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, 2017 and 2018, returning to Roanne each winter.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

27th - 28th April. Across the Markermeer to Marken, then on to Volendam, and back inland at Edam.

We spent two nights at this idyllic spot. miles from anywhere, or so it seemed. The first day was extremely wet, but two walkers passed us and recommended that we go to visit the island of Marken.
The following morning we took them up on this, and retraced our steps to Monnickerdam, and on out through the lock and harbour.
This route took us out into the Markermeer, which used to be part of the ZuiderZee. We passed a dredger working to the right of the navigation channel. The island of Marken can just be seen in the distance to the left of the dredger, although it is not now really an island as it has a causeway to the mainland. The three miles across open water to get there seemed a long way!

Marken Harbour is very attractive, with the houses surrounding it. Most craft here were yachts, with a few smaller cruisers too. The village is quite large, away from the tourist shops around the harbour.

We walked the two miles to the far end of Marken to see Marken Vuurhuis, or lighthouse. This was as close as we were allowed to go though.

Shannon did the tourist bit, with the large clogs!
Coming out of Marken Harbour, we turned right to follow the passenger ferry across more open water to Volendam, which is another tourist destination. The two boats on the skyline are actually enormous cruise ships, heading for Volendam.

In the harbour, The Puzzler can just be seen on the right, under the bird, while the cruise ships are beyond the ferry, just outside the harbour wall.
In Volendam Museum one whole room contained mosaic pictures, which had been made from 11 million cigar papers. Other rooms showed Dutch life in various scenes, with an interesting video presentation about the importance of the fishing industry to Volendam. As we are learning Dutch, we could understand a little of it.

We stayed at Volendam until 7pm, as the wind was too strong before then for The Puzzler to be out at sea.. Sally was at the helm again, for the last leg of our sailing across the open waters of the Markermeer. Well, along the edge of it anyway! This part was round the headland to Edam, but we had no markers to help us this time, for most of the way.

It was a relief to see the entrance to Edam harbour ahead of us. There are always a few red and green markers to guide ships in, from the Meer.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

25th - 26th April. On past Hillegom and Halfweg to go through Amsterdam on King' Day, crossing the North Sea Canal.

This large hotel boat pulled in, briefly, in front of us to eject about 20 cyclists, who set off for Keukenhof, as fast as they could go.

Here is a car showroom with a difference!
Moving on past Hillegom, we continued on the Ringvaart van de Haarlemmermeerpolder. This canal surrounds a large polder, lying to the southeast of Haarlem, southwest of Amsterdam. In 1845 this reclaimed land was a large lake but now Schipol International Airport occupies the middle of it.
On the waterway approaching Amsterdam, we were following this large barge, Adato, and wondering if we would fit into the lock with him.

Once in the lock he does not look quite so big!

The lock was big enough for this fleet of smaller boats behind us too.
Saturday, is Koningsdag ( King's Day ) so everyone dresses in orange, and are having parties on their boats in Amsterdam. Our route is through the bridge beyond these boats!

There were certainly over 40 people on this boat, all having a great time.
We are just passing through Amsterdam today, so we go on to the North Sea Canal, with the big ships! Another party boat is on its way across to Amsterdam, passing this 1000 ton barge, Miriam, which is overtaking us.
Miriam came quite close to us as Andy concentrates hard on keeping a good line. A full container ship was also coming up behind us, but we had time to cross over, and get out of its way safely. There are quite a few small boats out here. Compare this to the Pool of London, where everyone needs a VHF radio, to be allowed out. As we locked off The North Sea canal, we even saw two canoeists about to brave the big boats too!

Even the windmills are decorated with flags and orange bunting today.

These houses have the traditional Dutch shape.

The Monnickendam - Edam canal, to the north of Amsterdam, is a lovely contrast to the North Sea Canal.

Friday, 25 April 2014

24th April. On to Lisse. Cycled to Keukenhof.

We moved on to Lisse, then cycled to Keukenhof, which is described as The Most Beautiful Spring Garden in the World. Having seen it, we would agree. We will let the flowers speak for themselves!
Shannon is doing her meerkat impression!

22nd - 23rd April . At Hoogmade, then on through Leiderdorp to Leiden.

Having left Alphen a/d Rijn, we took a cross country route, passing some lovely canalside properties.

The village of Hoogmade, is a quiet place, where we moored on a 48 hour mooring, alongside the road, just in front of the church. An old gentleman here remembered being near to a barge, which was accidentally shot at by British spitfires, on the Kagenplasser in 1942, and told us all about it. No-one was hurt, fortunately! We are finding the Dutch people very friendly.

Shannon has found a new place to recline, on top of the cratch cover. Is this safe, or will she fall in?

Near the end of the Does Canal was a railway bridge, with 2 metres air draft available. It was close, but it is good to know what is possible!

In Leiderdorp, nearly every house seems to have a boat.
We enter Leiden, under a boat drawbridge, near to the Zijlpoort, which is the original east gate to the city. It is a handsome brick structure, with very intricate white masonry and sculptures surrounding the gate openings.
We did our own walking tour of the city, where there is some splendid architecture to see. It was market day, so we took full advantage of this, filling up our new shopping trolley!

This canal in Leiden is designated for Woonschapen, or liveaboards. What a contrast to Ireland!