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 2019
    M T W T F S S
  • Meta

Hiding behind the metaphorical sofa

Posted by contentedsouls on 04/08/2019

Loved Hasselt with it’s woodlands (a relatively rare sight here) and quirky streets, but not their mooring fees, so we moved on!


One of the many things I love about this country is the diversity of ‘stuff’ on the water; this is what we encountered as we left.


We only had a few days left before we were to be boarded by The Pirates at Zwolle; time to muck out the spare room and make their beds, but no time to re-provision so Sarah and I did it together when they arrived and we bought cakes, a lot of cakes. They only had a few days and the Saturday was a write off as were pinned to the bank all day and all night which was, actually, quite nice as we had time to chill together. G and I are quite well practiced at chilling but, I suspect, Sarah and Andy have little opportunity (there is no ‘whisper’ button on word press but, because they’re young, they have to (ssh) w o r k). We still managed 2 memorable meals out before dropping them back to re-unite them with their car in Zwolle.

Our fire extinguishers needed servicing and we hadn’t been successful in finding anywhere to have them done. Moored alongside a cycle track I heard a van coming down the track, so I shot out to get Daisy (who was doing rolly pollys down the middle of said track). The driver stopped and asked me if we were waiting for batteries to be delivered; we weren’t, so he drove on to the boats moored further along – as he drove off, I saw pictures of fire extinguishers on his rear doors. G was duly despatched to hot foot it after him and he sorted us (well, the fire extinguishers) out on his way back. Good ol’ Daisy, we slept with peace of mind.


We decided to head off round the Drenthe Ring as it was new territory for us; quite charming, with a lot of forestation and much like the English canals. We tried to get a TV satellite signal the first few nights, but due to the forestation, gave up trying . We then had a message from our friends, Marijke and Jan, to say that they were having a house warming party as they had just moved into a house next to the canal on the old Turfe Route. We changed our plans and headed off in their direction with lots of locks (most unusual) and lifting bridges. In the major town/city of Oosterwolde we came across one of these parallel lifting bridges (not the actual bridge in the pics) and it didn’t lift very high, ‘pop out and check the height at the back to make sure we’ll clear it’ said G – all but the wheelhouse was already under the bridge. I reported that the roof would, but…… the satellite dish still hoisted on it’s pole, which we’d forgotten all about…..wouldn’t!!!!!!!!!

Traffic, cyclists and pedestrians were already queued on both sides when G slammed the boat into reverse. I held the boat whilst G climbed onto the roof to dismantle the ensemble at eye level with all the waiting people. By the time he got it down, the town was pretty much gridlocked – I kept my head down, praying for a handy sofa to hide behind, but had to make do with pulling on a balaclava. Now you know why there are no pics of the actual bridge!

Great party, but slightly marred by the fact (as it was only a few kilometres from the bridge fiasco) that I was dreading that one of their guests might ask if we were the bastards who made them late picking up their kids from school, miss their hospital appointment, etc., etc. Nobody did, so the balaclava worked!


This route is festooned with DIY footpath/cycling bridges – all of which swing, but the releasing/locking mechanisms are no two the same. Not to mention the difficulty of finding somewhere to physically get on and off the boat to try and decipher the working of them. Summer holidays and after school, the local children do them for you at the cost of around 50 cents per child; worth every penny, but most we encountered were in school hours.


Whilst moored in Donkerbroek, we saw another barge approaching the mooring, so we shuffled Francoise’ large bum backwards into the reeds to make room for them, then we recognised the boat, Iskra, as belonging to John and Hilary (not forgetting Bert the dog). We hadn’t seen them for 4 years since spending time together in Cambrai and watching the Tour de France together – so that was a wonderful couple of nights and dog walking in the forest. Very grateful for that forest dog walking as, by then the first heat wave had hit us.


I have now reached a photographic crises for the blog as my camera batteries are flat and I’ve lost the charger. I can’t find it anywhere and will, now, have to rely on IT support to get the pics off of my ‘phone and his camera.

4 Responses to “Hiding behind the metaphorical sofa”

  1. Andy Windsor said

    Moss may not grow fat on a rolling stone, but it sure does on the roof of a roaming house! Quite surreal that the young lad in their lounge was more interested in his ‘pad, we’d have been glued to the Windows!
    I take it that the maps of the waterways do not have a different symbol for each type of bridge then, how embarrassing! Of course you just know that you’ll meet at least 3 people from the bridge over the next year or so, and ok n about 5 years time some old salt will relay the tale to you, not realising that it was you all along.
    Wonderful pics again Jill, but I can’t help wondering when the Bridge of Sighs got moved from Venice!


    • It beggars belief that he had no interest in his house move!
      The waterways maps only show minimum bridge heights, so you never know what ‘type’ you are going to encounter – the bridge of sighs is now in Heerenveen


  2. vallypee said

    You do have fun, Jill. I really enjoyed reading this and loved the image of you in a balaclava avoiding identification after your satellite dish episode. Great stuff and glad to know you’re still having fun!


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