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

  • September 2015
    M T W T F S S
  • Meta

Froncles to Vieville

Posted by contentedsouls on 10/09/2015

3 locks, 8 1/2 k

Pulling away from the VNF office (with nice fresh bread on board), round the corner I encountered afore-mentioned grumpy fisherman, back in place with his wife and dogs. I very pointedly slowed down, angled MR away around his rod and back again, before increasing the throttle again; putting on my biggest smile (enough to frighten anybody’s horses!) and issuing a cheery bonjour Monsieur Madame. For good measure I took this picture of them under the no fishing sign – look at his little face, bless him; he wasn’t quite sure what to make of that. Muttley was equally put off by this ferocious beast and did his nut as we went passed.


Although the days are hot and sunny, the nights are chilly now (a perfect combination to my mind) and, like all narra boaters, our thoughts are turning to wood. Stacks of it everywhere but, unlike the UK, it belongs to people and we are harbouring thoughts of wood rustling! Look at that lot behind me.


The second lock of the day was 3.9 metres deep and had an inset bollard in the wall. Standing on the gang plank across the well deck gunwales, on tip toe and wielding the rope on a boat hook, I just managed to reach it – first shot I might add. So that was good; but the telecomander wouldn’t start the lock going so Graham ‘phoned VNF who sent a jolly man in a van. He walked to the edge of the lock and peered down at us in bemusement before raising the blue rod and starting the lock. What a pair of pratts! It  never occurred to us to revert to the manual system – I don’t think either of us have ever felt so daft. Our only defence – and it’s a very poor one – is that we had been through a long stretch of locks where the blue rods had been removed. Our van man remained jolly as we grovelled our apologies for dragging him from his lunch unnecessarily and we skulked out of the lock with our metaphorical tails between our legs.

I have mentioned jumping overboard at the approach of a loaded peniche – this is an empty one, but it shows how ‘up close and personal’ it all gets. On this canal, if we were a widebeam we would be expected to slither down their side as there is not the depth to move over any further.


Arriving at the halte fluvial at Vieville, Muttley slipped off the back behind me whilst we were mooring. A gentleman appeared and informed me that he lived there and my dog had just peed on his flowers. I apologised and offered to wash them off but was informed that that wouldn’t be necessary. Closer inspection revealed that (on the boat moorings) he and his wife lived in a tiny caravan with which they had built a ‘coral’ using their car, the village information signs and the mooring’s decorative flowers. It seems to be my week for receiving bollockings for mooring a boat on boat moorings – how very dare I!


A quick tour of the village revealed that it was one of those where the farms and houses are all muddled up; I love them.


We stayed yesterday as a couple I’ve got to know really well on Facebook, Jackie and Noel Parry, were moored 20 minutes ahead of us by car and we wanted to meet up. They have a lovely barge which they have been/are re-fitting called Rouge Corsair and are travelling from the South of France to Belgium in a very short space of time – utilising the whole of the lock opening times from 9 am until 7 pm. I’m tired just typing about it.

We went round about 5 for afternoon tea (yes; wine was on offer but we declined) and I’ve decided that this is something which should be re-instated; good old British afternoon tea, or even high tea, especially as the nights pull in. We had a great time and I have to admit that, initially, I was a little in awe as this lady is an amazing adventurer who has sailed oceans and trekked through Australia with horses; her books are amazing and beautifully written:

Of Foreign Build; the transition from landlubber to Ocean going sailor

A standard Journey; the story of Jackie and Noel trekking through Australia with 5 horses (which they trained from ex-trotters) and a tent.


We said our goodbyes knowing that we would pass as we travelled in opposite directions this morning – both hoping we would be able to stop for coffee and more nattering but not sure that it would be logistically possible as you can’t just stop anywhere on this stretch. None of us knowing then, what a treat would be in store for us today.

3 Responses to “Froncles to Vieville”

  1. Wonderful blog Jill – just love your writing (BTW – we usually stop about 5 – we aren’t that tough! 😉 ) it was an absolute pleasure to meet you and Graham and your animal crew – we hope our bows cross again somewhere/sometime!


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