we had insurance. And then we laughed some more because Kyle just could not get the hang of the toilet. Flush it out first – then, pump the water in. Or it WILL flood. And we laughed, because we were free. And we laughed because I rode a bike for the first time in 13 years. On Day 2 I literally levitated off the bike when I realised that I was so stiff it felt like I’d been on honeymoon with King Kong.

And we ate. And we rode. And we sailed. And we really talked to each other. And we bonded. We made new friends, and missed old friends. We missed having a proper shower or bath. We didn’t miss anything else.

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. This time, I won’t go for a manicure before I leave home. No, not even a faint pearly pink. Barging involves a bit of work. Like washing your own dishes, and keeping the barge clean princesses. Like working with ropes, and if you really have to, washing a few clothes. I’d also make sure we take full insurance again – nice not having to worry about the odd scratch. I’d take more shorts and T-shirts (bikinis do not work on a bicycle or in a lock with 3 other boats watching your French-fed ass).

And next time, we’d like to go with friends, because we’ve had the luxury and pleasure of having had it all to ourselves first time round. Let me know if you’re keen …..

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  1. Oh my gosh! It sounds wonderful. I love that you had unadulterated fun! Would also love to do family first and then friends…let us know who you used to book etc…I’m sold!! Love, Y

  2. Y, I have no doubt that you would LOVE it – the question is – “Will you come back ?”

    Will mail you the lady’s details, she’s CT based and brilliant !!

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