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.


Wednesday, 24 May 2017

20th - 21st May. Visiting the fortified town of Langres.




The fortified town of Langres on its hilltop is visible from afar.

We cycled up from the port to the supermarket, halfway up the hill, then continued on foot on a pleasant path up through the trees to the citadel. The town walls are very thick.


The reservoir de la Liez, seen in the distance, is the main feeder for the canal. We were moored below it last night, so walked up to see it and found it quite full, which is good for the canal.


Shannon and I are in a mini watch tower, at a corner of the walls.


Our tower can be seen right at the far end of this wall.


This is a carriage from an ancient rack and pinion railway, which used to transport people up to Langres.


Nowadays, it is possible to take the lift up from the car park down below!
These are the Navarre and Orval towers, built in the 16th century for the defense of the west corner of the city of Langres. The Orval tower was built as an afterthought, as a mistake in the planning had made the Navarre Tower too low to be effective for defense of this corner of the town!


Inside the towers, we were treated to an impressive light display, as well as several interesting video presentations about the history of the two towers.


At one time, the Navarre tower doubled as a gunpowder store, so a roof was built, using oak beams, to protect it.
Looking back to the Navarre tower, which is one of 12 towers built along the ramparts. We have now walked right round the ramparts of this fortified town, a distance of 3.5 kilometres.


The streets of Langres climb steeply up from the gateway below us. There are 7 gates into the city.

Monday, 22 May 2017

15th - 18th May 2017. On through the villages of Cusey, Piépape and Heuilly-Cotton to reach the summit of the Champagne – Burgundy canal.

At Cusey we met two French cruisers, going the other way. There have been very few boats moving on this canal. They arrived just before we did, but squeezed up to make room for us as soon as they saw us coming. When I thanked him for this, he replied, « C'est naturelle », which was very nice.



Cusey church is unusual, with this circular part at the east end.


There are several old houses in Cusey like this one, with the barn built into the house.


By contrast, this is part of a new development in the village.


The Champagne to Burgundy canal is very attractive, with tree lined sections alternating with views over the wide countryside.

The River Vingeanne has run alongside the canal, all the way from the River Saône, but is quite shallow here, as we are nearer to its source. Shannon thinks that it is a great place to retrieve sticks!


The church at Piépape has an unusual round tower.
The last eight locks up to the summit are all 5.12 metres deep, but are so gentle that we are not using any ropes at all. All that Shannon and I have to do when we get there is to lift the blue rod to activate the lock.
We are moored at Heuilly-Cotton village, on the summit level at a height of 1116 feet 4 inches above sea-level. This is about twice as high as Standedge tunnel in the English Pennines! This is an attractive village, with many large properties.



Balesmes tunnel lies ahead of us. This tunnel, like most in France, is one way only. It is 4820 metres long.

There are lights throughout the length of the tunnel. Fifteen seconds after passing each green light, all the white lights behind us go out, so then that looks very black!


It was raining before the tunnel, but this end is quite dry.


This heron sat quietly, watching us pass by close to him. He does not see us as any threat.

Friday, 19 May 2017

6th - 14th May 2017 Games on the boats, then the Marché de Fleurs at Auxonne. Off the River Saône on to the Champagne à Burgundy canal, visiting various small villages on our way.

We brought the flowers into the cratch for three days at Auxonne, while it rained, and rained. Meanwhile we spent the time, either on Lumacona or The Puzzler, both socialising and playing cards and all sorts of other games too, with Caroline and Peter. We were sad to leave them.


The cathedral in Auxonne is having a face-lift, and looks much lighter in colour than it did when we last saw it.
The 8th of May was the Marché de Fleurs. There was a street market, with a great many bedding plants and other flowers for sale. We heard a band, but could not find it anywhere, which was not surprising, as the sound was coming from speakers, spread throughout the centre of Auxonne!      However, there was a parade of soldiers, gendarmes and here we see the pompiers (firemen), who marched better than all of the others.


Moving on up the river, we visited Pontailler-sur-Saône.


The lavoir here is in working order, and Andy can be seen winding the chain, thus lifting the wooden platform which hangs over the river.
Soon after the next lock, it is a sharp left on to the Canal Entre Champagne et Bourgogne. This canal used to be called the Canal de la Marne à la Saône, and still is, by many boaters! We entered the first lock, where we should automatically be given our own telecommand box but, as was the case in July 2015, when we were here last, nothing worked. Eventually Monsieur VNF arrived to help, and gave us our box. An inexperienced German yacht joined us in the lock while we were waiting, so we locked up two locks with them. Their skipper was rather uncomplimentary about our use of one rope with the engine, not realising that our using two ropes with no engine on a 16 ton steel boat, with overlapping boats, would have been bad news for them!


We stopped first in Maxilly village, where a fellow boater kindly gave me a spare marigold plant. Then it was on to Renève, where as usual nothing was open. We liked this house though.


With the flowers now quite happily back on the roof, the Viaduc d'Oisilly can be seen behind us. It is 293 metres long and was built in 1886-7.


Mooring near to Beaumont-sur-Vingeanne, we completed a circular walk through two villages, but the castle is only open to visitors in July and August.


These turrets in the farmhouses are most attractive, and we saw these in both Beaumont and in Dampierre-et Flée.


Our mooring here looked out over open fields. Yes, this is the towpath – most of them are of this quality in this part of France.


Shannon has a new place to travel, on top of the long coiled rope, on the bows of The Puzzler. This rope is used when going up locks.


The donkey on the left is as big as the horses, being a French Poitou donkey.


Some of the lock houses on this canal are uninhabited, so Andy is taking a quick look inside.


Another wild mooring – at least the bows are well in!





Sunday, 7 May 2017

29th April - 6th May 2017. On to Fragnes, then up the Saône to Saint-Jean-de-Losne, before moving on to Auxonne, meeting our friends at every port.

We caught up with other boats at Fragnes, joining (from the left) Caroline, Andy, Peter, Rachel, Bill, Jane and Jake there. Another late evening, with some people dancing the night away!


Shannon will accept Trigger if she is safe on Andy's knee.
We moved off early on Tuesday with Quaintrelle, to stop at the shopping mooring for Leclerc, on the outskirts of Chalons-sur-Saône. Where the metal edging of the mooring here leans out towards the canal, it has been infilled with concrete, so at least there is no gap!

The rain started just as we went out on to the Saône, but Shannon didn't want to be inside. The rain is too heavy for some of our plants.


Once the rain cleared, the river looked more inviting.


We moored at Gergy, then on to a rural spot at Chazelle, which we found last year.


Walking round this small village, I thought this wall needed a helping hand!

On Thursday we moved on to Saint-Jean-de-Losne. Beyond the trip boat, the next five boats all overwintered in Roanne!


The Puzzler can be seen outside Catherine Clark, where Jake and Rachel have all three dogs near at hand.
We are leaving Aileen and Mike here too, with Quaintrelle, though we will no doubt see them again, later this year.



Dare I go any nearer? Most boats have dogs.


Friday was a lovely day, with all the trees looking really green.


Mooring outside Lumacona at Auxonne, there was a superb sunset.