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.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

30th - 31st August. On into Groningen, the most northerly of the Dutch provinces.

We found this sheltered mooring by Diepster Bos, which is near to Lauwersmeer National Park. There was excellent walking here for Shannon.

An enormous grasshopper, which presumably was a locust, came in to sit on Shannon's bed. She was unimpressed!

There are a few boats about, but most seem to be heading south, away from the wide waters of Slenk, which leads on to the sea access at Lauwersoog.

The sea wall can be seen in the far distance, but we are soon turning to the east, following the Slenk waterway upstream. The weather ahead is improving all the time.
Looking back, we can see the thunderstorm moving on. We had to pull in for an hour or so earlier on, while it passed over us. At one point it was directly overhead, which was quite an experience!

We moored further on, on Zoutkamperil, and were treated to a splendid rainbow.

Opposite our mooring were these Highland cattle, having a really good paddle in the river.
We sailed on to Zoutkamp village, and visited the Fishing Museum there. Before the sea wall was built across the Lauwerszee in 1969, Zoutkamp was an important fishing village, especially regarding prawn fishing.

From Zoutkamp we retraced our steps briefly to get to Hunsingo sluis, which now stands open, but used to contain the incoming tide in the old sea wall.

26th - 29th August. Rural circuit south to the Prinses Margriet Kanaal, then north to the edge of Friesland.

We are moored just outside Dokkum, on the Dokkumer Grutdiep canal. The Friesland motif is used on the mooring posts. It represents a water lily leaf.
We are sailing south to join The Prinses Margriet Kanaal on Burgumer Diep. As we approach this large commercial canal, a barge can be seen, crossing ahead of us.

Further on we met this barge, Blacklock, but the canal was quiet today, with very few barges about.

How about this for a verge trimmer! The grass is collected through a tube, leading to the trailer.

Turning off on to the Stroboser Trekvaart, we find a small waterway, with small craft on it. It is more like an English canal.

This field of horses by the canal were not all Friesians, but were still quality animals.

At every mooring it is interesting to see all sorts of different craft, unlike on the English canals, where it would be a line of narrowboats.
Steinfek Bridge was out of order for about an hour, as a car had run into the barrier there. Ten boats were waiting beyond the bridge, as we all eventually sailed through.
We joined Dokkumer Diep again to get to the Willem Loresluis. This is our first lock for two weeks, and our 61st in Holland since we arrived in April. As we came into the lock we were greeted by the lockkeeper, or sluiswacher, over his loudspeaker. "A big welcome to our lock for the famous English narrowboat which has been on Friesian television!" We were able to leave the lock, going underneath the lift bridge, while a small sailing boat had to wait for it to be lifted.

Soon after the lock, we saw this sign which we think says "Goodbye" in the Fries language. We are learning Dutch, but Fries is a local dialect/language.

Friday, 29 August 2014

26th August. Fame at last! On Friesian television!

Here is the link for you to see what was broadcast on Friesian television, as the result of two hours filming on The Puzzler last week. It came down to just over three minutes!  We hope that you enjoy it!
Click here to see us on tv

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

22nd - 25th August. Still in Friesland in The Netherlands. Visits to Leeuwarden and Dokkum.

We are back in Leeuwarden again for another visit. Having done the main shopping, we then came across the market, so out with the carriers! The town was much busier this time, as we are here midweek.

A tall ship came in behind us, as we moved through town, but we did not find out its name.

We were moving through to the prettiest part of the town moorings, near to the Oldehove Tower.

Construction of this leaning, curved and unfinished tower began in 1529. It began to sink during construction so, to compensate for the tilt, they continued to build perpendicular on top of the leaning bottom. Because of this, the tower is also curved, so they stopped building in 1533, and the
tower was never finished. However, inhabitants of Leeuwarden are still proud of their Oldehove.
It is possible to climb up inside the Oldehove tower. On the first part we used a glass elevator, then it was a spiral staircase all the way to the top. It gives a good view of Leeuwarden, which is the administrative capital of Friesland, with a population of about 120,000.

Our next visit was the Princesshof Ceramic Museum, which specialises in Chinese pottery. Most of this was made for export to The Netherlands by the Dutch East India Company.
Once out of town, we found a secluded Marrekrite mooring, and Andy sanded the pigeon loft, ready for varnishing. Can you spot which side he has finished?

Meanwhile Sally and Shannon worked hard to clean the roof!

