Slowing the Pace Down by Cosmo (Shannon Harbour to Clonony)

Now we’re back on the canal we will be just hoping vey slowly eastwards over winter with our stops mainly dictated by our need for water. We moved up one lock off the waiting jetty at Shannon Harbour. Amusingly it was the first lock mum singlehanded as it wasn’t so deep so she could climb off the roof as Ireland doesn’t have ladders in the locks. No sooner had she done than she had other boaters kindly rushing to tell her the lock keeper would help. It still takes some getting used to having locks done for you here. Anyway we got through fine & moored just above on a grassy bank with our planks out.

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We’ve got so confident now with the planks we performed a daring escape while mum was chatting to someone. We were soon rounded up & put back onboard.

It was a quiet week with mum working & walkies up & down the towpath. We actually didn’t see another person to talk to for a whole week. We had our first frosty morning which was beautiful but brrrrr!

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Mum & Falcon went out on an expedition to Shannonbridge the next stop up the River Shannon. The river was still quite high so we’re glad we’d not gone up there.

On Saturday mum availed of the wonderful local link bus service again this time to Athlone. The bus runs once a week on Saturday afternoons & she was picked up outside the pub at Shannon harbour. It took about an hour inti Athlone picking up a few people along the route & pulling up at a shopping centre. Unfortunately the return time had been brought forward so there wasn’t much time for mum to explore so she just ran up river to a cafe on the bank of the Shannon for a coffee & a sandwich & then came back to get her shopping done. Athlone looked amazing & mum wants to go & spend more time there so its definitely on our mooring bucket list for next year. Anyway we’re nicely stocked up on food including a roast chicken our favourite!

Sunday we moved up a lock & got water & pumpout this time with the help of Jason the lock keeper. There are hardly any working pumpout facilities along the canal so we emptied the toilet after just a week to give us another weeks leeway. We’re praying the Tullamore pumpout might be fixed but we’re not optimistic. If not the next one isn’t until Lowtown & we weren’t planning on being there for a while yet. We then went up the next lock & moored at Clonony. It was quite an overgrown bank & mum still isn’t good at managing singlehanded to get off & tie up when we need planks. And of course it all has to be done so we can get off! So about an hour later we were sorted & of we trotted to sniff around.

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Our nearest village is now Belmont. We passed through but didn’t moor here on the way down – it’s the one with the double lock that they use with the middle gate open here. On Monday mum cycled up to the little shop on Falcon to check out what it had for reference. She then cycled back along the towpath but it was quite muddy & Falcon’s back wheel kept skidding so mum has deemed roads a safer option even if they are further.

It’s a nice remote spot here barely anyone walks past & we’re allowed off lead on walkies so that’s a bonus.

On Tuesday mum decided to go on another big Falcon expedition to the monastic site of Clonmacnoise. She could go in a big loop via Belmont on the way there & Shannonbridge on the way back. The map below shows all the places we’ve visited over the past week or two; Shannon Harbour, Shannonbridge, Athlone, Clonony, Belmont & Clonmacnoise.

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Clonmacnoise was a spectacular monastery on the banks of the River Shannon. There are moorings right next to the site so again we hope to moor there in the future.

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This sixth century monastic site, located on the banks of the River Shannon is home to three high crosses, a cathedral, seven churches and two round towers. This great monastery was founded in 548- 9 by St. Ciarán Mac a tSaor (“son of the carpenter”), who studied under St. Finian at the famous Clonard Abbey. The strategic location of the monastery at a crossroads between the major east-west land route through the bogs of central Ireland and the River Shannon helped it become a major centre of religion, learning, craftsmanship and trade by the 9th century. Alongside the ruined churches and round towers are three ancient high crosses; two are complete high crosses plus the shaft of another.  But you don’t have to be a history buff to simply enjoy the peace and tranquillity of Clonmacnoise, nestling as it has done for centuries past, on the banks of the majestic Shannon. No visit to Offaly would be complete without a visit to this most special of destinations – even Pope John Paul II stopped by when he visited Ireland back in 1979.

Mum took loads of photos but we’ve made her select just a few for our blog.

After exploring mum popped into the shop & bought a coffee & shamrock shortbread biscuits none of which made it back home! But worse than that she made a disastrous purchase – we may need rescuing & transporting back to the Uk! Us doggies have sensitive ears so this couldn’t be worse – she says it’ll give her something to do on winter evenings. We can think of better pastimes!! Luckily so far it hasn’t made it out of the packet thank God.

On the way home mum cycled via Shannonbridge & back along the main road past Clonony Castle. The castle is only open by appointment but mum saw the gates were open so he popped her head round. Oscar the schnauzer soon came bounding & barking at her with his owner in hot pursuit.

