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.

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!

12th - 21st October 2016. Along the Canal du Centre from Ch to Digoin, mooring just before the junction with the Canal de Roanne à Digoin.

We are enjoying being on a canal again, after the river Sâone.

The first section of the canal is very pretty, with vineyards on the hills to our right.

The weather forecast was correct, as we spent a couple of days at Santanay in extremely wet conditions.

On past Montchanin.
Continuing up the last few locks, Shannon and I get off below the lock, so that I can operate the controls, with Andy already being safely tied on to the floating bollard. These locks are extremely rough, with the water coming up from underneath the boat. At times it even shoots up on to the top deck, so it an uncomfortable ride on The Puzzzler!

The picture on the control box adds character to this top lock.

We carried on past the summit level, to moor on the corner above lock 4 Océan. This is a quiet mooring, as there is very little traffic on the road, and there is a pleasant walk round a fishing lake too.

Most dogs curl up forwards!

The autumn colours are improving day by day.

On to Génelard, where we caught up with our touch-up painting for the autumn. The bank was just the right height!

This cutting, above Génelard lock, has long had these words built into its sides, and at last they make sense!
There is a new walkway above the cutting, through the trees, with several wood cabins, with the history of the cutting printed out, answering the questions on the sides of the cutting. “Combien de pierres?” Well, we learn that 190,000 stones were used to pave the banks in order to prevent landslides. This is well worth a visit.
We spent a pleasant evening with Ian and Lara, who are travelling down to the Med. in their yacht, GeeNTee. It was interesting to exchange experiences with them.

On past Parail-le-Monial, where it is unusual to see an empty mooring.

The canal after Parail is lined with plane trees, making good reflections.
At Digoin, we caught up with Christian and Valerie, and had a pleasant afternoon with them on La Béa'bab. We then moved on down the lock, to moor near to the junction with the Canal de Roanne   à Digoin. Nearly home to Roanne for the winter!

Monday, 17 October 2016

6th - 11th October. On down the Petite Saône, then the River Saône, stopping at Auxonne and St.-Jean-de-Losne, before joining the Canal du Centre at Chalon-sur-Saône.

The Petite Saône becomes navigable below Corre lock, meandering across its floodplain.

This dérivation (lockcut) meanders round the village of Ormoy, lying parallel to the river.

However, most of the dérivations are straight, like this one in Port-sur-Saône.
All along the waterfront here, there are mounted prints, showing the town as it was in 1900, then progressively through the last century. A by-pass is planned, so the last set of prints anticipate the town as it will be in 2020. We will have to come back to see if their predictions are true!
This is a typical dérivation, straight and not very exciting! Between Corre and Châlons-sur-Saône, these dérivations cut over 40 kilometres off the distance as measured, and marked, on the river.

Shannon was fascinated by the donkey by a lock.

The tunnel of Savoyeux leads on to lock 13. We had just left this narrow section when our alternator belt broke, so the lockkeeper had to wait while The Puzzler floated gently, until Andy fixed it. Luckily no-one else was waiting for us, though he only took ten minutes to have it working again, with a new belt in place.
On Friday we did over 40 kilometres, so were pleased to find this sheltered bankside mooring, near to Autet. Shannon enjoyed the small beach nearby.

The river Petite Saône is getting bigger!

At Mantoche Andy found a friendly duck.

Sally is taking her turn at steering on the river. We are covering long distances each day as we head for our winter mooring in Roanne, so it is turn and turn about on the tiller.

We spent a very pleasant afternoon in Auxonne on barge Inevitable, with Carole and David, before the rain created this rainbow.

The evening light, too, was very pretty.
Thick fog delayed our departure on Monday, but we still had time to reach St-Jean-de-Losne, where there were several boats moored. We were delighted to meet Boris in the chandlery there.

Our longest day yet was on Tuesday, leaving as the sun rose at 8am. It was a record distance for us of just over 58 kilometres!

We saw over 20 of these white herons, or are they egrets? They are heron size, and have white legs.

The Petite Saône is now the River Saône, and is a much bigger river.

Shannon continues to sleep her days away.

We are now sharing the big lock at the start of the Canal du Centre.

It is a relief to be back on to the canal.