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.


Monday, 28 March 2016

March 2016. Dogs in the Port of Roanne in France.

Several dogs live on boats in the Port of Roanne, so I felt that it was time that they had their moment in the limelight!  Shannon, our Shih Tzu, and I are first on the list, living on narrowboat The Puzzler with Andy.


Moving clockwise round the port, next comes Jack, a miniature schnauzer, who lives with Pete on Rook.
Muttley and Baxter are two Tibetan Terriers who live with Jill and Graham on the tjalk François, together with Daisy the cat. They have moved on from narrowboat Matilda Rose, which is now for sale.
Find out about her on Apollo Duck.


Daisy lives with Millie and Robin on Taboe. Daisy's shadow shows that she is ready for anything!


Mick's dogs are Meg and Billy, who love to go rabbiting, while Frank is his assistant dog-walker. Mick's boat is Kirsten.


Jane and Dave's dogs, Benjie and Leisha, are the two largest dogs in port, but are probably the calmest! They live on Narwhal.



Contessa and Orphée live with Margaret and Alain on Duck Story. They are long-haired Chihuahuas and are very cute. Ces chiens sont très adorable!


Heidi is visiting Cassandra for three months, but is enjoying herself so much that she is considering staying! Heidi is a Llasa Apso.
The last dog in this canine gallery is Mister, who is a Lowchen. He lives with Gwen and Paul, who have come from New Zealand to explore the waterways of France. They recently set off on their summer cruise.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Early March 2016. Bridge at Villemontais. Repainting of The Puzzler.



We were invited by Dominique and Marcel to a bridge party at Villemontais, up in the hills to the south of Roanne.


The splendid view from their garden looks back down to Roanne, seen here in the distance.



Andy was playing with Raymond, against Michelle and Marcel for this round.


Meanwhile Sally was with Renée, against Simone and Dominique on the other table.
On the 5th of March the weather over the port was very threatening, even though it was only mid afternoon when I took this photo. However no rain arrived this time, and on the whole, we have had an extremely mild winter.
Having walked along by the River Loire, this steep climb up to the top is a great favourite of Shannon. She likes to hang back so that she can come up at full speed!



Once back at the port, she enjoys resting on the roof of The Puzzler, watching the world go by.
Two years ago, before we left Enniskillen in Northern Ireland, we repainted the port side of The Puzzler, then last spring, while in Schagen in The Netherlands, we redid the starboard side. This month we are working on the bows and the stern so that the whole boat looks smart. Andy is in charge of sanding and preparation, while I do most of the painting. It is pleasing how well it has kept up since the original painting was done in 2004, prior to the launch in 2005.

The front is masked ready for the green diamonds. Each different colour in this section has to be masked separately, then given two coats of paint on consecutive days. Two days later, that paint is hard enough for the next colour to be masked, and so on! So long as it does not rain, the section can be finished in two and a half weeks. The front fender is quite upset about being hung so close to the water for so long!



Now this is how to relax!



We do have some wonderful sunsets over the port here in Roanne.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

15th – 29th February,2016. Port outing to Auberge du Précontent in the Montagne Bourbonnaise. The stepping stones are in use again, near to the River Loire.

Our life continues quietly here in the Port of Roanne. We like to walk along by the River Loire, and play bridge three times each week, with the social catch-up on news of the port every Thursday at the L'Authentique café.
Last Thursday though, we had a port outing up into the mountains, to have lunch at Auberge du Précontent, which is high up in the Montagne Bourbonnaise. We met at the port, then went in a convoy of six cars. Dickie and Anton kindly gave us a lift, and they knew the way, so we were in front. At one point we thought that we had lost a car, but then decided that the yellow car had not been one of ours! Unfortunately it was not very good weather for our outing, and we went through snow and clouds, up the narrow forest road in the mountains, to reach the auberge.



There were 22 of us and we were treated very well at our lunch.



All the usual suspects were there!


After the meal, Dave entertained us from the piano, by both playing and singing.


L'Auberge du Précontent is an impressive stone building, surrounded by the forest
We took a different route back to Roanne, visiting the cave of J.B.Clair, where fine champagne is made, (although we are not allowed to call it champagne!) The low cloud created some atmospheric views on the way. What a wonderful place to live!


Next we went to visit the barrage, or dam, at Renaison.
We climbed to the top of the dam with Dickie and Anton, then across. and back down on the other side. This reservoir is the water supply for Roanne, and the low water level is unusual at this time of year. It certainly gives us cause for concern about the water level in the canals of France this summer, but hopefully we will not be caught out with stoppages this year. You can live on hope!

Francis and Elizabette live in an apartment on the other side of the port, so we were treated to this different view of The Puzzler from their balcony, in the early evening.


Walking along near to the river Loire, we were pleased to be able to cross the stepping stones again. .