The history of this castle is equally as interesting as the building itself.  It was built by the MacCoughlan clan the early 16th century and was the first place in Ireland to practice musketry but was then ceded to Henry VIII in early 17th century.  The castle passed into the hands of the Boleyn family.  It was given as a gift to Thomas Boleyn by Henry as he wanted to marry Anne Boleyn.  In fact, cousins of Anne are buried in the grounds underneath a hawthorn three.  The writing on the stone has eroded away but may still be recovered with a rubbing.  Luckily this castle escaped the campaign of Cromwell and is in relatively good condition. The castle did become ruined but the excellent renovation work of the present owner is slowly restoring this castle to its former glory.

Well after a couple of days adventuring & with a storm on the way we’re hibernating & snoozing (while mum is working earning the pennies) for the next few days.

Silent Dublin Adventures by Cosmo

So once we were safely moored in Robertstown mum & Auntie Joy set off to an IWAI (Inland Waterways Association Ireland) meeting aka a pub night. Mum was wanting to find out the next information for this years Dublin Rally. The Dublin Rally takes place every year where an organised convoy of boats crosses the River Liffey in Dublin from both The Royal canal & The Grand Canal directions. Mum kind of likens it to doing The Ribble link as you have to book & do a scarey big river bit! Oh gawd!! Better hang on by our claws Daquiri.

But then there is a real bonus this year in that the IWAI is running the 2020BC or 2020 Big Cruise which is a whole host of fabulous boat rallies & events that can be linked together. The aim is to encourage folks out & about onto the waters & to promote the waterways. Not that mum needs any encouragement but she’ll be able to cruise with other boats. We have fallen very lucky that this is on this year. The link is here for 2020BC

So at the pub night the good news is mum managed to pick up this marvellous chart with the dates of all the events on.

The bad news is there’s a major breach on the way into Dublin on The Grand Canal which has now been delayed & is not going to be finished in time. Discussions are being held with Irish Water to find workarounds eg craning all boats out & transporting round or building a temporary route round. But it all sounds quite major expensive & complicated so at this stage we’re not sure what’s happening.

So we have a plan B of not going into Dublin & joining in with events on The Grand Canal & the Barrow first then going out into the Shannon & up onto The Royal canal for August for the Float to the Fleadh event that we’ve already booked & paid for. So the situation & our route at the moment is rather fluid.

But we do have a plan for our next month… we’re going to head to Edenderry for St Patrick’s Day to watch the parade then further along to Tullamore for the Tradfest then back to Edenderry for the Easter Rally. By then we should know the verdict of the Dublin Rally & if it’s not to be we’ll just have to do it next year.

So back to Robertstown. Auntie Joy left us in the middle of the night n the pitch dark to return back to the U.K. so now we’re all totally alone over here but if feels rather good to be so free. We have really fallen in love with this village. It has a great embankment just behind the boat where we’re able to have lots of offlead fun as we’re “contained” as mum calls it. We’ve had mainly beautiful sunny days so spent lots of time on walkies & mum has been able to get back into the swing of things with her google work.

One day we had a mixture of rain & sunshine & we looked out of our window to just catch the most beautiful rainbow.

And another morning we caught a beautiful sunrise. Well mum did out of the window we were still fast asleep.

On Saturday mum decided to abandon us again & she went off on another Dublin adventure. After sussing out the buses by visiting the pub & asking in there I mean any excuse!! She says the info is confusing as it says no buses on Saturdays on some of timetables & on the bus stop anyway she was relieved when one turned up.

After a journey of 1.5hrs & a 17.60 euro return ticket she hopped off at Ha’Penny Bridge right in the centre of The Temple Bar area of Dublin. You’ve guessed it more pubs!

Once she’d partaken in a delicious dish of beef & Guinness stew (where’s ours?!) she was off on another of her crazy ideas. This one is called a Silent Disco. I mean what the feck is the point of that! A disco with silent music. Anyway apparently everyone wears these headphones where they can hear the music & they dance their way round Dublin looking like total prats. But mum assured us it was the most incredible fun tour. God I hope she doesn’t put earphones on us for walkies.

Should you wish to partake in this silliness the link is here Silent Adventures

Apparently afterall that jigging mum was thirsty so had to go into another pub. Though this one had live music playing so she stayed there killing time before her long bus journey home listening to Wild Rover amongst other tunes . Apparently though she didn’t drink much but only because of wanting a pee on the long bus journey home.

Hopefully that’s the end to her shenanigans. .

oh dear lord no…… how much is a single ferry ticket to England please??!! Look what she’s done to us!!!

