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!

518-523: A Surprise for Dad’s Planned 80th

518 – Thursday 27th October 2016:  Collecting the Surprise

Grahame and Diane had no idea that Kerstin (Kooky Kerstin) was coming to stay at chez Jez/Perechat  – so we had an extra day away from them as a pretext for collecting KK! We identified a secure parking near the Bordeaux Merignac airport – Katherine dropped me at the Arrivals Building and awaited at the parking for my call. Kerstin arrived very quickly and K/Jez appeared right on time. Kerstin had not experienced Jez and was suitably impressed – she was particularly pleased with the sleeping accommodation… having previously called Jez a folly by email!!

We drove to the coast W of Bordeaux to an aire … due to the heavy traffic, we arrived just as the sun was setting…. another of those moments in time, which you cannot plan.  As K and K walked Oscar, K tried to persuade K to let out her properties in Germany and buy a motorhome … you don’t get moment like this stuck to a desk and a computer screen.

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519 – Friday 28th October 2016:  Dune de Pilat

The largest sand dunes in Europe lived up to all our expectations – and more! Beautiful soft sand and convenient steps up to the top – stunning views for miles/Kilometres in every direction. Oscar even managed to run in the sand – we had a very sandy van later….  It grows and moves every year … so far streets and houses consumed and one guid book said a campsite was next in line.

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Kerstin determined to ‘control’ Oscar!

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All 3 sliding down the sand … K took the steps to catch the pix.

 

Arriving at Perechat, where the family were convening, we parked with Kerstin lying low – K brought Diane and Grahame from the house – and mega surprise – a loving reunion!  Much jollification – and some drinkies also…

520 – Saturday 29th October 2016:  Aubeterre and Supper

We hd been to Aubeterre before, briefly for coffee last July – this time a better tour and the 2 K’s visited the underground church – much impressed – see photos! A good wander in lovely warm sunshine.

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Oscar not allowed into the Church but having a look anyway.

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Aubeterre is a derivative of alba terra / white stone and the stone work of the old properties was indeed soft.

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Noteworthy carvings … acording to the guide book.

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The underground church was more impressive than we imagined.   Dug out during the Crudades by hand.  They think to house a relict.

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It was also the town cemetery, so locals and Pilgrims had to walk over the graves.

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The rellilquary  – carved out of one peice of stone.


The evening was the first restaurant meal for the  Grahame birthday celebration – we drove G and D and Katherine’s navigational skills were – in Kerstin’s way of speaking – “How shall I say?” – “interesting”! In other words, we got lost! But we arrived eventually to a super meal – complete with – the Birthday cake – no jokes about Grahame’s windy skills in putting out the candles…   A special treat was Danielle travelling from her University life in Birmingham to mark the occasion – one of many treats indeed!  She’d managed to have her parents book her Business, whilst they travelled with her siblings in steerage … she only managed one bottle of fizz … wasted on her!

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All in our Sunday best!

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I may need that wrapping paper!

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An expert in recycling!

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A different gift in the same paper … honest.

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Enough puff?  Oh I think so!

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Angelic or what?

 

521 – Sunday 30th October 2016: Angouleme

Day out to Angouleme provided us with a test of motorhome parking – seriously! We almost got stuck in the local Gare car park but escaped with our van intact – the first very narrow streets test… in Jez.

On street – and free – parking was found not very far away. K checked with a local who quizzed her on how the English find the French!!!!!  A good walk around the town ramparts – more spectacular views – and a coffee outside a dog friendly bar – most bars/restaurants are dog welcoming here.  The Basilica was well worth a visit – not overly adorned like some churches – a local christening was in progress. Back to Perichat for a Baker organised evening meal.

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Yes – chrysanthemums 

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Lots of official graffiti.  K sporting new ‘home knitted’ poncho.

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Angouleme is know for its annual car race around the ramparts.  Much be a bit hairy as the roads are twisty and narrow.

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It sits high over the undulating surrounding lands … nothing special, but pleasant.

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The exterior at odds with the plain interior.

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522 – Monday 31st October 2016:  The Big Day Itself

Monday was the exact day of Grahame’s birthday – starting at ‘breakfast o’clock’, Kerstin revealed her ‘piece de resistance’ with her usual understated aplomb!  A sort of “This is your life” version of Grahame’s life – with individual pages written by all the extended family members – from windy underpants – to odd sayings of his – to many holiday and camping adventures….. all bound and beautifully presented.  Amazing how once you start the memories keep on coming.

