As we traditionally stop our blog across winter as we’re not travelling so much last year we did a photo review of the year which we enjoyed doing & we hope you enjoyed reading so here’s the 2021 offering.
We started the year in lockdown again moored at Tullamore as we’d been awaiting mums gallbladder operation at the end of Jan but that was cancelled as Covid cases rocketed. Then although we were in a 5km restriction it soon became apparent as this was ongoing that we needed to move 55km to get pumpout as the holding tank would never last. As Waterways Ireland lock keepers were under covid restrictions we were extremely grateful for Tom from IWAI taking us up the Ballycommon lock flight. It was a stunning but freezing cold day. From there we were onwards through to a snowy Daingean & eventually a frosty Ticknevin.
Eventually we made it back to Lowtown where we got the necessary pumpout & we initially moored just up the arm but the internet signal was too poor for us there so we moved slightly further along down the old Main line of the Barrow navigation.
Mum was busy completing lockdown projects of her painting by numbers giraffe picture & macrame plant holders. We also finally got our Christmas pressies delivered by Santa Jimmy the lock keeper after Ann from Ferbane had kindly brought them up to him.
We cruised around the little loop of the Barrow old & new lines a couple of times & walked past the wonderful Hendys castle each day. Also mum experimented with a technique for managing the locks by herself using an old anchor warp, a length of chain & a magnet as lockdown was going on & on & on… We celebrated our one year anniversary in Ireland by errr staying in as that’s all we’re allowed to do!
We next caught up with the Sallins gang down at McCreaveys for a subdued 2nd St Paddys day in lockdown
As a year had passed since we first arrived that fateful date of the year when our annual injections are due dawned. Last year we had them at Edenderry this year mum cruised down the Naas branch as there was a vets within walking distance of the harbour. We told her we didn’t mind not having them but mum insisted & as it turned out we needed them much sooner than we thought. This time Ais was our lock wheeler down the Naas flight & she even performed surgery on Falcon who had a puncture. We loved the mooring in Naas Harbour & had intended to stay a couple of weeks but best laid plans & all that!
After only a few days at Naas Mum got a phonecall from Tullamore hospital to say they could do her op at the end of March. Not wanting to miss the slot mum grabbed it so we were off back up the Naas flight to moor at Sallins near a tap & other boaters as mum wasn’t going to be fit enough to cruise for a while. We were bundled off to Woofys & Snuggles Kennels & mum was bundled off to Tullamore hospital. We were very grateful to Erin & Dave for running mum to the hospital & looking after her the night of her op.
We had a gentle month with mum recuperating although there was excitement when Rosie, Steve & Philpot arrived with their boat from the Uk.
Mum went on quite a few day trips to Dublin by bus & train visiting Grand Canal Dock, Croke Park, Dublin Castle, EPIC Museum & Dublin Zoo as well as a long cycle ride to the beautiful Blessington Lake.
Well we were still in lockdown 5 months into 2021 when we saw a glimmer of hope as it was announced some restrictions were to be lifted early May which meant the waterways reopening & the lock keepers coming back on full duty. Yippee!!! We can set off cruising. We made our way up to Robertstown via Digby Bridge as mum decided as the year was starting late we’d do the River Barrow this summer rather than shooting along the Grand canal to Shannon harbour. Then disaster struck & mum tripped over her own mooring rope in the dark & fractured her elbow. So after barely seeing a Doctor in the 7 years living aboard in the UK so far in Ireland we’d had fractured ribs, a gallbladder op & now a fractured elbow. Let hope that’s her three! Then another disaster struck you almost couldn’t make this up. We’d been delayed awaiting mums appointment at the fracture clinic when there was a huge cybersecurity alert as hackers got into the Irish HSE websites & yes you’ve guessed it mums appointment was cancelled on the morning of it. As it wasn’t looking hopeful mum would get another appointment anytime soon she decided to set off one armed on our cruise down the Barrow. Good job she did as we never heard from the hospital again! So finally we were Barrow bound.
Our first stop was Rathangan & then it was onto Monasterevin under the lift bridge & crossing the River Barrow as we were still on the Barrow Navigation ie canal at this point.
