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

  • August 2018
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Archive for August, 2018

How to drown your visitors. Skutsje Racing 2018

Posted by contentedsouls on 27/08/2018

The Skutsje racing is a very big deal in Friesland and positioning your boat to get a good view takes a fair bit of planning. In addition we had invited Gezina & Gerrit out for the day which meant we needed land access. It worked out rather well, with ‘Rachel’ moored on the mainland and us on the island adjacent to the racing and a tender apiece to collect visitor’s and get back and forth. We were very lucky to get a mooring and we only managed by being naughty and mooring by the bin, in a space that’s reserved for access by the bin emptying boats – no way would they be along to empty it on a race day.

So part of the planning involved getting out of the boatyard and catching up with Rachel. By then, the heatwave had hit us and pretty much pinned us to the decks. Here’s some pretty pictures of our cruises en route to watch Wednesday’s race – and some not so pretty pictures of the mess left behind from the post race party on Monday. Appalling and not something often seen in the NL.


Tuesday’s race was abandoned as there wasn’t a breath of wind. Wednesday the heatwave broke and we had strong winds and some lively water – so lively that our little electric motor on our tender wasn’t man enough to cross the lake to pick up G & G. Malcolm kindly picked them up in his sturdier tender with his more powerful outboard and brought them across to us. To say it was rough doesn’t really fully express the conditions, however they arrived safe and sound … but wet….very wet… wetter than wet things. In fact I don’t think they could have been wetter if they had swam across.

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By the time we provided Gerrit with a towel and a change of clothes, Gezina discovered that both there phones had drowned and, far worse, her essential medication inside a pill box which was inside her handbag which was inside a plastic bag; had dissolved. So there was no choice but for the intrepid duo of Malcolm and Gezina to turn around and head back to shore so that Gezina could drive back and get replacements.


When they arrived back the next time, they had made modifications to their transport!


After a rocky start (pun intended), we had a lovely day watching the racing from the vantage point of Francoise’ roofs (including Diesel the dog). Malcolm, again, transporting them back to land after we all enjoyed supper together – thank you.


After a lovely day I was quite tired when I went to bed and looking forward to a nice lie in and a lazy day … hmm.. remember that bit at the beginning where I said we’d parked illegally in the Bin Man’s space? Here he is…bright and early, bless him.


So we held off until he’d finished and then tied up again. After that the weather rapidly started to deteriorate


We spent a very uncomfortable and noisy night with the anchor down – our other friends around the corner broke free of their anchor, but we were fortunate enough to ‘hold’. They, and we, scuttled off through the bridge in the morning to quieter waters and had a lovely evening together. Quite tired now.


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An unexpected visit from the family

Posted by contentedsouls on 19/08/2018

On our way to Groningen – again – and we had a phone call saying that our friends Malcolm and Annette on barge ‘Rachel’ were not that far behind us on their way up from France. So we turned around – again – and went back to meet them. Both the small boats either side of the last, not quite big enough, mooring space happily moved along a bit so we could moor and be  ‘friends re-united’.

It was only a few days later that they called on the Thunderbirds Rescue team. They toddled off in their tender to visit other friends of theirs moored a few kilometres away and ended up running out of fuel for their outboard – right in the middle of a dirty great lake and a sailing race (I bet they weren’t very popular!) Rowing all the way back wasn’t an option, so they ‘phoned Thunderbirds and we formulated a rescue plan. G would set off in our tender (with electric motor) with spare fuel on board for them; it was likely to be a one way trip for him as the battery wouldn’t have enough power for the return journey; the idea being to top them up and then they could tow him home. Just as he was setting off they turned up – a lovely man on a houseboat spotted their predicament and they rowed across to him and he gave them fuel for their return journey. Thunderbirds was back on stand down.


We shared several pretty and remote moorings with them over the next few days.


Whilst out walking Muttley, I came across a small brocante with a lovely little chair for sale – the perfect size and shape for our bedroom. The only problem being that I had to walk it (and Muttley) 2.5 kms home along a busy cycle track.


No problems; when I got tired or cyclists were coming, I just sat on it and called Muttley back to me which caused much hilarity amongst the locals – the irony is that, had I been competent enough to cycle with it under my arm, nobody would have batted an eyelid! ‘Re-furbing the chair’ is another job now added to my list, although G says, “why bother; you can’t see it buried under discarded clothes anyway’’. Hmmm…..he has a point.

