1088-1101: Back to the Emerald Isle

1088: Drive to Holyhead

Wednesday 29th August 2018

I was driving and made a bit of mistake … I followed the sat nav and it took us across Wales on the A5 which we are sure is slower than crossing Wales at the top … BUT it was very pretty.  Another must come back to place.  We ate and rested near the Marina in Holyhead before catching our 2.30 am ferry.  The Irish crossings are unenlightened when it comes to dogs – they either have to be booked into their Stalag metal cages in the kennels, or stay in the vehicles.  We are not sure if they slept, but we got a humungous welcome when we returned.  We did NOT sleep.  There were quite a few solo men (lorry drivers without cabins) who were horizontal and the cacophony of snores was LOUD.  One chap gave us serious cause for alarm with his breath rasping like a death rattle.

1089: Yippee Back in Ireland

Thursday 30th August

We rested up a Malahide, next to the castle and park, before driving down to Camac Valley Campsite.  Our home for 4 nights, so awning up and dog walks in the adjacent park.  We largely ignored the dogs on leads signs, unless someone with small children was approaching.  We really do find Ireland pretty dog unfriendly … not allowed on busses, or in cafes etc.

 

1090: Kilmainham Goal

Friday 31st August

We cycled through the park to the Grand Canal, which is a cycle path.  Now you would think a cycle path allows one to cycle freely.  Not here!  There were 8 barriers; you could just wiggle a bike through, although no room for panniers.  But we had to tether the dogs, whilst we unhitched and lifted the Os-car over the barriers.  Did I mention 8 times!!!  We came back along the road, not as pretty but un-hitching free.

We had pre-booked timed tickets, taking it in turns to mind the dogs.  The goal was built along the lines of Pentonville, with the 3 Ss: Silence, Separation and Supervision.  As well as political prisoners, it also housed ordinary folk.  The inmates swelled to over 4000 during the famine as people were imprisoned for stealing a loaf as well as begging.  The leaders of the 1916 uprising were here and many were slaughtered in the yard used for rock breaking, until the British government put a stop to it as they realised the tide of public opinion was against.  A really moving place.

P1160158

P1160160

P1160164

P1160165

P1160170

P1160168

P1160174

Later the Carbage 50cc scooter event arrived for one night.  The rules are the bikes must be over 15 years old and only 50cc.  They had driven from Harwich across England and Wales over 5 days.

1091: Family and Friends

Saturday 1st September

MaryKate (J’s niece and Goddaughter), hubby Michael and two off spring drove down to see us, later joined by old friends Fionulla and Sean for a late lunch, or is it early supper?

P1160178

1092: Kerstin and The Game

Sunday 2nd September

Two big events today.  James got to go and see the GAA Gaelic Football Final, which his team won.  Up the Dubs.  He even managed to stay out till quite late!!!

Meantime, I did jobs around the van and walked the dogs.  The other significant event was Kerstin arriving from Germany … she arrived around midnight, Ryan Air was late, but at least it was flying.

Cd5deacb 66ed 4a6c 8860 275a6093cc92

Bd862472 505f 40ae 81dd 91808b4ea1f8

UP THE DUBS!

 1093: Onto Kerry

Monday 3rd September

After showers on board (we saved EUR6 between us buy not using the campsite showers), we headed off to Kerry.  Our destination was the Killarney National Park before we drove the Ring of Kerry.  K and I walked to Muckross Abbey and then around the outside of Muckross House.  Although towards the end of the day, there were till lots of Jaunting Cars (horse and carts for which Killarney is well known) offering to drive us and the dogs around the estate for EUR40.  Thank you but we like walking!

We found an overnight parking in a small leafy car park further on around the lake.  As well as Motorhome Craic, we also used Park4Night as the best apps for Ireland.

P1160185

The Abbey was free to wander.  Huge and with some massive fire places … how those Monks lived.

P1160184

The graveyard was still in use.

P1160195

P1160201

P1160203

P1160207

The house had superb views down the lawn to the lake.

IMG 6829

Each evening, I get the map, guide books and iPad apps out to plan where we go and stay, often over a glass of sherry!

1095: A Day of Walks

Tuesday 4th September

We walked from our parking to Torc Waterfall.  Easy to loose the crowds on a circular walk past the waterfall.  A slight incident, where we lost Corrie … we could hear her barking excitedly from a distance.  It seamed like she was gone about 15 mins, but Kerstin timed our wait and it was only 5 mins.  She came back pleased with herself, only to be promptly put on the lead until the landscape was more open and we could see her!

IMG 6832

At Torc Waterfall.

