Monday, September 22, 2014


This was a visitor to Winter Solstice on Saturday night. We were in Richmond Harbour in County Longford in a village that is signposted as Cloondara and Clondra. These signs appear right next to each other on the way into the village. Whatever the spelling it's a sweet spot on the river, although slightly marred by the noise of the traffic on the N5 (just need to go and check that's the number of the road). Tis indeed the N5, which passes through Tarmonbarry also spelled Termonbarry.

The cat was very vocal and had no worries at all about the small dog. Aoife gave it a couple of sniffs then went and put herself to bed. The cat was too confident by half for her. It settled down for a nap once it had checked if there was any food available (there wasn't ).

The weather was unbelievable for the end of September. As we left Richmond Harbour I was stripping off clothes ready for the lock. Yes I know that sounds odd but it can get very hot down in the slime of a lock with the sun beating on the boat and no breeze.

Once we'd done the cycle / car thing, had ice creams, brought the boat to Dromod, we gazed in wonder at the Mediterranean-like lake.

Joe and Aoife watched the boats in the harbour:

We went to order pizza from Harkins Bistro, the little restaurant right beside the harbour. I just opened their website to get the link, came back to the blog when music came from nowhere. I wish they wouldn't do that. It's startling to say the least.

The great thing about the all-new pizza menu at Harkins is that they do gluten-free ones. Amazing! So a pizza apiece and a house salad. We said we were on a boat right there and they said they'd bring it down to us. Half an hour later (they'd warned us they were busy) and I look out of the boat to see the owner and a waitress.
 'The plates are very hot!' said the owner. Jesus. Rush into the boat for the oven gloves. I wasn't expecting this. Takeaways normally come in boxes. The salad was in one of those wonky bowls that are higher on one side than the other. Some service.

Here's the bistro, umbrellas up, outside tables busy.

The pizzas were good. So was the salad. And look at that sky.

Sorry to go on about the weather but really.

Cold at night though. The range is lighting tonight for the first time this year, even though it was sunny all day. I suppose winter will be here soon enough.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Shipping on the Shannon

When we pulled into Dromod this ship was taking up the whole of the end wall. It was Thalassa, a vessel we first saw cruising up Lough Derg. We were in Terryglass, a crowd of us leaning on the wall, staring astonished at this elegant monster, asking foolish questions like 'What is it?'. She tied up on the outer wall, crew and four Jack Russells on board (two of them pregnant). (Jack Russells that is). We had a tour, as did the rest of the harbour. They'd only just brought the boat onto the Shannon, so were still in proud showing-her-off mode. Half the boat is taken up with engines, one of which is the engine to start the engines. She used to be an American patrol boat on the Rhine.

Next morning Thalassa was leaving, but this was no easy lifejackets on and off we go. The pre-engine was rumbling well in advance, giving time to clear boats out of the danger line. The corner behind Thalassa was first. We were tied up on the wall where the harbour narrows - it's not the easiest of harbours for a big boat, requiring a jinking motion as you come in and out.

We moved to the opposite side before Thalassa began her manoeuvres. Here she goes.

The ducks are too busy to notice - someone's throwing bread for them.

I've done this back to front. Before Dromod we were in Drumsna where there was a snorkel / swim in aid of the Simon Community organised by the local sub-aqua club. Forty odd took part, starting below the weir (of course) in Jamestown and following the bend of the river to Drumsna. It took about an hour. Here's some recent arrivals at the slip in Drumsna. This fellow looks like he's grown an extra-long arm.

It was here we met Donnacha Kennedy and his wife Tikkie - their grandson was swimming. It was Donnacha who, in 1975, raised the barge 45M from the bed of Lough Derg, where she'd been resting since she sank in the winter of 1946. I love those unexpected meetings on the river.

Here's Aoife in Rooskey saying 'won't'. She'd just gone belting down the road towards the lock, then trotting back, full of purpose. I've no idea what the purpose was. It's usually to sniff, but not this time. I had trouble keeping up with her. She's had a series of four weekly injections of a drug called Cartrophen, and it's made the world of difference. She was barely walking ten metres before the treatment. It's for arthritis, has mending properties as well as painkilling. At nearly sixteen it's given her a new lease of life (in being bolshie as well as walking).

And here's Winter Solstice in Rooskey. I've just put this in as I like the photo.