WHAT A RIDE !!!

Day 146 –

L: It was one of those nights for me, I just couldn’t get back to sleep after 2am, grrrrrr.
I must have dozed eventually though…….
We got up fairly late and packed up ready for the next stop.

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S: We drove around the area of Balbriggan and went down to the harbour. All the boats were flat on the sand as the tide was out. Scampi is a very popular item on the menu here. They are prawns and I have no idea why they call them scampi though. We saw them being sorted into a refrigerated truck.

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L: We then set out for Skerries again. It was so misty down on the beach front where we were yesterday. We later stopped in at the Harbour Bar in Rush for lunch. The food was great and we had the place to ourselves. I had a half a plate of roast and it was huge, Steve had the chicken burger which he also struggled to finish. There are 2 bars in this one building for some reason. Their happy hour must be called Rush Hour.

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We walked the short distance to Rush harbour which was shrouded in mist, still, even so late in the afternoon. Seems the weather is changing – slowly.

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L: We followed the coastline down to Lusk and got to the familiar part where the station was. We had previously only walked the entire area so it was strange driving through now. Back through the archway into the complex. When we had parked the car, we were met by Clem. It feels so good to be back.

We now have so much more luggage it seems or maybe we have just got slack at packing properly. The cats were so happy to see us.

Steve had a sleep almost as soon as we got in while I unpacked and then got out my crocheting to entertain the cats ha ha.

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S: Les later made us a rice and mushroom dish which we enjoyed while catching up on the news. Triona came home later and we all sat and chatted. Triona came up later in a cow “onesie” (an all in one PJ set) and we all dissolved into laughter. She looks so much like Monica, our niece that we had to post a pic to Facebook. Triona made us all a great cappuccino before bed.

Thanks Clem and Triona, sooooo much for having us again. Great to be here!!

Day 147 – Happy Birthday to Angela and to Ashley – God bless. XX

S: So we have been thinking about it for a while……and have decided to come home, back to Cape Town and back to my old job.

We were waiting to hear if we had to be in Hamburg, Germany to swop the car to another container or if the shipping company would be able to redirect it to Cape Town for us. They have told us that we can just courier the keys to the shipping company and they will handle everything. All the papers for the car have finally been received by Nicky in the U.K. (Where we thought we would be), so she will send them on for us, also to the shipping agents in Hamburg. The courier service fetched the car keys from where we are staying within 20 minutes of our call. Wonderful.

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Why does this make me think of Winston Churchill….?

L: Sorry that we won’t get to see my brother, Peter, after all. As you can imagine, that will save a lot of money as we can fly home directly.
No, we are not made of money……All the suggestions of friends and family, saying, why not pop over to Europe to this country or that. Remember that we had to divert and ship the car as we were not able to drive through the Middle East with all their political problems and a war in Israel. We were advised not to travel to Egypt and Turkey too. It is extremely costly to ship the car and now that we have decided to go back home, we are having to ship the container to Cape Town too.
There is a ride on, ride off (RO-RO) option, but we were warned off that as you may only have a shell of a car left if thieves target it.

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S: I started researching flights home, though I have been keeping an eye out for the more reasonable ones for a few days already. We found and booked a flight leaving on Wednesday after noon, via Dubai, but it has an eight hour lay-over, again. This time when I checked in online I saw there was an option to book a hotel room, courtesy of Emirates, free of charge. We will fly at 8:35 the next morning to Cape Town. We will be home on Thursday, yay!!!

We let the girls know and they could not believe that we could book so soon and be home in 2 days. They are just as excited as we are. Nicole volunteered to have us over for supper.

L: Steve also booked a hire car for us for a few days so that we could get around while the bakkie is still out at sea……

After all that, it was lunch time so we had a snack and set off to buy a couple of gifts for the girls. What fun to see the lovely shop, Penney’s in nearby Swords village.  We couldn’t resist buying onesies for our girls, especially when they are a third of the South African price.

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We heard from Clem and Triona that they were keen to take us out to Skerries for our last dinner in Ireland. We had told them that we were leaving in the morning.

The afternoon was spent cramming everything in to the 2 suitcases that we each have, they just seem to stretch.

S: We went in Triona’s new car and it was pretty cold again on the beach front. It had started raining earlier and Clem remarked that as we are preparing to leave the weather is turning nasty. It is already much darker in the mornings now.
We arrived in Ireland on 1 September and leave on 1 October with only 2 rainy days in total, beat that! It has been an incredible trip.

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L: We went to Stoop Your Head, a restaurant with a really low ceiling. Steve was the only one of the 4 of us that had to stoop…..
When I saw crab claws on the menu, I was very excited – until I saw the price. Steve was having calamari and said that I should have the crab. Clem did too. I was really shocked when it came as the claws were really small, about a tenth of the size of the ones you get in Mozambique. Oh well. Triona had her vegetarian fare and was very happy.

We had a super time for our last night in Ireland and had tea and coffee back at the flat. Clem and Triona have been stars and we will really miss them …….and the cats.

Day 148 –

L: I didn’t sleep well again as my mind was all over the place. We heard from the girls via What’s App. Heather said that it was only just sinking in that we will be home tomorrow.

Thanks to everyone for the welcome home messages, we have missed you all too and hope to visit to catch up soon.

We had our last oatmeal and apple porridge, thanks guys and got ready to go to the airport. We wanted to be there in good time as we had to fill the car and return it to the hire place and also collect the hotel vouchers for Dubai from the Emirates desk.

All went really smoothly and we checked in well ahead of time and put all our luggage through to Cape Town.

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When we went through the boarding gates, I was held back as they scanned my backpack again and then made me unzip it to show them. They then scanned it again and checked thoroughly on the x-Ray machine, ouch, why me? It reminded me of being at school, and Girl Guides, I was always getting into trouble as I always blush and look guilty.

We stopped in at the Chocolate Restaurant, but resisted and shared two healthy salad options while we watched the busy comings and goings out on the landing strip.

After that we spent every last penny so we would not go home with any “funny money” though we have a few Kenyan Shillings left still – anyone going on holiday….? We left messages for the girls and another thank you and goodbye to T and C.

This is a 777 and is a bit cramped, but we are nearly in Dubai and will land at about 10pm, but in Dubai it will be 12 midnight. We are sitting next to Trish, a lovely young lady from Northern Ireland going to be with her boyfriend for a year in Dubai.

After landing at Dubai we walked, and walked, and walked some more – it was after midnight, Dubai time and HOT. Then we had a ten minute wait and the shuttle took us all 3 kms back in the direction we had just walked. Exhausting.

There was another half hour wait at check-in, but finally, we were in our hotel room. It was 1.30 am and they would give us a wake-up call at 5.30am. The room was comfortable and Steve was out!! I took a while to fall asleep, but, thankfully – I did.

Day 149 –

Can you believe it, we can’t. 5 months on the road!!! I pat myself on the back for living out of 2 small suitcases, ha ha. Would we do it all again……..? In a heartbeat. Thanks, Steve. We have been so blessed all the way, praise The Lord.

S: We got up at 5 so that we could both shower and get some breakfast before the shuttle at 6.

It was a really good breakfast which we rushed so that we could be on time for the shuttle. True to form, we had to wait in the bus for 15 minutes.

Then it was a dash through the city to be dropped at the airport. We went to find some recliner chairs to wait the an hour hours and dozed there.

Our flight was called for boarding, a full hour ahead of take-off time. In Dubai you can take your water bottles through customs…….
We waited again in a lounge with half the number of seats for the people in there. Then we were put on to the airport shuttle to get way across the runway to where our plane was. We were crammed in to the bus like soldiers and it was so stuffy, waiting like that for over 20 minutes (while they prepared to open the plane’s doors). The bus doors opened to the early morning heat that is Dubai and we were finally permitted to climb the stairs to board our plane.

And now the wait begins…….So sorry, but we are delayed as the loading crew is not ready yet. One hour after our scheduled take-off time and the engines are warming up. So the reason we got up at 5am to leave at 9.30 am is………?

Take-off!!!! We are going to Cape Town, yay.
Besides having a baby cry almost constantly, all went well. The food served was all amazing and it is great to be able to watch movies, but oh, how the bottom hurts, sitting for so long.

Coming in to Cape Town……The sun was so bright and the sea looked like a sheet of gold in a smelters oven and then, there it was – our mountain, welcoming us home. Table mountain, you never lose your appeal.
Solid ground…….

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We collected our bags and walked out to Avis car hire. There were a lot of people so we settled in for a wait, but they were super efficient so we were ready to drive out in just 10 minutes.

We drove to meet the girls, Nicole and Heather at Nicole’s flat.
HELLO!!!!!!! What a welcome. Yay and we tried not to chunk, ha ha.
We met Liz, Nicole’s flat mate and were shown around.

Now, sitting with a mug of Rooibos (red bush) tea and Steve with a beer, we can catch up……..
Yes, there were the presents, of course.

We has a super time and the T-bone steak and roasted vegetables followed by ice-cream, strawberries and sprinkled chocolate are all that we have missed so much. Thanks girls!!!

