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

  • March 2017
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More tales of woe and misadventure!

Posted by contentedsouls on 23/03/2017

Having waved goodbye to Sue and Vic and recovered the car, ready for G to make a long overdue trip to the uk, we re-stocked the boat at the fantastic Saturday market ready to move on. Except the fire had failed again and PK Fluvial were posting out yet another part – we can get the fire to work, but only by jamming a fork in and by-passing the safety valve! After 3 trips in vain to the Post Office, we ‘phoned them again to find out that they had ‘forgotten’ to post it. By now it was the following Tuesday, so I suggested G went back on Thursday (a week earlier than planned) as we had to wait for the spares anyway and we didn’t want to move any further out of the area until the problem had been resolved. So a frantic 24 hours of booking of ferries, car MOT and diesel loading took place and by 7.30 am G had gone.

15 minutes away Muttley and I had discovered the glorious Parc Nature Patis. It starts formal with a beach and adventure playground and then gets wilder and wilder with acres and acres of pathways, lakes, woodlands and fields. More walking than I can handle in one go these days. Fabulous.



On the Sunday, I was sat on a bench in the park in the sun talking on the phone to Sue when a swarm of little dogs came charging up to us at full yap. I tried to count them and told Sue that there were 14; the lady, in perfect English, corrected me and said that there were 17!!! Muttley was totally overwhelmed – I think he thought he was going to be eaten by the canine equivalent of Piranhas. You will understand why the photo isn’t very good, but the little one nearest us was soooooo cute and licking Muttley’s leg – he was very reluctant to leave us and I could have very happily popped him into my pocket and taken him home.


G left Thursday and the fire went out Friday – no disaster as I was on leccy so could run the central heating. On Saturday I had a visit from 2 ladies from the tourist office which is responsible for managing the town moorings. Rather mysteriously, they handed me a leaflet saying that the moorings were limited to 48 hours and asked me how long I wanted to stay (I’d already been there 11 days); so I answered the question and said 5 nights. They then charged me 4.50 euros a night for 4 nights – mine is not to reason why!


Apart from the fact that I was completely shattered from doing all the night and day shifts with Baxter single handed, we were all bumbling along fairly nicely until ………. En route to the park I had Muttley on the flexi lead and he took off after something, I locked the lead – which failed – and he hit the end at high speed (I should have let go but it all happened so quickly). The next thing I knew is that I was airborne and horizontal to the ground before hitting it hard and it was concrete. I bent up all my glasses, had ripped a wedge of skin out of my thumb and my right wrist hurt like hell. A lovely couple picked me up, literally, recovered Muttley and walked me back to the boat. There is a large element of shock involved in something like this and I confess to splinting my arm with a wooden spoon and a scarf, tying my glasses up with string and sticky tape, pouring myself a glass of wine, watching a bit of TV and having an early night; putting bed pads down for Baxter (resolving to clear up as necessary in the morning) and letting Muttley out by himself for last wees – how’s that for irresponsible dog ownership. Amazingly I slept really well.

In the morning the shock had worn off and it was clear all was not well. G was adamant that I needed to seek medical help and Sue sent me a map of the nearest Urgence (French A & E) – it was a long way away and I really wasn’t feeling up to it. In the UK you’d call a taxi but it’s not that simple here, so around 4pm I girded my loins for the inevitable and headed off. The gardeners were out in full force at the mooring, titivating it ready for their summer visitors, so I asked them to clarify which street I needed to head up, they took one look at me and called the pompiers. In less than 4 minutes I was air bagged by 4 fireman (Holby City style) and on my way to Urgence under blues and twos – I can laugh now, but I was so embarrassed at the time. 10 days later, I am recovering a lot quicker than I had dared hoped – obviously not weight bearing yet, but I can use my hand again. Last pic shows the original swelling and the 1st shows the bruising coming out after the swelling subsided. I am now able to take the brace off to wash up. I am not showing you the bruise on my head, hip or shoulder.


