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.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

13th - 21st December 2013. Party time in Enniskillen.

We were invited out for an Irish breakfast, which was extremely good. Shannon and Padi were very pleased to see each other again, but you get the impression here that Padi, nearer to the camera, is in charge. Well, it is her boat!
There is more water in the river Erne now, so it was quite a struggle, coming upstream through Enniskillen Bridge. The Killyhevlin Hotel looks out over this lovely mooring, about a mile out of Enniskillen.

We are at the Killyhevlin for the St. Michael's Bridge Club Christmas dinner. After an excellent meal, it was serious bridge, but with a prize for everyone.

Next morning it was back to Enniskillen for a session of bowling practice at St Macartin's hall.
After bowling we returned to the boat, with Andy remarking on a nearby marker which had turned the wrong way. Soon afterwards this cruiser settled firmly on the sandbank, having gone behind the marker. Andy managed to bring the bows of The Puzzler in behind him, and we pulled him off. The wind then tried to push us on to the other moored boats, but fortunately did not succeed!

Not content with sitting on the seat, or looking into the galley, Shannon has taught herself how to beg! She thinks that cuteness attracts treats, and she could be right!

While moored here at Riverview, we have fitted the Christmas lights outside The Puzzler.

Once it is dark, then the length of the narrowboat shows clearly.

The same evening, we had a friendly bowls competition at St. Macartin's hall. It was great fun, with 34 people taking part.

After the competition, we all went into the next room, for an excellent supper. ( Sally was on sandwiches today!)

Friday, 13 December 2013

1st - 12th December 2013. Life goes on in Enniskillen.

When we are walking through the woods beside the river, Shannon loves to paddle. Today she found a fisherman, so waded out to help him. He was not very appreciative!
Having fitted the four new batteries, Andy found that they were slightly smaller than the last ones, and so a fifth one has been added. It has made such a difference as now we can last at least two days without running the engine at all.

This is the picture of Shannon, just fitting into the cup, at the end of March.
Hasn't she grown?
She is very good about being left on her own, while we continue to play bridge and go bowling, several times each week.

This winter there is not much flow on the River Erne, so it is possible to go up through the bridge at Enniskillen. Last year at this time the water was really flowing fast,  keeping us below the bridge.

Last Wednesday night the wind was very strong, so we were rocked to sleep! This small tree was blown over at the Round "O". It leans a bit further each day.
Shannon likes to see who is about. It is a good view from the roof of The Puzzler, outside the Forum in Enniskillen.

She now has a new bigger lifejacket, having outgrown her last one.
On Sunday we went to the Enniskillen combined carol service. The first half was in St Michael's Catholic Church, then we all proceeded across the road to St Macartin's Church of Ireland Cathedral, singing carols as we went. With over 400 people at the service, it was quite an experience.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

13th - 30th November 2013. Castle Coole, Enniskillen and Devenish Island. Zone Bowls.

The house at Castle Coole looks quite eerie in the mist.

Autumn colours are certainly here now.

Everyone who visits the boat remarks on the comfort of our chairs. Shannon finds them just the right size for a dog!

On 20th November the water in the River Erne, beside The Puzzler at The Round "O", was quite rough.

However two days later it was like glass. We are looking upstream to Enniskillen from the Portora Boathouse.

Portora Castle looks good in the autumn sunshine. We have been so lucky with the weather recently.
The Puzzler can be seen below us, moored on Devenish Island. It was calm on Thursday, but very windy overnight. We were glad that we had not moored on the west side of the island, where it would have been rough.
James and Teresa were with us and we had a great time, recalling happy memories of our times at craft fairs together in England.

The steps up to the top of the tower are steep.

The classic Round Tower does not look so tall from up here.

Meanwhile, Sally and Shannon explored the lower levels.
We went to the Zone bowls match in the Unionist Hall in Enniskillen to support the Western Team. They were playing against the Lisburn Team.
It turned out to be a needle match, with plenty of work for the umpires. No, Blaney is not asking for spiritual guidance! This was one of the crucial measures to decide which team's bowl was closest to the jack. In this instance, after several minutes of deliberation, using the feeler gauges, it was not possible to separate them. Although Western had a strong lead at half time, Lisburn fought back and the final result was a win to Western, with 60 points to 58.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

20th October - 12th November. Signwriting and autumn colours in Enniskillen.

Shannon loves to stand and look out while we are sailing. There are so many interesting smells!
We continue to move around the moorings in Enniskillen and were moored at the Regal Pass in Enniskillen when a heron came to visit us.
Having painted the scrolls first, I  then started the signwriting with the THE but had to abandon due to rain. At the second attempt, I used the tracing of the previous letters to speed up the masking, using frog tape for all the straight lines.

It needs a steady hand for this, with our homemade marl stick to help.
The first coat of ivory on the letters and scrolls is complete, and masking will be removed before painting the next two coats. The signwriting must never be perfect, or else it might look as though the letters were stick-on plastic ones.

A tranquil sunset at the Ardhowen Theatre mooring.

Even though it is now early November, the trees are hardly changing colour at Castle Coole at all. The weather has been so mild.

There are fewer craft about now but it is not often that both Broadmeadow and the Regal Pass moorings are devoid of boats.

Shannon has found a new place from which to watch the cooking. She is a great helper in the galley.

Back to the signwriting for the final shading! It is amazing how this brings the letters to life. The tracing above is to remind me where light and dark colours go, below each letter.

At last the signwriting is complete.
Two Carrickcraft hire boats went past quite fast in convoy, towards Enniskillen Bridge. This is the second pair within the week. Rumour has it that they are changing their base.
When we are moored at the Round "O", our best walk is through the woods and up to Portora Castle. Shannon never misses this puddle on the way!
At last there are some autumn colours to be seen near Portora Lock. The lock is in use at present as the water levels in Upper Lough Erne are controlled by the sluices here, under Portora Bridge.

Friday, 25 October 2013

7th - 19th October 2013. Painting The Puzzler and International Pike fishing.

It is now nine years since The Puzzler was first painted, and the port side is in need of renovation. This side faced the sun for four years at our moorings on the River Ouse at Denver Sluice in Norfolk. The yellow line is complete here, after three coats of paint. Having applied the frog tape, it is time to cover the extra yellow which shows on each side of the tape.
We haven't used a roller before, but are very pleased with the finish which can be achieved, by brushing after rollering. The final brush finish means that any scratches later can be touched up less visibly. (Sorry about the sun glare!)
This week it is the International Pike Fishing Competition in Enniskillen with fourteen teams taking part. They have all had two days practice, but the real competition starts today. Here they are heading downstream through Enniskillen towards the Lower Lough Erne, where the stake boat will release them to start fishing. The Italian team eventually won, ahead of Russia and Romania.

We had to mask the jigsaw picture while painting, but the red and green are all finished now.

The moment of truth has arrived! Will this delicate frog tape peel properly? This is looking good!

The tape has peeled very well to leave a nice clear yellow line.

Shannon has a new friend, Padi, and they have exhausted each other. Padi is also a Shih Tzu, and is a week older than Shannon.
The walking on the other side of the River Erne in Cornagrade is good, and there are plenty of fishing jetties to explore. A lot of work has been done at the Portora Boathouse, and it is very smart now.

We have our own clippers now so Shannon is looking quite tidy again.

The water level is still quite low in the River Erne, as we pass Enniskillen Castle. There has been very little rain for a long time.