contentedsouls

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

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Laissey to Baumes-les-Dames (Weds 4 & Thurs 5/11)

Posted by contentedsouls on 17/11/2015

5 locks, 13 km

An hour before we were ready to leave an occupied hotel boat passed us on our mooring. It was funny; the people on the upper floor were eating their breakfasts and waving madly to us whilst those sleepyheads still down below in their cabins were frantically dressing and trying to cover their embarrassment as I stood at the galley window and waved to them… they weren’t expecting that!

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Signs of old factories now with collapsed roofs and burned out buildings – some strong side streams still in force on the lock approaches; there is hardly any water under us at the moment so heaven help you when the river is running a bit!

We met our first ever (in France) staircase lock, just the two chambers, and received a very enthusiastic greeting from the local dog. Once again goats abounded on the bank as we left.

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The colours had now reached their peak and we had a lovely cruise. We entered the last lock of the day thinking we were in plenty of time to moor at Baumes and have lunch. Unfortunately the locks here can be unpredictable and this last one was to be no exception; the gates opened and …..

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… that would be another lunch on the boat in the lock again. You can see how high up it is to terra firma even though the lock is full – absolutely no chance of getting the dogs off without using Sue’s boswains chair. By the time these working guys had finished their lunch, shifted their floating thingy and we had cruised into Baumes it was mid afternoon. Nearly all the moorings are for short cruisers and the only long mooring was occupied by the hotel boat whose passengers were finishing a long, leisurely lunch in the adjacent restaurant prior to embarking onto a waiting coach for a trip out – so they had the last laugh on us.

We managed to stick our nose in at the end with our bum hanging out but not (quite) blocking navigation and I went off with the dogs prior to G and I walking up to catch a train back to Besancon to recover the car.

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As I returned with the dogs the hotel boat appeared to be prepping to leave without her passengers. I spoke to one of the crew who confirmed that they were just leaving and we could have the spot – so there was a frantic moving of MR before G abandoned me and the boys to make the train by the skin of his teeth. We’d have missed it if we’d had to stop and moor and lock up properly.

Normally I would be bursting to explore a new place but the wretched cold that G had brought back with him from the UK was taking it’s toll. I just can’t shake it off and it’s making me very tired so I was quite happy to do a bit of much needed shopping on the Thursday and explore some of the lovely walking with Muttley – I wasn’t much fancying the long hard slog up into town. Graham, meanwhile, used the car to obtain oil and much needed compressed wood and stuff to burn on the fire – we cannot purchase coal anywhere in this part of France – as we were nearly down to burning the furniture although we are only lighting the fire in the evenings at the moment as it is so hot during the daytime. The central heating suffices for the mornings until the sun is up.

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A long discussion was held in the evening and G felt that we should not travel further East. It certainly has been one of, if not, the most stunning canal/rivers we’ve cruised so far and discretion seems to be the better part of valour as we don’t wish to risk being stuck in one spot until late January. We can always come back another time.

We had thought that, from here, we’d make a day trip in the car to Switzerland before we started to head back, but we’re too far away for us to visit any specific place and there didn’t seem to be much point in driving over the border and back. We scoured our tourist brochures and decided to head off to the South in search of cow bells; that is cows with bells around their necks.

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