When we lived in France for six months on our boat, I kept a diary.
This is what I wrote four years ago this week…..
Yes, I know minus seven isn’t the world’s lowest temperature, and I know you have probably encountered things being much worse, but this is the south of France and it’s not supposed to be this cold!
There is a strong Mistral wind blowing, with gusts of over 100kph, pretty strong! This is making the temperature feel much lower. The whole of France is suffering, the evening news consists mainly of snow reports from areas of France. At least we haven’t had any snow here, and I still think we are in the area which has been least affected by the bad weather.
Monday night was pretty bad – the canal had begun to ice over, I’ve never seen such a thing before, and with the high winds, chunks of ice were bashing into our boat during the night, making it feel and sound like we had hit a huge iceberg, terrible scraping noises, creaking ropes, things blowing over on deck. Didn’t sleep a wink!
Yesterday afternoon it was blue skies and the temperature was above freezing and we thought the ice was definitely melting, but then last night the low temperature came back with a vengeance, and it all re-froze, so this morning when I looked out of the aft window from my cosy bed, it looked like the whole canal had frozen solid, although it was not that thick in places.
I bravely emerged from my cosy duvet as I was due to do the local Radio Beaucaire broadcast at 9.30, so I thought I would nip out to the Boulangerie first. It was only 4 degrees in the saloon on Fandancer, but minus seven outside!
Now when I say ‘Radio Beaucaire’, I don’t want you to be thinking that this is anything like local radio; basically, the boaters turn their VHF radio to Channel 77 at 9.30am ever morning, and people who volunteer to be the net controller for the day make some announcements for about ten minutes. I can’t remember how I foolishly volunteered to do one day a week. All I have to do, is ask if anyone has any emergency or medical needs, I look up the weather the evening before on the internet, I have to ask if anyone wants a lift anywhere or has a spare seat in a car, and whether there are any social events, things people want to give away, if anyone needs help tracking down engine spares, you get the drift. Hardly anyone ever joins in.
Sadly I don’t get to play any jingles or music. But I have tried to inject a little more interest into the broadcast than what is normally heard; I told the listeners the maximum and minimum weather temperatures in the world, (38degC in Perth, Australia, and minus 37deg in Fairbanks, Alaska); I tell them the exchange rate for their euros, and sometimes I throw in a few interesting Fandancer Facts – eg; did you know that the average Frenchman eats 45lbs of cheese a year, and that Beaucaire is on the same longitude as Stavanger in Norway, and the same latitude as Toronto.
At the end of the broadcast, those boats who have been listening in, normally say thanks to the net controller, ie, me; and I think there must have been the huge total of six replies this morning! Phew, the dizzy heights of stardom. Sometimes I even get recognised in the street!