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Apart from historic photographs, unless otherwise stated, all photos on this site were taken by  members of my family. 

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2008 Mark Collins


Canal boats, mosquitoes and tantrums

During the summer of 1999 we took the children with my mother to the south of France for a pre-booked canal boat holiday from the town of Trebes.  We were by this time well into the house move, and the frequent calls to tardy solicitors and estate agents were very stressful.  The weather was extremely hot, the canal had dozens of locks and I have to say this was not the best of holidays. However the scenery was magnificent and  there were some good bits and the children had fun (I think!).

Dan on the boat - France 1999 MTC

Unfortunately, on the very first day, before we'd even left the dock, Ruth had a very nasty crash on her push bike.  Extensive and deep grazes to her leg meant a hasty trip around Trebes trying to buy plastic skin.  My French is pathetic, so this was not a successful mission! In the end we had to settle for bandages and antiseptic cream.

Ruth was very brave and was quickly back to her usual cheerful self and we were finally able to start our voyage.

Here is Daniel on the boat looking rather pleased with himself.


The boat was very nice although I think we were all pleased to say goodbye to it at the end of the holiday. It had three bedrooms and was very spacious.

Here I am at the helm.

Mark at the helm

We thoroughly enjoyed the town of Narbonne - here is a photo of Ruth standing on the Via Domitia, a Roman road uncovered in the town square.

From Narbonne we decided to attempt the journey down the canal to the coast.  This was a huge mistake as when dusk fell it was time for the invasion of the mosquitoes! 

We attempted a walk, but were forced to retreat back to the boat.  Despite the temperature we were forced to keep all the windows closed, cracks stuffed with paper and we were off as soon as possible the following morning!

Ruth on Via Domitia, Narbonne MTC
View of the canal MTCThe canal was very muddy and murky - any thoughts of a nice swim were quickly dispelled the moment we realised that all of the boats discharge the sewage directly into the water.  Eugh!

However, unbelievably, we did witness one French family bathing from their boat.  Either very stupid or very robust constitutions!

Finally, here is the boat in one of the locks with Ruth at the helm, Daniel lounging on the deck and Mum and Alan with the ropes. I have to confess we lost a couple of the fenders during the trip - they tended to get stuck on the walls of the locks.

Notice the umbrella on the deck - this required great care as some of the bridges were very low, and the occasional gust of wind would blow it over the side.

The crew at work MTC

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