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

  • December 2018
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Ouch, ouch!

Posted by contentedsouls on 27/05/2018

All locked out and hurting.

Before we left the Cape of Good Hope we got chatting to a couple with a beautiful dog – actually, we got chatting to the dog and then the people said they thought they knew us; but not the boat we were on. They remembered us from way back when, when we had been into their boatyard to get Matilda Rose’s engine mounts fixed which had sheared off. In an attempt to save us money, they had fitted us with alternative – cheaper – mounts than the ridiculously over-priced Vetus mounts. Unfortunately Matilda Rose didn’t appreciate our budget measures; vibrating her socks off and shivering Daisy’s food off of the work surface and opening all the cupboard doors and drawers. We were forced to return to Sarah and Gary at Lyons boatyard and refit with the original Vetus parts. It cost them money as their engineer, David, had to remove and replace the old ones and we only paid for the difference in the spare parts. They remembered us – get this – because we didn’t get angry and gave them good reviews for their service. A lovely catch up and big hugs from Sarah before we left them. Brilliant.

Meanwhile, back at our very tight mooring, Daisy introduced us to our ‘overlapping’ neighbours who, fortunately, are avid cat owners and lovers; Graham (I know, they get everywhere these Grahams) and Jan. We agreed in principle to do the Hatton 21 the next morning but we couldn’t commit to a time as toilet emptying had now become our highest priority. We phoned the Saltisford Arm boatyard and they advised us to reverse in for a pump out. G reversed her in perfectly and pump out achieved for a mere £15. Job done, we headed to the bottom of the Hatton flight to find our lock buddies just tucking themselves in and ready for us to join them. Unfortunately their Graham wasn’t well and my G was suffering from sciatica so Jan and I had a bit of a workout ahead of us with every lock against us.


Just over halfway up we encountered a volunteer lockie which allowed Jan or I to go ahead and set the next lock; 3 people makes such a difference. Hard work, but the fun company of Jan made the time fly by although it was the slowest time we had taken to do this flight; it didn’t matter – we were in no rush and we did it at a comfortable speed, rewarding ourselves with toasties and bacon butties, respectively, with icecreams all round to follow.

En route we encountered the most extraordinary couple coming down. He was on his own on a shortish boat and wouldn’t come out until our pair had left the lock below him; but, as a pair, there was nowhere for them to go unless he came out and pulled over to the side. Eventually he did, with great reluctance. I stayed back to close a gate for him and he then pulled out ramming the concrete adjacent to the entrance to the lock and ending up sideways across the gates, so I asked his lady lockwheeler if she would like me to leave both gates open. It took awhile before she could be persuaded to peel her earphones out of her lug’oles, so I repeated the question. Her response was, “whatever” (it’s the first time anyone has actually said that to me and I had a job to supress my giggles). I pointed out that I really did need to know if she wanted me to close the off-side gate or not. Her response was, “don’t care, whatever makes you happiest”. So I left ‘Mr and Mrs we’ve clearly had a row and would rather be anywhere else on this planet than doing the Hatton together’ to it – later finding out that Jan had had a similarly stimulating conversation with her at the lock above!!!!

We moored overnight on the embankment at one of our favourite spots and spent a leisurely day there before moving the tiny hop to the Tom O’ The Woods pub to pick up my friend Wendy for a sleepover additional crew to do the Knowle locks. For reference, the pub has been refurbished and is delightfully dog friendly.


All 3 of us were wacked, so it was an early night after a thrown together pasta supper. Wendy never changes (nor would I want her to) and she didn’t disappoint when she finished off the left-over cold pasta for breakfast in the morning – she is renowned for it.


We had not done the Knowle locks before (previously going the Lapworth route) and they were really pretty; despite a dull and chilly start to the day. Wendy, an avid gardener, had to be recalled at one point having spotted the lovely lock side border.



Shortly afterwards we reached the point where we had agreed to leave Indigo Dream and G drove Wendy back to her car. I know we didn’t have much time together but, that we did have, was very precious time.

So that was it for us; Just the packing and cleaning to do. The plan (yeah, I know. The ‘p’ word again) was to finish off everything we needed to do by around mid-day the following day, have lunch in the pub and sleep in the afternoon before leaving about 10pm to catch the 4am ferry from Dover. Around 12 ish on the Thursday we were just about done and G came up with a much betterer plan; so we skipped lunch and sleeping and headed off to Cookham to scrounge dinner off of say goodbye to Sue and Vic and the girls. The nearest point to their mooring that we could park the van was quite a walk for Baxter, but he managed it – just – in his own time and was very pleased to reach Penny’s new bed. Muttley was off like a rocket as soon as he spotted NoProblemXL.


