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.


Wednesday, 29 July 2015

22nd - 24th July. On along the River Doubs navigation to Besançon.


Shannon enjoys being a figurehead, on top of the cratch, at the front of The Puzzler.
Good weather continues, and swimming is a daily activity, when we are on the river, rather than the canal sections. We are very pleased with our new swimming ladder, which we hang into the water at the back of the boat.


This rugged open weir is on the approach to Velotte lock. The Puzzler has just entered the lock cut.


Just round the next corner, the citadel of Besançon towers on the cliff ahead of us.

We moored, and then climbed up to the citadel. I should have counted the steps! The Puzzler, far below, is marked by the red arrow.


The citadel has a moat to protect the inner part. There are apes in the moat, so do not go there!
Within Besançon Citadel are various museums. The special exhibition about Germaine Tillion was in the Museum of French Resistance and Deportation. She lived from 1907 until 2008, and was an anthropologist who specialised in Algeria, taking an extensive range of photos there. She was involved in the Resistance, and was a prisoner of war at Ravensbruk.
Within the Citadel there is an insectarium, with small amphibians too, an aquarium and a children's farm, as well as these flamingos, with one young one. The red ibis is rather outnumbered.


Round the next corner, to our surprise, was the lions enclosure, with a single tiger further on.


Leaving Besançon to follow the meander round the town, the citadel dominates the skyline behind us.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

14th - 21st July 2015. Bastille Day fireworks at Choisey, then back to Dole in hot weather. Rochefort-sur-Nenon.

From Dole we went back downstream to Choisey, and had fireworks again, but across the canal this time. Some boys had fun later on, near to our mooring, throwing fireworks down into the park below. They then made a small bonfire on the picnic table, for all their failed fireworks! Luckily, only one landed on The Puzzler.
The lock cottages on this part of the Rhone to Rhine Canal are built very close to the locks. Most of these cottages are now privately owned. All houses keep their shutters closed, to keep the sun out.


We managed to find a canalside mooring with some shade. This is quite important when the temperature reaches 36 degrees!
We returned to Dole on Thursday, and bought a swimming ladder, but were then chased off the town mooring as The Puzzler is over 15 metres long! This was definitely a good thing, as we ended up on a wall mooring by the slipway, which was in the shade. The temperature reached 44 degrees before that! I have never been so hot before.


That evening the Rockin' Blues Guitars gave a free concert in the park. We were treated to three hours of 60's, 70's and 80's music, which was excellent.



Leaving Dole, the canal goes through an avenue of very old plane trees.
Mooring can be a problem on this canal, so we were pleased to find a space at Rochfort-sur-Nenon, and stayed there for a couple of days. We are beside the trees, below the cliffs. This is a popular picnic place, and we saw rock climbing lessons going on too.


Shannon is quite happy to swim out to Andy, before returning to the boat, for a safe lift-out!


Climbing to the top of the cliff, it is possible to see how little water there is is the weir, which is opposite to our mooring.
Moving on above the lock at Saint Vit, we manage to find two convenient trees, for a shaded mooring, as the hot weather continues.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

10th - 14th July. Auxonne, Les Maillys, then on to the Rhone to Rhine canal to Dole.

The harbour at Auxonne is the first one we have seen since coming into France at the beginning of June. We are moored on a rough bank, just beyond the town bridge, having failed to find any boat prepared to offer to have us alongside on the free town mooring. One English couple even hid in their boat, in case we asked them! We found The Puzzler tipped at an angle on our return from our visit to the town,



The statue of Napoleon stands beside the Notre Dame church in Auxonne.
The Arsenal is an interesting collection of buildings, which were built as a place to make barrels. This part is now used for the weekly Friday market ( but today is Saturday!)


We loved these wooden stairs in Auxonne. Look closely to see the small cannons beside the gate too.
We moved on from Auxonne to this jetty at Les Maillys. It has been a lovely tree-lined section of the Saône but this was the first possible mooring after eleven kilometres, and we were pleased to be able to have this delightful German family alongside The Puzzler there.

