Join us on our travels around Europe aboard our Dutch Tjalk Francoise

  • Jill Budd

    After 6 years aboard our Narrowboat Matilda Rose in the UK, we took the plunge and shipped her across to Europe. After 2 years in Europe we knew we didn't want to return to the UK so took the plunge and purchased a 1902 20 mtr Dutch Tjalk called Francoise and are now continuing our travels of the waterways of Europe in a buxom wench

  • October 2016
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Clamecy and decision time

Posted by contentedsouls on 16/09/2016

We passed two lovely moorings on our way to Clamecy on Saturday, but decided to push on to Clamecy itself. If you’re going into somewhere with lots happening and paying for the privilege, it always makes sense to me to stay somewhere short the night before and then pop in in the morning; that way you get a full day for your money, but we need to get on with things a bit or we’ll get stuck in closures.


We still arrived in time to make a visit to the micro brewery that the lockie had told us about – 4 to 6 was the only time it would be opening during the time we planned to stay there. Having tracked it down it turned out to be a child’s clothes shop!!!!! The owner of said shop explained that the brewery was only open by appointment and wanted to book us in long after we’d planned to leave; no English spoken so the whole experience was somewhat confusing and not likely to attract a great deal of tourist trade. We stopped for a beer on the way back after having a look around the pretty town and met quite a few of our boaty neighbours in the process.


Sunday morning we went up to the car boot in the hope of finding  drop leaf tables for Francoise, but to no avail, and then devoured a big fat loaf with (almost) ‘proper’ bacon, eggs tomatoes and mushrooms – following which we decided to postpone Sunday ‘lunch’ until Monday as we were both stuffed. The Mutt and I headed off to follow the old log running route where some of the old locks onto l’Yonne are still in situ.


Monday I set off to do my tour around the rest of the town with my camera, but intermittent rain and cloud didn’t do anything for the pics.


Quite as lovely as I had anticipated although, I know I’m no Debbie, but even I was ready for a bit of retail therapy and, in that respect, it did disappoint. I was, however, able to buy a cucumber and tomatoes! We met some lovely Aussies, Peter and Chris, on a barge called Star of Destiny (rapidly becoming better known as star of Dentistry) who we were able to help out with a bank transfer to the UK.

We trundled off on the Tuesday morning with a hire boat behind and an ex oil rig life raft and stopped at the most glorious little spot of Lucy sur Yonne adjacent to a little park


In the evening the sun turned everything gold; including Daisy


The following day we had a drive out up into the hills to the historical town of Vezelay (another listed on, ‘the most beautiful towns in France’). Inevitably full of tourists and a couple of coaches but still pretty sensational.

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Then the icing on the cake before lunch – a little clothes shop selling Italian gear that had a sale on and I left with a pair of linen trousers and a skirt at half price. Retail requirement satisfied and Graham had a French lesson from the proprietor whilst I was rummaging.


Thursday it was onto Mailly le Chateau where we found a delightful mooring with free water, electricity and full re-cycling. Friday we drove up the embranchment to the supermarket at Vermonton and decided to stay put for the weekend.


Saturday morning we raised the thorny old subject of what to do about selling Matilda Rose – we think we should ship her back to the uk and need to get her out of Roanne (before the winter closure on the Roanne Digoin). So Sunday lunch went in the freezer and Sunday afternoon we divvied up the food and beer and G set off on mission ‘retrieve Matilda Rose’.

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Up to the summit and down the other side

Posted by contentedsouls on 09/09/2016

I’m so far behind again that I can’t remember what I’ve told you and what I haven’t. The Nivernais continues to enchant as it meanders through ever changing scenery – from very British looking tiny canal, to mini Meuse, to wide open river and craggy rock faces. We moored at the little village of Fleury where we met new boat owners, on barge Anfra, Kellie and Peter with their Collie, Pepsi. Sadly in a rush due to time constraints to get her up to Holland for some maintenance. We had an excellent Sunday lunch at the restaurant lockside too.


