Well as mum kinda suspected not long after we posted our last blog Ireland went into full lockdown.
We entered Tier 5 & the Waterways pretty much closed. Mum is only allowed within a 5km (3mile) radius of the boat.
Luckily mum had picked a good spot here at Gallen, Ferbane, County Offaly. We are right by a tap so our water is unlimited, it’s a nice bike ride into Ferbane which has smaller shops for mum, mum has found a local diesel company who will deliver to the boat, we have our own big garden right outside the boat, we’re allowed off lead every day & I can sprint really fast up the towpath as noone comes up this side, Mags is not too far away if we need anything & best of all Ann opposite has been our saviour. Taking deliveries & post in for us & once a week she gets a bigger shop in for mum & every week she sneaks a little chocolate treat in mum’s box. It’s the highlight of the week 🙂 Here’s us chilling outside the boat while mum fills up with water.
So what have we been up to – well we’ve been mainly snoozing apart from the fact mum is still trying that dog training with us. We’re currently working on leg weaves. Daquiri is doing quite well with it but I just run round the back of mum instead. The only bonus is we get extra biscuits for the training. Here’s me being a good boy waiting with the ball although I did get a tad muddy!
Mum is still on a massive mission with her goals. She’s working on 12 goals before Xmas though we think we’re going to fail our cruising one which is normally the one we easily achieve. She’s doing really well on her virtual cycling Ring of Kerry Challenge & has now done 88% of it in 33 days & she set herself 10 weeks to do it initially. She’s contemplating the Grand Canyon virtual challenge next.
She’s found some new places on her bike rides including the beautiful Cloghan lake which is one of her favourite to cycle around.
She braved going in the water again & got red oxide on Golden Boyz’s treated rust patches. Not sure she’s going to get much further this side of winter but she has made a start on painting & freshening up inside the cratch which is also on the goals list. She actually bought the paint for this during last lockdown in Edenderry.
Halloween came & went no trick or treating this year but mum saw some houses decorated up as she was cycling around. We were treated to a full moon which was a blue moon on Halloween. On clear nights here because there is no light pollution we can see so many stars in the sky at night when we go out for our last night cockaleggies. Its very pretty.
What else has she been up to? Well she’s learning lots of new things. As well as that blasted tin whistle which we have to endure a new tune every week, she’s been doing an iphone photography course plus she’s doing some courses for work. Mum luckily works online & has enough work to keep going & buying us dog biscuits. She’s been practising with her sunset photos on her iphone.
She’s continuing on her crochet blanket & has done over 90 squares now & in the evenings she’s rewatching Game of Thrones. We’ve got a coastguards cottage booked over New Year near Belfast so mum was hoping to visit the Game of Thrones locations & Giants Causeway. It is of course doggie friendly & only a few metres from a beach so we’re really looking forward to it. We don’t know if we’ll be able to go or not with the virus but we’re keeping fingers & paws crossed.
Mum is on a heath kick & noone was more shocked than us when these arrived!
We’ll soon be chewing those! She’s even been baking which is very rare for mum she likes cooking but is not prone to baking. Apparently these were high protein heathy chocolate brownies. Do we believe her??!!
So we are one third of our way through lockdown & have another 4 weeks at least but it’s not so bad here. Ireland’s cases & R rate have been going down so fingers & paws crossed the country is moving in the right direction.
So my goal – well it’s a big one; sleep as much as possible, beat up the cushions on the boat & bark at dogs across the other side of the canal. Daquiris goal is to eat as much horse poo as he can from up the towpath & mount me as many times as possible. Here’s me accomplishing my goals!
We enjoyed our time at Clonony & mum managed another bus trip to Athlone with the bus picking her up at the canal bridge. However, on Sunday news came out in the evening that NPHET was recommending the whole country move to level 5 which is effectively full lockdown again.
We were currently at level 3. This was a bit of a shock & we didn’t know if it meant the locks on the canal would close so in the morning mum thought we’d better move. She rang the lock keeper & he agreed it’d be wise to move so off we set to meet him
First it was back up through the staircase lock that is operated with the middle gates open.
Then just a single lock which got us on a along flat level. Mum was aiming for a nice jetty she’s spotted in June but not stopped at. Unfortunately we couldn’t get the boat in anywhere near it was too shallow & too far for our 8ft planks so sadly we had to cruise on. On the way down mum had spotted a tap at the next bridge so we next aimed for there as if we were going to be locked down we needed to be by water. We also couldn’t get anywhere near the bank there but by fluke a chap was just returning to his car parked nearby & saw mum struggling so he came to help. So mum threw ropes at him & between them managed to get planks in situ so ta da we’re moored up!
So we’re having to be brave & use planks again. It’s a lovely little spot but fairly remote. Nobody comes this side of the canal at all & there’s a nice big grassed area for us. Theres a bungalow opposite & the lady there has shouted across a few times to check we’re OK.
There’s nice walkies up the canal both ways & even a big stone picnic table but mum says its too cold for picnics!
The village of Ferbane is about a ten minute bike ride away & has a garage, a Centra shop, a pharmacy, a hairdressers, a pub or two & a dentist & drs. The tap works so mum has deemed it a place to stop whilst the government decides if we’re going into lockdown or not. Our friend Mags has said she’ll help us get diesel & if we need pump out its only a day back to Shannon Harbour. So the government didn’t put us into full lockdown then but all social mixing indoors has been stopped not that that really affects us & we’re not allowed to travel out of the county currently. We’re now in County Offaly.