On the subject of decoration and refurbishment, I have added a new skill to my repertoire – picking spider poo out of curtains. I took down the 8 large, very pale, cream curtains in the saloon to see if they could be salvaged from the water stains. They came up remarkably well, apart from the copious black marks of splattered spider poo. Spider poo picking is, I’ll have you know, a very skilled job so, if you want expert advice on the subject, I’m yer man woman. During the heatwave I had to iron those curtains before re-hanging them (having first found the iron and unpacking it); I’d just hung the ones by the dining table when Jill and Gary popped by. Jill sat at the table to eat her lunch and had a bit of a mishap whilst opening a sachet of salad dressing – yep; straight up the curtain! The look of horror on her face was pricelessly funny, but at least the curtains and dressing were a very similar colour. Not wishing to be ‘outdone’, two days later I opened a bottle of pink beer which, unbeknown to me, had partially frozen in the fridge. It exploded as I opened it, so I shoved my thumb on the top as the contents headed towards the window; this ensured that the sticky pink liquid spread over an even wider area; running down the window and, literally, dripping off the ceiling. Bloody Murphy!!!

There has been a fair bit of discussion on previous blogs about our bed being a long way off of the ground – in addition to the additional storage created below it, I have found another advantage; you can paint the bedroom ceiling whilst lying on your back – no more arm ache; how cool is that? Gezina has given me a new nickname, ‘Jillyangelo’!

Anyway, enough of all that or you’ll be moaning that there aren’t enough pictures. I’m bemused by the, apparently, random gate posts (taken from a cycle path which isn’t wide enough for a car) and notice that Graham and Gezina have been throwing dog leads into the pot again.


One afternoon, G popped his head outside (for the first time all day) just in time to see a familiar name on a yacht passing by; the same as the name on his cousins’ UK based yacht….of all the yachts in all the waters…. it was his cousin Robert and Alison. One minute either side and we would have missed them altogether (nice try guys; you nearly got away with it!).


We had a good old natter over coffee and a promise to meet up with them in Franeker in a few days time – as it happened they kept popping up almost everywhere we went. In the end, we enjoyed a great meal out together one evening (also joined by Jill and Gary) and various cups of coffee, before they headed off out of our area. Great to see you guys; we really enjoyed your company.

The initial reason for going to Franeker was to introduce Malcolm to Nieko at the shipyard to discuss the work he wanted doing on ‘Rachel’ this winter. By the time we got to the shipyard, Francoise was also in need of Nieko’s expertise. Our old engine has always smoked a bit on start up but, normally, settles down once it’s warmed up a bit – not anymore; you couldn’t see us for the clouds of smoke and the fumes were actually rolling down into the cabin. We appeared to only be running on a fraction of our 6 cylinders. Rachel carried on for a few days whilst we sat about in the boatyard getting fixed. How I hate the noise from that bloody wind turbine overhead. Interesting boats and work going on though but not much fun getting Baxter across the boat we were breasted up to.


A few pictures of Rachel following us and our trip to, and through, Leeuwarden and the art work under the lift bridges


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Island living and Friesian horses

Posted by contentedsouls on 09/08/2018

We (and that includes Daisy) love mooring on these tiny island moorings but the only drawback is that there isn’t enough ‘area’ to walk Muttley; this is where the boat’s tender comes into its own. Muttley prefers the destination rather than the journey though when it gets at all rough; on this trip we got beached going to the beach and getting G off of the bottom again after he dropped Muttley and I off wasn’t easy.


You never know who or what is going to arrive; it’s common place to see dogs in tenders, but this visitor surprised us.


The duck sat there quite happily whilst the chap chatted to his mate in a canoe before driving off again – bizarre.


We managed to reserve a mooring at Eastermar for the annual horse fair as I adore the Friesian horses and hoped I might get ‘up close and personal’ and that I might be able to persuade himself that we had, ’room for a pony’. It turned out that the horse fair was also when the village had it’s annual fete and there were all sorts of fun and games and music happening over the weekend. I must admit that the Scottish pipers and drummers were another surprise.


I was up soooo early that even the market stalls were still unpacking


But it was worth it to get there early and watch the deals being done before all the tourists arrived. Many of the livestock changed hands more than once. A Friesian riding horse will set you back upwards of 5/6,000 euros apparently; no idea what the foals and unbacked ponies fetched. All of the animals were in good condition and well looked after. Peace reigned with the mares being led through the streets and their foals running free; that is until a chap came through with an entire pony that smelt the mares and then went berserk – rearing up and kicking out, catching it’s handler on her backside and sending her flying; she’ll be needing the Arnica. So, if you are not into horses (llamas, donkeys, etc.), scroll on down because here come a lot of pictures.


Gezina & Gerrit came out for the day and then G’s ‘other woman’, Marijke and Jan came out on the Sunday to give their new car a spin.