We caught up, but didn’t want to be too late to arrive at Linda and Gary. Steve’s sister, Linda and hubby Gary are very kindly having us to stay for a little while while we decide what our next plan is.

Super to see them again and we sat in the kitchen with another cup of Rooibos and caught up and discussed the pink chickens, pink ostriches and goats that look like sheep and sheep that are so like South African goats and various other funny stories.

“Make yourselves at home” are the best words these two weary travelers can hear……..

Night, night all. God bless.

Day 150 –

HOME – safe and sound……….

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Framed ….A new thing to help the tourists take a good shot.

Thank you all so much for following us…….
Until next time, good bye. XXX

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Balbriggan break ….

Day 144 –

L: Nooooo, do I have to get up……?

We had breakfast and packed everything up and set off again.

We managed to find what remains of Dunmoe Castle this morning on the way out. It stands on private farmland so we did not go and explore it. I think the fact that it is not signposted is to keep it off the tourist route.

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Steve asked where I wanted to go and I suggested Dogheda. He wanted to stop off at Tara Hill first so we back-tracked a bit to get there.

S: This is also a section of all the burial mounds of old times, but they are not explored and developed like Newgrange is. We walked up the grassed hill exploring along with all the other people. It was a bit chilly up there and not too exciting. However, the view from the top of the mountain, was stunning. It is difficult to see the structures while walking around but the information boards at the car park have aerial photographs and quite detailed explanations of the layout. What puzzles me is, if these structures are that old, where do they get all this information set out in the explanations.

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By the time we got back down it was after lunch time so we popped in at the little coffee shop for a sandwich and coffee.

Something that we find a bit unusual is that the radio station here, also called KFM, has all the announcements of the wakes and funeral services broadcast on the radio each week.

So off we went through all the farm lands and along the country lanes. I asked Steve to turn around as I had seen a sign that said “egg vending machine” – say what???
Yep. So……you put your coins in the slot and then you open a little door and take out your tray of eggs. All 30 for only 6 euros, free range. No, we didn’t try as 30 eggs is an egg-ceptional amount for the two of us. Can you believe it and no, Cheryl, it is not a post box with a little postman Pat (Paddy) inside.

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L: We set off to Drogheda after Steve had seen that there was a well-known museum there called Millmount. We drove around a few times until I convinced him that the narrow little archway was, in fact, where we had to go through. The reason for this, we discovered later, is that it was part of another walled town so it is tucked behind the wall with the big, fat round tower lookout on the hill. Steve went on the tour of the tower and took some really nice shots from up there while I went through the very organised and well-stocked museum.

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There are a lot of interesting displays and it is spread over 3 floors. What I found amusing is that the display of all the different types of rock are housed on the top floor. It is a lot of extra weight plus they had to get all those chunks of rock up there. That’s Irish for you.

I knew that Steve would enjoy the radio and tele-communications display in the basement. I found the old home appliances fascinating. The old washing machines were so big and cumbersome, made out of wood, yet they did the job.

Steve came in to join me and I was still looking around. He did find the radio and phone displays interesting.

We still had a bit of time to wait before we could get into the accommodation for the next two nights, an AirBnB in Balbriggan, so we went to walk on the cliff above the beach and eventually found the steps to get on to the sand too.

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A lady walking her dog pointed out 3 rocks in the bay each with a bird perched on them and told us that the rocks are called The Three Nuns. There is a long thin rock called Long Leg too. I also saw one of the resident seals.

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A kilometre from the beach and we were at the BnB. Mick arrived and showed us around. We have a very nice upstairs room, shared bathroom and access to lounge, dining room and kitchen. He and a friend watched a soccer match, as did Steve, while I finished my book upstairs.
Mick said that he was ordering take-out for himself so we did too. 15 minutes later, we were enjoying our Chinese. We have been trying to get Chinese for all of our 4 weeks in Ireland – it was worth the wait.

Ok, either it’s the soccer and golf making me tired or just the fresh air, but I am bushed. Night all.

Day 145 – Happy B-day Annari. Mwa. XX

S: We were up bright and early this morning. We showered and had breakfast and set off to the Balbriggan Baptist Church for the 10.30 am service. L: When we arrived there was only one person so we figured that we had time to pop back to the house as Steve had forgotten his wallet, again………

S: The 10.30 service started promptly at 10.50, in true Baptist style, right? Some of the choruses were familiar to us so that was great. The preacher, Noel, spoke really well and we understood most of his Irish accent. After chatting briefly, we left for a tour of the area.

L: We stopped first at Ardgillan Castle and gardens. It is not really a castle but rather a country house which has been castellated. The place is huge and lovely, overlooking the sea.

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We had lunch first and then really enjoyed the gardens, particularly the rose garden. There are about 40 varieties there, though not all blooming and some new names for us, e.g. Paul’s Scarlet Climber, Sympathie, Coral Dawn, Dublin Bay, Penny Lane, Parkdirektor Riggers, Bantry Bay and Schoolgirl. Any of you botanists know these ones……?

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We also saw a Potentilla garden display, which is a type of shrub like fynbos. The grounds are vast with a children’s play park too and lots of grassy areas.

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We later went down to Skerries beachfront and harbour area. It was lovely and the weather played the game all day until much later when it became overcast. So Ireland – four weeks of great weather with only one full day of rain and a spit and spot for a couple of nights. That is amazing, the rain jackets have not seen the light of day.

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The views were great and we so enjoyed seeing the boats and fishermen. We treated ourselves to an ice-cream and then went to the beach. Finally, I found a few different types of birds as we have not seen many birds here on the Emerald Isle at all.

We stopped off at the supermarket for a few things and headed home. We decided to have sweet and sour pork from Mr Wu again for dinner and twisted Mick’s arm to join us.

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We are heading back to Lusk to stay at Clem and Triona tomorrow night, oh, and Alfred and Tippi (the cats)…….

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Reliving the ancient days ….

Day 142 –

L: Aah, the bar-lady last night was such a little sweetie. She stands less than 5 feet tall and is this little old dear. She has been the bar-lady there for 50 years. Steve thought that she must be 80 though I thought only 70 +.
So now we know all about her, but yet we found it strange that she never asked a thing about us. We find it really funny that wherever we go, we get asked if we are Australian and then sometimes, Swedish, American etc.

S: Lesley just didn’t want to get up today…..
I made some buttered rolls and coffee and then she was ready for the day. I heard from one of my sisters, Nicky, about going to see the Newgrange monument.

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On the way back to the car, I pointed out the washer, drier machines on the service station forecourt.

Then we set off through all the little villages like Mc Callagh, Nobber and Rathkenny. We traveled on to Slane before we realised that we needed to turn off to Newgrange before the village. In the town square of Slane, stand 4 identical old stone homes each facing the square from north, south, east and west.

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L: Steve really wanted to go underground into the Newgrange monument, but I hate enclosed spaces so I opted to stay at the Visitors’ Centre while he took the shuttle there. You don’t drive there yourself, they supply the bus so that it is a controlled amount of traffic.

We had a bit of time before the tour so we stopped in at the little restaurant. I had said to Steve yesterday that I was so surprised that nobody had meat pies offered on their menus. Imagine my surprise when today’s special was Guinness and beef pie with salads – it was delicious. Steve had a sausage roll with his salad.
He set off and I went in to the auditorium to watch the 7 minute video on the history of the monument and the old superstitions that go with the beliefs that they had in those days. It was very interesting.

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I saw all the exhibits and the carbon-dating system they use to determine how old the monument (tomb) is. There was a very interesting display of the clothing that was worn and you could touch and guess the animal furs used for the textiles. It is a well set out display.

The little gift shop is lovely too and I was so tempted to get myself a zipped hoodie that has Newgrange on it, but I resisted.

S: I went up with the shuttle and we had a guide show us through the tomb. It is really a tight squeeze to get in there, I had to take my backpack off and push it through in front of me and turn sideways to get my shoulders through. Yes, it was a good thing Lesley stayed at the centre. Once inside the tomb, they turned the lights off to show how dark it is and then switch on a spotlight to simulate how the sun shines in on one day of the year. Apparently this monument pre-dates Stonehedge and the Pyramids. Not sure how that is determined.

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Newgrange entrance

Before I left Lesley, I jokingly said that she should find us our accommodation for tonight. When I returned, we met in the cafe where she had all the leaflets of the accommodation in and around the area. The one she suggested turned out to be a great choice. Only 43 euros for a double room with en-suite so we drove down the road to the Newgrange Lodge. When we booked in, we were told that for an extra 3 euros each, breakfast is included – done.

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There is a kitchen that the guests can use as well as a sitting room and garden, lovely.

L: I called the car hire company and extended the car until after the weekend as we are so enjoying exploring.

We drove back to Slane and went to the Old Post Office Bistro for a homemade burger and meringue with berries for dessert. Yum.

Steve drove to the top of the hill and I was amazed at the sight of Slane abbey which is a church built in 1512. It is crumbling now and the strange thing is that there are graves in the inside section of the church though it is now just ruins. The graves date back to the early 1900s.