Mum finally got to visit Lough Boora. She’d wanted to visit on the way past before but due to the virus none of the buses were running but now she has Falcon she’s been able to cycle there.
Transformed from its previous incarnation as a commercial bog where peat was harvested to heat homes around the country, today Lough Boora Discovery Park is home to countless species of birds and wildlife, fish-filled lakes and a permanent exhibition of huge outdoor sculptures. These sculptures give the park an other-worldly feel, created using the old industrial materials of the bog such as locomotives, rail-line and timber, all crafted into magnificent works of art. The raised bogs of the Midlands of Ireland evolved after the last Ice Age, around 15,000 years ago. Mesolithic people wandered through Ireland and one of the most important Mesolithic sites in Ireland is at Lough Boora.
It has 3 different cycle routes & lots to see & do. Mum only saw part of it & hopes to go back if permitted.
Now mum being mum is as busy as ever. She has set herself 12 goals to accomplish over winter although we may fail the cruising one if lockdown arrives. One of them though is a virtual cycling challenge. She’s loving it you pick your route so she’s doing The Ring of Kerry & you can walk run or cycle it. You log your distances & it tracks you on a map so you can see where you are on Google streetview & you get postcards along the way & a medal when you complete it. Well it’s keeping her out of our fur anyway.
One of her other goals is some boat painting – she’s going to freshen up all the paintwork inside the cratch over winter but more of a priority she wants to sort out the scrapes & bumps from the season between the waterline & the gunwhales before they go rusty. She had this bright idea that because we can’t get into the bank its an opportunity to get in the water as its not very deep & get this side done. Well it might not be very deep at the front or the middle of the boat but the level dropped suddenly towards the back so that was mum soaked. Oh how we laughed!!
The water was freezing too! Anyway she’s happy as she’s got it all fertaned & our rust patches have turned a nice black colour. She’s hoping to get a few nice days to put the paint on but the rust treatment was the most crucial.
Unfortunately one of her other goals is to learn that blasted tin whistle. I tell you it sounds worst that a cat with its tail stood on! I wouldn’t mind but she seems to think as long as folks can recognise the tune she’s doing OK!! Me & Cosmo may need to invest in some ear plugs.
So for now we’re staying here whilst we see if we get locked down or not. Even today as we type this there’s government meetings about the possibility of level 5.
Little did we know it when we arrived at Killaloe that we’d be spending quite a while there due to the weather! So the first day mum went off exploring the twin towns of Ballina & Killaloe on either sides of the river. She also decided to enjoy a trip boat cruise aboard the Spirit of Killaoe so she could hear the commentary & enjoy the lough without panicking about where the next marker was.
She got to cruise right past Golden Boyz too so she gave us a wave! Mum had planned next to go to LImerick on the bus but unfortunately that evening it was announced we couldn’t use public transport anymore except for essential travel so that was that plan scuppered.
Mum is finding all the different lockdown measures quite hard when you don’t have transport so she popped into the bike shop at Killaloe to see if they had a folding electric bike not really expecting them to. And surprise surprise they said they could order one. It was ordered on Tuesday & arrived by Thursday. So without further ado mum was kitted out with a bike, helmet, lock, pump & lights & she was off like Evil Knievel on the roads of Killaoe as Falcon became the new addition to the Golden boyz crew!
Mum says its really easy to ride but is heavy lifting it on & off the boat but it will open new adventures for mum sightseeing plus she’ll be able to cycle to the shops, Her first jaunt was to the popular swimming area Two Mile Gate.
Then on the weekend she went on a round trip of about 25km down one side of lough Derg to O’Briensbridge then over the other side past Parteen Weir with a quick stop for a picnic & then returned back via the Riverside park at Ballina.
Now one of the big things mum had hoped to do whilst we were down the south end of the lough was the huge 100ft Ardnacrushna lock. But sadly after chatting to Pat who runs the boat underneath it & considering the truly awful weather that was due it was decided sadly we couldn’t do it. We’re quite pleased but mum isn’t lol. Just have a look at the photos on this link!!!!
Anyway to the weather. During our time at Killaoe we have 2 horrendous storms first Ellen then Francis. Anyone would think it was November not August. Elen hit during the night & brought Force 10 winds with her.
We were absolutely terrified even though we were in a relatively sheltered spot. The waves were slapping the side of the boat & it sounded like they were going to come in through the cupboards. I got up on the bed with mum & mum tried to make Cosmo a cushion nest on the floor as he was panting & pacing. I don’t think any of us got much sleep that night. We were very relieved in the morning to see we were still moored in the same spot with no damage. Then a couple of days later Storm Francis hit which although was also forecast to be force 10 didn’t feel so bad as the wind direction was different.
There was also a few days of just rain rain & more rain so ow all the rivers are starting to flood just as Offaly lockdown is lifted, On one of the drier days we managed a walk to Brain Boru’s fort.
Brian Boru’s fort is a large ring fort between the River Shannon and the Killaloe to Tuamgraney road. It has long been identified as the ancient seat of Brian Boru, the most famous High King of Ireland.Brian Boru’s fort is located in a very serene and spectacular setting, overlooking Lough Derg on the River Shannon, just one mile north of the picturesque village of Killaloe. Beal Boru, as it is more commonly known, stands on a spur of land which commands the point where the lake narrows into the River Shannon. Brian Boru (Bórumha, bóraimhe, meaning a cattle tribute) was either born or reared at this mystical location, according to folklorist Daithi O hOgain, and the placename, Béal Bóramha, means the ‘port of the cattle tribute’. Boru was high-king of Ireland from 1002 until his death in 1014AD.
