Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wrapped up boat and new van

All wrapped up. The photo was taken by Tom Bailey.
Our first trip in the new van took us to the tip of Cavan to Quivvy Marina and the boat. We needed to check on her and take out all removable things that will go mouldy (bedding, cushions, tea cosy, wooden spooons). This was the first time we'd seen her since she had her new winter cover put on. It is an amazing piece of stitching. With protruberances. Don't laugh! (even though I did).

We stood for a while in awe at the snugness of the boat compared to how she looked in previous years with flapping tarpaulins tied on with bits of string. Which zip to undo first? And how would we deal with the velcroed flaps where the fenders and ropes came out?

The cover is ingenious. The sections that cover the side decks come off altogether so you can have just the dog house and coach house roof protected - useful in summer when you have to leave the boat in the lashing rain for a few weeks. Then, in winter, on go the side deck sections.

It wasn't as difficult as we thought it would be to get in - you can make a door opening at the back - but you have to remember to bring a torch. It's pitch dark inside.

It was threatening rain and in all the rush to get everything off the boat I forgot to take any photos. The one with the half cover was taken by Nigel at Irish Spars and Rigging who made the cover.

The van was brilliant. I spent most of Friday working out where to put everything and packing her up ready for when Joe got home from work. The dogs wouldn't get out the whole day.

First stop Athlone. In the rain but it didn't matter. We were toasty warm and comfortable - great heater. It felt so spacious! Although of course it's not. It's tiny compared to our kitchen. Or sitting room. Or bathroom really. But kingsize for a van and so cleverly designed. Oh I'm smitten. No question.

The kitchen
There's a great advantage in knowing the waterways so well - there's always somewhere to park a camper van. We stopped beside the lock in Athlone in a car park next to an apartment block. Very quiet and close to the good restaurants and bars. They call it Athlone's Left Bank which is pushing it a bit (well, quite a lot), but it does have a feel of an artisan quarter, a castle and, of course, the mighty Shannon.

We went to Al Mezza, an excellent Lebanese restaurant we've been to before. Great food. Very expensive wine though. Really you need to go with a few people. Or at least Joe needs to go with another foody. The meze is fabulous - lots of small courses - but I'm always defeated way before the end.

The second night in the van we stopped at Shannonbridge - riverside again. The Shannon is in its usual state of winter flood - the jetty wall had disappeared completely. We went to Killeen's on the Main Street, a family run pub that's hugely popular with tourists and boaters. Great crack anyway and the Killeens are lovely people. There's a shop attached too that sells everything which was just as well. I had to send Joe on an emergency mission before we could have dinner - chopping an onion is no joke with the sort of knife you use for cutting an egg.

There was live music in the bar. Hmm. We thought we were going to be sitting in the shop when we saw Singer-with-Guitar and one of those boxes that do the chunk chunk noises and a woman in black leather trousers. But actually they were great. Okay they obviously do weddings and so on but she played flute, they had a repertoire that included jazz and bluesy stuff, and I have to report that I did end up dancing. Not alone! There were others dancing.

Can't wait to go off in the van again.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Nicki the new van looks lovely!
    So civilised. You must be delighted.