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, 30 April 2015

23rd - 30th April 2015. Through Mijdrecht, past Zomerlust to an island mooring on the Nieuwekoopse Plassen, then on to the Oude Rijn.

From Oudekerk we headed southeast from the river Amstel, via various narrower waterways, to the south of the Vinkeveense Plassen. Here we are in the older part of Mijdrecht, where the canal is quite narrow.


However, just round the corner, the canal opens out and the newer part of town can be seen.

After joining the Kromme Midrecht waterway, we stopped again at Zomerlust, where this fine Friesian horse went past.
We continued on through the lock into the Nieuwe Koopse Plassen, to moor on a different island this time. Shannon was allowed to run free and really enjoyed this.
If you look closely at the grass alongside The Puzzler on this island, just behind the front tyre fender, you will see a slight hollow there. Andy took Shannon out late in the evening, and inadvertently stepped in this hollow. This was not a good idea! The water below the grassy covering was three feet deep, before he reached the soft muddy bottom, so he got both very wet and extremely dirty! I must point out that he had not been drinking. Well, not much!

Leaving the Nieuwe koopse Plassen at Zwammerdam, this was an interesting mooring on the Oude Rijn. We were opposite a sand and gravel works, and could watch barges being unloaded.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

19th - 22nd April 2015. On to Oudekerk. A trip to Amsterdam.

Debbie left us by bus, and we sailed on up the Aar canal, which becomes the Amstel. We found a pleasant village mooring in Oudekerk, near to a supermarket, which has wifi! At last I am up to date with the blog. We spent a couple of pleasant evenings with new friends here, and were lucky to be given a lift into Amsterdam on Tuesday.

Our day in Amsterdam began with a visit to the Rijksmuseum, which is huge.


Photography was allowed, so here is The Nightwatch by Rembrandt.


I liked The Threatened Swan by Jan Asselyn (1650) The black dog is getting closer!


This is Landscape with Waterfall by Van Ruisdael, also from the mid17th century


Another famous picture we saw was The Milkmaid by Vermeer.
After a visit to the Van Gogh Museum, where no photos were allowed, we walked on to Dam Square. The view of the Royal Palace was rather obscured by the funfair though. It was then back to peace and quiet on The Puzzler at Oudekerk by metro and bus . Shannon was very pleased to see us.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

11th - 18th April 2015. Debbie joins us at the Bergen Bos. We move south in Holland to Zaanse Schans, Aalsmeer, Keukenhof and Avifauna.


Debbie joined us by bus at our mooring near the Bergen Bos, and we hired her a smart bike for an expedition through the wooded dunes.


With Debbie at the helm, Shannon took over the map-reading.


At Zaanse Schans, we moored in among these windmills. There is only room for one boat here. so we were lucky to find it free.


We looked round De Zoeker windmill, which is still used to crush peanuts to make oil.
We were delayed for two hours in Wormerveer by the police, because of this boat, which was threatening to sink. We heard later that foul play was suspected, and explosives were involved. The man had been killed and his partner was injured too. The body tent can be seen near to the bows of the boat, behind the police launch.

From Zaandam we went along the North Sea Canal, then turned south to skirt Amsterdam. A big barge is over on the other side, well away from us.
We came to one lift bridge which was closed for the two hours of rush hour, but we managed to squeeze under the slightly higher fixed span to its left. 1.88 metres is now our record low bridge!


An early start to get to Aalsmeer Flower auction soon after 7am. We came here on 19th May last year.

On to one of our favourite moorings on an island on the Kager Plassen lake, and an impressive sunset.



On Thursday we went on to visit Keukenhof, where Van Gogh was created out of hyacinths.


The bulb fields behind Keukenhof were the best ones we have seen this year. The tulips seem to be later than last year.

Dogs are allowed at Keukenhof, but not in the pavilions, such as the orchid display area. No-one official noticed Shannon, hiding in the rucksack!



Tulips come with all sorts of frilly petals.


Hyacinths and daffodils created lovely displays.


Most of the tulips in the outside beds are the smaller varieties this year.


The narcissi and tulips go well together.

From the Kager plassen, we bypassed Leiden, going through Leiderdorp, then left on to the Does waterway to moor at Hoogemade. This waterway only opened for the season yesterday. The skating sculpture is on the bridge there.

Vogelpark Avifauna, at Alphen a/d Rijn, is as impressive as ever. We were last here, at this bird park, about a year ago. This time we saw the pelicans being fed. There was great competition to see who caught each fish.


It felt strange to have a lori sitting on my head!


Debbie's lori was really greedy, not letting any others share.


Andy's lori thought his ear tasted good!
This parrot was one of a flock, which circled the arena to start the main display. He is enjoying the treat, which was the reward for his part in the display.


The free flying eagle was quite a contrast to the smaller birds.


The orange egret lookalikes flew in for the finale, while a crested crane joined in too.

Monday, 20 April 2015

1st - 10th April 2015. Our last few days in Schagen. Our friends join us in a farewell trip from Schagen harbour along the North Holland Canal..


We have enjoyed a final visit to all of our favourite walks around Schagen. Shannon still goes into the water at every opportunity, no matter how cold it is.


The local Texel lambs are growing up.
Some of our good friends from Schagen have joined us on The Puzzler for the first part of our long trip south into France. Frank and Fedde are sharing the steering with Andy on this part of the trip.


This windmill, with a thatched cap, is very much traditional for this part of North Holland.


The party continues inside for a splendid meal, which was provided by our guests.
The other side of the table is not so formal, with food and cameras the priority. Hanni is very hungry. She has been celebrating her success against us at Bridge yesterday!
Our friends having left us, we carried on, leaving the North Holland Canal to go towards the sea, on the smaller Hondsbosshe canal. Leaving the boat, we walked the last mile or so, but when we reached the sea wall, we could not get to the beach, because of the new sand dunes which are being created artificially, further out. This is the old sea wall, with the new dunes to our right.

We continued on to the end of Haargervaart, and managed to turn on this narrow canal, near the village of Hargen. The woods can be seen beyond The Puzzler.


There are so many different tracks to choose from in these wooded sand dunes.


The scenery throughout this area is quite different to anywhere else we have seen in Holland.


We cycled to the North Sea at Camperduin, where Shannon tried to bury Andy!

Monday, 13 April 2015

22nd - 31st March. More painting. Easter Cattle show in Schagen.



Peeling the tape off makes the recently painted red and green paint look really sharp.

The next job was painting the side decking, with rubberised non-slip paint. This paint includes chopped up rubber tyres!
It is time for the annual Easter cattle show in Schagen, known as Schagen Paasvee Tentoonstelling. The most important feature of these special cattle is their rump steak.

This beast has done well in the show ring. He certainly looks the part, with a back end like that!

The whole town centre, in front of the church, was taken over by the cattle. It was a very wet morning, hence the coats.


Nearby is the display of vintage tractors.
Meanwhile, in the other direction, can be found the modern farm machines. This show is like a British county show, but in the centre of Schagen.
Outside the Albert Hein supermarket, the trees have been trimmed very neatly. No branches are allowed here!
Early in the morning, at the end of March, the view across the harbour from The Puzzler was really calm.
However,four days later, the waves are rolling in, as Andy takes Shannon for her morning walk.