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

  • July 2020
    M T W T F S S
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Archive for July, 2020

…. and our world starts to, slowly, open up

Posted by contentedsouls on 10/07/2020

It’s so long since I’ve been on here that the computer had shut me out and it took my IT department the best part of an hour to get me in again! The second thing I noticed was that the last blog I posted was dated 22nd March, when it was actually 22nd April – I am amazed that that mistake slipped past you all; particularly Andy Windsor and Kevin Too. It just goes to show what a state we’re all in.

Back in the first half of March I was craving some ‘me time’ and, at first, I used that time wisely and happily. I don’t do anything with that time anymore and I know that I will look back on these two and a half months and regret the wasted opportunity. Whilst I know that’s the case, I still can’t seem to change my behaviour. I am forcing myself to write this blog today whilst, normally, writing is a joy to me; I’m hoping that this will be the first step to recovery because, I don’t know about you guys, but I do feel I need to ‘recover’ and find my mojo again.

Ensconced as we are (up here amongst the gypsies) in a new country, we have had a pretty steep learning curve which has caused me a fair bit of frustration (with myself mostly). As always though, my adventures have provided me with a great deal of entertainment whilst immersing myself in observing this new culture. The biggest hurdle for me was trying to get out of the front door, because our front door opens onto a little  open space with many escape routes should the police do a drive past the end of the road – a rare thing in these narrow streets – so outside our front door is where the young lads hang out (never girls). They literally sit on our front doorstep which, although a typically Spanish thing to do, can be quite daunting for us Brits. They are actually quite good lads and we now, over time, seem to have come to quite a good understanding and, whenever I ask for help, they happily oblige. We can’t drive down our street, so we unload shopping up the top and I trot down with it whilst G goes off to find somewhere to park. It’s ridiculously hot now and the shopping is heavy and takes 5 or 6 trips. The lads carry it down for me now and it has become a bit of a ritual to pretend to make off with the wine carrier.

They came in particularly useful when we, inadvertently, found ourselves to be the sole carers for a pony which was put into the scrubland below us without a sustainable water supply. Access to said pony was down steep scree; not great on our poor old knees lugging 8 litres of water. I coerced the lads into doing it for us as often as possible but I could not get them to bring the containers back. I’m sure I had all the right words (not necessarily in the right order) but they just filled the ponies bucket and tossed the plastic carrier to the ground. Can’t win them all – every trip they saved us was a blessing. It was a huge relief when, maybe 10 days later, I saw the pony being led away to new ‘grazing’ one night, I became quite stressed about the little fellow.


I like the lads best when there are just a few of them and they turn up with a guitar or two.


Every so often, particularly when there are about 10 of them and they’ve smoked too much weed, they get a bit crazy and I have to go out and do my angry Spanish Grandmother thing.  I wave my arms, stamp my feet, point a lot and shout, ‘that’s enough!’ Such power I have here as a granny age woman. I really must try not to let it go to my head though (and remember not to try it in the UK).

Eventually, G and I were allowed out together and to walk the dog up to a kilometer from home. It felt immensely joyous.


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