These are the adventures of Andy and Sally Rawnsley on their narrowboat "The Puzzler". We have been living on the boat for over nine 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 and 2017, returning to Roanne each winter.
Saturday, 30 July 2016
At Cambrai our canal becomes the St Quentin. The locks are much shorter than on the Canal du Nord, with one barge filling the chamber.
This tunnel is 5670 metres long, which is 3.53 miles, and is the longest canal tunnel in France. It was cut in the time of Napoleon. We expected to have to pay for using this tunnel, but it now seems to be free, which is good.
In some parts of the tunnel there are bricks on the walls, but some of it is completely cut out of solid rock.
A little further along the canal is Lesdine tunnel, but it is a mere 1098 metres long, with no tug. We are still on the summit level, where the canal is at the bottom of a leafy canyon.
There is a large marina at St Quentin but we chose to carry on out into the country.
Moving on to Chauny, these monkeys were swinging above the flowers. We were pleased to find fuel here, beside the canal, having failed at both Cambrai and St Quentin.
Inside the church, the best part was the wall painting above the altar.
We are now at Guny, another pleasant mooring, with a wash day in progress. At last the blog is up to date!
Sunday, 24 July 2016
18th - 22nd July. Going North on the Canal du Nord, then the Canal à Grand Gabarit, before turning to the south on the Escaut à Petit Gabarit, joining The Saint Quentin at Cambrai.
From Peronne we continued northwards on the Canal du Nord, with its enormous locks, and guillotine bottom gates.
There is a lot of commercial traffic on this canal, with many of them being double length barges, like this one coming out of the lock.
We met no boats in the tunnel, but this barge was rather upset as they had had to wait for us, a mere pleasure boat!
Both sides of the canal are angled, but these “safety hooks” come regularly, to save anyone who might fall in.
It must have been many years since this bridge saw a paintbrush!
Hope is at hand though! This next one is half finished, and looks great.
The Canal du Nord ends at Arleux, to become the Canal à Grand Gabarit. We saw 43 barges tied up around this junction.
Turning off, we took a pretty unnamed short cut which will lead to the Escaut à Petit Gabarit.
Suddenly the narrow waterway opened out into this huge lake, with so much mooring. We saw two sailing dinghies at the far end, but no other boats were moving.
Reaching the Escaut à Petit Gabarit, we found it to be a lovely canal. Don't worry, it is not all straight!
It is not often that a photo can be taken, looking directly at the sun!
We stopped on the main canal at Cambrai, but the marina is just across the grass from our mooring.
Friday, 22 July 2016
11th - 17th July. Upstream to Abbeville, where Martin and Jenny joined us, then up the canal de la Somme to the Chateau de Long, Samara, Amiens, Corbie, Chipilly, Cappy and back to Peronne. A busy week!
The station at Abbeville is an impressive building. Martin and Jenny joined us here.
This deer and fawn was my favourite statue in the extensive gardens.
Inside one greenhouse there was a tropical collection of exotic plants, but it was rather too warm for comfort!
Shannon decided that if she were not allowed to go on outings with us, then she would impress us by being a living statue!
Carrying on into Amiens this view, as we approach on the river, gives the best view of the cathedral.
The Notre Dame Cathedral of Amiens is enormous, being twice the size of Notre-Dame de Paris, and is the largest Gothic edifice ever built. It is interesting that the two main towers are different to each other. We really enjoyed our visit here.
The detail on the front facade is amazing, having been carved originally in 1475.
For part of the show, a cloud effect covered the top part of the facade, making us all feel giddy!
Never mind posing for a photo, Shannon is watching the show!
As a real contrast, this skyscraper was built after 1945 and is said to be the first one built in France.
Andy and I saw this concert in front of the Town Hall, while Martin and Jenny enjoyed visiting the Jules Verne house. This is a lovely city.
Next morning we went up Amiens lock, with Martin crewing for the deepest lock on the Somme. Well, he is a sailor after all!
Our last visit in Amiens was across the river to see the medieval waterside district of St Leu.
Moving on to Corbie, Jenny had a burst of energy and leapt up the climbing frame in the park!
In Corbie, once again there is a splendid town hall, with the flags by the war memorial. We enjoyed a good meal at the restaurant, La Table d'Agathe.
The weather continues to improve and Jenny too proves her nautical skills, showing great concentration.
At Cappy we played boules again, with Martin throwing the winning boule.
Back to Peronne, where the mooring was busier than when we were here last.