These are the adventures of Andy and Sally Rawnsley on their narrowboat "The Puzzler". We have been living on the boat for nearly seven 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 have enjoyed our winter in this friendly port.

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.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

January 2017. Snow, birds and ice on the port, followed by Bridge at the Château de Champlon.

We had an inch of snow and managed to make a mini snowman, which fascinated Shannon.

The kingfisher has returned, but he only stayed for one day.

His place was taken by the heron, who stayed for a week!

There are several coots living near to us, here in Roanne. They seem to like it here.

The ice by the slipway is now quite thick, as all movement of water in the port pushes it in here.

Ice now surrounds The Puzzler, and there is a light covering of snow too.

The covering of snow makes the port of Roanne look vast!

Some boys came on to the ice beside The Puzzler. They first wrote Bonjour in the snow, and then Aurevoir before they left, coming over to the boat to make sure that we had seen it!

Later on, once dark had fallen, some young men went right out into the middle of the port on the ice. We were really worried when they started to jump up and down, but fortunately the ice held, and no-one fell through!

There were a lot of seagulls on the ice yesterday, but I think the rest of them are camera-shy today. There is not much ice left either.

The ducks, however, are enjoying sitting on this frozen raft.

Meanwhile, this white-headed gannet is drying his wings, on Alouette's mooring buoy.

At the end of January we were off to the Château de Champlon again. We were here in December for the Bridge Club de Roannais Christmas dinner, when we had a splendid meal.

This time it was for an inter-club bridge competition, which was held in the same annex to the Château de Champlon.

Sadly we did not win!

However we had a most enjoyable afternoon in this delightful setting.

After the prize-giving, there was unlimited champagne and also delicious casse-croutes (nibbles).

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

11th - 31st December 2016. Christmas with our friends on Rook, then fantastic frosty trees, leading up to New Years Eve on Eendracht. More frost on New Year's Day, January 1st 2017.

There has been quite a lot of rain, and this skateboarder cannot come across to us. Il est désolé!

There were 15 of us on Peter`s boat, Rook, for Christmas this year, with everyone sharing the cooking.

Chief chefs, however, were Gorete, Peter and Nikki. We had a great meal!

The ice is starting to encroach on The Puzzler.

We have had fog, followed by frost, creating a freezing wonderland.

All the trees are frozen beside the road, behind the capitainerie.

Along by the River Loire, everything is covered with ice.

Even the grass has a covering of white.

The heavy frost is on all the trees.

Each tree creates a different pattern.
We celebrated New Year's Eve on Eendracht, where a good time was had by all.
With a mixture of cultures, we sang Auld Lang Syne, then continued with the hats and whistles of France. Cora had also brought a metre sized ball of mistletoe, under which we all had to kiss everyone else. No-one was averse to this!

Back on The Puzzler, Shannon tried out one of the hats for size.

However, she decided that she preferred the laid-back ribbon look!

On New Year's Day our winter wonderland was back again, with a bright sunny day to help the icy effect.

Happy New Year to everyone!