On one of our last nights in Killaoe we were abandoned as mum was invited out for dinner at Brian & Daniella’s house who we met at Rossmore. It was nice for mum to get out with company though & she didn’t come back drunk so that was a relief!
Finally we got a small pocket of less windy weather so we set off cruising again after being at Killaoe for just under 2 weeks. Now we had intended to go to Scarriff next but we had word that the river was flowing fast so we opted to go further back up the lough to Garrykennedy that we’d missed on the way down.
All was good & calm as we set off but then the rain started & the lough started getting choppier. Mum had to abandon the map as it was getting too wet so she was using her Navionics app to track where we were on the lough as visibility was hard too in the rain. She wasn’t so keen on going past Parkers Point as the waves picked up but after a couple of hours cruise we had Garrykennedy in sight.
We had 2 options of mooring there in the main public moorings or the old harbour. On the public moorings we’d be right on the front albeit behind a breakwater & its forecast windy again so we opted for the old harbour. We were praying there as room at the steps & luckily there was only one boat there so we just tucked in nicely. The other boat moved after about an hour (must have heard about 2 furry hooligans arriving!) so mum decided she’d try & turn in the harbour whilst noone was there as it only just looked wide enough plus we could then tuck further in the harbour. Of course typical just as we’d untied 2 boats arrived but they waited for us to turn so all was Ok.
Again here the walls are very high but there are steps for us but we’re a tiny bit too long for the steps facing this way so mum puts the planks out diagonally & we just manage it. Well I do Cosmo makes a right fuss as ever.
Mum is happy though as we’re moored next to the remains of Garrykennedy castle & its even lit up at night!
Garrykennedy Castle was built in the late 15th century on the banks of Lough Derg by the O’Kennedy and the O’Brien Clans. The Tower House was badly damaged by Cromwellian troops in the mid 17th century. Some stones from the rubble of the castle may have been used in the building of a new harbour in 1857. This is a gorgeous harbour with a modern marina to the east. There may not be much left of the castle but it is still a beautiful place to stop and relax, maybe even take a picnic.
We’re also right next to Larkins pub so mum has a table booked there. She’s also pleased that internet signal isn’t so bad here as we were expecting it to be bad like in Dromineer so hadn’t planned to stay here too long. I think a day out on Falcon is planned & walkies round the Forest trail for us then we’ll move onwards,
Now the lockdown in Offaly has been lifted we could have moved off the lough – note we say could have! With all the rain the River Shannon is now flooding where we had intended to go next so we need to wait for that to subside a bit but then even if it did the road bridge at Portumna (the timed bridge we had to come under to enter the lough) has now broken & they’re thinking a couple of weeks to fix it. We think the Lough Derg fairies don’t want us to leave!!
We had a brilliant time at Meelick Quay with some lovely sunny days where we could sit outside.
One night some very funny ducks came swimming by our boat. We wouldn’t stop barking at them so ended up being put inside hmph!
At the weekend mum decided it was time to brave the lough so we set off first for an encounter with our first big Shannon lock. We passed the Meelick Weir that Waterways Ireland are constructing a walkway across. Mum wants to come back once it’s finished & walk across it but you know what a wuss I am that doesn’t sound good at all!
Very soon we were at the big Victoria lock which was lock keeper operated. It was like the big automated locks we were used to up in South Yorkshire.
Once through were off along The Shannon. It was a truly beautiful cruising day.
On the way we passed 4 herons together. We’ve only seen them in isolation before. Must have been a heron party!
We continued down the Shannon arriving in good time for the 11am Portumna Bridge opening. The bridge opens about 6 times a day.
Just as we moored up on the waiting jetty Wendy called us to say Castle Harbour was really busy but they could squeeze us in at Emerald Star moorings just before the bridge. So without further ado we were moored up for the night. Wendy very kindly drove mum around to Castle Harbour & to Terryglass to suss our the moorings. Both were absolutely rammed with boats, people & motor homes. It was all impounded by the fact that the lockdown had just been eased so folks could use their boats & motorhomes & the fact that it was a gloriously hot Saturday so we probably saw it at its worst. But we certainly weren’t relishing the fact of mooring at either place. So Wendy had a plan B for us & arranged that we could go onto a friends jetty just through the bridge if needed.
That night we went round to Wendy & Fergals moorings for a drink & we had a brilliant time running round everywhere & meeting a new chick called Sophie. Daquiri fell in love with her & when she disappeared into the boat barked at her to come back out!
Mum & Wendy just drank lots of wine. Notice 2 dogs in the background fighting over a branch!! Fergal very kindly went through the charts with mum of what to expect on the lough.
The next day mum decided she was going to cruise round to Castle Harbour & if it was full she’d come back to the jetty. So we got in the boat queue for the 11am Bridge opening.
One we were through it was like wacky races with cruisers tearing past us racing to get out on the lough. It was very scarey for mum trying to keep course through their wake.
And before we realised it we were passing through the red & green markers called The Goalposts & we were on Lough Derg! It was quite choppy & very scarey. We were gripping on with our paws.
