contentedsouls

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

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Road trip to Spain–Part 2

Posted by contentedsouls on 18/02/2019

We had travelled through Luxembourg en route and filled up all the gerry cans in the trailer with diesel at 1.03 euros – this lasted both the van and the generator (used to run the fan heater whilst away from houses) but, whilst my ‘catering department one pots’ were also doing well, the wine and pet food departments were both swiftly depleting so it was supermacado time. We pulled off the main road and found one where we could park the van and trailer; not always that easy and, leaving G in the van, trundled off for my first Spanish catering department experience. Only a small supermarket but the fresh fish counter had me dribbling; I couldn’t utilise it in the van (my smelly socks were bad enough) but it foretold, very accurately, of the delights in store for us when we reached Oropesa. If I only want a few things I just take a bag in with me; emptying out my purchases at the till; it seems the Spanish do this too. Unfortunately, the lady in front of me at the checkout queue had done the same but had managed to break something in her bag which was full of a sticky liquid. I stood and twitched, aware that G was waiting for me, as a long Spanish dialogue ensued whilst each item of her shopping was meticulously cleaned off with copious amounts of kitchen roll; followed by the checkout conveyor, the checkout scales between each item and,finally, her ‘bag for life’ meticulously disinfected! When I finally returned to the waiting G I expected to be greeted with, ‘where the hell have you been?’ or, at least, ‘I thought you only wanted a few things!’ but, to his credit, he never said a thing (I mentioned in the previous blog that we were being nice to each other – aware of our small living space!).

We really weren’t far from our destination now so, in much need of showers and dinner out (I, for one, was pretty fed up with the ‘one pots’), we booked into an hotel in Tortosa for two nights. This went fairly well given that we were on the 4th floor with the cat and the dog as we had a lift – except it was the only lift, and the demands on it by both guests and domestic staff were extreme; one cleaning person and associated cleaning/laundry trolley left no room for guests – let alone Muttley – and the wait could be interminable. So what with the 4 flights AND the 3 steep flights up to the main entrance I found it pretty hard going; especially after spending 18 months in the flat lands of the NL. Daisy slept happily in the bidet with no concerns for my pain.

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After soaks in the bath and a nap, we headed down to reception about 5.30 to enquire as to where we could get the best Paella. One of the biggest delights about travelling for me is that a) you have no idea what anyone is talking about b) you have no idea how anything works and c) you don’t understand what anything is on the menu. Our first mistake was that we had become used to the Dutch early eating hours (5.30 – 6.00 pm with everywhere closed by 9.00pm – not in major cities, obviously; but we are not ‘major city’ types of people).

We head off for recommended restaurant and it was closed, so we found a local bar and consumed a beer in leisurely fashion before returning to said restaurant; still closed. No problema (see how quickly I am picking up the lingo), we’ll walk up into the main town and eat there. By now it’s 7 pm and all the shops are open and all the restaurants closed. Somehow we got tied up with young Spanish tourists who spoke English and were heading to a restaurant highly recommended by Trip Advisor so we followed them gladly at their invitation – it was closed. They informed us that it would be open about 8 ish but, by then, we were a long way from the hotel and shattered so we left them to it and headed back. En route home we found a covered market with food stalls open and we sat and picked out delicious Tapas (unlike any I have eaten before or since); we engaged in conversation with two Spanish policemen who were eating there before going on night duty who informed us that we had, ‘found the best Tapas in town’ and we certainly enjoyed them, so all was well that ended well.

Breakfast in the hotel was a sumptuous buffet; the coffee fabulous with the expected choice of juices, cold meat, cheeses, fruit etc. Now, I’m not much of a one for cold foods at anytime of the day, let alone breakfast, so my eyes lit up when I spied eggcups and a big bowl of eggs. I handed my egg, joyfully, to the lady and returned with my coffee to the table to make my bread and butter soldiers whilst I waited the 5 minutes (well 5 fingers held up anyway – so one assumes) that she indicated it would be. I waited and waited. Nothing. I tried to re-engage the conversation with her but she stoically avoided all contact with me. The following day at breakfast I saw a lady pick up an egg and put it in an eggcup – I pounced on her and she was very happy to show me how to squeeze the top of the egg and shell it!!!!!!!!!!!!! Why one needs an eggcup for a sub zero temperature hard boiled egg I’ll never know; it would appear that she had been trying to tell me that the eggs had already been cooked for 5 minutes. However, I’ve jumped the gun and missed our first full day there.

