But we were packing up the van on Thursday and the initial plan of the week before kicked in. Once you have the van half packed you simply have to get in it and drive off into the wide blue yonder. Or, in our case, Carrick. Going to Belturbet via Carrick is not our usual route. Not the best way at all in fact. But we hadn't intended to go that far. We began by postulating Shannon Harbour as a stopping place. Then it was Hodson Bay just beyond Athlone. Then it was Lecarrow just beyond Hodson Bay. By this time we were up the wrong side of Lough Ree for Belturbet via the sensible route and it certainly wasn't the best way to Carrick, but we were into the drive and a curry called.
We didn't have a curry either in the end. We stopped off in The Oarsman for a pint of their fine ale, and it was so warm and cosy, and we were chilled through after walking the dogs in the bitter cold. There was a table by the fire and a good menu, so we stopped. Then out to Leitrim Village just up the road to spend the night in the wonderfully quiet harbour.
Next day to Quivvy to unwrap Winter Solstice from her covers. She was all zipped in good and tight and we didn't know whether the engines would start - there was a good chance they wouldn't after months of inactivity and all that freezing weather. And only one of them did. But I won't go into the tedium of it all. Joe, with the help of David Cole whose marina it is, fixed it. And on Saturday morning in bright sunshine off we went around the corner to Galloon, just across the border in Co Fermanagh. A little try-out of everything. Galloon has a very strange and interesting graveyard. It's small, as is Galloon (it's just a townland I think). Very old and battered headstones. Several of which look like this:
It seems that at one time there were four high crosses here, but only the partial shafts of two of them remain. Many of the headstones are 18th and 19th century. We were told a couple of years ago that the images on the headstones related to the Masons.
On a more prosaic, but perhaps more useful note (unless you are dead and need burying) there's also a fine new toilet block in Galloon that replaces an ugly old pre-fab. No showers though. They were good showers too, and free.
After Galloon it was off to Crom Castle for lunch and a walk. I love Crom. Everything about it is wonderful. The jetty, the fact you can enter by the back door and feel like you own the place, the walks, especially to the old castle where Aoife flings herself onto the soft grass and rolls and rolls. Or poses between avenues of trees.
Crom was busy. We were deeply affronted by this. Other people? How dare they. Fishermen on the jetty, two other cruisers with the same idea as us. We could (almost) forgive the boats. But then as we set out on the walk hordes, absolute hordes, appeared from god knows what nooks and crannies and followed us. Back the other way we went in full dudgeon, then veered off to the boat for lunch to quell our rumbling stomachs. Felt much better after that. So mellow, in fact, that we were absolutely civil to the returning walkers. Especially as they were returning, and we were not.
More Crom pics: