These are the adventures of Andy and Sally Rawnsley on their narrowboat "The Puzzler". We have been living on the boat for over nine 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 enjoyed our winter in this friendly port. We cruised extensively in France in 2016 and 2017, returning to Roanne each winter.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

20th - 22nd April. From Rottemeren to Gouda via Zevenhuisen and the tidal Ijssel. On to Gouwluis and the Bird Park at Alphen a/d Rijn.

We left Rottemeren (lake) and continued on to Zevenhuisen, where the lift bridge opened at 11.30am, according to our chart. However, at this extremely narrow section, the bridge did not open for another two hours, so we just left The Puzzler blocking the canal, and went off for a walk. When the bridgekeeper arrived, he carried on with us for the next ten low bridges. At one point on a sharp bend, the canal was so shallow that Andy lost all steering, and we took the scenic route, nearly through someone's garden wall! The canal did get a bit wider as we carried on towards Nieuwekerk.
At this major lock in Nieuwekerk, there was no sign of a lockkeeper, so Sally pressed the red button near the lock entrance. After a few minutes the light went green, and we entered the lock. The whole operation was carried out by remote control, with cctv/Big Brother keeping an eye on us!
It was straight out of the lock on to the tidal River Ijssel. We turned left, to find ourselves going upstream against the tide on this big river. However, we made it to Gouda safely, and locked down into Gouda basin.
We carried on through another bridge to find MV Inevitable moored there. We last met Carole and David at the IWA National Rally at Wolverhampton in 2008, when they still had narrowboat Lost The Plot.

In the centre of Gouda, the Town Hall stands proudly over the market square. While there, we topped up on Gouda cheese.

Shannon is very taken with our new flags.

This liftbridge caters for even the tallest masts.
On reaching this railway bridge, on Easter Monday afternoon, we saw little hope of getting through, so tied up for the night. Ten minutes, and two trains, later, the green light came on and, as if by magic, the bridge swung open for us so we thought we had better carry on. We have no idea who opened it!

This is a typical riverside visitor mooring for Sport boats. We are categorized as Sport as we are under 20 metres long.
Setting off just after this full gravel barge, meant that we did not have to wait at the next two lift bridges, as working barges have priority, and never have to stop.
At the town of Alphen a/d Rijn, we stopped to go and visit the Vogelpark Avifauna, which best be translated as "Bird Park". It has been here since 1950. Some of the birds are in smaller cages, but there are bigger aviaries, and a tropical forest section too. The birds come from all over the world. This peacock was really putting on a show for his mate.

You could buy syrup for the lorikeets.

It was extremely popular!
The highlight of this visit was the display given by various birds. The show opened with a flock of parrots circling above us, until their trainer arrived. They all flew down to her to get their treats, before flying away again. This kookaburra and his three friends were next, followed by two hornbills in turn, and then an eagle. As the birds flew in from various directions, there was a real buzz in the crowd, seeing what was coming next.
We had seen all these birds in their respective pens earlier, but they each must have been called out to do their turn. The whirl of colour when these set off was worth seeing!

The Humboldt penguins really enjoyed feeding time later on.

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