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, 25 November 2014

14th - 24th November. At Schagen in North Holland. Night roadworks and autumn colours, while Sinterklaas arrives with Zwarte Piet.

The orange dot on this map of Holland shows where Schagen can be found. Schagen lies almost level with King's Lynn in Norfolk.
We have joined two bridge clubs in the town, deciding that two out of six was plenty! Everyone is very friendly at both clubs, and we have been made most welcome. Our folding bikes have come in very useful to get to bridge. One evening I counted over 20 bikes outside the bridge club, as cycling is the way everyone travels.
Since 10th November the road which lies parallel to our mooring has been in the process of being resurfaced. This work has been going on between 8pm and 5am, and it has been extremely noisy for the last two weeks. We saw this work going on at 11.30pm one night, on our way back from bridge, and are delighted that it is nearly finished!
There are several good walks in and around Schagen, with lovely autumn colours. The boats beyond this bank are lying in a second marina on the edge of town.
On 22nd November Sinterklaas was due to arrive in our harbour in Schagen. Zwarte Piet (Black Peter) is Santa's helper. He is all black from the sooty chimneys. There is a football in the air above him, and his skill with it was really appreciated by the crowd.

At last Sinterklaas has arrived by boat. He has travelled all the way from Spain, according to Dutch custom!

Sinterklaas has brought his band with him on the boat, and many more Zwarte Piets can be seen. All the children dress up too.
The band are performing, while sweets are given out to the children. From now until Christmas all good Dutch children will put out their shoes, made of paper, and will find sweets in them each day.

Sinterklaas leaves the harbour on his white horse, to ride to the centre of Schagen for more celebrations.
Now that Sinterklaas and his boat have gone, we have moved The Puzzler into his space on the other side of the harbour, near to the service block, which should be a good place to spend the winter.

Shannon has discovered that the top of the cratch cover is quite comfortable.

Friday, 14 November 2014

1st - 14th November. In Recreativiehaven Schagen, North Holland. Wood delivery and local news.

We are currently moored on the east wall of the harbour at Recreativiehaven Schagen, opposite the boat Veritas. The sky here is threatening, but on the whole the weather has been good since we arrived here in Schagen.
As coal is not readily available in Holland, we ordered a cubic metre of hardwood. We had wondered how you measure a cubic metre of wood, so now we know! The sawhorse was only needed to cut the pallet wood, as the rest was ready for the fire.
This wood is all oak, and has come from France. The cratch has never been stacked as full as this, with the rest of the wood on top of The Puzzler.
Less than a week after we arrived in Schagen, local reporter, Martijn Gijsbertsen, came to interview us for the maritime page in the local paper, Noordhollands Dagblad. We really liked the article and felt he had done a good piece of work.
The main headline says, "Overwintering in a narrow floating house". Above that the subheading tells us, "Wooden  jigsaw puzzle business sold in order to be able to cruise round Europe with a colourful motor ship". With the remark to the right about our being British bridge players, moored in Schagen harbour, that just about says it all!