The hotel was right next door to a lovely huge park with an avenue of beautiful Plane trees which was perfect for Muttley and, once again, gloriously warm if you stayed in the sun and out of the wind. Although it did hold one potential hazard – what appeared to be a pergola at the entrance to the park, contained rather a lot of domestic rabbits, so I needed a bit of a detour to find an alternative entrance/exit for fear of frightening the children when Muttley tried to eat them.

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Quick to learn, we went in search of somewhere to buy full fat milk for Daisy before the shops closed at 1.30; I don’t think I have ever seen so many different varieties of milk and, inevitably, I picked up fully skimmed instead of full fat (it clearly said so in English in the small print….doh!). We sat out and had a light lunch of squid and prawns, and I was going to leave the ‘useless’ milk on the table but G handed it to a man begging on the streets, before retiring for our siesta. This time we left for dinner at 8.30pm and the recommended paella restaurant still wasn’t open, so we walked back to the place that the Spanish people had guided us to the night before. By then, of course, it’s well gone 9pm and the place is packed; not a seat to be had if you hadn’t made a reservation! The look on our faces must have been priceless and they took pity on us and said we could eat at the bar if we wished; we did wish, and very good the food was too, but it was way passed my bedtime by the time we left. On the way home we found the begging man had drunk his milk (or tipped it down the drain) and slung the empty carton on the pavement!

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Road trip to Spain

Posted by contentedsouls on 15/02/2019

It didn’t start well! it was lunchtime by the time we set off having winterised the boat and we were both pretty stressed but we found a lovely place to moor park overnight by lake Roermonde. Catering and housekeeping department had cobbled up some decent ‘re-heat in one pan’ meals which we scoffed and walked Daisy and Muttley before assembling the bed for an early night. Happily and soundly asleep, we were woken by the Dutch police who said that we couldn’t stay the night; it was illegal in their province. So poor old G got dressed and, by then wide awake again, drove 1 1/2 hours to a service station near Maastricht on the Dutch/Belgian border. The lady in the van stayed in bed with Daisy. An extremely noisy night with lorries coming and going; so not a lot of sleep.

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The second night we used an app for overnight parking and stayed by the Moselle in Gironde without being hassled and it was really nice to be back in the land of happy bonjour Monsieur/Madame territory and engage with some people playing boule. To our shame, we couldn’t stay awake long enough to avail ourselves of the village bar which would have been nice; but we were so tired after the previous night’s debacle and we re-heated another catering department one pot.

Daisy has taken to sitting on my lap the whole time we travel; which is fine on the motorways but I turn into a pincushion on back roads and roundabouts – it gives a whole new dimension to, ‘3 points of contact’.

It has taken some adjusting for me to live on the van – and no doubt for G too because it has been a bit of a ‘man cave’ for him as he travels to and fro from the NL to England and, usually, sleeps on it whilst there. By the third night we had a bit of a system going; the bed started to free up and pull out more easily and we had learnt that only one of us could move at a time. We also learnt to be gentle with each other because it is not a big enough space to have a row.

Then, of course, there is the toilet issue – l bet you wondered how long it would take me to get around to that subject? I have the porta pottie and we tended to get on the road about 9 ish and stop for breakfast and coffee mid morning and avail ourselves of the facilities. I must have been in my early 20’s when I last did a road trip through France; I remember the service stations as being really clean and with great food compared to their British equivalents – not so anymore. Now I was encountering loos without toilet seats and loos full of men rectifying plumbing; thank goodness the ‘holes with footprints’ days have gone as my knees can’t handle that procedure anymore!!!!! We won’t dwell any longer on this subject; suffice to say it did become a bit of an ‘issue’!

These photos were taken at an overnight stop by the Rhone at Cruas, just outside Montelimar and we were going to go into the city in the morning to load up with sweeties but, to be honest, it was too bloody cold and we wanted to push South to warmer climes asap.

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It was still very cold and, when the wind blew, it was icy as we climbed over the mountains and into Spain. Being ‘off grid’ we couldn’t use the fan heater so relied on the two gas hob rings to warm up the van in the mornings. Unfortunately Daisy (being a heat seeking missile) also gravitated to the gas rings and doesn’t have a lot left in the way of eyebrows or whiskers!

