Friday, April 25, 2014

The Unwrapping, Garry and Terry

Easter Bank Holiday and the weather was looking good. Time for Winter Solstice to wake from her slumbers and get out of her bed clothes. First we took off the 'skirts' that cover the decks, taking care to fold them so the red (for port) and green (for starboard) were on display for that impossibly far off time called winter (I wish). To save the knees and ensure the shock cords that hold the covers on didn't drop into the water we pulled the boat round to attend to the port side. Then off with the doghouse cover. Himself looks very pleased with progress doesn't he?

Final folding ...

... and here she is:

It was getting on for evening so we didn't want to go far. Would it be Dromineer or Garrykennedy? Indecision! We tossed a coin, heads Garry, tails Dromineer. It was heads. Turn right and engines full on. Out past Hare Island and the waves were coming beam-on all the way from Scarriff Bay, so it took a bit longer than usual, into the waves and wind before turning once we reached the lee shore.

All the most sheltered berths at the land end of the jetties were taken, so we had a bit of a rocking going on. Lovely. And the view was great.

Look at that blue sky!

Next day we decided a cycle was in order as a few cobwebs picked up in Larkins Bar the night before needed blowing away.

'Let's go up the road beside the woodland walk,' said Joe.
'OK, but I'm sure it's a dead end,' said I. 

Bikes off the boat, gear on, faffing faffing, then away.

Then back to the boat for mobile phone (location map), and while I'm there the water bottle, oh, and a pump might be useful. 

The 'dead end', it turned out, was nothing of the sort, but was marked as a cycleway. Off we went up a bit of a hill to start us off, turned right, then right again, passing the sign saying no through road to traffic (ha! I was only seeing ahead of myself), walkers only, just to see. We thought we'd be turning back in five minutes, but no, on we went, fabulous views across the lake, a quiet winding road, and a puncture.

This puncture had been patched just before Joe put the bike on the car to bring it to the boat. That wasn't the first attempt to sort it but the third. You can imagine his mood. But I had a bicycle pump! Sadly, I'd not gone the one step further and put in the spare inner tube. Still, the tyre went up and Joe was already pedalling away so on we went to see where this road ended. So far the road was narrow but perfectly driveable. After another uphill the tyre was down again. Hills really did it. The pump experienced more action than ever before in its short life. I had to admire Joe's forbearance. We came out onto the main road to Portroe, passing several cars on the way. No idea what the no through road business is.

The lake was mill-pond flat, the sky was blue. It was time to head upriver to Terryglass. This is looking back towards Garry.

Garrykennedy is regularly called Garry, but I've never heard Terryglass called Terry. So I'll do it here. Terry was already busy when we arrived. We'd dropped anchor in Black Lough behind Illaunmore for lunch, so it was late afternoon. A nice space on the wall, though, in front of Dermot and Jacintha's Corncrake

We've a new way of keeping the small dog happy. This is her travel bed and she loves it:

Nothing like a bit of comfort for an old lady.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Somewhere for a cup of tea

You can judge the different quantities of traffic on the Irish canals compared to those in England by the size of the marinas - or at least the marinas on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire. I was there with my parents last weekend, in search, as always, of a place for a little run out and a morning coffee. It has to be easily accessible as my mother has a dicky knee, and this place was just the business:

It even has a resident boating type with beard - a very nice fellow, whose companion had dodged out of the picture. In this building is a café, a reception area, noticeboard with boats for sale and so on, a small shop selling maps, guidebooks, the boating equivalent of bachelors' rations as found in country pubs in Clare.

The café was very good, even though it had a feel of the garden centre café about it. There is a phenomenon here that has spread around England, people visiting not to buy plants, or because they are on a boat, but for the restaurant experience. There's a huge garden centre near where my parents live that began as a tiny local nursery. It's just been taken over by Wyevale, and is in the process of getting not only bigger but less and less to do with gardens. The retail side has opened out to include Lakeland, Edinburgh Woollen Mill, shops selling clothes, shoes, cute things to put on your mantelpiece and so on. The plant bit just makes the coachfuls of visitors feel they're doing something outsidey.

I digress, as do the marinas. This one does have boats, lots of them, but many people, including us, come for the cup of tea and the view:

This one also has a water taxi - there it is in the photo with the blue frilled canopy. It takes anyone who wants to go the short distance to Audlem where it lets you out just below the lock to visit the pubs (very good, with excellent ale), or buy supplies other than bachelors' rations.

There is also a small caravan site - full, with two caravans and a camper. We know all about this diversification in Ireland, though not on the canals but beside the Shannon, and not in caravan sites but in the harbour carparks. We're all just travellers looking for somewhere to go.

One of these days Joe and I will take a narrowboat from somewhere like this and explore the English canals. Oh, I haven't said where this is. It's called OverWater Marina, and it's off Coole Lane near Nantwich. Coole Lane was a favourite when we went out hacking on our ponies as children, and it's been a favourite with Joe and I on bikes visiting the home place. Just off Coole Lane is the Secret Bunker, set up during the Cold War, but that's another story.