We leave the River Saône here. This lock marks the beginning of the Rhone to Rhine Canal, at St. Symphorien. There is a small community of barges just above the first lock, and this is generally a much busier canal.
Nearly 7 km and 4 locks further on, the canal passes beside a chemical works, and there are warning signs telling us not to stop in this area. If we hear the sirens we must close all doors and windows on our boat, and leave the area as quickly as possible. This seems to be bad luck for our steersman, out on the stern of The Puzzler! Luckily, we heard no sirens.

It is quite nice to be off the River Saône, and on to the narrower canal, where we can moor anywhere, so long as the water by the bank is deep enough. It is Andy's turn to try and tune the satellite dish for the last day of Wimbledon. Djokavic beat Federer, in case you did not see this.

The Collegiate church of Notre Dame can be seen in the town of Dole, behind the town moorings. Every town has its church, and each one is so different.


Looking up this steep street in the evening light shows the church tower to its best advantage.
We originally stopped on the town moorings in Dole, but all boats had to move away to the other side of this bridge, because of the fireworks display tonight. Our access here is by the plank from the roof to the wall.

There were a few early fireworks and Shannon was not impressed! Once the main display started, she just hid her head and endured it.
The crowds arrived in force, and there must have been thousands of people there. It was an impressive display, celebrating Bastille Day which is, of course, of great importance in France.
Dole dates back to a fortress built on a small limestone overhang in the 12th century.


The town is full of interesting sloping streets.


This is the triege de la Cordiere, one of several narrow uncovered alleyways to be found in the town.
Louis Pasteur, of rabies vaccine fame, was born in Dole, and a museum here tells of his life and achievements.

Friday, 10 July 2015

4th - 10th July 2015. On to the summit level of the canal entre Champagne et Bourgogne, through Balmes Tunnel. On to Blagny-sur-Vingeanne, then the River Saone to Lamarche-sur-Saone.

From Langres it is not far to Balesmes tunnel, which is on the summit level of this canal, at a height of 1,111feet. The tunnel is 4820 metres, or 5275 yards, long, so is not quite as long as Standedge tunnel, in England.

There are lights throughout the tunnel, with a light every 10 metres, and green lights to confirm we are going the right way! Looking back, the lights are red.



The first flight of eight locks going down, are all over 5metres deep. This is a chain of automatic locks, so the next one is always ready for us.



Shannon loves to run between the locks, and is level with The Puzzler here, on the towpath.

This sunset is over a nearby lake at Villegusein-le-lac. The picture really does not do it justice!


The fields near to the canal are full of sunflowers. They seem to turn to face the sun all day.

This is our first sighting of this breed of large French Poitou donkey. He was not very friendly!
Many fields are being harvested. Tuesday was an eventful day! We stopped early, in the shade of the trees, and managed to get a signal for the television, by putting our satellite dish on the bank in front of the boat. The Tour de France and Wimbledon were both on, so all was well. However the wind started to gust by late afternoon, and blew the dish into the canal! Andy retrieved it safely and was about to set it up again, when the combine harvester arrived in the rape field beside us. You should have seen the dust!

We did a rapid retreat from the bank, going down another lock to escape from the dust. The canal was quite shallow, so it was a bows-in mooring! It was lucky there are so few boats about.


Being by now quite near to Blagny-sur- Vigneanne, we walked on to see the village. This is obviously an extremely smart place to live, with many lovely houses.

We have been on the Canal entre Champagne et Bourgogne since 22nd of June, when we received this “zapper” so that we could activate the automatic locks ourselves.
It is now time for Sally to post it into the box by lock Chemin de Fer. Andy then lifts the blue pole to activate the lock, and nothing happens! After several chats on the intercom, and several “only five minutes” later, we did descend the lock on to the River Saône.



This river is very calm today, but is much wider than the canal.

At Lamarche-sur-Saône it was a high wall for mooring, but, with steps by the bow, this is no problem. The satellite dish on the bank is working well, but is now securely tied down!