Once we crossed into Spain the motorway service stations took a marked upturn; immaculate loos and bacon and eggs for breakfast AND their coffee is the best I’ve ever drunk. Looking for our place to stay the night we ended up in the craziest, tightest, windiest, mountain village (trailer on the back) with the sat nav playing silly sods and I have no idea how G managed to negotiate through it without taking out someone’s doorstep or window box. He stuffed the phone into my hand and said ‘which way do we go?’. ‘I don’t know where we are so I don’t know’ I responded. ‘Where the blue triangle is’ he replied sharply. ‘If there was a blue triangle I’d know where we were’ I replied angrily. Our first ‘nearly’ a row though; so we’d done well. We did find our ‘place for the night’ but we couldn’t open the doors for the strength of the wind so had to drive back into the valley to find shelter – a shame though as the views were fabulous up top. By the end of our journey the next day the sun was (and continues) shining and the icy winds had gone. Time to slow down and start enjoying ourselves.

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Wishing you all a Merry Christmas

Posted by contentedsouls on 18/12/2018

After Gill and John left us a lot seemed to happen.

With temperatures forecast for a week of minuses, a bit of panic set in and we decided to hot foot it to Dokkum early to reach the comforts of shore power (getting soft in our old age!).

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We were only back a few days before we found out that G had an appointment back in Blighty, to discuss/assess his other knee replacement on the 11th December. I was desperate for a break before he left again, so jumped a train to Amsterdam where I spent some time with Voirrey on her boat and we met up with the lovely Val Poore for lunch; feels like I’ve known her forever but this was the first time we’d met. Way too brief but, nonetheless, sooooo very special.

Not many pictures from Amsterdam as it peed with rain for most of the time but we still managed to get out and about and eat lots of oysters and go to the new Van Gogh museum; stick it on your ‘must do’ list. So nice to have some ‘girl’ time, drink too much wine and put the world to rights.

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I arrived back late Saturday and G and I had the Sunday to sort the boat before he left at 7.30 am Monday. As most of you will know by now, I had to say goodbye to Baxter later that day; we won’t dwell on that one but I must say a heartfelt thank you to the friendship of Gary and Jill who quietly took Muttley out of the way and tiptoed around me and made sure Muttley was walked and that I ate something and so many more things besides. I hadn’t realised how stressful our lives had become with his round the clock care; nor how sleep deprived we both were. I slept for 16 hours that night.

The consultant agreed to replace G’s knee in the middle of April so now there are plans afoot to migrate South, after Christmas, and then come back to move the boat out of Dokkum by the end of March before finding somewhere to stay near Oswestry for 8 weeks whilst G has the op done and all the check ups, physio, etc., before returning to the boat again and, possibly, cruising to Germany.

Whilst G was away we had snow, so I’ll leave you with some pretty pictures and wish you all a Happy Christmas and hope 2019 is a good year for all of us. Thank you for staying with us through our ups and downs this year xxx

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Visitors and Sunsets

Posted by contentedsouls on 27/11/2018

After all the excitement en route to Sneek; it was time to get the boat cleaned up, re-provisioned, and some cooking done before Gill and John arrived. I try to get as much cooking done as possible before visitors arrive so that I can spend as much time as possible with friends and as little time as possible in the galley once they’re here. They arrived in glorious sunshine and we ate out in the evening before heading off in the morning to give them a taste of island moorings and cruising in Friesland. Unfortunately it was foggy and frigging freezing in Friesland so they didn’t get to see a lot! It did, however, cheer up for the cruise the next day; at least enough for Gill to see where she was going!

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This seems to be the only picture I took whilst they were here; sorry John, nothing personal! We really enjoyed their company; it was good to catch up and play daft games. I really missed them when they left; a definite case of understaying their welcome – better that than the other way round I suppose – but I felt a bit flat, so I took Muttley for a blast down the beach, replenished the wine stocks (which seemed to have evaporated a bit!) and we headed out onto Goaiingarypster Puollen (I love the Dutch place names, they are so easy to spell, pronounce and remember!). We spent several days there in glorious sunshine and enjoyed some spectacular sunsets straight through our big windows, not to mention bird watching.

