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

  • July 2014
    M T W T F S S
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Archive for July, 2014

A new plan required (moored Mouzay)

Posted by contentedsouls on 30/07/2014

Yesterday morning I awoke to pouring rain – fresh croissants, fresh bread and fresh tea with fresh milk. G had got up early, cycled back for the car and returned via the boulangerie. Perfik!

After brekkie we needed a planning meeting. We had intended to head down to Nancy and then Strasbourg but the plan incline d’Arzviller has broken down (‘again’ – according to the indigenous boating population) so that route is no longer an option. We need to bear winter in mind (sorry to raise the subject in July) and we think we may be able to move about a lot more than we thought when we came out here. So this is the new plan:-

Continue down the Meuse to Troussey and then turn west along the Canal de la Marne au Rhin – through the three and a half mile tunnel (that’ll be me with my head under the duvet then) to the Canal Lateral a la Marne and then North West to Paris ish, possibly. We’re taking bets on how many more plans between now and the end of October! Doesn’t matter though does it – everywhere’s nice.

Where we’re moored at the moment is quite funny – everytime someone empties the lock behind us the boat goes all tippy uppy and sits at an interesting angle. Enough to take the satellite signal out and we have to go and start the engine and ‘pop’ it off again – G was trying to watch the bowls and it’s given us the giggles. Good job that there’s hardly anyone around and the locks shut at 6 or we’d be exhausted (albeit a little thinner).

Our river map guide suggests that we should, ‘mounting the ship’s bicycles for a ride to Mont-Devant-Sassey to see the 12th/13th century fortified church’. So we did. It was one hell of a climb.

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Glad we went by car and not, ‘the ship’s bicycles’ (well the apostrophe was in the right place)!

Off to backtrack by car tomorrow to find Debs, Kevin and the hounds.




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Cervizy – Stenay – Mouzay

Posted by contentedsouls on 29/07/2014

We decided to have our ‘Sunday roast’ on the boat at Cervizy on Saturday and then go into the moorings at Stenay first thing Sunday (only a half hour cruise) – the town moorings there are inclusive of electric and water and we could get our money’s worth, rather than turn up at 5.00pm. We used to baulk at paying for a mooring but, once a month, it’s worth going in and doing all the heavier washing like towels, bedding (ours and the dogs) and having nice long showers; topping up batteries. All for less than the cost of a launderette. We had to go past the bridge and then reverse in, past the audience of interested fisherman on the grass banks and then moor on the quay – although I was on the helm I suddenly remembered an urgent need inside and handed the helm swiftly to G who executed the manoeuvre with his usual aplomb and shouts of ‘grand chef’ from the fishermen (evidently chef means ‘head’ or ‘leader’ not just in the kitchen). With hindsight, it was a bit mean of me to deprive them of the hilarity of me having a go!

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Washing on, there was time to hit the bakers before it closed (being Sunday) have a scout around the town for the usual recycling facilities and anything that might have potential for a blow out Sunday lunch

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I reported back and still had time for a long shower and change, before heading off to a wonderful lunch in an old mill building (could have been on the Nene).The detail on the catch that held the shutters back was amazing – the puddings weren’t bad either!.

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Sadly, the weather changed yesterday and we left Stenay in the rain – just two locks and a two hour cruise saw us moored up in the field outside the little village of Mouzay. The pinning arrangement is to protect us from the Dutch who roar passed in their big cruisers with not a thought for anyone. It’s still possible to have the smaller commercial peniches come through here, but they tend to be more considerate.

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Ecluse L’Alma to Cervizy

Posted by contentedsouls on 26/07/2014

18 km and two locks through glorious countryside; the valley has opened up more now and it is very similar to the Runnymeade area of the Thames (but very little traffic) – the weather was perfect. Our next small town en route was Stenay but that means other people, other boats and paying and G spotted a nice little spot on the bank at the village of Cervizy; just 5 km North with a choice of good dog walking and a Lidl just up the road. I suspect very few boats moor here but it’s lovely and quiet.

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Even the cattle needed to cool off

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Thames- like scenery








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If you have to live on land this beautiful riverside cabin would be pretty acceptable

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We’re moored on the lock cut, but their is plenty of access to water for the dogs on the main river. The village is quite sweet and sleepy too

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G’s last 2 car shuffles have been quite interesting! This part of the railway network doesn’t run anymore so car recovery has all been done by electric bike (very little in the way of local buses) and cycle tracks have long since vanished; although the dogs and I are immensely grateful for the latter.

