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.


Saturday, 25 November 2017

7th - 19th November 2017. Fuel delivery before the Roanne Port Dinner. Shannon likes the autumn leaves, and a kingfisher appears on a wall by the port.


We have taken the easy option this year to fill up with diesel from a tanker. It is a great deal easier than carrying it to The Puzzler in containers!

The Port Dinner was held in the Capitainerie function room this year.


There were 45 boaters from the Port of Roanne here.

A good time was had by all.


Come on now! This is a serious photo!


Les Français s'amusent.


It is nice to see Hervé, our capitaine, here too.

Katya and Jeremy, from L'Authentique, prepared a splendid meal for all of us.



A lot of bushes have been cleared, near to the river Loire.


The stepping stones are easy to use, when the water is as low as this.



Shannon loves to play in all the fallen leaves.


Meanwhile, at the end of the port, a kingfisher is appearing on a building.

By lunchtime on the second day, the background is nearly complete, and our artists are starting on the kingfisher.



By late afternoon it is nearly finished.


What a masterpiece!

Saturday, 18 November 2017

20th October - 6th November 2017. A visit to Norfolk, a college reunion for our 70th birthdays, then on to Cheltenham.

Our visit to England starts on the Norfolk broads where we were lucky to see a Norfolk wherry in full sail.


Then it is on to the Norfolk coast at Titchwell Marsh bird reserve, in bracing weather!


Back to Saham Toney where Andy is with his sister and brother.

On to Wiltshire, where we visited Bowood House, the home of the Marquis of Lansdowne, with all my college friends. These gardens were designed by Capability Brown.


We have all reached the age of 70 this year, so are gathered together to celebrate this occasion.


Mike is very kindly hosting our reunion, and calls us all to our celebratory dinner.

Everyone contributed to this grand occasion, and I think the meal ended up with 7 courses! It was so nice to catch up with all the news, and it seemed only yesterday that we were all together in Durham at Neville's Cross College.

Next we went on to spend time with Debbie and Matt. Our first outing was to Bourton on the Water, where the mini now has a good shape. Last time we were here, it was a work in progress!


The bridges in this town really give it its character.


The view of Cheltenham from Cleeve Hill is spectacular.

However, behind Andy, Debbie and me, the sky is threatening. Many thanks to Matt for sharing this, and other, of his quality photos.


The lone tree, on the top of Cleeve Hill, is very distinctive.

The sky keeps on changing, around Cleeve Hill.


The next day we went to Batsford arboretum, to see the autumn colours, with Matt and Debbie.


The house, nestling among the trees, is not open to the public.


There are some lovely autumn colours here in the Arboretum.


Debbie rubs Buddha's tummy, as everyone must!


Meanwhile Matt catches a good pose by the deer.

On our route southwards to the ferry, we visited Bathampton on the Kennet and Avon, where the line of narrowboats stretched away round the corner.


On the ferry Normandie, this mare and foal seemed to be very contented.


Down on the car deck, taller people had to duck to get to their cars! This is our first car for 10 years!

Saturday, 21 October 2017

13th - 19th October 2017. Having loaded our wood on to The Puzzler, we continue along the Canal Latéral à la Loire, and then the Canal de Digoin à Roanne.

At least half of our logs are now covered on the roof of The Puzzler, and Shannon is trying to uncover them again. We had to offset them to the port side, so that she could still walk up and down the boat.

After an extremely misty morning, the sun has suddenly broken through, so I needed the bridge as a sunshade! Some more wood is here in the cratch, while the rest is safely inside the boat. If it were all on the roof, we would be very top-heavy, and rather unsafe!

These trees have suffered from being hosts to the large balls of mistletoe, and are now dying because of this.

On reaching the start of the Digoin to Roanne canal, we feel as though we are nearly home, although we still have over 50 kilometres to go.


Here are some thirsty young charolais cattle.


Shannon and I are walking between the locks at Chambilly. The trees are just starting to turn yellow, as autumn approaches.


On to Artaix, where there are as many camper vans as boats! Shannon loves the leaves.

Our canal travels parallel to the river Loire, and the Loire valley is quite wide here, with small villages along the top of the surrounding hills.

Every time we pass  near to Iguerande, we see this sign directing us to the donkey farm.


It is possible to take one of their donkeys out for a walk, as this family are doing.


Autumn is coming, and the canal above the lock at Briennon is full of leaves!


Our last lock of 2017, as we enter the Port of Roanne. We have been through 672 locks this year and travelled 1756 kilometres (1098 miles).

We have the same place in the port as we had last year, though we must vacate it for the next couple of weeks, while we are away in England. This is the first time that we have seen the fleet of day boats in residence here.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

1st - 12th October 2017. After Beffes we walked by the River Allier, then crossed it on the aqueduct at Le Guetin. A visit to friends at Nevers, then on along the Canal Latéral à la Loire to find more friends at Beaulon. Finally on to Pierrefitte for our winter's wood.

We moored at Beffes, hoping to top up our water, and to have electricity overnight. However it is now October, and they have both been turned off for the winter!


These little red beetles seem very happy here.


It is a good walk down by the river Allier, from Le Guetin. The aqueduct behind us is a splendid structure.


Shannon was more interested in retrieving her stick!

The staircase lock at Le Guetin leads us up to the aqueduct. We need our longest rope at the bows for the bottom lock here.

As we cross the aqueduct, the river Allier is far below us. Shannon has had a trim, so she wears her lifejacket each morning to keep her warm.


A most impressive aqueduct.
We went down to Nevers to visit friends, who had been in Roanne with us last winter. It was a really good day, with a game of quilles too.


We were sad to say au revoir.


Is this a Praying Mantis? He came to visit us, but had little to say!


We have had several wild moorings on the canal Latéral à la Loire.


That evening we were treated to a lovely sunset.


It is nice to see a few more boats about. Two boats going up in a lock is OK, so long as we are all careful.
Another wild mooring underneath an oak tree. The only disadvantage of this was that the acorns fell on the roof of the boat throughout the night, which was a little noisy!
Moving on to Beaulon, we found six boats already there! However our friends invited us alongside, and we had a lovely evening with them the next night.
After that it was on to Pierrefitte for our winter's fuel. We could choose our wood this time, and it was then cut, and delivered to The Puzzler within 24 hours. Now all we have to do is lift it on to the boat!