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.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

20th - 31st Jan. Sam, Cees and Cheetah come to see us in Schagen. Visits to Petten and Den Helder.

We met Sam, Cees and Cheetah in September, and they have come to visit us by camper van in Schagen. It was good to see them again. Last time we met was at Bourtagne, in the east of the Netherlands, in September.

Shannon is not so sure about Cheetah! She is a boxer / padenko cross and is a lovely dog.
We have come to see the work which is going on at Petten, on the coast. Nearly half of the Netherlands lies below the average level of the sea. With the climate changing and the sea level rising, there are several weak links in the chain of dykes which protect the Netherlands, and the sea wall at Petten is one such weak link. A new stretch of dunes and beaches 8 kilometres long and 250 metres wide is being created on the dyke's seaward side, a project requiring 38 million cubic metres of sand.
The sand is being sucked from the floor of the sea and thrown on to the new dunes by craft such as this. We can feel the power of it from where we stand on the current sea wall.

Further north it is possible to walk on the beach, but it is very cold today!
We continued by road to the north coast and the port of Den Helder. The dockyard there is very interesting. This dry dock is the oldest one in Holland, with an old sailing vessel in for repair.

Nearby is an old wooden minesweeper, which we think would have been used in World War 11.

Further on is the newer part of the harbour, with modern yachts resting for the winter.

Cheetah approves of Shannon's basket, although she does not quite fit!

The next day, when our visitors have gone, Shannon is pleased to have her bed back. It is just the right size for a shih-tzu!

Friday, 30 January 2015

1st - 19th January 2015. Motor Museum in Schagen. Sally visits England.

The Motor Museum in Schagen has been closed for the winter since we arrived here in November, but opened for one day, so we managed to visit it. It is mainly classic cars there.
The weather has been windy, but not too cold, for the first week of the year in The Netherlands.

Sally went to England for a visit, going by ferry on the Hook of Holland  /  Harwich route to Norfolk. Here are Elaine and Mary in Wayland Wood, with Louis, a cute Padenko hound.
From Norfolk it was on to the coach via London. Our bus took a scenic tour over the River Thames, so we could see the Gherkin, and other new buildings in the city.

The Shard is on the south bank of the river.

Next to see were the Houses of Parliament, but there was little traffic on the river here.

On past the Tower of London, back among the older buildings.
I am staying with Debbie and Matt in Cheltenham. We walked up Cleeve Hill, which gives superb views over the surrounding countryside.
On Sunday we went to Slimbridge to see the birds, which are not frightened of people. There are very many different British birds here, as well as seasonal visitors.

We could buy grain to feed the birds, and these geese were most appreciative!

These flamingos are in the African section of the sanctuary. The cold does not seem to bother them.
Monday 19th January was a very long day, leaving the house with Debbie at 8.30 am to walk to the station. Two trains later, I arrived at Birmingham airport in good time for my 1.15pm Flybe flight. Walking through, I could see a Flybe plane, and thought how small it was. However, due to fog at Amsterdam, my flight and also several others were cancelled.

In the end I was moved to a seat on a KLM flight, which was also delayed. This was a much bigger plane though, which was reassuring. It was early evening by now. We eventually boarded, then waited on the ground for ages until there was room for us to take off. Once over Schipol airport, we had to circle three times, because we were late, until there was room for us to land safely. We could not see the landing lights on the ground until we landed! We taxied for a long way to reach the airport buildings, then walked for ever to get to the main building. By the time I had found my case and then the station, it was quite late. At Amsterdam Sloterdijk I caught the last train of the day at 1.23 am, which took me to Heerhugoward, where ongoing passengers had to catch a bus to Schagen. Andy and Shannon met me at the station, and we eventually reached The Puzzler at 2 am.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

20th - 31st December 2014. Christmas in Schagen. Skating and curling on the portable ice rink. A New Year's party at the harbour.

We had a quiet Christmas on The Puzzler. Shannon really enjoyed wearing her tinsel collar, and then opening her presents.

"That did taste good!"

The portable ice rink arrived in the middle of Schagen in early December, and will be here for a whole month.

Inside the marquee they are ready for business, with plenty of skates for hire!
Sometimes the rink is really busy. The push-a-long seals cater for small children, and also for all beginners on the ice. In the evenings this is a real racetrack, with many good young skaters, all going very fast.
After Christmas, there were two evenings for curling competitions. Twenty six teams of four took part on the night when we were watching, in a one end knockout competition. The curling "stones" are made out of heavy wood, and very few competitors got their length right! With little time to practise, and playing only one end, it made it very difficult for them, but that did not matter and they all had a really good time.

After each end the stone or stones nearest to the centre of the house belonged to the winning team, who went on to the next round.
On Oudejaardag, or Old Year's Day, or even New Year's Eve if you are not from The Netherlands, we went to a party in the Harbour Office. All of the harbour masters are volunteers, here in Schagen, and we had a great time.

There are a few resident boaters in Recreativiehaven Schagen, and we were all delighted to be included in the harbour celebrations.