His last trip was fairly flat but 10km over rough footpath which ended with the last 1/4 mile not having been mown in anyway, so he was pushing through 3ft high grass and weeds – he added new underwear to the shopping list when he arrived home! On the trip before he decided to follow the sat nav recommended cycle route up the side of the valley to the top of the hill, along and then back through the forest tracks – thus avoiding an unpleasant road. Unfortunately the forest track ran out and the forest closed in on him – the sat nav battery ran out on him too and he was left weaving through the trees following his sense of direction (I should have packed him a bag of crumbs to lay a trail!). He still had a smile on his face when he returned; despite trickles of blood running down his legs (note to self: check him for tics).



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Mouzon to ecluse Alma

Posted by contentedsouls on 24/07/2014

Found this heavenly spot where we joined Dutch Barge Meganck for the evening with Belgiques Anne and Michelle – another of those little bit of French, little bit of English evenings. Lovely people and a lovely evening. That’s their gorgeous little dog, Jacque, under Muttley – believe me they were having a great time

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Ideal for sitting in the sunshine for the day whilst I started working up my designs for the starboard side hatches and G started on the rust spots/re-painting of the bow deck. We were then joined by a Yorkshire couple in their 70’s  – been out here for 10 years.

Could have happily stayed for quite a while but Daisy was filling the boat up with mice and we had run out of beer and fresh veg was getting low!

My ‘Mr Bean’ had a text from our lovely Jean Charles today, trying to encourage us to return!

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Both locks today were a bit awkward as the ladder and DIY  control were right at the back so I had to put G in on the ladder to walk the rope and boat down to the front and put it on a bollard – there was nowhere else to tie the front off.

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Baxter and Muttley trying to stay chilled amongst my paint pots. Oh, I forgot to show you the pictures of our first ever Storks!

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A day in Mouzons

Posted by contentedsouls on 21/07/2014

What a contrast from yesterday’s noise. Today Mouzons was pretty much deserted – it’s extraordinary how few people are about in France Monday to Fridays. G did the customary croissant and baguette run before heading off on the bike to retrieve the car (16k) and I did some much needed shopping at the 8 to huit shop which, despite it’s title, closes down for a an hour or 3 at lunchtime! Pretty little town this.

I walked the dogs in the Abbey gardens and then we headed off in search of lunch but everything was pretty much ferme. Washing done and batteries fully charged, on our way in the morning after watering.

Talking of baguettes, I’m having a little bit of a problem with Muttley at the moment. At any time in the morning or after lunchtime, people can be found wandering around with them under their arms or sticking out of baskets – for Muttley, who is allergic to bread and therefore besotted by it, these carriers of baguettes have become his new ‘rabbits’ and he sets off in hot pursuit – so embarrassing.

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Bazeilles to Mouzons

Posted by contentedsouls on 20/07/2014

Having expected to stay on for yesterday’s outing, we couldn’t be bothered to move so were, again, invited by Jean-Charles for end of the day drinks. Madame’s son and his beautiful girlfriend were down overnight from Paris and they invited us to join them for their evening meal. So kind as they were only there overnight.They were quite confused about the idea of our ‘warm’ British beer and the Ginger beer which was alcohol free. G has been re-christened by JC as Mr Bean! We left them this morning with kisses and honking of horns and a new friendship made.

I wrestled the RCU off of G as both locks were deep and quite lively (I prefer strong arms on the front rope). To get to the first lock we had to wind, turn right and then wind again to get back to the radar trigger point and we’ve moored in a ‘proper’ halte fluviale in Mouzons which has all sorts of motorbike excitement going on today. I expect we’ll pay a few euros for the mooring, but we have unlimited electric and water and the licence fee is so cheap that we no longer consider it to be an issue. Apart from the bike stunts we have a free band and a beer tent going on (I’m sure James and Doug must be here somewhere – they wouldn’t miss a gig like this). Payed £1.03 a litre for diesel yesterday – boating out here is not expensive.

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This Sausage is called Andouilette, and is the most disgusting smelling sausage we have ever smelt, G quite liked it, I had to pass mine to the dogs without being seen.

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Mouzon Fun

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Lumes to Bazeilles

Posted by contentedsouls on 19/07/2014

I’d heard himself telling Martin that he’d not managed to get a hand on the tiller for several weeks – so, as we set off on Wednesday, I relinquished the lock RCU and let him have the boat back. 4 locks and around 15 kilometres found us on the old curly bit of the Meuse on a pontoon that belongs to a hotel which is closed for refurbishment.

