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.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

17th - 20th Sept. In Belturbet, then back down Upper Lough Erne to Enniskillen.

The bridge at Belturbet has been there for many centuries as Belturbet's location is one of the best places for crossing the River Erne.
From the main town mooring it is well worth carrying on upstream to this mooring, located at the head of navigation, just below Belturbet bridge.
Immediately above the bridge lies Turbet Island, which is easily accessible for good walking from the north side of the bridge. There are the remains of an early 13th century motte-and-bailey on the island, which was built by Walter De Lacy, when the Anglo Saxons tried to conquer Cavan. The walk returns to Belturbet via another bridge further upstream, then back down the south bank.

We moved on to Geaglum later that day. This is always a pleasant mooring, with quiet neighbours, as there is no pub here!

It was a lovely journey down Upper Lough Erne the next morning, with the sun shining on the wind farm on the hill.
After stopping for lunch at Carrybridge, we carried on for a while, but then the engine decided that it had had enough, and stopped. As we were in midstream at the time, and it was quite windy, then Andy deployed the anchor, before we could drift on to the rocks by the bank. After a rest, the engine agreed that perhaps it could take us a bit further. We stopped to collect some handy wood, as the weather is becoming much colder. We put 20 litres of diesel into the tank, which temporarily sorted our fuel problem, and carried on to Enniskillen.
We went to the Erne mooring for shopping, and were then stuck there, with too much wind to move safely. This was partly due to the height of the wood on the roof, which was acting as a sail! Later we went over to Broadmeadow, beside the Forum, where it was much more sheltered, having a fire on for the first time this autumn.

After a pleasant evening of bowls at the Royal British Legion, we moved on past Enniskillen Castle to our favourite mooring at The Round "O". Shannon went to the vet to be spayed, so it is very quiet without her on The Puzzler.
Andy borrowed a jigsaw, and cut a new trapdoor, for better access to the engine. He could then fit the replacement fuel filter, which was certainly in need of changing!

Thursday, 26 September 2013

6th - 16th Sept. On along the Shannon Erne Waterway to Aghalane, then Belturbet. Sally goes visiting in England to Norfolk and Cheltenham.

Carrying on along the Shannon Erne Waterway we saw very few boats, except this penichette, a hire boat from Ballinamore. Bridges still attract boats!
Moving on through Ballyconnell, we had a very wet trip to Aghalane, where the local IWAI branch were having a party in the rain. Once their eight boats had moved on, there was plenty of space for us. Later on the weather cleared up, and Shannon tried out the ornamental ball for size.

At Belturbet there were plenty of boats to be seen, on the private moorings on the opposite bank.
On Monday Sally caught the bus to Dublin airport, and left sunny Ireland to fly to rainy England. Three trains later and I was in Norfolk for some intensive gardening, which was great fun.
Next it was a long bus ride to London, passing close to the Shard, which has been designed as a "vertical city". It is 87 stories high, and is the tallest building in the European Union, with a height of 306 metres (1004 ft). There is a viewing platform on the 72nd floor, and it is worth going to the Shard website to see this view.
On to Cheltenham, where I was lucky to be with Debbie and Matt for a Heritage Weekend. We started with a guided tour of Cheltenham College, which is a co-ed public school, founded in 1841. The chapel is very impressive.
In the Gustav Holst Museum we saw the piano on which Gustav Holst composed The Planets. He lived in this Regency terrace house for the first 7 years of his life, being born in 1874, and the house is furnished in the style of the time.

We all went to see Pittville Pump Room, which is an elegant Grade 1 listed building and is the most famous example of Regency architecture in Cheltenham.

Spa water can be drawn by tap from behind this pump, and is the only alkaline spa water to be found in England. I suppose you could describe the taste as "interesting". It was certainly not to our taste!
From the balcony upstairs, we could see some of the runners competing in the Cheltenham Half Marathon. The fastest time was 1hr07min, which seemed very good to us.

