Chevroches, Canal du Nivernais

Saturday, 22 August 2009


First time we've tried a video!!!!
Narration by Rob - stating the bleeding obvious...

'Joyriding' Dutch Style?

Wreckage pulled from the canal at Meppel

Do joyriders in Holland steal bicycles rather than cars? Race them around the cobbled streets at the dead of night before dumping them in a canal?

Friday, 21 August 2009


It's hot. 37 degrees C and the steel deck would cook Christmas dinner, never mind fry an egg. An Australian girl in sweltering Rome has just been interviewed on tv cheerfully stating, 'I'm Australian. This is cold!' I feel I should remove our Aussie flag for fear of letting the side down as I drape myself in wet towels in an effort to ward off melting point. Rob decides to test out the lifebelt and clean the boat around the waterline but we're in a town harbour and the water's looking distinctly murky so I'm not about to take the plunge. The locals have no such reservations though. The surf board may be wishful thinking but the Kelly Slater of the canine world seems to be enjoying it. ( Natural or goofy paw???)

Friday, 14 August 2009

A Bridge Too Far - Oldemarkt

There are 6000 kms of navigable waterways in the Netherlands. A good number of the 16 million population owns a boat and many of those take to the water over the summer - not all at the same time fortunately. Not everyone has a car but nearly all have bikes and those who don't use the excellent rail, bus and ferry services. Something like 9 million vehicles on the move in a small country. So, lots of bridges.
Bridges come in all types. Lifting, swinging, floating, operated by bridge keepers remotely or manually, press a button, shout into a speaker, call up on VHF radio, call up or phone a keeper who half an hour later comes pedalling on his bike, pay a kid to do it for you and my very favourite- the bridge that magically detects you cruising up the canal and opens for you. Sometimes you're satisfyingly stopping a motorway and others you're swinging a mainline railway. Some bridges in Amsterdam only open for convoys between midnight and 2 am. I woke up one night and looked out of the window to watch a ghostly convoy of 20 boats swish past in the moonlight.
They're all different and you never know what you're going to be confronted with next. All bridges have operating hours and what I'd really like to know is why the automatic bridges need a lunch break between 1 and 2. Mostly you pass through with just a wave to the keeper but sometimes he/she will swing out a clog on a fishing line for a tip of 1 or 2 euro. The kids of course follow suit. And then there is the bridge to Oldemarkt, marked on the map as self opening.
Self opening usually means there will be an enterprising child looking to earn some holiday money. No child in evidence. We have learned to be observant over the past months - so why no child? Why are there lots of boats tied up this side of the bridge? Why are all the boats around here quite small?
So I jump off into the nettles, clamber up the bank, look at the instructions, all in double dutch and am told by a fisherman that there's no way I have the strength to open this lifting bridge and my husband needs to get off. Meanwhile another boat appears behind us. 'You open the bridge,' they shout, 'and we'll close it.' So Rob gets off and belatedly we realise that the winch is the opposite side of the canal to the boat and once the bridge is open we're on the wrong side. Nevertheless we wind up the winch, then Rob jumps on their boat and gets ferried to the other bank, jumps into the nettles, runs back up the canal, starts our boat casts off, steers through the bridge and moors and waits to pick up me. The growing crowd of cyclists - it's a footbridge - is beginning to grumble. The other boat,a family with at least 4 sulky teenage girls, keeping to their side of the bargain, puts off a rather elderly man - grandad I presume - to wind the bridge down.
So we are through. But the canal ends a couple of kilometres later. All the boats in the harbour at Oldemarkt are small enough to fit under the bridge without opening it. Tomorrow we'll have to come back...
The next day.
I know what to expect. 20 plus cyclists watch as I struggle with the winch.Why does no one offer to help? 'You'll go to heaven.'says one man encouragingly. Any moment now probably.

They all give me a round of applause as I finish and have a near heart attack.
 'You'll live forever I think,' says the man. That's more like it.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Location, Location, Location

  • 2 Storey Detached Villa.*
  • Absolute water frontage in historic, conservation village.
  • Off street paved parking.
  • Opportunity for the handyman/woman to add own finishing touches.

*possible planning application problem

A Pleasant Sunday Afternoon's Cruise

Ever dreamt of an idyllic cruise on the European waterways? Long, hot summer days spent drifting along picturesque rivers. Stopping off in quaint villages for a glass of chilled wine or pilsener and some locally made cheese. Your stress lapping away like the ripples from your boat..... Well, so did a few other people. Sunday afternoon waiting for the bridge to open into the village of Akkrum in Friesland. The last weekend of the school holidays.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Turf Route - cruising from Appelscha to Gorredijk in Friesland

The Turf Route is a narrow, shallow canal in SE Friesland once used to transport turf from the peat diggings. There's only one peat excavation left now and it provides peat for pot plants rather than turf for heating houses.
The canal, which  is open for only 4 months a year, is a step back in time with its manually operated locks and bridges. You pay a small fee at the first lock to cruise this canal but moorings are free.

Many of the bridges are self operated which means someone has to jump off and swing them open.

However, as it's school holiday time most of them have a kid stationed there who will do it and then either swing out a clog on a line or hold out a hat for a tip of 50 cents (1 Aussie dollar). A lock keeper told me they have nearly 2500 boats through in a season so it's a nice little earner.

But you're out in all weathers and you have to guard your spot.

This boy in Appelscha spent so much time there his best friend is of the feathered variety.

Passing through the locks is a slow process which gives everyone a chance to socialise.

The lock keepers are friendly and knowledgeable and happy to chat whilst waitng for the lock to fill or empty.

Other boaters are also friendly. 'So you're the Australians! I've heard about you!'
I never dare ask what they've heard. There are, of course, a few other Aussies cruising around but we all seem to have morphed into the one boat as far as the waterways telegraph is concerned.
The Mythical Aussies! I like to think the myth is not one of those cautionary tales.

Moored just outside Gorredijk. Once you pass through the town lock you leave the Turf Route.

Finally, I have no idea what this means but it was one of lots of poems we found pinned to trees at the junctions of cycle paths in one of huge woods around Appelscha. (click to enlarge) I thought it was a nice idea -read a poem whilst you contemplate which path to take - although Dutch is not the most melodic of languages. One Dutch lady described it as 'pure abracadabra' for foreigners.