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.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

27th November - 10th December 2016. A quiet week, playing bridge, then an activity filled week with Debbie and Matt.

We spent the last week in November putting up our Christmas lights, and playing bridge several times.

Debbie and Matt came to stay in early December. Toad came too, of course, dressed in his new Christmas outfit.
 As Debbie and Matt had hired a car, we were able to go further afield, and we started with the abbey at Charlieu, a small medieval village, which lies to the north east of Roanne.

The old streets in Charlieu are fascinating.

On Tuesday we drove to Le Crozet, another medieval village to the north west of Roanne.

This house in Le Crozet specialises in many different windows!
We went for an 11 kilometre walk in the hills and forests near to Le Crozet, so could look back at the village, with its commanding view of its surroundings.
Wednesday was spent at Stitch and Bitch for Sally and Debbie, while Andy and Matt played many games of table tennis in the park by the port. Honours were even by the end of the week!
By Thursday we were off again to Saint-Haôn-le Châtel, which is a walled town, lying to the west of Roanne. From the town ramparts we could look across the valley, past the vineyards, to the nearby town of Saint-Haôn-le-Vieux.

There were more medieval streets to be found here, in Saint-Haôn-le Châtel.

We also visited the medieval garden.

We made our way on to this dam, which lies on the River Renaison. This reservoir lies due west of Roanne, and supplies all of town's water.

Looking back up at the dam, it looks even bigger!

Driving back to the Loire valley, we came to Saint-Maurice-sur-Loire, where the keep stands up above the town.

This keep is in good condition, despite the ruined walls alongside it.

The view from the top.

I lost count of the number of steps on the spiral staircase, which we climbed, all the way to the top. Shannon was not too keen, as she prefers to take steps two at a time. Do our legs look as wobbly as they feel, having climbed all the way down again?

Our last visit of the day took us further south to Château de la Roche.

This castle is built in a stunning position on an outcrop of rock in the middle of the river Loire.

The sunset over the port was at its best that evening.

It seemed to move further south around us as the evening progressed.

Our week finished with a visit to the Foire Froide, which took place along the road on the far side of the port.

We would like to thank you, our readers, for your continuing interest in our adventures and hope that you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

6th - 26th November. A quiet start to the winter in Roanne, and a week in England.

We went to England for a week on the 8th November, by train and air, taking one of the two flights a week from Lyons to Luton. With an evening flight there was not a lot to see on the way but here we are on the train, approaching Tarare, the biggest town before Lyons.

It was raining in Norfolk, but that did not deter this squirrrel, as he ran along the fence. He is just to the right of the gatepost. All is well here, after the flood in June.

On the River Yare there were a few cruisers on the move, near to the sugar beet factory.

Back in Roanne, most of the leaves are down. Shannon loves to walk here, alongside the canal. She had a lovely holiday with her friend, Escot, while we were in England.

In the port, it is time for the final leaf collection. At one point, there were five men with blowers, organising the leaves, ready for the leaf lorry to arrive.

Meanwhile it has been raining! On Tuesday the River Loire was rising, after a great deal of rain.

By Wednesday 23rd Nov the river was right around the HEP plant. We have never seen it as high before.

What power there is here, coming through the bridge!

Monday, 7 November 2016

26th October - 5th November 2016. Back in the port of Roanne, for bridge, stitch and bitch, happy hour and walks by the River Loire.

On into Roanne lock.

As we go on out into the port, we feel as though we have come home!

Looking to the left, the port looks as full as ever.
We have been given the same place as last year, on the port visitor mooring. It is very good for Shannon, as she has her own private fenced garden!
That same afternoon, we went to the Roanne Bridge Club, where it was nice to see all of our French friends again.

Cedric arrived by The Puzzler very soon for his piece of apple.
Shannon was delighted to see him again.
On Wednesday I went to Stitch and Bitch which, of course, is ladies only and again, it was good to catch up with everyone. We continued to do this at L'Authentique Happy Hour on Thursday. There are a lot of new people in the port, so we started to learn the new faces, and who is on which boat.

The circus arrived in town on Wednesday, and is on the car park at the far end of the port.

We went to the show on Friday, not having been to a circus with wild animals for many, many years.
The animals were well cared for, and seemed to be quite happy. However, the magician was amazing! It is said that seeing is believing, but what we saw him do, with ladies in and out of his cabinet, was just not credible!
Meanwhile, by the river Loire, the VNF men have found a large slice of a tree trunk, and have managed to pull it out, before it reached the HEP area, which is just beyond this bridge.

The River Loire looks as good as ever.

Further on, the stepping stones are clear of the stream today.

Monday, 24 October 2016

22nd - 25th October. Up the Canal de Roanne à Digoin, from Digoin to Roanne!

This is a mixture of smoke and fog as we eventually set off at 11 am up the Canal de Roanne à Digoin. We had planned to go earlier!

Later on the weather cleared, so that we could look across the valley of the river Loire. Our canal runs parallel to the river, all the way to Roanne.

It is quite tight, sharing in these deep locks. Monsieur VNF can be seen up above the bottom gates, as he winds them shut. These locks are completely manual, but we can help with gates, once we are up in the lock.

We stopped at Bourg-le-Comte, and climbed up the track to the village. The Puzzler can be seen,  to the right of the white cottages.

This is another old church in Bourg-le-Comte.
The most interesting item in the church was this list of all priests of the parish since 1598. The only gap is from the time of the French Revolution. If this list is up to date, then Father Renard has been priest here for 50 years!

We moved on to Artaix for lunch, and stayed overnight, as it was so nice there. There was even a table tennis table, which was a bonus.

We walked to the village of Artaix, and met these big donkeys on the way. Shannon was not impressed!

The church at Artaix overlooks the canal.

Inside the church there are many interesting carvings.

The bridges on this stretch of the canal are all made using these unusually shaped stones, and look really attractive.

The leaves are all changing colour, and look wonderful.
However, as this canal is fed from the River Loire at Roanne, all of these pretty leaves find their way on to the water above each lock. The lockkeeper does not think that they are lovely at all! Our propellor is not too keen on them either.

Even as late as this in the year, the towpaths are kept in good repair.

Shannon is very fluffy, and is in need of a trim.
We are on a wild mooring, near to the prison, and have brought some of the best pots inside, as heavy rain is forecast for tonight. Tomorrow, we will be back in Roanne!