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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Bring on the Aussies and home alone

Posted by contentedsouls on 23/08/2016

Having waved goodbye to Annette and Malcolm; G set off in the car to pick up his sister and b-i-l from Orly airport, having flown in from Australia to London the night before. We cruised across the Loire from the Lateral to the Nivernais and up a little before returning to Champvert (designated place for abandoning me). I can’t believe that I don’t have a single picture of my lovely s-i-l, but those few days were about spending precious time with family who, due to distance, we see far too little of. Muttley was quite pleased to have people staying over again too!

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The days passed in a flash and, almost before I knew it, I was waving goodbye and they were all driving off to catch flights back to the UK. Normally I’m the first to enjoy a bit of space for awhile, but with all of them leaving at the same time after having become totally used to having people around since 30th June; it was a bit of a shock!!!! Coupled with that, the temperature rose to silly levels again which, whilst not reducing Baxter’s appetite, has an unfortunate affect on his stomach in particular and his well being in general – thus he requires almost constant attention. Our saviour was the spring/well next to our mooring – it rose out of the ground and trickled in a little channel into the canal. Perfik! There was also a spot where I could get Muttley into the river without leaving the Baxter for more than 40 minutes, provided I didn’t break my neck negotiating this ladder over a barbed wire fence. I had to pass the donkeys to reach it, so I had them to say bonjour to.

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By the end of the first week I was going a bit nuts when I met the lovely Regula (whose name means something to do with Regina) who was out walking a French hunting dog called Alma. She is a hand surgeon in Switzerland (where was she when we needed her in Briare with Diane’s oyster accident?!) whose family own a house in the village (with room for a pony) and she borrows the dog and comes here for a few weeks at a time to just walk and chill and escape her life where, as she says, “every minute of my day is accounted for”. Yipee, someone to play with and with a car to drive out to pretty spots for different dog walking, although still a bit limited about leaving the Baxter for long. Alma and Muttley had a ball too.

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When G returned, we drove back out to this pretty village of Tinte and took the car right down to the water so Baxter could go in too. The following photos are going to be treasured, bless him.

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The very next morning our friends Gill and John (they of the car recovery adventure in Briare) on the lovely Piper barge Millie turned up (notice how everyone vanished whilst I was on my own and re-appeared when G arrived back; clearly it’s him that’s the party animal!), so we availed ourselves of the picnic tables in the shade for a b-b-q

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We stayed one more day to let G get his breath back and then positioned cars – G driving Regula’s Mercedes – and cruised her and Alma to Cercy to catch up with Gill and John. We carefully attached Alma to the boat for fear she might jump overboard at any passing Coypu or ducks but she was as good as gold and frozen with excitement. Our two, of course, had seen it all before.

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After lunch G drove her home and we did a supermarket shop with Gill and John (whose truculent car is now back in the UK) before eating John’s excellent paella onboard Millie in the evening. We waved goodbye to Millie in the morning as they were playing the ‘positioning for guests next week’ game and we needed to stay and sort out washing as I hadn’t had water at Champvert and it was two weeks since we’d filled. Here we are in the early morning sun.

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Having only cruised that one day in the last two weeks I had very itchy feet and, having finished the washing and re-filled the tank in the morning, changed our minds about staying and booked the lock for after lunch (locks on the Nivernais close 12-1). We passed that lovely tjalk again too. Whilst the Nivernais doesn’t have the smack you in the face grandeur of Le Doubs it is utterly charming – quite British with the addition of picturesque locks and canalside bars and restaurants. These bridge ‘oles aren’t half tight.

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We stopped at Anizy lock for the night by an extraordinarily decorated lock cottage – unfortunately there are no pictures as I went and left my locking gloves and camera outside on the front of the boat and it poured with rain that night and all the following morning …… doh!

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