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.


Saturday, 28 May 2016

22nd May - 28th May. Moving quickly on down the Yonne to Pont-sur-Yonne, then Montereau where we join the Seine, and continue downstream.

We did not move again until Tuesday, as it was just too wet! The river is now running fast, and beside each lock, the water thunders through the barrage. You would not want to fall in above that!
This cat came to the lock for a drink when it was full, but the eclusier walked past, and frightened her. However, as soon as the lock emptied, she came right down the steps into the lock for her drink.
We stopped in Sens for lunch, planning to get diesel there, but the pump was not available. Our water hose was not long enough to reach the tap, so we had to top up the tank by the bucketful! We moved on to Port-sur-Yonne, where the church is under extensive repair. There was just room for us on the jetty.

Five minutes later, Tim arrived with Randal, which is a hotel boat from the Nivernais, so he moored outside The Puzzler. We spent a pleasant evening together on Randal.


The barges seem to get bigger and bigger! We are waiting for him to exit the lock before we can go down.
There are no sliding floating bollards in the last three locks on the Yonne, so we are floating in the middle of the lock, so as to avoid the sloping sides. Usually it is obligatory to tie up in locks, but this is easier and safer, for going down a lock.

This is a lovely rural mooring, just on the edge of the village of Cannes-Ecluse. We found some elderflowers for our annual elderflower cordial.
Moving on to Montereau, we found Diana and Chris, and had a very pleasant lunch together on Esme. Joining the Seine, we pushed on to St. Mammès, and were relieved to find fuel at the bunker station there. Having heard that all the French refineries are blockaded, it had been of some concern that the fuel might have run out before we arrived.


Some of the houses alongside the River Seine could have come straight out of a fairytale.

On this part of the Seine, there are many residential barges along the banks. Apparently many of these are the homes of retired barge owners.


This prison dominates the landscape on the approach to Melun.

We had to wait before lock 4 for barge Navis and double barge Enola Gay to enter the lock. There was plenty of room for The Puzzler too, as these locks are huge.
Three kilometres after this lock we turned off the river into a small lake, which has moorings for boats of maximum length 10 metres, with a depth of 0.8 metres. It was perfect, with an end of jetty which was just the right length for The Puzzler. There was good walking around the lake, and Shannon enjoyed her first swim for a long time. She was also delighted to get away from the barges, with the wash they create.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

19th -21st May. Our visitors leave us in Migennes. We continue on the River Yonne to Joigny.

Elaine and Mary had to catch an earlier train on Thursday, due to strike action on the railways. The river lock in Migennes was also closed for most of the day, but we are not sure why that was. The water by our mooring got higher and higher, while the lock was out of use, making it very easy for Shannon to get a drink!
On Friday we were in the lock behind a cruiser, and beside a Dutch barge style narrowboat, Grand Dutchy. The lockkeeper was amazed when the three of us all fitted in together.
At Joigny we moored above the bridge, on the right bank of the Yonne. The water was flowing quite fast but, by going in upstream, it felt quite safe here. On Saturday, the large covered market beside The Puzzler was full of fruit, veg. and meat stalls, with clothing and everything else on outside stalls.
What a display of foxgloves!
There are several open squares in Joigny, which climbs up the hill from the river Yonne.
The narrow side streets have real character.
The house of the tree of Jesse represents the ancestral tree of Jesus.
This is the remaining town gate, right at the top of the town of Joigny.
These two were very interested in all that went on in the street below them.
The river Yonne is a long way down, seen between the houses.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

16th - 18th May. Plenty of cycling, cruising on to Saint-Florentin, a meal out in Brienon, then delays at Cheny lock in Migennes. Elaine and Mary leave us.

