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, 27 April 2017

30th March - 16th April 2017. Our last few days in Roanne, followed by a pleasant weekend on the canal with Jean-Charles, Ghislaine and Escot.

As we come to the end of March, people are returning to their boats in Roanne, ready for the new season. L'Authentique is busier than ever, every Thursday, when we meet for Happy Hour there.
I have spent some time renovating our fenders, which were in a bad way. Meanwhile Andy has cleaned and polished The Puzzler so as to be ready for the season.
Several of us met on Sunday for a game of boules. As new people arrived, they joined each team alternately, and I think that we ended up with eleven altogether, in two strong teams! Who won is anybody's guess! No-one is leaving the Port of Roanne yet, as the lock at Bourg-le-Comte is still waiting for new lock gates.

The Puzzler has meanwhile been treated to some new LED strip lights, which are great fun.
This car was driven into the canal in the early hours of Saturday 8th April, but no-one was badly hurt. He took the corner too fast, and fell down the bank into the canal below.
Jean-Charles, Ghislaine and Escot have joined us for our first week-end of cruising from Roanne. Shannon has lent Escot her lifejacket, but he is not impressed! Escot a peur!

We cruised halfway up the port to collect Jean-Charles, exchanging hoots with our friends as we left the port.

Further on, Jean-Charles took the tiller and we moored by the bridge before Melay.
We walked to visit the village of Melay. The church is impressive, but was locked, so we could not look inside. Back at The Puzzler, we played boules on the track nearby.

Next morning we saw this stork, which showed no fear of us. Later on we saw one flying overhead – they are so graceful in flight.

It is cherry blossom time again, as we pass Artais.
Walking back from the mooring, which lies just beyond the village, we passed below the old pont-canal, or aqueduct, which was first built in the 1830's. It was widened between 1895 and 1904, to allow the passage of boats. We have just sailed over it, but it looks more impressive from below. After visiting Artais, we returned to The Puzzler, then enjoyed a game of table tennis.

Both Shannon and Escot like being with Ghislaine at the front.

Meanwhile Jean-Charles is helping to work the lock. Il est un éclusier nouveau!

We finished our week-end outing above the deep lock of Bourg-le-Comte, and walked up to the village.

The view is wonderful, looking back over the canal. C'était un bon weekend!

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

29th March 2017. A Bridge Club outing to the cattle market at Saint-Christophe-en-Brionnais, then on to visit the romanesque churches of Semur-en Brionnais, Anzy-le-Duc and Saint-Martin-du-lac.

Today it is a Bridge Club outing to see the Charolais cattle market at Saint-Christophe-en-Brionnais  We all travelled there by car, through lovely open countryside. Gerard and Regine were kind enough to give us a lift

We met beside the cattle market, and I think that Renée is checking that all 32 of us have arrived.

In the morning all the youngstock are gathered in the pens nearest to the sale ring.

Some of them are quite young, and they are all Charolais today.

Here the buyers can be seen, in the tiered seats, with buttons to push when they want to bid. There is no discrete nodding at the auctioneer here!

These solid beasts are patiently waiting for the afternoon session.
There are some typically French trees just by the market, with leaves starting to sprout from all the nobbly branches. The whole roof of this building is covered with solar panels, creating electricity for sale to the national grid.

We walked up the high street to the Restaurant du Midi, where we all enjoyed a good meal.

Outside the restaurant, Andy is looking very serious!

Three cars, including ours, set off on a tour of three local villages, starting in Semur-en-Brionnais. The romanesque church here was built in the 12th century.

The western portal is very richly adorned with a lot of detail.

Everyone is admiring it.
The church in Anzy-le-Duc is our next visit. It was completed in the early 12th century, but unfortunately the bell tower was being cleaned, so we could not go in to that part. The crypt below the church has been recently rediscovered, and is thought to date from the 10th century being used as the burial place of Hugues de Poiriers.

Our last visit was to the romanesque church of Saint_Martin-du-Lac. This church dates from the 11th century and is a smaller church than the other two, giving a general feeling of harmony and simplicity.

We have really enjoyed our day out with the Bridge Club. They are a great crowd and know how to enjoy themselves!

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Early February through to late March 2017. Spring is on the way in the Port of Roanne.

The skies in February have been threatening over the port. This winter has been much colder than at this time last year, with little table tennis in the park! When not suffering from the local bad throat, which we took turns to do, we have played quite a lot of bridge, where everyone continues to be very friendly at the Bridge Club du Roannais.

Shannon is keeping her winter coat quite long for now.

When the pompiers bring their hosepipe down to the port for some practice, we make sure that all windows are closed on that side of The Puzzler!

Even the dogs are enjoying a trip in the dinghy with Jake and Rachel.

Shannon delights in looking cute, especially if food is involved.

On the other side of the port, Dave and Jane have started to prepare their peniche, Narwal, for her new colour scheme.

Dave is now hard at work with the red, or is it maroon, paint?

That is one side nearly finished.

The spring flowers are lovely beside the roundabout, at the other end of the port of Roanne.