The next place we moored was Chatillon-en-Bazois; not too shabby under the chateau with parts of the old gardens adjacent (it also had the added bonus of a decent sized supermarket and full rubbish and re-cycling). Baxter was quite happy chilling out the back – his favourite place on the barge now as long as it’s not in full sun.


On our final push up to the summit pound we encountered several staircase locks. In the doubles they filled both chambers from the top – only closing the middle gates after you moved into the top chamber. I found crossing the cill between the two chambers quite disconcerting.


There was also one 3 chamber staircase which, much to my relief, was operated in standard fashion

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After that we made our way, uneventfully, up to the summit pound at Etang de Baye, encountering very little traffic

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We were still experiencing baking temperatures (and still are) and our mooring next to the 25 acre reservoir which feeds the Nivernais was most welcome – not only for the breeze, but also for the swimming. We were also delighted to meet up with our blog follower Paula (who you will often see comment on here) and husband Phil from wide beam narrowboat Den Within Willows. We had a lovely evening; made all the better by knowing that we would catch up with them further on where they were moored at Chitry. Had a fabulous meal there at La Marin – I have no idea how they can produce that quantity and quality of food for the money.


Leaving Baye we were in for a longish day; 3 tunnels, 16 locks, but only 8 kms. With nowhere to moor between the locks, the eclusiers leave you in a lock at lunchtime – by sheer good luck, our lunchtime ‘lock of the day’ happened to be outside a quirky little bar that provided us with beer and crepes; except the crepes were delicious, fat, proper pancakes.


Our mooring at Sardy was newly constructed and very long, but occupied only by us, one motorhome, two horses and a man with a (cara)van. The village itself was full of art work. This stretch down from the summit is very arty farty and potters and artists abound.


From there it was on to Chitry les Mines where we met up with Paula and Phil again, plus some other rather interesting individuals for drinks. Bit of a party place is Chitry – what happens in Chitry, stays in Chitry (hmm .. didn’t Debs and Kevin moor there last winter?).

Paula and Phil’s  boat outside the little cafe there.


This really is a pretty little canal and, with it’s lift bridges, very reminiscent of the Llangollen in some ways – the big difference is that you don’t have to wind like a maniac – you just stand and look cool with your finger on the button!

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As we were approaching our mooring for the night at Cuzy, we spotted this monster in our rear view mirror – it’s only able to get under the bridges as it has no fixed wheelhouse. Unfortunately, the Germans in the hire boat had just pulled pins and were leaving for the bridge ‘ole – I shouldn’t laugh really, but they were like rabbits frozen in the headlights. The owners of the peniche were the delightful Giles and Sabrina and G was able to re-unite them with their car later in the day; we’ve been bumping into them (not literally as they are much bigger than us) ever since.


We had planned to eat at the, thoroughly recommended, hotel restaurant behind the hire boat but it had been closed for over a year. Instead we found a delightful little bar up in the village; 4 courses and a glass and a half of wine each for 12 euros – you really can’t go wrong with these ‘workmen’s lunches’. Whilst there was a pretty patio out the back we elected to eat in the main bar and engage in a bit of banter with the locals and a Dutch couple cycling with their dog in the basket on the bike.


I find I keep using the word quirky and having to change it to something different; but ‘quirky’ seems to sum up not only the canal, but also the people we are meeting along the way.

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Belleville–the one that got away

Posted by contentedsouls on 24/08/2016

We cruised through Belleville on our way to Briare – we cruised through it and back again with Lesley, Sarah and Andy when they came to stay; then we cruised back through again when we left, but not once have I mentioned it and it’s a shame to ‘waste’ the photos.

The official moorings are nice and close to a (very rare) decent sized supermarche; unfortunately they are too close to the road for me to let Daisy out with any kind of peace of mind, so we eschewed the free water and electric and put pins in a bit further up in a pretty spot by some ponds.


Unfortunately, whilst our back was turned putting in said pins, Baxter decided he was hot and would take a paddle. He came out looking immensely pleased with himself and stinking to high heaven!


