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, 2018

Visitors and Sunsets

Posted by contentedsouls on 27/11/2018

After all the excitement en route to Sneek; it was time to get the boat cleaned up, re-provisioned, and some cooking done before Gill and John arrived. I try to get as much cooking done as possible before visitors arrive so that I can spend as much time as possible with friends and as little time as possible in the galley once they’re here. They arrived in glorious sunshine and we ate out in the evening before heading off in the morning to give them a taste of island moorings and cruising in Friesland. Unfortunately it was foggy and frigging freezing in Friesland so they didn’t get to see a lot! It did, however, cheer up for the cruise the next day; at least enough for Gill to see where she was going!

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This seems to be the only picture I took whilst they were here; sorry John, nothing personal! We really enjoyed their company; it was good to catch up and play daft games. I really missed them when they left; a definite case of understaying their welcome – better that than the other way round I suppose – but I felt a bit flat, so I took Muttley for a blast down the beach, replenished the wine stocks (which seemed to have evaporated a bit!) and we headed out onto Goaiingarypster Puollen (I love the Dutch place names, they are so easy to spell, pronounce and remember!). We spent several days there in glorious sunshine and enjoyed some spectacular sunsets straight through our big windows, not to mention bird watching.

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I wanted to stay longer because of both the views and the excellent Muttley walking, but G was starting to twitch about the forecast consecutive minus temperatures, so we headed on to Akkrum where we’d left the van. It was a bit of a scrabble time wise, but we made the drive back into ‘closed down to boats’ Sneek and managed to get to the matinee performance of Bohemian Rhapsody. It was good but the sound quality wasn’t, which was a shame as we didn’t get the full benefit of the music and couldn’t hear what they were saying to each other; the Dutch sub-titles didn’t provide a lot of assistance in that area either! I’m glad we went though and, amazingly for us, we both managed to stay awake!

The neighbours at Akkrum were pretty cool.

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Hitching a ride

Posted by contentedsouls on 20/11/2018

From Lemmer we went on to Workum to spend the day at their annual cattle market and horse racing through the town. Finally, I managed to find a restaurant that sold the famed local mussels which certainly lived up to their reputation; I think they were the best I’ve ever tasted – which is saying something having lived in France for 3 years. We were joined by Gerrit and Gezina after lunch.

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I love the fact that, within an hour of the event finishing, the town was cleared of straw, sawdust and manure. A nice little town with bags of character and open spaces

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Then it was onto Koudum where we had been offered a berth at a small boatyard whilst G was away. Gary and Graham arranged a van recovery trip (thank you guys) whilst Jill and I drank wine and danced in the sunshine to some big band sounds. We stayed there for a few weeks (even after G arrived home) because it was so nice and there was no reason to leave; excellent dog walking too. Yep! Chula IS asleep in that position. Whilst there, Vim welded our hoist onto the roof (to make getting the dinghy on and off a lot easier) and we enjoyed several evenings in Vim and Anne’s company.

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We also drove back to Workum to join in the celebrations and watch the start of the annual shit race; First one to Rotterdam with manure for the tulip bulbs wins (in a nutshell). It is forbidden to use engine power so everyone had to bow haul themselves out of there – one helluvva lot of boats in a small space with a terrific atmosphere; a great day out.

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Toilet facilities were provided by the local penis fountain. Everytime the toilet is used they squirt water out! I love the humour.

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When we, eventually, dragged ourselves out of Koudum, we headed slowly back towards Sneek where we intended to provision the boat and pick up John and Gill (so many ‘G’s’ and ’J’s’ in my life) who were coming out to stay with us for a few days.

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We moored up in Sneek and, come evening, the friendly young harbour master turned up to collect our mooring fees. He remembered me from our previous visit and I teased him about the exorbitant charges, given that it was the 30th October. He replied that after that night it would be free as it was the last day of the season, which was jolly good news as we wanted to stay a few more nights; we needed paint and curtain fabric and a big supermarket shop, and we had had a great lunch at a restaurant that we wanted to take Gill and John to for dinner the night they arrived.

Sat outside in the sunshine the next morning, the man in a van from the council turned up. He wound down his window and shouted across that we had to leave today. I said that the harbour master said we could stay (not, strictly speaking, true but….), to which he responded, somewhat grumpily, “one night then, the port is closed for winter now” and drove off before I could respond. So I took a wander in to the town hall to let them know we wanted to stay until Monday morning….this didn’t go well. The nice lady wasn’t a boaty person and, unusually, her English wasn’t that good. She phoned somebody at length and reported back that we had to leave because the bridges would be closed from 7pm that day, but that we could stay one more night. Some of the bridges are operated by the waterways and some by the towns but all (according to our nav systems) are bookable in advance; she just shrugged and gave me alternative places to stay (which we knew about and were not any good to us) repeating that all the bridges were closed at 7pm but that we could stay one more night. Completely confused now, we decided we couldn’t risk getting trapped for the winter; so I did a frantic dash to the nearest supermarket and we left; having decided to pick up our friends back at Lemmer instead. That was quite a bit of money we would have spent in the town had we not been evicted.

It was around this time that G started to find pictures of Francoise on Facebook; posted by J-M and Leona on a commercial ship, ‘Syracusa’. Turning out onto the PMK (the Dutch boating equivalent of the M25) the next morning, we found ourselves behind Syracusa. J-M called us up and the fellars switched to the chat channel whereby he invited us to come alongside so we could meet properly. So he slowed down, we speeded up and went alongside tying off to them, switching off our engine and going on board the commercial; all whilst we were both moving and with other commercials around. It’s a bit difficult to get an idea of the scale of things from the photos but think of an ant on the side of an elephant; Francoise has never seemed so tiny. So thank you Sneek for evicting us; if they hadn’t, we would have missed out on the experience of a lifetime!

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As we approached the big lock (still not wide enough for us to be alongside), we returned to Francoise, untied and went in behind them. After the lock, we peeled off into Lemmer, waving them on their way with their cargo of salt to Amsterdam and Rotterdam (they passed us again 2 days later on their way back!). Our thanks to J-M and Leona for a truly memorable morning.

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