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I wanted to stay longer because of both the views and the excellent Muttley walking, but G was starting to twitch about the forecast consecutive minus temperatures, so we headed on to Akkrum where we’d left the van. It was a bit of a scrabble time wise, but we made the drive back into ‘closed down to boats’ Sneek and managed to get to the matinee performance of Bohemian Rhapsody. It was good but the sound quality wasn’t, which was a shame as we didn’t get the full benefit of the music and couldn’t hear what they were saying to each other; the Dutch sub-titles didn’t provide a lot of assistance in that area either! I’m glad we went though and, amazingly for us, we both managed to stay awake!

The neighbours at Akkrum were pretty cool.

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Hitching a ride

Posted by contentedsouls on 20/11/2018

From Lemmer we went on to Workum to spend the day at their annual cattle market and horse racing through the town. Finally, I managed to find a restaurant that sold the famed local mussels which certainly lived up to their reputation; I think they were the best I’ve ever tasted – which is saying something having lived in France for 3 years. We were joined by Gerrit and Gezina after lunch.

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I love the fact that, within an hour of the event finishing, the town was cleared of straw, sawdust and manure. A nice little town with bags of character and open spaces

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Then it was onto Koudum where we had been offered a berth at a small boatyard whilst G was away. Gary and Graham arranged a van recovery trip (thank you guys) whilst Jill and I drank wine and danced in the sunshine to some big band sounds. We stayed there for a few weeks (even after G arrived home) because it was so nice and there was no reason to leave; excellent dog walking too. Yep! Chula IS asleep in that position. Whilst there, Vim welded our hoist onto the roof (to make getting the dinghy on and off a lot easier) and we enjoyed several evenings in Vim and Anne’s company.

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We also drove back to Workum to join in the celebrations and watch the start of the annual shit race; First one to Rotterdam with manure for the tulip bulbs wins (in a nutshell). It is forbidden to use engine power so everyone had to bow haul themselves out of there – one helluvva lot of boats in a small space with a terrific atmosphere; a great day out.

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Toilet facilities were provided by the local penis fountain. Everytime the toilet is used they squirt water out! I love the humour.

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When we, eventually, dragged ourselves out of Koudum, we headed slowly back towards Sneek where we intended to provision the boat and pick up John and Gill (so many ‘G’s’ and ’J’s’ in my life) who were coming out to stay with us for a few days.

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We moored up in Sneek and, come evening, the friendly young harbour master turned up to collect our mooring fees. He remembered me from our previous visit and I teased him about the exorbitant charges, given that it was the 30th October. He replied that after that night it would be free as it was the last day of the season, which was jolly good news as we wanted to stay a few more nights; we needed paint and curtain fabric and a big supermarket shop, and we had had a great lunch at a restaurant that we wanted to take Gill and John to for dinner the night they arrived.

Sat outside in the sunshine the next morning, the man in a van from the council turned up. He wound down his window and shouted across that we had to leave today. I said that the harbour master said we could stay (not, strictly speaking, true but….), to which he responded, somewhat grumpily, “one night then, the port is closed for winter now” and drove off before I could respond. So I took a wander in to the town hall to let them know we wanted to stay until Monday morning….this didn’t go well. The nice lady wasn’t a boaty person and, unusually, her English wasn’t that good. She phoned somebody at length and reported back that we had to leave because the bridges would be closed from 7pm that day, but that we could stay one more night. Some of the bridges are operated by the waterways and some by the towns but all (according to our nav systems) are bookable in advance; she just shrugged and gave me alternative places to stay (which we knew about and were not any good to us) repeating that all the bridges were closed at 7pm but that we could stay one more night. Completely confused now, we decided we couldn’t risk getting trapped for the winter; so I did a frantic dash to the nearest supermarket and we left; having decided to pick up our friends back at Lemmer instead. That was quite a bit of money we would have spent in the town had we not been evicted.

It was around this time that G started to find pictures of Francoise on Facebook; posted by J-M and Leona on a commercial ship, ‘Syracusa’. Turning out onto the PMK (the Dutch boating equivalent of the M25) the next morning, we found ourselves behind Syracusa. J-M called us up and the fellars switched to the chat channel whereby he invited us to come alongside so we could meet properly. So he slowed down, we speeded up and went alongside tying off to them, switching off our engine and going on board the commercial; all whilst we were both moving and with other commercials around. It’s a bit difficult to get an idea of the scale of things from the photos but think of an ant on the side of an elephant; Francoise has never seemed so tiny. So thank you Sneek for evicting us; if they hadn’t, we would have missed out on the experience of a lifetime!

