Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Long Walk Lament

Each leg of the table in this photo has under it a terrine/bread tin containing the paté Joe had just made. Covering each tin of paté is a custom-cut and smoothed piece of wood from the shed. On top of the table is a weighty pyramid pressing down on the wood and therefore the paté. This is a method passed down from father to son which I think is rather lovely.

The paté - made from the pork we had in the freezer got from a neighbour as a whole pig (though butchered and cured etc before entry into our freezer) - is now ready and is delicious, especially the one with prunes.

It had prunes it in as has everything this Christmas - well, I exaggerate of course, but many things contain prunes. They were bought to go in the Christmas pudding, there were plenty of them so became ingredients in the mincemeat. I'm sure there was something else too, but anyway there are still some left...

I had to make two lots of mincemeat. The first, the traditional one, contained suet which I thought was gluten free until I checked the box to see if the remaining suet should go in the fridge (there to wait until it grew a fur coat before being pronounced dead enough to throw away). Fortunately a friend gave Joe and I a copy of Nigella Christmas last year which turns out to be a delightful book. I'm not familiar with Nigella except for the fact that she appears a lot on telly and is rather beautiful. Her suet-free mincemeat is quick to make and delicious. I'm hoping her Christmas pudding will be equally tasty, but we'll have to wait and see for that one.

The cake is made too, but damn it I haven't iced it yet. Must do that tomorrow. However, the marzipan is already glued in place with marmalade so the icing (a cheat's one in a packet) shouldn't take long to do.

If by any chance I have any regular readers they may have noticed I got clamped - unfairly! in Galway a couple of weeks ago. I appealed. This is what happened:

Long Walk Lament
‘The onus is on you to display’, they say
in the poe-faced standard letter reply.
‘We have your money and we’ll not give it back’.
The clampers have clamped. That’s that.

A breath of fresh air from Galway Bay
breezed through the open car door,
flipped the ticket so dutifully bought
to show a blank, not time and day.

The window sticker marked me a cheat,
‘Clamper Man that’s not fair! It’s not!
I fed the voracious ticket machine,
so release me, please, from this lock’.

‘You’ll pay eighty euros to be unfettered
or spend the night perched on the kerb,
someone probably gave you the ticket,
appeal if you like, you won’t be heard’.

I write a letter, ticket enclosed
(a scanned-in copy of course)
but ‘No!’ they say, ‘No exceptions,
our rules will be enforced’.

So parkers beware the draft through the door,
the ticket tipped up or blown over.
No decency left in clampers of wheels,
they want your cash and that’s that.

I have sent them another letter with threats of the Small Claims Court. I'm not holding my breath.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Winter Fix and Waxwings

Getting a fix of the water while Winter Solstice rests in Eamonn Egan's shed in Portumna. This is Mountshannon on a cold sunny Saturday. Very quiet. Two boats only on the Yacht Club's swinging moorings - the rest are clustered in the Club yard, dozing til their spring reawakening.

There was a new arrival in the harbour:

The huge barge on the right is Argo Sneek, a resident of Shannon Harbour for many years. It's like a proper house inside, beautifully fitted out. A lovely houseboat. Not sure how it would fare in a bit of rough.

At the other side of the harbour there was a surprising sight - I could see the jetties. This is the Council-owned part of the harbour, and has always been chocka with gently rotting boats. Flynn, who I posted about a couple of months ago, was here for a few years. Another, which eventually sank, was here for twelve. The sunken boat was, astonishingly, bought, raised and taken away. So look at this while you can:

Come the spring it will doubtless be hogged again.

The lake was flat calm and empty except, no, a boat coming in.

On Sunday evening we were in Mountshannon again, first for the Trad for Teens session a couple of we music teachers have set up, then for an event in The Snug - a fundraiser for the White-tailed Eagle Trust (part of the Golden Eagle Trust). These sea eagles are still living on Lough Derg but I have yet to see more than an outline of one in a tree on the island through a very powerful birding telescope.

However! Today in my garden were four Waxwings eating rosehips from the wild rose and pecking at apples in the big tree outside my sitting room window.