The pond had many other occupants too


As you can surmise from the blown out cheeks, we were smack bang in the middle of the mating season and the noise level throughout the night and early morning was horrendous – sufficient to drown out G’s snoring!

Before we left, I cycled to the supermarche and somewhat overloaded my rucksack (note to self: must get panniers for the bike). Returning to the boat, I pulled into the centre of the road ready to turn left at the traffic lights when they turned green. As I slowed to a halt I became aware that my dismount was not going according to plan as the saddle got caught up the leg of my shorts and the weight of the rucksack on my back finished off the job as gravity took over and I hit the middle of the road face down. Normally on a week day afternoon in France there is hardly a soul to be seen but, much to my embarrassment, people materialised out of cars, houses and bars to enquire as to my well being. There was hardly a mark on me as I’d toppled off in slow motion but, due to the weight of the rucksack, I couldn’t get up and had to be helped to my feet by two young men who got out of their car. I was mortified and pushed the bike the rest of the way back to the boat.

I don’t know if I put these photos up of the power station either; if I did, I apologise but it has been a very hectic summer and my memory is not what it used to be. Besides, it’s my blog and I like them!!!


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Bring on the Aussies and home alone

Posted by contentedsouls on 23/08/2016

Having waved goodbye to Annette and Malcolm; G set off in the car to pick up his sister and b-i-l from Orly airport, having flown in from Australia to London the night before. We cruised across the Loire from the Lateral to the Nivernais and up a little before returning to Champvert (designated place for abandoning me). I can’t believe that I don’t have a single picture of my lovely s-i-l, but those few days were about spending precious time with family who, due to distance, we see far too little of. Muttley was quite pleased to have people staying over again too!


The days passed in a flash and, almost before I knew it, I was waving goodbye and they were all driving off to catch flights back to the UK. Normally I’m the first to enjoy a bit of space for awhile, but with all of them leaving at the same time after having become totally used to having people around since 30th June; it was a bit of a shock!!!! Coupled with that, the temperature rose to silly levels again which, whilst not reducing Baxter’s appetite, has an unfortunate affect on his stomach in particular and his well being in general – thus he requires almost constant attention. Our saviour was the spring/well next to our mooring – it rose out of the ground and trickled in a little channel into the canal. Perfik! There was also a spot where I could get Muttley into the river without leaving the Baxter for more than 40 minutes, provided I didn’t break my neck negotiating this ladder over a barbed wire fence. I had to pass the donkeys to reach it, so I had them to say bonjour to.


By the end of the first week I was going a bit nuts when I met the lovely Regula (whose name means something to do with Regina) who was out walking a French hunting dog called Alma. She is a hand surgeon in Switzerland (where was she when we needed her in Briare with Diane’s oyster accident?!) whose family own a house in the village (with room for a pony) and she borrows the dog and comes here for a few weeks at a time to just walk and chill and escape her life where, as she says, “every minute of my day is accounted for”. Yipee, someone to play with and with a car to drive out to pretty spots for different dog walking, although still a bit limited about leaving the Baxter for long. Alma and Muttley had a ball too.


When G returned, we drove back out to this pretty village of Tinte and took the car right down to the water so Baxter could go in too. The following photos are going to be treasured, bless him.


The very next morning our friends Gill and John (they of the car recovery adventure in Briare) on the lovely Piper barge Millie turned up (notice how everyone vanished whilst I was on my own and re-appeared when G arrived back; clearly it’s him that’s the party animal!), so we availed ourselves of the picnic tables in the shade for a b-b-q


We stayed one more day to let G get his breath back and then positioned cars – G driving Regula’s Mercedes – and cruised her and Alma to Cercy to catch up with Gill and John. We carefully attached Alma to the boat for fear she might jump overboard at any passing Coypu or ducks but she was as good as gold and frozen with excitement. Our two, of course, had seen it all before.


After lunch G drove her home and we did a supermarket shop with Gill and John (whose truculent car is now back in the UK) before eating John’s excellent paella onboard Millie in the evening. We waved goodbye to Millie in the morning as they were playing the ‘positioning for guests next week’ game and we needed to stay and sort out washing as I hadn’t had water at Champvert and it was two weeks since we’d filled. Here we are in the early morning sun.


