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

  • January 2015
    M T W T F S S
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Archive for January, 2015

When the kissing gets too much

Posted by contentedsouls on 12/01/2015

(with me en Francais and him in England, I suspect I might find out quite quickly if he ever reads my blog!)
I love the French customs; I love the ‘bonjouring’ of everyone in the queue when you walk into a boulangerie or boucherie; I love the handshakes to complete strangers who occupy a bar you enter. Then there’s that vague social dividing line where someone is no longer a stranger and the handshakes develop into the double cheek kiss – no ‘mwah, mwah’ here.

It’s absolutely fraught with difficulty. First of all there is the timing. How do you know when to make the handshake to kiss transition; if you get it wrong you can create the most enormous snub (not just the embarrassment of a failed high five – not that I’ve ever attempted one). Then there is the more obvious one of too much proximity to halitosis and body odour (believe you me I’ve had more than my fare share of that in the last 10 months). Then there is the physical process, should always be right cheek to right cheek, every so often someone goes in with the left cheek (usually results in a big, embarrassing, smackeroony on the lips that everybody tries to pretend didn’t happen).

Lastly there is the time consumption. If you’re nipping out in your slippers to dump the rubbish and get caught by a ‘kissing terms’ acquaintance walking their dog, you can’t just kiss and move on to the bins, so an (unprepared) conversation has to take place whilst your slippers absorb the damp and you struggle with your verbs. If you promised to stick your head round the corner to say, ‘I’m fine’. You have to shake hands with two small boys , kiss Monsieur x 2, kiss Madame x 4 (not in the brothel sense) and then shake hands with every customer in the premises – and that’s without stopping for a beer. If you stop for a beer or a coffee, you have to repeat the process on leaving…..and people ask me what I do all day!

One thing has eased my troubled mind though; Madame is the new Ms and I no longer have to search for fingers bearing wedding rings or worry about getting Madame/Mademoiselle wrong and deciding if I get it wrong would cause delight or offence. Phew, Mademoiselle is no longer politically correct – such a relief


Only one photo today, last night’s view from the side hatch – you’ve seen it before but the difference is that the boat was bathed in sunlight for a short while yesterday. Lovely to see the reflected light off the water ripples playing on the ceiling again and the sky was clear enough for a sunset. Sadly back to grey again today. Oh well, it was nice whilst it lasted.

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So it’s 2015

Posted by contentedsouls on 10/01/2015

We had a lovely New Years Eve day with Mike and June from NB Temujin who drove over for the day. A lovely day full of anecdote and information swapping and a fair bit of food consumption  before they left us to drive an hour and a half back to their winter moorings which we shall be passing in due course – although sometimes I wonder if we’ll ever get there; the plan was to have reached Reims – which is beyond their mooring – back in November!! We decided not to go out for the evening; I think we were both too tired to face an evening of French conversation.

Plans are afoot for this year’s blacking to share a trolley with them to get both boats out of the water – this means getting the dogs on and off the boat using the boswain’s dogswain’s chair! With Muttley it’s just hassle; but Baxter has funny turns when he gets distraught now and anything out of his normal routine distresses him. He definitely has some kind of canine Alzheimer’s and we have to be very careful with him now; he had his 12th Birthday last Saturday and 12, apparently, is a good age for a Tibetan Terrier – being relatively small you’d think they would be longer living.

So the ice has changed into strong winds and, almost, continuous rain – it’s warm but not at all nice. Everything is very subdued here and the locals are numb with the recent events in and around Paris. Whilst in town today, many of the shops have removed their Christmas displays (still up here) with simple easels carrying placards saying, “Nous sommes Charlie”. The normally busy restaurant was empty this lunchtime but many people went there to be together in their bar. Whilst I was, as always, welcomed with kisses and hand shakes I felt as if I was intruding and felt very much ‘a foreigner’, so had a coffee and left. Sorry, beginning to sound a bit like, ‘from our own correspondent’.

G is back in the UK catching up with the family and returning with coal, Marmite and Wainwrights’ dog food, to name but a few items, next week. This is the first time he’s left me here in the winter, so what with the weather and no boat residents/UK tourists it’s quite isolated – also peaceful!

After dragging the boys round the block then popping to the White Horse for a coffee and the Mache for Daisy milk (I didn’t want a Daisy riot breaking out if I had to offer her semi-skimmed), I found some bits of the town I hadn’t seen before. Impressive ‘muriel’.

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Also strange and large parcels – frost protected plants perhaps?

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