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.
Friday, 20 November 2015
1st - 13th November 2015. Location of Roanne in France and the old town. An outing to the medieval villages of Ambierle, Saint-Haon-le-Vieux and Saint-Haon-le-Châtel in the mountains.
This map of France shows our route from June until November, ending up in the town of Roanne , shown by the red arrow.
Roanne is a big town, where this church and little house can be seen in the old quarter.
All the windows, the balcony and the people are painted on the front of this building. Andy and Shannon are deciding where to go next!
Back near to the harbour, the River Loire is used to generate electricity.
We caught a bus from Roanne to come here to Ambierle, a medieval village in the Monts-de-la-Madeleine mountains, which lie to the west of Roanne.
The priory church here has a wonderful coloured roof.
It is more like a small cathedral inside, and is very impressive.
The carved triptych in the church is lovely, with so much detail in it.
There is more carving around the choir stalls, where the tipped up seats have a ledge of wood protruding under each seat for extra comfort when standing up!
We travelled back by bus to the next village of Saint-Haon-le-Vieux, seen in the distance here. We then walked round the head of the valley, through the trees to Saint-Haon-le-Châtel.
Saint-Haon-le-Châtel is a fortified medieval village, built on a rocky peak in these mountains.
The church here was first built in the 12th century, although it has been added to over the centuries.
Inside too it is quite different to the priory church of Ambierle, being much plainer, but none the less holy.
Some of the streets in Saint-Haon-le-Châtel are very narrow.
All the houses are different, particularly this one, which stood on its own, at a junction of several streets.
Back at The Puzzler, Shannon loves to watch the coypus, as they eat the apple we give them.
Sunday, 8 November 2015
The lock ahead of us leads into the port of Roanne. It is good to be here at last.
However, as it is now the end of the season, and no more visiting boats are expected, we have been allocated a permanent place on the jetty by the Capitainerie.
This is a very good place to be, as it has a small secure fenced area for Shannon, and for our bikes too.
Within the week, the leaves are being collected from the park beside the moorings. From this gate by our jetty, we can look across to the bank which separates us from the River Loire.
The Loire is quite an impressive river, even though we are a long way from the sea.
Back by The Puzzler, this is our view of the west side of the port by day. We are having fantastic weather this week.
And the view by night!
This coypu swims right past the boat. There are three of them living at this end of the port.
The young one is eating a piece of apple, his favourite snack.
Everyone is very friendly in the harbour, with the ladies meeting for “Stitch and Bitch” every Wednesday.
Tuesday, 27 October 2015
22nd - 26th October. Engine problems on the Canal Latéral à la Loire, then deep locks on the Canal de Roanne à Digoin.
This canal was upgraded to Freycinet standard gauge in the late nineteenth century, and some of the locks were combined then. This lock, Chassenard number 8, has a rise of six metres.
This is when a long rope at the bows is essential!
The valley of the river Loire stretches away to our left. Here the river is nearer to the canal, but it meanders to and fro across the valley.
There are still many charolais in the fields here, with this fine bull looking very calm today.
Some trees are still green, while others brighten the canal with autumn colours. Our flowers on The Puzzler are still blooming too, later than in any other year.
The leaves, however pretty, create a problem for the lockkeepers. Our engine isn't too keen on them either!
Wild moorings can be found all along this lovely canal. Tomorrow we will reach Roanne.
Sunday, 25 October 2015
12th - 21st October. On to Decize on the Canal du Nivernais, then to Beaulon and Pierrefitte, on the Canal Latéral à la Loire, .
The canal du Nivernais is widening out, below Cercy.
The clock tower, which was built here in 1848, is 33 metres high. It is in the main town square, standing proudly in front of the town hall. It also has three bells in the bell tower at the top, one of which weighs 1300kg.
Our man delivered one load later that afternoon. It was a great relief when he offered to cut it up for us, as well as bringing it right to the boat. We had had visions of moving load after load on our small trolley!
It was nearly dark when the second boxful arrived. The woodman had cut it all to our specified length of 25 cm, so that it would fit into our fire.