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Monsieur invited us up for, ‘a cup of wine at the  end of the day’. It gets dark about 11pm – any ideas on what time that is?


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My first ever ‘selfie’ – that is my hat NOT my beer and bread belly!

I had a good trip up the River Chiers on the kayak with Kingfishers and Kestrels in abundance – paddled like a demon against the current and drifted back trailing my feet in the water.14-07-17 10841 14-07-17 10843

Tracy and Martin taught me some rude words in French (you never know when you might need them) and they were written down in my open notebook on the table when Monsieur popped round unexpectedly this morning with bread. Highly amused (him) highly embarassed (me). 

We were invited to join Monsieur and his friends for drinks and nibbles last night – I left them to it after an hour or so. All the blokes stood as I left and the mandatory double kiss was required (right cheek first ladies); lovely. Fred said he would take us out in his Mercedes this morning but he sent apologies as he wasn’t well this morning – nor was my husband. They demolished 1 litre of Pastis after I left! Gutted, my first proper French invite and I was all poshed up – men! 





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NOT moored at Lumes – hurrah!!!!! (moored at Bazeuilles)

Posted by contentedsouls on 17/07/2014

I am soooo rubbish at being static.

I left the last blog with a knock on the door from a bloke on a narra  (the first we’ve seen). The boat is Genie’s Wish, they are Tracy and Martin with their dog ‘Odd Job’ and their newly rescued ‘Piglet’ a miniature Pincher. They were followed home by a stray puppy one day which they took to the vet who sent it to a rescue centre. Sadly, the puppy died of Parva Virus but the rescue centre had their contact details so there was no way they were going to escape without giving a forever home to someone.

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We had a brilliant time with them and their blog makes good reading – they came out here just over a year ago  G caught the earlier ferry so was back mid afternoon instead of early evening and we did a bit of shopping and playing with Martin and Tracy on Tuesday  before leaving yesterday. Now moored at Bazeilles just South of Sedan


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Finished the port side hatches (still moored at Lumes)

Posted by contentedsouls on 12/07/2014

Well the rain held off long enough for me to complete all my chores and then settle down to an afternoon of painting. I have, at last, completed the port side and am now feeling all inspired to start on the rear doors. I’m just off to cafe Renee to practice my French conversation and play the daft English person – it would be rude to deprive the good folk of Lumes of their entertainment. I have researched my conversational gambits and have some of the right words but not necessarily in the right order.

Blimey, a narrowboat has just turned up!

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Dinant to Givet 13.06 (moored Lumes)

Posted by contentedsouls on 10/07/2014

Having lit the fire yesterday and put the ‘heart’ back into the boat, we cosied down (Daisy, the dogs and I) for the rest of the day. I spent the afternoon and early evening reading, photo sorting and blogging plus doing some more work on my French numbers – I’m determined to be at least numerate, quickly, at the busy checkouts.

I didn’t wake until 9.45 this morning and, joy, it wasn’t raining!!! I also noticed that they were building a stage in the park here, so being a nosy bugger, I learn’t to ask what the stage was for; when would it be used etc., plus all the likely answers that I might hear come back at me. It took me so long to learn that, by the time I got out there, they’d gone! Oh well.

This afternoon I’ve learnt really useful phrases regarding the last 30 hours of weather so that I can converse with Mr and Mrs Renee next time I go in. You know the stuff, ‘my kayak is full of water’ (well it is – look!).’ The gangplank was at 30 degrees to the bank and now it’s horizontal’; ‘it rained so hard I had to put bowls under my leaking mushrooms’; ‘Even my tipcat is sodden’. Just the regular day to day chat with the local cafe owners and their other customers. I don’t understand why they get the giggles when they see us coming. Two new neighbours today, all Wallonie Belgique so know English their either. I don’t want to be surrounded by ex-pats but, so far, we’ve only racked up less than one a month (that’d be two then).

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The trip from Dinant to Givet was lovely but we didn’t get there until late and we had to ask someone to move up a bit to squidge into the last mooring partially under a bridge and against a high wall (mind you the shade was welcome). We used the boswain’s chair (for the first time in anger) which was given to us as a leaving present by NP Sue; made by her daughter Wendie to G’s design. It worked brilliantly but Baxter wasn’t very happy. We used it twice that night but then left early leaving the dog emptying until the the first full lock with nice meadows. So no proper pictures of the town of Givet – mostly cruising pictures. Note the saxaphones across the bridge in the first last pic.These pics are now in the reverse order – starting with our mooring at Givet ant working backwards to Dinant …doh!

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