Another hot sunny morning in the 70sF, 20sC and I am writing the start of this post after a fairly late breakfast. The keeper of the next lock is expecting us at 10:00 am. Its 10 am now and the next lock is 30 mins sail away, beside Ballycowan Castle, locally fondly known as Biffoville, Irish people will know why. Interestingly this is also listed as a refuse disposal point, very handy.
Oh, oh, the lock keeper is on the phone asking where we are ... as we may be the only boat on the canal today. So, it is time for us to leave our docking point in front of The Thatch ...
10:55 am we are off, and have learned our lock keeper of the day is young John Canty ...
11:15 am, oh, oh, smoke belching from the engine and smothering us in fumes,Mbr /> urgent pull in to the bank.
Alas, no marine mechanics around in Tullamore. The one mechanic is away on vacation awhile. I suppose there is not much call for boat repairs around here yet, though we did pass one boat from the other direction before we belched smoke.
I had an idea that our prop may still be full of weed, so I started the motor again, put into full throttle reverse and indeed a huge buch of weed emerged and surfaced.
12:00 noon, and we are on our way again. Engine sounds a lot smoother and there is no smoke :-)
1:00 pm, and we have reached the lock by Shra Castle that will let us to enter the Tullamore surburbia, but there are two more locks before we are into Tullamore town.
From here on passing through locks is going to be frequent.
Lock keeper John said he will not be here until 1:30 pm. I assume its to take a lunch break as he will be quite active with our locks needs through the afternoon.
2:10 pm, and the lock keeper John returns.
So for the afternoon it was short cruising stretches through the canal surburbia of Tullamore, another lock, etc.
During the stopping times I did attempted maintenance as Claire phoned people "in the know" for instructions. Weed filter was cleaned and the broken water cooler tank was plugged with a towel.
When I checked to see if the water cooler tank was ok the boiling water from the engine gushed up. Thanks so much to my wide brimmed hat that totally prevented a whole face scalding.
Not a scald at all.
It was also very windy during the time of going through these locks. Kenmor is a very light boat and very responsive to wind and the gushing of water being let into the locks.
At one point Claire found her arms were not strong enough to push the boat away from the lock walls, so she tried another part of her anatomy ... and it worked. Before long men who have refered to a woman's exclusive anatomy as bristols, hooters and the rack may be adding "fenders" to their vocabulary.
Of some interest to us was the passing of the Tullamore Dew distillery and warehousing building, now a visitor's centre ...
and some of the elegant canal side houses ...
overall a very interesting stretch of urban waterway ...
5:30 pm, at last we have passed through the other 7 locks through Tullamore.
At the 7th of these locks was this big heritage boat coming the other way, only the second boat we have seen on our journey so far, but this took some maneuvering around.
and the lock keeper's cottage here, at Lock 22 on the Grand Canal, Cappyroe Bridge,
is quite unique ...
6:00 pm, arriving at the next lock, Lock 21 just before Chenevix Bridge at Ballycommon. Past the other side of this lock, our friends Corrina and John are here to greet us, and pampered us with a picnic basket of cakes and other refreshments. We decided to moor up here for awhile and indulge.
John also armed with tools rolled up his sleeves and started work on a temp repair job on our broken engine water tank. Corrina and Claire went away to shop for more supplies for the boat.
John had to go back home to get more tools and materials so I used this time to investigate and explore the junction with the now closed off Kilbeggan branch canal.
Yes, there are ducks here too ...
This closed canal branch was once important for transporting supplies to and from the active Kilbeggan distilleries.
It looks like this was once a pretty canal. Towpaths are still in tact and are signed and styled as walking paths.
The old lock keepers cottages are still here, empty.
Oh, I've been away awhile exploring. John, Corrina and Claire have returned
and are waiting for me ...
As I crossed the bridge, looking into the garden the other side I saw this.
Is it a real well or garden ornament?
No time to ask the owners, I am being called.
As I approach the boat I see my first kingfisher of the journey, those beautiful blue and orange birds. We had been told that we will probably see several. Alas, I could not get this one on camera. It flew to perch on the well I had just taken a pic of.
Back at the boat John had completed a stunning temp repair job on the cooling tank with an arrangement of a few pieces of wood holding the cap down tight.
7:30 pm, after a few more snacks and tea, we set off from Ballycommon with Corrina and John on board. The cruising now is very smooth and with the evening cooler sun very pleasant.
8:40 pm, arrived and moored up at Daingean.
We had been told about an excellent restaurant here,
so after a change of clothes off we all went to dine.
Sadly, the restaurant was closed, as was most of the businesses of Daingean. On our journey so far we had already heard several tales of businesses closing, young men heading off to Western Australia for work, and this breaking up the local hurling teams by taking away their stars.
This is still a pride here though, the town was all newly painted, full of flowers and very clean. It seems they have won awards for this, but I did not find out what. There are posters promoting an upcoming 5 day festival in August that looks as if it will be incredibly lively.
For food, all that was open was a fish n'chip shop, but outside there is a friend of John and Corrina's who offered to drive us up to the local golf club where good meals are served.
Alas, it was one of those chefs that stops cooking and serving at 8:30,
so back to the fish n'chip shop it is.
The "friend" was also friends with what seemed to be the only pub that was open, a pub with many rooms. She arranged for us to have our own social room to eat our fish n'chips with a couple of beers, so a merry social time we have together. Why I do not have photos of this unique time,
I do not know
11:00 pm, it's dark, a good time had, taxi ordered to take John and Corrina home, and Claire and I returned to the cozy boat for the night, certainly not feeling hungry.