According to the author’s website, Vin Rouge, Fiestas and a Small Boat is a Kindle best seller. It is part of a trilogy of travelogues, describing a trip from Canvey Island in Essex, through the French canals and on to the Costa Del Sol in Southern Spain.
The diaries describe boating life away from the stresses and strains of everyday life, with some unique experiences, such as when a kind Frenchman lost a cleat on his motorboat when towing their grounded yacht to safety. The stories reminded us of the extremes of adventures travelling through waterways in France, from the wonderful hospitality of the locals to the state of public toilets in some places. An amusing passage relates a warning on the perils of eating out in a foreign country when you are inebriated and do not speak the language, resulting in getting pigs’ trotters instead of pork chops
However, it is not all plain sailing, as the peace and tranquillity of the French inland waterways is contrasted with getting caught out when crossing the Gulf of Lion with a Mistral blowing and huge waves.
.A question arises over the value of the technical information in this book as it is written about a journey made about thirty years ago. Had the book been written soon after the trip, this would have been a valuable resource to others planning a similar passage. Dated though it may be, some of the messages are still relevant today. One good example is a caution about taking advice from strangers – on being told the weather forecast to expect calm seas by a Spanish fisherman, only to meet Force 5/6 and rough seas. At one hundred and forty pages, this is a light read with some amusing salty tales but would have been improved with the inclusion of some photographs, maps and chartlets.
Reviewed by Sue & David Long
Word count 340