Having only cruised that one day in the last two weeks I had very itchy feet and, having finished the washing and re-filled the tank in the morning, changed our minds about staying and booked the lock for after lunch (locks on the Nivernais close 12-1). We passed that lovely tjalk again too. Whilst the Nivernais doesn’t have the smack you in the face grandeur of Le Doubs it is utterly charming – quite British with the addition of picturesque locks and canalside bars and restaurants. These bridge ‘oles aren’t half tight.


We stopped at Anizy lock for the night by an extraordinarily decorated lock cottage – unfortunately there are no pictures as I went and left my locking gloves and camera outside on the front of the boat and it poured with rain that night and all the following morning …… doh!

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Le Guetin and time with barge ‘Rachel’ to Decize

Posted by contentedsouls on 14/08/2016

We moored as planned, for once, at Le Guetin where Malcolm and Annette caught us up. En route, this little beauty passed us – just look at the way the cabin lines echo the hull. Stunning and we hovered mid- channel for long enough to admire each others’ taste and take photos. It always comes down to the same thing though; if it’s your home, do you want to stand outside and admire it, or live in it? Still gorgeous.


It being a Saturday, and therefore no ‘plat du jour’ available, I managed to (easily) persuade everybody to try la/le Grenouille for lunch – a place I spotted when we came through before and sited out of town on the old canal. There were frogs everywhere (including legs), but none on our inclusive menus. We sat out in the sun for a beer first and the food was colourful and good. I’d definitely go there again.


Now what I haven’t mentioned is that Charlie and Misty also reside on Rachel, so they moored with a couple of boats between to give the three cats some space. I couldn’t get good photos but they are gorgeous.


The Loire is almost a puddle now, compared to when we came through before – there’s still one hell of a current on it though. I saw my first ever Bee Eaters there.


There was a ‘do’ on outside the moorings in the evening, which we wandered down to, but we couldn’t enjoy it as we were being eaten alive by mossies, so we gave it up.

We set off up the deep staircase locks and across the aqueduct first and then I jumped off and ran back across to take pictures of Rachel coming up and across


This was lovely to see too – one of the old Loire boats


When we arrived at Decize there was a free weekend music festival on – couldn’t turn that one down


Sadly for us, this was the parting of the ways as they continued along the Lateral a la Loire whilst we stayed for G to drive to Paris to fetch his sister and brother-in-law from Australia. Then we would hang a left across the Loire and then a right, up the Nivernais canal.

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The DBA rally and a touch of Delaney’s donkey!

Posted by contentedsouls on 22/07/2016

With Lesley, Sarah and Andy heading off towards the UK, there was just time to walk the dogs before heading into Briare market for our first assignment with the DBA rally – 11.00 am cheese and wine tasting.


The weather was perfect throughout; as was the company and the food. From this first event on, it was pretty much full on – so much so that I don’t have anything very much in the way of photographs. I have, therefore, shamelessly nicked most of the following photos from Ian McCauley and Gill Stollery.

The boat race started off as a race, but quickly degenerated into a plan to stay as close to the fabulous McCauley crew as possible; once it became known that they had beer on board! G and I came last and have the official wooden snail as our prize – we also had the McCauley’s beer. Lissette and Ian were such fun; I had been looking forward to meeting them for ages and it was worth the wait – it’s always brilliant to meet one of your blog readers. We made so many new friends although I didn’t realise that they were all coming back to party on Francoise!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! At one point there were 20 of us squidged into the wheelhouse and aft deck – I think that Debbie might have had something to with that.

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The other thing Debbie had a hand in was a bit of skull duggery on our neighbour’s boat. They had a bottle of rose hanging off of their bow which was tantalisingly close to our stern! Inevitably, temptation became too much and it was swapped for a bottle of menthe syrop.


