Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Book review of Vin Rouge, Fiestas and a Small Boat by Eugenie Smith


Book review French village diariesIn Vin Rouge, Fiestas and a Small Boat: Through the French Canals to Spain Eugenie and her husband, who I would describe as being itchy foot travellers, learn to sail in the UK in the 1980’s and then build themselves a 33ft yacht in their back garden. They then follow their BIG plan and take the boat over to France, sail round the Normandy coast and up the River Seine into Paris. During consecutive summer holidays they go from Paris via canals, rivers and waterways to reach the Rhone and then the Mediterranean, ending up four summers later in Spain. This is some adventure even today, but in the 80’s there were no mobile phones to use in an emergency, no Internet to do route research or check the weather reports and no blog to keep friends and family up to date with their progress – a different world to where we are now.

Written like a diary, the journey through France is best described as gentle. I am no boat person and I certainly wouldn’t want to be out in the Mediterranean in the Golf de Lion, but following the waterways of France seemed idyllic. She often writes of meeting kind hearted and friendly French locals who smile and wave at them in their ‘petit bateau’. The many different nationalities of boat people, all on their own journeys but whose paths often cross more than once, also seem to be a very nice, social bunch. There never seemed to be a shortage of apero invites at new moorings. As a non-boat person I’m not too hot on the boaty terms that cropped up as you would expect in a book centred on a boat, but thankfully Ade is far more the sailor than I am and was able to help me out. I did have a good chuckle when they sheltered from a storm in an idyllic bay only to find everyone else there were naturists. I think this was the only time they shut themselves in the cockpit to avoid embarrassing aperos!

This book is a lovely window on a different time and I wonder how things would have changed if the same journey were undertaken today.

The ebook is available on Amazon Kindle priced at 97p. Thank you Eugenie for sending me a copy to read and review.