These are the adventures of Andy and Sally Rawnsley on their narrowboat "The Puzzler". We have been living on the boat for over eight years now and are still loving it. Our Ulster born Shih Tzu, Shannon, has grown up, and has taken over the boat! After three wonderful years in Ireland, we transported The Puzzler to The Netherlands, and spent a year there. In 2015 we went southwards, to reach the north of France by June. After glorious weather throughout the summer, we arrived in Roanne in late October, and enjoyed our winter in this friendly port. We cruised extensively in France in 2016, returning to Roanne for a second winter.


Sunday, 30 December 2012

22nd - 30th December. A quiet Christmas in Enniskillen.




Our Christmas tree is up again, with the angel over it this year.
We saw the Boxing Day Meet passing the Round "O". They meet in Enniskillen, then go round the town, before heading out on this road. As fox-hunting is now illegal, they do not go very far before heading home again!

Boxing Day was extremely wet later on, creating an interesting combination of rain and lights on the windows of The Puzzler.

Every night there are ducks sleeping on the jetty. They wake up before dawn, and chat loudly to each other, making sure that we are awake too!


The geese never come on to the jetty, but keep to themselves. We were glad to see them all present after Christmas. Last year there were two less!



We found this interesting signpost, when walking on the other side of the River Erne.



It is a different view as we look back across the River Erne to the Round "O" mooring.
Looking downstream from Enniskillen Bridge, The Puzzler can be seen on the end of the Round "O" jetty. From here it looks very bleak, but then, appearances can be deceptive!

Monday, 24 December 2012

12th - 21st December. Christmas lights in Enniskillen and Bridge dinners.





Christmas decorations are now up in Enniskillen. This artificial tree looks better at night.



Here we are looking down the High Street in Enniskillen.



These trees are along the river beyond the library.



The most impressive sight is Enniskillen Castle at night, reflected in the River Erne.
In this view from the bridge, Enniskillen Castle is to the left, with a small cottage on the island. The Waterways Ireland building can be seen behind the island.

However at night the cottage becomes much more visible, with a sailing boat on the right of the island.



Bowling continues, with Andy winning first prize at The Forum on Monday.


A week before Christmas, we headed off upstream, passing the Ardhowen Theatre on the way.
We were making for the Killyhevlin Hotel mooring. The Ardhowen Theatre can be seen in the distance, above the stern of The Puzzler.



Reflections today are wonderful.
Looking upstream from the Killyhevlin shows just what a lovely river The Erne is.
We are here for the St Michael's Bridge Club Christmas dinner.
The meal last night was excellent, followed by a good evening of bridge, with prizes for all. Tuesday morning did not dawn bright and clear! The mist was so thick that it was difficult to see anything. However we had to return to Enniskillen, so with all lights on, we slowly cruised back downstream, using the horn at regular intervals, just in case anyone else was silly enough to be on the river in these conditions!


The mist was clear by Wednesday, but there is still a lot of water in the river.
Wednesday night was our second Bridge dinner with the Devenish Bridge Club at Mahon's Hotel in Irvinestown. Another excellent meal, in excellent company.



We mustn't forget the rest of the club.



Everyone was there.



And a good time was had by all.


After the meal it was down to the serious game of bridge, with prizes for all again. We could get used to this!



The Puzzler did not want to be left out, so has some new lights.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

2nd - 11th December. Birds and boat movement in Enniskillen.

The geese have come to The Puzzler to see if there is any chance of food. This is unusual as they are well fed by visitors to the Round "O" park, beside the mooring.



The seagulls are hungry too, but will not come any closer to the window of the boat.
There are contractors working at the Portora Boathouse. As they have been clearing wood, we persuaded them to let us help! This jetty normally only caters for rowing boats, but was perfectly adequate for The Puzzler.



A friend was moving his boat near to the Erne shopping centre, so Sally went to help.



The only access to this mooring is by canoe!



