Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Water stealing and clearing the decks

We kept passing these bouys with yellow crosses on top on the way down Lough Derg from Portumna:

Hopeless quality, I know, but I didn't have a proper camera (phone only), we were rocking about a fair bit and I was supposed to be driving. What on earth are they? we said, puzzled. Some kind of hazard, obviously. A quick check of Waterways Ireland's Marine Notices informed me they were monitoring buoys, but gave nothing away about what they were monitoring. Had I been paying proper attention to the Summer edition of the Inland Waterways News Magazine I would have known all about it. A company acting for Irish Water put them there. What's being monitored is the status of Lough Derg in relation to water abstraction - Irish Water plan to filch water from the lake in order to help quench the very heavy thirst of Dubliners, but they can't just go ahead and do it - they have to put in a water abstraction application. 

The lake was as beautiful as ever as we motored south towards home.

Back in Mountshannon Harbour again and Joe was immediately busy blow torching the decks. A very tedious job, but less tedious than using just a paint scraper. There was a huge mass of algae in the corner of the harbour where we put Winter Solstice - you can see it in the photo.

You can also see what the weather was like - Joe was relying on the high pressure forecast to get the job finished.

So he kept going well into the evening:

If you look really closely you can see Winter Solstice on the right hand harbour wall. I'd gone down on the bike with cake.

Next day and this part of the job was nearly done.

As night began to fall ...

... he was onto the last bit. Here we go:

And so we reach the end of another beautiful day:

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Banagher to Portumna

We were both on board with the small dog as far as Meelick Lock. It's an easy cycle back to Banagher for the boat, along quiet and narrow lanes. After that it was Joe on Winter Solstice and Aoife and me in the car. I decided to follow my nose to Portumna instead of going back through Banagher, turning right as I came onto the main(ish) road from Meelick Lock instead of left. I've been caught out like this before. Roads that seem to be going in the correct direction sneakily turn without you noticing until you're miles out of your way.

I thought that had happened to me here when I came out on a proper main road, not too far from Birr. But then I always forget how close we are to Birr on this part of the river. I pulled into a small road, took out my phone. A car came up behind me, then alongside, so I rolled down the window.

'Go that way, then turn right. About ten miles.' Excellent. I did as advised. Two minutes later I knew exactly where I was. I'd found a short cut. I was annoyed I'd stopped and had to ask. Much more satisfying to have come upon it as though I knew where I was going.

I waited for Joe at Connacht Harbour. Lots of sniff time for Aoife.

Here he is coming in:

Nearly home.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

South of Lough Ree again

When we got back to Lanesborough Joe went off to Roscommon with the car and bike and tried to find the station. Not an easy job, it seems. While I was waiting for him to cycle back I went for a bit of a spin myself (have to justify eating cake somehow). When I got back the harbour was full of Shannon One Designs and bustling people - it was the end of a Regatta, and they were all getting ready to go home after the final prize giving.

They've tizzed up the riverside below the bridge in Lanesborough, putting in a whole new walkway. It was being constructed when we were last in the town on our way north. All finished now:

I had to look at this twice when I was picking the photos for the blog. It was only the red marker that made me realise it was in Ireland and not some continental paradise, with a photo snuck into my phone by some alien trying to confuse me.

It was mid-afternoon by the time we set off across the lake heading for Athlone. Flat calm and bright. A good day for it. We tied up against the wall in Athlone and set off on the bikes to see where we would eat. Joe was keen to have a Lebanese meze, but I'm hopeless with those, full after only a couple of courses. We went for it anyway in the end, and had the bright idea of making up our own, smaller meze instead of going for the set menu. Obvious, really.

While Joe went back for the car on the bus I headed off downriver.  A couple of hours later me and Winter Solstice were tucked into Shannonbridge. While Joe used the glorified hair dryer he had on board to remove the deck paint (a new discovery. Happy Joe!) I went for a spin on the bike to Clonmacnoise. It's interesting coming to it along the other, non-water, great highway, the Esker Riada, a ridge from which you can see for miles.

And here's the castle at Clonmacnoise. That blurry thing on the right above the bushes.

It was just after I turned to go back that I had a giant nosebleed (look away now if you're fainthearted about blood). A whole box of tissues wouldn't have staunched it, so I stood dripping on the side of the road until it eased, pretending I was looking for something when cars went past, then cycled back with my head up, breathing through my mouth.

When I got back Joe was on someone else's boat full of chat. Seems they have a house near us in Clare. Quick check of the mirror and clean up the nose so they don't think I've been in a fight.

I was with my mother when we stopped at this gorgeous bridge:

It's a trick. It's not on the Shannon at all. It's the River Dee, dividing Wales from England, Holt on one side, Farndon on the other. I was on a few days visit to Cheshire, bringing my niece Sara back with me.

Who became skipper for a bit as we brought Winter Solstice closer to home. Not a bother with it.

This time it was to Banagher. The walls are so high here, you have to hitch yourself up and out onto your rear end. Not very dignified. We need higher water levels to bring us up a bit in a boat the size of Winter Solstice.

Back soon.