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

  • December 2014
    M T W T F S S
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Archive for December 21st, 2014

Possession is 9/10ths of the helm

Posted by contentedsouls on 21/12/2014

We’re dropping down the last 12 locks into Ligny-en-Barrois tomorrow, our destination for Christmas. 3 more of the, supposedly, automatic locks and I’m just praying not to have to speak to Bar le Duc control – 3 locks, it’s not a lot to ask that they could set automatically, is it? The nice man there has become so familiar to me I feel that I should swap the ‘vous’ for ‘tu’ when I address him!

After that we’re back on the remote control unit and can set our own locks. Whoever has possession of that RCU has the helm and, at the moment, Graham is quietly confident that the helm is his as he, generally, gets up first. I, however, go to bed last and will be slipping that RCU under my pillow!

A domestic day today really, followed by dog walking and a slap up lunch – turkey with brandy, morels and farcie followed by pancakes. Is it Christmas?

I checked out the River l’Ornain today, I’ve been desperate to kayak this ever since we encountered it (it’s perfectly feasible to take the kayak out in the winter without wet or dry suits). It’s not feasible now – not at my age anyway! A tad too lively.

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So, when we reach Ligny tomorrow (hopefully), we should be able to settle down for 5/6 days; do a bit of shopping, eat out and swap towpath clothes for City gear.

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Treveray to Naix-aux-Forges

Posted by contentedsouls on 21/12/2014

4 locks and 5.5 km

There was not one, but two bar/restaurants in Treveray. Unfortunately they were 1km away and it peed down with rain all night and all day so we didn’t fancy going out to lunch in full wets. It’s been yonks since we had a drink out let alone a meal,as we are deep in rural France, and neither of us wanted a wine free lunch so that we could drive – rather wait until we get to the civilisation of Ligny. We ventured out in the car instead and did our Christmas food shop – I use the term ‘food’ loosely as it seemed to consist mostly of alcohol, chocolate, biscuits, nuts and cheese: it might be the 4:3 diet throughout January!

We had booked passage, yesterday, for today’s cruise and decided that 4 locks and 5.5km would be sufficient if we were going to experience similar problems to Thursday’s cruise, also more rain was forecast. That’s the only problem we’ve encountered here travelling in the winter – so far – you have to ‘pre-declare’ your finishing point.

This morning we were woken at 7.30 by a passing peniche (the 3rd in 3 days) to discover it wasn’t raining. What’s more, we didn’t have to remind them to set the lock; a man in a VNF van came out and set lock 11 for us at 9.45. I wasn’t going to risk the leap again so Muttley and I left G and MR descending and set off for L12. As we rounded the bend I spotted the light – red; gate closed. My heart sunk and I really didn’t feel up to the conversation this morning that now had to take place. I rehearsed in my head and pushed the button, determined to be jolly, ‘bonjour, ca va?’ yes it was the same chap from Thursday. Please could you open the gates? Instead of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ I received a torrent of French of which I only caught ‘English boat’.  I replied that yes it was us again and would he open the gates please and he hung up. Nothing’s happening with the gates, G has now arrived on MR and is gesticulating for me to contact him again but I didn’t know if he’d said he was sending someone or not; in fact I didn’t have the faintest idea what he’d said. I did, of course, have to go back to him and the gates opened – why he didn’t do it the first time I have no idea!

By now, G and I had established a theory that we weren’t sufficiently tall enough for the detectors to realise we’d left, so the gates weren’t closing behind us and, therefore, the next lock wasn’t setting. So, as he left, he waved something at the detector on a long pole. I approached L13 and – it was red….aaaargh! Then, miraculously, it went to red and green and set, as did L14. L15 went to green and then broke down – what did we care; we’d moored up by then. A man in a van came out and fixed it and gave us a remote control unit, so only 3 more of these daft locks before we are masters of our own destiny again.

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