Thursday, July 24, 2014

Escape from Lough Derg!

So we finally got away. It didn't happen last year for several reasons, not least because I was launching The Skipper & Her Mate at the Scarriff Harbour Festival at the beginning of August. If we'd gone north we'd have had to come all the way back down again. But off we went upriver last weekend, through Meelick Lock (still working during the usually sacrosanct 1 - 2 pm lunch hour!) and onto Meelick Quay. Here we are in the lock:

Well packed with boats. Everyone seemed to be going north. Nice weather, warm and partly sunny.

For now.

The car was halfway to Meelick - we'd cycled back to Portumna. That afternoon we were going to cycle back for it in lovely sunshine. We stopped at Meelick Quay as it was on the right side of the river for this. Had lunch. You'll have guessed what happened next.

And then this:

It was torrential all afternoon. This bowl and saucepan both filled, were emptied, filled. These were leaks we didn't even know were there. In the galley, in the saloon, cockpit, forecabin (oh no! Joe's bed got wet).

The day didn't improve much. We cycled back for the car. It was further than we thought. The route was disputed. Back at the boat it was discovered I'd forgotten the potatoes.

But there's always tomorrow. Who can beat this:

Taken at Shannonbridge. The jetties here were full. There was a contingent down from the North including Nigel who made the splendid winter covers for Winter Solstice - Irish Spars and Rigging were the company then. Now there's just himself working away.

There was the usual difficulty at Tarmonbarry Lock where the keeper has no interest in pleasing people. Forty minutes to lock down a lock of boats, and then, oh dear, it's one o'clock. Closed for lunch, thank you very much.

We got through the first lock after lunch. I'd say it would take him a couple of hours to clear the backlog. We were heading for Richmond Harbour but had to go the long way round, turning into the Camlin River above Tarmonbarry instead of going via the lock below, the lock having a fault and its mending time being uncertain. I'm glad we did though. It was beautiful. Sitting at the front of the boat daydreaming ...

And here she is in Richmond Harbour.

Back soon. Can't wait.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The walls are rising

So we have Jan (pronounced Yan) doing the groundworks for the new house and Jan (also pronounced Yan) doing the blockwork for the rising wall. Jan is also known as Jano. Jan has a Dutch/Irish accent. Jano's is pure Dub even though he was raised in Clare - Dublin Dad and uncles.

Another hole, only this time even bigger - house size, not shed size. Another enormous pile of topsoil (yes!). Another mound of slig. Here's Jan1 marking out the shape of the house.

And here's the yellow outline of it, as though its just been murdered.

Then they started digging trenches and it all got confusing.

These were filled with concrete, and then Jan2 got to work building the rising walls. The house is going to be timber framed, but needs to sit on several courses of blocks, some of which are called quinlight. Thermally efficient don't you know. Everything in this house has to be thermally efficient.

All ready to go.

And here it is. The size of the rooms comes into being.

This is where you try not to panic. That downstairs bathroom is tiny. How can you fit anything in there? And how will we put everything we want to into the utility room? And surely those two walls aren't parallel when they're meant to be. Joe's the project manager, so we're going to head up there with the measuring tape.

I reassure myself regarding size by thinking of the house my parents have moved into in a retirement village - a two up two down that you'd never think you could get anything in, but it's astonishing what will fit. Clever storage, that's the trick. The kitchen and sitting room are fine anyway.  

Here's Joe on the kitchen wall.

The view's going to be great.

In the meantime I've been planting shrubs I bought in England.

 Photographing them.

 And loving our trees.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Cornwall stories (aka holiday pics)

So Winter Solstice has been out of the water in Portumna having a few things sorted and Joe, Aoife-the-dog and I have been in Cornwall in the camper van. Plenty of boat stuff there - a lot of coastline in Cornwall.

And gulls. Lots of gulls doing this sort of thing (note barbecue in foreground):

Some weird rock formations too. This is a tor on Bodmin Moor called the Cheesewring - apparently it resembles a device once used for making cheese.

It's close to a small village called Minions, along with two stone circles that have very little atmosphere at this time of year. Too many people. So many people even when you walk into the moor.

You could, however, imagine this on a misty night as the winter solstice (not, of course, the boat) approaches, all alone, car broken down, possibly nursing a sprained ankle, the wind keening round the stones keeping ghosts company, the hound howling in the distance, coming closer ...

And then there was the glorious coastline, though no more beautiful than Ireland.

We were in a campsite right out at the west - the further west you went, the lovelier and quieter it was. People in St Ives were talking of it as though it were the ultimate back-of-beyond, a bit like people in Scarriff (7 miles away) talk of where I live. The light is similar to the west of Ireland - clear and blue.

All around were reminders of Cornwall's tin-mining days:

The BBC are making a new series of Poldark here - the tin-mining-family saga set in the 18th century and based on the books of Winston Graham. The set had been created around some of these old buildings just off the coastal walk. They were filming as we walked past. Apparently there's some heartthrob actor in the role of Ross Poldark, the romantic lead.

One of the most beautiful things about this area was the wild flowers along walls, roadsides, banks. You can see the red campion in the forefront of the photo above - it was in flower everywhere.

I'd intended to write about progress on the new house, but this came out instead. More house bulletins soon.