IMG 6833

I had posted a question about driving along the scenic Gap of Dunloe, to be advised that it was hardly suitable for cars, let alone motorhomes.  In Killarney, the TIC told us that there was parking at Kitty’s Kitchen.  We were heading along the start of the Ring of Kerry, travelling anti-clockwise as advised so as to travel with the coaches … narrow roads and negates the need to suck in our sides and pass.  We did a spontaneous turn following the signs for the Gap of Dunloe.  We were really pleased we did … fabulous scenery. Very like Scotland.  J joined us for an ice-cream on our return!  We had done something like 15kms, so deserved.

P1160218

P1160223

Joseph and his technicolour dream coat.  No mistaking these for boulders on the hills.

P1160228

IMG 6866

Waiting for our triple ice creams 🙂

We overnighted on the Comane Peninsular.  Great views out across to Dingle.  The pub next door, Jack’s, is a well known seafood restaurant, but sadly shut for food on Tuesdays.  Probably just as well as mains were around EUR29-34!  We did manage a drink though and got some advice from the locals.

IMG 6868

 Planning.

IMG 6818

P1160234

1096: Mega Sightseeing

Wednesday 5th September

Sight seeing included the Kerry Bog Village, where local dwellings had been relocated.  The information was a little dumbed down … coaches stop here.  Fortunately, the ticket office gave us the group rate so entry was only EUR5 pp, saving of EUR1.50.  Actually, we have been pleasantly surprised at how reasonable all entrance prices have been.

Cahersiveen had a lot to offer and it was here that we really started to find out about Daniel O’Connell, The Liberator.  He was a pacifist and believed that independence should be gained through legal means.  He was elected to the British Parliament and attended but refused to take the oath as it was Protestant.  To avoid an uprising, the Act of Catholic Emancipation was passed.  He also supported the abolition of slavery, women’s rights etc.

Our overnight was an absolute gem.  Cooncrome Harbour.  Just us, the waves and the stars.  Lovely chat with a local fisherman who was delighted we had found the place, he wanted to share.

IMG 1828

Kerstin kindly walked the dogs whilst J and I ran.  Cromane looking across to Dingle. 

P1160240

At the Kerry Bog Village.  The neighbouring pub was offering Irish coffees for EUR6, but we decided we’d make out own using the cooking brandy!

P1160249

During the famine, which lasted years, these pots were filled with soup for the starving … often just made with herbs and nettles.  Over a million and a half died and a further million emigrated.  The population has never recovered to its pre famine 8 million.

P1160239

Irish wolfhound.

P1160246

I just managed to use the flash as mama bird swooped in to feed her young.

P1160250

Just outside Cahersiveen is a monument and short river walk to Daniel O’Connell.

P1160251

His birth place is the ruins on the opposite bank.  He and his brother were adopted by his wealthy uncle and educated in France and London.

P1160255

In Cahersiveen the old Police Station / Military Barracks is now a local museum with a section on Daniel O’Connell.

P1160252

P1160253

IMG 6905

 

P1160263

Ballycarberry Castle, not open to the public, but a romantic ruin.

P1160271

Two ring forts in the drizzle.

IMG 6920

IMG 1832

Cooncrome harbour – our best night spot.

1097: Valencia Island 

Thursday 6th September 

P1160283

Kerstin’s morning swim followed by a Pilates session. I did offer loan of a wet suit!

James advised us that Valencia Island is the wettest place in Europe.  We don’t doubt him.  Portmagee had won some tourism award, but we drove through looking for somewhere to park, aborted and reckoned all it had to offer was brightly painted buildings.  Just over the bridge on Valencia Island is the Skellig Experience Centre.  This covered the history of the monks inhabiting Skellig Michael and carving 3 stairways out of the rock up to the monastery with beehive buildings at the top.  We watched a H&S film about how the boat landing, the climb up and down can be fraught … an American died this summer.  Boats onto the island were booked up till next week, dogs not allowed and the crossing each way could have taken 1.5 hours … so not for us.  We none of us fancied the EUR40 pp boat ride just to sail around the island.  Since the island was in a Star Wars film, it has become very popular.

Valencia Island is also where the first Atlantic telegraph cable came ashore.  It worked for 12 days, broke and wasn’t fixed till the following year.  The Cahersiveen Barracks was built to protect the cable.  We felt the area could have made more of the cable, but Skellig Michael over shadowed it.

A short drive up to Bray Head where K and I walked. The views out to the Skellig islands and across the coast were stunning, or would have been, had it been less misty.