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Next door is the monastery where the monks used to live. There is a warning about falling stones, but we still explored the ruins. CCTV is running for 24 hours a day as there are reportedly thieves in action.
The sun was going down so it was lovely to see that behind the ruins. It is a walk up and then back down the hill. As we drove back to town there is a sign board that says “Use Crawl Gear”.
Yesterday we had seen “Go Mall” which we think means slow down – not go mal which is used as slang in South Africa for go crazy.

Back at the lodge, we unpacked and took everything in to our room. I went up the hill above the lodge to watch the sun set and take some pics with the Newgrange Monument in the background.

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I met a Canadian man and we had a chat about the trip he had done through Africa, many years ago, using public transport and eventually joining with 11 alcoholic overlanders……

It was great to have a cup of tea and relax in our room. So far it is nice and quiet too.

Day – 143

L: We could not believe that it was after 8am when we woke up as the room was still so dark. It was really comfy and so quiet last night. We sure have caught up on our sleep lately.

We went off to breakfast. Seems the guy here, Thomas, is the chief cook and bottle washer as he does everything, even saw him collecting the used bedding for the wash.

Breakfast for 3 euros each is such good value – coffee or any kind of tea – herbal or English, that you can think of, with toast, croissants, Copenhagen buns, ham, cheese, cereal, yoghurt and stewed prunes.

We booked for another night and asked Thomas where we could do a load of laundry as we don’t have much of our little suitcase of clothes that is clean. He was so kind and directed us to the lodge’s washing machine at no charge. He told us that we could hang it in the boiler room, though it might smell of oil. We chose to hang it outside in the sunshine instead.

S: We went exploring the area again and couldn’t find Dunmoe Castle, but we stopped at a place called Dowth where there are a few tunnels leading to another underground burial site though they are all closed off with metal gates. It is similar to the one we went to yesterday except this one has not been restored like the others have. L: And you don’t go in and crawl under the 3 metres of sand over your head, just saying.

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We stopped off at the Conyngham Arms Hotel for lunch today. Steve had fish and chips and I had the most amazing lamb shank. I must say that most places we have stopped at, the food has been really great.

We then went to Bective Abbey, an old broken down abbey, and walked around a bit.

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The interesting thing was a diagram of all the renovations done over the years. Someone pointed out what looked like a fossil of a shell on the stone floor. There is also what looks like a carving of Saint Francis made out of stone.

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After that we went to Trim Castle. Lesley only wanted to walk through the park and the outside of the huge castle, but I went on the guided tour of the Keep which was the original accommodation section. L: I once saw that Whitehorn (our surname) means keeper of the castle. My name, Lesley, also has the same meaning in some name books.

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So here I am sitting on a bench in the Trim Castle grounds, amazed at the size of this structure built so long ago and still standing, having gone through centuries of heavy rain and blazing sun. It just makes me wonder why we hear of so many shopping malls or homes that fall down in a gust of wind. Maybe we overthink things these days……..just saying. S: The walls of this keep are three metres thick.

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Ancient graffiti

L: I was really happy that I had chosen to walk in the grounds of the castle and left Steve to do the inside tour when I heard the guide say that there were over 200 steps to negotiate. I am sure that he will enjoy it though and hopefully be allowed to take photos.

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800 years of wear

S: It was a really interesting tour and took over an hour.
The castle keep was built in 3 stages as each new ruler added to it. It formed a part of a gated city and there used to be a drawbridge to control the access too.

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From upstairs, the view of the town is amazing. It was a stunning day today so you could see for miles from the four storey high castle.

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Two wedding parties

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Trim castle gate

One of the things that was bizarre was that in this building, there are two toilets. One was on the north side on the third floor. It was just a chute that went outside. The other one was for the ruler and his family. It also consisted of a chute which ended up in another small tower. The ammonia from the waste was used to kill the bugs in the clothes and keep them clean. L: Sounds awful, I hope that the clothes were rinsed afterwards. That section of the castle fell down eventually…..

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Poop chute at bottom middle of picture, pardon the pun.

L: We had a lovely drive back home. Supper was use up the groceries that we have as we now have access to a kitchen. I made a pasta with sweet and sour sauce, peas and boiled eggs. It was actually not half bad. We chatted to a young couple, Nicole and Lucas from Munich who are on a road trip from their home through Europe across to the U.K. and into Ireland. They are not camping at all so staying in B and B’s or hotels. We swopped stories of our adventures.

We sat in the lounge area to catch up with the blog and our admin. Theresa from the lodge so kindly came and poured us each a glass of wine – that was cool.

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East, West … Home is best?

Day 139 –

S: Even though downstairs, everyone was getting ready for school and work, we slept on. We have noticed that with the homes here being wooden, when you are downstairs, you hear every thump upstairs. Strangely when you are upstairs, everything is really quiet. We are staying so close to a dairy farm, yet we can’t even hear the cows mooing. They only get milked at 9am, well behaved animals.

L: We got up and packed everything once the family had left for the day. Thank you, Shane and Veronique for the accommodation and breakfast ready for us. We had cereal, toast and coffee and then set off to……..nowhere. We had decided to drive along the west coast heading up northwards and to find somewhere to stay when we got “there”, wherever there would be.

I have answered the phone twice today to the shipping agent, yes, another one as we are exploring getting the car home again, in case. Covering all bases.

The drive was lovely, the roads are fair and traffic is mild. It seems to be the little spots where everyone retires as it is so quiet. We stopped at a place called Cloonisle just because it looked so cute, the little speed boats bobbing around with a stunning view and a little sign to warn you not to drive off the edge.

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One of the towns we passed through, Kilkieren, had the mayor, Marty Walsh of Boston, USA coming in to visit his folks in the area so there were USA flags with Irish flags and even the two flags made into one flag, strange and maybe a bit OTT (over the top).

We stopped for lunch here and went in to Tagh ………, Steve had a ham panini with a salad and I opted for the home-baked lasagne which came with chips and a salad. That was up there with the best, though I had to hand my chips over to Steve as it was so much food. Even with the drinks and a tip, it was only 25 euros. We won’t need much for supper.

We carried on along the west coast and if you see a map, it is along the coast and back in and then out with a whole load of little peninsulas and spits jutting out into the sea. The interesting thing is that the tide, high or low, is of such a huge difference as the water travels so far up the beach and then much further out again. This is totally different to what we see at home.

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We stopped later at another little seaside town, Roundstone, and drove down the slipway to the harbour, they are all so quaint. We found a camping place that had mobile homes (Plettenberg homes, we call them). They have apartments too, all on the sea-front, but the office was closed until 4.30pm and it was only 3pm now so we carried on.

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S: We chatted to an older couple with their caravan who travel from Manchester, U.K., across on the ferry for their annual holiday every year and have been doing this for over 20 years to stay for 3 weeks. We looked at them as if they were crazy and couldn’t understand why they thought we were mad…….

L: The cows are lying down, so get a move on, Steve – it is going to rain……
A lot more twists and turns and we went around in a circle looking for Whitethorn House, but seems the board is there, but the B and B has closed and ended up along a beaten track at another B and B which was full for the night though their rooms are 80 euros.
The owner directed us to his neighbours, Michael and Kathleen Conneely who own Faul’s House in the quaint little village of Clifden.

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We were lucky to find a room as they have a week long arts festival so the place is buzzing.
Kathleen showed us to a room for 70 euros, which is way more than we usually spend, but we knew that things were going to have premium prices here.
It was beautiful and huge with en-suite and a little lounge area, king size bed and all white linen.
The price includes breakfast.
They breed horses so all 6 rooms are named after their horses.

S: We went through the little gap left in the hedge and headed down to the sea shore. There is a cement jetty and we met two retired guys out on a fishing trip. They trawl for crayfish, shrimp and scampi (prawns). Back at the B and B, Lesley made us some tuna sandwiches with tomato and olives and there was a kettle in the room with ample coffee and tea.

L: I was keeping an eye on where the sun would set and when I looked out the window at about 6pm, it was raining and the sun was all covered by cloud. Our first rain in daylight hours in over 3 weeks!!! Well done, Ireland. The cows had known it was going to rain so they all lay down to keep their udders warm.

This is a converted old farmhouse and you could not even hear the rain on the roof tiles. I took my crocheting down to the sitting room and there was a roaring “peat” fire, which was so lovely. Here in Ireland, the locals dig up the turf and dry it out to use as fuel for their fires. It is often compressed into brickets, but this is in the natural state, it burns so well.

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With warm “tootsies”, I went back up to the room and discovered that the radiators in the room and bathroom were warm too so we were cosy and ready for bed.
Day 140 – Happy Birthday, Ryan. ;-))

L: I am clearly a snob at heart…….waking up in that kingsize bed, in all its white bedding is just like floating on a cloud. Thanks, Dear – that was, indeed, a treat.

S: Breakfast was only until 9.30 am so we showered and hurried to be there timeously. L: Luckily, there was a hairdryer too. (Hey Triona, thought it was only at your home 😉

I chose the salmon and scrabbled eggs and Les had bacon, eggs and sausage along with our toast, fruits, cereals, coffee and juice. What a spread. L: Yes, and delicious.

