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

  • July 2016
    M T W T F S S
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Archive for July, 2016

The DBA rally and a touch of Delaney’s donkey!

Posted by contentedsouls on 22/07/2016

With Lesley, Sarah and Andy heading off towards the UK, there was just time to walk the dogs before heading into Briare market for our first assignment with the DBA rally – 11.00 am cheese and wine tasting.


The weather was perfect throughout; as was the company and the food. From this first event on, it was pretty much full on – so much so that I don’t have anything very much in the way of photographs. I have, therefore, shamelessly nicked most of the following photos from Ian McCauley and Gill Stollery.

The boat race started off as a race, but quickly degenerated into a plan to stay as close to the fabulous McCauley crew as possible; once it became known that they had beer on board! G and I came last and have the official wooden snail as our prize – we also had the McCauley’s beer. Lissette and Ian were such fun; I had been looking forward to meeting them for ages and it was worth the wait – it’s always brilliant to meet one of your blog readers. We made so many new friends although I didn’t realise that they were all coming back to party on Francoise!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! At one point there were 20 of us squidged into the wheelhouse and aft deck – I think that Debbie might have had something to with that.

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The other thing Debbie had a hand in was a bit of skull duggery on our neighbour’s boat. They had a bottle of rose hanging off of their bow which was tantalisingly close to our stern! Inevitably, temptation became too much and it was swapped for a bottle of menthe syrop.


The weekend was crammed full of events and over far too quickly and we rounded it off with a birthday party and dinner. The only blot on the landscape was Diane’s accident, she managed to shuck her tendons and arteries as well as the oysters; requiring some pretty major surgery and an extra overnight stay for us. We heard, subsequently, that the oyster concerned had been humanely destroyed.

On Tuesday morning the plan was to move Francoise out of Briare, back across the aqueduct, to the hay meadow before driving Gill up to St Jean de Losne to collect her car and position ours at Decize (ready to collect my sister in law from Orly airport on 31st). The plan didn’t start well as the water level had dropped a bit and Francoise was nestled firmly and snugly in the silt! The 20 people onboard on Friday probably didn’t help either!

It was like Delaney’s donkey; they were pulling her, pushing her, shoving her and shushing her…. but she wasn’t moving.

Millie and Sojourn both tried towing her off whilst all the other crews pushed and pulled to no avail.

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In the end, we had to get Lennie in with his big barge, Elysium, with it’s 175 horse power Mercedes engine. Like the professional he is, he had us off in jiffy and the silt finally released us.


By the time we’d locked up the 3 locks out of town and moored up, the car manoeuvring plan was already rather behind schedule. Not helped by Gill’s battery being flat and then G lost her before Decize with one of them stuck either side of an accident. They eventually found each other again but Gill’s car wouldn’t re-start and so they had to wait for international rescue (never a Thunderbird around when you want one!). They arrived back at their respective boats just before midnight.

Sojourn had joined us in the hay meadow and, deciding to stay on Wednesday for a day of rest, Pam and Rob kindly invited us round for dinner. We had a lovely evening but not a late one and we are expecting Annette and Malcolm on Rachel to catch us up for dinner either tomorrow or Saturday – so the party still goes on.

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Visitors and sunny days–at last the floods recede

Posted by contentedsouls on 17/07/2016

When you haven’t managed to blog for this length of time; the effort involved in trying to sort out notes and photos is so daunting that you are in danger of never blogging again. I am just going, therefore, to bombard you with some of my best memories and photos which may well be in random order. I should also warn you that, those of you with a delicate disposition, might want to avert their eyes regarding the sleeping arrangements of some of my menagerie – that, sadly, includes my guests.

From the Briare aqueduct we pushed north to the furthest point of navigation (due to the breach) to collect our mates. This route parallels the old canal/lock system with several sets of Foxton style staircases:- a disaster for commercial traffic which can’t pass each other. The new build replaced the staircases with individual locks which allows traffic to pass each other in the pounds and reduces the delays. In some places this heritage is celebrated, as in the village of Rogny les sept ecluse; others you just have to dig about in the undergrowth with a Muttley.

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When we landed at Rogny and tied off, the noticeboard said we would be charged 19 euros for the night, so we moved a 100 metres further on and, not only could we moor for free, we were met by a local welcoming committee who had hardly seen a boat this season. It’s difficult to remember in this heat that this was a month ago now and still in the aftermath of the flooding chaos. A pretty little place

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We moved on to Dammarie where we had an excellent plat de jour lunch; 13.50 euros for 3 courses and wine with the best tagliatelle with smoked haddock I’ve ever eaten. It was the morning that we discovered that the UK had voted out of Europe and we and the dogs were made tremendously welcome although amazed that G and I were shocked and dismayed at the result; they thought that we would be delighted so were quizzing us with an 100 mile an hour French. We vowed to try and take our friends back there the following week if things fell into place —- boats; plans!!!!!! Yes it did happen.

Billy no mates, we positioned ourselves at the (now) cul de sac of Chatillon Coligny; scrubbed, batch cooked for the freezer and provisioned the boat. By now I was beside myself with excitement – it had been over a year since Sarah and Andy’s brief visit last year and two and a half years since we took MR up to Market Harborough to say goodbye to Lesley and Joe before heading down the Grand Union to Watford to be lifted out and ferried to France.


There was, of course, a little matter of the sleeping arrangements to sort out; we have a spare room with a double bunk so we had ‘extras’ to sort out. We tried Lesley out for size in the wheelhouse Hobbit bed.


Whilst Baxter and Andy favoured the air bed in the saloon


I don’t need to tell you what a brilliant time we had (despite my failing to notice that a restaurant by the old ecluses onto the Loire was closed Tuesday as well as Monday – not so much as an icecream having made them walk!).These are two photos I shall treasure forever


Whilst Sarah will probably treasure driving  Stefan’s hotel boat (we were stuck in the floods with him and became quite friendly) Anna Maria IV, with a skotell drive. If you want to do pirating Sarah, we’re the ones that can show you the big time!


Thank you guys and thank you for all the presents and British goodies – you are the best. Missing you xxxx

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