Updated: Mar 17
If you read Toby's last page, you know that he went to Lyon for knee surgery in January and that he has been confined to the house since then, and this has kept us from wandering too far from the boat. We didn't get to Rome in February as we had planned, but we found other things to keep us occupied.
Friends and neighbors have been dropping by to check on Toby's recovery. Gisele, a friend from our gym, came over and gave Toby a big get-well kiss. He likes her so much that he didn't wash the lipstick off of his forehead for days.
Neighbors tap on the door to give him a little pat on the head and a cookie.
He had to see his Roanne vet, Dr. Isabelle, because of an ear infection, and she was happy to see him walking so well after his surgery. He didn't like what she was doing to his ear, but, as always, he was a good little trooper.
The people at our gym are lovely. One of the men, whose son-in-law is a fireman, invited us to the firehouse near our port for a VIP tour. An American, the local basketball coach, and a regular at our gym came along with his family. His son tried on some of the gear and loved seeing all of the fire equipment close up.
It was interesting to see a European firehouse. In Roanne, there is one large complex that houses all of the area's equipment. They respond not only to emergencies in Roanne but to calls from 21 surrounding villages. There are 37 specialized pieces of apparatus: pumping engines, ladder trucks, a heavy rescue unit, ambulances, boats, water tenders, foam equipment, and trailers with miscellaneous appliances. The department's brand new four-wheel-drive pumping engine was on the apron, awaiting a call.
A large field behind the firehouse is an additional training area. Training is continuous and extensive. They were doing some Hazmat training the other morning when we were there, and every Saturday morning, a fireboat passes our barge on a training run.
Since the firehouse is next to the port, we often see them going by with their lights and sirens. It makes us feel right at home, and we always wish them a safe return.
Lunch at Le Santa Monica, the bar just across the street from our boat, is becoming a regular item on our social schedule. Now that spring is almost here, people are returning to their boats, and between spring cleaning and painting, we have all gotten in the habit of occasionally meeting in this charming little bar to enjoy the Plat du Jour.
Martine, the owner, and her friend, Otilia, always give us a cordial welcome and frequently sit down to join us over coffee after lunch.
Everything stops between 12-2 in France. It is a great time to ride your bike around town because all of the cars are off the road. It is also an excellent time to grocery shop in the big supermarkets because most of the other customers are at lunch. If you want to drive somewhere on small country roads, leave just after noon and miss the truck traffic. But the best thing to do is to join everyone else for lunch in a warm and friendly restaurant.
At lunch the other day, the idea of a weekly Happy Hour at Le Santa Monica was born. We decided on Wednesday evenings from 6-7, and about 30 people from the port showed up for the first night. There were one or two regular customers who must have been wondering what had happened to their quiet little bar, because suddenly at 6 pm, the bar was full of conversations in Dutch and English, with just a smattering of French.
Martine's dog, Chopinette, was beside herself. She usually acts as the doorbell, running to the door and barking whenever anyone arrives. She got a workout last night, and she must have been exhausted this morning.