(this is not my photo)
There's an influx of these exotic-looking birds in the UK and Ireland at the moment. Eighteen were spotted at Bunratty in South Clare. They are winter visitors from Scandinavia, but I've never seen one in my garden before.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Winter vigil

A sign of winter. This is Common Bistort, a native perennial that is the first to collapse when the frost hits. This relative of the Dock was also known in Ireland as Snakeroot or Snakeweed, presumably because the rhizomatous roots resemble snakes, although I can't say I've noticed it myself. Thinking about it, though, perhaps this is what people imagined snakes looked like, having never seen them, the good St Patrick having done such a good job of getting rid of them.

Bistort was traditionally plucked when going on a journey, while saying a charm that described it as 'the first herb the Virgin Mary took into her hand.' This does seem a little unlikely, it growing (according to my Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe) in European countries north of the Mediterranean, but perhaps someone had imported it.

Here's how the bistort looked in the summer when it was full of buzzy things:

I found the bit about Bistort and Mary in a wonderful book I have called Irish Wild Plants, Myths, Legends and Folklore. There's a big section on Ragwort too, a plant with jagged leaves and pretty yellow daisy-flowers that is poisonous to livestock. It's also the home to a gorgeous little stripey caterpillar that turns into the exotic Cinnabar moth. And also, according to Irish Wild Plants, the alternative form of transport for witches and warlocks who can't lay their hands on a broomstick. Here's a bit of a Robbie Burns poem describing the goings on:

Let warlocks grim, an' wither'd hags,
Tell how wi' you on ragweed nags,
They skim the muirs an' dizzy crags,
Wi' wicked speed.

I'd never realised ragwort was the speedster of the witchy world.

I put out bird nuts yesterday. Another sign of winter. This morning there was one great tit and one chaffinch, but word got out. Just before lunch there were four great tits, three chaffinches and a robin.

I put all the terracotta tubs into the greenhouse too. All those that haven't already half disintegrated in previous frosts, held together by roots and good luck.

In Galway on Thursday. A lovely day, mild and bright. Coffee and gluten-free chocolate brownie upstairs in McCambridge's, then a hair cut, a spot of lingerie shopping (Marks and Spencer for knickers ha ha), pop the M & S bag onto the back seat of the car which was parked on the Long Walk. Just to right in the picture below, outside the cream building.

Off to my poetry workshop, cup of tea afterwards, back to the car in time to catch the 4.45 limit on the ticket. And I'm clamped! I couldn't believe it. Clamped. I've never been clamped before. I'm the sort of person who frets about being late for my ticket, and having everything paid up. Turns out the ticket had flipped over - must have been when I put the shopping bag into the car, because I checked it when I first left the car. But I still had to pay €80 to get unclamped. Put the price of the knickers up a bit.

I've appealed, of course. Sent off a letter and all that. We'll see if they give me my money back.

We were in Galway again last night for the Savita Halappanavar vigil. A moving event watched by a sliver of new moon. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

From water to wheels

Winter Solstice is out of the water in Eamonn Egan's shed in Portumna, drying out for repair work on the hull. So we're in our winter travelling vehicle. We began the October weekend in Galway, parked down at the docks with several other vans, most of which were from the North. I was reading a poem at the launch of Crannóg magazine in the Crane Bar and we'd planned an early night but then The Lazy Blues Band came on and we couldn't tear ourselves away. Great, foot-tapping music. They play at the Crane the last Friday of every month and we're planning to go again.

Spiddal with friends on Saturday night after a lunchtime poetry launch. My friend Kevin O'Shea's first collection The Art of Non-Fishing is just published with Doire Press, and a fine book of poems it is. The sun shone, we pootled about on our bicycles, had a walk on the beach at Furbo before dinner and watched the Aran Islands appear to levitate.

Then Sunday. Wind. Rain. Would we continue on to Westport and keep in place our plans for cycling along some of the Great Western Greenway? The forecast for Monday was good, but could we trust it? In the end we did. Drove cross country to Killary Harbour, then through the mountains past Doo Lough to Louisburgh. It rained. And rained. And wild wind. But it was still spectacular. Out from Louisburgh is Roonah Point where the ferries leave for Clare Island and Inishturk. The Clare Island ferry was coming in. Beam-on waves and rocking wildly. Into the tiny harbour, turning in its own length, passengers ashore and taken on board. Put our little escapades on Lough Derg in a Force Five into perspective.

We found the camper van spot in Westport down at the harbour.

