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, 2017 and 2018, returning to Roanne each winter.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Life in Enniskillen + a visit to Norfolk. 5th - 20th December 2011

Here Catkin is celebrating her 14th birthday. Well, the rain is enough to depress even the jolliest dog!

Sally flew off to Norfolk for a week, to catch up with everyone there. These green fields are in the Emerald Isle near to Dublin Airport. A following wind meant that the flight took 50, rather than 75, minutes to Stanstead.

The coast at Cley was a wonderful place to walk, with
so many seabirds everywhere.
We were lucky enough to see a shorteared owl flying nearby, but I was too slow with the camera!

Cley Windmill is said to be the most photographed windmill in Norfolk, so we kept up the tradition. It is certainly very scenic here.

Back in Enniskillen, we had a light fall of snow, to brighten the jetty at the Round "O" mooring.

Catkin decided to make flying angels in the snow.

The snow did not last long, so we walked down the river to Portora Castle. It is a pleasant walk, but some of the crew do not like to hurry!
Looking down from Portora Castle over the River Erne, we can see Portora Lock in front of the bridge. There are sluices under the arches of Portora Bridge, which can be lowered/lifted to control the water level.
The bouys below the bridge mark the position of the eel nets here. Eel fishing is popular in Ireland.

Everybody on the jetty is very friendly, and show an interest in what we are doing.

The Christmas tree at the road entrance to the Round "O" lights up as dusk comes, and looks wonderful.

One morning the jetty was like ice, which it probably was! Catkin could not stand up until she had her socks on, which really worked well. Everyone was very jealous as she trotted along safely, while we slid our way to dry land.

Our Christmas decorations are now in place on The Puzzler. We have been to one Christmas Bridge party already this week, and have another one tomorrow, so the festive season is well under way here in Enniskillen.

Happy Christmas to Everyone!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

14th November - 4th December 2011. At the Round O in Enniskillen.

We are still here on The Puzzler at the Round O in Enniskillen, safely settled in for the winter. As we are on the outside of the outer jetty we have a good view across the River Erne. There has been a lot of rain recently, with very few dry days, and the river is flowing quite fast. However we are out of the main stream of the river here, but can watch the rowing crews every weekend as they pass us by. There is very little other boat movement now.

Today we saw two kayaks with a man overboard but he did not seem too upset about it! No panic here! They made their way back to the slipway quite easily, but he must have been extremely cold.

On walking along there do not seem to be very many ducks. However it all changes when the bread comes out!

They all appear very quickly, as do the pigeons, gulls and a few swans!

This large cygnet crept up behind Andy and bit his hand.

I think it realised that it had not been a good idea! The adult swan soon arrived to save it!

At night the sleeping ducks can be a hazard to any late night traffic on the road past the jetty.

Even walking along the jetty can be hazardous too, although Catkin can clear them pretty quickly!

We are enjoying our stay in Enniskillen very much. It is a lovely town, with a lot going on. Everyone we meet is extremely friendly and we have been made to feel very welcome. We have joined St Michael's Bridge Club in Enniskillen, and also Devenish Bridge Club, which meets at Irvinestown, twelve miles north of here. Friends in Enniskillen give us a lift to this, so we have been lucky. The standard at both clubs is very high, which is good for our game!
We play bowls twice a week too, at different clubs in Enniskillen. It is short mat bowling, which is very strong in Northern Ireland in the winter months.

Update on Maps of Ireland. April to November 2011

This is another update of our route through Ireland.
We started our journey in April near to Athlone, which is straight across Ireland from Dublin, on the River Shannon. We cruised from Athlone across Lough Ree, on up the River Shannon and across the Shannon - Erne Waterway to Upper Lough Erne. We sailed on into Northern Ireland, through Enniskillen and on to the far end of Lower Lough Erne at Belleek. This was as far as we could go!
We then returned back past Enniskillen and through Upper Lough Erne again to Belturbet, which is back over the border in the Republic of Ireland.
Next it was back along the Shannon - Erne Waterway. We sailed up Lough Key to Boyle, then back to the River Shannon. We followed the Shannon back to Lough Ree, and on to Lough Derg, the largest and most impressive of the loughs on the Shannon. We reached Killaloe late in August, and continued on to go through Ardnacrusha Lock.We considered Limerick a step too far.
Since August we have made our way back up the River Shannon, with a detour up the River Suck to Ballinasloe. Having reached Carrick on Shannon, it was then back across the Shannon - Erne Waterway to rejoin Upper Lough Erne, and continue on to Enniskillen for the winter.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

31st October - 13th November 2011. In Enniskillen for the winter!

Having sailed on downstream to Enniskillen, which is only a mile from the Ardhowen Theatre, we moored at Broadmeadow, beside the Forum Sports Centre, for a few days. We explored the town, and also walked down below Enniskillen Bridge to see whether there would be room for us to moor at the Round O mooring. Currently the river is running too fast for us to return up through the bridge safely, so we decided to go wood collecting, before going down there.