We set off again after paying Kathleen and thanking them. They close in a week’s time until March so we had been so lucky finding it.

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We were heading north again and the tyres splashed through the puddles on the narrow little roads. We stopped a few times at the various view-points and it is just lovely. There are quite a few hills on these little islands so the landscape is ever-changing. You can take a ferry to some of the islands off the mainland. Here and in Clifden everyone is friendly and cheerful and wave at us strangers, quite a difference from most of Dublin and surrounds.

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We went into the Connemara National Park, which has no entry fee and were first shown a video of the flora and fauna which although enlightening did not have very good photographs. We walked up the Bog Road – no not to the loo, I hear you all, but to see the old bog areas, but Steve thought we should turn back before the rain came again, which it did.

We had a snack for lunch in the park which was great value at only 13 euros for food and drinks and set off again.
We then stopped at Kylemore Abbey and the Victorian Walled gardens, but by now it was pouring so we thought it would not be as much fun as on a good day. Also, you can’t get good shots in the rain and risk ruining the camera. The entrance fee for the castle is 13 euros each, come on now, really. Ok, not for us, at least we could get a shot of the exterior and it is impressive.

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On past the Killary Fjord, the only fjord in Ireland and we stopped in Leenane, though not for a soak in a seaweed bath at only 25 euros per person!! A swim is for free in the sea, just saying.
Remember Beta Bay in Cape Town, that is a seaward soak in itself.

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We did go in to the Leenane Cultural Centre which has a sheep and wool museum. The shop was lovely with anything made of wool or relating to the wool industry. We had been in Ireland for three weeks and decided it was high time to get something for ourselves. We both wanted a T-shirt with something about Ireland on it. Yay.

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Further on in Westport, we found a Supervalu and got a few provisions, but not meat as we did not know what accommodation we would find. Heritage Day in South Africa tomorrow is Braai Day – think of us………
We had seen a take-away fish and chip shop and when they said that two portions of each was under 12 euros, we opted for that for our dinner.

S: It was a good amount of food and not bad at all, at last, we have had our fish and chips in Ireland. After sitting on the shore-side and feeding the scraps to the gulls, we pushed on to Castlebar. When we got there, Lesley was looking out for a place to stay and when she pointed out the direction I told her that that was the direction that we had come from. Big mistake as we drove on for ages, in the direction towards Dublin (east) and then further up north until we reached Swinford. It had been a tiring drive and we were happy to find and settle in to the Gateway Hotel.

L: It also costs 70 euros (with breakfast), but once again, we were pleasantly surprised. Spacious with all white bedding, two pillows each!!!! and a little lounge area, kettle with coffee and tea, en-suite etc. Oh, and a hairdryer, iron and ironing-board. Nice.

Now, we are watching the story of Marty Walsh on TV, which we mentioned yesterday.

Steve is back on the computer following up all the admin things we need while I blog.
We are in the main town, but it does not seem too noisy here so we should be able to sleep well.

Day 141 –

S: Aah, that was good – another comfortable bed and lovely bedding etc, what a pleasure. It was really quiet upstairs, but when we entered the breakfast room, the peace was shattered. There was a mom and dad with their little one that was just not happy and another couple with two kids who were so badly behaved. Dad left with both of them and we thought he was taking them to the room to give us all some time to enjoy our meal. He returned with both the 2 year old and 5 year old with dummies in their mouths, ok, that will work too – thanks.

L: Breakfast was great with various courses and too much food for either of us to finish. This has been a super hotel and great food. Oh, the hotels that we had to endure up Africa could really take a leaf (or a clover) out of their books, ha ha.

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Off we go again. Steve asked me to pick the direction for today so I looked at the map and suggested heading east to Ballymore. Once again, it was a super drive though today the roads were bumpy and badly repaired with extra tar just spread on top of the old road.
We arrived in Ballymore and could not miss the castle. It is huge – the top of the castle has crumbled and broken off, but the castle is still really impressive. It was locked up so we just walked all around the perimeter in the lovely grounds.

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Some of the homes on the way through the countryside are so beautiful and immaculately groomed with so many coloured blooms and shrubs and every so often you see that one, that let’s down the side. We are also amazed that there don’t seem to be street sweepers so the roads are a bit messy with litter strewn around, and cigarette stompies (butts) too, but that is mainly in Dublin and the suburbs. People in the villages seem to take more pride and we see some of the locals picking up the litter in and around the area.

Something we have noticed is that most people smoke in Ireland and of course enjoy the pubs. It is very social too.

S: We then carried on through the narrow winding lanes between green fields with sheep, with dye on their necks and those big, fluffy cows – must be to keep them warm.

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We stopped at about 2pm, after our ample breakfast this morning, at Aunty Bee ‘s in Boyle (that name is as bad as Bomet in Kenya). Steve had his trademark BLT sammie and coffee and I had the soup and sandwich combo, perfect.

It was a lovely day so we traveled on as we had a lot of daylight still. We looked out in a few of the villages for a place to stay and for a joke drove into the Farnham Golf Estate with the Radissen Blu Hotel on the greens. You know that when they offer a shuttle bus from the car park to the entrance, it can only be so pricey. We didn’t have the gumption to step over the threshold to ask what a night would cost, but, oh we would love to know……

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L: So here we go, into Cavan town and the hotel in the centre was Farnham Arms Hotel. I popped in and was shocked when the receptionist didn’t know where Cape Town was. Don’t they learn geography in Ireland?? Ok, no thanks, 89 euros for the night (including breakfast) is way too much for us.

We stopped on the edge of town at Bridge BnB, but they were full, but Steve booked us in to the next door place, Shamrock Accommodation. It costs 60 euros, but no breakfast.
We carried our overnight bags in and Steve went to park the car around the corner as they don’t have their own parking.

This is a lovely little place with a double bed plus single with a little kitchen nook with kettle and coffees and teas and an en suite bathroom.

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I made us a quick snack of leftover mealies, buttered chip rolls and coffee before going down for a drink in the bar below us. We have not had many drinks at all in Ireland as they are so pricey, but we decided to spoil ourselves.

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Heading west >>> ……..

Day 135 –

S: We had decided to go to Donabate as Lesley had so enjoyed meeting with the ladies last Thursday for a couple of hours doing their various crafts. I would visit the library for that time. We showered and had breakfast and walked to the station.

It seems Lusk and Rush are serviced by this one station so it is between the two villages. I bought one-way tickets at 2.15 euros each. Just after we walked onto the platform, there was an announcement that a train was coming through, so please stay back. Well, that was a shock – it was an express train which just flew through the station and gave Lesley such a fright!
L: I’ll say, gosh, is that even legal. I am really glad that I was not carrying a hot cup of the take-away coffee offered at a kiosk outside as I am sure that I would have dropped it with that whoosh going past.

After that we sat on the bench and waited, far away from the tracks. Once the train arrived, it took a whole 4 minutes for us to reach Donabate so that is an euro for each minute. Apparently the train fares are assessed by zones so on the edge it is costly, but evens out in places.

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S: We arrived in Donabate and literally bumped in to pastor Andy, coming round a corner. We had met him last week at Donabate’s Presbyterian church, but had not told him much about ourselves. Now we chatted and he mentioned that he had an uncle in Galway who let’s out his home to tourists so we took Andy’s e-mail address to get the details from him.
We enquired about Victoria, his wife, who is a week late with their first baby……

L: We popped in to the local wool shop to get some much needed wool, though it is really expensive here. The owner said that I should pop in when in the area again as she has some knitted woolen hats to add to my collection for the poor. Yes, Steve – it is starting again, even without a car, ha ha.

Elizabeth was already at the craft meeting so we caught up. She is so excited as they will be off in a week to visit their children and grandchildren in the States. I took her e-mail address in case we don’t get to see her again.

I was so excited when Enid, who I had met last week, came over and gave me a quilt that she had made to give to someone needy. Lovely.

Agnes and little Ivy were also there and we all had a good catch up. It was lovely to chat to all the ladies again and see what they are doing. Elizabeth is getting on so well with her crocheting.

We also saw Courtney who is from the States and living here and helping at the church for a year. We chatted and I gave her our blog as she said that she would like to hear about our trip.

We left and walked through town towards the station and passed the ice-cream shop. It was open this time so we went in and when we saw that they had fresh strawberry eaten mess we opted to share one as it was 3.80 euro, but yum, it was delicious and nearly enough for two of us.

Back on the station, we had quite a long wait for the train and when it came Steve asked why I was sitting for the 4 minute trip. I said at 2.15 euro, I wanted to get my money’s worth and at least sit in the comfy chairs.

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S: So we did the fairly long walk back again and although we had bought toiletries in Donabate we stocked up on a few provisions to take us to Saturday before we started the next leg of our journey. By now we had decided to rent a car for a week and travel to Galway and at least get to see a bit more of the country in case we decided to head for home.

