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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Archive for July 12th, 2017

05-13 June Vianen to Utrecht

Posted by contentedsouls on 12/07/2017

16km 5 locks 12 LBs 6 hours

Whilst everyone has heard of Utrecht, I suspect few have heard of Vianen. In Vianen we finally met up with Katinka and Scott on Tjalk Eendracht. They follow the blog and we are also Facebook friends; they were house sitting about 30 kms up the road and called round to say hello and provide us with masses of information. They also showed us how to tie up the maps with the Wateralmanak; this is the key to the mystery of  ‘how and when’ the bridges operate. Up until that point the Wateralmanak (which is a legal requirement) had been completely incomprehensible to us. We had hoped to get together with them for dinner but, sadly, couldn’t find a day when we were both free – next time! We were also joined by Annie (Facebook friend) and Mike on cruiser Nynke and did manage to get some evenings together. I also, rather rudely, bashed on the door of the beautiful Irish registered Tjalk parked opposite, Avesol II, and introduced myself to John and Win and dragged them back for a drink when they were contemplating bedtime!

There is nothing to put Vianen on the tourist trail but, as a boater with dogs, I loved it. Friendly, pretty little town with two medium sized supermarkets around the corner, numerous restaurants and amazing dog walking – it rather reminded me of the north Norfolk coast. We stayed 8 nights and, most unusually for me, I would have been more than happy to stay for several more days.

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All 3 of the afore mentioned boats left on the Tuesday morning – it hadn’t been planned that way – Annie and Mike whilst I was in the shower and John and Win whilst I topped up at the shops. We left a good hour later and found John and Win moored around the corner along with many others outside the town lock which had broken down (again!). There we sat, had lunch, walked dogs and – eventually – moved on through. We travelled in convoy with them for awhile but they pulled over before Utrecht whilst we continued on.

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Whilst we found the passing scenery fascinating, Baxter just decided to sleep through it.

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Then we hit Utrecht – with 15 very low and arched bridges, we tried not to make it too literal; we later found out that Mike and Annie had a bit of a woopsie on one of them. The plan was that I stood on the bow looking at G and made left a bit, right a bit, ahead as you are, signals. The super hero made it through all 15 without as much as a touch anywhere and you don’t get pictures of the tightest bits because my complete attention was required elsewhere! The bendy bridge was more like a tunnel and I swear, at the bend, there wasn’t more than an inch to spare either side of the corners of the  wheelhouse roof. Whilst we were snailing through each bridge with our now perfected technique, an oncoming hire boat crashed it’s starboard side bow into the other arch (thank goodness) at high speed in a spray of fibreglass before ricocheting off it’s port stern (that was their deposit gone – if they pay one in Holland).

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Princess Daisy was in charge of fending off with the boat hook if required and was later put on a court martial for dereliction of duty

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By going to the far end of town and through one lock we found a free mooring instead of paying 30 euros a night. The lockie charged us 5 euros to operate it and payment was by credit card only – bizarre; especially as they won’t take credit cards in supermarkets and the majority of shops – but I’ll tell you more about the peculiarities of the monetary system later. G walked into town with me the next day and we sat in the centre in glorious sunshine; sharing a sandwich, enjoying a beer, watching the busy world go by. We had our first kibbeling from a street stall too, a bit like our fish shop fish in little battered strips, absolutely delicious and good enough to banish my craving for the real thing!

Leaving me to put in a few miles with the camera, G went back to the boat to look after Baxter and do a little fishing as he now has a VISpas (this wasn’t possible in France as you needed a licence for each area – prohibitively expensive – so he hasn’t fished in over 3 years). He clearly hadn’t lost his touch though.

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I love the way they use the canal to service all the waterside restaurants, collecting rubbish and empty casks and replacing them with new crates and barrels. Here are a zillion pictures of this beautiful city.

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The yarn shop is in here because we used to have craft shops – they never used to look like this though – all this yarn is hand dyed and glorious. I had a long and lovely natter with the lovely lady (who has a professional job) who works part-time here purely because the product feeds her soul. She may well be reading this if she hasn’t given up hope of getting a mention after all this time.

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Muttley and I found all the old floating sheds that used to be the red light district; kilometre after kilometre of them. Boarded up now but still in reasonable condition – it’s a shame they can’t be used for something before they become even more of an eyesore and cost a fortune to be dismantled. I mentioned this to a local lady who misunderstood me, replying in the usual blunt Dutch manner, “it’s where men came to pay women for sex”. Another example of this forthrightness was a lass in her late 20s chatting to G at the boat who suddenly said, “I must go, after an hour I need to pee”. There’s not a lot of response you can make to either of those comments. The Dutch are incredibly blunt which can, at times, be quite shocking to ‘polite Brits’.

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If you are looking for a break for a long weekend, I can thoroughly recommend Utrecht.

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