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.


Sunday, 24 January 2016

Christmas Bridge in December 2015, then on to January 2016, both in Roanne and England.

A friend at the Bridge Club sent us some photos of us in action at the bridge table. We look very serious here, playing against Dominique and Marcel in the Téléthon competition! The Téléthon is an annual fundraiser, with various activities throughout Roanne.
Just before Christmas we played bridge at the club, then moved on, with the whole Bridge club, for our Christmas dinner, which was held at Le Château de Champlon at Villerest. This was a superb five course meal, which was enjoyed by all. We look happier here!
This was our last sighting of Cedric, or it might be Cecile, in early January. We thought that these were suitable French names for our tame(ish) coypu friends. We are told that they are now probably in hibernation for the rest of the winter. The warm weather here must have been confusing for them, as we haven't really had any cold weather as yet.
There are usually several camper vans at the Port of Roanne, but in the second week in January we had an unusual arrival. It was a horse drawn caravan, owned by Barney Maurice, of Wanderlusts.co.uk, who was travelling with his wife, Katya, and his young son, Madog. Both horses are tethered on the grazing beside the port, near to the caravan.
Both horses are very calm, but built for strength. I saw this one being shod, and Barney told me that one set of his shoes lasted 400 miles, but for another set it was only 250 miles.
They have travelled a long way from Penrith in Cumbria in this caravan.
The sign on the side of the caravan tells us about Barney's business, with horse drawn holidays in Cumbria.
Barney is travelling with his wife, Katya, and his young son, Madog.
After a couple of days, these intrepid travellers left our port, to travel further south in France. Madog can be seen at the front window.
By the middle of January the weather is much colder, and snow can be seen on the hills beyond the port of Roanne.
Shannon has a new scarf to wear.
Meanwhile, Andy has been spending a couple of weeks in England. He went to Slimbridge Wildfowl Centre with Debbie and Matt.
Feeding the geese is an essential part of your visit here!
They also went to visit the Rococo Gardens near to Painswick, quite high up in the Cotswolds. This splendid carving of a castle, out of a living tree, had been recently completed.
This imposing maze was planted to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Rococo Gardens, as can be seen here.
There were also a series of follies built in the gardens. This one is called the Red House, not surprisingly!
Shannon is just checking out her new sweater. After I clipped her on 10th January, she certainly needed the sweater to keep her warm at night. She has, however, managed to stretch the neck, so that she can pull her front legs in, then out through the neck. This creates a sort of body stocking from which it is easy to escape! Shannon would do this during the night, then wake me up to tell me that she was cold!

Friday, 8 January 2016

Dec 2015 - early Jan 2016. Festive celebrations in the Port de Roanne.

It really does not seem like winter at all here as the weather is consistently dry and warm. Walking continues to be good around Roanne. We start along by the River Loire, then have a choice of several routes back to the port. The Loire can be seen in the distance to Andy's right.

Shannon had a wonderful time at Christmas opening her presents. This one contained a soft duck which was already a favourite toy, rewrapped for the occasion!
We were lucky enough to be invited to Christmas dinner on the barge Rook, with 17 people present altogether. From the left we have Mick, Trevor and Vicky, Sally and Foster, Ghislaine and Jean-Charles, Altz, Andy and Sally, Mary and Brian, and Graham.

At the other end of the table, again from the left, are Jill, Altz(again), Graham(again), mine hosts Pete and Jan, Frank and Mick(again). It was a great occasion.
Everyone shared in the preparation of food on their own boats, before coming to Rook for the meal. Mary carries in the Christmas puddings, which did burn merrily for a short while.

Pete saw some French people outside, who were watching our celebrations, so they too were invited in for a glass of wine, and a good time was had by all!


After the meal it was time to relax. More dogs arrived, and we ended up with 7 of them on Rook too.
Shannon, on Sally, and Escot, on Ghislaine, are now the best of friends, although Shannon thought she would chase Escot when they first met! Jean-Charles and Ghislaine are French friends of Pete, who live near to the port.
By Sunday we had recovered from Christmas, and took the bikes to explore further along the River Loire. Leaving the bikes, we walked on to reach the old quarry, which is very peaceful and a lovely place to walk.


Sunset over the port of Roanne. This is the view from The Puzzler – aren't we lucky!


For New Year's Eve, we were all invited to the barge Highlander by Roger and Mary, who had been away for Christmas.



Here is the rest of the gang!
The two Marys are getting quite merry with the oysters! We all had a taste, but some people enjoyed them more than others did. Neither Andy or I were too keen on them, the oysters that is!



By New Year's Day it was all too much for Andy and Shannon!


Frederick, who lives next door to us on his cruiser, Willusty, is one of Shannon's best friends.