Leaving them at 9.30 we were in time to catch the 2.00am ferry and we were very glad we had upgraded to the Premier lounge as the ferry was rammed with 500 teenage passengers from 10 unexpected coaches (due to a problem on another Company’s crossings). I must admit to travelling with some trepidation as my Dutch friend, Gezina, had forewarned me that Francoise was in, ‘a bit of a mess’. I certainly wasn’t prepared for the ‘essence of unloved boat’ that assaulted my nostrils as we opened the doors.


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Holiday boaters–that’s us

Posted by contentedsouls on 15/05/2018

We stayed in Braunston Friday night so that G could watch his grandson play in a big ‘finals’ footie match. Unfortunately a player was injured near the start of the game and couldn’t be moved until the ambulance arrived – 2 hours later! So the match was called off. Just as I was throwing dinner together to feed G in a rush before he had to leave, ‘Halfie’ (John and Jan) turned up, but we had only time for a quick natter. They told us that they had seen Matilda Rose turn off up the Oxford canal; so that put paid to any chance of a meet up with the new owners – perhaps it’s just as well.

Saturday morning we were holiday boaters in a hurry and left at 7.30 am; unfortunately it took us half an hour to top off the water and, by the time we reached the Calcutt locks, our friends on Funky Fish were paired off and locking down. Even that early in the morning there was a boat waiting for us to finish watering so that they could get in. I did manage to prise himself off the tiller eventually (after whacking him over the knuckles with a monkey wrench), but not for long.


We caught up with Funky Fish at the top of the Stockton flight and had just started locking down with them when Richard appeared on his bike to give us a hand.


We moored by the Two Boats and took delivery of the marmalade and chutney that had been overlooked (thank you so much Sue ID and eat your heart out Sue NP). After eating lunch at the pub, Richard kindly drove G back to Braunston to pick up our van; taking it onwards to our destination and returning G to the boat. This left us free to cruise our little socks off like holiday boaters in a hurry – we didn’t though, we stayed the night; well we had done 11 miles and 13 locks.



Daisy quickly recovered from an assault on the boat by an Alsatian which spotted her from the pub terrace and came hurtling down the towpath at her. She gave it the evil eye as it approached, before casually popping back onto the roof of ID. The Alsatian went demented; barking, growling and leaping in the air to try and get to her. Eventually, the owner sent a small girl (smaller than the dog) down to the dog which, by this time, had wound itself into a frenzy – Muttley and Baxter joined in the mayhem of course, whilst Daisy spat. I asked the girl to pick up the dog’s lead (still attached) and take the dog away, but she ignored me and looked back to her parents (still at the pub) for assistance. In the end it calmed down and trotted back to the pub. Extraordinary behaviour from the owners whose only response was to call it from time to time.

Sunday we had a lie in and didn’t leave until 8.45. We locked down the 10 locks with some pleasant people on a hire boat with their dog Zeta; the latter falling in at one point and having to be fished out by her life jacket. We warned them that we would be stopping at Kate’s boats for a pump out; we weren’t desperate, but wanted to be sure to get the job done (as it were) before we left ID. Not a soul around the boatyard anywhere so we gave up on that and carried on through Warwick to the last two locks of the day. Needless to say, the first flush of the loo after failing to get a pump out and the red ‘tank full’ warning light came on.


As I approached the Cape Locks G went up to work the one side for me and then I was joined by another boat – a single hander and an uphill lock, so G had to work both sides himself – how I laughed. My amusement quickly faded though when I realised that I was physically challenged on the helm of ID. With the tiller fully to the right I couldn’t reach the throttle; so I’m now restricted to the left hand side of locks! This boat swims so well that you really do have to be very light on the throttle.


We were looking to moor by the pub before doing the Hatton 21 in the morning. As usual it was very busy but G spied a space that he reckoned was just about big enough – I happily relinquished the tiller and, as always, he was right…nice parking skipper! It seemed that it would be a good idea to pop into the pub, so that was us done for the day.