The chipmunks in Pittville park were very lively.
Cheltenham Town Hall was built in 1902-03 to provide a venue for the many balls and concerts which made up the town's social calendar at the turn of the twentieth century. It is still used for many performances, with the Japanese Drummers an eagerly awaited event, coming in early October.

Our last visit of the day was to the Cheltenham Synagogue, which was built in 1839. We were interested that all men have to wear a scull cap inside the building, whereas in other religions it is often women who have to cover their heads. The sacred scrolls, the Torah, are at the far end of the Synagogue.

While I was in England, Andy and Shannon took The Puzzler back to Aghalane and enjoyed the week there.

Although I have enjoyed my visit to England, it was good to see the coastline of Ireland appearing from behind the clouds.

Safely back to Belturbet again.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

1st - 5th September. From Lough Key to Cootehall, Leitrim, and the Shannon Erne Waterway. Sailing on to Keshcarrigan, Kiltybardan and Haughton's Shore.

We spent a couple more days at Lough Key, enjoying the walking and the company there. When we set off on Monday the water of the lough looked very dark behind us.

However the sun came out on Oakport Lough, as we sailed on down the Boyle river, and gleamed on the surface of the lough.

We moored at Cootehall, and were treated to this sunset through the bridge.

"Life's a yawn!", says Shannon, as we rejoin her namesake, the Shannon river. The Iron Mountains can be seen in the background.

While Andy got some diesel at Leitrim, Shannon stalked a duck on the roof of The Puzzler. It is not really very worried at all.

 Moving on through the bridge for water, and some craic on Big Blue, we set off on the Shannon Erne waterway. A young helper controls the bows of The Puzzler.

Shannon came off at each lock to help. There is plenty of time to relax, below the control panel, while the lock is filling.

The weather has improved again, and is warm enough for shorts, here at Lisconor lock.

At Kilclare Middle Lock, the sudden waterfall over the top gates confirm that a boat is coming down the next lock.

Keshcarrigan seems a very lonely mooring, when you are the only boat on the jetty. Admittedly, there were three more boats here last night.

The village at Keshcarrigan nestles among the trees, beyond the long jetty.

There is work going on by the weir above lock 8. This is scheduled to go on for a month, but it is not clear what is being done.

Lock 8 is probably the deepest on the Shannon Erne Waterway.
Kiltybardan is a floating jetty, with no access to land. As we were mooring The Puzzler, Shannon found some fish scales which just asked for a dog to roll in them! Later on she discovered some fish bones, hidden down a crack in the jetty. Having been forbidden both of these treasures, Shannon was not impressed by the mooring. We like it here though!

As a protest, she decided to collapse across the barge pole, and go to sleep on the roof.

On leaving Kiltybardan Lough, Slieve Anierin can be seen again behind Andy.
Church Island is ahead of us on Garadice Lough. Shannon enjoys walking round the top of the roof,and is very surefooted. However, after leaving Haughton's Shore, she turned sharply to look at a horse on the bank, and fell in! Swimming at her full speed, she soon caught up with the boat, and was pulled back on board. She was a little shaken, but was back on the roof in no time.

Haughton's Shore is as peaceful as ever.

Walking along the shoreline back to Garadice Lough from the harbour, the distant woods and fields are a real Irish green.

Meanwhile, out on Garadice Lough, a cruiser approaches in the sunset.

Monday, 2 September 2013

30th - 31st August. Back to Lough Key. Shannon in action.

From Boyle we sailed back to the Lough Key moorings again. Shannon goes into the water at every opportunity, but this time she was caught by a wave!

She has really enjoyed the freedom of the woods here at Lough Key.

Now she is getting more adventurous with her tree climbing!

She will do anything for a treat!
Saturday was very busy at the Lough Key moorings as the Carrick branch were having a Care Day, with boat trips for the disabled. As the lough was definitely choppy, these trips were quite exciting!
We were pleased to be joined by Playtime again, with Brianne, Malachy, James, Ruairi and Michael.