We found a new, idyllic, mooring in reach of a beach for Baxter – Mr B is on a lead because he could go the wrong way and wander off into the deep!

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Over the next few days the beach turned into this


So we decided to move on before the assault on our eardrums started.


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The bin man cometh

Posted by contentedsouls on 02/08/2018

Before we left Sue’s boat for the other Sue’s boat, I put a mail re-direction in to divert my (NHS) post from NoProblemXL’s winter mooring address to my friend Sally’s in Norfolk (Sally has been our postal address for years and provides us with a service second to none). I had to use NP’s address as I needed a GP and to be living in that hospital catchment area (little did I know at the time that, once in the system, I could have just changed my address with the hospital …. sigh). The hospital letters still kept going to NP, so I rang the Re-direction customer service line knowing that, by this time, Sue had moved NP off her winter mooring. I was advised that they couldn’t re-direct my mail from Sue’s mooring address as the address ‘didn’t exist’ (despite the fact that I had been receiving mail there regularly) and that hey had sent me a cheque to reimburse me. “Where did you send it?” I enquired – yep, you’ve got it; to the non existent address 4 weeks after the date I’d given for redirection. It took nearly 3 months and two more phone calls before I finally got my refund. Whilst I’m having a moan, I should mention that I still haven’t managed to get the results of my cardiac tests that were carried out on 4th and 6th of May – as its now the 2nd August I presume everything was OK; especially as I’m still here and have had no further black outs.

Anyway, here’s some of what we’ve been up to during my prolonged silence. We spent an entertaining wet and windy weekend moored by the bend in a river watching the sailboats tacking back and forth at almost 90 degrees to the bank to get round the bend – this was particularly entertaining when hire cruisers and hotel boats came the other way from around the blind bend. Sorry, I missed the shot of one of those big hotel river cruisers coming around the bend and trying to do an emergency stop as two sailboats cut across his nose from opposite directions! Quite a few of the sailboats didn’t hack it either.


Then the bogey man arrived and I thought he was coming to get us – but, fortunately, it was the bin that he was after and not Francoise. Nearly all of these Marrekrite free moorings – even the islands – have waste bins and we wondered how they were emptied. They put down spud poles, grab them, empty them and then they dunk them in the water to clean them before putting them back in a slightly different place to let the grass recover. The skipper says he empties about 60 a day. If you’re into boating then, being a bin man in Friesland, is a pretty cool job.


We set off in the general direction of Groningen again and our weather started to slowly improve, but until this last week or so we continued to have cold winds if you were out of the sun. We have only just started to experience the ‘pin you to the floor’ heat that most of the rest of Europe are still experiencing. We have had some amazing skies though.


We also had some stowaways on the tender which we liberated


We went into the industrial area of Drachten which, whilst not the prettiest of moorings, gave us good access to the town, supermarkets and parkland for dog walking. It also meant Gezina and Gerrit could park right next to the boat so that we could borrow their very large and heavy clamps when they joined us for a meal out one evening. We didn’t have to pay for our mooring either – but I realised later that we were camouflaged in amongst the van rental company, so perhaps we weren’t spotted! The town moorings  were a euro a metre (6th photo) and we didn’t think we’d get under this fixed bridge to reach them anyway (last photo); the height isn’t listed in any of our info.


We had a fabulous Lebanese meze meal out (it started off warm enough to sit outside) but, returning to the boat just after 10pm, we discovered that a refrigerated lorry had parked next to us and was running a very noisy generator. The driver was a very polite Polish man and we established he was on a 48 hour compulsory break – so we moved. Well Graham and Gerrit moved Francoise whilst Gezina and I trotted down the bank with the dogs. He did us a favour actually because, just a bit further along where we parked up again, there was a water tap which seemed to dispense unlimited water for a euro.


Our next lucky find was on a little canal through 3 low, narrow and oddly angled bridges at Opeinde; The Golden Wok restaurant. An amazing array of cooked and raw food, especially the seafood. Select what you want and take it to the griddle and wok to be freshly cooked to your liking. The puddings and choice of icecreams were to die for, including a chocolate fountain where I parked myself for awhile to dunk strawberries and profiteroles. Eat and drink all you like in 2 1/2hrs for 24.5 euros. I’m delighted to say that my appetite has, after some years, finally returned and I was able to get my money’s worth! The local cat was as attracted by all that seafood as I was. Nice little mooring too.


G insisted on moving the next morning; I think he was afraid I’d sneak back to the restaurant again. He was probably just being kind and thinking of my, rapidly expanding, waistline.

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