Mum needed to turn right after the goal posts towards Castle Harbour which was made more pressured by cruiser being right up her stern obviously also going right & trying to get past mum on the inside. Mum signalled to him that she was going right so he didn’t cut her up but he still stayed right behind her.
Map of entrance to Lough Derg & castle Harbour at Portumna.
We negotiated the markers & cruised with relief into the harbour,
Luckily there was a spot right at the entrance so we tied up there. In the Harbours most of the jetties will be way too short for us so we have to tie to harbour walls which are high to get out so a complete trauma for me!
Just after we tied up it started to rain so mum came in & sat down to calm her racing heart & have a cup of coffee before she tackled the challenge of getting me off the boat.
It is predominantly cruisers over here & some big historic barges but on the lough we’ve yet to see another narrowboat. The harbours seem to also be well set up for Motorhomes too with parking bays & electric & shower blocks.
So it came time for me to have a cockaleggie. Luckily the bank dipped a bit at the back so we attempted to get me off there. It wasn’t easy but I did it after making a lot of fuss. I then can get back in on the front. It was a relief to be off on the nice grassed area by the boat.
We certainly had a fantastic view of the lough from our mooring.
Portumna (meaning ‘the landing place of the oak’) is a market town in the south-east of County Galway, Ireland, on the border with and linked by a bridge to County Tipperary. This historic crossing point over the River Shannon between counties Tipperary and Galway has a long history of bridges and ferry crossings.
Mum went off exploring in the afternoon & left us snoozing. Firstyly she ca across Portumna Friary.Originally the Cistercian monks of Dunbrody Abbey in county Wexford possessed a small chapel here in the 13th century. It was dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul. Sometime later it was abandoned by the Cistercians and the land was held by the O’Madden family. The land was granted by the O’Maddens to the Dominicans Friars who founded the abbey here in 1426, and dedicated it to St Mary and SS Peter and Paul. It was converted for use as a Protestant church in the 18th century.
Next she came across Portumna Castle. The castle is currently closed but the gardens were open as was the cafe where mum had coffee & cake – she says it was medicinal after her shock of cruising on the lough for the first time.
Portumna castle was built in the Renaissance style already prevalent in Italy and France for over a century, but not commonly found in Ireland or England at that time. The Renaissance features of the exterior are, strictly speaking, limited to the doorcase of the front entrance and the Tuscan gateway of the innermost courtyard, but the layout is an expression of Renaissance ideas. The castle is symmetrical in shape and consists of three stories over a basement with square corner projecting towers. The castle measures 29.7m by 21.2m and the corner towers are 6.5m square with gunports. A central corridor, 3m wide, runs longitudinally from top to bottom, supported by stone walls, which contain numerous recesses and fireplaces.
The castle was abandoned as a home following a fire in 1826. The Office of Public Works has re-built the huge chimney stacks. The estate grounds contain walled gardens, gate lodges, gateposts and a yard.
We all had an early night after our adrenaline filled day. Mum kept studying the map in horror as she saw she’d only been a short distance onto the lake & that was terrifying enough. I think we may be leaving the lough quicker then we came on it!!
The next day we had a nice non boating day exploring the vast Portumna Forest Park which mum had been recommended was very good for walkies for us. We liked the sound of that.
Portumna Forest Park is adjacent to Portumna on the northern shore of Lough Derg. At Portumna Forest Park there are forest and lakeside walks, car park, toilet facilities and observation points. Perfect for walking, cycling, picnicing, bird watching and anything you think you can do in nature. There is a viewing tower along the nature trail where one can get a bird’s eye view of the forest, lake and lakeshore. Portumna Forest Park consists of a forest road, a long walk and a Nature Trail.
We went on very long walkies round it with several stops at the lake for drinkies. Daquiri got quite tired & mum came home with blisters but I loved it.
We’re liking this Portumna place now!
Another day we went to a different part & found the bird hide where you can try & spot the white tailed eagles. Mum wished she’d taken her binoculars.
We ended up staying a Portumna 6 days (naughty us you’re only allowed to stay 5 days) but the weather was pretty windy all week & mum definitely wanted to wait for a calm day before she could pluck on courage to go back on the lake again.
We were moved off the entrance onto the back wall by waterways Ireland but it was actually quite nice there.
Now back to the important subject of my disembarkation. The whole process is stressful for me & mum. Not for Daquiri who just steps onto the side of the cratch & then jumps off. I try & leap the whole lot in one go & often fail. Then one morning mum had a brilliant idea. Our settee isn’t really a settee its 2 chairs with only one arm on each with 2 footstools inbetween. You can’t tell cos its covered up with our blankets. I obviously have no problem getting on & off the settee. So mum moved one of the footstools into the cratch trying to get me to step onto those first. Of course I made a real meal of it. I got my front paws on but mum had to lift my bottom up then I could jump off. Anyway I’m pleased to report after a few days of practicising I am now getting off the boat all by myself using the footstool. Mum says if we get an even higher wall we can use both footstools as 2 steps but I say lets take it one footstool at a time. Not sure Daquiri is so impressed with our new seating arrangements though as only one of us can fit on a chair at a time if mum is sitting on one of the, Though of course mum could always sit on the floor!
So that’s planks & harbour walls I’ve mastered since getting over here. There’d better not be anything else!
