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, 2017 and 2018, returning to Roanne each winter.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

1st - 2nd September. Map of Holland. On to Borg Verhildersum, and the Seal creche at Pieterburen.

We are now in the province of Groningen, which is the most northerly part of The Netherlands. The orange dot shows where The Puzzler is.
We cruised on along on the Hunsingokanaal, before turning northwards. A small yacht was moored by a footbridge, and the crew called out to tell us to stop there, so we did. They had found a real gem of a place and felt we too should see it. This was Borg Verhildersum, a stately home set inside its own moat, surrounded by formal gardens.

We walked round all of these gardens, but could not visit the house as it was a Monday, when little opens in Holland.

The box hedges were wider than any we had ever seen, and everything was perfectly kept.

Continuing northwards, we joined the Pieterbuurster-maar, which was a big name for a very small canal!
We reached our destination at Pieterburen, of the Zeehondcreche, or seal sanctuary. There are nearly 100 young seals here at present, all at different stages of recovery. They will probably be here for about three months, until they are ready for release into the sea.

This net mountain has been made from fishing nets which have been removed from the necks or bodies of seals brought here to the sanctuary over the years.

The seals are all kept in small groups, once they are out of intensive care. This group has been here since June.

Time for a snooze!

Hanging in there!

This seal has eyes just like Shannon. He is very thoughtful.
All the seal handlers are most careful about hygiene, and wear special disposable clothing, which is discarded after each visit to any pen of seals. These seals are still being handfed with herring, until they learn how to feed themselves. Each seal needs about 5kg of fish every day
Pieterburen is as far as the canal goes. We squeezed past this cruiser to turn, and are now on our way back, scraping the bottom as we go.

This is certainly a twisty canal, and makes a nice change from canals like the Prinses Margriet!
We found a peaceful mooring, right out in the country, alongside a cycle track. Early next morning the school children cycled past us and shouted loudly to make sure that we were awake!