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

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

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’?


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’


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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5 Responses to “Gotta love this nomadic lifestyle”

  1. Kevin TOO said

    Well there’s no chance of you ever getting board with daily life especially with all these different things happening to and/or around you and Graham! 🙂

    It’s so nice that you’ve managed to find the time to blog your loyal followers who I’m sure were starting to get worried about your abscence… LOL

    Enjoy your drive down south for the winter months, don’t worry about us here in the UK, we’ve got our head above water, for the time being… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kevin TOO said

      OMG AUto Comlpete really does take liberties… ‘board’ should of course be ‘bored’ – right I’m off to stand in the corner wering the big D hat 😦


      • sorry I couldn’t get to the computer to reply earlier, thank you for not giving up on the blog. The posts should come more regularly now.
        My auto correct is having a meltdown trying to predict my writing into Dutch, French and Spanish; so you have no need to worry about board/bored


  2. vallypee said

    Jill, you’ve been so blessed in Friesland. No wonder you don’t want to leave, except perhaps for the weather…haha. What lovely people you’ve met! As for all your language learning, be comforted by the fact it’s proven to be good for the brain and might even slow down the advances of ageing, as in brain ageing…and we all know what that means. Wishing we could see you before you go, but that’s sounding unlikely. Lots of love and safe travels!


    • We were deeply disappointed about not being able to tie in our dates with yours, but it would have meant sleeping in the van for two weeks instead of one and that, in winter, is a week too much for me. We’ll try again on our weay back north towards the end of April


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