P1160290

P1160310

IMG 1834

We had a quick look at Knight’s Town, the main town on Valencia, pleasant, but not much there…. 

IMG 1835

… so little, that the tourist information board made much of the loos!

P1160318

We overnighted in the car park for the Tetrapod Trackway, only discovered in the 1990’s, these marks were left by the first amphibian 3.5 million years ago.

P1160316

Our overnight view – the lighthouse and coast.

1098: Waterville and Derrynane – Best Beaches

Friday 7th September 

Given the narrow roads and how small our car park was, we got up and left pretty early.  We stopped at Waterville for breakfast and lunch.  Really lovely views and the morning light was superb. Well, it was until about 10.30 when the coaches arrived.  Fortunately we’d had the cameras out before the ‘trippers’ wreaked the atmosphere.  I know we are ‘tourists’ too, but we do not come in multitudes!

Derrynane is the home of Daniel O’Connell, which he inherited from his uncle.  A good introductory film about him at the start.  J rested, whilst K and I walked the most beautiful beach to Abbey Island and quickly around the house gardens, as the rain came in.

We overnighted in the really heavy rain at the motorhome parking in Sneem …  sounds of conkers being thrown on the roof, is NOT conducive to a good night’s sleep!  An opportunity to charge everything up and take on water for showers in the morning.

P1160329

Waterville.

IMG 6974

Charlie Chaplin used to visit.

P1160333

P1160341

P1160348

Kerstin’s second sea swim. We overheard some people admiring (!) her hardiness!  J and I shopped for a woollen Jumper for him … stocking up on warm clothes for our first winter in the UK for 4 years!

P1160352

Derrynane House

P1160349

P1160355

Daniel O’Connell was imprisoned for 3 months for organising monster rallies (a million people would come to hear him). On his release he was paraded around Dublin atop this chariot, with his grandchildren dressed in green velvet on the lower tier.

P1160363

Abbey island by Derrynane.

P1160365

P1160369

IMG 1839

Kerstin had a couple of items on her check list of things to do … fish and chips was one of them.  And boy, was it good fish and chips.

IMG 1843

My fish chowder was pretty good too.  

IMG 6995

Sadly no music in any of the pubs in Sneem (too few tourists here), but we did have two Irish coffees in two pubs.

1099: Kenmare

Saturday 8th September 

K walked the dogs again, whilst J and I ran.  Then we all showered. We parked up in Kenmare by the pier and had a wander … Oh and an ice cream in the rain! Kenmare was laid out as a model town by lord Landsdowne, later the British Prime Minister.  It had a good feel to it and, whilst full of tourist shops and bars, real people live here.  I think we must have touristed ourselves out, as music was on in some bars later, but we had a quiet night in … and I let K beat me for the first time at crib!

1100: Return to Dublin

Sunday 9th September 

Another thing on K’s bucket list was a full Irish .. so we had a healthy start to our driving day!  We got back to Camac Valley Campsite and erected the awning.  We wouldn’t normally bother for one night, but we were entertaining some of J’s family … Delia and Liam, and John who’s over from Chicago.  Sadly Amelia didn’t make it.

A1d1294e 908b 4abc ab79 4879d29bb535

E19588aa 2413 4a40 8715 6c00943cb57e

More cream James?

1101: Journeys Home

Monday 10th September 

Runs and Pilates before taking the awning down. Tom (another brother) and Mary popped over for coffee and kindly drove Kerstin the airport.  J and I parked up for the afternoon and early evening in Phoenix Park before heading off to Dublin Port for our 0215 hrs stupid o’clock ferry.

IMG 1875

We walked through Phoenix Park to see the Papal Monument where the current Pope recently delivered Mass.

IMG 1838

A new type of Disk Lock to stop your vehicle being stolen!

 

707-717: Fridge Flights of Fancy

707-710 – 2nd-5th May 2017:  Kilkenny

We found a friendly campsite on the River Nore outside Kilkenny – Dan’s the man there – 30 minutes walk to the city.  I hadn’t been here for 40 years and explored the Cathedral, music (Irish traditional),  Smithwicks brewery – tasting too. We were so taken by Kilkenny – we stayed for 4 days instead of 2! 

A little history …. Kilkenny is a city.  The smallest in Ireland and apparently locals are a little sensitive if you call it a town!  It was the unofficial capital of ireland in the Middle Ages.

Back to Camac Valley Campsite on 5th – for early start for moi on 6th.

 

P1130802

View as we walked into Kilkenny.

P1130806

Coffee stop in one of the narrow streets full of bars and eateries.

P1130809

 Roathe House – Ireland’s best surviving example of C16 Merchant’s house.  now a museum.