The weekend was crammed full of events and over far too quickly and we rounded it off with a birthday party and dinner. The only blot on the landscape was Diane’s accident, she managed to shuck her tendons and arteries as well as the oysters; requiring some pretty major surgery and an extra overnight stay for us. We heard, subsequently, that the oyster concerned had been humanely destroyed.

On Tuesday morning the plan was to move Francoise out of Briare, back across the aqueduct, to the hay meadow before driving Gill up to St Jean de Losne to collect her car and position ours at Decize (ready to collect my sister in law from Orly airport on 31st). The plan didn’t start well as the water level had dropped a bit and Francoise was nestled firmly and snugly in the silt! The 20 people onboard on Friday probably didn’t help either!

It was like Delaney’s donkey; they were pulling her, pushing her, shoving her and shushing her…. but she wasn’t moving.

Millie and Sojourn both tried towing her off whilst all the other crews pushed and pulled to no avail.

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In the end, we had to get Lennie in with his big barge, Elysium, with it’s 175 horse power Mercedes engine. Like the professional he is, he had us off in jiffy and the silt finally released us.


By the time we’d locked up the 3 locks out of town and moored up, the car manoeuvring plan was already rather behind schedule. Not helped by Gill’s battery being flat and then G lost her before Decize with one of them stuck either side of an accident. They eventually found each other again but Gill’s car wouldn’t re-start and so they had to wait for international rescue (never a Thunderbird around when you want one!). They arrived back at their respective boats just before midnight.

Sojourn had joined us in the hay meadow and, deciding to stay on Wednesday for a day of rest, Pam and Rob kindly invited us round for dinner. We had a lovely evening but not a late one and we are expecting Annette and Malcolm on Rachel to catch us up for dinner either tomorrow or Saturday – so the party still goes on.

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Visitors and sunny days–at last the floods recede

Posted by contentedsouls on 17/07/2016

When you haven’t managed to blog for this length of time; the effort involved in trying to sort out notes and photos is so daunting that you are in danger of never blogging again. I am just going, therefore, to bombard you with some of my best memories and photos which may well be in random order. I should also warn you that, those of you with a delicate disposition, might want to avert their eyes regarding the sleeping arrangements of some of my menagerie – that, sadly, includes my guests.

From the Briare aqueduct we pushed north to the furthest point of navigation (due to the breach) to collect our mates. This route parallels the old canal/lock system with several sets of Foxton style staircases:- a disaster for commercial traffic which can’t pass each other. The new build replaced the staircases with individual locks which allows traffic to pass each other in the pounds and reduces the delays. In some places this heritage is celebrated, as in the village of Rogny les sept ecluse; others you just have to dig about in the undergrowth with a Muttley.

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When we landed at Rogny and tied off, the noticeboard said we would be charged 19 euros for the night, so we moved a 100 metres further on and, not only could we moor for free, we were met by a local welcoming committee who had hardly seen a boat this season. It’s difficult to remember in this heat that this was a month ago now and still in the aftermath of the flooding chaos. A pretty little place

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We moved on to Dammarie where we had an excellent plat de jour lunch; 13.50 euros for 3 courses and wine with the best tagliatelle with smoked haddock I’ve ever eaten. It was the morning that we discovered that the UK had voted out of Europe and we and the dogs were made tremendously welcome although amazed that G and I were shocked and dismayed at the result; they thought that we would be delighted so were quizzing us with an 100 mile an hour French. We vowed to try and take our friends back there the following week if things fell into place —- boats; plans!!!!!! Yes it did happen.

Billy no mates, we positioned ourselves at the (now) cul de sac of Chatillon Coligny; scrubbed, batch cooked for the freezer and provisioned the boat. By now I was beside myself with excitement – it had been over a year since Sarah and Andy’s brief visit last year and two and a half years since we took MR up to Market Harborough to say goodbye to Lesley and Joe before heading down the Grand Union to Watford to be lifted out and ferried to France.


There was, of course, a little matter of the sleeping arrangements to sort out; we have a spare room with a double bunk so we had ‘extras’ to sort out. We tried Lesley out for size in the wheelhouse Hobbit bed.