Second time round in Edenderry well actually third time was quite different. A few of the lockdown measures were eased which meant some of the shops opened. Having spent so many weeks in a virtually closed Edenderry it was nice to see a few more shops open. It was also lovely to have company & one day mum enjoyed a free audio tour around Edenderry & a canalside takeaway curry with the cruising gang.
We didn’t stay too long in Edenderry as we had spent long enough there so we set off ahead of the rest of the group to Dainean. We had to wait a couple of days as the barge that had passed us The Peter Farrell had got grounded due to low water levels & so was blocking the canal. Once they’d managed to get it unstuck we were able to slide by.
We were of course back on a familiar route to us. The water was pretty weedy & shallow in parts but we made it back to Daingean eventually to our nice meadowside spot though of course facing the other way.
We were pleased to see the joinery place right by the mooring was open so mum rang them to see if they could sort some planks out for us all. Our skip attained one is great but our other is a bit rotten plus mum wanted 2 shorter ones too. Daingean joinery swiftly got us sorted & we had holes drilled in the 2 longer ones so mum can put a rope through them for handles.
Another job ticked off the list. We’ve got quite good at walking the plank now! So without further ado we were off ready to cruise new waters hurray!!!
We cruised the short distance to Ballycommon where Jimmy the lock keeper met us & worked us down the first 5 locks towards Tullamore. He accompanies us in a car seeing us through the lock then whizzing off along the canal to have the next one ready for us. Such a fabulous service from Waterways Ireland.
At the final lock Bolands lock we changed lock keeper to Leo. We’d seen photos of this lock & had been looking forward to coming through & seeing the Roundhouse lock keepers cottage. It didn’t disappoint.
“Built circa 1800 & Located on the 26th Lock of the Grand Canal, “Boland’s Lock” just outside of Tullamore, the Roundhouse was built as a lock-keeper’s house. During the period when the canal was a busy transport route for goods, the locks had keepers living nearby to operate them. In this case the lock keeper was Mr. Boland. It is a two-story building with an unusual combination of rounded ends and a projecting castellated (with battlements) bow to front. It features a hoodmoulding made of tooled limestone. The very features that make this house special today are what caused great displeasure to the Canal Company directors. They refused to pay the extra 42 pounds for the extras associated with this house which they deemed to be extraordinary and unnecessary.”
In non lockdown times you can sometimes look around the cottage. We’ll have to come back to do that.
Once we’d dropped down the lock it was full steam ahead to Tullamore harbour which was a left turn under the bridge. Thankfully not quite as sharp a turn as at Edenderry.
Tullamore is the county town of county Offaly & the biggest town we’ve been in since arriving in Ireland. We initially tagged onto the end in the harbour but then we moved next to Catriona & John who mum had chatted to on facebook but hadn’t met so they came down to see us several times during our stay in Tullmore so it was nice to meet them in person. The next day on walkies though we spotted a nice mooring jetty by the Tullamore DEW Whiskey centre which was a bit better for us as it had a small park next to it so we settled into our third Tullamore mooring. We stayed a while at this one!!
So on the canal map below we’re moored just above lock 27 by the house symbol (the whiskey museum) but before you all start getting excited about alcohol I know what you humans are like the whisky centre is still closed due to the virus! I don’t think mums that bothered as she doesn’t like whiskey & its probably made our mooring quieter with it being closed.
Of course most people have heard of Tullamore because of the whiskey. The whiskey was originally produced at the old Tullamore Distillery which was established in 1829 & the canal was used for its transportation. Its name is derived from the initials of Daniel E. Williams (D.E.W.), a general manager and later owner of the original distillery. The full story is here: https://www.tullamoredew.com/en-gb/the-story/
Interestingly on their website they have a cocktails page but they have failed big time as there are no Cosmopolitan or Daquiri cocktails!!
https://www.tullamoredew.com/en-gb/cocktails/ However all is not totally lost as apparently there’s a pub in Tullamore that delivers beer or Daquiri cocktails & its only one minute from our mooring. Only thing is the minimum purchase is four!!!! I see disaster ahead!
Mum has enjoyed being in a town & disappeared off with a very random shopping list the other day & came back chuffed to bits that she’d managed to get all the items on it including a pair of binoculars ready for seeing the buoys on the River Shannon (we did originally have some binoculars on the boat but a very naughty puppy called Daquiri ate them in 2013 & we haven’t replaced them since). She also found a funny sized battery for her bank login device & a big extra strong extender lead as some doggie pulled a bit too often last week & strained the mechanism in the last one (who me??!!). Mum carries a spare but now we needed to replace that. She also came back with a very fetching doggie themed facemask – thank God dogs don’t have to wear those we’d chew that straightaway that’s for sure!!
We found a nice walkies route each day along the towpath of The Grand Canal with mum getting very giddy as she found a castle: Shra Castle although is some places it’s spelt Srah.
Daquiri wasn’t very interested in the castle though & had more fun paddling in the canal then rolling in the dirt!
We’ve been here a week & the rest of our cruising gang have only just started arriving into the harbour but we’re quite settled here & mum has a good internet signal for work so she’s happy. So we’re not sure yet when we’ll be moving onwards… but that’s the beauty of our flexible lifestyle.
After stopping on the jetty & mum doing a mad dash up Daingean main street with a shopping trolley loaded up with 3 big bags of essential dog food we were on our way to Ballycommon.
