Continuing the Royal Journey by Daquiri (Mullingar to Castleknock)

We arrived home around lunchtime exhausted so we had a nice rest. When I say we I mean just me & Cosmo as mum had to unpack, do the shopping, fill the boat with water & catch up on work emails!

The next day we had a wonderful surprise when Mark on the boat next to ours & our pal the goldendoodle Bear returned as there was a second goldendoodle called Teddy who we found out was his brother. 2 sets of twin boys what could be better, We were ecstatic 4 goldies running around Mullingar harbour together. Lots of barking & ball chasing was done!

The next day we did a lot more playing & mum & Mark took Toddy back to the garage again as his new windscreen is leaking!

Sadly we then had to set off as we’re on a mission to get up the Royal canal to the 12th lock at Castleknock ready to join in the IWAI Dublin rally later this month. We had our lovely crew of three booked for the locks on Easter Sunday so we cruised nearer to our meet point. On the way there’s a lift bridge which WI have to lift but luckily it was deemed we’d be able to get under it. We moored at it for the night then set off under it the next day. As you can see we did fit.

We arrived nice & early to meet our crew of Nuala, Cian & Oisin so moored up at Mary Lynch’s pub which is now closed. Our crew soon had us down the 8 locks & onto a fabulous mooring right outside Nanny Quinns pub.

We had a couple of good nights & meals in Nanny Quinns as Nuala had booked the wonderful apartment there. She was also left in charge of the after pub drinks arrangements lol

We had a lovely few days there as it was a great grassy spot for us & mum could catch up on work after Easter. We were then on a long level stretch so could progress under our own steam along the Royal canal for a while. Our first hop took us past the Hill of Down & we moored at Longwood for the night.

Next we progressed further aiming for Enfield as we needed to be near a train station to collect Toddy. Passing Fureys at Moy Valley we made it to the lovely harbour at Enfield but we had terrible trouble mooring. The harbour & tap were taken up by a permanently moored boat & we tried all along the bank with mum leaping off & throwing pins & hammer & planks off but she just couldn’t get us in close. Eventually she decided the best bet was to reverse to a small jetty which although we were way too long for it we should at least get the bow in as it was an official jetty. Wrong!! Again we were way out. By now mum had had enough so she just moored it with the bow 5 feet from the jetty & the stern right in the middle of the canal & we just hoped a wide boat didn’t need to get past. It’s a shame as Enfield harbour was such a perfect spot in so many ways.

Anyway mum picked Toddy up & went for a day out up to Salt Cave Paradise which she’d been wanting to go to for a while. It was a nice day so she got a stroll in along the beach & called in at Marine Parts on the way back to get a few things for the boat.

After Enfield the locks started again with 2 double locks down to Kilcock so we got assistance from Waterways Ireland. We were surprised to see a massive long jetty there but only a couple of short spots at the end with bollards for boats to tie to. So much room for the canoe polo but barely any for the boats travelling the canal. It was a lovely kept jetty & finally an easy spot for us to get on & off after the horrors of walking long planks at Enfield.

Sadly our joy was short lived as the next day we got a call from Waterways Ireland telling us we had to move for a canoe polo match. We now didn’t really have anywhere to go as we’d been warned not to moor in Maynooth harbour over a weekend because we’d get antisocial behaviour plus it’s against railings so mum didn’t think we’d be able to get off. So we arranged to go down a couple of locks & stayed on the lock landing for a couple of days. Maybe we’ll get chance to look round Kilcock on the way back instead.

After the weekend we set off on the final section of our journey down to Castleknock. This time we picked up new crew of Aine & Laura at Maynooth & cruised past Toddy as mum had parked him there the day before.

We just had one lock to do today & then we stopped at Confey for lunch & to fill up with water as there’s no tap at Castleknock. We then progressed through a beautiful part of The Royal Canal called the Deep Sinking. The Deep Sinking itself is a cutting through the limestone quarry which was blasted and dug through at great expense. At certain points through the Deep Sinking the towpath can rise up between 8 and 9 metres above the canal. A perilous danger for the horses pulling the barges below.