Later on  Liquenda, a sailing ship, arrived behind us, making The Puzzler look small. It was lucky that Andy had finished with the orbital sander by then, as it is really noisy. Liquenda was built in 1909, and used to carry 150 tons of cargo in its working days. They are on their way to sail in the Wadden Sea.
On Monday we moved on into Dokkum, the most northerly of the 11 Friesian Cities. These cities have been made famous by the Elfstedentocht, the 11 city skating route. Dokkum used to be a fortified city, and two of the six original corner windmills are still remaining, together with the intervening bulwarks. These are defensive walls, built of earth.
The bulwarks remain around the town, and really add to its character. We visited the St. Boniface Museum, which told of his terrible end here in Dokkum, when he, and eighty of his followers, were murdered in 754 AD. They had a big commemoration of the 1200th anniversary of his death in 1954.

Dokkum is a typical Dutch town, with canals along practically every street.

We were on our way to the shops, but looked back to see this yellow box going up and down above The Puzzler. It is a lawn mower!

There are moorings all along the waterfront, as we make our way back round the other windmill to the main route through town.
Leaving Dokkum along the central canal, it takes us through a tunnel under the road. I am told that Shannon features in too many photos, but as she starts posing as soon as the camera appears, what can I do?

Friday, 22 August 2014

19th - 21st August. We are filmed for Omrop Fryslan television! Different houses in Leeuwarden

On Tuesday, the wind had dropped and we had to make an early start, as we are to be filmed by Omrop Fryslan today for a television programme.
Back on the Prinses Margriet kanaal, we passed this barge, which was unloading sand into a lorry. There would be enough sand here for at least 50 lorry loads. When the barge is full, the water will reach the waterline seen at the bows, halfway across the anchor.

Further on, we passed this fully laden barge, Graveland. The canal here is 4.2 metres deep to cater for these barges.
We met our film crew, Klarina and Dirk, from Omrop Fryslan television, in Warten, and we were filmed both inside and outside The Puzzler. Apparently they have been trying to locate us for the past fortnight, having heard of the Engelsboat in Friesland! We do not know yet when the programme is to be shown on TV.

We also sailed with them through the village of Warten, which is very attractive.

This weird light combination reminded us of Derryvore, in Ireland.

Most people only use one yacht at once, but this lad had four of them!

Revisiting one of the smaller canals in the Alde Feanen National park, this was a typical Dutch canal scene.

Passing to the north of Grou, these are a good example of Dutch houseboats.

There is a new waterway which bypasses Wergea, but we took the old route through the centre of the village.

Approaching Leeuwarden, we took a circular route round the city, and saw different houses there.

Further on, the housing became even more unusual!

This has to be the best houseboat of all, with its thatched roof.
Grote Wielen is a secluded lake to the north east of Leeuwarden, with several individual Marrekrite moorings. There are 3500 of these free moorings in Friesland, and we have really appreciated them. There is good walking here for Shannon, and we managed to pick 2 kg of ripe hazelnuts, as well as some delicious blackberries.

Monday, 18 August 2014

15th - 18th August. Two locks to work ourselves!! Contrasting waterways in Holland.

On Friday we skirted the north side of Sneek, then through this comparatively new lock, on to another recently opened waterway. This is the first lock that we have had to physically work ourselves, since arriving in Holland four months ago. The big wheel rolled the gate open, while the gate paddles needed 6oo turns in total!

This leads on to another delightful rural winding waterway.

A cycle track goes over the lock gates at the far end of the small waterway. Two locks to work in one day is too much for us!

The next part of our route today is a real contrast, with barge traffic along the Prinses Margriet Kanaal.

A barge is coming past us. They go much faster than we do, but he gave us plenty of room.

It turned out to be a tug pushing a dumb barge, which we have not seen before.
From the Prinses Margriet canal we turned off to the right just after Grou, into lakes again. This is the third time we have been at this mooring, to the north of Akkrum. When we were here in July, there was hardly room to squeeze another boat on to the mooring, but look at it now! Two more boats did arrive later, but the lake is really quiet, and feels quite autumnal.

Moving on on Saturday, we passed near to Drachten, which is an industrial town. On the outskirts of Drachten there is a large open area of water, which is 15 metres deep, due to the sand extraction carried out here. This vessel sucks the sand out through a tube, adding it to a large pile by the edge of the water, ready for transportation elsewhere in The Netherlands.

As we crossed Bergumer Meer, we were treated to an impressive cloud display, just before the weather broke.
We saw some barges as we crossed the Prinses Margriet kanaal, but were glad to find a sheltered harbour, off the lake, for mooring, just as the wind was getting up. It has blown on and off, with torrential intermittent rain showers, for two days now. We hope to move on tomorrow.