It was a fabulous hot sunny day so we even cruised with our side hatches open so it was nice & cool for us. There was a convenient quay just through the bridge at Ballycommon although we only half fitted on it. We were moored right by what is reputed to be a cracking pub if it was open & some apartments which could be handy for visitors after lockdown. The owner & his son were really friendly & even offered for mum to use their wifi if needed on our boat but we had a good enough signal there.
Unfortunately it was a bit traumatic for me as it was quite a high bank to get off & I was being a big wuss & made it a right palava everytime. It didn’t help that Daquiri just did it easily & then stood up there barking at me to jump it! Anyway once the trauma of getting off was over we went on nice walkies.
We discovered the disused Kilbeggan Branch which used to run from Ballycommon to Kilbeggan.
The canal branch closed in the 1960s and the basin is now dry. The harbour buildings, however, have survived and are now in use as offices and workspace. Kilbeggan Harbour
Kilbeggan was famous for whiskey production ( a theme in Ireland!!) and in 2009 the IWAI ran a Kilbeggan Challenge where they transported two casks of whiskey back along the disused arm then along the canal to Dublin to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Grand Canal’s closure to commercial traffic. The project involved the transportation of the casks from Locke’s distillery in Kilbeggan, to Kilbeggan Harbour via a vintage Leyland truck belonging to local man Joe Cleary escorted by outriders on some of Joe Clancy’s vintage bicycles . It was then transferred to a vintage replica cart belonging to Jim Murray who lives on the Kilbeggan line and was pulled by his Clydesdale horse called Ned who moved along the Dry Kilbeggan Line of the Grand Canal to Ballycommon. Here the casks were transferred to the heritage 107B project barge & onwards via canal to Dublin
At Ballycommon the locks start to descend towards Tullamore & we had a walk along the first two of these too.
We also wandered past the huge radio mast that we could see for quite a way as we were cruising in . The RTÉ MW transmitter mast at Ballycommon began construction in 1973. It ceased operation on 24 March 2008 however the mast still remains in place for future use
Whilst we were at Ballycommon we had a scarey experience as a very speedy speedboat shot past us knocking mums coffee over & I virtually leapt on her knee in fear. Given the speed limit on canals is 4mph & the local farmer said he overtook him on his tractor that was going at 21mph alongside the canal he wasn’t abiding by the speedlimits. He was also moored right in the middle of the lock mooring which made getting water a tad difficult. Luckily mum managed to do it without touching him
Due to me continuing to be a big wuss getting off the boat we only stayed for a couple of days at Ballycommon.
We turned round at the winding hole & on another beautiful sunny day headed back to Daingean. This time we moored up on the big grassy area before the bridge & below the reformatory. It was amazing there like having our own private meadow. Mum was very happy as she can just pop to the shop for an icecream.
We had a great day on Friday starting with breakfast al fresco when our biscuits were brought out on a tray we could get used to this! Then a man from Waterways Ireland came to chat to mum & helped her devise a cruising plan within the current restrictions,,, more of that in our next blog. Then the contracts for mums house sale finally arrived at Daingean PO so she signed those & sent them back & we got a provisional completion date so keep everything crossed for us folks then she heard the UK self employment help scheme has been extended which shes eligible for so mum is a happy bunny tonight.
Yay we have escaped city centre London. We set off on a sunny Monday & met up with Auntie Heather who did the locks for mum on the way out. Last cruise past Regents Park & the zoo. We bade farewell to Heather at Little Venice & continued chugging outwards through the carpet of green duck weed. Six hours later we moored up back at one of our favourites spots from the way in Paradise Fields. We had a lovely couple of days there enjoying free runs in the fields & mum got some internet work done.
Then we were off again stopping right outside the big Tesco’s at Yiewsley so mum could do a big shop including the all important dog food of course.
Then it was off up Cowley lock to Uxbridge. Mum had booked into Denham Yacht services so Jason the guru of bubble stoves could service our stove for over winter. We want to be nice & toasty when it gets cold.
The next day we were off & up early up lots of locks to Rickmansworth. We moored just above Stockers lock where we’ve never tied up before. It was great no other boats there & lots of nice walkies round the lakes. We’d stopped there so mum was near the train station to catch a train to Aylesbury to look at her new. calendar club shop. Wow it’s so big! Much bigger than previous years. We think mums gonna have her work cut out lol we’ll just enjoy winter snoozing in front of the fire as usual!
Mum wanted to move that afternoon but it was really windy so she chickened out. That meant she had to set off the next morning in the pouring rain! Another stop at another Tesco’s & more bags of dog food bought. You can never have too many stocked up! Onwards trying to beat the winds up to Cassiobury Park. This is where we started our London adventure way way back in March at the Easter Floating market. It was windy & rainy then too! We moored up below the lock in case above was full which it was.,
As soon as we were tied up mum messaged Mutleys mum Sally & we had a Doggie rendezvous at our favourite stream. We had such a great time. Of course Daquiri had to get himself filthy didn’t he?!
The next morning the first boat above the lock moved so we upped pins & were up the lock faster than a fast thing & we slid into our old favourite spot where we spent a lovely Xmas four years ago.
So here ends our amazing London adventure. We achieved our big 2018 goal of braving central London & doing all the Rivers Lea & Stort. It’s been the most amazing weather to be on the rivers. We were able to do so much swimming which we wouldn’t have done in the canals.
