More than five years ago I wrote on a German boating board a fictional story:
Once upon a time ....
"Stop!" she shouted "You are on the wrong side! You are driving on the wrong side of the marker!"
"My darling," he replied "not this again." Since you are on this curious internet forum you are dreaming such crazy things! Wake up my gorgeous little snuggle-bear. I will protect you from all evil navigation markers of the world." Whilst saying that he snuggled a bit closer to her. Gently she cuddled into him. Her breath was steady and deep again.
Who knows whether she was now dreaming of the cosy berth on the boat or of their shared sunsets on their own with the soft ripples of the water? Involuntarily he moved and the waterbed started a gentle swaying. He sighed, felt satisfied with the movement and went back to sleep.
He was woken next morning by a familiar smell in his nose. That's just not possible! Where am I? It's not that .... ???.... has she possibly kidnapped him and put him onto one of those floating locomotives called narrow boats? He raised himself quickly to a sitting position. The waterbed swished. He felt faint. But mentally he thanked all the goddesses of the Irish waterways; he was at home and not on a steamroller. But where did that smell come from?
"Good morning darling," said the familiar voice of his sweetheart "I have booked." Booked??? He toppled over backwards. It hadn't been a dream! Help! In his mind's eye, he saw himself in the pouring rain cranking at historic locks while she was busy photographing and shouting to him: "Come on honey, smile!"
She sat down on the edge of the bed with a cup of steaming and beautifully smelling coffee for him. The realisation kicks slowly in. His senses recovered hesitantly and the numbness went. He raised himself at an angle of 45 degrees with the last of hopeful strength in order to drink his coffee. What has she booked? And where is the other smell coming from? That is definitely turf!
"I wanted to surprise you." she said. She has done a good job on that!
"I have got fuel peat! Don't you think that it smells great, a bit like on the bridge at Banagher? Do you remember?"
He held onto the coffee cup and took the first sip .... only the fireplace gives off clouds of turf smoke ... thankfully ... but what has she booked???
He opened one eye ... it cannot be happening ... she beams with joy! He gave the cup back to her and sank into the cushions. From a far away world he heard: "I have booked three weeks this morning on a Haines 35 on the Erne." He thanked all the fairies of the old world and the temple servants of Inish Rath for their help! Thankfully, the floating and steaming railway wagon was averted! He was beside himself with joy and with immense power rose suddenly. He grabbed his sweetheart, gave her just time to put down the coffee cup and heaved her into bed with him: "Well done! You just made my day!"
Once upon a time …. there was a night full of dreams ....
Five years later the unavoidable happened, one of these locomotive-like barges in Ireland was booked for April 2011.
Adventure on the River Barrow - Relaxing at the tiller
Saturday 09/04/2011 Vicarstown
Motto of the day: The tiller says hello
On the bridge over the canal between the two pubs is a rabbit sitting in the middle of the street when we arrive in the afternoon at Vicarstown on the Grand Canal Barrow Line. Orla and Phillip of Barrowline Cruisers welcome us. We board on ‘Finnery’, a 50ft x 6ft 6in narrowboat. ”Good luck on Saturday in the pencil!” Peter K. had written to me two days ago.
Phillip shows us the boat and explains the usage. Then he gives me a lesson how to turn the boat and lets me drive under the bridge and moor below. “Very good,” he says “I give you the license.” I’m not sure if I had given it to myself but he is confident that I will manage the Barrow after becoming acquainted with the tiller during two more hours on the Barrow Line the next day.
We unpack our luggage and settle down. It is a warm day and we relax in the evening. In the pub on the opposite shore is a fun wedding party tonight and later in the dark a boat arrives with a couple to take part in that event. But we are at an adequate distance and have a quiet evening and night.
Oak Park (Carlow) Max 17.3°C Min 7.1°C Rainfall 0
Sunday 10/04/2011 Vicarstown - Ardreigh - Levitstown
Motto of the day: I say hello to the tiller
What a lovely sunny morning!
We start before 10 am after phoning the lockkeeper. Joe Moore, who is normally in Monasterevin, helps out today in this stretch and will bring us through the locks. After some minutes we cross the River Stradbally on the Camac Aqueduct.
The water of the Barrow Line is glassy and clear and we move slowly through an aquarium with many fishes.
The surrounding landscape is flat and gives us some broad views.
We reach Lock 26 in Athy and moor there after passing an unusual looking boat. Doesn’t it look like a floating old van?