Whilst Baxter and Andy favoured the air bed in the saloon


I don’t need to tell you what a brilliant time we had (despite my failing to notice that a restaurant by the old ecluses onto the Loire was closed Tuesday as well as Monday – not so much as an icecream having made them walk!).These are two photos I shall treasure forever


Whilst Sarah will probably treasure driving  Stefan’s hotel boat (we were stuck in the floods with him and became quite friendly) Anna Maria IV, with a skotell drive. If you want to do pirating Sarah, we’re the ones that can show you the big time!


Thank you guys and thank you for all the presents and British goodies – you are the best. Missing you xxxx

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Briare and it’s Pont Canal

Posted by contentedsouls on 19/06/2016

We moved on the 4.5 kms from Chatillon to a lovely wild mooring just short of the 662 metre long Briare aqueduct across the Loire and old canal. With wide towpaths either side of the trough, we had good access (either by foot or bike) into Briare. To get to Briare by car from ‘our’ side, however, you have to go back to Chatillon or onwards another 9 kms before you can cross the Loire.

I am delighted to report that the kilowatt of solar panels now installed on Francoise’ roof (courtesy of ‘deliveries by Kevin’) has revolutionised life on board and we are now able to wild camp with gay abandon and we have had a lovely stay here for the week whilst we’ve waited for life upstream and ‘radio gunwales info’ to sort itself out a bit – the fact that the barge moored in the layby behind us is occupied by a VNF eclusier lady has been rather useful on the information front. The heavy rain continues, but is breaking into sunshine and showers which is altogether better (especially for the solar power) but the only problem with this mooring is that it is in a hay meadow with no path. Every time we step off of the boat we step into wet grass up to our armpits and we all know about Baxter’s opinion on wet grass; he also loves the sun on his tired old bones – his brain is still functioning though, as it didn’t take him long to find a happy solution … gotta love him! Neither G nor I had a dry pair of shoes left on the boat between us by the time we left – despite my efforts with the wax, polish and waterproof spray.


Our nearest neighbours were just delightful, one of the babies thought my jokes were hilarious and they were so curious about the dogs – fortunately Daisy didn’t get involved in the mix – I bet they were chilly having just had their coats harvested.


As for the aqueduct itself, it was pretty special. I think Francoise looks quite majestic cruising across this structure which was opened just 6 years before she was built.


We were planning to leave Tuesday when points north (up as far as the breach) officially re-opened, but then there was a strike so G decided to take the train to Roanne; paid 12 months rent on the garage, checked up on MR and brought the car back to within half a mile of the boat. Our plans were to leave in the morning for Ouzouer-sur-Trezee (try pronouncing that when you’ve had a glass or two) but, at gone 9.30 pm (nearly dark), we were joined at our wilderness mooring by the hotel boat Horizon II who said they had scuttled down here to avoid getting cut off by the rising river Trezee and advised us to stay where we were for a bit longer – more radio gunwales. So we went shopping in the morning; our first decent shop in weeks and we have coffee for our machine, fresh milk for tea and cat litter again – whoopee! We humped as much as we could through the half mile of wet grass and left the heavier, non-perishables, in the car.


We had some interesting visitors – this coypu had 7 babies and this other splendid chap is a, rather unimaginatively named, Bar Headed Goose. We Googled this Goose and it is not meant to be anywhere near Europe, ever! He seemed quite happy, albeit very noisy, with a couple of common or garden ducks for company but he’s not going to find a mate this side of India any time soon.


No case of mistaken identity over this one!