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As we approached the big lock (still not wide enough for us to be alongside), we returned to Francoise, untied and went in behind them. After the lock, we peeled off into Lemmer, waving them on their way with their cargo of salt to Amsterdam and Rotterdam (they passed us again 2 days later on their way back!). Our thanks to J-M and Leona for a truly memorable morning.

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Things that go bump in the night

Posted by contentedsouls on 23/10/2018

Before leaving Aldeboarn, we couldn’t help but spend a happy hour enjoying the antics on passing hire boats when they arrived at the low bridge adjacent to us. This lot tried to use their hands on the bridge to assist their braking power.

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We were heading off to Sneek to meet up with Annette and Malcolm, on Rachel, before they returned to the UK for winter. Annette and I had planned a girly day in town before heading back out to moor outside the Chinese restaurant for dinner in the evening. Whilst wandering around the town we bumped into Susi and Austin who I hadn’t seen since we were in Toul in France. They were leaving their boat in Toul for the winter before returning to Australia (we had met earlier that year) so were very busy but, despite that, had walked the dogs for me for the two days before their flight home when I broke a bone in my foot and my collar bone whilst home alone. To just bump into them like that was amazing – we’d lost touch and I didn’t even realise that they were in the Netherlands; even more weirdly, Annette and Malcolm had met them the previous week but hadn’t realised the connection to us. Already late for our promised return to our boats to leave at 4pm, I could do nothing more than quick hugs and a commitment to contact them in the morning. So we waved goodbye to Annette and Malcolm in the morning and – feeling rather like a young Spanish Lothario – headed back into town to moor up next to Susi and Austin. A good time was had by all and we had hoped to meet up again in Meppel; but it was not to be!

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We trundled off toward Lemmer ahead of the forecasted weekend storms – we didn’t want to be caught out either crossing, or mooring on, the exposed lakes. Everybody seemed to be scurrying about to get moored up safely and we stopped on rabbit island; one of our favourites

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Boats and plans, of course…… on the outskirts of Lemmer we lost nearly all power on the engine and G managed to limp to the bank in an area designated specifically for commercials to load/unload their cars.

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We rang our ‘go to man’, Nieko, from the yard in Franeker who promptly dispatched a friend of his who lived locally. He struggled to find us, so G set off (with Muttley, at my insistence) to meet him, but he had a new car so wouldn’t give G a lift back with the dog (how I laughed). By the time G walked all the way back, he had been down the engine ’ole whilst I ran the engine, confirmed G’s diagnosis, whipped off the fuel injector pump and was leaving! As Muttley had had a good walk (still chuckling) and we could go nowhere, I decided to get in my PJ’s and slob out after dinner – after all, we weren’t going to see anyone stranded on our ‘dead end’.

Just as it was getting dark there was a knock on the door!

It was the local waterways jobsworth: “You have to move”. “We can’t”. “You have to”. “We can’t”. “You’ll have to get a tow then”.  “At this time of night we can’t”.“ You have to”. “Can you get us a tow then?”. “I can’t”. As this conversation was doing nothing to expand my Dutch vocabulary I was getting a bit bored and chilly, stood there in my PJ’s, so I left the men folk to their repetitions and went and watched a bit of telly. Eventually the jobsworth man rang his boss and, it transpired, that the problem was that we were in an area designated for ‘hazardous cargo’. The fact that we had a ‘dangerous cat’ onboard didn’t qualify us, apparently. They were concerned for our safety, despite the fact that there were no boats moored there carrying hazardous cargo. So it was decided that we should pull Francoise back 20 metres around the corner where we had to tie up to railings and the scaffold poles laying on the bank. Hey ho – off he went happy; in the end.

The next morning, at lunchtime as promised, our efficient engineer returned with our 1965 injector pump having found the parts and replaced the ball bearings overnight. Within 30 minutes we were on our way again. That’s service. Square ball bearings are not to be recommended.

