These are the adventures of Andy and Sally Rawnsley on their narrowboat "The Puzzler". We have been living on the boat for nearly seven years now and are still loving it. Our Ulster born Shih Tzu, Shannon, has grown up, and has taken over the boat! After three wonderful years in Ireland, we transported The Puzzler to The Netherlands, and spent a year there. In 2015 we went southwards, to reach the north of France by June. After glorious weather throughout the summer, we arrived in Roanne in late October, and have enjoyed our winter in this friendly port.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

January 2017. Snow, birds and ice on the port, followed by Bridge at the Château de Champlon.

We had an inch of snow and managed to make a mini snowman, which fascinated Shannon.

The kingfisher has returned, but he only stayed for one day.

His place was taken by the heron, who stayed for a week!

There are several coots living near to us, here in Roanne. They seem to like it here.

The ice by the slipway is now quite thick, as all movement of water in the port pushes it in here.

Ice now surrounds The Puzzler, and there is a light covering of snow too.

The covering of snow makes the port of Roanne look vast!

Some boys came on to the ice beside The Puzzler. They first wrote Bonjour in the snow, and then Aurevoir before they left, coming over to the boat to make sure that we had seen it!

Later on, once dark had fallen, some young men went right out into the middle of the port on the ice. We were really worried when they started to jump up and down, but fortunately the ice held, and no-one fell through!

There were a lot of seagulls on the ice yesterday, but I think the rest of them are camera-shy today. There is not much ice left either.

The ducks, however, are enjoying sitting on this frozen raft.

Meanwhile, this white-headed gannet is drying his wings, on Alouette's mooring buoy.

At the end of January we were off to the Château de Champlon again. We were here in December for the Bridge Club de Roannais Christmas dinner, when we had a splendid meal.

This time it was for an inter-club bridge competition, which was held in the same annex to the Château de Champlon.

Sadly we did not win!

However we had a most enjoyable afternoon in this delightful setting.

After the prize-giving, there was unlimited champagne and also delicious casse-croutes (nibbles).

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

11th - 31st December 2016. Christmas with our friends on Rook, then fantastic frosty trees, leading up to New Years Eve on Eendracht. More frost on New Year's Day, January 1st 2017.

There has been quite a lot of rain, and this skateboarder cannot come across to us. Il est désolé!

There were 15 of us on Peter`s boat, Rook, for Christmas this year, with everyone sharing the cooking.

Chief chefs, however, were Gorete, Peter and Nikki. We had a great meal!

The ice is starting to encroach on The Puzzler.

We have had fog, followed by frost, creating a freezing wonderland.

All the trees are frozen beside the road, behind the capitainerie.

Along by the River Loire, everything is covered with ice.

Even the grass has a covering of white.

The heavy frost is on all the trees.

Each tree creates a different pattern.
We celebrated New Year's Eve on Eendracht, where a good time was had by all.
With a mixture of cultures, we sang Auld Lang Syne, then continued with the hats and whistles of France. Cora had also brought a metre sized ball of mistletoe, under which we all had to kiss everyone else. No-one was averse to this!

Back on The Puzzler, Shannon tried out one of the hats for size.

However, she decided that she preferred the laid-back ribbon look!

On New Year's Day our winter wonderland was back again, with a bright sunny day to help the icy effect.

Happy New Year to everyone!

Thursday, 22 December 2016

27th November - 10th December 2016. A quiet week, playing bridge, then an activity filled week with Debbie and Matt.

We spent the last week in November putting up our Christmas lights, and playing bridge several times.

Debbie and Matt came to stay in early December. Toad came too, of course, dressed in his new Christmas outfit.
 As Debbie and Matt had hired a car, we were able to go further afield, and we started with the abbey at Charlieu, a small medieval village, which lies to the north east of Roanne.

The old streets in Charlieu are fascinating.

On Tuesday we drove to Le Crozet, another medieval village to the north west of Roanne.

This house in Le Crozet specialises in many different windows!
We went for an 11 kilometre walk in the hills and forests near to Le Crozet, so could look back at the village, with its commanding view of its surroundings.
Wednesday was spent at Stitch and Bitch for Sally and Debbie, while Andy and Matt played many games of table tennis in the park by the port. Honours were even by the end of the week!
By Thursday we were off again to Saint-Haôn-le Châtel, which is a walled town, lying to the west of Roanne. From the town ramparts we could look across the valley, past the vineyards, to the nearby town of Saint-Haôn-le-Vieux.

There were more medieval streets to be found here, in Saint-Haôn-le Châtel.

We also visited the medieval garden.

We made our way on to this dam, which lies on the River Renaison. This reservoir lies due west of Roanne, and supplies all of town's water.

Looking back up at the dam, it looks even bigger!

Driving back to the Loire valley, we came to Saint-Maurice-sur-Loire, where the keep stands up above the town.

This keep is in good condition, despite the ruined walls alongside it.

The view from the top.

I lost count of the number of steps on the spiral staircase, which we climbed, all the way to the top. Shannon was not too keen, as she prefers to take steps two at a time. Do our legs look as wobbly as they feel, having climbed all the way down again?

Our last visit of the day took us further south to Château de la Roche.

This castle is built in a stunning position on an outcrop of rock in the middle of the river Loire.

The sunset over the port was at its best that evening.

It seemed to move further south around us as the evening progressed.

Our week finished with a visit to the Foire Froide, which took place along the road on the far side of the port.

We would like to thank you, our readers, for your continuing interest in our adventures and hope that you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.