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, 2019

Gotta love this nomadic lifestyle

Posted by contentedsouls on 14/11/2019

Pre op this year in Spain, G started to walk Muttley along the beach every morning to reduce weight and strengthen his leg muscles. Post op this year in England, he was soon walking the tow path and clambering over styles to get to the pub. Once back on Francoise, his enthusiasm for unnecessary excercise waned somewhat. My gentle hints regarding the fact that he was doing quite a lot of ‘research’ sat in my his armchair (translated as ‘nagging’ in male-speak), finally bore fruit and he has started taking Muttley out again in the mornings.

He set off this morning to post our ‘proxy vote’ forms for the upcoming general election and I had a lovely natter on the ‘phone with my mate Gill. We first met Gill and John on their boat in France and have stayed life long friends. We were nattering away about vague plans for the next year and people we have both met on our travels throughout Europe; the diversity of countries, cultures, and invitations to stay all over the world, when it occurred to me that G had been gone a very long time! I gave it another half hour before I ‘phoned him, as I was getting worried; his new found resurgence for excercise rarely lasts beyond 30-40 minutes. He was with another woman (NO, not the bloody Alexa woman), another woman. He was returning from the post office and met a lady walking her dog, the dog made friends with Muttley and she invited them both back for coffee – a regular occurrence amongst boaters; but not so much so with householders. Having said that, last time we were in this village, I was invited for a tour of a gentleman’s garden (NOT his etchings!) and we only found this mooring in the first place, because we got nattering to the owner whilst we were moored in the village harbour.

Well, it’s been a pretty eventful 12 months for us, apart from having to let both Baxter and Daisy go, Francoise has been a bit malicious. Our batteries died rather spectacularly overnight – lugging out and lowering in the new ones in a confined space was probably not what G’s knee replacement surgeon had in mind as post op physio. He also probably wouldn’t have recommended that G spend two days in and out of the water with a crow bar trying to get the prop shaft back in position, to free the propeller from the rudder, where it had decided to park itself. Another physical challenge for him was emptying, removing and replacing the washing machine that died half way through a washing cycle – does anyone know why they do that; couldn’t they just, ‘not start’?

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As always, we have met up with mates and met up with Facebook friends through Women on Barges and (I’ve been without a camera for some time now – so limited photos, only those provided by G) we are both still quite reluctant to leave beautiful Friesland and it’s incredibly friendly people. Many memories have been lost with the time lapse between blogs, but there are a few stories (all the right words but, not necessarily, in the right order) that I want to share with you.

Antony (G’s son) came out to stay with us in September to help us with some much needed work on our roof – the weather wasn’t kind to us and peed down with rain on the freshly painted roof – we took him to our favourite ‘eat and drink all you want’ restaurant in Opeinde; I suspect we got close to bankrupting them! all too soon his few days with us were over and I stayed in Heerenveen harbour whilst G drove him back to the UK. I have always said that Francoise sulks when G leaves her; this time was no exception. She started to ‘leak’ power and it peed down with rain all day and every day, so no help from the solar panels. Despite sitting in the dark reading my back lit Kindle and finding my way around by torchlight, with the invertor off, it soon became necessary to run the generator for an hour mid morning to keep the freezer going. I felt this to be the kindest time of day to the neighbours as there were loads of apartments set back from us. On day three of genny running, I had a visit from the local constabulary. A very nice man whom I invited in for coffee. The conversation went something like this;

He: ‘We’ve had a complaint, you’ll have to move, you have been here more than 3 days’

Me: ’There are no signs to say it’s 3 days’

He: ’No, but it is the town rule’

Me: ’I’m sorry I didn’t know, but I can’t move because it is illegal to move the boat single-handed in the Netherlands’

He: ‘It is, but you have to move’

Impasse.

So I baffled him with boat technology and showed him my ‘power leak’ when I turned the invertor on and we agreed that I would stay and run the genny for an hour once a day. 10 minutes after I started the genny next morning (in fairness, it’s not very loud and the apartments are well set back) my policeman was back – he’d had another complaint. We discussed options like me moving the boat singlehanded; against the law and therefore uninsured, also blowing a hooley. He really couldn’t have been nicer but he was in a bit of a pickle. The problem wasn’t my being there, the real problem was the  generator. So we visited the elderly couple in the ground floor apartment (ex boaters), joined up some electric cables and plugged into them. Problem solved and they wouldn’t take a penny for the electric we used. Needless to say, G bought loads of ‘thank you’ goodies back from the UK for them. When G got back we moved the boat out and discovered that the genny had blown a head gasket and, subsequently, discovered that it needed a bit of a re-build.