Whilst we were sat outside enjoying the sun, the hire boat we’d locked with went past us. They’d already done the 10 Stockton locks before joining us for 10 more and were heading on to do the Hatton 21 at 3.30pm – what it is to be young and enthusiastic. It seems we’re still a bit too lightweight to be holiday boaters!

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Who would believe that one tiny switch could cause so much chaos!

Posted by contentedsouls on 12/05/2018

Having got everything sorted and ship shape on Indigo Dream in G’s absence, he arrived back to say that Jill and Gary were hot on his heels – Jill and Gary being our winter neighbours in the NL. They are back in the UK due to the imminent arrival of Princess Archbold; grandchild number ….? Can’t keep up with the numbers; it’s like with Chas and Liz Faux – a positive epidemic and world take-over bid.

They arrived with Chula the French Basset and Gem the greyhoundy, Collie, Sheperdy, rescue dogs. Dinner at the pub and then it was way too late for them to go off and find a campsite and pitch a tent; so we investigated Sue and Richards sofa which turned out to be a sofa bed; so that was that sorted for the night (no, we weren’t taking liberties with Indigo Dream; Sue and Richard were adamant that we didn’t pussyfoot around and should just enjoy her and treat her like home). Now one of the mysteries of the learning curve on Indigo Dream has been finding the light switches.  Eventually we turned the lights off (they hide behind curtains!) and we all turned in for the night. The next morning I went to flush the loo (sorry if this conjures up too much detail or you are eating) and nothing happened. Checked the water pump fuses and all the usual culprits….no water. Checked the water tank gauge and it was showing empty – this was crazy as it was 3/4 full when we went to bed. Had we sprung a leak? Nothing for it but to pull on our clothes (not as much as a cup of tea or coffee between us) and hot boat it back to the marina to fill with water. Attached the hose to the tap back in the marina and within 5 minutes the tank was overflowing. So we all sat down and re-thought it through logically trying to make sense of it – there’s a little switch that hides behind the wine glass rack


and then we realised we had twiddled it whilst looking for the ‘off’ switch for the saloon lights. We pressed it back to ‘on’ and hey ho we had water. Later on in the day I spoke to Richard and mentioned the switch, before I could say anymore, he said, “oh, the one that turns the water off? We never touch it”. How bloody daft did we feel – especially as we were under some pressure for me to make a dental appointment in Northampton at 10.30. By the time we got to the appointment G and I were gibbering wrecks.

Given that Jill and Gary were there with their car (and itching for a cruise), we hatched a plan to position a vehicle at Braunston and headed off. 13 double locks (I think) – my first locks in over 4 years and we arrived in Braunston around 7pm. What a heavenly, heavenly day. We shared the locks up the Buckby flight with a delightful couple and then picked up another delightful couple to share down with. We were all deliciously physically wrecked (my first locks in over 4 years) and I just about managed to stay on my feet long enough to throw some food at a pan before we fell into bed – remembering not to touch the water switch!


Gem had fallen in and had to be rescued. I was working ahead to set the next locks (and all the Buckby top gates had swung open of course – no change there then), with every one of the locks, but the first, against us. The paddles on the top gates coming down into Braunston were almost immovable with a blackboard sign saying, “ C & RT are aware that these paddles are stiff – the problem has been reported”. 4 European softies had a bit of a workout and also had a ball.

We woke in the morning to a normal, panic free day (where water flowed freely) and indulged ourselves at the Goongoozlers Rest narrowboat cafe for giant sized breakfasts – G couldn’t finish his; this has to be a first.


We waved fond farewells to the motley crew of Norderzoon yesterday morning, made another trip to the dentist and found narrowboat Funky Fish had arrived with Colin and Eva and their Norwegian friend, single handler, Kirsty on our return. Colin and Eva have a cat Diesel and two dogs Mutley and Misty. We haven’t seen them for 7 years when we poled up in Birmingham for a two night stop (for a concert) and got stuck in the ice there for 53 nights – we made friends when they kept us supplied with water during the freeze up from their Birmingham mooring. Later going to their wedding. We only made it to their wedding courtesy of Richard’s help locking us up the 21 through the Aston and Farmers’ flights after I had been unwell and wasn’t allowed to do much – amazing how things and people all tie up! So it was off to the pub for a good old catch up.


In the galley doing the washing up this morning, G shouted look, look! Couldn’t believe it; of all the boats and all the canals and this brief time of ours on the Grand Union. Nice to see that they hadn’t painted over my birds on the side shutters …yet.