Our first Irish Cruise by Daquiri (Sallins to Robertstown)

After storm Jorge passed & before Auntie Joy left it was time to confront our fears & tackle a few Irish Locks. There are just 3 to Robertstown. We fell lucky as a fellow trader Julie was over for a few days so she joined us too enabling us first to do a car shuffle.

We’d not managed to see Waterways Ireland yet so we were going to give the locks a go with our English windlass. There’s quite a difference in size but the larger hole on the English one we thought might work.

English windlass on left. Irish Lock key on the right.

The weather looked promising so we had fallen lucky as we bid farewell to Sallins.

We were first tracking our morning walkies route with Auntie Joy passing over Leinster Aqueduct

Then it was onto new waters as we apprehensively approached our first lock at Digby Bridge. But like a guardian angel Martin from Waterways Ireland was waiting for us with the lock ready & 2 lock keys for us to purchase!

Now in a lot of ways the locks are not that different to U.K. ones. The gates are bigger & the ground paddle they call the land rack & presumably the gate paddle is referred to as the gate rack. A windlass is a lock key. The gates & racks & lock key are all much bigger, harder to move/turn but the principal is the same. But the BIG issue for mum is a lot of them are impossible to singlehand. None of them have ladders so the only option is bowhauling in & out but many of them have wide bridges (road bridges) over one end of them so that counts that out too. So Mum will be a bit more dependent on getting help from passers by, other boaters, crew or Waterways Ireland staff. In the guidebooks all the lock keepers tel no’s are there but We think with there being so few boats the lock keepers get to know who’s where. Martin said he’d tell (warn!!) next lock keeper about me travelling on my own lol

Martin left us to the next two locks as We had crew. The girls did the next one & mum did the third one. Boy were the racks hard to turn. Mum might be coming back to the UK eventually looking like Popeye!

It was a beautiful stretch to Robertown. Part of it was very shallow so slow going. I doubt We’ll be moaning about dredging in the UK when we get back!

Soon we were approaching Robertstown where we’d already sussed out a mooring by car. It was however shallow so we couldn’t quite get into the bank but with some creative ropework we’re settled & me & Cosmo can easily get off the front.

Robertstown is the kind of vision We had of Boating in Ireland. A small village or I think this is a township with 2 pubs (one which is combined with the stores & the otter with windows like someone’s front room), a post office, a Chinese take away & this one has a tiny coop type supermarket. The water here is so clear you can see the bottom of the channel & fish swimming around. Here’s a selection of photos from around Robertstown

It has great walkies up the canal towpath mum even let me off the lead. Not Cosmo though as she doesn’t trust him not to bomb off.

We are going to stay here a week while mum sorts the rest of the boat out & catches up on some work to pay the bills. Auntie Joy is with us for a final night & her & mum bombed off into Dublin to find out about the events taking place on the waterways as part of the 2020BC (2020 Big Cruise) programme. We’ll let you know all about those in our next blog. But we leave you with the sublime view out of our window here in Robertstown. We think we’re going to like it here a lot!

Finding our Paws by Daquiri

Now we’re afloat in Ireland it was time to find our way around our new life. To us Ireland has a more European feel than an English feel. Of course mum is having to pay for our biscuits in euros, some of the signs are in Irish, we’re currently on data roaming & everyone talks with the wonderful Irish lilt.

Within an hour of being on the water several boaters had been by to say hello. We were struck immediately by their friendliness & helpfulness even despite us barking at them. Martin from Waterways Ireland also popped by & said he’d return soon with lock Keys for us.

We’re currently not in an ideal mooring spot as we’re on the pumpout but given it’s broken anyway we’re not inconveniencing anyone. With the imminent arrival of Storm Jorge we just tightened the ropes & added spring lines & mum deemed we wouldn’t move till after the storm had passed. We were all quite scared as we’d not seen forecasts like this in England but as it came & went it actually wasn’t too bad though we were quite sheltered down a steep bank.

Mum & Auntie Joy did quite a lot of exploring & shopping whilst we had a car available. Of course they had to test the Irish pubs out!

The cost of living is much higher over here but some boating costs are cheaper. Mum bought a waterways smart card from the nearby garage which is used up on the Shannon for the electric locks as well as for things like toilet emptying (charges for both chemical & pumpout here), showers & soon to be introduced payable rubbish disposal.