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When we, finally, arrived in Lemmer we found that everyone else had decided to take shelter there too; made worse by the lock (there is the odd one about!) being closed for the day, so nobody could get out the other side. Inevitably, everyone ended up breasting up. We had to wait awhile to get into town because they were working on the bridge as well as the lock.

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Hadn’t been moored for long before a yacht came along asking to breast us and inviting us around for G&Ts. Frank and Diana and their puppy. It started early and finished late. At some point during the evening it was discovered that my 2.99 reading glasses came complete with headlights. Two of us and two dogs blew the cobwebs away on the beach the next morning; two of us (plus Baxter, of course) didn’t!!!!!

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En route I had been chatting to a Facebook friend, Marcha, and trying to arrange a meet. At first it looked like we wouldn’t be in Lemmer at the same time but, in the end, we managed it and I know we will remain firm friends. Marcha and Peter have two little dogs like mini Baxter and Muttleys; we shared a lunch and a dinner together and, the next day, I saw little Joep running after a lady with a dog.Thinking he’d escaped from their boat, I called Joep to me to catch him and take him back to Marcha’s boat. The lady whose dog I was trying to kidnap wasn’t best pleased, but recovered her sense of humour when Marcha and Joep appeared and she could see the likeness.

Our nights in Lemmer were not without incident. One night somebody decided to ‘dance’ on our roof. Another night we were breasted up by a hire cruiser occupied by a load of blokes in their 40’s – instead of just getting off and going out to dinner, they were  backwards and forwards half the bloody night. At 2am they took another couple back to the boat with them; ended with the couple falling off their boat onto ours … grrrrrr.

I like Lemmer a lot; great little town and I do love a beach

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The predicted storm, when it arrived, hit hard. We won’t talk about the Lemmer Webcam!

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Aldeboarn Gondelvaart 2018

Posted by contentedsouls on 03/10/2018

We moored just outside Herenveen and Gerrit and Gezina brought the van back so that G could leave for the UK on Monday. Fabulous walking all around the lakes, but too far to go into town (limited to how long I can leave Mr B on his own) and G ended up being gone for just over 2 weeks. Despite hardly speaking to another human being in that time, it was amazing how the days’ flew by. We had another couple of seriously hot days and Muttley had a good time on all the beaches.

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As you can imagine, once G returned I was pretty keen to move on and have some company! We cruised to find Jill and Gary on Noorderzon for the night as they were about to go back to the UK for a little while and then they came on board Francoise for a cruise back to Aldeboarn ready for the annual Gondelvaart.

The 4 dogs are so good together but I shut Daisy away in the bedroom as she has a tendency to wind up visiting dogs!!

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I think I have moved on from my, ‘I wish we had a sail boat’ phase; I now want this immaculate tug.

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I managed to sponge a lift off of Gezina and Jill who had arranged to have hair cuts. This gave me a, much appreciated, hour and a half to have a wander around the shops in Herenveen and do a bit of people watching over a coffee without worrying about getting back to Mr B.

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Meanwhile, back in Aldeboarn, preparations for the upcoming Gondelvaart were well underway. Each street in the town picks a theme for their Gondel (sort of big, flat top decked, punt) and then they decorate the houses on the street in the same theme. Walking around the village I thought, at first, that the place had been the victim of fly tippers.

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That was until I spotted the corresponding gondel being built – clearly ‘plastic in the ocean’ is very topical here too

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So here are a few pictures from the event – sadly the quality of the night time ones are not good

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How to drown your visitors. Skutsje Racing 2018

Posted by contentedsouls on 27/08/2018

The Skutsje racing is a very big deal in Friesland and positioning your boat to get a good view takes a fair bit of planning. In addition we had invited Gezina & Gerrit out for the day which meant we needed land access. It worked out rather well, with ‘Rachel’ moored on the mainland and us on the island adjacent to the racing and a tender apiece to collect visitor’s and get back and forth. We were very lucky to get a mooring and we only managed by being naughty and mooring by the bin, in a space that’s reserved for access by the bin emptying boats – no way would they be along to empty it on a race day.

So part of the planning involved getting out of the boatyard and catching up with Rachel. By then, the heatwave had hit us and pretty much pinned us to the decks. Here’s some pretty pictures of our cruises en route to watch Wednesday’s race – and some not so pretty pictures of the mess left behind from the post race party on Monday. Appalling and not something often seen in the NL.