So it’s onwards in the general direction of the Hatton flight tomorrow; early start and a long cruise. Perfik!

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Moving squats

Posted by contentedsouls on 10/05/2018

By 10am on Saturday, NoProblemXL was emptied of everything but our overnight stuff (not inconsiderable with the menagerie) and as clean and shiny as we could make her. Job done, G settled down to grab 40 winks when he was rudely awoken by visitors in a fleet of cars (well 2 cars actually); he was just about to grumble when we remembered that the ‘visitors’ lived there. For the next hour or 3, organised chaos reigned as Sue’s daughters supervised the unloading and Sue supervised the unpacking.


I was impressed by how quickly two car loads of stuff disappeared into their rightful places and order was restored– a credit to the packer at the other end. Just as well really because, shortly after, Sue and Richard arrived with greyhounds Saffy and Archie; new ropes and a licence for Indigo Dream and chutney and marmalade for Sue and I. Fish and chips all round and then they left us to see to the hounds that had stayed at home. By 9.30, the rest of us were all a bit tired and I nearly nodded off on the stern deck. Around 10.30 the others all revived and it turned into a bit of a party – inevitable really, what with Sue and Vic’s coming home at last and it being Sue’s birthday the day before….as the day turned into ‘tomorrow’, the remaining four dogs went to bed (they do have a bed each, but prefer to share – well Baxter doesn’t but he doesn’t get much say in the matter! – although Penny, of course, stayed on cat watch duty.


After a few hours sleep, G and I were up and creeping around loading up the van with our final bits; which was when we discovered that only one bag of preserves had been left – before I could sneak off with them, Sue was up and demanding half; the ensuing bun fight wasn’t pretty, but I did manage to hang on to the apple and garlic chutney but lost out on the smoky marmalade that Indigo Dream Sue left especially for me. Hmph.

By 8.45, the menagerie were loaded, goodbyes said (how I hate goodbyes) and we were on our way to Ascot; not the races but an early (bank holiday Sunday) hospital appointment for my echo cardiogram. Job done and we were on our way to join the traffic jams on the M25; destination the narrowboat Indigo Dream – our new squat.

How lucky are we to have such good friends willing to lend us their beautiful boats in our time of need.


We made the mistake of travelling Daisy sideways in her carrier; a mistake we won’t make again! I’ll spare you the details but it required a stop off in Tesco’s car park for a major clean up; not fun in the heat – the poor love was distraught.

Now one of the many wonderful things about boats is that, if you don’t like the neighbours, you can move. We had intended to stay the night in the marina and get unpacked and settled in. However, our marina neighbours were on board polishing and cleaning and he expressed considerable disapproval regarding Daisy’s presence – he ‘mentioned’ (in several different ways) that it was against marina rules to let animals roam free and how ‘unhappy’ he would be if Daisy was to set paw on his shiny boat – that was the gist of it anyway. I passed his feelings onto G who finished unloading the van, dumped our stuff inside the boat and left. Yeahhhhh – moving again.


We didn’t move (as) far (as I would have liked on such a glorious day) as we had to dunk Daisy in the sink – what a treat for her in her new home – settle Baxter and hotfoot it back down the road with Muttley to get the van and drive to Antony’s by 4pm for a family BBQ. Good fun in the sun with 4 of the 6 grandchildren there. When we returned to ID, Baxter was snoring on the sofa and Daisy was still sulking where we’d left her, although she quickly perked up.

By the time we’d made the bed up and found the necessary things to sort the animals out and make tea in the morning we were a little bit tired!

Monday morning G was off for an overnight visit to his Mum’s, which gave me a clear day to find where everything was and get our stuff stowed away without G trying to ‘help’. It was during this excercise that I discovered that the main box containing our food was missing (despite it having a red ‘dot’ label); due to our haste to get away from Mr Miserable the previous day I hadn’t noticed, so it was cold chicken for lunch and chicken crisps sandwiches for supper followed by a bar of chocolate for dessert – I understand G took his Mum out to dinner and had a rather nice, large rib-eye steak.

It was another scorching day and Baxter loves the sun but I feared he would cook what’s left of his brains, so I spent a considerable amount of time wrestling with a particularly recalcitrant umbrella. When I finally managed to get it to stay up in the right place, the system worked rather well.


Until Daisy came along and ousted him – that’s his indignant look.


Muttley? He hid indoors all day until it was cool enough for me to take him down to the stream for a walk and then he retired to the rear deck for the entirety of the cooler evening.


Clearly Daisy’s reputation has arrived before us as we haven’t been visited by a single Greyhound ……. yet!

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Brains, hearts and hill climbs

Posted by contentedsouls on 04/05/2018

Wednesday was a return visit to neurology for my brain CT and CT angio results – contrary to the opinions of both G and close friends’ I do, indeed, have a brain and it is ‘normal’. Here’s a picture to prove it.


Whilst it is very re-assuring to know that my blackouts are not being caused by any nasties lurking in my head, I would very much like to know what has been causing them so cardiology (seen last Monday) has fitted me up with wires. The nice wire fitting man did suggest I lose the rucksack and tuck the wires into my trousers before going out in public in order to avoid attracting unwanted attention from armed police and sniffer dogs.


I guess he did have a point. I only have this heart monitor attached for 24 hours, so I thought I’d take it out for a test drive. There are two ways up that hill; the steep climb or the more gentle one – in order to give the monitor something to think about, I decided to take the steep climb up there. It was quite steep in places too and I had to stop twice to ‘admire the view’ – mind you, having become used to the flatlands of the Netherlands, the escalator into Sainsbury’s looks quite daunting!


A lovely walk along the top with great views of NoProblem XL down below and a Red Kite ridge soaring alongside me (I nearly took a decent photograph of it). I came down by a more gentle route as I didn’t fancy reversing the climb – I’d have had to slide down on my bum. The bluebells were fabulous in the sunshine.



Muttley was desperate to cool off and have a drink when we finished and, much as I considered joining him, I waited until reaching The Bounty before quenching my thirst. He had a big cuddle with G when we returned to the boat to complain about the nasty woman that dragged him around the countryside for nearly 3 hours (conveniently forgetting to mention the bit where he ate pork scratchings at the pub).


We’ve had some quite dramatic changes in weather recently which always makes for good photo opportunities


Tomorrow the heart monitor comes off and Sunday I get to see what the inside of my heart looks like. I’m discovering new bits of myself on a regular basis at the moment, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to share my heart with you! Because of all this ‘stuff’ going on at various hospitals in this area, we have postponed our move onto narrowboat Indigo Dream until Sunday lunchtime ish. We are all packed up and stowed away on the van ready to move Vic and Sue and all their stuff back to their home tomorrow – I suspect Saturday night might be party night; especially as it was Sue’s birthday today. Happy Birthday my friend.

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In pontificating mode

Posted by contentedsouls on 29/04/2018

When we left Francoise in the Netherlands on the 11th January with the minimum of ‘stuff’; little did we know that we would still be here all these months later. Staying on the van for a little while in winter (and the temperatures are still no better apart from 2 or 3 days of warm sunshine) was just about doable; but not for all this time.

For 16 weeks NoProblemXL has been our very comfortable and luxurious home and our heartfelt thanks go out to Vic and Sue for making her unconditionally available to us and our menagerie; not to mention my re-arrangement of their galley to accommodate my personal cooking style (ie messy!). Our time is ‘up’ on NPXL for the very best of reasons – Sue’s return to better health and they more than deserve to have their home back unencumbered by us squatters.

On Thursday we shall be moving onto Sue and Richard’s narrowboat, Indigo Dream and taking her cruising a little – I’m very excited about being back on the UK canals for a little while and Baxter will find life a little easier as the boat is kitted out to accommodate ‘ancient’ dogs and the ‘bank’ doesn’t go up and down so much on the canals! So our thanks to them too for taking pity on us homeless people.

At this point (and here comes some pontificating and reflecting) I want to say thank you to the many people that have offered us their homes, boats, electricity and clothes!! We have never been in the slightest danger of being homeless and have had choices and been able to choose due to convenience of location re my hospital appointments and, of course, we will always take any boat options over houses because we are out and out water gypsies. It has been said before, but I make no apology for reiterating it; the boating community is absolutely incredible. Once a bond has been made with a fellow boater, no matter how briefly in some cases, they are always there for you. Over our boating years we have always tried to help fellow boaters and the response to our ‘hour months of need’ has been overwhelming – so thank you each and everyone of you for your incredible generosity.

So that’s enough of all that sentimentality – I don’t want my regular readers (if either of them still do read these, currently, occasional blogs) to think I’m going soft in the head; now there’s a thing as I get the results of my brain scan and angio on Wednesday when I shall find out if there is anything soft in my head or, indeed, any brain at all!

George and Carol breasted up with Still Rockin’ overnight and we walked round with Muttley to the Bounty for an early supper – a lovely evening but my goodness it was cold. We did have a couple of good, hot days during which time Baxter shared the shade with next door’s Bassets, Matilda (he’s in luuurve with Matilda) and Arthur.


This lovely day prompted Graham to cut off Mr. B’s winter coat which would normally happen sometime in March – we all know what happened to the weather then – pass the Superglue so that we can stick his hair back on. Poor boy is now spending life huddled up under blankets and fleeces to prevent him from shivering. I know he’s old – very old – but I was truly shocked to see him without his shaggy coat; although he seems much brighter in himself he does look really ancient poor sausage. Kevin and Sandra came over today with Herbie and Ralph (the new puppy). Ralph couldn’t understand why Mr B wouldn’t come out from under the blanket and play; in the end he tried to pull the blanket off him. Such a lovely, good natured pup – he’s going to be a cracking dog and was quite unphased by Muttley’s displays of disapproval towards him being inside the boat.



Whenever Sue and Vic were able to come back to their boat, we always made sure that there were two more dog beds down for Meg and Penny; the dogs however made their own arrangements. Penny, of course, spends her whole time on Daisy cat watch anyway and doesn’t really need a bed.


So that’s all my news. There might be more regular blogs once we’re on the move again on Indigo Dream.

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Still in Blighty on the River Thames

Posted by contentedsouls on 02/04/2018

Well here we still are and it’s the 2nd April – nothing much changes. Still it rains and all dog walks are a sea of mud again after a 3 day respite in the weather which let the ground dry out enough for me to walk right around the lake at last on a day when the sun came out; such a treat. There are signs of spring everywhere around me except for the weather itself.


Meanwhile, back in the Netherlands, Francoise’s free winter mooring in Dokkum was about to convert to the visitor rate of 90 euros per week from yesterday. After a bit of juggling with dates when Sue and Vic could visit again and avoiding the inflated cost of Easter weekend ferry crossings, G managed to drop S & V back at Portsmouth on the Wednesday, then leave here late Thursday to catch the 2.00 am ferry for Dunkirk on Friday, leaving me here with the menagerie; did I mind? Was I jealous that he was going to get a two day cruise? YES; VERY MUCH! It just wouldn’t have been fair on Baxter though to drag him out and back and there is no such thing as travelling light or travelling quickly when we move en famille. It was awfully nice having the boat to myself for a week though with only Baxter’s tune to dance to.

Our good Dutch friends, Gerrit and Gezina, arranged for us to moor at the end of (the other) Gerrit and Saskia’s garden again in Aldeboarn and G and Gerrit had a two day ‘man cruise and sleepover’ to get there (you have to go a long way round due to low bridges). G & G spoilt my G rotten; feeding him and taking him out to ‘boys’ night’ cards. I tried not to mind, but I do miss Gezina’s hugs. In our absence, our friend Gary will be putting a new floor down in our bedroom and making good the wall linings which had been water damaged from small leaks when we bought her – at last the renovations commence. I shall be able to start decorating when I get home….hurrah!

Meanwhile, back on NoProblem XL, Muttley was happy enough playing chase with his neighbour Matilda; Baxter peed and slept (nothing new there then) and Daisy sulked because I wouldn’t let her out due to the fast flowing river and the fact that she keeps trying to run up and down NoProblem’s very narrow gunwhales – despite her diminutive size, she is not the most agile or sure footed of cats


The river has risen over a meter in the last 48 hours as I post this; we now jump down off of the rear deck instead of up.

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If you don’t want to see Sue wearing G’s pants ……….

Posted by contentedsouls on 18/03/2018

……… then look away now.

Have had a number of disappointments re potential visits from Sue and Vic as we daren’t risk her health and G keeps picking up bugs from his family. However, ‘tis nice that they have been able to join us this week; particularly as today was our 29th wedding anniversary – we had hoped that Kevin Too would be able to join us too but, he too, started with the snuffles and – she is going to kill me for this – we all have to be really careful not to compromise the health of a lady we love and cherish so much and who is doing so well on her final stages to recovery; we will not risk her recovery.

In the meantime we have been off a gallivanting and a visiting. 4 years out of the country means loads more catching up.

I also have to admit to turning into a first class anorak re the little train that runs up and down between Marlow and Bourne End; beeps at each approach to each crossing and starts at 05.50 in the mornings. Having got up to take Mr B out for a pee – and therefore being wide awake – I often inform G that the 0610 is 3 minutes late. I don’t understand why he shows no interest in the matter; nor does he show any interest in the number of the passengers on each train which has become a matter of great importance to me – they are frequently completely empty.

After walking the dogs I was given a day off from cooking so I cleaned Vic’s boots – not totally to his satisfaction; but beggars can’t be choosers, so he firtled under the bed and tried to look busy


Penny’s eyes continue to stalk Daisy’s every movement and Daisy’s every existence; she cannot comprehend something that is soooo far out of her control. We never need to ‘find’ the cat anymore; we just follow Penny’s eyes.


We had lunch with George and Carole; stayed with my dear friends Wendy and John, lunched with my gorgeous Helen and Chris and my incredible workmate and post people Sally and Pete. Slept with 8 greyhounds and discovered that their Mum {Sarah the pirate} can, actually, cook – Sarah is now stuffed; off the helm Sarah, you are now on the cooking rota next visit.

Had some snow and Mr B just wants to be out there eating it bless him


Now for the shocker! Sometimes – when you share a space – the laundry gets a bit mixed up. Sue quickly realised that these were not her pants.


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Settling in on NoProblemXL and her owners’ return

Posted by contentedsouls on 12/02/2018

Although we’d been down to see Sue & Vic for an overnighter, this was a good week for them to come up for a few days and have a bit of R & R in the soothing environs of their own watery home – despite the fact that she can’t find anything in the galley as I’ve re-arranged it to suit my cooking style!

On Sunday we were all looking forward to a pint and a Sunday roast at the local (G and I had had a superb meal when we ate up there with Gill and John last week). Sadly it was an almighty let down – started with an ‘off’ pint of Doombar and deteriorated from there with totally raw parsnips and cabbage and a ropey old piece of tough beef. The waitresses appalling attitude to our polite complaint only served to p us off even more! As Sue said, if it wasn’t her local she would have refused to pay. I escalated it to the manageress and she knocked 25% off of the bill, but it was poor compensation. Hey ho, you can’t win them all and the company was first class as always.


Meanwhile I’ve been enjoying sunny skies, the local scenery and the splendid sunsets in between the ridiculous amount of appointments for our MOTs. I now, of course, have had a couple of pints of Doombar, fish and chips and M&S Chinese ‘take away’ – I love their Chinese crispy lemon chicken; the last time I had any was when Vos and I went to M&S in Paris.


So far, apart from Sue & Vic, we have only caught up with loads of friends that we met in France, all of whom are back in the UK at the moment for a variety of reasons. Next week our MOT appointments start to ease off and we can catch up with some of our British mates.

Meg, Penny, Muttley and Baxter have been as good as gold together and Muttley really enjoys Penny’s company on walks – he can still keep up with her for an hour or so, despite the fact that he’ll be eleven this year.


Still bemused by the amazing array of towns and shops within a short drive from here; I’m really not used to it and the local availability of just about anything you want is a delight.

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A bit of a do (written 04/02–post when I have Wi-Fi)

Posted by contentedsouls on 06/02/2018

As most of you now know (if you follow Sue’s blog) my boaty besty mate is in a spot of trouble; G and I both need dental work doing; my passport runs out in March and I haven’t had any kind of routine health checks in 4 years so another change of plans – we had intended to head South in the new camper van to Spain or Portugal but, instead, we are now heading back to the UK for a little while. Dogs are all vaccinated now, so just wormers to sort out and then we are fit to travel when the festive season is over.

In the interim we have had some fun, adventures and new experiences – life is ever thus! We had planned to spend a week in Dokkum with Jill and Gary before moving into Aldeboarn to spend Christmas day with our Dutch friends, but we have had to postpone Dokkum until Wednesday.

I trundled off to walk Muttley, turning the generator off as I left; batteries being fully charged. G then heard the generator start and thought I had returned and re-started it for some reason – I hadn’t. He tried pressing the stop button again but it wouldn’t stop so went down to the forepeak – opening up the hatch, he found the generator on fire. With only the weeny generator from Matilda Rose to sustain us, we moved straight to Aldeboarn and have been plugged into No 70’s house. Fortunately it was only the wiring loom that was damaged and we were ‘fixed’ in the nick of time before Christmas.

On the cruise from Akkrum to Aldeboarn, G heard a loud bang. He stopped the boat and found me flat on the floor and more than a bit confused – let’s face it, I’ve always been easily confused! With hindsight I realise that it’s at least the third time it’s happened. Definitely needed to return to UK – a CT scan in NL was going to cost around 1,400 euros.

On Christmas Eve afternoon Jill and Gary drove over to see us with Gem and Chula, decided a bevy might be required so they stayed over and Jill and I went to the Carol service with Gezina and Thea; first time I’ve sung Silent Night in Dutch! It was fabulous and I’m so glad I went.

We had a fabulous Christmas day with G & G at No 70 with her 3 sons, partners and grandchild and the most amazing food; spiced pork and heaps of vegetables and all sorts of other goodies. a fabulous day and one that neither of us will ever forget. Thank you guys for sharing your special family time with us.

Christmas day 2 (as the Dutch call Boxing Day), we drove across to see Dutch boating friends Marijke and Jans; Baxter was quite taken with their girl dogs and had quite a spring in his step and a twinkle in his cataracts – it took him two days to recover though. We thought we were popping around for the afternoon, but we were plied with a fabulous meal again and didn’t leave until gone 11. Another memorable day; it is such a generous thing to include us like this and we are honoured.

Dokkum was very pretty still all lit up for Christmas when we returned for New Year.


So here are a few pretty pictures from all the missing months (just realised Baxter is missing from the photos but, worry not, he is still with us!)


Sunday 7th January we left Francoise on a bitterly cold day and headed for Bruges to catch up with Andy and Vos. As usual we enjoyed the most fabulous meal (can that lady cook!) and spent the evening in hoots of giggles. Sadly saying our goodbyes after lunch on Monday we headed towards the port just across the Belgian border into France. Given the temperatures were sub zero, there was no way I was staying in the camper overnight without heat (which requires electric), so I thought we’d have a treat and stay overnight in an hotel; baths, luxury, comfort, swimming through my poor deluded brain. Well; it was the shittiest whole I have ever stayed in – and, trust me, I have stayed in some pretty shitty holes. It was too late to find another hotel which would take two dogs and a cat.


Having kicked off about the cigarette stinking midden of a room we were were first put in, we at least were given a smoke free shit hole, so dragged our duvet and pillows out of the van into the room. However, the most amazing and vast Oriental restaurant was just a few paces away. Freshly cooked, eat all you like buffet with masses of seafood, sushi, and Chinese, which somewhat softened the blow. I started with the cold seafood. Followed by hot seafood, plus some duck and puds and ice cream ( G managed to throw in a few extra courses ) and a couple of beers washed down with port (supplied by Vos and Andy) and we slept quite well.


By the time I finished my meal I was starting to get a bit of a toothache and by the time my breakfast of eggs benedict arrived on the DFDS ferry (payed the extra for the private lounge – worth every penny) I couldn’t even eat the ‘thinly sliced’ ham and my face was beginning to resemble a football.

Once off of the ferry we headed to G’s sons at Northampton but, despite my being distracted by trying to Google emergency dentists, I couldn’t help but be appalled by the disgusting rubbish on the side of the motorway. I guess I had become accustomed to it before I left but, having spent 4 years in Countries that take pride in themselves, I could not – and still cannot – believe the amount of filth and discarded litter that lines British roads – what must visitors to the UK think of us. No question mark; I don’t want to know the answer.

A couple of nights plugged into Antony’s electric – during which time I was able to have the treat of taking the littlies to school – and we found that our next planned destination was not to be; so we had to do a quick re-think. In less than 24 hours Sue contacted neighbours and key holders and arranged for us to take over NoProblemXL, complete with wine, flowers and a ‘welcome’ card. Bloody superwoman; gets on your nerves.

So we are now happily ensconced and have been to Portsmouth to see Sue and Vic; had a grand reunion, delicious roast lamb and an overnight stop which allowed Sue and I to walk the dogs for an hour and a half. Penny and Muttley never stopped playing during that walk. Sue and Vic are coming back to the boat, all being well, for a week next Saturday in her post chemo ‘safe’ period. A lovely, lovely mooring here on the Thames, but the walking is a touch limited at the moment due to mud – not used to it as the Dutch do not allow mud; paving or duckboard are the order of the day and the Dutch do like order!

Pictures from Blighty


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