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

  • June 2019
    M T W T F S S
  • Meta

Heading for home

Posted by contentedsouls on 12/06/2019


Having packed up the van and trailer and cleaned the apartment, we were in urgent need of sustenance, and headed for our favourite little roadside cafe for their menu of the day. Delighted to find it was a special ‘BBQ’ day and I had the most heavenly gambas cooked on a griddle over a wood fire – for me, the perfect finale.

We had decided to take a different route back and stay off the motorways whilst we were still in warmer climes. A good decision, but the downside for me was more roundabouts requiring Daisy to use me as a stabiliser via her claws although, on balance, it was worth the additional pain. We had a fabulous drive winding through the mountains, climbing to meet the snow covered levels.


Back down the other side and our night stop.


This was a new (and free) motorhome stop over – in fact, we never, ever, paid for any stop overs. A cafe on site, much to our delight, was open for breakfast where we were served with cold coffee and olives. Much as I’ve come to love olives, they’re really not something I want to eat at 9am. When we sat down, the sharp sunlight was in my eyes so I tried to pull the curtain across – at which point the curtain, complete with curtain rail, came away from the wall! The lady went pretty ballistic (even though it was just a matter of slotting the pole back into it’s slots) and Graham blamed me for the fact that she took forever to serve us with our bacon, egg and….chips! weird.

Dropping back down into France, we turned off the motorway to get decent coffee, by now it was 12.00 and, therefore, they were serving lunch; not coffee. We had an excellent lunch with superb service but our ‘French’ brains hadn’t caught up with us and I think there were as many ‘por favor’s’ as there were ‘merci’s and svp’s’ chucked into the conversation as we tried to re-tune our brains. Both waitress and locals alike thought this was highly amusing.

We stopped in a forest overnight and it rained, which was a bit of a novelty, and I realised that I had actually missed the rain. It made me remember something that a friend had said to me, after wintering in Australia, that he had missed the demarcations of the seasons. Late evening, the police turned up and I thought we were going to get moved on again (like our first night stop on the way out in the Netherlands).


There wasn’t a problem though, the dog handler took his dog for a walk and the other one needed a pee too!

We arrived in the Champagne Region in the village of Gammery on our 30th wedding anniversary. We had been there by boat before and we were looking forward to a bit of Champagne tasting and buying at some of the 40 odd independant houses, followed by a meal at one of our favourite restaurants. The first part went well.


The second part didn’t materialise as France, Monday and Open don’t work. An elderly gentleman assured me that the little cafe would open at 6pm, so we lowered our gastronomic expectations, found a slot alongside the bar and river and dropped the bed down (once done, store cupboards can’t be reached) in anticipation of collapsing into bed after dinner. 6pm came round and then 7pm and, on phoning, we were told, ‘Lundi ferme’. I can’t believe we let ourselves get caught out by this again.

Searching around on Google, G found a bar in town that was actually open! we shot up there to find they didn’t do food, so G had a beer and I had a glass of Champagne and, when we told them it was our anniversary, took pity on us and gave us a bowl of peanuts on the house; they then, very casually, mentioned that we might just catch the boulangerie before it closed. G shot off and returned triumphantly waving a loaf of bread – gotta love a hunter gatherer man and I  managed to refrain from asking him if he’d managed to shoot the odd pastry or macaroon whilst he was there.

Just as we were settling back into our dodgy French, we had crossed the border and spent the night in the centre of Antwerp. It sounds horrid and noisy, but it was quiet and in a beautiful park with fabulous Muttley walking and Daisy mousing.


The next morning we packed up, Daisy assumed her position (at least it was now cold enough to put some protection under her for my legs) and headed home to Francoise.


Arriving back I was mightily relieved to see she hadn’t sulked in our absence and covered everything in mould (like last time), so G’s hard work had payed off. We now had 8 days to catch up with Gary and Jill (moored opposite on Noorderzon) unpack the van, move the van and Francoise to Koudum, re-pack the van and retrace our steps wheels back down through the Netherlands, Belgium and (a little bit of) France to catch the redeye ferry back to the UK.

Some pictures taken during those 8 days


To say we were both pretty exhausted is putting it mildly!

6 Responses to “Heading for home”

  1. Gill Stollery said

    As usual an interesting read…..can’t wait for the next instalment!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. andywindy said

    Gill’s right Jill, that was an interesting journey! I was just thinking about You and Daisy, just had an advert U-tube come through from Rugby Boats, (don’t know why I got it but still,) they’ve got an NB up gor sale that has Cat Flaps in both the doors and Pram Hood. My first thought was that Madam would pick the wrong side to exit!


  3. vallypee said

    Fab post! It looks as if it was a gorgeous journey back! Okay, nuff now. Do I get a fiver too? Or something…


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