Lesley made supper and later when Clem and Triona were home we caught up with them. They are having a few people to stay for the weekend, but are going to visit Triona’s folks so asked if we could please sort out a few things at the house, no problem.

We have really had a lovely time with them in Lusk in their comfortable home, shared with Alfred and Tippi……

Day 136 –

L: So today, I wanted to get the washing sorted while Steve organised a hire car and researched places to stay.

S: There were quite a few places on the AirBnB sites so we thought about which of those to take and eventually sent a request to an actual BnB that is now listed with AirBnB too.

We did not hear back from them in the evening so were uncertain of where to go, but now we had the hire car sorted.

I had a call from one of the recruiters, but she did not have anything to report yet.

We were all by ourselves this evening and watched a few movies and just relaxed, no long walks today.
Day 137 –

S: I had to catch the bus to the airport this morning to fetch the car. It was the closest depot to where we stayed. There is an app available for your phone where you can put in the bus stop number and get a real time estimation of when the bus is due at that stop. Each bus has a GPS installed and this is used in the calculation. All I can tell you is that it does not seem to work as my bus was ten minutes late and I checked the time fifteen minutes before it was due to arrive. That was not a problem, but paying for the trip was. You need exact change which I did not have. The bus driver was kind enough to make change of 2 five euro notes for my 10 euro note, but I ended up paying 5 euros for a 3 euro trip. I did get a refund voucher which I can claim in Dublin if I am ever there again.

I was dropped off near the airport and then I had a ten minute walk to the terminal buildings and a bit of a walk around when I got there to find the rental car place. Our rental was with Sixt. Their system is so slow it took about fifteen minutes to process each customer so I spent about an hour waiting before I got my chance. The rental price includes everything except excess in case of accident or theft. I opted to take the third party excess refund insurance option for 7 euros a day. Excess is 1400 euros. However as it is a third party insurance Sixt still reserves the excess on your credit card in case (1400 euros equates to R20 000. Ouch!!). It is for you to get the refund yourself from the third party insurance company if something happens. None of this is explained on the booking website where all the different car rental companies advertise. The good side is the daily rental is very reasonable and the kilometers are unlimited. With the insurance a week’s rental was 150 euros.

Once I had got through the paperwork, an hour later, I had to go downstairs and wait for the shuttle bus to take me to the car. Forty minutes later it still had not arrived so I got a lift with one of the other car rental companies. Nearly two hours later I eventually had our car and I was pleasantly surprised to see we had an upgrade, a Renault Clio, and not a Ford Ka or similar. It also has four doors and A/C.

I eventually got back to the flat about lunchtime and we packed the car and got going. L: Clem and Triona have a little blackboard in the kitchen so I left a thank you note and said “We arrived as strangers, but we are leaving as friends”.

S: Galway is only about two hours drive across the country on an excellent highway. We had to pass through two toll gates on the way paying a total of 4.80 euros. It felt strange to be driving a vehicle at such speed after doing over 16 000 kms in Africa averaging less than 50km/hour. Lesley kept telling me to slow down and I was not even doing 110km/h.
L: Funny, Steve, that was mostly because I couldn’t take photos through the windscreen at that speed.

By now we had heard back from the AirBnB that we had booked that the 30 euros on their website was not for the room, but per person. No, thanks. Oops, sorry is all they said so we got them to cancel the booking for the 2 nights as Triona informed us that that way we do not forfeit our booking fee.

Now, we were homeless in Galway when we arrived……. We decided to head to the middle of town, or at least that is where the GPS took us when we had no other address to put into it.

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Steve sent a message to another one and they were really happy to have us. We got the directions and went in to a little pub for a sandwich while we waited as they were only going to be home at 7pm. Steve had a sandwich, chips and a coke and I had soup and nachos and the bill was 30 euros including the tip. It is so expensive to eat out, but we did not want to buy too much as we weren’t sure about the new digs.

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We walked up the middle of town, Quay Street which has a market going every Saturday night, it was buzzing. The pubs and restaurants are all full and doing a roaring trade. There are a lot of people busking on the street and mimes etc. Great fun.

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Sand sculpture

Steve spoke to Veronique on the phone and got further directions though those didn’t help as we still got lost on the way there and eventually she and Shane came down to meet us. We followed them in and were so welcomed. They put the kettle on and we were soon settled with various drinks and snacks.

They later started a fire outside and we all had braaied marshmallows too. We met their two girls who are very friendly, Eimear (pronounced like Emma) and Alice. Veronique is French and Shane is Irish.

Shane made such a nice stir fry that I could not resist trying a little bowlful. Veronique laid on cake and choccie later too so we were thoroughly spoilt. Thank you.

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Day 138 –

L: We had breakfast with the family this morning after waking up quite late.

Shane took Steve and I down the road to see his Dad’s farm as the cows were getting milked. They are huge Friesland cows, so much bigger than at home. He told us that he had two sets of twin calves so we went to see the latest set, so cute, but mommy was not charmed.

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S: We set off to Moher Cliffs which is about 60 kms south of Galway. The road is really narrow and has a lot of twists and turns. The biggest joke is that the speed limit along these roads is 100 km/h. How anyone can safely travel at that speed is beyond my comprehension. At times you have to stop and pull over for a bus to get past.

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We stopped to take pics at Dunguaire Castle which is old and falling to bits. The castle is close to the ocean at high tide, but now the bay was shallow as the tide was out.

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L: We eventually stopped off at a Supervalu as we were not sure of shops further down. We thought that we would look for a nice fish and chip shop. The one in the town of Liscannor near the cliffs was closed so we went on and sat at the tables outside Vaughn’s. After both going in to the bathroom and back for some 10 minutes no-one had even looked at us.
I fetched some menus and we waited again.

S: We eventually decided that the 13.95 euros that they were asking was not going to sit well with us and by now the table next to us was moaning about the chips anyway.

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We left and drove up to the cliffs and made our own ham sandwiches and started the hike to the cliffs. It is 6 euros per person, but it is so spectacular and lovely to be able to walk for miles looking down on the Atlantic Ocean. The mist from this morning had cleared so all was good.

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There are so many people. We had to make our way home all too soon as there was still a long slow drive home. In hindsight, we should have found a place to stay this side and been there for a full day.

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S: We arrived back to a quiet home and started doing 4 days of blog, yes, we know…….
Lesley cooked chicken and mealies (corn on the cob) for our dinner. Feels like home.

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Let’s go walkabout …..

Day 132 –

L: One of those lazy days…..
Triona was already up and out by the time we got up so we did not see them last night or this morning. Triona left us porridge again so we enjoyed that with our coffee.

S: I spent the morning researching any and all jobs around Ireland or London.
I popped out to the shop to get some washing powder so that Lesley could do a load of washing and then tumble dry everything. It is always such a pleasure to have the laundry done as we struggled along the way to have this taken care of.

We later went for a long walk around the area, to the really old church set inside the cemetery which has graves and tombstones dating back to the early 1900’s. Yes, Alan – we are in a cemetery again! but this is the area’s history.

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Tower on the right is all that remains of the original monastery. Towers on the left are all that remains of the original church. The crypt in the foreground used to be inside the original church.

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L: By the way, it was really cool to see where Steve’s granny lived in Dublin, (52 Dufferin Avenue) – we were able to see the old brown-stone house that she lived in, all those years back – on the 3-D program on Google maps. We had walked and taken a bus trip so close to it.

Another thing about walking around these areas is that we have ourselves a little picnic each time as we pick blackberries from all the brambles along the sidewalks. I have a vague memory that we used to be able to do this in Sea Point in the old days, but there is nothing like that now so maybe I imagined it……..Tell me, all the old Sea Pointers???

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We walked quite a way around the village and the great thing is that you can see the tall church tower to direct you home again, something like using Table Mountain as a beacon at home.

Once again, I have cooked all our meals and it is so nice to be able to get good food at the local supermarket and cook for ourselves.

Day 133 –

S: That smell of apple and cinnamon oatmeal is so easy to get up to…….
Makes me remember church camp porridges, Jenny and Gordon.

I did all my admin work sitting in the lounge, still hoping for a good opportunity to come in from all the job sites and recruitment agencies.

L: Sitting high up on the second floor, overlooking the village of Lusk with the promise of rain. It is overcast again, now for 4 days, but still no smell of rain.

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Our bnb in Lusk

We eventually got around to putting on our takkies (trainers) and getting out for some fresh air, but not before catching a cat……
A cat shot out the door of the flat and straight outside to the lawn as someone had left the downstairs safety door open. Now this is where it gets strange – Steve is convinced that he picked up Alfred (who he sometimes calls Albert), but I saw the flash of ginger and white being the female tortoise-shell cat, Tippi……..

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Alfred and Tippi

Steve thinks that I am losing it, but I am sticking to my guns. Later, he realised that he had left his wallet in the flat and keeps misplacing the camera lens cover, hmmmmmmm who is the confused one, Dear.

We did a round circuit (the other way from yesterday), of the town. Now a strange thing is, along the busy road through to Rush and back to Donabate – the town council has plonked (and cemented) a whole row of big green and silver painted exercise machines!!! They look so out of place, not what we are used to where they are clumped together in a park or on the beachfronts of Cape Town. Makes you wonder if anyone comes along here to use them, ever?