The sky cleared ready for Monday and we were all set for Achill Island, a place of bog and mountain and great stretches of beach where the dogs ran about and rolled in the sand. They won't go in the water though. Fresh-water dogs these. They tasted the salt once and now keep well clear from that weird stuff.

Next an attempt at coffee in a beach-side hotel. It was what was happening on the beach that attracted us, not the somewhat scruffy look of the hotel.

I've made this beg so you can see these are not birds flitting about above the waves but kites, and attached by lines beneath them are surfers scooting from side to side across the white water. They appeared to have perfect control of their direction, turning back and forth. Inside the hotel the remains of many breakfasts littered the dining-room tables. The kite surfers were staying here. The coffee arrived in a teapot and the smell wasn't encouraging. A whole pot of instant coffee.

We left and went to the Beehive in Keel. Ordered afresh. But it was worth it to see these kite surfers.

From Keel on the south of Achill we took the road signposted Keem Strand. The road went up and up, sheer drop to the left (Joe was driving) with no barrier at all.
'Keep your eyes on the road for god's sake,' I muttered, keeping mine there too. Spectacular views be damned. I had to will us to stay on the road, for in circumstances such as this the van, though normally good at staying in a straight line, would surely take it into its head to swerve over the edge, Joe powerless to stop it.

The view from the other side, though, was stunning.

And finally to the Great Western Greenway. We began at Mulranny and cycled towards Newport. This stretch was 18 km long, but we'd only be able to do part of it, not wishing to leave the dogs in the van for too long. In the end we turned here after 11 km.

What joy to have a dedicated off-road path. The only hazard was other cyclists. There were whole families with baby in a bike trailer and little children on a tandem-type affair or on their own mini-bikes. People on rental bikes (doing one way with a pick-up at the end). Serious cyclists two abreast and not moving over. Hi viz jackets everywhere. Sunshine. Smiles. Grimaces as the unfit staggered up the hills pushing their bikes.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Last trip on Lough Derg

So Saturday did turn out to be our last trip of the year on the lake. A beautiful gift of a day, so unpredictable - I was going to say at this time of year but the way things have been at any time of year. We brought my parents up the lake from Dromaan, planning to leave Winter Solstice in Portumna for Eamonn Egan to lift out.

It's a few years since my parents were on the boat - she was in the north Shannon last, year, and before that on the Erne. Now in their mid-eighties they're not as agile as they were (to put it mildly) so we had quite an operation to get them on board. Winter Solstice is not a stroll-on type of craft. You have to step down onto the cockpit seat from the aft deck, then another big step down to floor level. Previously we've used a small set of steps (bought for the purpose) to get them from floor to seat. This time the steps were necessary for the seat to aft deck bit too. And once in that was it. No getting out until the journey's end.

So why the last trip when this weekend is so lovely? Several reasons, but the main one turned out to be the phone call from Eamonn this morning to say Winter Solstice was safely in his big shed. We'd thoughts of a mooch about the lake, then through the bridge to Connacht Harbour, but no worries. The garden is in need of work and there's no better place to be than the Hollow on a day like this. Even better than the lake.... or maybe not. A close call.

Another glorious place to be in autumn is Coole Park. I was hoping the swans would be there making their raucous noise but no sign or sound of them. There were deer though, the stags in their full regalia.

Our own deer have been rutting. Making their own raucous racket in the woods around here. One big fellow was at it all day (do they get a sore throat?), and appeared in the field below the Haggard at dusk still roaring. Several females were keeping close, and they all ran off together towards the river.

The garden harvest continues. Here's a little and large moment:

Beef and cherry. All picked now and finishing ripening on the table in the passage. The tiny one is a Mexican Midget. Mini tomato, huge flavour.

Off down the garden again now. Joe's gone up to Eamonn Egan's yard to retrieve bedding, cushions, wooden spoons and tea cosy from the boat. We won't be needing to put on the winter covers this year.

Friday, October 5, 2012


The best autumn colours so far this year are in the lean-to glasshouse on the gable end of the barn. These are vine leaves. I'm loath to cut down this glorious display but I'm dicing with a stitch-in-time situation. The leaves drop suddenly, almost all at once, and become a fiddly awkward job to pick up, falling as they do among the clutter of pots, tools, boxes and all the other detritus of an untidy gardener. I'm still risking it, going into the greenhouse warmth to bask, looking out across the courtyard and soaking in the sensation of sunshine.