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Tuesday’s race was abandoned as there wasn’t a breath of wind. Wednesday the heatwave broke and we had strong winds and some lively water – so lively that our little electric motor on our tender wasn’t man enough to cross the lake to pick up G & G. Malcolm kindly picked them up in his sturdier tender with his more powerful outboard and brought them across to us. To say it was rough doesn’t really fully express the conditions, however they arrived safe and sound … but wet….very wet… wetter than wet things. In fact I don’t think they could have been wetter if they had swam across.

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By the time we provided Gerrit with a towel and a change of clothes, Gezina discovered that both there phones had drowned and, far worse, her essential medication inside a pill box which was inside her handbag which was inside a plastic bag; had dissolved. So there was no choice but for the intrepid duo of Malcolm and Gezina to turn around and head back to shore so that Gezina could drive back and get replacements.

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When they arrived back the next time, they had made modifications to their transport!

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After a rocky start (pun intended), we had a lovely day watching the racing from the vantage point of Francoise’ roofs (including Diesel the dog). Malcolm, again, transporting them back to land after we all enjoyed supper together – thank you.

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After a lovely day I was quite tired when I went to bed and looking forward to a nice lie in and a lazy day … hmm.. remember that bit at the beginning where I said we’d parked illegally in the Bin Man’s space? Here he is…bright and early, bless him.

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So we held off until he’d finished and then tied up again. After that the weather rapidly started to deteriorate

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We spent a very uncomfortable and noisy night with the anchor down – our other friends around the corner broke free of their anchor, but we were fortunate enough to ‘hold’. They, and we, scuttled off through the bridge in the morning to quieter waters and had a lovely evening together. Quite tired now.

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An unexpected visit from the family

Posted by contentedsouls on 19/08/2018

On our way to Groningen – again – and we had a phone call saying that our friends Malcolm and Annette on barge ‘Rachel’ were not that far behind us on their way up from France. So we turned around – again – and went back to meet them. Both the small boats either side of the last, not quite big enough, mooring space happily moved along a bit so we could moor and be  ‘friends re-united’.

It was only a few days later that they called on the Thunderbirds Rescue team. They toddled off in their tender to visit other friends of theirs moored a few kilometres away and ended up running out of fuel for their outboard – right in the middle of a dirty great lake and a sailing race (I bet they weren’t very popular!) Rowing all the way back wasn’t an option, so they ‘phoned Thunderbirds and we formulated a rescue plan. G would set off in our tender (with electric motor) with spare fuel on board for them; it was likely to be a one way trip for him as the battery wouldn’t have enough power for the return journey; the idea being to top them up and then they could tow him home. Just as he was setting off they turned up – a lovely man on a houseboat spotted their predicament and they rowed across to him and he gave them fuel for their return journey. Thunderbirds was back on stand down.

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We shared several pretty and remote moorings with them over the next few days.

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Whilst out walking Muttley, I came across a small brocante with a lovely little chair for sale – the perfect size and shape for our bedroom. The only problem being that I had to walk it (and Muttley) 2.5 kms home along a busy cycle track.

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No problems; when I got tired or cyclists were coming, I just sat on it and called Muttley back to me which caused much hilarity amongst the locals – the irony is that, had I been competent enough to cycle with it under my arm, nobody would have batted an eyelid! ‘Re-furbing the chair’ is another job now added to my list, although G says, “why bother; you can’t see it buried under discarded clothes anyway’’. Hmmm…..he has a point.

On the subject of decoration and refurbishment, I have added a new skill to my repertoire – picking spider poo out of curtains. I took down the 8 large, very pale, cream curtains in the saloon to see if they could be salvaged from the water stains. They came up remarkably well, apart from the copious black marks of splattered spider poo. Spider poo picking is, I’ll have you know, a very skilled job so, if you want expert advice on the subject, I’m yer man woman. During the heatwave I had to iron those curtains before re-hanging them (having first found the iron and unpacking it); I’d just hung the ones by the dining table when Jill and Gary popped by. Jill sat at the table to eat her lunch and had a bit of a mishap whilst opening a sachet of salad dressing – yep; straight up the curtain! The look of horror on her face was pricelessly funny, but at least the curtains and dressing were a very similar colour. Not wishing to be ‘outdone’, two days later I opened a bottle of pink beer which, unbeknown to me, had partially frozen in the fridge. It exploded as I opened it, so I shoved my thumb on the top as the contents headed towards the window; this ensured that the sticky pink liquid spread over an even wider area; running down the window and, literally, dripping off the ceiling. Bloody Murphy!!!