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Fresh air gym

Back home for homemade Irish beef stew which was real good.

Clem said that Triona had called and that they thought that they would take us out to Skerries for dinner tonight, how nice!! Triona was only going to be home after 7pm though as she is on a course.

We spent the afternoon quietly watching TV and reading. I went for an afternoon nap so that I would not be looking for my bed at dinner.

S: Triona wanted to shower so it was nearly 8pm when we got on the road. Clem is needing practice as he has his driving test coming up so set off on the twisting, turny road to “nowhere” as they call it, between Lusk and the Rush turnoff on the old Dublin to Belfast road.

Man-o-War is a quaint old pub restaurant built in the 1 500’s. We tried a new beer that they thought was local, turns out Doom Bar ale is from London. It was pleasant. I had Cod and chips, what a lovely meal and Lesley really enjoyed her Thai Green Curry with halves (half rice, half chips). L: It was a lot of food. We were discussing how amazing the chips were especially when compared to those awful lumps of charcoaled potatoes that they kept insisting on serving us throughout Africa.

It is expensive for us to eat out, but we are trying not to convert and just enjoy it.

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Triona is so like Monica, my niece and when we showed her pictures of Monica, she was amazed at the likeness. She is the same age too.

We had a lot of laughs and a fun time getting to know each other.
Steve delighted in telling them how scared I was on our trip to Botswana when the elephant had me nearly wetting myself!!

We came back home for tea and this time it was the younger generation that faded first, ha ha, but they do work long hours with a good drive each way.

Day 134 –

L: Something’s leaking…….I couldn’t work out what the noise was at 4am – water was pouring from the gutter outside our room. At last – RAIN!!!! We have been here 16 days already so it is great to see the grass and the trees dripping wet.

By 8am the rain has gone, but everything looks fresh and clean as far as the eye can see – how grand.

S: It was cloudy and overcast for most of the day so we did not venture out. I spent a long time on the computer again today, but still no result.

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After Lesley made lunch, we were discussing what our next move should be as we don’t want to stagnate in the same place for too long. It is lovely here, but not much to do without a car. Just then, we got a message from Clem that someone was wanting to stay on Saturday night so we decide that we would stick to our original plan of staying for only a week and leave on Saturday morning.

We have looked into hiring a car for a few days and driving across west to Galway so that we can see a bit more of Ireland. We are researching places to stay and whether we will drive the 200kms in one day or stay over somewhere on the way.

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No, Lesley has not suddenly grown.

L: In the end, Steve needed to pop out for some bread and milk, but the supermarket is really close to home.

We just had toast and little baby apple tarts for supper as we had had a good lunch. These cats are so amused with my crocheting that they keep pouncing, claws and all, onto my wool which, most times is on my leg, ouch.

This week seems to have flown, can’t believe it is Wednesday night already.

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On to Lusk …….

Day 129 –

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Our loft room

L: Ow, the feet are aching………

This morning we decided to go for a walk along the cliffs on the seashore. We set out after breakfast and buying a few, not such healthy, snacks from the little supermarket across the road.

S: It was really misty so we, once again, took sun hats, sunglasses, jerseys, raincoats and an umbrella – to cover all the bases. I said to Lesley that we could catch the bus down to the seaside to save us the 2 km walk down the road, but that meant waiting 20 minutes for the bus so we decided to walk instead.

Once we got to Tower Bay beach, we turned right and walked along the road next to the beach. It was lovely and cool and so quiet though we did see a few residents. They and all the people walking along the cliffs were really friendly. The cliff path is high above the sea with a great view.

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Restored Martello Tower

L: One of the locals pointed out the island which was a volcano as you can see all the volcanic rock, all different colours, shapes and sizes on the beach. There are a few birds, mainly gulls, but no other animals to be seen. We have not even seen many dogs and a mere handful of cats in our time in Ireland. Of course, they do not have dogs as watch dogs either so they are the small fluffy types.

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It was a long walk, over 4 kms to the beach each way. We eventually came to the old hotel, The Waterside House Hotel and went inside for a lovely cappuccino. Remember, we have been searching for a good one throughout our trip ………this was up there with the best of them.
I chose Seafood Chowder (soup) with homemade brown bread for lunch and Steve had the Gourmet Roast Beef sandwich. We were not disappointed. We only spent 22 euros including the tip so that was fair for a hotel.

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S: There was a wedding being arranged for the afternoon (Friday). We read that there was a special offered throughout the year for 100 guests, with everything included even a night in the honeymoon suite for the bride and groom for 4 000 euro (R60 000), how does that compare to South Africa, guys?

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Another tower and hotel in the distance

We started the long, straight walk back, away from the beach past the golf courses towards Donabate village. Some of the homes are lovely, but some have not seen a lawn-mower (or a donkey) in forever!! One of the homes had a lawn for a roof!!! Try mowing that.

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Grass roof

L: By the time we reached the village, we needed a sit-down, so we found a little wall in the shade and watched all the locals coming home from school and work. We continued on through the village back home.

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Doormat reads: “OH NO! Not you again”

Exhausted – and we had, once again, carried all our jerseys and jackets for nothing. Ha ha. It reminds me of my Mom, she was always telling us to take a jacket, you never know. But, wow, we have had the most amazing spell of warm weather since we arrived.

S: Back to the computer, and still no luck with any of the jobs, maybe next week will be better.

L: The other couple has arrived, from Turkey, but we have not yet met them.

I made mince, potatoes and corn for dinner and we sat with Nick and Agnes. Seems the other couple have turned in already.

We packed a few of our things for our next move. The owner of the new place, Triona has offered to come through and fetch us from Donabate – how kind.
Day 130 – Have a really great Birthday, Jane :-))

L: It has been a long week in Donabate so we are ready for a change. The other couple were really noisy at all hours of the night and again this morning with the bathroom not being left in the best condition. Having 2 couples staying here at once was not ideal.

When we said goodbye and thank you, Agnes said that she wished all their clients could be like us………We think AirBnB is not for everyone. The hosts have to be very sociable and need the guests not to feel that they are intruding so it is really hard having a young child’s routine constantly disrupted with new people coming and going and staying in your home and sharing the kitchen with you.

S: At 11am promptly our new hosts, Triona and Clem arrived to fetch us in Donabate and drive us to their home in Lusk. They are so easy to chat to. Triona stopped off for bread and milk, not allowing us to buy anything.

Up the stairs to meet the crazy cats, Alfred and Tippi – what characters. Clem and Triona helped to carry our cases and settled us in our room with a whole basket of treats on our bed. We are in their “surf-themed” room which is light and airy with no ceiling to bump our heads on.

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Coffee was brewing and brunch was on the go by the time we got upstairs. These young people really know how to make you feel at home. We are invited to help ourselves to coffee and any kind of tea throughout the day. Breakfast is also included here each day for the full week.

L: We had vegetarian sausages, eggs and toast and it was all so tasty. We spent the afternoon getting to know each other and I later went for a nap too.

Clem and Triona went out later and we used the last of our groceries to make a tuna pasta. I had a good giggle later when I mentioned to Triona that Steve asked what we were going to have for supper, seems all men are the same ;-))

We had the use of the lounge with a big screen TV so we could catch up on the news and watch a few programmes. Steve was already lights out when they got home.
Day 131 – Happy Birthday, Rob and Joan. God bless you both…….

L: It was so hard to get out of bed this morning, we slept like logs. When we eventually did get upstairs, it was lovely to smell the creamy apple and cinnamon oatmeal porridge that Triona had set to cook overnight in the slow-cooker. That and tea was a great start to the day. We later saw our hosts briefly as we popped out to walk the short distance to the local Supervalu supermarket. It is even bigger than the one in Donabate and had everything we needed.

S: We are learning some shopping savvy here in Ireland. If you take products that have a sell-by date for the present day or a day or two later, it is so reasonable. There are also a lot of 3 for the price of 2 offers. We are managing to spend only 10 euros a day on food and yet Lesley is cooking up some delicious meals. L: When you remember eating them, Dear.

Back to the little townhouse for lunch, by ourselves, except for the cuddly cats. Steve is spoiling them rotten, but I make him keep them out of our bedroom for fear of losing my place in the bed.

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Family?

We have been in contact a lot with the girls and it is super to have all the news. I also heard from my brother, Peter, last night. With Facebook messenger it is so nice to feel connected to all our family and friends too.

S: While I napped, Lesley caught up with the blog postings and read and crocheted. We later had supper which was just tea and toast as we had had a good lunch.

We spent a quiet evening watching TV and had a lovely surprise when Elizabeth (and Mike) phoned from Donabate to see how we had settled in our new place. They are such lovely people.

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Would you get your hair cut here?

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Out and about in Donabate …….

Day 126 – All the ladies birthdays today – God bless you all. Wishing Penny, Pam R and Little Zoe. Love you lots. Xxxx

L: Another beautiful summer’s day in Ireland. Nearly 10 days here and still not one rainy day. Yay. We tiptoed down to breakfast as everyone was still asleep.