P1130816

Inside St Canice’s Cathedral.  The second largest medieval cathedral in ireland.  It was defaced by Cromwell who used it to store horses and troops.  Alice Kyteler’s (more anon) brother saved himself by paying for a lead roof … it proved too heavy and collapsed.  Kilkenny is also known as the marble city as much of it was built using local black marble.  Well, it looks grey until polished.  The church is home to a fine collection of floor grave slabs and Medieval tombs when life sized effigies of the interred were carved.  J paid to go in, whistle I sat outside with Oscar.  When I went to pay, I was told J had spent so little time, I could go free.  Nice.  

P1130820

This grave slab is thought to be the father of Alice.  I know the song “Who the F is Alice” comes to mind!  The story of Alice is that she was widowed 4 times and all to wealthy men.  Perhaps it was jealousy but she was convicted of being a witch and condemned to death.  English nobility who were friends smuggled her away to London where she was not heard of again.  Her poor maid, Petronella, was burned at the stake in her stead!

P1130853

Effigies of Piers and Margaret Butler 1539 – The Butler family owned the castle from 1391 until 1935. 

P1130830

Stone chair of St Keiran embedded in the wall from C13.  In the C5th, he is said to have visited Kilkenny and challenged the Chieftains to accept the Christian faith.

P1130861

A boozy long lunch at Kyteler’s Inn, where the with Alice was born.  A superb rambling building….

P1130876

… We returned the next night for more food and music.

P1130866

I asked Dan the Man of the campsite if we could cycle along the river to Bennetsbridge … No, path not suitable and about 15 stiles, but he offered to give us a lift up there so we could walk back.  He dropped us at the old flour mill that is now a working pottery … some lovely patterns but not for us at EUR24 for a mug!

P1130871

One of the 28 man made obstacles along the river walk … not a mere 15!  So pleased we’d asked if it was suitable for bikes!

P1130873

We’ve seen a few derelict mills.  It was a 9km walk where we did not see another sole … just lovely.

P1130882

The Smithwick brewery tour was quite interactive – these portraits of Smithwick’s talked to us … Harry Potter-esque.  In 1710 the first brewer, a Catholic, was forbidden to own a business, so he had a Protestant sleeping partner.  It was centuries before he bought the business outright.  When Smithwick sales out stripped Guinness, it was sold to Guinness in the 1960’s.  More recently Budweiser was brewed here, but now nothing.  Sad that it is just a tourist attraction after centuries of brewing.  It was the same story at Jameson’s – the original distilleries are too small and inefficient.

P1130886

J had a ‘senior paddle’ to taste Smithwick’s ale, pale ale and the new Blonde.  I managed to ‘lift’ the shapely pale ale glass … naughty but Kerstin would be proud.

P1130900

The Black Abbey, dissolved by Henry V111, and turned into a courthouse.  Roofless post Cromwell and then restored in 1866.  I admired this window to a local chap working inside … The traceries (stonework) date back to C12.  The glass was designed by a German Jew who was killed in WW2 and all the plans went with him.

P1130906

St Mary’s Cathedral C19, but some wonderful mosaics inside.

P1130911

In the Castle Grounds, where Prince Charles has just been photographed with a sliothar and hurley (hurling ball and stick to me!) and was in the papers.

IMG 1441

The bag contains some Donegal wool … I am a knitting maniac now!  And two picture frames we had converted to Perspex so they won’t shatter if they fall off the wall.  This pic is a shop in Tralee, named J Clune.  A friend of Delia’s had spotted it in an antique’s market and give it to J at his Dublin birthday bash.  It has pride of place … above the bog!  Actually the only bit of wall large enough ..

711- 713 – 6th-8th May:  Medical for James and Fridge

OK readers – what’s considered an early start?  Howsabout 2:30 am???  Flight at 6:00 am – walk to bus at 3:15!  I was so earlybird that on my walk – the Saturday night party at the Green Isle Hotel was still in full swing… A ‘domestic’ going on outside – “Pleeze don’t leave me” from husband as wife walked to car?  Gatwick at 8:00 – and Ash Vale for sleep…..  Trip was for the medical to get my over-70 driving license for Jez.   Wonderful opportunity to have supper with Sinead and Shane in London – on the South Bank – memorable meal.  I was pushing out Zzzzs at 9:00 pm.