With the towpaths being so high the best way to see the Deep Sinking is by boat & there’s a marvellous trip boat that runs trips through it by the fabulous Jenny Wren. Royal Canal Boat Trips

So we arrived at Castleknock a couple of days before our Dublin Rally so in good time. Mum caught the train back to pick up Toddy & he has gone into a different garage for a month while we are in Dublin to start work on the long lost of things that aren’t working in him but most importantly the heaters so he’ll be ready for winter adventures. He’s also due his MOT soon so he’s been reregistered in Northern Ireland & booked in for that so we’re also getting a few bits done that have been advisories in the past hoping that he won’t fail. Interestingly the lady on the phone told us he’d been registered in NI before in 2002 so he’s obviously been over here a few times now.

We are almost at the end of our Royal canal journey now just the final stretch as part of the Dublin rally left to do; Castleknock to Grand Canal Dock. There is a wonderful series of videos by Dick Warner that you might enjoy watching which are much more knowledgeable than we are about the anal. Royal Canal Video series.


Our “Second” Paddys Day in Ireland by Cosmo

We’re a bit behind with our blog we’ve been soooo busy!! As per our last blog we made it to Mullingar in time for Paddys day so our plans are back on schedule. We had 2 friends arrive Christine & Sheila both single handed experienced boaters from the Uk. They came in Christine’s campervan so we had a mini convoy a couple of days. Mum finally got Toddy back from the garage but he now had a new windscreen leak even worse than the one that had been fixed. We had no time to return him as we have adventures aplenty planned so we’ve been driving round with a bucket under it when it rains until we get back.

We took our friends firstly to visit Seans bar in Athlone – it just had to be done.

Then in the afternoon we went back to Mullingar to get the boat ready for the evenings flotilla. Unfortunately there was no turning point for our 57ft boat so mum had to reverse the 1km to get into starting position. Always fun as boats don’t steer in reverse. We set off at dusk & the boat in front of us picked St Patrick up then delivered him to the crowds waiting at harbour accompanied by a flotilla of canoes too.

The next day was the actually St Patricks Day parade so they headed into Mullingar to watch the parade & partake of an odd drink or two

The following day when heads had recovered mum took us all on a little tour of some of the waterways harbours & moorings. Then we headed to a pub mum had on her bucket list; Andersons Thatched pub which has campervan parking & is renowned for its impromptu live music nights. Sheila & Christine had a little practise on their ukuleles whilst we awaited the pub opening at 9pm. It was a brilliant night where we were welcomed by the amazing host Ger. We spent the night listening to various musical instruments being played & songs being sung including Christine doing both a tin whistle number & singing a song. Mum was banned from taking her tin whistle. It was a fabulous evening & mum says anyone that visits in campers will have to stop there now on their itinerary. In the morning we even got a free bread delivery on each van. We had our beady eye on that straightaway!

After that the ladies headed off for a couple of days of exploring Ireland while we went back to the boat as mum had work to do. We met up at Castleknock for one last night before we ALL headed off for the ferry the next day. Yes after over 3 years we’re finally getting to go back to the UK on a visit now we can travel in Toddy & have our Irish passports. So lots more details of our UK adventures in the next blog…

Toddy’s Winter Adventures by Cosmo

While we’ve been unable to cruise due to canal maintenance on The Royal Canal we’ve been having adventures aplenty in Toddy instead. Here’s a quick photo blog of all we’ve got up to.

After the Hippies had left us mum hot footed it down to Athlone for a Santa & Elves Xmas party & caught up with Mags & Daisy.

Then she cycled to Strokestown House to have a look around & investigate the start of The Famine Trail.

At Strokestown House there is also The Famine Museum & it is the start of The National Famine Way. The National Famine Way is a 165km trail that traces the footsteps of the Strokestown tenants, men, women and children who were marched from Roscommon to Dublin in 1847 after they failed to pay their rent. In Dublin, they boarded a ship to Liverpool before journeying to North America on board some of the worst coffin ships of the time. Not all of them made it alive. They became known as the ‘Missing 1490’. The trail is really well done with 30 bronze shoe sculptures along the way, a passport to get stamped & a fabulous app with recordings of historic stories at each stop. Mum is hoping to cycle it in stages.