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Posted by contentedsouls on 13/06/2016

A feast for our eyes

Although it was only 8 kms, the contrast in scenery was immense and such a delight after two weeks in one place. The sun was out and the humidity levels, as you can imagine, high. It was late when we got there so our major exploration had to wait until the Thursday morning which left me with a lot to pack in. First off it was market day so we were able to extend our, somewhat limited, supply of veg purchased at Beaulieu and buy fish – yes FISH, joy! I can’t remember the last time we had fish that wasn’t out of a tin! Great market, friendly people and oh so pretty. I left G in a cafe bar to watch the world go by whilst I climbed the hill to the old town; well worth the climb and we definitely need to bring our friends here (could be the start of a plan). Just look at this:-

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So then it was back to Francoise for a quick lunch as I wanted to bikle out to look at the old locks down onto the Loire in the afternoon and Muttley still needed walking before we left (skipper had his moving hat on having been stuck for so long).

A gorgeous lunch of gambas and samphire before heading off in the opposite direction.


You’ll note the horse turn around in the centre of the bridge – confusing to the eye at the moment as the towing path is under water and the embankment can’t be seen. There are moorings down there too with a barge on – no idea if it can still get out again.


With everyone having spent so much time on board due to the weather, neither of us had the heart to shut Daisy in as we travelled, so we tried leaving her to roam as we cruised (whilst I danced behind in nervous attendance) for the first time ever. As with all things – except Herbie – she took the short trip in her stride.


Very little in life phases this extraordinary little cat

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Beaulieu. Decisions, rumours and mis-information.

Posted by contentedsouls on 08/06/2016

2 weeks today we’ve been moored here now and, for the last couple of days, I’ve been able to get out and about again with Muttley who has suddenly decided to become a bit of a water baby. I was actually able to get down to the Loire again but kept Muttley’s lead on as, if he’d lost his footing, he would have been swept away and never seen again!


After a day and a half of sunny, sticky, humidity; we copped this lot yesterday

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We have not had notification that navigation on this canal has re-opened however, all the boats pointing south have gone leaving just Stefan (on the bike barge hotel boat) and us pointing North at Briare and the breach. Stefan says that VNF are doing an ‘inventory’ of the condition of the canal to Briare and the locks (hopefully the aqueduct too!) and it is still closed beyond our bridge. Also, that movement to the south is restricted to draughts of <1.4 m. Then, yesterday, the huge hotel boat Deborah came trundling passed us (with a draft of 2 metres plus) towards Briare saying that they had been given clearance to Chatillon; 8 kms north of us and about  7 kms south of Briare – the French have a name for all this conflicting information – radio gunwales, which I rather like.

So with no further info to go on, Stefan left this morning to start a 6km cruise in reverse to the nearest winding hole as the one by the bridge is not long enough for him.


Our, inherited, rental of the garage at Roanne was up for renewal at the end of May and, despite letters and emails, we haven’t been able to contact the owner and pay another 12 months. We’ve been getting quite worried about it as our car is in it, so G decided it would be a good idea to take a train back to Roanne, visit the owner of the garage in person, check Matilda Rose and bring the car back. We were up at 6.30 am and G left for a 20km bike ride to Briare to get the morning train to Roanne – it was cancelled due to flooding, so he bikled 20 km back again.

Meanwhile I’d walked up to the village market for our ontake of fresh veg, cheese and eggs, where G caught up with me, and we sat and had coffee and pastis and scoffed the pastries I’d bought in the boulangerie – they were so good that we went back to get more to take home with us!!!

French parking cracks me; a narrowish street with cafe tables on one side and parked cars on the other – first the post lady abandons her post van in the middle of the road whilst she come to the bar for a coffee, then another car driver and a tractor driver did the same. No-one bothers or honks horns – they just sit and wait or come for a coffee themselves.


The market was bigger this week – it had a clothes stall


Returning to the boat we were Billy No Mates (but our calorie stash was very comforting) and we decided to turn and head back south the way we’d come.


Then G realised that he’d bikled to Briare and back and not picked up the post ……… so we headed north instead, to the delightful town of Chatillon–sur-Loire and, discovering the massive Deborah wasn’t there, rang the port of Briare to be told the port de commerce was open but not the locks beyond to the marina. G cycled back in the 7 kms to pick up the post and, guess what ….. Deborah wasn’t in the port de commerce either – perhaps she fell out of the breach!!!! Poor Stefan could have gone forward to Briare to turn rather than that long reverse.

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