Monday – all complete by 10:00 am and back to Gatwick to complete the whirlwind journey. In the meantime, K had been cleaning, had coffee with sister-in-law Amelia and investigating a repair for our fridge – not looking good so far…  K:  Perhaps I should not read forums so much … both the ones I use had suggested that since the fridge vents had been cleaned by our supplying dealer mid April, it was likely to be dirty gas, blocking pipes and destroying regulators.  I drove to a reluctant (difficult to get him to agree to look at Jez) motorhome dealer outside Dublin.  He was at pains to be alarmist and explain all the dire consequences of dirty gas to every part of our gas system and said he would not touch our van due to the later issues that could crop up.  Cripes!  Someone on Motorhome Craic forum suggested we try Leisure Technical Services in the North … he could see us on not until Thursday.  Feeling low with a sense of doom and £ signs in form of my eyes!  

714 – Tuesday 9th May:  Dogheda Not

K here:  I telephoned the Tourist information to find out where we could park Jez.  On arrival the carpark had a height barrier.  Back on the phone … the second suggestion also had a height barrier.  So we aborted and headed for the coast as I had seen a wild parking spot there.  We parked up outside yet another car park’s height barrier and I joined a local couple for a dog walk.  As we passed a small area of statics, the gent (and he was a gent) asked a local where J and I could park up for the night … Tom, as he introduced himself offered to let us stay at the end of the statics’s strip … but we sailed slightly past the the end of the road and parked up just outside the now demolished fisheries.  We really ought to have been on electric for the F/F, but with two ice packs and a frozen water bottled … fingers crossed I would not have to do a massive defrosted cook off.  And this area was too lovely to pass up.  J joined me on another walk (lucky Oscar) and we found the long beach round the head.  We were only disturbed by a few walkers, birds and some passing freight ships and yachts.  Idyllic.  

P1130930

How about this for a peaceful spot.

P1130944

 Passing traffic!

P1130948

Maiden’s Tower and Maiden’s Finger (yes all it needs is a couple of boulders at it’s base to be another part of anatomy!).  The local couple told the tale that the women folk would watch for the return of their fishermen from the told of the tower.  Our heroine understood from the flags on the fishing ships that her man had perished.  in anguish she jumped from the top of the tower to her death, leaving a finger caught in the stone wall.  

715 – Wednesday 10th May: Dogheda Yes and MK’s

A further phone call to the Tourist Information and the good lady had been doing her homework for us, identified a surface carpark with no height barrier.  Drogheda, here we come.  Now the good folk of Drogheda were not big fans of Oliver Cromwell in the 1600s – he captured the town and slaughtered 2,000 inhabitants.  Not sure why but the Irish seem to think that the Brits totally love Cromwell, I know he established Parliament, but he was quite brutal.  Today, its a commuter town for Dublin 30 miles to the south.  It is a pleasant town … not architecturally stunning but the history is interesting.  It also has not one, but two St Peter’s Churches.  

P1130958

St Lawrence’s Gate C13:  Dogheda was one of Irelands largest 4 walled towns in min C15.  This is pretty much all that remains.  The guide books tells me that it is in fact a Barbican, a fortified structure to defend the gate.

P1130960

Magdalene Tower – the bell tower from a C13 friary.  King Richard II accepted the submission of the Gaelic chiefs in 1395.  Peace only lasted a few months.  And it looks like this spindly structure should not have lasted as long as it has.

P1130962

Cadaverous Medieval wall tomb (not James!!!)  in the graveyard of the Catholic St Peter’s Chuch.  It was in this church that Cromwell burned the spire, killing 100 people who had taken sanctuary inside.  

Screen Shot 2017 05 14 at 18 36 58

The Catholic St Peter’s houses the head of Saint Oliver Plunkett … Archbishop who refused to leave his people but then his head left his body in London in 1681! 

My Goddaughter and niece Mary-Kate lives near Banbridge and she, Michael, Daniel and baby Amelia welcomed us into their home and provided the driveway for Jez and our sleepover. Wonderful meal by K and lots of family chats during a top evening…

P1130968

P1130971

A gorgeous pic of Mary Kate and the baby.  Sadly Daniel was not up before we left.  But he helped with the cooking, played with bubbles in the washing up sink and I read him a few stories.

716 – Thursday 11th May:  Leisure Technical Services Trumps All

Our next shot at fridge repairs was LTS near Banbridge (Dromore) – and they came up trumps (not the ‘Donald’ kind, thankfully… ). They quickly identified that the gas was getting to the fridge burner, so all this talk of dirty LPG was misleading.  A part removed, showed signs of a burn out at the back.  Tomorrow, they may have the part – so a campsite with electric hookup for the freezer at nearby  Oxford island on Lough Neagh was the overnight for us.  Fabulous walking around the largest freshwater lake in the British Isles . BBQ in the evening after warm sunshine – sitting out in the heat – Oscar and I used sun lotion!   We could easily spend a week exploring this area of Northern Ireland – another time, definitely.  K:  I should mention that the camping gave us a 10% discount for the cafe… was that another full Irish James?  

