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 November, 2017

Onwards to find Pirammima

Posted by contentedsouls on 10/11/2017

On the Saturday morning we set off to catch up with Veronica and Richard for our long planned cruise together.

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After a bit of remote mooring we headed into the city of Leeuwarden where we also managed to catch up with Petra but failed to catch up with Jill and Gary. A great city, with the most amazing hardware shop (where, incidentally, I bought the most amazing pair of working gloves – strong, but with huge sensitivity). The weather was ridiculously foul and it chucked it down with rain a lot of the time which, somewhat, curtailed our adventures. We (that would be me) thought that we would have, at least, ten days to play together; but I hadn’t reckoned on the Dutch efficiency. When Nieko booked us into the yard for the beginning of September he meant just that – the 1st of September so our trip together was somewhat curtailed. Hey ho, next year.

Here’s some pics

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What this extraordinary cavalcade was about I have no idea; but nobody doused us in water!

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The artwork is on the undersides of the bridges – sadly we had to leave to get to the yard

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G reversed MR up a side cutting and we banged pins in to get just one extra night of peace and quiet before cruising in the last Kilometre for our lift out the next day.

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You all know how we spent the next few weeks! One pic for those that missed it or have just joined us.

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Gondelvaart (water ‘pram’ carnival)

Posted by contentedsouls on 05/11/2017

Whilst Graham and the team were rescuing MR, I stayed on in Aldeboarn and was fascinated to watch the amazing amount of work that was going on in the village in preparation for the Gondelvaart festival. Gondels are basically floating, flat, iron platform barges built over 100 years ago. They have neither superstructures nor engines and were built to shift peat. Once a year the gondels are dug out of little inlets and reeds, dusted off and superstructures created, to turn them into carnival floats for the last Friday in August. Well in advance of that date, work commences in the village with herringbone road cobbles being carefully removed and lighting cables being laid. Guys turn up to remove any weeds on the mooring walls and the entire (not inconsiderable) length of the main canal street is pressure hosed, cleaned and polished to within an inch of it’s existence. The guys on the water platform cleaning the mooring walls kindly lent G their platform when they went to lunch so that he could use it to finish cleaning our rudder in safety.

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Each street in the village picks a theme for their gondel and then dress their houses accordingly. For example, our friends’ street picked the great Dutch Bake Off for their Gondel so all their houses were displaying menus of local delicacies. Other streets were draped with scarecrows, dreamcatchers, etc. The amount of work that went into these displays for weeks before hand was a m a z i n g.

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On the day of the actual festival, a massive market and food stalls open from the lunchtime with all kind of bands and entertainers. The most incredible of which, for me, was a band of drummers that moved around the village all dressed in primitive skins (G says like something out of Mad Max – I’m not familiar). The beat was totally hypnotic and I followed them about like a rat following the Pied Piper.

As dusk drew in, all the lighting went out and the drummers climbed onto an unadorned gondel from our left – beat their way down the canal to the waiting, dressed gondels, at the other end of the village which then started their slow passage towards us; towed by little tugs – sometimes two huge gondels to one tug. We did, of course, dress Francoise for the occasion.

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Pulled by the tugs, they ‘steered’ with punt poles and boat hooks. A lot of my night pics are out of focus, so I can’t show you them all, but you get the idea. Our seats had been put up outside G & G’s house first thing in the morning (perks of being friends of canalside dwellers) so we could watch in comfort. Supper and wine courtesy of G & G too; an amazing and unforgettable day.

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Even writing this so long after the event has brought a lump to my throat but, for me, the most amazing thing was that they towed them down to the very small turning circle by Francoise; turned them and came back the other way whilst more gondels were still coming down – so then they were coming in both directions on this narrow canal with it’s tiny bridge holes. Such skill. I wish I’d been up on that bridge to watch the turning; if only I’d known – maybe next year.

The next day we waved our goodbyes and it was, almost, as if it had all been a dream as we passed the gondels being dismantled and put away again for 10 months; the cobbles being taken up again and lighting removed. Within 48 hours it would be as if none of it ever happened – the cost and the work for just those few hours. Incredible.

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The blow was softened by the fact that we had a hot date to meet up with Veronica and Richard on Pirammima who had returned in time to do a bit of cruising with us before we headed into the yard at Franeker.

See, I’ve nearly caught up again now!

With apologies to Gerrit and Gezina for any inaccuracies in this post.

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