My paid time was up and Evans (French, not Welsh) was dispatched from the tourist off to find out why I was still there. As he reached my pontoon he encountered the gardeners that had called the fire brigade and a lengthy discussion took place; his English was perfect and he said that I could stay as long as we wanted without charge and if there was anything at all he could do to help I was to ring. I rewarded him by throwing up – Holby City style – narrowly avoiding his shoes. He was true to his word and sent someone out within an hour when I rang to say the electric had gone off.

I don’t know if she reads this, but I also want to say thank you to Veronica who was available to talk to me whenever I needed a bit of a boost and helped me keep a sense of humour – on your own with a boat, two dogs and one hand is quite taxing; thank goodness it wasn’t for too long this time; not like when I broke my shoulder.

Before this happened, and after G was back, I managed to have a good old explore around Meaux; a nice little place without being madly exciting.


Obviously I am not going to be able to do any ropes or serious steering wheel turning for a bit longer but I should be able to hold the boat in the locks so, yesterday we came off the pontoons and moved 300 metres upstream across onto the right bank. This would give us a number of advantages – G could get the car close by and get the new dining room table on and the old one off; it would give me a chance to see if I could handle the boat at all (didn’t find out as G set the boat up so perfectly for mooring that all I needed to do was jiggle the throttle a bit); stop us from taking advantage of Meaux’ kindness; provide a change of scenery and most importantly of all get us so close to the park that Mr Baxter could get the sand under his toes again – he was raised by the sea. Look at our boy, so happy.


What I probably didn’t mention is that our boiler (central heating and hot water) has always lost pressure, due to a slight leak somewhere, and every 4 or 5 weeks needs topping up with water – the piping is old and rigid. When the guys were here to fit the fire we arranged with them to come back and replace it all with new flexible piping.

We were all set to leave this morning after 3 weeks! Flicked the switch to heat the water for showers and the boiler wouldn’t fire up as it had dumped it’s water into the bilges – the guys are coming out tomorrow afternoon to fix it as it’s not a joint G can get to. So here we stay until Saturday……….sigh.

I will leave you with one for the ladies should they ever find themselves in need.


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I know, I know, nagging clearly works!

Posted by contentedsouls on 13/03/2017

So what’s been happening? Quite a lot actually. We have had a woefully short, but treasured, overnight visit from Sue and Richard with masses of goodies. Including a new trolley for the back of the electric bike to fetch fuel and stuff (stuff tending to be beer and wine with Sue and Vic’s twice postponed imminent arrival) and the obligatory loaf of Warburton’s Toasty. 


Muttley and I made a trip to the beach and the circus


G ripped out the incredibly uncomfortable fitted furniture and we installed an ‘Old Dutch’ stove up the corner which made a wondrous difference to keeping the fabric of the boat warm and stopping all the horrendous condensation we have been experiencing. Then it broke down, so we had to go back for replacement parts but, in a way, that was a blessing because it put us in a position to do another rat run with Sue and Vic through Paris. It is pretty amazing and way less scary second time around.


Our week together flew by way too quickly but we had a wonderful time (Sue told me to say that – she said just stick a few pics up and say what a wonderful time we had) although I am short of pictures due to continued technical difficulties.

We deposited them at the station at Meaux on the River Marne and G also jumped a train to recover the car from where we left it 6 months ago.

My apologies for the random photo order.

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Out & about around Lagny & Thorigny

Posted by contentedsouls on 09/02/2017

One of the reasons I went to the doctor last week is because I have developed some kind of allergy and the resultant itching is driving me even crazier than usual; ant-histamine isn’t helping. The French for ‘itch’ is demange and the anti biotics prescribed me are for ‘anti-parasitaires’ – more than a little disconcerting. One of the items on my expensive prescription wasn’t in stock which would mean a return visit – that one turned out to be vitamins; so she clearly believes I have scurvy and, probably, rickets too.  In fact, if I was about to come and visit me, I think I might be more than a little worried ….. just saying. On the bright side, I’ve had it for weeks and G is, as yet, still asymptomatic.

Just up the road from us was a sad shanty town of huts – probably a refugee camp; the guys from the Calais camp have had to be re-located somewhere. Whilst they always appeared friendly and smiley when I was out and about, their living conditions were atrocious and they must have been really suffering in this cold snap. Right next door to their small community is a really posh dove cote which was way more solid than their makeshift huts.


In my last blog it was muted that the reason the gangway might have been removed from the mooring pontoon was to prevent vandalism; well I talked that up. Yesterday evening, somebody walking along the top of the embankment threw a load of eggs at the boat – no big deal; the dogs barked furiously (good boys) and G had the minor inconvenience of plugging in the deck pump and hosing it off. When G got up to do the Baxter ‘night shift’ we had no lights; the batteries had dropped to an unsafe level and the emergency invertor cut off stepped in to save them – ‘somebody’ had left the deck pump running. So we started the genny and sat in bed reading with a cup of tea before 5 am until the batteries came up enough to start the heating. Talking of heating; the reason we have been lurking in this area for so long, is because we are hoping to get an Old Dutch diesel boiler installed to provide heat independent of electricity – mind you, if it goes on for much longer, I’ll be needing to change the order to air conditioning.

The world indoor bowls was on the TV every afternoon and there was an unseemly scrabble around 2.50 as three of the crew fought over their favourite viewing positions.


On Sunday morning I trundled up into town to visit the market – this knocked the weekday market into a cocked hat and all the little high street shops were open. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people in one place in France before – it was amazing, the queues wound around the boulangeries and across the street. Having filled my boots with fish and veg, I thought I’d indulge in a little retail therapy in one of my favourite department stores; but, once again, it was the witching hour of 12.30 and they wouldn’t let me in – the sacrifices I make to keep himself well fed.


In the afternoon I walked Muttley around ‘our side’ of the river – strictly speaking this is Thorigny-sur-Marne. Apart from someone’s valiant attempts to cheer it up with a bit of ‘art’, it was definitely the poorer quarter and quite dingy and scruffy. Although, having said that, they were pretty hot on guys driving around in a council truck and snatching litter off of the streets. Walking back from the shop with G, I put my carrier bag of groceries on the ground whilst I took some photos – in a flash, the truck was there and my shopping came dangerously close to ending up in the nearest landfill.



By Sunday lunchtime the temperature had risen dramatically and the thaw had set in. Whilst the rise in temperature was gratefully received, it came at a price. The concrete ledge we were moored against was deep in river silt from the extensive flooding earlier the previous year and had now de-frosted. Everytime we (and the animals) stepped off the boat we were struggling to keep our footing and treading slime through the boat, so we wanted to get out of there. Monday G walked up to the chemist to get the last of my prescription whilst I picked up milk and stuff from the supermarket so we could make an early get-away. I should have known better, of course, all that activity in town on the Sunday morning had completely exhausted them and the chemist didn’t recover sufficiently to open until 2.30; nicely restored, no doubt, by a long lie in followed by a leisurely lunch!

I walked back up to ensure that I was on their doorstep for 2.30 so that we could return to Vaire before dusk. I decided, whilst in the chemist’s, to invest in a new hot water bottle but hadn’t looked the word up in advance. How difficult could it be – I knew the words for ‘hot’, ‘water’ and ‘bottle’? It could, and was, extremely difficult as they don’t call them hot water bottles and I had to extend my description into sleeping and warm feet. I further extended this description into some RADA audition quality miming, by which time of course all the staff and other customers had joined in the guessing game. Should you ever find yourself in France and in need of a hot water bottle; it is called a bouillottes – meaning foot warmer or small kettle; no doubt emanating from the verb ‘to scald’. The guesser of the mime ran across the shop and returned triumphantly clutching the afore-mentioned bouillottes to gales of laughter and a smattering of applause. Amongst all this hilarity, I caught sight of the price tag on the bouillottes and nearly passed out; but I bit the bullet and handed over my credit card – I could hardly walk away without it, proclaiming it to be, ‘trop cher’ after all that. Despite the price, I was still giggling when I reached the boat.