We enjoyed our stay down at the harbour under the lock & mum got a visit to Kildare Stud & Japanese Gardens in. Then it was off to Fisherstown & Vicarstown where we caught up with Marie & Sally.
Then our last stretch of canal cruising as we traversed Athy & dropped down onto the River Barrow at Ardreigh. Here we met the amazing Bernie & Charlie who invited us all for dinner & joy oh joy the pubs finally opened outdoors so we sampled the delights of the Auld Shebeen. It was a wonderful mooring at Ardreigh & it was hard to drag ourselves away but further adventures beckoned. It’s then we met the wonderful lock keeper Billy who became such a huge help to us most of our way down the Barrow.
So we were off downstream stopping first at Maganey Bridge. We had to be very brave on the planks there & mum had her first dip in a rather chilly River Barrow.
Then it was onto Carlow where mum needed to be to catch a bus back to Dublin for her 2nd vaccine. Not such good moorings for us here but the park was nice & mum had a few drinks out & even went to the cinema.
Next was the stunning Milford after passing the scarey Carlow Weir.
Then next stop became our favourite on the whole River Barrow the beautiful Leighlinsbidge – it had it all a castle, fab grassy mooring, a tap, beautiful bridge with pink flowers tumbling down it, pubs, & a super corner shop & butchers. We were also blessed with absolutely gorgeous weather so we could sit out by the boat with a view to die for.
We were so happy there & again had to drag ourselves away. From here it was a short hop to Bagenalstown which was convenient for supermarkets & a safe place to leave Golden Boyz whilst we went on holiday for a week. And what a month July turned into!
Now mum was clever & hired her van for an extra week so we went off on a few adventures even before our holiday started. Mum went donkey trekking, we visited Courtown beach & mum went to a seal sanctuary & we went to the amazing village of Enniskerry which was being used as a Disney film set.
Also as an added bonus to our adventure mum got the chance to have a trip on one of the heritage barges 45M. Big thanks to Susie for the opportunity.
We finally got to go on our long awaited trip to Belfast which had been postponed from New Year due to covid. We stayed in a gorgeous Coastguards cottage right on the beach.
And surprise surprise we had a visitor up there a whole 17 months after we’ve arrived in Ireland & it was auntie Joy who’d brought us over all those months ago. We were so excited to see her.
We had a wonderful week with many adventures including Games of Thrones sites, Giants Causeway, Gobbins clifftop walk, Belfast city & Titanic Experience & mums birthday. Heres a few photos from our week.
Gosh what a lot we packed in but the absolute highlight of our week was the big golden retriever party we had at Lisa & Terrys!
What a splendid holiday! And the fun didn’t stop there. We moved the boat onwards to Goresbridge which although it was a fantastic spot for us it became a not so good spot due to a stowaway! More later..
It was absolutely scorching weather & Goresbridge was a popular swimming spot so mum was in her element. We even dipped our paws in.
Then there was much excitement as we finally had visitors from the Uk as mums cousin Colette arrived with husband Stu & mum Jeanette (mums real auntie) & best of all we got to meet our new cousin Enzo. They arrived in a huge 7 berth motorhome.
It was soooo good to see them all & we had a mix of chilling out & BBQs & swimming and sightseeing in our private tour bus. We visited Blessington Lake & hired a hot tub for a while, Hook Lighthouse, Inistioge & New Ross. Auntie Joy also joined us for a few days. It was Colette’s 50th while she was over so we celebrated that too.
All too soon all of our guests departed except one unwanted one! Here’s the tale or should it be tail!! One night late suddenly our waterpump started pulsing which was odd as that normally signifies a water leak & it was hot weather & we weren’t running any water. Mum turned off the water & assigned the task to Stu! However the next day when it was turned back on it sounded like a waterfall was running through the boat. Mum pulled the bathroom apart & quickly found that water was pouring out of around the back of the washing machine. Stu went into investigate & pulled out a chewed pipe it appeared we’d got a hungry mouse onboard. At that point mum remembered she’d heard scratching & had shouted at us the night before – typical we always get blamed for misdemeanours. Anyway luckily the pipe was easily replaced with another one which Stu advised was less tasty to mice. But our stowaway was still onboard. so all manner of traps were bought plus ultrasonic devices to try & catch him. Mum hated this whole experience & barely slept as he was often scratching at night. She taped up all the vents near the bed as she was terrified he’d get in her bed & every night we were all shut up in the bedroom so he couldn’t get at us! To be continued…
We left Goresbridge having fallen out with it due to our unwanted guest & moved onwards to Graiguenamanagh. Here we had trouble mooring but eventually got our stern on a mooring which actually had a view to die for.
