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.

 

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View as we walked into Kilkenny.

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

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

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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.  

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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!

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

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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.

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

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

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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!

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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!

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.  

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How about this for a peaceful spot.

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 Passing traffic!

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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.  

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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.

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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.

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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.  

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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…

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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?  

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A wildlife haven, so lots of hides.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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Yes we are on the right path.

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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!

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

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Kerstin working her way through different beers.

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

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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!

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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Are we lost?  And still cold?

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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!

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

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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!

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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!

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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!

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

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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!

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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.

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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!

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

Irish History

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Yesterday met Fionnula and Sean for a guided tour of Glasnevin Cemetery.  Quite rightly high up on Tripadvisor.  Finally started to get my head around the 700 years of 

English rule and the part names like Daniel O’Connor and Charles Stuart Parnell played, amongst MANY others buried in the cemetery.  

Day trip by train to Belfast today – Sightseeing bus followed by a ‘spontaneous’ boozy quality lunch at Howards.  The bus tour took in the dock yards, Belfast Castle and many infamous streets from the times of ‘The Troubles’; The Falls Road, Shankill Road and the Peace Wall.  All the murals made me feel uncomfortable.  

Just about to read a short history of Ireland.