The first week of February heralded a new bank holiday for Ireland. The first Monday in February ahs now been added as St Brigids Day. This year being the first there were many events happening. Mum popped along to the illuminating of the St Brigids Cross by the River Shannon at Tarmonbarry & watched the am dram performance in Keenans afterwards.

Next Toddy had to go into the garage for some work on his brakes & suspension so mum cycled back along the Longford branch of the canal ticking off some of the Famine Trail Bronze Shoes. right at the start were some clever suitcase scupltures depicting immigrants & their occupations.

Next up was a full weekend away in Toddy but we were actually very close to home. We started at Sliagh Bown Wind Farm Trail. The amenities include a trim trail for fitness, an equestrian trail, six looped walks, a raised viewing platform and a picnic area. Unfortunately it wasn’t a very nice day so we had to shorten our walk much to Daquiri’s relief as he doesn’t like long walkies these days . It was fascinating getting so close to the wind turbines though.

In the afternoon we went & sussed out a potential wild parking spot on the shore of Annaghmore Lake before mum went to a candlelit tales event at Strokestown House in the evening. The parking spot turned out to be amazing tucked just off the road so noone even knew we were there with a spectacular view of the lake. We woke up to a frosty morning & a beautiful sunrise, Mum cooked breakfast in Toddy & chilled with her book while we ran around the area.

Then we went up to have a look at the nearby Elphin Windmill which it seems is now permanently closed.

Next was Roscommon Castle & Scuplture trail

Before we drove to our night time park up this time on the shores of Lough Owel just north of Mullingar. It was a peaceful spot until some hooligans came & set fire to a load of tyres.

The following day a visit to Belvedere House was on mums radar. She’d been wanting to go here in daylight since visiting in the dark for the Land of Light in November. We were especially impressed wit the dog chill out zone which meant mum could go inside & get a coffee at the cafe. Unfortunately she had to bring it outside to drink as Daquiri wouldn’t stop barking naughty boy!

We then had a grand total of 2 days back at the boat before mum had us all packed up again. But we discovered we were off to visit our favourite boat – Funky Duck!!! Yay we got to catch up with Nuala & we got sausages & were allowed in the boat & up on the settee. I was a good buy & didn’t touch a single cushion & there’s a lot of them in Funky Duck so tempting!

The next day mum caught up with Erin & Dave & little Luke who is growing fast. They went to an amazing ranch themed restaurant & mum was very excited that big Yorkshire puddings were on the menu!

We again got 2 days at home before we were off on tour again! I tell you I’ll be glad when she can move the boat again & we get a rest!! This time we headed up to meet Jan & Alistair at Enniskillen who took us on a whistlestop tour of Upper & Lower Lough Erne so mum could recce all the moorings. We also managed to catch up with Sophie & Josh from Qisma too.

The highlight of the tour being where mum got to go on the little ferry across to Lusty beg Island. We cant wait to be moored there although we’re a bit worried about that sign saying must be on best behaviour at ALL times??!! I mean surely the odd indiscretion would be forgivable??

Back again at the boat mum gave us a rets & went off in pursuit of a fiddle related geocache on the main road out of Longford. Apparently a fiddle was dug up when they were constructing the road & the sculpture is to mark that.

And then we’ve saved the best adventure till last. Mum took us off on one last weekend away in Toddy before he went back into the garage for some bodywork repairs which have proved to be a very long job so we’re currently without wheels. But before that just check out this amazing log cabin we stayed again north of Mullingar, It had no electricity & gas cooking stove outside. It was truly like stepping back in time. It had a lovely stove to keep us warm & mum built a campfire at night to sit round.

