These are the adventures of Andy and Sally Rawnsley on their narrowboat "The Puzzler". We have been living on the boat for over eight 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, returning to Roanne for a second winter.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

11th - 17th July. From Sarreguemines into Germany, on foot, then we sailed to the current end of navigation, before returning up the canal de la Sarre.

Sarreguemines lies on the German border, so we walked over the bridge to buy a German plant for one of our flower pots.

Re-entering France!
The first lock in Germany is currently closed, as they are still fitting new lock gates. It has been closed all year, but was scheduled to open on 7th July, which has since been put back to 15th, and then the 17th of July. We were going to go and have a look at it, but lock 30, the previous lock, was the current end of navigation, so we turned round here.

We have decided not to wait any longer, in case the opening date is even later in the month, and are returning up the canal de la Sarre, stopping above lock 29, which is not far below Sarreguemines.

Shannon has scratched a sore place under her chin, so has to wear her lampshade to keep it protected. She is not impressed!

There are some unusual boats about. Majesty of the Seas is 33.5 metres long, although she looks like a full size liner.

The church at Ketting is a very unusual shape, with a low 12th century nave and a higher chancel, which dates from the 15th century.

Unusually, for a village church, the door was open, so we were pleased to be able to see the stained glass from the 15th century. It is on the left of this picture. This is reputed to be one of the most beautiful examples in Lorraine.

The Roman round tower was a watchtower in the 9th century.

Ketting is a pretty village, with many different coloured shutters.
Moving on to Wittring, we moored beside the Victoria restaurant, which is very popular. When turning into this mooring, we upset a fisherman, which is not a difficult thing to do! He had four fishing rods, which extended half way over the canal, so had to pull them in as we approached the jetty. He felt, very emphatically, that we should have taken a detour around ''his'' part of the canal, before coming in to moor. Life can be tough!

This ''blockhaus'', a part of the Aquatic Maginot line, was built between 1932 and 1935, but was used for defence during the Second World War.

The weather on Friday is threatening us with a mass of clouds, but the rain keeps off. We had a pleasant evening yesterday with Terry and Hilary at Saaralbe.

Saturday finds us moored below lock 16, with hotelboat Johanna. John is the captain of this ship, and does self-catering trips on his boat in this area.

Our last night on the Canal de la Sarre was spent just above lock 1, and so we saw Boathome coming up, filling the lock!
We have seen Boathome several times on this canal. It is a prototype for a houseboat, which can be moved, using electric power created by the many solar panels on its roof. They are currently heading for Strasbourg.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

1st – 10th July 2017. On to the Canal de la Sarre, through Mittersheim, Harskirchen, Sarralbe, and on to Sarreguemines.

From the canal Marne au Rhin (east), we turned northwards on to the Canal de la Sarre, which starts alongside the Etang de Gondrexange, a large lake lying behind the dike to the right here. This canal leads to the river Sarr, which continues on into Germany, joining the river Moselle. We hope to then go up the Moselle through Luxembourg, and return to France by this route. At present, lock 31, just over the German border, is closed, but is due to open on 7th July.
Mooring just before lock 1, an arm of the Etang du Stock lies below us. This is a holiday area, with many holiday cottages, and sailing dinghies around the water.

Continuing on, we cross the Etang du Stock on an aqueduct, where the canal is level with the lake, only separated from it by the towpath.

Twelve more locks lead us down the valley, with some lovely lock cottages.

Sometimes the canal runs through the woods.

A large extension makes this lock cottage rather special.

Here too, the canal runs alongside natural lakes.

Below the locks lies Mittersheim, the first village on the canal de la Sarre, and it is beautifully decorated with flowers.

The next part of the canal is much more open.

Shannon likes to travel on the roof of The Puzzler, but just now the heat is too much!

We had arranged to collect our post at the port of Harskirchen and arrived there on Wednesday morning. However, the capitaine had not told us they were closed midweek, and so we had to wait there until Friday.
As Harskirchen is a pleasant village, again with lovely flowers outside the school, time passed quickly, although the weather continues to be too hot for comfort.

Shannon has had a full trim, and is enjoying her new ''cool pool''.

At Sarralbe there is a splendid new mooring, with free electricity and water. A lot of money has been spent here!

The church is really impressive, but it was a very long walk to get to the supermarket at the other end of town.

This storks nest, on top of the church roof, is one of several in town. We must have seen eight nests in that area.
A contrasting mooring for the next night, just outside the village of Sarreinsming. This time we were in the shade, but even so the temperature did not drop below 19.6° C during the night.
Four regiments of American troops are honoured by this memorial of December 8th 1944, when they freed Sarreinsming from the Germans. It has been created, using part of the bailey bridge, which was used to cross the river Saar here, at that time. The waterwheel by the old flour mill, on the other side of the river, runs constantly.

We arrived in Sarreguemine to find both Lazybones and Puddleduck, from Roanne, in the port. La Paradoxe, with our French friends, is here too. The port is full because the closed lock is still closed! It should perhaps be open in a week's time, but then again, perhaps not. On va voir!

Saturday, 8 July 2017

22nd - 30th June 2017. Along the river Moselle from Toul, then up the Embranchement to join the Marne au Rhin canal(est). On via Crévic, and Parroy to the 15 metre lock at Réchicourt.

Leaving Toul, we turned to the right on to the River Moselle. There are not many locks on this stretch, but this one has a rise of 7 metres.

This lock makes those on the Marne au Rhin canal look very small!

We moored immediately above the lock, to be joined overnight by barge Luma.

As Luma passed us, these next two photos were taken, just one second apart, to try and show the sheer size of a 2600 capacity commercial barge, compared to The Puzzler.
From the Moselle, we turned off up the Embranchement de Nancy. The first four locks are very close together, so it was a bonus walk for Shannon.

We found a pleasant bankside mooring, with shade from trees on both sides.

Shannon and I both had a snooze!
At the junction with the Marne au Rhin (est) we went to the left, for an overdue trip to the supermarket. We seem to be going shopping once a fortnight. The flowers are doing better than ever.
From Crévic we made an early start, aiming to reach our first lock at 9am. However, barge Modicum crept up behind us, so he went past. Then, just as we approached the lock, a Dutch barge arrived, so again we moved down the queue! Pam and John, from New Zealand, joined us again in the lock.

At Parroy this purple sky warned us of the thunderstorm to come.

All the flowers came in for their safety. They do not like thunderstorms!

On our second night at Parroy the mooring was quite full, with 10 boats there. The capitaine said that it was the most boats there for two years.

We joined the Germans from five other boats for pancakes and drinks, but sadly we were rained off.

This kingfisher watched us pass by. You should have had your camera here, Matt!

Shannon enjoys finding the shade
under the flowers.

There were five hungry cats at Rechicourt lock 7.

Approaching the big lock at Rechicourt, it looks bigger than ever. This lock was built to replace six of the old locks.

We are sharing with a German cruiser, using the middle rope on to the floating bollard. We were right at the front of the lock last time, and it was much gentler there.

At the stern, it is very rough water, as the paddles let the water in from underneath the boat, pushing the stern out.

Normally, when going up a lock, the rough water is at the front.
Mooring above the lock, we need the plank to get to the shore. Every time the lock is filled up, The Puzzler tilts to the right for a while, as we are sitting on the bottom. This pound is very long though, so we are soon level again