Sunday, July 4, 2010

Crom Castle and Russians

The trip back down Upper Lough Erne on Tuesday was fabulous. We didn't leave Enniskillen until nearly four - too much to do. There was beer to be bought (Joe has a passion for English bitter, and Asda had a great supply) and a whole series of other jobs. There was hardly a boat on the water and it was perfectly still. No mishaps at Carrybridge either, where I was extra vigilant. When the water is so calm and oily Winter Solstice leaves a beautiful pattern on the lake behind her. That's our dinghy in the photo, not someone tailgaiting.

We were headed for Crom Castle. This is a National Trust place that is still lived in by the Earl of Erne. The 1,900 acre estate is an important nature conservation site with the largest surviving area of oak woodland in Northern Ireland. The old castle (in the photo) looks out over the water towards a tower on an island. This is one of those follies wealthy people used to build (and probably still do) because they enhanced the view.

It was seven by the time we turned the corner to see the jetty ahead of us, but that's one of the delights of boating in June. Plenty of time to have a shower (we have hot water after the engine has been running), light the barbecue and feel smug because we were the only cruiser on the jetty (there's Joe in the photo below looking smug). There was another boat tied up though - a gorgeous sailing boat that we both recognised as an Ian Oughtred design. This is not to show off. Joe was a keen reader of Wooden Boat magazine for a while, and he'd toyed with the idea of building a day boat himself. Ian Oughtred provides plans and so on, and his designs are stunning, all shiny timber and sweet lines. By coincidence Joe had bought a copy of Wooden Boat in Enniskillen (the photos are pure boat porn), and there was a photo of a craft very like the sailing boat across from us. It turned out it was a Ness Yawl, and the family who owned it were staying in one of the Crom Castle cottages.

We were waiting for the barbecue to be ready when the inevitable happened. Another cruiser appeared at the turn of the waterway. A hire boat. With, it turned out, a Russian couple on board. They had very little English but said they were from Moscow. How exotic! In Ireland! The woman of the boat fell in love with Frankie and every time she passed spent five minutes whispering sweet nothings and petting and fussing her. Frankie was in heaven. She wants to be spoken to in Russian all the time.

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