P1130975

A wildlife haven, so lots of hides.

P1130976

P1130977

Our walk was through wild flower meadows and different woodlands.  When we texted Mary kate to tell her where we were staying, she replied with OMG – that is our favourite place.  We can see why.

P1130972

 

717 – Friday 12th May:  Fridge Fixed and Wilding Again

Excellent spot for running – K back to running after a hamstring problem.  A slow breakfast and a walk in the best park in the area – Lurgan.   LTS fixed the fridge – and seriously debunked the myth about ‘dirty’ gas – but filters fitted to our tanks, for extra care.  And LTS will process the warranty claim for the fridge part and the filters and fitting only cost us £100.  A superb result.  

At last – a return to ‘wild’ camping – where?  The top of a mountain in the Sperrin range – called Eagle Rock. Remote, no phone or internet signal – gorgeous views – until the heavy mist and rain surrounded us!  Almost Harry Potter-esque spooky – the ‘forbidden forest’ – and Hagrid’s cottage could be around the corner. You can tell we’ve been listening to the audio books while driving – excellent tales!!!  Soooo quiet here……

In the morning, we will travel to Magilligan Point for more ‘wilding’ and sea walking – possibly better weather – but we have all the wet gear we need.

A good life?  “The Good Life”, indeed…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

698-706: BIG Number Birthday in Dublin

698-706- Monday 23rd April – Monday 1st May 2017:  Dublin And Family

A bit of a summary as we’ve not been blogging!

Ferry from Rosslare – we were a rather late arrival – bow doors opened as if by magic. Next morning, K collected hire car using the nearby Airport hopper bus.  On my actual birthday, we drove to Enniskerry and I had a fantastic full Irish breakfast (first on over 6 months) in the local hotel (where I was barred for too much drinking as a camping young adult) and then walked the Scalp hill/mountain and  collected Kerstin from the airport – then straight to a pub in Bray pub with some family – a good night was had by all…….

Next day (Thursday), we did a walking tour of Dublin city. Kerstin and I toured the Jameson distillery – and tasted their produce – a few times! She liked it with lime and ginger…  The Brazen Head welcomed us for lunch with an outside heater!

Another magic day in Baile Atha Cliath…my spiritual home.

Friday – Kerstin went alone to Dublin sightseeing – we stayed by the van and did some jobs – K cooking. Kerstin enjoyed herself so much that she was quite late back – and she is always ‘laid back’!

The excitement is mounting – for the second big party tonight – 70 is only a small number, isn’t it?  Collected salmon from Clondalkin and then to the party house (Delia and Liam’s) in Cabinteely. Food prepping and Oscarwalking… Huge surprise when Sinead and Shane arrived – with Sarah!!!  Out of the blue, completely!   My first ever girlfriend at age 13 – Mary Garrihy (King) travelled all the way from Ennis to be here – we last met 30 years ago but always keep in touch for birthdays.  Blind wine tasting organised by K and K – much mirth ensued.  Not too late to bed – in our Jez on the roadway outside. Oscar was bemused at so many people in our gathering – but huge thanks to everyone for coming along…

Sunday, we cleaned the house – and Liam discovered our Karcher window/surface cleaning tool – we decided to buy one for them as a thank you gift – he’s been cleaning windows ever since – Delia is happy. There’s an old song – “When I’m Cleaning Windows” – Music Hall history.  Back to Camac Valley campsite – and suitably tired – a nanny nap for all, including K9…..  Supper – Bed later for J – K and K stayed up until 2:00 am – playing cards and working their way through wine and Grand Marnier – and my birthday chocolates!!!  K:  We did score them so he knew exactly what he’d missed … we saved him the one we neither of us fancied too!

Monday early – K brought K to airport and returned our hire car. A chilled afternoon.

IMG 8005

It might be expensive at EUR27 but Camac Valley Campsite is our Dublin home with large fully serviced pitches.

IMG 1416

James’ actual birthDAY and started with a full Irish!  Or English or Scottish!

IMG 8010

A birthday walk around the Scalp – so named due to the rocks and gorge.

IMG 8019

Yes we are on the right path.

IMG 1442

I knew about the Sugar Loaf mountain (every country seems to have one), but here there are the Great and Little Sugar Loafs and also a wee Sugarlump!

IMG 8029

Meeting up with some of the family in the evening..