Along with red vine leaves are red apples littering the lawn. They're smaller than usual, but at least we have them. Many orchards have suffered this year from the cold summer and resulting lack of pollinating insects. Flocks of fieldfares have been scouting, pausing in the trees around the Haggard but not settling yet, having no desire for apples in their still not-yet-rotten state.

So the job began. The extra freezer turned on, then out to the Haggard armed with carriers bags filched from countries that still give them our for free, harvesting windfall apples. Four bags full thank you very much. Wait for them to freeze, defrost, through the fruit press and our first juice of the year.

The garden is full of seeds and berries. It's also full of birds. Two blue tits this morning, landing on these spikes of knotweed, bullfinches last week. A robin beneath picking up anything dropped. The tits and finches have their acrobatics well-honed, landing on a delicate stalk and taking the droop as it bends beneath them, balancing finely as they peck at the ripe seeds.

In case of panic this is KNOT Japanese knotweed but a native variety.

Blackbirds are squabbling over the profusion of rowan berries. Piping calls echo through the Hollow.

And in the Grove, deer footprints. The (oh so adorable) feckers are eating my garden again.

Friday, September 28, 2012

From out waters to in waters

The harbour, Clifden
On Friday I drove out to Clifden at the tip of Connemara to read some poems at Clifden Arts Week. It's become an annual gig for my poetry group Skylight Poets. For the past three years we've read from our latest anthology, but this year there wasn't one. Instead we're starting up a new poetry journal. I'm one of the editors, madly learning a new desktop publishing package and designing the first issue, due out in January. We plan to produce another issue in July, then we'll see where things go from there.

 It was into the back of Foyle's Hotel on Friday night - the bit they call Mullarkey's - to listen to The Unwanted: Cathy Jordan, Rick Epping and Seamie O'Dowd were playing a mix of American and Irish music. There was a young fellow warming up the stage before them singing fantastic blues and playing steel guitar and harmonica. I'm fairly sure his name was Nicholas Timothy but it could have been Timothy Nicholas.

Saturday and there was A Plan. After a look around the exhibitions in Clifden, of which there were many, I drove to Dromaan via home to pick up the dogs and some clothes. Meanwhile Joe had taken the boat from Scarriff along with supplies for the night and morning. We met in Dromaan at four (great timing by both) and headed up the lake to Rossmore for a dinner date. Three boats, six people, five dogs.

We were the only ones there by boat but it was popular with fishing people. It's fairly isolated, reached along small lanes from the main Whitegate to Portumna road. And on the water it can be pretty rocky when the wind is coming from the south east - which it was that evening, but only blowing force three or four. It was a few years since we'd been there, so good to revisit. The dogs liked it too, especially the tasty snacks they found on the road out of the harbour, traversed twice daily by milking cows. Cow shit all the way, and back onto the boat both inside and outside Aoife.

The next morning was flat calm and beautiful.

We headed off mid-morning back to Dromaan. My garden was calling. So much rain, so much weeding not done because everything is waterlogged.

Not much better today. The sun is shining but the vegetable beds are sodden. Maybe tomorrow I'll get a bit more done. Ho hum. Tunes tonight anyway in Mountshannon - there's a trad festival on, a low key affair and all the better for it. We'll be playing in the hotel, our usual summer session with Cliodhna Donnellan and Seamus Bugler.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Brian Ború's ghost

This is Béal Ború or Brian Ború's Fort just outside Killaloe on the Scarriff road. We cycled there from the boat on the new jetty at Killaloe itself. The fort is right beside the river, although you can barely see the water through the many trees, mostly beech. Here's a peek of it from the opposite side of the fort to the above photo.

Precisely what Brian Ború had to do with this place isn't altogether clear - his main seat of operations was at the top of the hill in Killaloe itself where his palace of Kincora stood. What I find most interesting about the site, though, is its really ancient history. Hundreds of stone implements have been discovered here during various excavations - hammer stones, axes, perforated stone sinkers for lines and nets for fishing. Just beyond the trees seen in this photo is where the River Shannon narrows (boaters pass between two markers here) and becomes shallow - a natural crossing place for people and livestock. A place to defend - whoever controlled the ford had power.