Having moored outside Tonnerre on a wild mooring, Elaine and I cycled to Leclerc, which was quite near to us. Andy and Mary set off for the lock, so by the time we had reached the store and found it closed for the day, they had gone! We still do not know why it was closed. We caught up with them at the next lock, as we waited an hour for our lockkeeper. Andy took over my bike, and Shannon went too! Shannon managed one lock, Andy did two, while Elaine cycled all the way to Flogny-la-Chapelle.
Meanwhile, Mary took the tiller. We were very disappointed in the state of the mooring at Flogny, our lunch stop. The mooring was unfinished, with uncollected rubbish overflowing at every bin. We moved on to lock 100 for 2.30pm, our arranged locking time. After an hour and a half we gave up, and decided to move across the canal, and moored on the offside just above the lock, to stay there for the night.
Two minutes later, there was a flurry of activity at the lock, as the first locking of three boats arrived, to be followed by another eight boats in quick succession! The river Yonne is closed to navigation today, due to too much water, so all the LeBoat hire craft are being sent this way. We have certainly had a lot of rain this week, which has been disappointing for our visitors. Hopefully the Yonne will be passable by the time that we go out on Friday.
Moving on on Tuesday to Saint-Florentin, we were looking forward to seeing inside this fine church, and topping up on essential shopping. Disappointment all round here as firstly the church was locked, even though we could hear an organ playing inside. Next we were told that Saint-Florentin is closed every Tuesday!
The narrow streets of the town were very interesting though, with some coloured timbered houses.
Our only view of the church was found by looking up the steps.
The lock cottage at Duchy Lock was another gem, on the Canal de Bourgogne.
Briennon lay ahead, and at last we found a typical French restaurant, for our long awaited French lunch. We would certainly recommend the Auberge de la Poterne, if you want to eat out in Briennon.
We had to wait at both of the last two locks, with a rather superior cruiser. He moored at Briennon, and was making his way down to the river Yonne. His boat was quite high in the water, so he was a lot taller than us. However, this made it difficult for his visitor to get safely off his side ladder in the last lock. He came down the two ladder rungs, then missed the side of the lock and fell in, hitting his head on the stone edge. Fortunately, there were some fishermen at the lock, so by the time Elaine and I arrived with Shannon, he was out of the water, but staggering, and blood was pouring from a two inch gash on his forehead. Mr Eclusier fetched a chair, so that he could sit down, rather than falling in again, and his wife managed to stop the bleeding by the time the ambulance arrived. We provided dressings too, to help staunch the flow. She kept on taking the dressing off to see how it was doing, which was not a good idea!

Saturday, 21 May 2016

14th - 15th May, 2016. A visit to Tonnerre.

Tonnerre was our next stop and is the town with most to offer on this canal. Two English boaters had told us that there was nothing at Tonnerre, so don't always believe what you are told! This is The Fosse Dion, an 18th century lavoir, with 200 litres of water per second flowing through this pool, which is reputed to be bottomless. It was the meeting place for the laundresses, famous for their gossip, causing endless hostilities between those of the upper town and those of the lower town

Way up above the pool, many steps up! is the church of St Peter. It dates back to the 13th century and is a fine building.

From the church it is possible to look out over the many and varied roofs of the town.

This stained glass window was made in 1541, and is noticeably different in its colouring to more modern ones. It is lovely.

From the church, this garden descends to the town. The path slaloms down the steep hill, between the trees, and is known as Parc Grippeau.
Our next visit was to the Notre-Dame Hospital, which is in the centre of Tonnerre. This hospital was founded in 1293 by Marguerite of Burgundy.


This main hall used to contain about 40 patients, with four altars too, for Catholic services.
At the end of the main hall were steps down to a small room, The Holy Sepulchre, where we could see one of the oldest representations of The Entombment of Christ. It was stunning! It was sculpted by two brothers in the 15th century, and is in very fine condition.

There was a museum to tell us more about the hospital too, within the building. This model shows how the main roof of the hospital was supported.

The rest of the museum showed how surgical procedures were carried out, among other exhibits. This wooden statue of Marguerite of Burgundy was carved in the 13th century.

Friday, 20 May 2016

7th - 13th May. On to Pouilly, then down the other side of the Canal de Bourgogne, with our visitors joining us at Montbard.

Having come up 76 locks from Saint-Jean-de-Losne, on the river Saone, we are starting our descent of 113 locks to Migennes, on the river Yonne. We think that this is the first lock which we have shared with another boat on this canal. It is very quiet.

Between the locks, as we descend, the Canal de Bourgogne is usually quite wide, with the landscape stretching away to the hills beyond.

We are in lock 49, which is near the end of a flight of 37 locks in just over 12 kilometres.


Narrows ahead! You would not want to meet another boat here.


As we passed Courcelles-les-Montbard the weather was threatening, but it did not rain.


This stork gave us an impressive aerial display, circling above The Puzzler.
We have now come down 62 locks from the summit in just three days sailing. We are playing catch-up after our delay last week, due to high water on the Saone. This is another delightful lock cottage. Each one is different.


At Nogent-le-Grand Shannon approved of the lavoir, finding the water really tasty.


This TGV has whisked our visitors, Elaine and Mary, directly from Paris in just 63 minutes!


Looking ahead, after lock 74, the cliffs and the Bois de Garle are ahead of us.
We found the village of Ancy-le-Libre and this old church almost by accident. It is not marked on our canal guide as a place of interest, but is a lovely village and is well worth visiting.


This has to be the oldest church which we have visited, with solid wooden pews.

There is so much detail in the carving of the Last Supper, above the altar.


I loved the way that this old barn wall had been "renovated" with thin stone, above the old original ones.


However, some of the houses are much more recent.

Moving on to Tanlay, this splendid natural tree stump has been transformed into an Easter Island sculpture.


The chateau at Tanlay is surrounded by this moat. We decided to look round the interior another time.


After a walk round the grounds of the chateau, we came to this bookshop cum café for a cup of tea.