Abemama is still in convalescence at Capestang, near Beziers, waiting for a cracked rib to cure itself. The accident has completely altered our view of medical form E111, which we had been told was next to useless. At the Centre Hopitalier de Beziers – a very impressive set-up- the receptionist simply photocopied our E111 and that was the only bureaucracy involved. Our crew member was given a thorough pre-med examination by a nurse using some very sophisticated electronic equipment and was seen by a doctor within 5 minutes. Getting 3 x-rays took less than 30 minutes and a lady doctor was with us very soon after for a second examination. There was nothing to pay – apart from ’85Fr for medicines – and we could have reclaimed 60 Fr of that. This is an area where we have much to learn from the French.

It is a pity that the few objectionable people we meet reside in memory longer than the majority who are kind. Beziers is about 10 miles from here, but we have been overwhelmed by genuine offers of transport should we need to go back. Even most of the hire boats appreciate that excessive wash making a moored boat roll unexpectedly could cause an accident and slow down. Those who respond to requests with finger gestures are probably spoiling their own holiday —- especially one who made the sign at the harbour ‘surveillante’, who asked him to slow. A fellow council employee, who had seen the insult to a colleague, whilst he was watering the flowers on the adjacent bridge, inadvertently tipped a whole drum of water onto the passing offender.

When I am feeling bored and mischievous, my own solution is to sit on the quay with the clipboard which is my portable office and pretend to note the name of anybody going too fast. If they do not slow in response to a request, I raise a switched off hand held radio to my ear and pretend to talk. It has a very amusing effect. Apparently news of the inspectorate’s more frequent use of stop watch and powers to fine is getting around.

Today is a very good day not to be going anywhere. We are near the Gulf of Lions and have a Tramontane gusting to 8/9. It is reputed to blow for 3 days, 7 or 11. This looks like a 7, because my 5 day Hamburg teleptype forecast promises only force 3 by Tuesday midnight. I feel most for the skippers of the high powered, high sided hire boats with very shallow draught. They find it almost impossible to berth upwind to the water tap ahead of us and have difficulty in getting off the lee bank.

It all makes for what the French call ‘un jolie spectacle.’ As we are stuck with them, we may as well enjoy the sun, the pastis and the antics.