"Believe me, there is nothing-absolutely nothing -half so much worth doing- as simply messing about in boats." Yes, Ratty was absolutely right when he spoke these words to Mole in 'Wind in the Willows.' If only I had heeded him earlier in my life. Still, better late than never as they say. In 2016 we bought our first boat in France and began to explore the beautiful Canal du Midi in our 9m long old Dutch steel vedette, which we named Njiva. For the next six years we saw a different side of France as we travelled between Homps in the Aude Valley, and the large inland sea known as the Etang de Thau, where we took a mooring at Mèze . We learned to traverse the locks, including the famous flight of eight locks at Fonseranes near Béziers. We enjoyed amazing wild life such as coypus, bee eaters and rollers, and marvelled at the beautiful wild flowers that proliferated along the banks. During that time we also witnessed mass felling of the stately plane trees that have cast their shade over the water for centuries. It is heartening to see so much replanting of new disease resistant tree species. Above all, we have enjoyed the camaraderie that exists between fellow boaters, and the absolute peace of the waterways.