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, 20 August 2018

18th - 19th August 2018. In Bruges.

All the streets of Bruges have a lot of character.
Rides in a horse drawn carriage are very popular. As the driver spends most of his time talking to his passengers, it is a good thing that the horse knows the way!

We are now in Market Square.

All the buildings surrounding the square have great character.

We were warned about the tourists to be found in Bruges, and most of them seem to be here in Market Square!

The 83 metre high Bell Tower overlooks the square. It was built in the 14th century, and contains 47 bells. It is considered one of the finest belfries in Belgium.

The horse drawn buses are a slower way to look around town.

Just after 5 pm, these two are on their way home for the night.

We too have had a good afternoon of sightseeing. There are so many different roof styles.

Off again on Sunday morning, this is a floating classroom. There are many of these unusual modern art installations throughout the centre of Bruges.

The old buildings are everywhere.

The tower of the Notre Dame church is the second tallest brick spire in the world, being 115.5 metres tall.

Saint-Salvador Cathedral is quite near to it.

There is some impressive stained glass here.
Brug is the name of this sculpture, made from metal and canvas, to cross the canal here. The trip boat underneath it is one of many, giving visitors to the city another way to get around, seeing a different view to normal.

We walked back to The Puzzler along Groenerei, another attractive street.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

16th - 18th August 2018. On to Deinze, then the lovely river Leie to join the Gent Ringvaart to Schipdonk, before going on to Bruges.

From Kortrijk we followed the commercial part of the Leie, then turned off to go to Deinze, where we just missed seeing a major cycle race, which was lapping through the town.

It is a pleasant mooring in Deinze.

These wooden carvings were our favourite part of the church.

Carrying on out of Deinze, early next morning, we were able to admire many fine houses along the attractive river Leie.

We managed to go underneath Astene lift bridge, having removed our front flag, passing some older boats there.

This is really a lovely river.

This is one of the many gorgeous houses to be seen along the riverside.

I love this reflection.

Sweeping lawns are obviously the thing to have.

Some houses have a lot of glass.

They seem to be rather a public sort of house to have!

From the river Leie we joined the Gent Ringvaart, which is a major commercial waterway.

The Ringvaart has main roads running along both sides of it, as can be seen by the lorries on each side of us. The traffic is so noisy!
After the Ringvaart, we did a tricky left turn at a big crossroads, on to the Gent-Oostende canal, which is a huge canal at this point. We moored at Schipdonk lock, where barges are turning on to this canal, having bypassed Deinze, and the pretty river Leie.

Carrying on on Saturday, the canal from here to Bruges is smaller. We met a huge 2000 ton barge along here, with four unhappy cruisers stuck behind him!

The swing bridge at Gentpoort is just before our turning in to the Coupure Port in Bruges.

We are booked in here for two nights, while we explore the city.

Friday, 17 August 2018

14th - 16th August 2018. A trip to Lille for Andy, then on to Bosscuit in Flanders, followed by Kortrijk.

On Tuesday morning, Andy went to the station to collect the train tickets, which he had bought on-line. He needed them to go and collect our car from mid-France next week. However, as it was a French website, he had to collect them in France! So off he went to Lille! Meanwhile I counted 14 commercial barges going past our mooring in Tournai. As we are now the only boat on this mooring, they do not slow down for us, making it a bouncy morning!

As soon as we set off, Shannon found a comfortable place to sleep. She has been worn out by the passing barges.!
There is a one way system for all boats passing through Tournai. It seems that this bridge, Le Pont des Trous, is the structure which is being protected by this system. It is certainly not wide enough for two barges.

Once out of town we are on the Haut Escaut river, which is the most attractive river we have seen since leaving the Belgian Meuse.
There is a huge lock at Bosscuit, where we got our Belgian licence. This was complicated by the fact that the man in charge did not speak either English or French! We are now in Flanders, where Flemish is the language spoken. The old ruined church in Bosscuit was lit up by the sun.

There was a concert here this evening, but we had no chairs with us!

Continuing on the Bosscuit-Kortrijk canal, we came down one big lock.

Followed by three small manned locks.

They were just like English canal locks.

Shannon likes the look of Kortrijk. She makes a good figurehead!
We stopped in Kortrijk, where the two Broel Towers are a major attraction. They were built in the mid 14th century, as part of the ramparts and city wall of Kortrijk.

The town shows much Dutch influence in the buildings. It is an attractive town.

These shoes are heading for the town mooring.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

11th – 13th August, 2018. From Pommerœil to Péronnes yacht club, then on to Tournai.

It is an unusual finger mooring at Pommerœil. We joined Chris here on Laura Marie and had a good evening together.

Continuing on down another huge lock with our Danish friends. This was Péronnes lock 1, and was a 12.5 metre drop.

Péronnes yacht club is based in the large lake between the two locks.
Fortunately the hammerhead, at the end of the jetty, was clear for us. We do not often moor at yacht clubs, but we only have a few inches of water left in our tank, so needs must!

On leaving, we waited above Péronnes lock 2, while a commercial emerged. There was another commercial coming along behind us, so we were surprised to be called in first. The lockkeeper closed the gates behind us, so Andy told him there was plenty of room beside us for the big barge. After some consideration, he opened the gates again, and Lawrens came in very slowly, and easily fitted in.

We left the lock first, then moved over for Lawrens when we could. We have found the commercials considerate, so long as we remember our place, and keep out of their way.
After a shopping stop in the little harbour at Antoing, we moved on to Tournai. We are squeezed in, in front of La Paradoxe, with Bernard and Patricia on board. We met last year at Sarguemines, and also on the Champagne-Burgundy canal. At this mooring it is essential to be very well secured, as the commercial traffic is quite heavy here, near to the one way system ahead of us.

The cathedral here, is very much under repair, so this is a scale model to show its proportions.

It is very tall inside, but the far half is completely hidden by scaffolding, both inside and out. It will look splendid when it is finished. Excavations were visible, alongside the nave, showing the 9th century foundations of the cathedral.

The rose window was probably the best one that we have seen, up there behind the organ.

We visited the Musée des Beaux Arts. I liked this picture of an old barge horse by Pierre Paulus, who is a new artist for me.

This is the Grand Place, and the centre of town. Our friends, Bernard and Patricia, from Le Paradoxe, are cycling through the fountains.