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

  • April 2014
    M T W T F S S
  • Meta

Now in week 3 in Belgium

Posted by contentedsouls on 30/04/2014

Our learning curve gets no less steep – in a way it gets steeper as our expectations become higher, but we don’t become more knowledgeable.

To start with, I want to know who is eating all this patisserie. We’ve yet to see a ‘fat’ person anywhere on the Belgian plains; someone is eating the chocolates and cakes but it isn’t the locals … oops, perhaps it’s us. I have to say England (apart from Radio 4) has been pretty much abandoned. My breakfast now consists of a cappuccino (I can’t handle this milk in tea – anyone want to make me an offer for 20 boxes of PG Tips? ) a lump of cheese, a handful of grapes and a banana – we still have a fry up once a week though. There is not a scrap of fat on any of the meat although it is still surprisingly flavoursome.

We were wrong about our comms costs. A text to my English mates costs 0.37 euros and their texts to me costs them 10p – we continue to be very wary of internet charges and I oh so miss browsing through my mates’  blogs at random with no worry about costs. In fact, everything in the garden is not rosy tonight – I expect it will be tomorrow, but there is no point in this blog if I don’t tell it like it feels.

On my new Belgian phone number, I have unlimited texts to other Belgian phone numbers – that’ll be me and Debbie then. Quite handy as I can text Debbie to find out what clothes/shoes shop she is in and she can text me to find out what bar I am in; all for free

The lockies aren’t really here to help us enjoy life – we’re expected to comply with whatever makes their lives easier. They do not like the fact that we keep setting up base camps in the middle of nowhere and they expect us to do groups of locks and bridges together whether we want to go that far or not. We wanted water yesterday – I’d done loads of washing ‘knowing’ that we could water going back through the lock but I was told, “no” because there was too much traffic. The definition of ‘too much’ was the two locks set for us to go down and one waiting to come up so we couldn’t stop and fill in the lock. We suggested that the other boat came up and then we could fill with water as we went down – no, too much traffic. Things happened that I probably shouldn’t publish here, but we do now have a full tank of water as we don’t know where the next ‘free’ water is coming from for a little while. Rapidly coming to the conclusion that it’s better to tell neither lockies nor harbourmasters our plans and just bumble along pleading ignorance where necessary. Sorry it all sounds a bit down tonight but I must be feeling homesick – I’d give a ransom for a nice flat bank mooring on the Nene right now where the dogs and Daisy could have a good romp away from the incessant cycle tracks.

I left you Sunday afternoon heading for glorious roast beef on Avalon and then we moved back out to base camp in the evening when the canoeists had finished playing polo. We found a flatter bit of pre-strimmed bank although it was a bit shallow so we compromised by sticking the front in and hanging the back out. Monday we spent In Flanders Field Museum which needed to be done but became sad, dark and claustrophobic after nearly three hours so I headed back out into the sunshine – how lucky that I could just make that choice – this trip to Flanders has been extremely humbling.

I then trundled off for a last tour around the, now unnavigable, ‘narrow’ canals around Ypres







The photos are all in the wrong order but I expect you get the gist.

9 Responses to “Now in week 3 in Belgium”

  1. Dearest hearts, I know EXACTLY how you feel! Last summer I broke down and cried on the River Stort when I tried to order an ice cream and was brought whatever the cafe had on hand with the explanation they hadn’t understood my accent. I was overcome with a wave of nostalgia for the States. It was the first time it had happened to me and I was low indeed all day. It does pass; rest assured we miss you and hold you both in our thoughts, for a better tomorrow.


  2. indigodream said

    There’s bound to be some adjustments – stick with it guys – word will soon get round that the mad English are on their way and the lockies will get used to doing your bidding!

    Sue, nb Indigo Dream

    p.s. do keep blogging honestly – it’s so useful for everyone that follows in your footsteps, though I wish I was there to give you a hug 🙂


  3. suenp said

    Yes me too *hugs*

    I agree with Sue you will soon get used to the rules and regs and find your own way round them. France is close and the canals look lovely. Get yourselves going after your trial couple of weeks.. Big deep breath Jill eh? xxx


  4. Thank you girls – I feel the hugs. Just seemed to be a day when everyone was against us and nothing on the boat was working. I guess I was also very aware that, had we been on holiday, we’d be going home now. For me (although not the other 3) there is nowhere to go back to x


  5. juneg4ouh said

    Hi Jill and Graham, sorry to read you were having a bad day yesterday. It takes some getting used to – Continental canals – at first we really missed the freedom to start and stop whenever and wherever we liked. But would we go back, not likely! You have my sympathy, I’m an orphan too (have been for 30yrs+) and it does feel some days that we’ve burned our bridges. Mike says to tell you, (if you haven’t already found out) that there is a good boat club at St Joris at the far end of the lake, where you can get water, diesel and a good welcome if you want to stay overnight there (it didn’t cost much when we were last there). There’s free water in the 3-way lock at Brugges, the hose was on the right as you’re going up, so you have to nip up the ladder and lower the hose down to fill your tank while the lock fills. The lock was controlled from an office 100m away across the main road and usually he’d only let you have water while you’re using the lock, he’d lean out the window and shout if there is traffic and he wants you to vacate the lock. Mooring in Brugges used to be by the windmills just round the right hand bend after the lock (might be only for commercials now) or a bit further on in the Coupure, where we had a good welcome from the boat club there.
    Best wishes from Germany – June and Mike


    • I’m glad I’m not the only one to have had a wobble – you’ve summed it up with ‘we’ve burned our bridges’. I think, for me, that’s what it was all about. Thank you for the specific information re moorings and water; we’ll certainly be checking that out – a warm welcome would be fun although, I must say, the non-official locals have been lovely. I hadn’t meant to come across that negative; there were, I hope, many positives in the blog – I seem to be doing a bit of a ‘dear diary’ with the highs and the lows.


      • Kevin TOO said

        Jill, you are allowed to wobble every now and then… your blog is all the more interesting for your honesty and openness 🙂
        Remember that because we aren’t there with you means that we need you to tell us EVERYTHING always…. LOL
        Big Hugs from Kevin xx & Harry xx (TOO)


  6. Pip said

    Sorry you had a bad day (bit late I know, i’m only just catching up with blog reading) and hope you are feeling better now. It’s wrench I know, just our five weeks in France in the winter did feel a bit odd for the first couple – but when the time came for us to return we didn’t want to leave! Wobbles are allowed. We are enjoying reading of your adventures, so keep blogging. Lotsa love from Pip & Rog (and Ozzy too) xxx


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