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, 31 July 2017

23rd - 31st July 2017. From Nancy via the Moselle to Toul, then on to Pargny-sur-Meuse.

Sailing on out of Nancy, the skyscraper tower would have struggled to get planning permission in England!

Further out of town, the French really make use of the hillside, giving these houses a splendid view.


The Moselle brings commercial barges alongside The Puzzler.



This is a huge river.
The Château de la Flie lies on the outside of the meander around the town of Liverdun. We visited Liverdun last autumn, when we passed this way.

This castle is bigger than it looks at first!
Mooring above Aingeray lock, on the Moselle, we are very close to the railway line, which added to the interest of the area. Here though, the line is protected by a high wire fence, and a notice telling us the penalty for trespassing is either six months in jail, or a fine of 3,500 euros. We decided it was not worth it!

We shared Aingeray Lock with this commercial barge, Taro. His car, too, has the number plate Taro. On leaving the lock he was very considerate, only using his front thrusters to move the barge, until he was well away from us. A barge propellor in use, close to The Puzzler, would give us a very rough ride!


This fortified gateway was built at the same time as the canal, thus adding to the town fortifications.


St Etienne cathedral was built between the 13th and 16th centuries, and is dominated by its octagonal towers, which are 66 metres high.


This piggie waterspout was to be found in the cathedral cloisters.


The other large church in Toul is Saint-Genoult, which also has an interesting tower.


The gardens of this church lie within its cloisters, and are very tranquil.


As we leave Toul, having moored below the marina this time, our flowers are still in good heart.
Having gone up the flight of 12 locks from Toul, we moored on the island just before the tunnel. Our half of it was soft moss underfoot, with rough grass on the rest of the island. We thought that Shannon would enjoy the freedom there, but she stayed on the boat all the time, unless we insisted that she come out. There seemed to be no reason for this.



The mooring at Pargny-sur-Meuse is very pleasant. This is normally a busy place, but not today.


The only view of the church in Pargny-sur-Meuse is from the other side of the village, from the canal, as it closely surrounded by houses.


Inside, it is much simpler than the large churches in Toul, but is very peaceful.


On the walls are many carved reliefs of the story of the crucifixion of Jesus.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

18th - 22nd July. An early start to reach Rechicourt lock by 7.30 am. On to Parroy, Crevic and Saint-Nicolas-de-Port, before reaching Nancy.



Tuesday was our earliest start ever, as we set off at 5.30 am to complete the canal du Sarre.

Back on to the Marne au Rhin (est), this is a really pretty stretch of canal, just past the junction.



It is now sunflower time, as their heads follow the sun.


On to Rechicourt Lock 2 by 7.30. This lock was open at 7 am, but they like boats to share, so we had to wait an hour until 8.30 am, before we could descend the 15.385 metres drop.
We moored at Parroy at 1.45 pm, having completed 33 kilometres and 10 locks today – it is still Tuesday, and has been our longest sailing day for a long time. After a quiet afternoon, with some table tennis thrown in, we walked up to the nearby étang de Parroy to watch the sunset.


The next night we were at Crevic, and were surprised to be on our own here, as it has always been busy here previously.



Hey, you forgot to open the side for me!
This is our third time along this canal, and this is the view that persuaded us that we must visit Saint-Nicolas-de-Port, to see the basilica there.



Close to, it is even more impressive.



Inside, it is the sheer height which makes it stand out for us.
We moored with Peter and Barbara on Siyabonga, just before Nancy, then managed to squeeze both boats into the lock at 9am on Friday. Only going down is such a squeeze safe! We both then headed on the half mile to the supermarket, for a much needed top-up of everything.

Two trolleyfulls of food, and lots of diesel later, we continued on into Nancy, mooring opposite the main port. On this side it is free to moor!


We have been lucky with sunsets, haven't we?


This is the mairie, in daylight. It overlooks  the famous Stanislas Square in the centre of Nancy.


At night, though, it is brought to life by the Son et Lumière.


Shannon did not like this part though, with everything falling over!
It was time for a bit of culture, so we went to visit the Musée des Beaux-Arts. We were impressed by this picture, La Toussaint (All Saints Day), painted in 1888 by Emile Friant. He is a new artist to us, and makes his subjects look so real.

In the Museum-Aquarium de Nancy, this strange fish was the most interesting exhibit, though there were plenty more in second place!


The thunderstorm, which had been forecast, arrived a couple of minutes after I took this photo.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

11th - 17th July. From Sarreguemines into Germany, on foot, then we sailed to the current end of navigation, before returning up the canal de la Sarre.



Sarreguemines lies on the German border, so we walked over the bridge to buy a German plant for one of our flower pots.



Re-entering France!
The first lock in Germany is currently closed, as they are still fitting new lock gates. It has been closed all year, but was scheduled to open on 7th July, which has since been put back to 15th, and then the 17th of July. We were going to go and have a look at it, but lock 30, the previous lock, was the current end of navigation, so we turned round here.

We have decided not to wait any longer, in case the opening date is even later in the month, and are returning up the canal de la Sarre, stopping above lock 29, which is not far below Sarreguemines.

Shannon has scratched a sore place under her chin, so has to wear her lampshade to keep it protected. She is not impressed!

There are some unusual boats about. Majesty of the Seas is 33.5 metres long, although she looks like a full size liner.

The church at Ketting is a very unusual shape, with a low 12th century nave and a higher chancel, which dates from the 15th century.


Unusually, for a village church, the door was open, so we were pleased to be able to see the stained glass from the 15th century. It is on the left of this picture. This is reputed to be one of the most beautiful examples in Lorraine.



The Roman round tower was a watchtower in the 9th century.



Ketting is a pretty village, with many different coloured shutters.
Moving on to Wittring, we moored beside the Victoria restaurant, which is very popular. When turning into this mooring, we upset a fisherman, which is not a difficult thing to do! He had four fishing rods, which extended half way over the canal, so had to pull them in as we approached the jetty. He felt, very emphatically, that we should have taken a detour around ''his'' part of the canal, before coming in to moor. Life can be tough!


This ''blockhaus'', a part of the Aquatic Maginot line, was built between 1932 and 1935, but was used for defence during the Second World War.

The weather on Friday is threatening us with a mass of clouds, but the rain keeps off. We had a pleasant evening yesterday with Terry and Hilary at Saaralbe.

Saturday finds us moored below lock 16, with hotelboat Johanna. John is the captain of this ship, and does self-catering trips on his boat in this area.

Our last night on the Canal de la Sarre was spent just above lock 1, and so we saw Boathome coming up, filling the lock!
We have seen Boathome several times on this canal. It is a prototype for a houseboat, which can be moved, using electric power created by the many solar panels on its roof. They are currently heading for Strasbourg.