So this card cost 12 euros 70 & is a 20 unit card. pumpout is 2 units so considerably cheaper than U.K. (when it’s working) which is about £20. But in the U.K. we don’t pay for Elsan or rubbish disposal. Mum has pumpout So gains here & also has a compost/waterless toilet too onboard so shouldn’t ever be stuck or she’ll Have to use doggie bags like us! But these new bins are nearby at Sallins where you pay per bag but they’re not currently wired up & operational. In Ireland householders pay a company to collect their rubbish so it kind of follows that boaters can’t dispose of it for free. Incredibly the country so far that we’ve seen has been relatively litter free which is not good for us as we like scavenging. Here’s the new bins coming in…

The waterpoints are free but everyone moors on them so a bit tricky to access. We managed to reverse back & breast up & get water in the hail & wind as we’d not wanted to be very full of water & increase the weight coming over.

The rules & etiquette over here are much more relaxed. You’re kind of supposed to move every 5 days here but so far we’ve only seen a trip boat moving & everyone else not moved for weeks even months. We learnt that the season doesn’t start till St Patrick’s Day so no one really moves till then apart from one mad Englishwoman with 2 golden retrievers! Also when I asked about the 8 to 8 engine rule that wasn’t known about either.

So whilst we had the car as Auntie Joy Is with us till Tuesday mum did lots of exploring. Firstly they went & sussed out the next 2 locations along the Grand Canal Robertstown & Lowtown. There was space at Robertstown but Lowtown was choccabloc. So mum decided once the weather has passed that’s where we’d head as it had some little shops too.

Lowtown

Mum also had a look at an Irish Lock to see how difficult they are to singlehand. It was deemed this particular one would be impossible for mum to do. However, each section has lock keepers so when we’re there we’ll need to ring for help. But we’ll cover locks in more detail in the next blog.

After that we also checked out Edenderry where there’s going to be an Easter rally which we’re hoping to attend. We really liked it there plenty of space moorings & shops.

The above map shows the section of waterways we’re on. We’re on the Grand Canal at Sallins. The Naas branch & its 5 locks are currently closed for winter maintenance so we’ll come back & do that another time. Robertstown is west on the Grand then Lowtown is by L19 at the junction of The Grand & The Barrow Line. The Barrow is Canal at the top then bevones the Barrow river further south at Athy. Edenderry is down its own little branch further along The Grand Canal.

Mum is still undecided which way we are going & is waiting to get dates of the rallies so we can join in those but we are aiming to be back around this area to join the big Dublin Rally which crosses the River Liffey in May.

We also went down & explored Athy on another rainy day. The River Barrow is currently very much in flood resembling more of a lake than a river!

Naas is a fairly large town & has a much needed Three shop or Tree shop as the Irish say. We’re on an unlimited contract in the U.K. both on a wireless router for days & another for the phone. Mum likes to have two as she needs Internet for work & next venue how many phones have been dropped in the Cut it’s good to have a backup. Now we’re over here in Ireland the router & SIM card don’t be work at all & the phone is capped at 20Gb on data roaming. This has devastated mum as she daren’t play her Pokémon in case it uses all her data up. She is now however very happy as in the Three shop she managed to get an unlimited data, texts & calls SIM for 20 euros a month. We are going to have to switch to an Irish mobile no of course though. So mum also bought a cheap secondhand phone which she’s going to use her U.K. SIM in & switch the to PAYG so she can keep that no & use it if she comes back to the UK at any point. She’s now happily back playing Pokemon which keeps us happy as we get longer walkies while she’s hatching Pokemon eggs.

But the best day was Sunday. Mum & Auntie Joy deemed enough sorting out boat stuff & they Day was fun day & a huge reward for us being so good. So we were taken off to Sandymount Beach near Dublin where there was miles of sand for us t free run & run we did. We had such a brilliantly fun time running, paddling & digging. Happy days.

Check out our next blog to find out how we got on on our first cruise on Irish waterways doing the locks to Robertstown.

We’ve only fecking done it! by Cosmo

Well mum has had a dream or should I say a goal to move the boat to Ireland for over 2 years. She’s been researching it forever we’ll today is the day it all came true.

We woke up early had walkies & then the boat was moved across the canal to get pump out & top up of red diesel as sadly we’ll be on white diesel in Southern Ireland. Mum then reversed the boat back & James from Stowe Hill Wharf jumped on the front. Then we edged forwards slowly as the boat was guided into the crane sling.

Much to our relief Auntie Joy arrived & we were saved from being hoisted in the air! Although we were now made to get in a stupid car instead of a van it was better than dangling in the air! Once mum had closed the boat up & left the keys & bill of sale to show at the port with Stowe Hill we were whisked off down to Auntie Joys house in Reading & had much fun in her garden.

Mum & Auntie Joy went out for a curry at night in the last of her farewell meals with Dom & Jane.