S: When I got back upstairs there was an e-mail from a recruiter. I called her and I am now short-listed for a contract job in Ireland.

We left to walk the short distance to visit Mike and Elizabeth who we had met on Sunday at church. We spent a wonderful morning chatting and getting to know each other. Elizabeth insisted that we fetch our washing to do there, so Mike took me by car and Lesley got the washing on and hung it up in their lovely sunny garden.

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L: When Elizabeth spoke about her knitting (craft) club, I mentioned that I miss my crocheting as all my stuff is in the car, in the container. So she went upstairs and came down with a hook and a whole lot of spare wool to get me started again. How lovely to keep my hands busy all afternoon. They had made us a lovely lunch of sandwiches, tea, yoghurt and a chocolate.

S: With a whole bag of clean and dry laundry, we walked back home. After a bit of admin and surfing the job sites, we ate an early supper of pork and leek sausages, Irish peas and spuds – do we look the part?????
L: Seems, I am able to eat chicken and pork here, no bad drugs in them……

We spent the rest of the evening, out of the way of the family, in our loft room. It does get a bit hot up here, especially with the sun setting and beaming in to the window. Agnes came upstairs for something and asked us if we had the radiator on!!
Every house here seems to have a radiator set behind the head-board of the bed for warmth. Water is piped through it and warmed when you switch it on. These are things that are so common here and South Africa with the winters getting so much colder, will have to start adopting.

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Day 127 – Happy Birthday, Tamsyn!! ;-))

S: We crept downstairs for breakfast, but this time Nick was up. We had a nice chat and he mentioned that the agency that he got a job through is looking to hire. He forwarded the details to me. Someone he knows is looking for a tenant for their flat too.
My sister, Debbie, called to say hi. Our signal was intermittent, but Lesley and I both got to talk to her and caught up on all the news. Thanks, Debs.

L: We left for a walk through Donabate village. We had driven through it on Saturday when we arrived. It is very quaint with a few little shops, a supermarket and about six hairdressers and barber shops. And although we looked at each one, for Steve to get a nice haircut, they range between 15 to 20 euros (up to R300) which is just insane. Where is Heather with the clippers……?

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We arrived at Newbridge Park and what a delight. It is huge with tall trees and grassy fields that stretch as far as the eye can see. There were a group of deer and a stag with enormous antlers.
We sat for a rest on a bench next to the old manor house and had a coldrink and chips. There are a lot of people walking dogs or pushing babies in prams, jogging or strolling. Once in a while, someone actually makes eye-contact and greets, but that does not seem to be the Irish way.

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We looked in at the tea-room, but decided to rather walk back to the village for Chinese at either of the restaurants that we passed. It was quite a walk through the park as we took the fork that winds past the farms. It is all through avenues of trees.

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We left the park, walked back up the hill and into the village. The Chinese restaurants were both closed as was the pasta shop so we settled on the coffee shop at the Supervalu supermarket. The cappuccinos and sandwiches we had were very good. We went in to get a couple more days provisions and were shocked when we realised that the shopping all cost less than the bill for our lunch.

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S: I carried most of the bags as Lesley had her backpack and the camera and it did make it a long walk home. We must have covered about 5 or 6 kms today, but it was lovely out in the sunshine.

We went in to drop the groceries in the kitchen and Agnes was trying to make space in the fridge and freezer as she had ordered her groceries today. We left our little bag of goodies with her to try and squeeze in.

L: Steve got back to the computer on all the job sites, while I read and did some crocheting. Steve had made enquiries into staying at a B and B for another week at the next village called Lusk, 7 kms away. We booked it from Saturday to Saturday again as we had done here.

S: An e-mail came in from one of the recruiters who had tried to call me. My Lyca mobile SIM card is not sending SMSes out and I don’t get the calls coming in……I called her back and she is putting me forward for a position so I hope that it will go well. It is also for a position in Ireland.

L: Early evening, we popped down to the kitchen for some tea, poor Agnes was still sorting the kitchen and making apple sauce. I cooked all our chicken so it wouldn’t take up space and we basically had that and a bit of veg for supper.

We got out of the way as Nick had popped home for a quick supper. Little Ivy has a cold so she is struggling a bit, poor thing.

S: I have managed to track the container and discovered that our car is sitting on the dockside at Salalah, Oman having been unloaded from the MSC Jenny and waiting for a week for the next ship to go further. We now have the ETA of 7th October for it to be in Hamburg.

It is easier to research in our bedroom so when we are at home, we try to stay out of the way.
We also got a few messages through to the girls. Night night……..

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Day 128 –

L: Those lazy days……I woke Steve for breakfast and we went down while the house was still closed up.

S: We got dressed and ready, it was cool and cloudy still and walked the short distance to the Community Centre. I went in to the library for the morning while Lesley joined Elizabeth and the other ladies. Once a week they get together and do crafts.

L: I did my crocheting and Elizabeth is learning to crochet now. She gave me some extra wool too. The other ladies were knitting and doing needle point. Agnes arrived later with little Ivy. I did not know that she goes sometimes too.

We had a lovely morning and it was super to meet so many people.

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Steve and I walked home and it was still overcast, but warm, no rain yet.
I made mince and noodles for lunch and we sat and chatted to Agnes. She told us that another couple is coming to stay in the other room for 10 days so it will be quite a house full.

S: I have been on the computer all afternoon following up leads, nothing concrete yet though. We both had a nap, we do so much walking here and spend time in the fresh air that we seem tired most of the time. I think it is stress too.

L: We decided to use what we had in our little plastic food store so I made tuna sandwiches and egg sandwiches for supper.

We need to organise a taxi to get us to Lusk on Saturday as there is quite a walk to Donabate station and again from Lusk station to the other B and B. It is only 7kms, but too far to carry all our bags.

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Into the green meadows …….

Day 123 –

BTW – we heard later that the German school children that were so badly behaved at Avalon House – put a hole through the wall in the one dorm, how, we don’t know?

L: We’re on our way to the beach and it’s raining! This is the first grey day in Dublin for us. We were up bright and early. We had breakfast and met Patty from Barcelona again. We crept around in the dark again and showered, got dressed, packed up and left the room before our room-mates stirred.

S: We walked the hundred meters to the bus stop, lugging all our bags. The bus dropped us off quite a way from the station but it was the closest we could get on a weekend so we had a tiring walk carting all the bags. It was a bit “higher grade” for me to figure out how to buy the train tickets from the machine and getting through the turnstiles, but once that was done, we went and sat on the benches. We had quite a wait as we were early and it was pretty cold though there are some strange young Irish girls that walk around in shorts and t-shirts.

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L: I went in search of a bathroom and was so shocked when the station-master said that there wasn’t one. What! in Dublin. He said that, luckily, the train we were taking had a bathroom. Just when I was thinking that Ireland was so jacked up.

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“Mind the gap” is repeated every 5 minutes and it is quite scary crossing from the platform to the train with a lot of bags. Once inside, it is pretty plush so we enjoyed the half hour ride to Donabate. Nick, our host came to collect us at the station which was a great help. We met little Ivy (2 years old) in the car and then Nick’s wife, Agnes, back at the house.

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Donabate main road

We were shown around, after politely being asked to leave our shoes at the door and taken to our little loft room. S: It is quite small with a slanted ceiling which I have to remind myself about so as not to “bonk the conk”. Down the passage, is the shower and toilet and wash basin for us to use. We were shown the living room and kitchen too which is downstairs.

L: I feel a bit strange in someone else’s kitchen, but Agnes showed me how she likes to do things. The fridge is really full so there is no separate shelf for our things which makes it a bit of a juggle for space. We have a large plastic container allocated for our non-perishable items which are not stored in the fridge.

The good thing is that there is a little supermarket and a butchery directly across from the house so we popped over for some provisions. You can have meals with the family, but at 7 euros per person per meal (plus 3 euros for a drink), which is way over our budget.

S: The meat we bought for under 12 euros will last the 2 of us for 3 meals. We managed to get most of what we needed at the little stores. We made egg sandwiches for our lunch and then spent most of the afternoon relaxing. Lesley even watched a movie on a TV with little Ivy asleep on the couch next to her. She speaks German taught by Mom and understands most English as that is Nick’s mother-tongue.

L: We share the dining room table in the kitchen with the family for meals. I made supper earlier than them so Steve and I ate alone tonight. We excused ourselves after tidying up to go to our upstairs room to read and catch up on the blog etc.

It is really quiet here, even Ivy seems to whisper so we should get some beauty sleep tonight.
Day 124 – Happy Birthday, Emma xxxx And little Cloe too :-))

S: It was lovely to be able to lie in a bit and so nice to have had an unbroken sleep.
We had our own breakfast of cereal and toast and then showered and got ready to walk to church.

It is about a kilometer up the road to the Presbyterian Church which has its services in the Community Hall. There was a lot of noise, but we both immediately felt at home and everyone was so friendly. The church became a full church on Tuesday and we met Andy who hopes to be called as the permanent minister. He and his wife, Victoria, are expecting their first baby to arrive in a matter of days, so a lot of new beginnings for them.

