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

  • April 2016
    M T W T F S S
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Archive for April 12th, 2016

After 8 weeks and 3 days, consecutively, in Roanne we are in Melay

Posted by contentedsouls on 12/04/2016

25km, 3 locks and 4 1/2 hours

If I still have anyone who can be bothered to listen, after my recent tardiness in blogging, this is what’s been going on. Here’s inside MR; with new carpet from the galley back, side panels finished and wood work re-varnished and everything scrubbed up – shame she didn’t look like this when we lived there!

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Although we’ve worked as hard as we could – knowing I couldn’t leave until it was finished is the biggest carrot you can dangle on a stick for me – we were still able to socialise in the evenings; well, the evenings we could stay awake! We have had beef bourgignon borgo stew and chicken provençale with the Brits; curry with the Swiss; cheese fondue with the French and enjoyed a 70th birthday party.

We promised ourselves that we would leave on Friday 8th latest, but it was not to be. Somewhere in that last week we became a four boat family – fetching Francoise’ dinghy from the rented garage (both dinghy and garage came with our purchase) to paint the sides of MR. Watching G trying to get in and out of it was highly amusing!


Whilst balanced somewhat precariously to paint the bow – and trying frantically not to paint myself ‘into the corner’ – Daisy decided that she would come and help as there was enough space for her too; she was wrong and ended up in the dinghy which, to her good fortune, was in just the right spot to catch her!

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All improvements on MR came at the expense of poor Francoise as she increasingly became a dumping ground, ‘we can sort Francoise out as we go’ we told ourselves! Yep, that is supposed to be a wheelhouse!


Insult was added to injury when we watched NB The Puzzler make a break for it on Saturday (we had intended to leave long before them). They did a lap around the port before entering the lock and we all sounded our horns – I suspect the locals thought they’d just been married. This spurred me on to greater effort and I completed MRs polish in the one day and we booked the exit lock for 10.30 the next morning.

Before we could leave we had some boat juggling to do. We needed to get MR off of Francoise, get Francoise out and tied off somewhere, then get MR moored against the towpath wall and secured to be safely left. Added to my woes (as I was the one moving MR), the port Capitainerie had insisted we move our pair back a metre or 2 to let in a little 7 metre power boat with outboard squeeze in between us and the pair in front. MR is a little longer than Francoise too, which reduced my parking space even further! Just to add to the mix, it was a beautiful, sunny, Sunday morning so boaters and gongoozlers en masse were also in attendance; oh and, of course, the breeze had got up a bit and the stream was running too. Graham asked me if I felt confident to do it or would I rather swap boats in mid-stream!


In the first picture I’ve done a double twirl and am holding off whilst G gets Francoise out, turns and moors her alongside the two barges which were behind us (you can see the three in a row in the bottom picture). The second picture (I took from MR also) shows my view of where I need to moor – what view?!!!!!! I need to get round the front of Francoise and into the side with my nose pointing up that little boats outboard. The owners of the barge behind me were, of course, in attendance too.


As I got off of the back of MR a Frenchmen came over to give me a double thumbs up, which was lovely, and even Graham said I’d done a good job – I was so charged with adrenalin that it took me nearly an hour to ‘come down’ again (I used the energy to wash the desert dust off of poor, neglected Francoise as we travelled).

So I said my goodbyes to MR and walked up to the lock whilst Francoise and Lily Yang headed in convoy to the lock with, once again, the other boats sounding their horns. Cassandra on Lily Yang was single handing her for the first time and, at 11 metres, could fit into the locks with us so we could help her if she needed it.


There was a lot of getting on and off of the boat at the lock for kisses and cuddles as loads of people turned up to say goodbye and wish us well – pleased as I was to be on the move, we’ve made some good friends and I felt quite emotional. Needless to say we have, once again, reduced our home to Beverly Hilly Billie’s status with top boxes, dinghy, kayak, bbq and goodness knows what else on the roof – and that’s before we add solar panels.

We had one minor problem during the trip and it was with F’s posh navigation system which was absolutely convinced we were in North America and refused to be told otherwise.


Safely through the 3 locks, we left Cassandra to do the French thing and stop for lunch in Briennon before mooring for the night, whilst we carried on to moor at Melay.


We arrived in time for us all to enjoy a beer in the sun and  invite our friend Nicolas round for a drink when he finished work later. We were too ‘peopled out’ to have anyone round for dinner.


Just as Nicolas was walking down to us, we were surprised to see Cassandra make an undignified arrival on the bank a bit behind us – she had a front pin in but lost the back end to the wind. She’d been blown off by the wind (which had got stronger as the day progressed) when she tried to moor at Briennon and again at Iguerande, so she and her little dog were able to join us for a drink. As requested she passed us very quietly when she left early in the morning.

I didn’t get out of bed until 9 and didn’t get showered and dressed until gone 12 – waking to a day where the only thing that had to be done was walk the dog and make dinner was sheer joy. I took Muttley on my favourite walk – it looked totally different with it’s spring clothes on – and the rain didn’t mar my pleasure; although it did spoil the photos. The storks are still about.

Moving on tomorrow after two full days of rest and recuperation (although G teak oiled the rear decking) so, hopefully, normal blogging should be resumed – no more frantic rushing for us. Normality returns.P1140354 - Copy - CopyP1140356 - Copy - CopyP1140364 - Copy - CopyP1140365 - Copy - CopyP1140350 - CopyP1140368 - CopyP1140372 - CopyP1140347

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