IMG 8033

IMG 8039

Kerstin working her way through different beers.

IMG 8053

A walking day out with Kerstin around Dublin.  The President’s Palace is in Phoenix Park and we saw the cavalcade.

IMG 8063

Kerstin was unimpressed with the sheer number of ‘original and best’ tour busses.  She has a thing against the little tourist trains too.  Funnily enough the next day she used the hop on hop off bus which transported her from the campsite and as no-one asked for any money, she managed to get a free tour!

IMG 8068

Kerstin and James toured the Jameson’s Distillery … although no distilling is still done here, they enjoyed the tasting.  They were given Jamesons, Johnnie Walker Black Label and Jack Daniels to compare.  A revelation to J – he has always been fond of Black Label, but reckoned Jamesons came out top.

IMG 8073

Kerstin decided the best way to drink it was with ginger ale and lime.  Meanwhile … I was freezing my butt off in a outside cafe next-door!

IMG 8074

Lunch to warm us up at the well known ancient Brazen Head Inn.

IMG 8076

Again outside … Oscar, what we suffer for you!  And you get your own glass!  But they did put the heater on for us and made a fuss of Oscar.

IMG 8084

IMG 8085

Are we lost?  And still cold?

IMG 8088

Temple Bar area with their inflated prices.IMG 8098

P1130800

James’ 70th BIG number birthday party in Dublin was held in sister Delia and hubby Liam’s house.  We did a blind wine tasting.  Kerstin placed a sign over the sink!

P1130801

And she wrapped and labelled all the bottles … I could not have coped without her.

IMG 1441

A gift from Stephen and Diedre – S had come across the photo from Tralee in Kerry.  You can just make out the J Clune over the door.  We’ve replaced the glass with perspex, just in case it does fall off the wall!

IMG 1443

J’s niece, Mary-Kate supplied the most amazing cake … it had a motorhome and a map of Europe on it – with red dots to show where we have travelled  so far.  Sorry not a large image as my camera died.  Not sure if J is about to praise it, pontificate or weigh it!

416-422 : Dublin Days

416 – Thursday 14th July 2016:  Fionnualla and Family

A good run around the site.  We left the campsite having explored nothing of Tollymore Park, but every now and again you need a down day.  OK sized pitches with hard standing and a shower block.  Chemical toilet and taps along the road sides for water, but no grey waste outlet!  Knowing we were headed to the Republic of Ireland, we swapped wallets back to the Euro one … fortunately nearly 200 in it … worth more than when we got them!

We did a food shop, first Lidl and then Tesco, for the bits not available in Lidl – it does mean shopping takes a lot longer, but worth it on the purse!  I had offered to cook for Fionnualla and Shaun – we last saw them February 2015 and Fionnualla cooked for us.  Having purchased all the ingredients I then started prepping … in the Tesco Carpark!  We checked to make sure we could not see a time limit on how long we stayed there, as we did not want another ‘outstaying your welcome’ fine as we did at Aldi in Bakewell!  Choc mousse setting in fridge, mash done, mushrooms stuffed and chicken cacciatore done … means we can relax when we arrive.

We were a little later arriving than planned … I was driving and started to question where we were when I saw a sign to Dublin Docks and I knew that Malahide was further north!  J caught navigational napping … in his home town!!!  The rush hour and stop start to get back out meant that it was MOST DEFINITELY drink o’clock when we arrived.

Really lovely to spend time with the family, especially Fionnualla, who is a childhood friend of J’s … she is one of those special people.

417 – Friday 15th July 2016:  And onto Camac Valley Campsite

No early start and no run … feeling too full of food and wine excesses from last night!  Still managed to tuck into the breads, hams and cheeses that Fionnualla gave us for breaky.  Brown soda bread .. yum yum.  Daren’t buy any!  She also directed us to a massive Tesco so I could buy a cake tin.  I know, what on earth do I want with a cake tin in a motorhome, and I’m not really over fond of cake anyway (more a sticky sickly out or copious amounts of cheese person).  Delia (J’s sister) and Liam were holding their annual family BBQ on Saturday and for once we were able to come … and I’d offered to bring some puds and …. toffee vodka.  Fortunately, J had ground up the hard toffees and mixed them with the vodka whilst i’d down food prep yesterday … as there was none of bottle 1 left after Fionnualla and I had finished it off last night!

