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, 24 August 2017

11th - 15th August 2017. A wonderful French weekend at Mussey and Revigny-sur-Ornain. Un merveilleux weekend français à Mussey et Révigny-sur-Ornain.

We played quilles at Mussey in June, so hoped to do so again. Fortunately, Bernard was cycling along the towpath with his grandchildren as we approached the village. He told us that it was pétanque that evening, near to his house, so we moored after the first lock, and went there later. We had an enjoyable evening, playing everyone, with twelve of us in teams of three. Nous avions joué aux quilles à Mussey en juin, et nous espérions jouer encore une fois. Heureusement, Bernard faisait du vélo le long du canal avec ses petits-enfants pendant que nous approchions le village. Il nous a dit que c'était pétanque ce soir, près de son maison, donc nous nous sommes amarrés au-dessous de la premiére écluse, et nous y sommes allés plus tard. La soirée était très agréable, avec trois jeux pour tous le monde.

Bernard organised a game of quilles on Saturday afternoon, especially for us, and fifteen people turned up! Bernard a organisé un jeu de quilles l'aprés-midi samedi, particuliarèment pour nous, et quinze joueurs sont arrivés!

Later on, Denis arrived at the boat, to take this photo for his newspaper, L'Est Républicain. His article was in the paper on Sunday morning! Plus tard, Denis est arrivée au bateau, pour prendre cet photo pour son journal, L'Est Républicain. Son article s'est trouvé dans le journal dimanche matin!
On Sunday morning we walked near to Mussey, and found these inquisitive cattle, which wanted to play with Shannon. Le dimanche matin nous sommes allés se promener près de Mussey, et nous avons trouvé ces bovines curieux, qui voulaient jouer avec Shannon.
After that we went to visit Bernard and Blandine, and their grandchildren, Romain and Tom. We had another game of pétanque, and both children played very well. Après ça nous sommes allés visiter Bernard et Blandine, et leur petits-enfants, Romain et Tom. Nous avons joué au pétanque encore, et les deux enfants ont joué très bien.
The festivities continued on Monday with the Caboret family on The Puzzler, and clearly Blandine et Tom enjoyed themselves! La fête a continué le lundi avec la famille Caboret sur The Puzzler. Manifestement, Blandine et Tom se sont bien amusés.

Meanwhile, Bernard et Romain are helping Andy with the steering. Pendant ce temps-là, Bernard et Romain aidaient Andy à diriger le cigare anglais – quelle entente cordiale!

Our trip has finished at Revigny-sur-Domain, perhaps too soon! La fin du voyage est arrivée à Revigny-sur-Domain, peut-être trôp tôt!
We all enjoyed a barbeque, chez Nicolas and Anne-Laure, before returning to the boat. Nous tous avons bien aimée un barbeque, chez Nicolas et Anne-Laure, avant de retourner au bateau.
Bernard and Blandine returned later to The Puzzler to play games, starting with English bowls, on some nearby grass. After supper we played cards and they stayed for the night. It has been a memorable five day weekend! Bernard et Blandine sont retournés plus tard à The Puzzler, pour jouer des jeux, commançant avec les boules anglais sur un pré communal. Après le dîner, nous ont joué aux cartes et ils ont resté la nuit. Quel weekend de cinq jours inoubliable!

1st - 10th August 2017. On along the Canal de la Marne au Rhin (Ouest) via Void, the Mauvages tunnel and Demange-aux-Eaux to find lots of weed at Treveray. Moving on past Givrauval and Tronville to Bar-le-Duc.

On the approach to the village of Void, the reflections are really good. Sorry about the delay with this posting, but we have had internet problems.

Mauvages tunnel is 4,877 metres long, so we took turns to steer The Puzzler, doing 700 metre stints. Andy went first, so enjoyed an extra turn!

Many of the houses in the main street of Demange-aux-Eaux are similar to these, with a great depth back from the road.

We were able to walk down to the river L'Ornain here, and Shannon had great fun in the water.
We had a slow afternoon on Friday, for several reasons. Our first lock on leaving Demange was on double red, with a boat in the lock. Double red means a phone call is required to VNF, requesting help, and Monsieur duly arrived after 40 minutes. No-one knew what had been wrong. Our next problem was at lock 5, as we had missed the sensor when leaving lock 4. As The Puzzler is not as wide as most boats in France it is essential that we leave each lock on the side of the sensor, so that the signal can be sent to prepare the next lock. This might be either side of the lock, and we must have been on the wrong side! Monsieur arrived 45 minutes later to activate lock 5 for us.
As we approached lock 10 we could see the hotelboat La Nouvelle Etoile, apparently stuck in the lock. He edged forward, very slowly, and took nearly an hour to get out of the lock and past us. By then it was after 6pm and the lock was officially shut for the night. However, I managed to persuade VNF to operate the lock for us, which was good, as there was no place to stop above this lock.
At Treveray there was a great deal of weed, which had been all chopped up by the hotel boat's propeller, being low down in the water. Last night, when we arrived, the water level was down by about a metre, and the only way off our boat was by climbing up the plank at a 45° angle. However, today we are walking down the plank to the boat, with the water level back to normal.

No more boats were allowed to continue up the canal for 24 hours, until the, by now very unpopular, hotelboat was well out of the way. Passengers on this boat have paid 8000 euros a week to crawl along at a rate of one lock each hour! There were six boats at Treveray on our second night there, with several nations represented.

As we reach Givrauval, there is a terrific thunderstorm, right overhead. Later in the evening though, the weather improves, and the view over the wider valley can be seen, still in the sun.
At Tronville, we were involved in some inventive mooring, to find room for this Dutch boat. A quarter of an hour later, the French boat in front of us moved off! Our new Dutch friends then moved in front of us, but it would have been thoughtful if the French boat had said that he was leaving soon.

At Bar-le-Duc this placard shows the start of La Voie Sacrée which was of great importance during the battle of Verdun in 1916, being the only road out of range of enemy artillery. Day and night it was the scene of convoys of men and equipment which supplied the gigantic battle