We had a week at Graiguenamanagh awaiting a little convoy of narrowboats who we planned to do the exciting tidal section of river to Inistioge with. Inistioge is tidal so when we’d visited with family the tide was out & we effectively walked where we’d be floating. Below are the photos with the tide out.
It was hard to imagine we’d be moored there.
Anyway a good cruising day dawned so the three intrepid boats cruised down to St Mullins us still with an extra crew members cratching away every night!
The next day we were up bright & early for our scarey but exciting tidal cruise firstly to New Ross to await the next tide then to our end destination of Inistioge. I picked up 2 very wanted members of crew who were a fabulous help to me Billie & John. It was an amazing experience & one we’ll treasure forever.
And eventually we were all moored up where we’d been standing in the previous photos awaiting teh tide going out.
And here are all the intrepid explorers. A big well done & thank you to my fellow boaters Gerry, Alessandra, Neil & Claire as well as our 2 crew members Billie & John. We expect this will be one of the most memorable cruises in Ireland by the time we leave.
The next day we refloated & did the cruise in reverse back to St Mullins. It was a late tie up after a long day but even though we were exhausted we didn’t get much sleep due to the party our unwanted visitor was having.
In the morning we awoke & made a horrible discovery. We found droppings on our settee except they were too large for a mouse so at that point we realised that it wasn’t a mouse it must be a rat! I think at that point mum nearly quit boating she wasnt happy is an understatement. It was time to call in the experts & a phonecall to Rentokil was made.
Well to cut a long story short we made our way back up the river still with our elusive visitor onboard. We had a 350euros Rentokil bill (& I have to say they were fantastic we don’t begrudge them the payment at all) & after ten visits from Rentokil & a massive destruction on our boat including chewed cupboards, curtains, settee, floorboards, insulation, pipe lagging & other electrical cables he was finally no more when we were back up at Ardreigh after being onboard for over 6 weeks! We won’t go into all the details except it is probably the lowest point in our boating lifetime where we barely slept for weeks & we would never ever wish the experience on anyone.
So at last being back on to a crew of three saw us moored up next to Margaret & John at Ardreigh also in the company of Charlie & Bernie. We were there for 4 weeks as the canal levels were too low for us to continue. Ironic as we’d been panicking about getting off the river before it rose! Whilst we were there mum had fun playing on some new electric boats up at The Auld Shebeen with Charlie & Bernie.
After 4 weeks we were able to get back up onto the canal & we reversed our journey up to our end destination of Robertstown. Ironically this was our first mooring after setting off from Sallins in Feb 2020 & now we’d be spending the winter here. We had been offered an Irish calendar club store at Whitewater shopping centre in Newbridge so mum decided to do that to keep her out of mischief over winter.
Oct – Dec 2021
Calendar Club is a seasonal job that operates as a franchise on a self employed basis for about 12 weeks running a unit that surprise surprise sells calendars, diaries & a few other gifts. They have loads of doggie calendars & we heard the golden retriever ones were very popular. It is 7 days a week & long days without any breaks but mum loves it as it gets her meeting people over winter & of course it puts pennies in the bank account. This year mum had 2 staff; another boater Sarah & a local lady who’d helped there in previous years Natalia. Mum did the lions share of the hours but it was handy to have help on some of the late night openings. The Xmas hours were the most we’d ever had to do (its our 5th season for Calandra Club) & mum was worried about leaving us so much so we went on holiday to a nice resort called Blackberry Kennels.
So we ended 2021 knee deep in calendars moored at Robertstown. Just ten days to go until mum was free again & we had a little holiday to Cork planned to look forward to so we’ll let you know soon how that went.
We’ll leave you with our most liked image of the year on Facebook! Hope you enjoy!!! Lots of love The Golden Boyz. See ya around in 2022.