Once us cowdogs & cowgirl returned back to the boat we had a week or so in Richmond Harbour where mum actually finally got the gunwhales painted with antislip paint – well one side at any rate that’s progress! Then we received the news we’d been waiting for that we could move up The Royal Canal finally – yay Golden Boyz cruises begin again. So catch up with us in the next blog as we start our way on new waters for us headed firstly to Mullingar & then hopefully onwards into Dublin itself – how exciting!!!!

Winter Adventures Part 1 by Daquiri (to the Uk & back!!)

Well we’ve been keeping busy during winter. We’re still on the Grand Canal awaiting our blacking slot at the end of April before we start our cruising adventures. However, mum being mum there’s still been lots going on! We’ve been up & down the Grand, mum finally got to go back to the Uk & we finally had our first Paddys Day here & inbetween all that mum has been availing of Ireland’s public transport & off doing numerous adventures in Dublin. So we thought we’d have a quick recap & summary of what we’ve been up to during the winter aboard & share some of the photos.

So mum kind of fell in love with the 120 bus route as she could get into Dublin & back from both Edenderry & Allenwood. So the bus adventures began.

Dublin Adventure 1: The first one mum hired an ebike & cycled around Phoenix Park. She’d previously walked through to the Zoo but hadn’t explored it properly. Now mum was very keen to see the deer at Phoenix Park. there are 600 here & mum hoped she might spot one. Well she nearly fell off her bike as she spotted slightly more than one. Phoenix Park Deer

After her exercise mum had a quick drink & bite to eat in the pubs around Temple Bar before heading back to us.

Dublin Adventure 2: Mum had booked a tour with a rather unusual tour company which is run by people affected by homelessness & is not only a sightseeing tour but gives you an insight & understanding of life when you’re homeless. Secret Street Tours The Picture below is of amazing Street Art by a homeless man called Goose

Next stop was The Leprechaun Museum which mum had been itching for to reopen.

Dublin Adventure 3: The first part of the day was a Vintage Afternoon Tea trip on a vintage bus & Sarah joined mum for this. And then mum went on an ebike tour around Dublin. As she was the only one booked she got a personal tour.

After her 3 adventures we cruised to Sallins & parted company as we went off on retreat at Wooffys & Snuggles & mum went on a secret visit back to the UK

Mums visit back to the UK had been a long time coming thanks to Covid. She actually kept her visit secret from most friends & just a select few who were instrumental in arranging get togethers were in the know.

After a long 35 mins flight mum collected her tiny hire car & was off up to Garstang to stay with her Dad & catch up with family. Most knew she was coming but she did manage to surprise her cousin Nicola & hubby Andy whilst getting to meet the wonderful new addition Storm. After a couple of day/nights with Dad & brother Andrew it was a family meal of aunts & uncle & a whizz round some of the cousins. Much fun was had at Dads as Andrew had bought mum a mini drone which she of course had to play with round Dads lounge. She soon stopped though when she flew it into herself & got it knotted up in her cardi!

Tuesday dawned & it was off down to Birmingham area with a big surprise reunion on the way. Mum picked Toastie up in Manchester then it was off down to Ye Old Kings Head on the Macclesfield Canal to surprise a couple of our boaty pals including Heidi the Pirate! Mum even got a mention on Heidi’s world famous vlog which you can check out here: The Narrowboat Pirate So she met up with Jules & Pete who’d planned the meal, Heidi & Jan who didn’t know mum was coming & then there was Kay & Steve too who mum didn’t know were coming… are you following this??! So it was surprises all round.

Then after a big catch up it was back in the little bubble car down to the West Midlands & Pelsall for part two of the big secret Uk tour staying with Angela & Jim.

Mum had a nice night in & a blissful bath (about time if you ask us!!) The next day mum was up early firstly to catch up with Dom & Jane as they were sorting some work stuff out.

Then it was across to Urban Moorings to catch up with lots more boat friends & see all the progress that has been made there.

Then a catch up with Richard ex Spice coordinator from Birmingham in the afternoon & Maggie & Pete in the evening also from old Spice Birmingham days.

On mums final day in West Mids she next caught up with Kim & Toastie again for lunch & with Kathleen plus Angela & Jim in the evening. Have you noticed its all eating & we can’t believe we missed out!!