Somewhere along the way we ‘adopted’ a lovely, jovial, lockkeeper who escorted us through locks and bridges for a day or two. He asked where we were mooring for the night and we said the first place we could moor out of town. He said that he knew of a mooring where we could get beer when the garage door was open (!???) which had a beautiful garden and that he would cycle to it and take our ropes. True to his word, he and his friend were there to ’mark the spot’. G and I have Bluetooth headphones that we use to communicate whist mooring; unfortunately, our lovely Jack’s the lad lockie didn’t realise that and thought he was talking to G ‘man to man’, I, of course, was picking up every word of their conversation. I had a front rope on and G was pushing the back end across to throw him a rope. It was quite shallow, so the boat was reluctant to swing across. ‘She’s coming …. slowly’ says G to lockie. ‘Sounds like my wife’ quips the lockie, in reply. It was my snort of laughter from the front that alerted him to the fact that G was wearing a mic …. bless him, he was absolutely mortified and couldn’t look me in the eye until after he’d downed a couple of beers on the back of the boat (the garage doors were closed ?!!!).

We are now at our winter mooring and heading off to France towards the end of this month to house sit in the Midi-Pyrenees for the whole of December, before travelling about in Spain for two weeks and moving into a little finca in southern Valencia for 3 months on 15th January. Not as easy as it was last year re insurance and stuff; but more on that another day.

If you are hearing loud popping noises, it’s my poor old brain exploding as I continue to learn a decent amount of Spanish, whilst trying to recover some French and being polite to the locals in Dutch and/or Fries. Aaaaaaagh!!!!!

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It was time to say goodbye–Queen Daisy’s (Miss D cat’s) story.

Posted by contentedsouls on 09/11/2019

Some of you who were personally involved with Daisy already know, but many of you who have shared her adventures and have been her adoring fans for many years through my blog; don’t. As devoted followers of Daisy’s nomadic adventures, I owe it to you to tell you what happened. I had so many things to tell you – but first, I have to do this.

Despite at least three bowls of water in the boat, she started to demand that I turn a tap on; climbed into the dinghy on the roof to drink, lapped rainwater off of the stern and the gunwales of the boat. Suspecting kidney problems, we went to the vet for blood tests. Our concerns were affirmed that she had early onset kidney function loss and we put her onto a specialist renal diet which, amazingly, she loved.

Our generator died, so we had to go into a marina and, whilst G was nattering to Mr ‘fix the generator’, Daisy sauntered down the pontoon to G, chomping upon her freshly caught mouse. G picked up the remains of the mouse and threw it into the water; Daisy launched herself into the water after it. It seemed to happen in slow motion; I screamed at G and, with a lightning reaction, he caught her mid leap.

We got out of the marina as soon as we could and moved to one of our favourite moorings, where Daisy could run her bullying tactics on the local dogs who had the audacity and temerity to (try to) walk through her territory.

On Saturday she stopped eating.

Monday we took Muttley to the vet to discuss the nasty growth on his back leg, I discussed Daisy’s loss of appetite, and made an appointment to take Daisy in the next day, having thought that the vet would have prescribed an appetite stimulant. No problem, Daisy is always happy to zot into her carry case which, usually, means picnics and new adventures. This time I let her down.

She never came home.

Her kidneys and liver had shut down. It didn’t seem possible with all her shenanigans over the previous few days, and the vet couldn’t believe that she had continued as she was. The vet said that she had hung on, purring away on our laps, because of our special bond. I asked if we could take her home for a few days and was told that it would not be kind to her, so we had to call it. She died peacefully snuggled into my arms – a place she rarely left.

What a girl. Do you remember the night we thought we’d lost her in France, when she managed to get herself locked into the VNF office and then, having worried us to death all night, came home the following morning complaining that she had no food or litter tray all night? The time I opened the side shutters on Matilda Rose and threw her half way across Tixall Wide before she landed with a splosh in the water? When she dropped a live rabbit on the dinner table in the middle of Sunday lunch (which took off down the boat with Baxter and Muttley in hot pursuit)? The ‘little mouse with clogs on’ that she let go of in the boat and lived with us for 6 months whilst Daisy spent every night gnashing her teeth at it whilst it ran around our bedroom ceiling? The wonderful walks along the beaches in Spain earlier this year whilst the locals looked on in astonishment?

She was one extraordinary lady who chose to live with us for eighteen years and our lives will never be the same without her. So I am going to share some pictures with you, and then a movie that my dear friend Marijke made for me; having so recently having had to say goodbye to her own beautiful dog Binte and who understands the pain. Thank you Graham, Marijke, Sue and Gezina (in no particular order) for being by my side whilst I try to come to terms with this.

I never saw it coming and, somehow, thought her to be immortal. I think you did too.

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