Big Red is pushing works machinery on a barge upstream past the Round "O".
On approaching Enniskillen Bridge he needed full power to make any progress at all against the current. We heard later that he came to a standstill between the old and the new bridges.
He must have got through eventually, as we saw him later on, near to the Erne shopping centre, opposite the Regal Pass mooring. It will be interesting to see what work is being done here.
Another barge leaves the Round "O" to go the quarter mile trip to Riverview. As long as he is away for four hours then the wardens will be happy!

Friday, 7 December 2012

29th November - 1st December.

We are now settled in at the Round "O" mooring, below Enniskillen Bridge. The River Erne is running quite fast past us, but as this is a floating jetty, we are safe here. It is good exercise for us, having the walk into town.
As we left The Puzzler on Friday, the pigeons formed a guard of honour for us, and one even thought about flying into the car with us, as we were collected by Janet and Maurice for a weekend at their house.


We drove through Donegal Town and out along Donegal Bay. The views across the bay are stunning.

We carried on to the viewpoint at Carrigan Head, to see the cliffs below Slieve League.There is nothing but The Atlantic Ocean to the west of this headland before you reach North America.

It is lovely to have friends with us to take our photo, with Slieve League in the background.

When we arrived the cliffs were impressive, with a cloud sitting on top of them.
However, by the time we had finished our picnic, the cloud was lifting. The sun had come out and this really brought the cliffs to life.

There were several sheep along the narrow cliff top road. There does not seem to be much for them to eat up here.

There are some lovely sandy beaches along the Donegal coast, but they are deserted at this time of year.

This is one of the few traditional thatched cottages which remain in Donegal.
We drove right to the end of St. John's Point, and looked back across to Slieve League.           St. John's Point is a long thin peninsula, which extends far out into Donegal Bay.
We returned with Maurice and Janet to stay at their lovely cottage in the west of Fermanagh. We all spent the evening at the Cashelnadrae Whist Club. This was great fun too and it has certainly been a busy and enjoyable visit.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

10th - 28th November. Ardhowen Theatre and League bowls.


There was a special service at the Enniskillen War Memorial on 8th November this year to commemorate 25 years since the Enniskillen bombing here. The building to the right of the war memorial was built on the site of the bombing, which happened just before the laying of the wreaths on Remembrance Sunday in 1987.



There are 11 doves on the War Memorial, one for each person who died then. It is very moving to see it.
The Puzzler has a new chimney, and we are on our way upstream to the Ardhowen Theatre mooring for the weekend. Last week a man came to ask if the smoke came from our engine. He seemed to be disappointed that we were not a steam boat!


Walking again at Castle Coole, Andy paused for a rest. All the autumn leaves are on the ground now.



Castle Coole itself is as impressive as ever.
Pike fishing is very popular here on the River Erne. This monster fish was brought out of the blue barrel (keep net) for a photo call, but the fisherman would not tell us where he caught it. He was planning to release it in the same spot, ready to be caught again, in his next competition!

Having been back at the Round "O" mooring, we headed upstream again. It is harder each time to get up through Enniskillen Bridge, against the current.
This time we are sailing straight past the Forum, where we play bowls. The Forum is a very active sports centre, with a swimming pool and fitness room, as well as various sports halls inside. Outside there are several pitches, most having an all-weather surface.
At the Ardhowen Theatre again we are joined by Janet and Maurice and all enjoy a fantastic sunset over the river, before going to see Lady Windermere's Fan, by Oscar Wilde. It was a very good performance. 

We stop at the first part of the mooring at Broadmeadow, as this is the best place to chop the rest of our wood for the fire, with a short walkway to the jetty here.



Once again there is a tidy stack of logs in the cratch of The Puzzler.


On Mondays we bowl at the Forum, using three mats, and it can be taken seriously.



However, not everyone does this! Look at this pair.
Tuesdays at the Forum in the Fermanagh Bowls League is very serious though, with 20 teams fighting to avoid relegation. As there are eight bowlers in each team, this means 160 people on the mats. We play for the Royal British Legion, with our club night being on Thursday.
We are sailing downstream past Enniskillen Castle for the last time this year. There is now too much water in the River Erne to come, safely, through Enniskillen Bridge, which can be seen just beyond the castle.