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Interesting mooring (or not) and observations on the French medical system

Posted by contentedsouls on 27/01/2017

The Gods clearly haven’t stopped messing with me yet and I could no longer ignore the fact that I needed to see a doctor so, after a week in our idyll, we moved on to the town of Lagny-sur-Marne. This was always in our plans anyway – after a steady 4kms without encountering either locks or ice flows, we encountered our mooring pontoon and could see electric bournes. I started to get a weensy bit excited even though I knew they’d be switched off as sometimes, just sometimes, we can turn them back on. Whilst I was getting excited, Graham’s (whose eyesight is way better than mine) jaw was starting to drop – it was awhile before my eyesight caught up and I could see the reason why.


Just how were we meant to get off, as the gangway to the pontoon had been removed and our passerelle wasn’t long enough to bridge the gap? After extensive research by European Facebook friends, it became apparent that the gangway is removed from November to March every year for fear that the odd hardy winter cruiser might turn up and spend money in the town. My French boaty friend, Zag, says it’s a new system the French have introduced to avoid vandalism – if you make the pontoon unreachable, then no boats stop and so there is no vandalism. Problem solved! She says they are thinking of exporting the idea to Belgium and the Netherlands.

So we did our usual and found a couple of trees to tie to on the opposite bank. As we are now on the opposite bank we are, strictly speaking, in Thorigny-sur Marne and less than 5 minutes walk from the station with trains to Paris every 30 minutes (not that we can take advantage of trains to Paris as we can’t leave Baxter for long enough). It’s only a short walk back to the shops and restaurants in the pleasant town of Lagny.


The internet tracked down a doctor not too far from the boat and we rang the following morning and I was offered either an appointment or ‘walk in and wait surgery’ between 2 and 6 pm. Encounters with the medical profession in France are a whole different experience from those in the UK. Firstly, they are usually in the front room of the doctor’s house. Secondly, there are usually no receptionists or clerical staff and thirdly, the doctor has a credit card machine on his/her desk so you can ‘pay as you go’. I’m not good with fixed appointments; I always tend to be 10 minutes late and G likes to be 30 minutes early so he starts nagging me and we both then end up in a foul mood, so I opted for the walk in and wait session.

At 2pm we trundled down to the doctor’s front door and let ourselves into the nicely warm waiting room, congratulating ourselves that there was no-one waiting ahead of us. We made ourselves comfortable and I observed that it would be a lovely place to go for a sit down and a warm if you were homeless. When nobody else came in or departed, it occurred to G that all was not progressing as it should, so he popped outside and had another look at the plate on the wall where it said that surgery hours on Thursday were 4 ‘til 6pm. We returned to the boat, amazed that they would leave the waiting room door unlocked outside of opening hours (if you’re homeless,  cold, or just in need of a sit down in this area then let me know and I’ll give you the address).

Returning at 4pm I was 4th in line and settled down happily with my Kindle – away from the constant interruptions of Baxter deciding he needs another pee (or, when he gets out there, perhaps not). Each time the door opened and another patient came in, there was a chorus of ‘bonjours’ around the room. At 2 minutes past 5 another patient came in and I thought I’d get in first with a jaunty bonjour – it died on my lips as a chorus of ‘bonsoirs’ echoed around the room. If anyone can give me a definitive time when ‘jour’ ends and ‘soir’ starts, I will be eternally grateful.

Eventually my turn came around – the doctor came out to fetch me and shook my hand before leading me into her office. I was not asked for my address, date of birth, or even my age!!!!!!!!!! I had a very thorough 45 minute consult and, after producing my European Health Insurance Card, paid the standard 23 euros. This (I understand) is the doctor’s wage, there is no salary from the Government. Same day appointment (or wait your turn) and a consultation that takes as long as it needs (instead of 10 minute slots) for 23 euros is worth every centime to me – however, the 85 euros worth of prescriptions I picked up, that would have been free at my age in the UK, was not so funny. Equally, there was no wait at the phlebotomist’s laboratory I was sent to this morning however, a further charge of 35 euros was incurred. In theory this can be claimed back but…….

Once we reach pensionable age in the UK it’s a whole lot cheaper/simpler – but by the time that happens we’ll be out of the EU.