We attempted to visit Kilmainham Jail on the way to the campsite.  But no chance … apparently you have to book ages in advance.  No Plan B and J not feeling too good so we headed straight to Camc Valley Campsite.  We’ve stayed here a number of times before … EUR 27, but this includes a fully serviced large pitch – love having water on tap … every time Chard did a ‘I’m empty’ gurgle, so easy just to put the hoze in and switch on the tap.  We normally conserve water as music as we can … we got very liberal with it here!

418 – Saturday 16th July 2016:  Family BBQ

How annoying … I was short cream for the ‘Passion Fruit and Marshmallow Sensation’ … the recipe book’s name not mine!  So J, with his navigational skills back on form, cycled off to the nearest town 🙂

We had so much to carry … wine, toffee vodka, two puds and coats … so the trusty shopping trolley came in handy.  The journey was NOT so handy!  Bus 69 from the site into town:  15 mins late and then took an hour.  Bus 145 out to Cabinteely … another hour.  All told, door to door 2 hrs and 45 mins!

It was brilliant seeing all the family as the last time K saw them in Montecatini, Tuscany last August … J had flown home in October briefly for Jade’s christening and seen some bods then.  Not able to face the nearly 3 hr repeat bus ride back, we splashed out and took a cab!

IMG 0886

419 – Sunday 17th July 2016:  Up the Dubs

Time to run and do pilates …  been seriously slacking!  Being Sunday, we had the choice of ONE bus, as they only travelled every 2 hours!  The 1.15 it was.  Someone should have told the driver though, as he did not arrive until 1.42!  Once into town we followed the blue shirts up to Croke Park.

The game went as predicted – The Dubs won by a healthy score – but Westmeath gave a really good showing – they will win major trophies very soon – all the best of luck to them – more competition is needed in Leinster…   The game was enlivened by a streaker – male and a fine figure of a man!  Liam was absent from his seat when the streaker hit the pitch and on his return was greeted with:  You got your clothes back on quick!

IMG 0881

Handbags at dawn … I had no idea that Gaellic Football descended so often into fisticuffs! 

IMG 0887

420 – Monday 18th July 2016:  Dr in Bray

J:  Monday we decided to have my regular health check – Delia kindly arranged for us to see her doctor in Bray. Everything is working as expected and reassuringly so… The beach looked inviting – we thought about a swim but the Irish Sea produced a windy reminder and we sailed back to Camac Valley.  Very hot – the BBQ lighting apprentice – Mr James C recommenced his in-dentures by lighting the fire with his teeth – not to be recommended for small children or anybody! The Nicky, Jimmy and Ian magic dust again lit the evening air and I managed to not fire up the endangers dentures!

IMG 0863

BBQ followed by firelog … not cold but comforting!

 

421 – Tuesday 19th July 2016:  Grand Canal to Phoenix Park

J:  Pilates of the Camac pirates…..I did my first real session!  Very good and I immediately felt the benefits on my back and shoulder.  We took the bikes down for the first time in weeks and Maps.Me guided us alone the Grand Canal to the city, where we picnicked in the Phoenix Park – the biggest City Park in Europe. We watched some boys and girls swimming in the canal but very sadly, some youths drowned there a few years ago.

Evening saw a BBQ – again!  Chicken, Halloumi (always think of Mike, as he introduced us to this on the BBQ) and veg – loving aubergine on the BBQ too at the mo.   Wine was partaken of but we realise again that we must cut down; its been a heavy booze week or so – tomorrow we will be teetotal – and I will try alcohol-free lager for the first time ever.

IMG 0885

With the abundance of easily available water, warm drying weather and two perfectly positioned trees for a washing line, I’ve been hand washing most days … leaving just a couple of items that needed ironing!  This does NOT happen often!

422 – Tuesday 20th July:  Back into Northern Ireland

An early run – 3k at sensible slow speed – during the run, Amelia phoned and said she and Thomas and Holly would like to join us for some time on our travels!  Beautiful! Amelia – you can have the van spare bed – it will be our treat and lovely to see youze all!!!

Craic in Irelands wild camping App was the fast track to Co Fermanagh via motorways that are not very exciting but at Euro 2.80 for a 50 mile trip – very acceptable indeed!

Quiet as in there’s only us by the shores of Lough Erne and OK views of the lakeside… but lots of lorries and traffic noise till the evening.  The bridge just ahead of us is single track and there has been a squealing of HGV brakes as the driver did not slow before realising there was already a vehicle on the bridge!  No running possibilities here as the road is just far too busy.

Settling down for the evening with alcohol-free beer that tastes absolutely like alcohol beer!!   Helps to have lime cordial in it!  Can I get a hangover from alcohol-free beer – no way!

IMG 0864

And finally, a pic I pinched off Facebook of Maddy at her school’s leavers dinner.