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

  • February 2018
    M T W T F S S
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Archive for February 6th, 2018

A bit of a do (written 04/02–post when I have Wi-Fi)

Posted by contentedsouls on 06/02/2018

As most of you now know (if you follow Sue’s blog) my boaty besty mate is in a spot of trouble; G and I both need dental work doing; my passport runs out in March and I haven’t had any kind of routine health checks in 4 years so another change of plans – we had intended to head South in the new camper van to Spain or Portugal but, instead, we are now heading back to the UK for a little while. Dogs are all vaccinated now, so just wormers to sort out and then we are fit to travel when the festive season is over.

In the interim we have had some fun, adventures and new experiences – life is ever thus! We had planned to spend a week in Dokkum with Jill and Gary before moving into Aldeboarn to spend Christmas day with our Dutch friends, but we have had to postpone Dokkum until Wednesday.

I trundled off to walk Muttley, turning the generator off as I left; batteries being fully charged. G then heard the generator start and thought I had returned and re-started it for some reason – I hadn’t. He tried pressing the stop button again but it wouldn’t stop so went down to the forepeak – opening up the hatch, he found the generator on fire. With only the weeny generator from Matilda Rose to sustain us, we moved straight to Aldeboarn and have been plugged into No 70’s house. Fortunately it was only the wiring loom that was damaged and we were ‘fixed’ in the nick of time before Christmas.

On the cruise from Akkrum to Aldeboarn, G heard a loud bang. He stopped the boat and found me flat on the floor and more than a bit confused – let’s face it, I’ve always been easily confused! With hindsight I realise that it’s at least the third time it’s happened. Definitely needed to return to UK – a CT scan in NL was going to cost around 1,400 euros.

On Christmas Eve afternoon Jill and Gary drove over to see us with Gem and Chula, decided a bevy might be required so they stayed over and Jill and I went to the Carol service with Gezina and Thea; first time I’ve sung Silent Night in Dutch! It was fabulous and I’m so glad I went.

We had a fabulous Christmas day with G & G at No 70 with her 3 sons, partners and grandchild and the most amazing food; spiced pork and heaps of vegetables and all sorts of other goodies. a fabulous day and one that neither of us will ever forget. Thank you guys for sharing your special family time with us.

Christmas day 2 (as the Dutch call Boxing Day), we drove across to see Dutch boating friends Marijke and Jans; Baxter was quite taken with their girl dogs and had quite a spring in his step and a twinkle in his cataracts – it took him two days to recover though. We thought we were popping around for the afternoon, but we were plied with a fabulous meal again and didn’t leave until gone 11. Another memorable day; it is such a generous thing to include us like this and we are honoured.

Dokkum was very pretty still all lit up for Christmas when we returned for New Year.


So here are a few pretty pictures from all the missing months (just realised Baxter is missing from the photos but, worry not, he is still with us!)


Sunday 7th January we left Francoise on a bitterly cold day and headed for Bruges to catch up with Andy and Vos. As usual we enjoyed the most fabulous meal (can that lady cook!) and spent the evening in hoots of giggles. Sadly saying our goodbyes after lunch on Monday we headed towards the port just across the Belgian border into France. Given the temperatures were sub zero, there was no way I was staying in the camper overnight without heat (which requires electric), so I thought we’d have a treat and stay overnight in an hotel; baths, luxury, comfort, swimming through my poor deluded brain. Well; it was the shittiest whole I have ever stayed in – and, trust me, I have stayed in some pretty shitty holes. It was too late to find another hotel which would take two dogs and a cat.


Having kicked off about the cigarette stinking midden of a room we were were first put in, we at least were given a smoke free shit hole, so dragged our duvet and pillows out of the van into the room. However, the most amazing and vast Oriental restaurant was just a few paces away. Freshly cooked, eat all you like buffet with masses of seafood, sushi, and Chinese, which somewhat softened the blow. I started with the cold seafood. Followed by hot seafood, plus some duck and puds and ice cream ( G managed to throw in a few extra courses ) and a couple of beers washed down with port (supplied by Vos and Andy) and we slept quite well.


By the time I finished my meal I was starting to get a bit of a toothache and by the time my breakfast of eggs benedict arrived on the DFDS ferry (payed the extra for the private lounge – worth every penny) I couldn’t even eat the ‘thinly sliced’ ham and my face was beginning to resemble a football.

Once off of the ferry we headed to G’s sons at Northampton but, despite my being distracted by trying to Google emergency dentists, I couldn’t help but be appalled by the disgusting rubbish on the side of the motorway. I guess I had become accustomed to it before I left but, having spent 4 years in Countries that take pride in themselves, I could not – and still cannot – believe the amount of filth and discarded litter that lines British roads – what must visitors to the UK think of us. No question mark; I don’t want to know the answer.

A couple of nights plugged into Antony’s electric – during which time I was able to have the treat of taking the littlies to school – and we found that our next planned destination was not to be; so we had to do a quick re-think. In less than 24 hours Sue contacted neighbours and key holders and arranged for us to take over NoProblemXL, complete with wine, flowers and a ‘welcome’ card. Bloody superwoman; gets on your nerves.

So we are now happily ensconced and have been to Portsmouth to see Sue and Vic; had a grand reunion, delicious roast lamb and an overnight stop which allowed Sue and I to walk the dogs for an hour and a half. Penny and Muttley never stopped playing during that walk. Sue and Vic are coming back to the boat, all being well, for a week next Saturday in her post chemo ‘safe’ period. A lovely, lovely mooring here on the Thames, but the walking is a touch limited at the moment due to mud – not used to it as the Dutch do not allow mud; paving or duckboard are the order of the day and the Dutch do like order!

Pictures from Blighty


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