Anyway, I did get a battery for my watch at last and topped up our badly depleted vegetable stocks at the market. G met me in town for a 2 course 12 euro lunch in a buzzy little place with staff that were great fun. I had a glass of wine and G had a beer – the first alcohol to pass our lips in over 3 weeks, and our first meal out since November. It’s not all good times you know – although there are quite a lot of them.

I guess I’d better leave you with some pretty pictures from our mooring at Vaire – or someone I know will moan that there aren’t enough photos on this blog.



Clearly my French accent isn’t improving over the years as Muttley can’t tell my ‘ici’ from my ‘assis’. Every time I call him, he sits; such a pretty sit though.



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Maisons Alfont to Vaire-sur-Marne

Posted by contentedsouls on 24/01/2017

After all the excitement of Paris, and particularly being out from under the trees and in the sun, the decision to move on in the morning was unanimous. We hoped to complete the 3 locks and 21 kms and be tied up at a new mooring by 2.00pm.

Yet again, after battling with rigid, frozen, ropes, we moved off and called the Marne lock – the second one off of the Seine … and we called and we waited and we called and we waited. Eventually we pulled onto the waiting pontoon and I hopped off to take this photo. On the noticeboard, the information saying to call on channel 20 (as per the first lock and the Fluviacarte) had been covered over with  Dymo tape and changed to ‘19’. Humph.


So we called on 19 and received an incomprehensible reply from Mr Grumpy. After about half an hour (as long as they are allowed to delay you without explanation), he decided to empty the lock for us. Once we’d pulled into the lock and I had a rope on, I was committed to sitting out there freezing my arse off. Mr Grumpy – who clearly wasn’t getting enough at home (either that or his wife had put him on a diet and/or hidden his wine) – then decided to wander off and do something more interesting rather than close the gates and fill the lock. An hour and three quarters it took us to get through that bloody lock for absolutely no reason and, yes, I was very cold and suffering from a massive sense of humour failure.

Having exited the lock, it was straight into a one way tunnel and, fortunately, he had bothered to turn the lights green – I don’t really think of tunnels as tunnels when you can see the other end and they are big and wide and all lit up; Stanedge this certainly wasn’t.


Along the Marne are a number of ‘link’ canals which cut out wriggly/shallow stretches. Our next lock put us up onto one of these; the Canal de Chelles and we had to wait for a commercial in front of us to go through and the lock be re-set. This canal runs straight and true for a, rather boring, 9kms. The only excitement was when I saw one commercial overtaking another – they were side by side and heading straight at us, filling the entire width of the canal! This, of course, was the moment for my camera battery to die … doh. I managed to get the spare battery in by the time the overtaking container vessel came passed us and it never feels like there is enough room – you know there is …but….

container ship

Having reached the other end we, again of course, had to wait for the commercial ahead and the lock to be turned. The navigation continues upstream to the left after this lock, but we were turning right and hugging the right bank in search of a little mooring mentioned in the DBA files.


The problem with this was that it was now so late in the day that the sun was sitting just above the horizon and we couldn’t see a thing other than glare and silhouetted trees and shrubs. So we went down and turned (needed to moor pointing upstream anyway) to put the sun behind us and found our little patch of heaven. Not only have we got all of the boat on the bank, we also have sun on the solar panels, sun (providing free daytime heat) through our big picture windows most of the day and a TV signal for the first time in 2 weeks. I also have a choice of circular walks along the river, canal, two lakes and woodland and there are very few people/joggers/cyclists/dog walkers around. We are moored where the green splodge is on the map. My cup runneth over. If I’d known then what I know now, we would have been much better off being ill here and then going back for the Paris cruise, but hindsight ‘tis a wonderful thing and we had no idea that we would take so long to recover. I love the way the shade from the boat keeps our outline silhouetted in the frost.


We won’t be moving from here in a hurry – especially in these minus temperatures. Pretty much every canal in the NE of France is now closed due to ice. They started off arranging convoys behind ice breakers but lost that battle after 3 or 4 days. Due to the, pretty much, continuous commercial traffic; our little Chelles canal remains navigable.


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Rat run through Paris

Posted by contentedsouls on 20/01/2017

We arrived at Notre Dame just in time to watch the lights go from red to green – hooray! Slightly disconcerting as you arrive, because all the trip boats coming upstream turn there before heading back downstream; mostly cutting straight across our bows. Also disconcerting was that, having entered the one way system on green, we were still encountering oncoming shipping… er missus! Oh well, there was plenty of room for everyone anyway.

P1190357Bateaux Mouche and Notre Dame

Glorious weather although the temperature was –1, add to that a not inconsiderable wind chill factor and you’ll know why I didn’t spend many minutes sat on the bow taking photos. The other reason I didn’t sit there for long was because each time one of the little bullet shaped water taxis (no photos – they go so fast I couldn’t even capture one in ‘sports mode’) shot by, the resultant wake broke waves over Francoise’ bow – not the right time of year for a soaking. It was the right time of the year for the trip though; there was relatively little traffic about and we were able to enjoy it whilst still keeping a good look out. We saw loads of people taking photos of us from a bridge whilst the water broke over us – what wouldn’t I give for one of those photos.


As we came back to the (supposedly) one way bit by Notre Dame the lights were red and, whilst we were checking the timings, we were called by the skipper in the bateaux mouche behind us (in several of the photos). He asked if we wished him to speak to us in French or English – not being an appropriate time for French lessons or ambiguities, we chose English. He told us to continue on but move to the left as there would be oncoming traffic, when we reached the main intersection again he advised us to return to the left bank. I’ve thought about this ‘one way system’ long and hard, but it still makes not one ounce of sense. Nor does going against a red light on the Seine in the centre of Paris but if you have a trip boat up your bum and the skipper tells you to go ………….you go.

Excitement over, we slipped back up the lock onto the Marne and our mooring at Maisons Alfort. Sunshine, excitement and adrenalin were the best tonic ever and we had the most wonderful day. We had stayed here until we were well enough to make this trip – now we were free to continue on our coddiwomples.

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Maisons Alfort and good news

Posted by contentedsouls on 19/01/2017

For two weeks now (instead of the intended two days) we have languished at Maisons Alfort. This is a great mooring for a night or two, but a bit depressing for a long stay as, under the trees, you see little sunshine even when there is some. No satellite signal either for the same reason. At only 800 metres away from the Metro, it also provides free mooring with superb access to central Paris – not a lot of use to us though when we were feeling so wretched.

A lot of different shipping has passed by our big picture windows in those two weeks and I haven’t tired of watching them – there would have been a lot more examples but my SD card dumped all of my photos.

Although the track runs along the river it’s, as you would expect given it’s proximity to central Paris, busy with joggers and dog walkers – many of the joggers run with their dogs and, for reasons unknown, Muttley has taken exception to this practice so I have to be very careful when I let him off lead. The main culprit of course is me, as I haven’t been well enough to give him the exercise he needs and is used to.


Despite the big commercial vessels pounding up and down at speed for 15 hours a day, they disturbed us very little. Because we strapped ourselves amidships to the tiny floating pontoon, we tended to rock ‘n’ roll and bob up and down – a motion I rather enjoy (providing it doesn’t get too extreme). There was no banging, creaking or groaning which is what drives me nuts.


Monday evening we picked ourselves up and decided that we were, at last, fit enough to move on. The even betterer news is that our recuperation co-incided with the perfect weather to do a ‘drive through’ with Francoise passed all the iconic city centre landmarks.

Timing is all for this trip as, around Notre Dame, passages upstream and downstream are allowed in only one direction at  timed intervals. We worked out that we needed to leave on the hour – the first hurdle was that the engine needed a considerable amount of priming and persuasion before it capitulated. The second hurdle was the ropes: as there were no tie off points on the pontoon (why would you install a pontoon without tie offs?) – and due to commercial traffic – just about every rope we possessed was wrapped around, under and over anything we could find and every one of them was frozen solid.


My super hero destroyed his hands and endured great physical pain whilst dis-entangling us and I stood in the heated wheelhouse. We reckoned that if we could get a quick passage through the (only) lock, we should be able to get a wriggle on downstream and make the green light. Finally the gods had stopped playing with us, there was a gap in the traffic and the eclusier actually answered the radio first shout and immediately started prepping the lock for us. we dropped down from the Marne to the Seine and headed for central Paris in glorious sunshine – it felt so bloody good!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Christmas and New Year; then more doom and gloom

Posted by contentedsouls on 14/01/2017

Well it was certainly a social whirl. Christmas Eve with us. Christmas Day on Bella Fortuna. Boxing day on Piedaleau (with another WOB) Jenny, Adrian and their respective children and grandchild. New Year’s eve on Francoise and New Year’s Day on Sabrina with David and Anje. Not surprising then that one or two boaters became a little confused about where and when they should be. Friends of ours were quite surprised when their boat door opened and a couple wandered in with a plate of nibbles and made themselves comfy on their sofa – meanwhile, G was on a different boat where the owners couldn’t understand why their guests hadn’t turned up; it was several hours later before we put two and two together.

My one big regret was that I couldn’t eat enough of Voirrey’s food; so woeful has my appetite become. Boxing day en masse was hilarious as we played charades and throw quoites at the reindeer’s antlers – Andy came dressed for the party spirit.

P1190128 - CopyP1190130 - Copy 

I am not, as well you know, a fan of pontoon living (although this Kingfisher was quite happy to sit on our lines for awhile), but the marina is set within acres of parkland and lakes. We also thought we’d make several excursions into Paris – but we can’t leave Baxter on his own for more than 2 or 3 hours so that didn’t happen. Instead, G and Andy went in and –amongst other things, took in the new Star Wars Movie. Voirrey and I went in together another day and mostly just walked and talked and browsed; sadly we couldn’t get into the Dorsey Gallery as a visiting Art Deco exhibition attracted such a queue that we wouldn’t have got in before it was time to leave. We wandered around Montmartre (which has replaced the old funicular with something ‘functional’), which I always enjoy (plus a bit of nostalgia for me as last time I was there it was with Mum and Dad for their 60th wedding anniversary) and I fell hopelessly in love with a painting there. It was too much money though, but I did think I might go back another day and see if I could haggle him down to something more reasonable – it’s big and I have the perfect space to set it off on Francoise. However, it was not to be as things turned out, which will become clear shortly. I also went into a Desigual shop without buying anything (so much money I saved that day)! We rounded off the day with a trip to M & S Simply food; oh joy!!! After nearly 3 years out of the UK I came way loaded with a much as I could carry – crispy bacon, plump pork sausages (and a loaf of naff bread to wrap around them and make toast with), crumpets, hot cross buns, crispy lemon chicken, pork pies, hummus, taramasalata and pitta breads, etc., etc.

Daisy fell in luuuuuuuurve –unheard of; especially with a man. Muttley reverted to puppyhood (if he ever grew out of it) and found a new game called lets create a snow storm out of the liners we put down at night in case Baxter doesn’t quite make it out of the door in time – hmph; new plan required.


Not that many Parisian pictures I’m afraid as it was too bloody cold to take my hand out of my pockets and the Eiffel Tower was shrouded in cold fog!


So that was it really; we left the following morning with G expertly negotiating the very tricky exit from the Marina out onto the Seine, passed the world’s biggest Chinese restaurant (supposedly). Our destination one lock up on the Marne. Before we leave the area we want to take the boat up through the city centre; so the following day we decided to stay put, as the forecast and visibility were awful, and go for it on the Friday. G had already started a cold and, by Friday, he was quite bad and then deteriorated with each successive day – by then, of course, I’d joined in. So here we are still; 10 days later – mind you, look on the bright side; we’ve lost a lot of weight; even G stopped eating for 2 days. Both exhausted and just trying to keep body and soul together whilst coughing and spluttering and maintaining Baxter’s nocturnal toilet trips plus another 7 or 8 diurnal trips and give Muttley enough exercise to stop him boiling over and eating Baxter. If it wasn’t for the dogs we could just be ill.