We took Kerstin to the Airport – she had work on Tuesday, after a diversion via Amsterdam (her not us!)… she needed to get to S Germany!!!   Back at Perichat, we readied ourselves for the second restaurant meal of the multiple celebrations – after all, you’re only XX years old once…  K driving to the restaurant – a short distance – with her navigational skills relegated to the sidelines – Diane guided Jez and us the short distance. A truly amazing meal again. K tried baked marrow bone!  Oscar started in his crate in the van.  when K went to check on him … he was sitting on the front seat looking right royal regal!  The little sod had burst through the front mesh.  He ended up in the restaurant again with us, but he was by no means the only 4 legged guest, but at least he did NOT sit on our laps!  J has effected a gaffer tape repair across the crate’s mesh, as we read dogs HAVE to be secured in Spain and it is safer too … we’ve been building to putting him in the crate for journeys.

Back at Clare & Chris’ pad … Did I mention “Baileys” – Katherine, Clare and Diane?  Somno vinoque prevailed later with lots of zzsssss…

 

523 – Tuesday 1st November 2016 – A Much Needed Down Day

After all the eating out etc, we all pretty much stayed around the house.  Both the Aged P’s and us were leaving the next day … the Aged P’s heading north back home and us migrating south.  I later discovered that the french is oiseaux de passages … I rather liked it.  A number of jobs were done, including trying to level out the deep ruts Jez had dug in the drive.

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Zoe pruning Oscar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

229-230: Eruptions and an Almost Satisfied German!!!

229 – Saturday 5th December 2015:

Guest writer, by popular request!:

Today is E-Day, Katherine came up with a place that is (in her opinion) far enough from Etna but close enough for her not to be struck of my x-mas card list  But before setting off from the campsite, the two went running. I got such a bad conscience that I went swimming instead (well actually I love swimming). The water was probably as warm as our showers in the campsite. I also had a male guest watcher whose best part got very excited seeing me on the beach fully dressed… 

We arrived at the very idilic harbour of Taormina to park the van. By public transport we went up to this hilltop town (I am not sure why the two always complain about the small roads, the bus driver charged up the roads as it was the motorway). Katherine guided us through the town like a local (pointing out restaurants that they already visited). Arriving at the wonderful gardens we were greeted by Mount Etna spitting lots of smoke. Fantastic sight. James took some really good photos as you can see for yourself. On our way to the town centre we struck gold. We saw the Etna light show! Amazing how much we could see and how high Etna could spit out the lava. But Etna lost the battle to wine. Two of my companions who again cannot be named due to confidentiality reasons left the light show before the end! Can you imagine this. The biggest happening in Sicily that night and they wonder off for some drinks.

We got the last bus back into town and had a good night (at least I had one because Katherine lost big time playing cribb against me, they might claim it is beginners luck, but I know better) 

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Open air showers amongst the lemon trees – shame they were near cold!

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Our overnight pitch 

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Taormina – Part of the Roman cistern.

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Taormina is full of small street up and down off the main drag.

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Whilst it was still daylight we wandered into the Park let to the town by Forence Trevelyn

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The weird and wonderful structures are called ‘beehives’.

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From the balcony of the gardens we could see the smoke plumes from Etna.

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As the sun was setting, the clouds cleared and it got a bit more interesting.

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We just made it out of the park before we got locked in and walked through the town

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From the large balcony, Etna started putting on a show for us …

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… and it got better and better

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Along the coast to Giardini Naxos, where Chardonnay is parked and Etna, not so very far away!

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Our overnight view: looking up to Taormina from the parking on the harbour wall

230 – Sunday 6th December 2015:

Katherine sold me the blogging as “due to popular demand”. I think she is just so happy to have found a poor sod who does the typing.

Today we got up late and left even later. The weather was not really nice therefore it made no sense pushing Katherine out of bed.

We arrived at the parking lot for the cable car station. I inquired about the fares. They are really taking you to the cleaners, 30 Euros to go up to the middle station and another 32 Euros to go up to the top. But as the weather was nice and Etna was busy smoking I decided that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and went up. Katherine and James could not be persuaded even with bribes to come with me. Once up it was an amazing sight. Etna was busy billowing out smoke. I would also hear the noise of the “explosions”. To some extend it sounded like a steam engine. The trips up to the crater were cancelled and visitors were advised to stay near the middle station. Watching Etna for nearly 2h I knew why. From time to time he jugged out stones, too. I did not see any lava. I very much enjoyed my trip up to see Etna. Katherine was able to secure her position of my x-mas list again. 

Now I have to check my flight details to see whether my flight leaves on time tonight.

To all dear readers thanks for staying with me. Enjoy the blogging.

K’s postscript.  On the evening trip to the airport, Kerstin was delighted to be able to observe Etna erupt again and then we could see a growing red lava flow.  Really amazing.

 

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Previous craters

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Kerstin went above the cloud line

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Kerstin saw a number of eruptions, smoke and spitting of debris.  Sorry, the video clips are not going on the blog … I’d have to upload to YouTube and embed!

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Smoke and steam

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Evidence:  She was most definitely there!

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