Tuesday, April 24, 2012

To Mountshannon not by boat

Turf just cut on the bog
The cycling enthusiasm knows no bounds! Never mind that we have to heave ourselves up an outrageous hill to get out of the place. Once on the top it's worth every bit of sweat. On Saturday we turned right at Ryan's Bridge, up the hill (Oh gods will I make it?), then turn right through Corrakyle and keep going til we hit the bog.

The road back, and our valley in the distance
Looking back we can see our valley way off in the distance. Fields are green down there, and the Asness River, which we're at the top of now, turns into a series of wild waterfalls.

The tarmac finishes just about here, and we're onto a rough track winding between hillocks still brown with winter. A pair of ravens tumble and squabble in the wind which is thankfully at our backs. And onward! Mountshannon calls.

Lough Derg
After the bleak beauty of the mountain we join the tarmac coming up from the other side and it's all downhill. Lough Derg flashes blue, a great expanse of water we don't normally see from up here. A reward of coffee in The Gallery, a couple of purchases at the Mountshannon Farmer's Market held in The Snug every Saturday, then on to Scarriff. Oh my legs. We choose to go via the quieter Middle Line, but it's very up and down with the ups seeming steep steep steep.

We cheated. We brought the car with bike rack to Scarriff before we set out. I don't think we'd have managed the big haul back up to our house. But next time! Definitely. We did 29 km. Oh so smug and happy.

And another reward. The Snug Restaurant is open again under the capable management of Molly who ran a stall on Killaloe Market for years. Hurray! Saturday night dinner out.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

On the water again

As we left Albert Marina late in the afternoon it was threatening to rain. No matter. Winter Solstice had been partly uncovered, the beds were made up and dogs and Erin, our extra crew, were on board. We'd already taken off the 'skirts' that covered the side decks so Joe could work on the galley-in-progress. The skirts began above the windows, so it was lights on inside to be able to see.

Chris, the gas fitting man, spent a day with Joe putting in the new cooker and fridge. The cooker is slotted into the cutout in the counter Joe created from plywood, as is the original sink. We bought tiles - an end-of-line from Woodies in Carrick - which we'll stick on over the next few weeks. The sink is the opposite way round with the drainer on the left. Much better! And it's all higher up too. Easier for playing house.

Half of Albert Marina seemed to be heading upstream. They were going to Lough Key, we heard, where the new jetties provided electricity for all those home comforts. We were staying closer to our starting point - Jamestown would do for now. Erin's berth was in the camper van so it was quick cycle back to the marina to pick it up.

Saloon dogs
Next day Cootehall.

This is a rare picture of the dogs curled up together in the saloon taken while I was doing the washing up as we were going along. Aoife is generally in the forepeak at the foot of our bed while Frankie is either in the cockpit with us or on the floor in the galley. There are advantages to being deaf - Aoife is no longer bothered by scary engine noises.

Winter Solstice at the wall in Cootehall

From Cootehall we cycled to Rockingham, coming in the back way. We'd been told about this back way in by Cormac who lives in Jamestown - you can cut off a big corner and the main road - but had forgotten about the section of his directions that said turn right at the octagonal house. Instead we turned, at the first opportunity, up a road that said 'Bog Trail'. It twisted and turned, a narrow path between many trees, a good trial for the three of us on our hybrid bikes.

Bike rest
Eventually we were in the Rockingham demesne. On a corner overlooking the lake we stopped at a ruin in the process of being renovated. A pause to catch our breath.

New jetties at Rockingham - there were more to the right.

It took us ages to find the new jetties. A wrong turn in forestry, then twisting through tracks, past a camp site, but not the Lough Key campsite, another wrong turn until finally we reached the visitor centre just in time for Joe to blag his way in and buy biscuits. The jetties were packed.

Bikes at Cootehall
And back to the boat for an all-American burger feast cooked by Erin in the van while the bicycles had a rest.

A final shot. Erin at the helm.