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, 23 December 2014

8th - 19th December. In Schagen. Hail and Christmas lights, a new bin, swimming in the lake, and a Christmas Concert.

The centre of Schagen is only half a mile from the harbour, and we are enjoying our time here. We still play bridge twice a week, cycling to get there. We have been lucky not to have a really wet bridge evening yet!
On 11th December we thought it had been snowing, but it was hail along the side of The Puzzler. At this point our Christmas lights were supported at the front on our boathook, which was tied to the front of the cratch. Strong winds blew it over however, and it landed on the satellite dish, destroying it! As the pole was wooden, it floated happily to the stern of the boat, together with all the Christmas lights. They went up on the roof again, and are twinkling away merrily, just not so high up.

We used to have a large metal wheelie bin for rubbish at the harbour. However, a new one has recently been installed. This entailed lifting the bricks, then excavating a large hole in the underlying sand. Once the supporting box was in place, then this removable bin was lowered into the ground.
After tidying up, with the sand back down around the new structure, and the bricks back in place, it looks as though it has always been there. All this was done in one day!

This lake, behind the swimming pool, is not too far from the harbour, on the west side of town.
It takes about half an hour to get to the beach beside the lake, so Shannon is always ready for a lie down in the water when we get there, even if it means breaking the ice!
There have been some lovely sunsets recently. This is looking across the car park from the boat. We buy our diesel from the garage on the other side of the road, and the lighted building at the far end of the road opposite, is the vets' surgery for Shannon, should she need a visit. It is all very convenient.
We have replaced our old satellite dish with a new larger one, which is working very well. When we were near to the German border, our old dish could not get a good signal, but this one should be all right any where in Europe. With the strong winds we have had, tied onto the jetty is the best place for it!

The fine church of St Gregorius overlooks the centre of Schagen and we went to a Christmas Concert here this week. There was a brass band with two different choirs in the concert, and the music was wonderful, with the acoustics of the church helping a superb performance.

Monday, 15 December 2014

25th Nov - 7th Dec. With Debbie in Amsterdam, then cold weather in Schagen.

Debbie came to stay with us for a week and we started in the red light district of Amsterdam. There were a few ladies sitting in their windows, but it was quiet here this morning.

The Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis) dominates Dam Square, and is an impressive building. The old centre of Amsterdam is quite compact, and we enjoyed exploring it.

We decided to continue walking round the city, rather than taking the horse and carriage.

This white house is called the Kleine Trippenhuis, and is one of the narrowest houses in Amsterdam. Legend has it that it was built for Mr. Trip's coachman, who was so taken aback by the size of the new family mansion, that he exclaimed he would be happy with one no wider than the Trips' front door - which is exactly what he got!
We had coffee at the Waag, a multi-turreted building which dates from the 1480s, when it was one of the city's fortified gates. After that it became a weighing house (waag), and is now a coffee house and restaurant. The coffee was extremely strong!

Amsterdam Central Station was built in the 1880s and is an impressive building. It took us about an hour on the train to return to Schagen
Sinterklaas came back to visit the Makado shopping centre in Schagen. His Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) band played and there were dancers too to entertain us. This week it has sadly been too cold to do much during Debbie's visit.