On our way we saw these swans flying over the river, which was a first for us! At first we thought that they were geese. We have never seen so many swans in the air at once!
Back at Ardhowen, we collected lots of firewood, and cut it into lengths, ready to be chainsawn into logs. We do not feel that this was a very sociable activity so near to the Ardhowen Theatre, so hoped to find an empty mooring at Culky. However, we had to wait until late morning to move on, as the mist was too thick to see where we were going!

Once the mist cleared, it was a lovely sunny day, with the autumn colours reflecting in the water. We sailed on to Ballinaleck for diesel. By now this mooring was above the water so we did not have to paddle to the shore!

On our return downstream we were glad to see the mooring at Culky was empty. We were free to chainsaw all of our wood, splitting logs as needed, ready for the winter ahead.

We filled the cratch with three rows of logs, so the top of the boat is looking much tidier. We have plenty of peat bricks too, some of which can be seen here beyond the wood.

Back at Enniskillen, we set off to go through the bridge. There were very few boats moving, so we went through the centre arch. The flow through the right hand arch was extremely fast, and tended to push boats towards the wall beyond the bridge.

Once through the bridge, there were parts of the river with strange currents, as shown here. There seemed to be no reason for this, but we were glad to keep away from them.

When we reached the Round O, two other boaters came out to move boats and make room for us. There is a real community spirit here.

We found a pleasant wooded walk along the river bank to Portura Castle.
The Round O is a good place to be for the winter. It is in a park, just on the edge of town, but near enough to walk to the centre of Enniskillen in ten minutes. We have electric hookup and water right beside The Puzzler, as do all the boats here. There is also pump-out here, as well as plenty of litter bins. What more could a boater want!

A boat went to another mooring, so we moved The Puzzler to the outside of the jetty. We now have a view across the river, which is very pleasant.

We will be resuming this blog in the spring, so see you then!

Monday, 31 October 2011

28th - 30th October. From Aghalane, through Upper Lough Erne, to Ardhowen in the floods.

We stayed at Aghalane for a week, watching the water level rising in the river. However, by Sunday the river did not look so angry, and the level was down by a few inches. It was a lovely sunny morning too, so we decided to set off, along the last stretch of the Woodford River. Following the line of the river was quite tricky, as it was over its banks in several places.

The occasional marker was very useful, showing us the line of the river course.

Once we reached Upper Lough Erne, the markers were closer together. These markers are usually high out of the water.

Further on, our route took us to the right, round the island near to Knockninny, then a left-hand turn to follow the next line of markers. This was quite tricky, as some were only just visible!

Cloonatrig Jetty was completely under water as we cruised past.
The mooring at Tullyinishmore, on the other side of the River Erne, was also underwater. The end of the finger mooring can be seen, located below the ladder rungs on the left of this photograph.

We were relieved to reach the mooring at the Ardhowen Theatre safely.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

20th - 27th October. Shannon - Erne Waterway to Aghalane

From Haughton's Shore we carried on down the Woodford River. At places the river is quite wide, and it is difficult to see where the river bank is. There is very little visible flow however.

At Skelan Lock (lock 3) Sally had to get on to The Puzzler in the lock, as the lower lock mooring was under water.
Further on we were very glad to see markers ahead of us, to show where the safe navigation channel was. Click on this picture to see this meander in the river more clearly.

We stopped overnight in Ballyconnel and the manager from Supervalu delivered 40 'bales' of compressed peat to the boat for us. Each bale has 22 or 24 small bricks, so this should last us for a while.
At Corraquil lock (lock 1) we stopped on the upper lock mooring and stayed there for a couple of days, in the vain hope that the rain would stop.
We were rather taken with this stretch limo! The house was quite near to us, on the other side of the lock, and on Friday night we could hear the heavy beat of music from 9 until 10.30 pm. A civilized time to stop, we thought. However, that was only the rehearsal! On Saturday night  the beat started at 7.30 pm and went on until after 6 am. It was obviously a good party!

This cow and her cute calf were just over the fence from us at the lock. They, and the rest of the herd, were very interested in Catkin, galloping alongside whenever they saw her. She was unimpressed.

We moved on on Sunday, as the water above and below the lock were getting nearer and nearer in level. There was only about a one foot drop in the lock when we went down.

Normally the walkway down to the jetty is quite steep here, but it was practically level. Two days after this the lock was closed as the water level was higher than the lock gates.

We reached the floating pontoon at Aghalane safely. There is now electric hookup, which is new on this mooring since we were here last. A great deal of work has been done here this summer and it going to look wonderful when it is finished.
On the opposite side of the river a new lake has appeared temporarily, as the water rises over the banks. 

We rise higher by the day, and the water level has gone up 18" in two days. It is about four feet higher than it was when we were here in May.

Here we are looking across the slipway from our pontoon. It really is down there somewhere!

We went for a walk down the river bank, but had to turn back. It looked rather damp ahead of us!