Over winter mum will be running the Aylesbury calendar club shop for Calendar Club so if anyone is in the area do pop in & see her. We’ll be sleeping by the fire so if you pass Nb Golden Boyz in the Marsworth/Tring areas over winter don’t make too much noise & wake us up!
We’re not sure of 2019 routes … mum has three areas she wants to do… so she’s not sure which to tackle next
1. River Avon, River Severn all the way down to Gloucester & then up the west of the country onto the Llangollen
2. The South Oxford & the Thames between Brentford & Oxford
3. The Middle Levels out from Northampton including Peterborough & Cambridge…
So who knows where we’ll end up could be none of those! That’s the true advantage of living on a boat… we are free to choose.
So we’ll bid your farewell for now my friends as we close our blog down for winter. For some reason mum thinks we’ll have no time to write it! Have an amazing rest of 2018 & we’ll be back with our Watery Tails in 2019.
Sorry we’re a bit behind cos mum has been busy working so we can’t get our paws on the laptop!
Anyway we went on hollibobs & not to a kennel this time. We went with mum & Uncle Alan & cousin Jake to the Norfolk Broads.
We set off on a Friday by being bundled into a van. Cosmo did his scooby Doo impression & wouldn’t get in as usual! It wasn’t a long journey less than 2 hours & mum stopped twice for us on the way. We arrived at Acle where we were very excited to board a different boat to Nb Golden Boyz. It was shorter & fatter & bright yellow. We were as ever very excited & did a lot of barking especially when cousin Jake turned up!
After an easy handover we were off with mum driving using a funny steering wheel not a tiller. Uncle Alan took over the driving as we headed to Potter Heigham that night passing lots of windmills & big sailing boats. You don’t see many of them on the canals
After our first night aboard with very little sleep due to me running round with my stuffed parrot half the night we set off the next morning. We stopped at Salhouse Broad for lunch & swimmies & then went up through Wroxham where we had to get a pilot to go under the very low bridge. The houses along the Bank were ever so posh along the way.
That night we stopped at Coltishall. Every night as it was so warm we got to go out to the pub all of us. It mostly went ok except for the times I started bonking Cosmo in front of everyone. Mum wasn’t impressed. I think cousin Jake thought it was funny though.
The next day after a spot of geocaching we were up & off towards Barton Broad but on the way disaster struck & a big red flashing warning light went off. Mum pulled over in some reeds & Uncle Alan leapt off with a rope. Cosmo is is always terrified getting on & off boats with the slightest gap then hurled himself off over the front of the boat across the reeds & shot off up the bank. Luckily he came back & was bundled back onboard & then we were all locked indoors hmph! Mum rang the boatyards & they asked us to go to next boatyard who had a quick look at the boat but the light had stopped & they could see nothing untoward so we set off again.
Ten mins later the light goes off again so we turn round & moor back by the cafe near the boatyard. Uncle Alan had his eye on the cafe for breakfast anyway. Our boatyard came out & it was found the engine was overheating as it was raw water cooled & it had got weed in it. Anyway it got sorted so we decided to stay there for the night & go to an aptly named pub called The Dog!
The next morning was mum’s birthday so her & uncle Alan went to the cafe for breakfast to celebrate her being so very old! Then we set off on our original route up to Barton Broad did a quick circuit & then started to head south as we’d covered the northern Broads. We passed the boatyard & moored up for the night surprise surprise at another pub!
Next morning we were rudely awoken at 6am something about catching a tide. After quick walkies we were off to Great Yarmouth & then I kid you not we went pretty much out to sea. We were not happy waves lapping at the boat & sometimes they splashed right up the front. mum was whooping loving it. We did not. I mean look at this you can barely see land.
Even cousin Jake wasn’t happy. These humans are so cruel to us. Because we set off so early we made our destination of Geldeston by lunchtime so we caught up on our snoozing in the afternoon.
The next day we had a quick trip round the stretch to Lowestoft & then headed up to Reedham. Here we saw the old chain ferry operating & we had a fabulous night in the pub as this extended family came over & spent an hour or so with us as they loved us. One of them was Irish & worked at Castlefields for Manchester Radio & the rest of the family came from Stockport where mum was born so they were exchanging stories about pub crawls. I think mum is obsessed with pubs.
The next morning we were up early again & across the stupid sea bit called Breydon Water. This time we moored up at Great Yarmouth & we went off to the beach. I was very brave & went in the sea but strange old Cosmo wouldn’t go anywhere near it.
We has a stroll along the pier & stuck our heads through this funny cartoon character. Well I did again Cosmo wouldn’t join in.
Then we returned our boat back to base & went to the pub opposite. Apparently when mum was little the whole family went there & her uncle Graham collapsed with sunstroke & got taken off in an ambulance. Mum was distraught so when he got back from the hospital he went up to see mum to show her he was still alive. This just made her worse as she thought he was a ghost so screamed the whole place down. So the pub is a funny memory in mum’s family. We were treated to a nice sunset on our last night.
The next morning we handed the boat back & they were surprised at how much diesel we had used. Well we had pretty much covered all the northern & most of the southern Broads.
So again we were bundled back in the van & driven back to our old familiar Golden Boyz which was still moored safe & sound at Ware.
So I’ll bid you farewell from your three furry shipmates & we’ll resume soon telling you about our adventures back on the River Stort.
We had even more visitors at Hertford as Auntie Joy turned up then Uncle Guy. Cosmo was ecstatic at seeing Uncle Guy as he brought some more cushions for him to play with!
