After three blissful weeks of garden work, sunshine and good eating at Dominique’s, we were ready to return to Joker and continue our journey. But it would be far too straightforward to simply follow our existing plan of reaching Le Havre in a couple more hops and turning South towards Paris on the industrial canals. Straightforward is not our style.
Dominique’s seafaring family includes several fishermen and trawler captains, and one riverboat captain. Apparently, the riverboat captain has been down the canals from Le Havre to Paris and found the scale of the other traffic petrifying. Initially we puffed our chests out and said we weren’t scared of a bit of terror, but there were good reasons to reconsider. Our plan was based on spending the winter inland away from the howling sea winds. We extravagantly failed to carry out this plan. Now that the season has finally turned, it seemed a shame to spend summer in great canyons of industrial concrete.
On Dominique’s advice, we reconsidered our route and decided to enter a different canal at St Malo, sailing there in short hops via the Channel Islands. We’ll cut off a corner of coast by taking roughly 100 miles of canal from St Malo to Nantes. After that we’ll coast hop to Royan, where we head back in to the Canal du Midi. This canal, my friends, will carry us triumphant to the South of France, and the Med.
Excitingly, this means heading back West, and stopping off at our beloved adoptive homes St Vaast and Cherbourg. Imagine our delight! Perhaps our engine will break down again and we’ll be stranded for yet more tedious weeks or even months, until the snow and ice return. I hope you are all as excited as we are about that.
Meanwhile, as we settle back into Joker, we feel replenished and ready to carry on the journey. Our time at Dominique’s has been very inspiring, for me in particular. Seeing Dominique’s wide range of skills and the quiet cycle of nourishment and connection that flows through her land and kitchen made me think hard about the tasks traditionally associated with ‘women’s work’ and how stupid it is that these are often seen as regressive roles or dismissed as mere drudgery. I drafted a post called ‘Women and Collapse’ a month or so ago, and after my experience at Dominique’s and some reading recommended by a friend I’ve decided to completely rewrite it.
There’s lots to catch up on first though. More soon!