In the centre of the fort is a big hollow. Stones had been arranged for bonfires in the middle. It must be tremendously atmospheric in the dark with the flames leppin and cracklin and all those ghosts milling around behind you. Spooky I'd say. You'd want company when going for a pee in the bushes.

We were in Killaloe to try out the new Tuscany Bistro - new to Killaloe that is, or, rather, Ballina. It's other incarnation is closer to Limerick in Annacotty, but they've now taken over the premises of the old River Run (Run River?) restaurant. They also look to be expanding into next door - their livery is painted over the two shops - but, according to the planning notice in the window,  they're waiting for change of use from retail to restaurant.

The exciting thing about Tuscany Bistro is that they do gluten-free. What joy when I saw the small print under the pastas. A whole new choice opened before me. The pasta dish was good, but the desserts were the best. Another time I'll go for a salad - they seem to have a dressing that people rave about. A nice evening, even though our food arrived at different times (not good). But they gave us a very big glass of wine each in recompense, so they were forgiven. I'll certainly go again.

Cycling round Killaloe I found a path I didn't know existed. I'd turned up past the petrol station on the way back from Béal Ború, leaving Joe to return to the boat. At the top of the hill, just before the centre of town, was a signed laneway to the left. 'Viewing Point' it said, so off I went to view. Here's what I saw.

Some view! And there was a boating person I knew in her back garden moving her leeks to give them more room. The pathway continued along towards the bridge so I too continued. Took this photo. And I've only just noticed when flagging these pics for inclusion in the blog that there's Joe cycling along the jetty.

What are the chances of catching that?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A week on Derg

We had a week on the boat before I went to visit my parents in England and before Joe flew to South Africa (Pretoria) to a conference. In between I was doing the final revision of the manuscript for a book that's coming out next year - yes! It's about Winter Solstice and her crew on the waterways. You will be kept informed.

We're still just messing about on Lough Derg, but this time we made it all the way up to Terryglass. Though we began in Mountshannon and got caught there for a day longer than we'd planned partly because we were enjoying it and partly because it was very windy and the dogs get upset when the lake is a bit rough.

We did a car shuttle to Dromaan using the bikes, and on our way back noticed a gallery open just before the turn down to harbour. Through a courtyard with fabulous views of the lake, in through an open door to a big bright room to find Elizabeth Carrington at her desk (? I'm sure artists don't call the table they work at a desk). We ended up buying two prints of her paintings - big ones, on high quality paper. We paid half the money and left them there as we were on the boat - and we still haven't picked them up. Isn't that terrible. It's just been a bit too hectic the last couple of weeks. But I can't wait to get them home and hang them.

In Dromaan Harbour we found Flynn, Winter Solstice's sister boat who's been bought by someone who is (hooray!) doing her up. It was terrible to watch Flynn steadily deteriorating in Mountshannon. The same people also bought the boat Flynn is tied to whose name I can never remember. Two projects. Not for the fainthearted. Poor Flynn looks terrible at the moment (she's the blue one), but that's because all the bad things are being undone before the good things are done.

Flynn and her companion
Others were able to relax as they don't have a project boat.

On the lunch break
After Dromaan it was Dromineer where we had to avoid Shannon One Designs on the way in - they'd been having a regatta for the past week.

SODs at Dromineer
We were walking the dogs through the Yacht Club, having a look at the other SODs lined up along the shore and got chatting to a couple who also had a small dog. A bit less than Aoife-sized. Aoife loves that - someone shorter than her! Joe got lots of brownie points for naming the little fellow a Norwich Terrier. A game progressed between the dogs as we chatted - not Frankie though, who wasn't impressed. Turned out our new friends, although from Ireland originally, lived in Cheshire not too far from my parents, were members of Nantwich Choral Society (my hometown), had put on an Irish music event with musicians we used to play tunes with... then the small dogs decided they'd had enough grown-up chatter. Time to go. Bark bark bark. Two of a kind.

We met again at Terryglass. Some of us drank too much wine. But not these two:

In the shade
It was hot. Shorts came out, and bicycles. We stayed another night and had dinner in the Derg Inn with our new friends. The Derg Inn is reasonably priced again. For a while, when everything went mad and people were charging stupid money for food, we stopped eating there. Went next door to Paddy's which is perfectly good but lined with televisions showing sport. An excellent burger and chips in the Derg Inn for around €12-13 (sorry crap at remembering prices). Good wine. Good atmosphere.