There has been a fair bit of discussion on previous blogs about our bed being a long way off of the ground – in addition to the additional storage created below it, I have found another advantage; you can paint the bedroom ceiling whilst lying on your back – no more arm ache; how cool is that? Gezina has given me a new nickname, ‘Jillyangelo’!

Anyway, enough of all that or you’ll be moaning that there aren’t enough pictures. I’m bemused by the, apparently, random gate posts (taken from a cycle path which isn’t wide enough for a car) and notice that Graham and Gezina have been throwing dog leads into the pot again.

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One afternoon, G popped his head outside (for the first time all day) just in time to see a familiar name on a yacht passing by; the same as the name on his cousins’ UK based yacht….of all the yachts in all the waters…. it was his cousin Robert and Alison. One minute either side and we would have missed them altogether (nice try guys; you nearly got away with it!).

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We had a good old natter over coffee and a promise to meet up with them in Franeker in a few days time – as it happened they kept popping up almost everywhere we went. In the end, we enjoyed a great meal out together one evening (also joined by Jill and Gary) and various cups of coffee, before they headed off out of our area. Great to see you guys; we really enjoyed your company.

The initial reason for going to Franeker was to introduce Malcolm to Nieko at the shipyard to discuss the work he wanted doing on ‘Rachel’ this winter. By the time we got to the shipyard, Francoise was also in need of Nieko’s expertise. Our old engine has always smoked a bit on start up but, normally, settles down once it’s warmed up a bit – not anymore; you couldn’t see us for the clouds of smoke and the fumes were actually rolling down into the cabin. We appeared to only be running on a fraction of our 6 cylinders. Rachel carried on for a few days whilst we sat about in the boatyard getting fixed. How I hate the noise from that bloody wind turbine overhead. Interesting boats and work going on though but not much fun getting Baxter across the boat we were breasted up to.

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A few pictures of Rachel following us and our trip to, and through, Leeuwarden and the art work under the lift bridges

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Island living and Friesian horses

Posted by contentedsouls on 09/08/2018

We (and that includes Daisy) love mooring on these tiny island moorings but the only drawback is that there isn’t enough ‘area’ to walk Muttley; this is where the boat’s tender comes into its own. Muttley prefers the destination rather than the journey though when it gets at all rough; on this trip we got beached going to the beach and getting G off of the bottom again after he dropped Muttley and I off wasn’t easy.

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You never know who or what is going to arrive; it’s common place to see dogs in tenders, but this visitor surprised us.

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The duck sat there quite happily whilst the chap chatted to his mate in a canoe before driving off again – bizarre.

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We managed to reserve a mooring at Eastermar for the annual horse fair as I adore the Friesian horses and hoped I might get ‘up close and personal’ and that I might be able to persuade himself that we had, ’room for a pony’. It turned out that the horse fair was also when the village had it’s annual fete and there were all sorts of fun and games and music happening over the weekend. I must admit that the Scottish pipers and drummers were another surprise.

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I was up soooo early that even the market stalls were still unpacking

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But it was worth it to get there early and watch the deals being done before all the tourists arrived. Many of the livestock changed hands more than once. A Friesian riding horse will set you back upwards of 5/6,000 euros apparently; no idea what the foals and unbacked ponies fetched. All of the animals were in good condition and well looked after. Peace reigned with the mares being led through the streets and their foals running free; that is until a chap came through with an entire pony that smelt the mares and then went berserk – rearing up and kicking out, catching it’s handler on her backside and sending her flying; she’ll be needing the Arnica. So, if you are not into horses (llamas, donkeys, etc.), scroll on down because here come a lot of pictures.

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Gezina & Gerrit came out for the day and then G’s ‘other woman’, Marijke and Jan came out on the Sunday to give their new car a spin.

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We found a new, idyllic, mooring in reach of a beach for Baxter – Mr B is on a lead because he could go the wrong way and wander off into the deep!

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Over the next few days the beach turned into this

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So we decided to move on before the assault on our eardrums started.

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