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 June 2013

28th - 30th June. Sailing back up the River Barrow. Shannon is in an active mood.


It still seems strange to be passing safely so close above an unguarded weir, such as this one above Ballytiglea Lock.


The house by Lower Ballyellen lock has a wonderful outlook across the river.

When using the offside bottom gate at this lock, you have to be careful to watch the overhang of the lock beam, so as not to fall into the river below!



The cygnets are growing up so fast.
There were already three boats moored above Slyguff Lock, but this was no problem as The Puzzler is long enough to reach right across the middle cruiser.

We tied our stern to Derek's barge, Robert Emmet, giving us stern access.
Meanwhile the bows went tidily against Larry's barge, for our preferred bow access. It is not often that you can use both ends, when mooring outside other boats. Let us hope that the cruiser does not want to move in a hurry!

Shannon and Andy had an energetic game of football. She is learning how to control the ball in a tackle.



However she does not take it very seriously!


Next morning her new boyfriend, Butch, came round to play. They have become the best of friends.

Ceile, Bobby-Jean, Butch and Shannon were all sad to part, when we set off to carry on upstream in The Puzzler.
Once we were sailing along, Shannon thought that she would try balancing on top of the cratch. She did not fall in, but this is a dangerous new game!

Bagnelstown lock has an unusual, stepped top cill. This is the deepest lock on the River Barrow.

The reeds have grown quite a lot since we were last here in Leighlinbridge, a month ago. We will turn again to go up through the bridge tomorrow.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

24th - 27th June. On up the River Barrow past Borris.

We decided to scrape the bottom of The Puzzler, in order to clean it, on the cill between the two locks at Ballykennan. It seemed to work but, as we cannot see the underneath of the boat, we can only hope that it did!


Hazard ahead at Clashganna lock! The dredger was in the navigation channel when we arrived, but was very helpful and moved at once to let us through.


As soon as the dredger had moved, several novice canoeists arrived beside The Puzzler.

We pulled in to the high bank, just below the confluence of Mountain River with the Barrow, so that we could explore this river.


Mountain River is a delightful tributary of the River Barrow.
Having walked up beside the river, we found a large locked gate preventing our exit on to the road which leads into the town of Borris. However, by retracing our steps, then taking a different track, we managed to escape via the golf club! We came back through the Borris demesne, past Borris house. The Borris Demesne is the seat of the MacMurrough Kavanagh family, descendants of the kings of Leinster.


Time for some work on the paintwork on the back hatch. This is a "before" picture, although at this stage it has already been sanded.
The first coat of white paint starts to cover everything. When the white is finished it will have to be left for at least two weeks before masking is possible for the red and the black club.
These young cattle have found a way out of their field and on to the towpath at Ballytiglea Lock. During the night they moved to eat the grass near to The Puzzler. Shannon was very nervous about this, and barked every time she heard one of them moving at all. It was a long night!

Monday, 24 June 2013

20th - 23rd June. Graiguenamanagh and Duiske Abbey.


On Thursday it was off down to the stretch above St Mullins again, with American friends, Virginia and Maureen. We had a great day out.

On the approach back upstream to Carriglead lock, the lock cut goes off to the right, while the weir can be seen straight ahead.
This time we are moored on the North side of the River Barrow, in Graignamanagh itself. The South bank here is in Tinnahinch. The Puzzler is the third boat out, in the middle of the picture.



Andy has spent the day in the dinghy, cleaning the weed off The Puzzler, under the waterline. Over half way now!.


Freebird has beeen out of the water for 18 months, but was quite watertight once the launch was completed, to everyone's relief!


Duiske Abbey dates from the earl;y years of the 13th century and dominates the skyline in Graignamanagh. The swimming area by the river is quiet this morning.



Once inside Duiske abbey there is a great sense of peace. It is a lovely building.
In 1813 the main roof was restored, the tower having collapsed in 1774.  It was fashioned from native oak in true medieval style, morticed and dowelled, without a nail in the entire fabric.


In Duiske Abbey is found the most highly decorated and typical thirteenth century Processional Doorway to survive the reformation.


Walking down below the weir gives another view of Graignamanagh. There is very little water flowing over the weir just now.


Going upstream from the bridge is Shannon's favourite swimming place. She loves to retreive a stick from the river here.
Carrying on further upstream there is a boardwalk along the river's edge, past this interesting rock formation. This is a circular walk, going on up through the woods, and has been one of our favourites here.



You would have to look a long way to find more attractive woods than those found on this stretch of the River Barrow.


The sun celebrated our last evening in Graig with a pink glow over Brandon Hill.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

14th - 19th June. Downstream to St Mullins and back to Graiguenamanagh.


After spending over a week in Graignamanagh, we decided to move on downstream.

Shannon has her top knot in every day now, so that she can see where she is going. A good thing when there are loose boards on the jetty!


She likes to pose and look cute for photographs.


However, the report on this one would say, “Has character” !


Below Lower Tinnahinch Lock is a wonderful place to moor, with a resident kingfisher on the River Barrow here.


Beside Carriglead Lock is this former lock cottage, though cottage is not really the name for it now!


The River Barrow seems to improve all the time, as we wend our way downstream.


At last we have reached the end of our journey, as we approach the lock at St Mullins.
There is just enough length for us to wind here, as we do not plan to go down St Mullins lock. The River Barrow is tidal from this point down to the Celtic Sea, near Waterford. We tucked in on the other side of the winding hole, as there are very few boats moving at all, and we are unlikely to be in the way here.

The place to visit in this area is Mullichain café beside the river at St Mullins, so we walked on for ten minutes below the lock to find it. It is an excellent hostelry.


Shannon enjoys paddling in the river, and doing a woodlouse impression!


Walking on down beyond the cafe, then looking back, Brandon Hill dominates the skyline, behind St Mullichain cafe.

The village of St Mullins lies above the river, and this important monastic site there was founded by St Moling (St Mullin) who was buried here in 697.


The High Cross dates back to the ninth century.


This motte in St Mullins was raised in the twelfth century, when there would have been a wooden fortification built on the top.


The good weather continues, with hardly any stream on the river.
Below St Mullins the water is too low today for anyone to use the lock, as the tide is going out. We are told that 7 rungs on the ladder show a workable water level for this tidal stretch.


Looking back up above the lock, it is nice to see the collection of boats moored here.

Some boats are smarter than others. We liked the flowers and reeds painted on Fionnula Kay.


There is pleasant walking in the woods at St Mullins.




A small fishing boat, with a 60hp engine, joined us in Lower Tinnahinch Lock. What a contrast between the two boats!


Shannon found a comfortable brush head for a pillow, on the roof of The Puzzler.


And it is back up Upper Tinnahinch Lock to return to Graignamanagh.