The next morning we were rudely awoken at 5am. I mean that’s the middle of the night. We had to have walkies in the dark. It was like Calendar Club all over again! Then again we were bundled into stupid car. We then had a very long journey right across Wales. We had a nice surprise along the way though as we met Auntie Jackie & Uncle Mick & they had doggie treats & a bottle of fizz for mum.

After a very long journey we arrived at a very big boat marina called Fishguard. It had a huge boat much bigger than Golden Boyz and our car believe or not drove inside the boat. Next we were cruelly left in the car… in the boat… abandoned I tell you!

Then the car started rocking front to back & side to side even though it wasn’t moving. It was very weird. We were very brave & lay down & went to sleep. Or we did until mum came down to check on us.

3.5 hours later we docked at a place called Rosslare. We were told that we were now abroad.. in a foreign country… and you know what after all that cost & preparation we never even had to show our shiny new passports.

So we are now officially world travellers me & Daquiri! Here’s our very first photo abroad in a place called Wexford.

Mum & Auntie Joy stopped for chips then we had a 2 hour drive to our lovely little Air BnB for the night. It was a very rustic cabin with a humongous garden for us to run round in. We were so happy to tear around after such a long journey. This was far better than staying in a hotel/Travelodge in Dublin!

Whilst we were doing all this our boat was loaded onto a lorry at Stowe Hill & driven up to Holyhead ready to come over on the overnight ferry.

The next morning would you believe it we were made to get up again in the dark at 5am! And again put in stupid car. This time we we only in for about 30 minutes & we arrived at a place called Sallins. Just after we’d parked up & were on walkies a huge crane arrived apparently to meet us! Next thing around the corner came Golden Boyz on the lorry stopping all the traffic as it reversed up to the crane.

Then something scarey happened Golden Boyz was flying in the air. She was turned around & lowered into the canal.

And just like that we were here … abroad… in Ireland…a long planned for dream come true!

So we’ve only fecking done it!!!

Watch out soon for our next blog on how we’re settling in in Ireland.

We’re only fecking going to Ireland!!

Well how the devil are you all? It’s been a while since we blogged but we are back now with some exciting news…. we’re only fecking going to Ireland!!!!

Passports

So we’ll be back blogging soon with gusto telling you of all our Irish furry tails.

But quick summary of 2019… we ended up having a busy year in the Midlands & the north trading as The Doggie Boat. Mum then sold The Doggie Boat business on to the wonderful Tracey & Tim Clarke who are doing a marvellous job with it. So please do continue to support them (www.facebook.com/TheDoggieBoat)

Then we headed south as mum did Aylesbury Calendar Club for a second year in a mahoosive shop this year! But on the way the really big news is nb Golden Boyz had a big repaint so she’s looking rather marvellous for her trip to Ireland. Uncle Toastie painted her so we had a great 2 weeks moored up with him. Here’s a photo of the finished job complete with new logo (you may recognise it!) & 2 handsome furry chaps sitting next to her.

New Golden Boyz

Now we’re in full scale preparations for Ireland.

So the boat gets craned out at Willowbridge marina on 12 Feb for blacking. We’ll be doing a mad circuit round the UK saying bye to all our pals while the boat is out of the water.

The boat goes on an overnight ferry on 26 Feb & is put in the water at Sallins at 8.30am on 27 Feb ready for our new adventure.

We’re going over separately in Auntie Joys car on the Fishguard to Rosslare route at lunchtime. Then we have a drive up to near Sallins where we’ll stay in a doggie friendly B&B for the night ready to watch nb Golden Boyz go in the water the next day.

Mum is busy doing lots of preparations. We’ve had our horrible rabies jabs & then even more horrible blood tests where we had to have a bit of our legs shaved.

 

We passed our blood tests so then our doggie passports were issued.

Mum is getting lots of work done on the boat – everything possible is being serviced as well as it being blacked. We’ve bought a new longer warp for our anchor & lots of map books this week. Mum is trying to think about the plank issue as a lot of the moorings are a bit less accessible in Ireland but Cosmo is a wuss & probably won’t use a plank! She’s bought her waterways Ireland license a bargain at 126euros (ours here is just under £1000) & sorted her insurance out to cover Ireland. Mum is sitting her vhf course so she can get a vhf radio something about backup in case we break down in the middle of a lough with no signal (sounds scarey!) & she’s trying to sort phone contracts with not much success & euros to take.

So thats our big news. Expect to hear a lot more from us as we embark on our big trip.. oh we’re not sure how long we’re going for .. provisionally 18 months… but could be longer.. could be shorter… who knows with mum!