The harbour was packed, even with the new jetties. We hadn't been in Terryglass since they were put in. And there's electrics too, like so many harbours now. We're getting spoiled, but at least we can charge up our devices.

WS in Terryglass - we still daren't take off the bimini rain cover in spite of the sunshine

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Dinghy full of water

Festival session in Shortt's Bar, Feakle

We went to Winter Solstice today for the first time in a week apart from a quick spin-by at the weekend. It was the Feakle Traditional Music Festival and we've been on festival time, playing tunes every night in sessions, going to bed at three (or four or five) and getting up very late. Today was wild with wind and rain, and we'd had mad torrential weather on Tuesday, so we were worried about the dinghy in Mountshannon Harbour. She was surely full of water. So we wanted to take her out and bring her home.

We needed life jackets, and a boat hook, all of which were on Winter Solstice, so we called at Scarriff to pick them up. And there was a letter! In the cockpit. People read my blog! Thank you Andrew and Helen, crew of Woodpecker. And yes, we'll definitely be back on lovely Lough Erne again.

The dinghy was indeed full of water, but still afloat. Joe set about baling

Baling out
while I had a look about. The lake was very high. Another boat here that needs baling:

The swimming area in Mountshannon
We pulled the dinghy round all the moored boats on the council jetty where we'd tied her temporarily, me with the painter and Joe with the boathook. Then I had to let go and Joe was on his own. I thought I'd lost him at one point. He was pushing straight into the roaring gale, had had to let go with the boathook and the wind caught him. He and the little blue boat were on their way to the Yacht Club's floating moorings. But no! He managed to haul out an oar and regain control. Here she is with her mast unstepped (destepped?):

Waiting for the trailer
And out she comes:

Ready for home
We had a mooch about the harbour before we left and spotted this:

Hein Goodewind
An old timber cruiser from the Norfolk Broads. The owners came back from the shop as we were leaving and we were able to have the typical timber boat owners' chat. Leaks (where, not if). Painting (also varnishing). Winter covers (importance of). The question everyone asks (with or without sharp intake of breath); 'needs a lot of work does she?'

This boat is a lot older than ours. It seems there were four of them imported into Ireland at the same time. This is probably the only one still in regular use - or, indeed, still in one piece, although there may be another being worked on in Shannon Harbour. Maybe we'll go and have a look. Hoping to go off for a jaunt this weekend. If this wretched (but also exhilarating) wind ever dies down so we can get up the lake.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Launching of the boat

Holy Island from Knockafort
An unexpected invitation to celebrate the launching of a boat. Doug had built an Ian Oughtred designed boat and it was ready for the water. There are two masts yet to be stepped, and no sails, but there are four oars. It was Thursday, that first true summer's day, and this was just what we needed. We'd been in Feakle the night before, playing at a session, bed at 4.30. Sunshine and water would bring us back to reality.

Ian Oughtred boats always have beautiful lines and look gorgeous in or out of the water. This one was no different.

Preparing for launch
We'd drank the wine (or in our case orange juice, an after-the-night-before necessity), all the witnesses were assembled, and into the water she went.

Afloat in calm waters (and a tilted horizon)
The family were the first to take her out, as is only right. The boat needs three people to make the most of her. Two at the oars and one at the rudder. They disappeared towards Holy Island on their inaugural voyage having been sent off by first a piper then two flutes and a banjo.

Out into the misty distance

Joe and I played The Launching of the Boat. After that it was all water themed. Out on the Ocean, Ships are Sailing and so on until we ran out of ideas. Then the swimming togs came out. I've never swam from here before - or launched a boat from here for that matter - but it seems you can swim out to the reeds you see in the photo and stand on the sandy bottom. A destination!

Get set
And they're off

The first party returned from their maiden voyage. The boat behaved beautifully. Everything worked.

Rowing through reflections
 Suddenly I wanted to be in the water too, the first time this summer I'd even entertained the idea - for obvious shite weather reasons. But I'd no togs. No towel. However, there is always underwear... Collette and I went in together - she had togs and towel. Silky lukewarm water. Head under to ease the hangover. Out to the gap between the reeds to stand on the sandy bottom but oh god feet down and slimy river weeds with likely slimy things living in them. Gulp.