These are the adventures of Andy and Sally Rawnsley on their narrowboat "The Puzzler". We have been living on the boat for over nine 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 and 2017, returning to Roanne each winter.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Fun times in Fermanagh. 13th - 26th March 2012

Our friends, Violet and Gerry, were kind enough to take us out for the day, and we went up the Navar Forest Trail. This leads through the forest to the top of the Cliffs of Maghoo, overlooking Lower Lough Erne. There are fantastic views across the lough from this viewpoint, and it was wonderful to look down on the waters which we had traversed last May on The Puzzler.

Looking on down the River Erne, as it leaves the Broad Lough, we could see the route we had taken through the islands on our way to Belleek. The Atlantic Ocean is just visible in the distance, or is this my imagination?

We have been bowling three times a week since January. On Monday mornings we play at The Forum Sports Centre. Here at the Cathedral Hall on a Wednesday morning, Andy is delivering his last bowl of the end, under the watchful eye of rival skip, Frances.
On Thursday evening we will be off to bowls at The British Legion.

This week there has been a mixed pairs competition in the Cathedral Hall. We took part on Tuesday night, and managed to get through to the third round before being knocked out. There were 40 pairs competing on Tuesday night, with 4 pairs going through to the finals on Thursday night. Scores from the competition can be seen on the stage, behind the new skips for the second half of this morning's session.

It is obviously quite close here. Can they agree which team's bowl is the shot? At bowls we have not only had to learn everyone's names, but also the colour code on their bowls!
On Thursday evening we went to The British Legion for bowls until 10.00pm. Then we dashed across Enniskillen to the Cathedral Hall, to be in time to watch the final of the mixed pairs competition. In fact the final didn't start until 11pm!

On Friday, en route to the Lower Lough, we negotiated Portora Lock, which is manned at the moment. Last year it was open at both ends but it is currently in use to maintain the water level in Enniskillen and in Upper Lough Erne. The ruins of Portora Castle can be seen above the lock.

The drop that there has been this spring in the water level on Lower Lough Erne is shown on the reeds here. The black part has been under water all winter. Although it rained on and off for most of last year, it has been remarkably dry here since the beginning of January.
We are approaching our destination of the Manor House Hotel, which lies about ten miles to the north of Enniskillen. It took an hour and a half of sailing to arrive here by 9am. Early morning is the best time to be on the lough, as it is usually calm. We have come here for the Fermanagh Bridge Congress, and have organised mooring for The Puzzler on the visitor jetty of the Manor House Marina for the weekend.

Again the low water level can be seen by the steep angle of the ramp up from our floating jetty.
Andy writes down the score after a hand of bridge at the Fermanagh Bridge Congress. This was our first ever Bridge Congress and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We played in all of the five three-hour sessions over three days and were very impressed by the organisation of the whole congress.

While we played in the Open Pairs competition on Sunday, the Teams of Four event was taking place in the other room. Overall there were about 150 people taking part in the Congress, coming from all over Ireland.

The Impartial Reporter did an article on local bridge players who were at the Congress, and we both featured in this. (Click on the picture if you want to read the article)
The sun was setting over the lough as we returned to The Puzzler on Sunday evening. These cruisers have been out on hard standing at the marina for the winter. The cruising season is now starting and several boats have been put into the water over the weekend.

Inside the main part of the Marina the hire fleet of cruisers is to be found. These little day boats are also very popular.

On Monday we set off just as the sun was breaking through the early morning mist.

We were early again as we wanted to be back in Enniskillen in time to play bowls at The Forum.
I do not think that we have ever had a busier social life!

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