AH now there was a bit of fun that didn’t involve eating mum finally got a bit of a play with the drone this time outside at Angela & Jims!

Then all too soon it was onwards towards Sheffield for part 3 of the big secret UK tour. A stop was made on the way at auntie Dawn’s house where we’ve moored lots of times & had great fun running round her garden. And then it was up to Rotherham for a chance for mum to meet Doodle who has moved in since mum last saw Auntie Gill.

Then late at night mum arrived at Uncle Alan’s the last new bed on her tour.

Saturday was big surprise day as mum met up with many of her Sheffield Spice friends surprising most of them including a very ecstatic Caitlin who mum hid round the corner from!

And all too soon we were on the very last day of the tour. Lunch was with more Spice Sheffield friends & in the evening mum got Uncle Anthony with a big surprise as she sneaked up behind him outside a restaurant in Sheffield.

And in the blink of an eye mum was boarding the plane back home to us. But she had 2 stowaways along with her – we’ll tell you all about them next time & what they got up to on mums very first St Patricks Day over in Ireland finally!

Back in the Uk well the Irish bit of it by Daquiri (Belfast & Beyond)

After 3 & a bit hours in the stupid van we arrived at our holiday destination a former coastguards cottage right on the shore of Belfast Lough & by right on the shore we really do mean it. It was a fabulous little property doggie friendly of course & right on the beach for us.

We loved it. Then we had an even bigger surprise so mum told us to wait at the door.

Then oh my goodness Auntie Joy turned up. Auntie Joy was the last person we saw from the UK in Feb 2020 when she dropped us off in Ireland not knowing that we wouldn’t see anyone then or another 17 months due to Covid. We were straight off on walkies up the beach!

Auntie Joy then went up to stay with some friends & we had a quiet night in chilling & enjoying our cottage as it was the July 11th bonfires.

Next day we were up & out early to avoid the July 12th parades & wow our holiday just got even better. We arrived at mums friends Lisa & Terry where there was to be a big goldies party! There was us then Quaker the labrador who is a very clever guide dog, Rio & Daisy 2 goldies then Charlie another goldie then Jo’s 2 doggies. It was doggie heaven. Mum & auntie Joy went off on an adventure & we got to enjoy an amazing goldies party in a huge garden with lots of toys & a big paddling pool to drink out of.

While we were there mum & Auntie Joy went on the Gobbins clifftop walk. The Gobbins is a cliff-face path at Islandmagee, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, on the Causeway Coastal Route. It runs across bridges, past caves and through a tunnel, along The Gobbins cliffs. The cliffs are recognised for their rich birdlife, important geology and notable species.

When Mum & Auntie Joy came back Lisa prepared a fabulous paella & BBQ spread, a few drinks were drunk & mum was in her element as she got to go in the hot tub! We even got to stay over at Lisa’s that night we slept well as we were shattered from all our partying

The next day we bade our farewells & returned to the cottage. We had another good snooze while mum & Auntie Joy went off looking at big boats in Belfast.

First was the SS Nomadic; Tender to RMS Titanic and the last remaining White Star Line ship in the world! Restored to her original glory and back home in Belfast’s historic Hamilton Dock.

And of course a visit to The titanic Experience was a must in Belfast. As Northern Ireland’s signature tourism project and one of the most dramatic tourism projects opening anywhere in the world, find out more about how Titanic Belfast came to be the iconic building it is today

They both returned having had a good day & we had walkies on the beach. Then it was the novel experience of having an Indian meal inside a restaurant for them. Indoor dining still isn’t open in Ireland but it is in Northern Ireland.

The next day we were bundled into the stupid van for a very long day although we did have a lot of walkies. Its quite exhausting this holiday lark!

Across the day mum wanted to see some of the Game of Thrones filming locations. She had been booked on a tour but it was cancelled due to low numbers so it was a DIY Version. There were information boards at each site. Here’s us recreating the scene when Arya crawls up the Harbour steps away from the Man with no Name.

