These are the adventures of Andy and Sally Rawnsley on their narrowboat "The Puzzler". We have been living on the boat for over eight 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, returning to Roanne for a second winter.


Thursday, 22 May 2014

17th - 21st May. To Halfweg, to see a steam powered pumping station., and on past Schipol Airport. A visit to Aalsmeer flower auction.


Out in the country, we found a lovely quiet mooring near some woods. Unfortunately Shannon fell into a drainage ditch!
Moving on to Halfweg, we visited this steam powered pumping station, which was built in 1852 to empty the Harlemmermeer polder. Schipol airport was built on this polder. This is the oldest and largest still functioning paddle wheel pumping station in Europe.
The steam driven pump turns the two enormous cogged wheels, which have angled chevrons to keep them straight.
The cogged wheels drive the paddle wheels, of which there are six, linked together in two sets of three, which can pump 25,000 litres of water per second.


We moored opposite Schipol Airport that night.


Continuing southeastwards, we reached Aalsmeer, where there are very many marinas.
Most of these marinas, or jachthavens, are based on the island system in the large lake here. Each red marker on the map is a different marina, while the orange markers, on the southern island chain, are free 48 hour moorings, or safe anchor havens. (Click on the map to enlarge it) This is really a unique place.
We moored on one of these islands, and were pleasantly surprised to have visitors arrive in their narrowboat, from the marina opposite! Henk and Marjolein are also liveaboards and we hope to see them in the UK in a few years time.

We cycled to the Aalsmeer Flower Auction, which was fascinating. The flowers for sale are moved about in these trolleys.

In the auction room the flowers can be seen, moving across below the bidding screens. Each buyer has his own computer, linked in to the screen.
This is a real Dutch Auction. The price on the clock goes down until there is a bidder, who says how many he wants to buy. The clock then goes round again until someone else bids. His price may be higher or lower than the first bidder, but each buyer has the choice of buying all of the remaining flowers in that lot. If someone waits too long to bid, then he may not get any.

The trolleys come out of the auction room, and are collected by trolleymen on little motorised trollies. Each flower trolley is barcoded with the buyers barcode. They aim to deliver orders to the buyers transport, within 90 minutes of purchase.

On the other side of the hall it is rather like organised chaos, as all the different orders are collated.

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