Sunday, 30 August 2015

23rd - 29th August

The first of Tom's two weeks holiday means I (Will) am back onboard the Luciole as deckhand, after three years of taking on a more land based and office role. I was not the only old school Luciole member of crew to be joining, as Mike, who last worked for us in 2009 came to cover as tour guide, now even more experienced, he slotted in very well, the week bringing back many memories for him, during his time nearly a decade ago on the Luciole he also met his wife, who was chef at the time. The Luciole has been the start and catalyst for many relationships, including that of my parents!

The week included a special guest, with Monty Waldin, a wine maker of BBC fame, who has vineyards in Italy and  bravely tried making a wine in England, he joined for the week to sample our wines. We also had photographer Lizzie Sheppard onboard, her work is well worth a look: taking the picture located bellow.

Fabulous picture of the Luciole moored in Auxerre, taken by Lizzie Sheppard
Overall a great week with good weather, John Liley steering the boat at the start of the week before returning back to England. Also the work cleaning V├ęzelay Bascilica, which has been on going for some time, is now finished - so less hoovering for the Nuns - who have been known even to interrupt our tour to hoover the alter.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

16th - 22nd August

A week off for the Luciole, and her crew. The Luciole spent the week moored in the port of Clamecy, a week off gives us the opportunity to put some time into the cabins and boat, touching up the interior and even some major improvements in the bathrooms and crew areas, maintaining our standards all round.

Tom and our new hostess Steph, from the UK, not to be confused with our Australian Steph, spent the week onboard, Steph giving the bathrooms and cabins a very deep clean, while Tom focused on maintenance, improving storage and getting the paint brushes out. Captain Francisco spent the week in Barcelona with his son, Anna returned to England to see the family, Marc returning to Scotland to see his family and a lot of rain. Steph made a trip to Disney land and the UK, catching up with friends.

'The Stephies' the Luciole's lovely hostesses

The week also meant an invasion of Lileys on the Luciole. With John visiting the boat, accompanied by youngest son Tristram and oldest Will (me) We spent the week working on the boat in the sunshine. The next 2 weeks is Tom's holiday, so I will be the deckhand for the period and also writing the blogs!

Sunday, 16 August 2015

9th - 15th August 2015

Week 15 of the season and the last week before the crew start disappearing on their various holidays to places far and near, and a week in which several welcome visitors showed their faces in preparation for the upcoming week with no passengers. So to kick things off we waved Anna the tour guide off on Thursday for her adventures with her regularly appearing other half Neil. Replacing her just for the end of the week we have the well known technical director Will, up for a spot of tour guiding before a week of activity improving the boat along with younger brother Tristram and Matelot Tom. Directing this merry bunch is father of the Luciole and most esteemed guest John Liley, fortunately arriving on time to pilot the barge for an afternoon and join the passengers for Friday night's customary Captain's Dinner, alongside Captain Francisco.

The week itself was magnificent, 13 extremely pleasant people joined us from the States, Australia and Britain and acted as though they knew each other for years from the first night of meeting. Wine thankfully seems to have such an effect! This group spent most of their days together, going on long distance cycling adventures, finding places to swim and places to drink before returning to us on the boat. In fact they managed to find themselves drinking in a small bar in the tiny village of Lucy, a bar I previously thought was no longer open! They must have been very persuasive because their persistence paid off and they all returned to us later that day with big smiles on their faces. We've been very fortunate this week as the skies have for the most part been extremely clear, especially at night, and the stars have been quite exceptional. The milky way is often visible in this remote part of the world, but it's less common to see such vast numbers of shooting stars. The night in Mailly-le-Chateau in particular with the beautiful chateau silhouetted against the brightness of the stars was quite a view to behold, but unfortunately one my camera wasn't quite capable of capturing.

As the end of the week is upon us it seems a good time to say "Bonnes Vacances" to several other crew members as they leave us for a week or two, Australian Steph to England, Marc to Scotland and Francisco to Barcelona with his son. Enjoy your holidays and see you all soon.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

2nd - 8th August 2015

It's been a memorable and bitter-sweet week on the Luciole, a week of mixed emotions and unusual happenings. First of all we have had a very nice and very mixed group of passengers with us, Australian, New Zealander, American, English and Scottish, along with our own Chilean Captain we formed a very cosmopolitan bunch floating down the Nivernais together. This group were active every day, enjoying a good cycle and big walks together, as well as a little swimming in the evenings, infact the fantastically brave Pru even threw herself into the waters of Vincelles with style using the barge's boom arm, a long steel arm designed to swing you off the boat and onto the shore. Alongside that we had our second successful angler of the season in the form of 16 year old Gabriel, who did fantastically well reeling in his catch. Unfortunately on the cycle back to the boat the poor lad broke too hard and flew over his handlebars, luckily he wasn't too hurt but in the crash managed to chip a front tooth, hopefully a quick visit to the dentist will sort that out for him.

The saddest news of the week is that of much beloved hostess Emma's departure to pastures new, she who shared almost 4 months of cruising alongside us and was always impeccable in all respects. So tearful and fond farewells were had on Saturday, with passengers and crew alike. We all wish her the best of luck, though I'm sure she doesn't need it, she will excel no doubt.

Now of course the departure of one hostess means the imminent arrival of another, so may I present the rather lovely Steph, here to join current hostess Steph, in a now rather confusing double act of a hosting team. Depending on your outlook perhaps that just makes things more convenient, no one will ever have an excuse to forget their names again, that's for certain.

Luciole crew the day of  Emma's departure. From left to right: Neil (Anna's right hand man and general nice guy), Tour guide Anna, Hostesses Steph and Emma, Matelot Tom, Chef Marc and Captain Francisco

Sunday, 2 August 2015

26th July - 1st August 2015

Week 14 of the season, just over half way, and what a real pleasure these past few days have been. We were joined by a family with branches spanning both sides of the Atlantic, a really delightful group of people who kept us talking, laughing and happy all week. Remarkably amongst them we had five mothers and five daughters, plus an extremely sweet grandmother and three excellent gentleman, and none of them could have been nicer, funnier or more charming.

The pace of the week was comfortably sedate as one would hope, days spent out on the deck in the sun, people playing scrabble in one corner while others sketched and painted the passing landscape. Two or three people would often be out on their bicycles getting way ahead of the barge and exploring the local area, while others paced along beside us on foot, waving, shouting jokes towards us and generally just being well humoured and natural. It's weeks like this that show us just how easy our jobs can seem and remind us how lucky we are to be in the position we are in. When the line between passenger and crew blurs and friendship and camaraderie prevail, that's the Luciole's speciality, and I wouldn't change that feeling for anything. A flawless week.