On a day when the sun did not just go for a kiss, or a peck on the cheek, it went for the full-blanket, smothering us all in it’s yellowy, velvety goodness. We took another trip on the Lough Erne in the Curragh, manning the oars mightily as we could manage. The aforesaid sun created an old grandmother’s eiderdown patchwork quilt of light on the gently rippling waters, tickled by craft of all shapes and sizes, some with engines others without.
A dance-card of dabbling ducks and serene swans took to the waters after feasting on the stale bread provided by timid yet curious children, shephereded by their watchful parents. An armada of wildfowl thus accompanied the prompting in-out beat provided by Olivia, trying to wring out every drop of feeble co-ordination from her mulish team of rowers, who just could not follow her gently placatory heart-rate metronome.
After noodling the boat gently out of it’s halt,we headed for the open waters of the Lough, wary of the pleasure-boats who powered up and down, tooting their horns and giving us a wave. Laughing at this foolhardy bunch of landlubbers,venturing out into the wide-blue younder on a vainglorious attempt of oarsmanship.
But we made our way swiftly through Friar’s Leap – a reed-garlanded passageway, I almost burst out into peals of Hosanna as it reminded me of Jesus on a donkey entering the gates of Jerusalem. We received great praise at our ability to get through the gap, I think though she was politely codding us on the level of our achievement.
We made our way to Devenish Island in the middle of the Lough, half of us disembarked for a wee dander, to take some photographs, some mementoes of the day. Other were nursing other reminders of the day, sore arms and shoulders and aching backs like geriatrics, took their ease in the bow of the boat.
All too soon, it was time for the journey home, we dutifully picked up our heavy oars and made our return journey,which was enlivened by a boat attempting to navigate the weir-gate at the same time as us. Much yells and our hands aloft in the air, in what I thought was surrender, but in actual fact was the maritime equivalent of flashing your headlights to ware the on-coming the traffic as to your presence. The boat, several-times over the size of our small craft, snorted and roared like a pissed-off bull, it cleaved the waters with it’s hooves and created a wake. I felt I was in Pamplona and the adrenaline pumped through my veins, however the angry beast was lassooed, reined in and shunted backwardsd to let our craft through, it still pawed the waters though in angry impatience. This provided a nice motivation to pull ourselves through the gate and dip our oars again, with much vim and vigour.
The feathered armada was their to to honk, quack and squawk us into our assigned lodgings on the jetty. We found our land-legs just where we left them and we wobbled about on the jetty, even thouigh we had not managed to find our requisite maritime sea-legs at all. Well, maybe next year perhaps. We made our way way agreeing that we were all expert oars-folk now; I just laughed and looked forward to my own blanket, to take me away on my personal voyage, the journey of dreams.
Our thanks to Olivia and her crew who made the day possible. Tony Viney for the organisation and our other valiant ship-mates – Ken, Kate, Jenny who made up for my own woeful performance on the oars.