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

  • March 2017
    M T W T F S S
  • Meta

Archive for March, 2017

Finally we leave Meaux and cruise to Mary sur Marne

Posted by contentedsouls on 26/03/2017

Waiting in Friday afternoon for our man to come and fix his leak (our leak, but he caused it) we received a text to say he would be delayed until between 6pm and 7pm. Fall over in shock and amazement – a Frenchman working after 4pm on a Friday and actually informing us that he would be late. I shouldn’t be bitchy because he put everything right and stayed to make sure all was well; except our dinner which, by then, had become fairly rubberised.

Once we knew he wasn’t coming until later, G shot off to the local Brico and I was surprised by the arrival of a British couple on a wooden cruiser trying to find a space to moor. It might sound strange that I was surprised, but I had forgotten that other boats start to get out and about at this time of the year – we become so insular over the winter months.

We couldn’t invite them around for a drink with our engineering guy coming, so G arranged to drive Tim up to get a new gas bottle (it’s one helluva distance on foot/bike) before we left in the morning. It does make me laugh here – anyone turning up and speaking English pretty much gives/receives an invite; potential robbers and fraudsters please note that the boating community in Europe is a soft touch!

Whilst G was running Tim up for gas, Muttley and I couldn’t resist one more walk around our glorious Parc Nature where spring was sprunging before our very eyes and we could practice our Bear Grylls skills


Back to the old language issue stuff – whilst my French is crap and my grammar non existent, i have frequently been told that my accent is pretty good. However, we have learnt off pat a number of phrases which we know are ‘correct’ and/or are colloquial because we have had French people teach them to us. These include ‘ can we come in here with the dogs’, ‘these are not my onions (none of my business)’, ‘it’s raining like cows that piss’, ‘is that not what I just said?’ and ‘he loves the ladies’. Here I should be quick to explain that this is normally used with reference to Graham’s Muttley’s antics.

On this particular trip to the park, Muttley ran up to two ladies who had paused whilst one re-tied her walking boots; Muttley charged in between them and snuggled up for a cuddle (as he does) and they were clearly enchanted by him (someone has to be). I apologised and trotted out my best rendition of, ‘he loves the ladies’ and without hesitation, repetition or deviation; the lady replied to me in perfect English, “quite rightly too”. There is, clearly, no need to hang a sign around my neck saying, ‘beware English woman abroad’.


With 3 hands between us, we headed off on our 1 lock 20 km journey in gloriously sunny but windy weather. The stream was running and we struggled to make 5 kph against it – not good for our fuel consumption using 3.75 litres of fuel per hour; the alternator didn’t kick in as the solar panels earnt their keep though, so it could have been worse (there you go; one for the techy peeps!).

Mr Baxter, who we didn’t think would make the end of the summer at one point let alone the winter, was quick to demand a space on the sheltered rear deck in the sun – he is like a pussy cat and basks in the sunshine; it looks like we are going to have to clip him out again.


The approach into the lock was pretty horrendous, what with the wind and the water pouring over the adjacent weir – I wouldn’t have wanted to do it with two hands, let alone one. Needless to say my super hero brought us safely in and did the ropes, leaving me to do some one handed twiddly bits which weren’t too demanding.


A lovely cruise passing the most magnificent tree house – look at the height of that ladder; my Mum would never have let me go up and down that; quite rightly because, with my penchant for self destruction there would have been many more hospital visits.


We moored up at the delightful Mary-sur-Marne around 3.30pm


Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

More tales of woe and misadventure!

Posted by contentedsouls on 23/03/2017

Having waved goodbye to Sue and Vic and recovered the car, ready for G to make a long overdue trip to the uk, we re-stocked the boat at the fantastic Saturday market ready to move on. Except the fire had failed again and PK Fluvial were posting out yet another part – we can get the fire to work, but only by jamming a fork in and by-passing the safety valve! After 3 trips in vain to the Post Office, we ‘phoned them again to find out that they had ‘forgotten’ to post it. By now it was the following Tuesday, so I suggested G went back on Thursday (a week earlier than planned) as we had to wait for the spares anyway and we didn’t want to move any further out of the area until the problem had been resolved. So a frantic 24 hours of booking of ferries, car MOT and diesel loading took place and by 7.30 am G had gone.

15 minutes away Muttley and I had discovered the glorious Parc Nature Patis. It starts formal with a beach and adventure playground and then gets wilder and wilder with acres and acres of pathways, lakes, woodlands and fields. More walking than I can handle in one go these days. Fabulous.



On the Sunday, I was sat on a bench in the park in the sun talking on the phone to Sue when a swarm of little dogs came charging up to us at full yap. I tried to count them and told Sue that there were 14; the lady, in perfect English, corrected me and said that there were 17!!! Muttley was totally overwhelmed – I think he thought he was going to be eaten by the canine equivalent of Piranhas. You will understand why the photo isn’t very good, but the little one nearest us was soooooo cute and licking Muttley’s leg – he was very reluctant to leave us and I could have very happily popped him into my pocket and taken him home.


G left Thursday and the fire went out Friday – no disaster as I was on leccy so could run the central heating. On Saturday I had a visit from 2 ladies from the tourist office which is responsible for managing the town moorings. Rather mysteriously, they handed me a leaflet saying that the moorings were limited to 48 hours and asked me how long I wanted to stay (I’d already been there 11 days); so I answered the question and said 5 nights. They then charged me 4.50 euros a night for 4 nights – mine is not to reason why!


Apart from the fact that I was completely shattered from doing all the night and day shifts with Baxter single handed, we were all bumbling along fairly nicely until ………. En route to the park I had Muttley on the flexi lead and he took off after something, I locked the lead – which failed – and he hit the end at high speed (I should have let go but it all happened so quickly). The next thing I knew is that I was airborne and horizontal to the ground before hitting it hard and it was concrete. I bent up all my glasses, had ripped a wedge of skin out of my thumb and my right wrist hurt like hell. A lovely couple picked me up, literally, recovered Muttley and walked me back to the boat. There is a large element of shock involved in something like this and I confess to splinting my arm with a wooden spoon and a scarf, tying my glasses up with string and sticky tape, pouring myself a glass of wine, watching a bit of TV and having an early night; putting bed pads down for Baxter (resolving to clear up as necessary in the morning) and letting Muttley out by himself for last wees – how’s that for irresponsible dog ownership. Amazingly I slept really well.

In the morning the shock had worn off and it was clear all was not well. G was adamant that I needed to seek medical help and Sue sent me a map of the nearest Urgence (French A & E) – it was a long way away and I really wasn’t feeling up to it. In the UK you’d call a taxi but it’s not that simple here, so around 4pm I girded my loins for the inevitable and headed off. The gardeners were out in full force at the mooring, titivating it ready for their summer visitors, so I asked them to clarify which street I needed to head up, they took one look at me and called the pompiers. In less than 4 minutes I was air bagged by 4 fireman (Holby City style) and on my way to Urgence under blues and twos – I can laugh now, but I was so embarrassed at the time. 10 days later, I am recovering a lot quicker than I had dared hoped – obviously not weight bearing yet, but I can use my hand again. Last pic shows the original swelling and the 1st shows the bruising coming out after the swelling subsided. I am now able to take the brace off to wash up. I am not showing you the bruise on my head, hip or shoulder.


My paid time was up and Evans (French, not Welsh) was dispatched from the tourist off to find out why I was still there. As he reached my pontoon he encountered the gardeners that had called the fire brigade and a lengthy discussion took place; his English was perfect and he said that I could stay as long as we wanted without charge and if there was anything at all he could do to help I was to ring. I rewarded him by throwing up – Holby City style – narrowly avoiding his shoes. He was true to his word and sent someone out within an hour when I rang to say the electric had gone off.

I don’t know if she reads this, but I also want to say thank you to Veronica who was available to talk to me whenever I needed a bit of a boost and helped me keep a sense of humour – on your own with a boat, two dogs and one hand is quite taxing; thank goodness it wasn’t for too long this time; not like when I broke my shoulder.

Before this happened, and after G was back, I managed to have a good old explore around Meaux; a nice little place without being madly exciting.


Obviously I am not going to be able to do any ropes or serious steering wheel turning for a bit longer but I should be able to hold the boat in the locks so, yesterday we came off the pontoons and moved 300 metres upstream across onto the right bank. This would give us a number of advantages – G could get the car close by and get the new dining room table on and the old one off; it would give me a chance to see if I could handle the boat at all (didn’t find out as G set the boat up so perfectly for mooring that all I needed to do was jiggle the throttle a bit); stop us from taking advantage of Meaux’ kindness; provide a change of scenery and most importantly of all get us so close to the park that Mr Baxter could get the sand under his toes again – he was raised by the sea. Look at our boy, so happy.


What I probably didn’t mention is that our boiler (central heating and hot water) has always lost pressure, due to a slight leak somewhere, and every 4 or 5 weeks needs topping up with water – the piping is old and rigid. When the guys were here to fit the fire we arranged with them to come back and replace it all with new flexible piping.

We were all set to leave this morning after 3 weeks! Flicked the switch to heat the water for showers and the boiler wouldn’t fire up as it had dumped it’s water into the bilges – the guys are coming out tomorrow afternoon to fix it as it’s not a joint G can get to. So here we stay until Saturday……….sigh.

I will leave you with one for the ladies should they ever find themselves in need.


Posted in Uncategorized | 16 Comments »

I know, I know, nagging clearly works!

Posted by contentedsouls on 13/03/2017

So what’s been happening? Quite a lot actually. We have had a woefully short, but treasured, overnight visit from Sue and Richard with masses of goodies. Including a new trolley for the back of the electric bike to fetch fuel and stuff (stuff tending to be beer and wine with Sue and Vic’s twice postponed imminent arrival) and the obligatory loaf of Warburton’s Toasty. 


Muttley and I made a trip to the beach and the circus


G ripped out the incredibly uncomfortable fitted furniture and we installed an ‘Old Dutch’ stove up the corner which made a wondrous difference to keeping the fabric of the boat warm and stopping all the horrendous condensation we have been experiencing. Then it broke down, so we had to go back for replacement parts but, in a way, that was a blessing because it put us in a position to do another rat run with Sue and Vic through Paris. It is pretty amazing and way less scary second time around.


Our week together flew by way too quickly but we had a wonderful time (Sue told me to say that – she said just stick a few pics up and say what a wonderful time we had) although I am short of pictures due to continued technical difficulties.

We deposited them at the station at Meaux on the River Marne and G also jumped a train to recover the car from where we left it 6 months ago.

My apologies for the random photo order.

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments »

Itchy Feet

Real time travel tips from a duo travelling Europe by motorhome

Alex Grehy Fiction

Playing with words....

Indigo Dreaming

The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

Aurigny Aperos

…"I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference."


Join us on our travels around Europe aboard our Dutch Tjalk Francoise


Never grow up, Grown-ups are boring!

Avalon Abroad

Exploring Europe on W B Avalon

M. B. Willow

Life afloat on the 1935 ex-Severn and Canal Carrying Co. motor, Willow

%d bloggers like this: