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, 27 November 2016

6th - 26th November. A quiet start to the winter in Roanne, and a week in England.

We went to England for a week on the 8th November, by train and air, taking one of the two flights a week from Lyons to Luton. With an evening flight there was not a lot to see on the way but here we are on the train, approaching Tarare, the biggest town before Lyons.

It was raining in Norfolk, but that did not deter this squirrrel, as he ran along the fence. He is just to the right of the gatepost. All is well here, after the flood in June.


On the River Yare there were a few cruisers on the move, near to the sugar beet factory.

Back in Roanne, most of the leaves are down. Shannon loves to walk here, alongside the canal. She had a lovely holiday with her friend, Escot, while we were in England.

In the port, it is time for the final leaf collection. At one point, there were five men with blowers, organising the leaves, ready for the leaf lorry to arrive.


Meanwhile it has been raining! On Tuesday the River Loire was rising, after a great deal of rain.


By Wednesday 23rd Nov the river was right around the HEP plant. We have never seen it as high before.

What power there is here, coming through the bridge!

Monday, 7 November 2016

26th October - 5th November 2016. Back in the port of Roanne, for bridge, stitch and bitch, happy hour and walks by the River Loire.


On into Roanne lock.


As we go on out into the port, we feel as though we have come home!


Looking to the left, the port looks as full as ever.
We have been given the same place as last year, on the port visitor mooring. It is very good for Shannon, as she has her own private fenced garden!
That same afternoon, we went to the Roanne Bridge Club, where it was nice to see all of our French friends again.


Cedric arrived by The Puzzler very soon for his piece of apple.
Shannon was delighted to see him again.
On Wednesday I went to Stitch and Bitch which, of course, is ladies only and again, it was good to catch up with everyone. We continued to do this at L'Authentique Happy Hour on Thursday. There are a lot of new people in the port, so we started to learn the new faces, and who is on which boat.

The circus arrived in town on Wednesday, and is on the car park at the far end of the port.


We went to the show on Friday, not having been to a circus with wild animals for many, many years.
The animals were well cared for, and seemed to be quite happy. However, the magician was amazing! It is said that seeing is believing, but what we saw him do, with ladies in and out of his cabinet, was just not credible!
Meanwhile, by the river Loire, the VNF men have found a large slice of a tree trunk, and have managed to pull it out, before it reached the HEP area, which is just beyond this bridge.


The River Loire looks as good as ever.


Further on, the stepping stones are clear of the stream today.

Monday, 24 October 2016

22nd - 25th October. Up the Canal de Roanne à Digoin, from Digoin to Roanne!

This is a mixture of smoke and fog as we eventually set off at 11 am up the Canal de Roanne à Digoin. We had planned to go earlier!

Later on the weather cleared, so that we could look across the valley of the river Loire. Our canal runs parallel to the river, all the way to Roanne.


It is quite tight, sharing in these deep locks. Monsieur VNF can be seen up above the bottom gates, as he winds them shut. These locks are completely manual, but we can help with gates, once we are up in the lock.

We stopped at Bourg-le-Comte, and climbed up the track to the village. The Puzzler can be seen,  to the right of the white cottages.


This is another old church in Bourg-le-Comte.
The most interesting item in the church was this list of all priests of the parish since 1598. The only gap is from the time of the French Revolution. If this list is up to date, then Father Renard has been priest here for 50 years!

We moved on to Artaix for lunch, and stayed overnight, as it was so nice there. There was even a table tennis table, which was a bonus.

We walked to the village of Artaix, and met these big donkeys on the way. Shannon was not impressed!


The church at Artaix overlooks the canal.


Inside the church there are many interesting carvings.


The bridges on this stretch of the canal are all made using these unusually shaped stones, and look really attractive.

The leaves are all changing colour, and look wonderful.
However, as this canal is fed from the River Loire at Roanne, all of these pretty leaves find their way on to the water above each lock. The lockkeeper does not think that they are lovely at all! Our propellor is not too keen on them either.

Even as late as this in the year, the towpaths are kept in good repair.



Shannon is very fluffy, and is in need of a trim.
We are on a wild mooring, near to the prison, and have brought some of the best pots inside, as heavy rain is forecast for tonight. Tomorrow, we will be back in Roanne!

12th - 21st October 2016. Along the Canal du Centre from Ch to Digoin, mooring just before the junction with the Canal de Roanne à Digoin.


We are enjoying being on a canal again, after the river Sâone.

The first section of the canal is very pretty, with vineyards on the hills to our right.


The weather forecast was correct, as we spent a couple of days at Santanay in extremely wet conditions.


On past Montchanin.
Continuing up the last few locks, Shannon and I get off below the lock, so that I can operate the controls, with Andy already being safely tied on to the floating bollard. These locks are extremely rough, with the water coming up from underneath the boat. At times it even shoots up on to the top deck, so it an uncomfortable ride on The Puzzzler!

The picture on the control box adds character to this top lock.

We carried on past the summit level, to moor on the corner above lock 4 Océan. This is a quiet mooring, as there is very little traffic on the road, and there is a pleasant walk round a fishing lake too.


Most dogs curl up forwards!


The autumn colours are improving day by day.

On to Génelard, where we caught up with our touch-up painting for the autumn. The bank was just the right height!

This cutting, above Génelard lock, has long had these words built into its sides, and at last they make sense!
There is a new walkway above the cutting, through the trees, with several wood cabins, with the history of the cutting printed out, answering the questions on the sides of the cutting. “Combien de pierres?” Well, we learn that 190,000 stones were used to pave the banks in order to prevent landslides. This is well worth a visit.
We spent a pleasant evening with Ian and Lara, who are travelling down to the Med. in their yacht, GeeNTee. It was interesting to exchange experiences with them.


On past Parail-le-Monial, where it is unusual to see an empty mooring.


The canal after Parail is lined with plane trees, making good reflections.
At Digoin, we caught up with Christian and Valerie, and had a pleasant afternoon with them on La Béa'bab. We then moved on down the lock, to moor near to the junction with the Canal de Roanne   à Digoin. Nearly home to Roanne for the winter!