The next evening mum& auntie Joy set off on another Thames adventure a fireworks & tall ships cruise. Thank God we didn’t have to go out on the stupid Thames again once was enough!
The following day whilst auntie Joy took us for our last walkies & swimmies at Hertford mum moved the boat to the waterpoint to fill up & wash the side of the boat as it was really dusty from the dry weather.
We then cruised down to Ware ready for the festival. Auntie Joy enlisted the help of a lady at the lock & she hitched a ride to the next lock & helped us there too. Mum got very excited on the way as she saw 2 baby grebes. Grebes are normally a good spot but we’ve never seen baby ones before. Soon we were moored up in our festival spot.
Mum has really fallen in love with Ware as we’re moored opposite some beautiful little gazebos & she keeps disappearing off for her own swimmies at Ware lido.
The Ware festival was run by the IWA & was great fun & really well organised with a fabulous BBQ & singer on the Friday evening. Unfortunately mum nearly had to miss the BBQ. We had been such good Boyz sitting out without being tied up during the day even as people & other doggies walked past. Mum declared it to be a miracle she’s such a drama queen. Anyway to make up for it we were very badly behaved at night, You see with our new found freedom we didn’t want to be left home alone so every time mum shut the door to go out we started barking & wouldnt stop! It worked a treat as mum kept coming back in & eventually gave up & sat with us. She was contemplating ringing for a BBQ delivery when we decided to behave & let her go out. Luckily there were still some burgers left for her. Not that we got any!
The Saturday of the festival was roasting hot & boring football was on at 3 o clock so unfortunately we didn’t do very well tradewise but we had a nice time. Here’s us sitting out behaving so well on the towpath.
We had a nice quiet night in on Saturday just the three of us & went to bed early. But at about midnight we were woken up by cries of Help! At first we thought it was someone messing around after all the football shenanigans but then we felt our boat rock slightly & heard someone say that somebody was in the water. Mum got up & dressed & we had a bit of a bark to make it look like we were on guard duty! By the time mum gut out if the boat the man had been rescued but he had lost some belongings in the river. So the next day one of the other boaters came to dive for it. The river was surprisingly deep. Unfortunately they only found a bottle of wine he’d been carrying & not the bag.
its the first time a dive operation has been launched off the back of Golden Boyz!
Gosh we were up to date with our blog so we’ve left it a week & now we have so much to tell you… that’s how rock n roll me & Cosmo are!
Well after we’d had our shopping delivered by Elvis (I kid you not that was the delivery drivers name on the text) we set off fully laden with bags of dog food for us & cider for mum oh & a bit of food for her!
We tootled up a couple of locks because mum wanted to moor near Waltham Abbey & moored above Waltham Town Lock. But mum found something even better! We’d only gone & moored right next to a white water rafting centre. Mum took us for walkies round the centre but we were not keen on going near that water it was way too fast moving. Cosmo was pulling at the extent of his lead the whole time to get away from it in case mum tried to get him in for a swim. As if that’s not bad enough mum has only gone & booked herself in for scarey hydrospeeding in July. She can well & truly count us out of that malarkey! Here’s us not looking keen at all!
The next day mum had a wander round Waltham Cross & the abbey gardens & was underwhelmed by it. She also set off to the train station & deemed it too far away so we released anchor & were off again like the wandering nomads we are.
We landed at Cheshunt after a bit of manoeuvring round a floating shed with an outboard!
Now Cheshunt we did like! It had loads of amazing walkies with lots of wooden sculpture things great for cocking your leg on, lots of water to swim in, very very near a train station & best of all a Doggie agility course. Here’s some of the wooden sculpture trail & a view across the lake next to our boat.
Mum made the most of being near the train station & went into London THREE times leaving us home alone! So badly treated we are.
She firstly met up with friends Olly & Jackie & then went to the theatre to see Everybody’s Talking About Jamie which she loved because it was based in Sheffield
Then she met up with Helen Marie (who apparently has treats for us next time she sees mum yay) to have a posh French dinner & see the Tina Turner musical
Then she also went off to see Dom & Jane & Fran on the Spice underground postal train trip.
But it wasn’t all bad as Auntie Joy came to visit & took us on walkies before heading off on a big sailing ship.
But the best day was Sunday. Mum got back (late after stupidly getting off the train at Walthamstow instead of Cheshunt as she forgot where we are). Two people had just arrived hoping to meet US so it was very lucky mum had just got back. So mum suggested that us & our new pals Betsy & Treve all went to the Doggie agility course. We did ever so well on it. There’s quite a few different obstacles & we were very brave attempting them.
The first one is jump along. We only did the little fences. Here’s me in action looking like I’m doing a nose dive.
Next was the woody weave. We were good at that for about the first 4 poles then we gave up.
But the next one was our favourite & we were really good at it
Through the hoop we weren’t keen on but we did it eventually under duress
And the log walk we were quite good at but we sometimes jumped off the end too soon.
After all that good behaviour we had lots of rely ploys, fighting & conga dancing to make up for it! We said farewell to our new friends I do hope they come & visit us again especially if we get to do agility courses next time. We didn’t half sleep well that night.
Monday we went on our last walkies round Cheshunt as we set off again edging ever closer to Ware. We’re now moored near Broxbourne. It’s not as nice as Cheshunt but we have already found a lake & had a paddle in that which is good as it’s been very hot today.