I was definitely feeling somewhat better yesterday after some drug induced sleep; so prioritised giving Muttley a decent walk and trying to rescue some of the food that I’d stocked up with before we left. Today I must go shopping and only managed 3 hours sleep again. G has managed to get 2 canisters of fuel for the generator – we are heavily reliant on it to run our heating at the moment. i know there are many far, far, worse off than us but it doesn’t stop me feeling very fed up.

So here we sit until we are feeling up to ‘coping’ with a busy waterway in central Paris and you, dear readers (I’ve always wanted to say that) are up to date. I bet you wish you’d never asked now.

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The long and the short of it …. this is not a happy blog

Posted by contentedsouls on 12/01/2017

All is not as it should be on the good ship Francoise, but I am being gently nagged back into blogging and desperate to get back into some semblance of normal. we never did manage to complete that missing bit of the loop down to Montargis. Back on canals the weather forecast was showing lots of minuses and we were concerned we would get stuck in the ice and not be able to pick up Sue and Vic from Nemours on 15th December, so we chickened out and headed back to Nemours. The plan then was to cruise them into a marina just outside Paris for the 21st before joining Voirrey and Andy on Bella Fortuna for Christmas and New Year.

Then I got out of bed and my back went ….. quite spectacularly frozen at the end of the bed and couldn’t move in either direction. G my Superhero set off to the local friendly English speaking lady at the Boulangerie in the hope that we could get to her Doctor for anti-spasm stuff but had no joy – a lovely man in the queue recommended a new lady doctor who had just opened up a new practice. I had one last emergency anti-spasm pill that got me there. Sorted! Trouble is, the plethora of pills wipe me out and demolish my appetite.

We thought we’d lurk there until time to pick up Sue and Vic and, whilst there, had a phone call from Kevin and Debs who were in Paris for the weekend and came to join us for the day on Sunday (there is some good news) who we tried to feed with the most expensive inedible chicken you have ever met. Whilst they were with us we had a phone call from Sue saying they couldn’t come because her passport would expire before their return ….. ooops!

So we lurked for a few more days before heading to our marina just outside Paris and a dinner date on the 21st. Voirrey was there to help us tie up and we had a fabulous evening – Voirrey and Andy are both amazing cooks. Then my back went again and I ended up on the floor of their boat whilst G trotted back to get the anti-spasm pills. So bloody embarrassing when you’ve only met a few times. To be continued ……..



Nice to have a little chateau with your Christmas market

P1190085 - CopyP1190164 - Copy

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Continuing up the Loing

Posted by contentedsouls on 28/11/2016

We left Moret the next morning and stuck pins in after the first lock of the day where we had good access to fuel, Lidl (hooray – first in a long, long while), and Carrefour. My cup runneth over! Whilst I filled my boots doing a re-stock, G did two fuel runs and we had lunch before leaving – the day got wetter and wetter so 2 locks and 6 kms later we called it a day and banged in pins at Episy. Once again Muttley was on a lead and minding his own business when this cat attacked him – they seem to be making a habit of it; poor love is getting quite traumatised.


3 kms and 1 lock (such monumental cruises) saw us at la Genevraye below the little town of Montigny-sur-Loing. Leaving Baxter on the boat, the rest of us walked up to the town which had most things you need, but a long, footpathless walk up the road to reach it discouraged a return trip.


3 more locks and 8 kms saw us into the major conurbation of Nemours which nestles between the river and the canal. Not the most pretty of moorings, but ideal for Daisy and the dogs and in easy walking distance of the town, we’ve spent the last 6 nights there, only leaving this morning. Our book said the mooring, electricity and water were free – but the first morning there, two policemen came calling to say that they would come back in the afternoon to collect 26 euros off us for two nights – i have absolutely no idea why they didn’t take the money there and then; what a waste of their time.

It was at this point we twigged as to why most boats were moored the other side of the gate with rear ropes attached to the bank escape ladders and front ropes to bushes. We promptly moved Francoise up a few yards and joined them – perfectly willing to pay 13 euros for the one night we used their electric and water, but we never saw them again. Funny old world.


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