And here’s Us & Auntie Joy at the cave where Melisandre gave birth to a terrifying shadow baby

And of course we had to visit the iconic Dark Hedges site.

Now that may sound a lot already but we did way way more – I’m telling you we walked our paws off.

We visited The Carick-a-Rede Rope bridge which was sadly closed due to covid but we could walk to it. The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is a rope bridge near Ballintoy in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The bridge links the mainland to the tiny island of Carrickarede. It spans 20 metres and is 30 metres above the rocks below. The bridge is mainly a tourist attraction and is owned and maintained by the National Trust. We were rather pleased it was closed though I doubt doggies can go on it anyway. Daredevil mum would be straight across it without a doubt if it had been open!

Then we had a nice stop at the beach for walkies & a cool down

And our final destination of the day was a big goal for mum. In fact it was the main attraction & reason we’d come to northern Ireland; The Giants Causeway. The Giant’s Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic fissure eruptThe Giants Causeway comprises around 40,000 thousands of mostly hexagonal basalt columns descending gently into the sea. Depending on who you believe, the stones were formed either by an underwater volcano’s geological actions or by a giant named Finn McCool, who lived and battled along the north Antrim Coast.

“You are standing on, or are about to visit, one of my favourite places. The jewel in the crown of the fabulous coast of Antrim. A site of World Heritage and therefore ranked alongside Mount Everest and the Giant Redwoods of California for it’s importance to humankind. Volcanic activity helped Finn Mc Cool forge this wonder of the World some 60 Million years ago. It is today the habitat of rare plants and animals. Please treat their home with the pride and the care it deserves.”

– David Bellamy

Another long walkie to see it. I’m sure I must have lost a stone with all the walkies today!

Finally we set off home & there we had another of our favourite activities a BBQ!!

Luckily the next day we were given a day of rest as mum & Auntie Joy went into Belfast again this time to do the hop on hop off bus tour. In fact they did it twice once sitting in the left side & once on the right side with a break inbetween to visit The Crown Bar. The Crown is both ageless and priceless, a gem of Victoriana and one of the great bars of the world. Formerly known as The Liquor Saloon in Great Victoria Street, it was one of the mightiest Victorian gin palaces which once flourished in the industrial cities of the British Isles. Dating back to 1826, it is now owned by the National Trust and has been sympathetically restored over the years.

Mum particularly found going past the Peace Wall & all the murals interesting. You’re allowed to paint a mural anywhere as long as the property owner doesn’t mind & there are professional mural painters for whom its their full time job.

When they came back after walkies we had another BBQ. Oh boy this is turning into a good holiday.

Friday we had a gentle morning as it was mums birthday. In the afternoon they headed into Belfast this time on the bus so mum could have drink. Mum really wanted to hear some live music so they booked Granny Annies. Unfortunately they were only allowed to stay 90minutes. So mum being mum managed to fit 3 cocktails into that time!! They wandered round a few other pubs after that but they all had big queues so mum came back & drank her baileys instead

Saturday was our last full day & it dawned sunny & hot. The weather had got increasingly warmer all week & by now was very hot. At our beach cottage there was quite a nice breeze & we could go for paddles in the sea to keep cool. The weather was forecast to get even hotter on Sunday & given our check out was 11am mum was worried about us being in the van across the heat of the day so mum decided we’d go home Saturday evening when it was cooler. She does have a sensible side occasionally. So we had a chill out day at the cottage Saturday & set off home at tea time after saying goodbye to Auntie Joy who is continuing her explorations of Northern Ireland. We arrived back to nb Golden Boyz late at night in Bagenelstown. We were very glad to see the back of the stupid van although we do admit it took us to some very nice places.

So now we have a few days of rest while mum returns the hire van, moves the boat & catches up on a load of work. We need to conserve our energy as we have a very important furry visitor arriving next week on his holiday to visit us. We’ve not met him before & we’re very excited to see him.

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is shannon-harbour-2.jpg

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!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is frosty.jpg

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is clononly.jpg

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is clononly-map.jpg

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is clonmacnoise.jpg

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.


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.