L: The service was lovely and they were being taught some new songs which are well known favourites for us and even one song with a verse in Swahili (an African language).

After the service we were invited for tea, coffee and cake and a really friendly lady, Elizabeth came to chat and asked if we were English. She soon realised why we sounded so familiar as she and Mike, her hubby, had lived in S.A. for 27 years. What a lovely couple. They asked us to come and visit them in their home, just down the street, on Tuesday for tea. Elizabeth said that we are welcome to use their computer, scanner and printer, if we need. And also to let them know if we need to get anywhere by car. What a generous offer.

We were then introduced to John and Natalie, ex South Africans, though we found out that John hails from the U.K.and Natalie, – Zimbabwe originally.

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Church started at 10.30 am and it was after 1pm by the time we got back “home”. We had stopped for a couple more things so that we could make spaghetti bolognese for lunch. Nick was busy cooking their breakfast still, we call that brunch so we sat at the kitchen table with our coffee and waited until they were finished with the cooker. We enjoyed our meal and sat and chatted to Nick about jobs and got some pointers.

S: Later, we excused ourselves and went to the loft to do research and relax. The weather is still lovely, though today has been cooler. They call this an Indian summer, but there is no rain.

We both dozed a bit in the afternoon.

L: Later I squeezed in to warm up our leftovers of steak and veg on the stove top while Nick and Agnes were baking pies from the fruit in their garden.

While I was in the bathroom upstairs I saw that the light was so orange and went to look out of our teeny little loft window. The most amazing sunset greeted me. Wow, what a pleasure to see.

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Day 125 – Happy Birthday, Marcelle xxxx

L: Not a mouse was stirring. I went down to get breakfast ready for Steve and I at about 8am and the house was still so quiet. We sat and chatted at the kitchen table with our toast and cereal and then went back upstairs to shower.

S: I sent the visa agency a message saying that we have decided to hold off on applying for Lesley’s permit as it feels like putting the cart before the horse. It is such a lot of money so I am going to go flat out to look for a job and we can take up perusing the permit when I know that I have a job in the U.K. to go to. Please keep us in your prayers as we are having to make a lot of decisions at the moment so very much out of the comfort zone.

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St Catherine’s church ruins

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Portrane Castle ruins

L: We had decided to walk the mile (as Nick says it is) to the beach at Portrane. It is still such lovely weather here and so it was really nice to see the countryside and have a nice walk. You feel like you should be whispering as the only noise that we have heard today is that from the little school next door to the house, though they only seem to start at 9am.

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The tide was in so we could see the sea from the roadside and a few birds, but very few people. We did a walk along the beach and back through the little lanes and went past a holiday trailer park which has been there for over 50 years.

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When we got to the little restaurant, Pipers, on the beach front, we discovered that it only opens in the late afternoon so we were not able to have lunch. We stopped off at a cafe for a cool drink and a packet of chips and walked the mile back “home”. We think it was about 6 kms all told for our little tramp around the area.

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We bought some more provisions from the butchery and supermarket and came home to make mince meat subs for our lunch.

S: We spent the afternoon on the computer making my CV look its best and sending it out in all directions. Thanks so much to those of you who have been encouraging us and praying for us, it is lovely to feel your care. We are also needing to decide where to stay for the next while as cost-effectively as possible. We have been buying our own groceries and Lesley has been cooking every meal so that has saved us a lot.

We were thinking of going to Galway by train, but it is 200kms so the train is fairly expensive there and back and we would need accommodation there too. It would be lovely to see that part of Ireland though.

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Make a new plan, Sam …..

Day 120 – Seriously 120……

L: I passed out so early last night so now I am wide awake at 5am, and hungry!! Nothing to snack on up here though.

A young guy joined us last night. Johannes from Germany. He is driving to the West coast of Ireland and climbing mountains, by himself, crazy! A nice chap, what we saw of him, as he went out until late last night.

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Staircase to the other beds

Oh, by the way, I mentioned the duvet-inners to reception last night and they were replaced with brand new ones and we were given towels as well. The manageress had been to inspect. How nice.

S: Breakfast was the same again – with cereals, breads, coffee or tea. We are thinking of doing the Hop On, Hop Off bus around Dublin today so we are pouring over the map at breakfast.

L: Back in the room, we have let Johannes use the bathroom first as he said that he had to be off early in the morning. Gosh, what is he doing in there…….? It is getting so late and we both want to shower still. The bus is €18 each for the day so it would be nice to make a day of it though the second day is free too.

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Avalon House

We are both feeling a bit dazed today and are facing a lot of decisions and changes and just don’t seem to be able to get moving. Now Nicky just called and after saying hi and how are you, I handed the phone to Steve.
While he was on the phone, an e-mail came in from the visa agency. Now we really have had the wind taken out of our sails……..They want £650 and another £100 courier fee plus expenses for disbursements to help and advise us to apply for the permit yet that doesn’t guarantee success. This is just so hard.

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Bikes to rent. Pick up and drop off. Short term or long term.

S: By now it was so late that we decided to can the bus trip and went down to the kitchen to make ourselves some coffee and regroup. We met Tracey, an Irish lass who told us about a hostel, run by a South African man, on Blessington Street which is cheaper and can do long term rentals, but she doesn’t remember the name of the place.
We both thought that a walk to St Stephens Green (a park) would be a better idea for us. We set off with sunglasses, umbrella, rain jackets and sun hats to cover every eventuality as the Irish say. No, no rain yet, Pete, though the hanging sign in the reception at Avalon House reads “Is it raining yet?” and on the other side “It’s raining again”.

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L: I felt so happy, I almost skipped to be in the green gardens, away from the hemmed-in brown buildings. We saw trams, busses, taxis and cars. There is not a shortage of public transport here at all.

The lawns are lovely with enormous trees and lots of flowers and birds, swans and ducks. I was in my element behind the camera. Later we went back out of the park for a bite to eat at Starbucks. When we noticed that you get charged more to sit and eat the food than to take it away, we took our food and went to find a bench in the park.

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S: After the lovely sandwiches we walked to the Archaeology Museum. Wow, the park and the museum both don’t charge an entrance fee. The displays were incredible covering a range of different periods and areas throughout Ireland’s history. There are mummified bodies recovered from swamps (bogs) to earrings to jugs all from the old times. Such a contrast from the museums we visited in Africa – these are so well labelled and documented.

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L: Even Steve couldn’t get through it all so we left after spending hours there. We walked back through the gardens and on to the supermarket to buy some ingredients to make sandwiches for the proposed bus trip for tomorrow. Steve just loves playing with those self-service checkout machines.

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Back at our room, Steve had an afternoon nap for a couple of hours while I read and blogged.
We heard back from the visa agency saying that they can reduce their fee for us to £500 – how wonderful.

We went down to the kitchen and made a stir fry dish with mushrooms, red peppers, noodles, croutons and bacon. It was good.

We spent the evening reading, writing e-mails etc and then tried to get some sleep. We have a large group of German school children on our floor who just weren’t going to let that happen. They were so loud and totally disrespectful when we asked them to be quiet, grrrrrr.

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Day 121 –

L: 4am there was more noise, so by the time I got up, I did not feel very rested. We went to breakfast early and told the receptionist about the noise. She said that she would speak to their supervisors, they had those ??

We got ready and made ourselves “padkos” for today as we were doing the bus trip. Such a stunning day on the top deck of the bus. The pre-recorded narrative plays while we drive all around Dublin and it was very informative. We did the full trip passing the museums, the gaol (jail), crossing the Liffey river and seeing all the lovely parks.

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Going Wilde with Oscar

L: We eventually got off in a park and sat on a bench to have our sandwiches and jam donuts, it was so tranquil. Steve is a bit stressed as we have heard that the permit application can take up to 2 months. We are considering all the options and Steve is applying for jobs through the various agencies. Of course if he goes for an interview in the U.K., I will not be allowed to go with him, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it……..

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We stopped off at Dunnes for some more supplies and then went in to one of the rental agencies to enquire as to the availability of really short term rentals – no go.

S: What a lovely sight welcomed us at Avalon, the back of the noisy revelers – leaving.

We put our goodies in the kitchen, made coffee to have with our donuts and then had a lovely nap – with the passages, peaceful and quiet again.

L: Steve was busy with his e-mails and research so I carried on dozing until it was time to get some supper going. I made pork chops with rice and veg, it was great. Not sure if you get this rice that you boil for 16 minutes in its plastic bag back home, but it is so easy and reasonably priced. I am trying bacon and pork here and hope that it does not have Oxytetracycline in it, so far so good.

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We met Anna from Germany and Fiona from the U.K. while we were having supper. The girls invited us to go pub-crawling with them, ha ha.

I caught up with the notes on the blog while Steve researched cheaper accommodation options as we think we might be stuck in Dublin for a while still………

While I was in the basement doing the laundry, I met Tammy from the States who has just returned from South Africa and is off to live in Hamburg as she fell in love with the place. We had a good chat as we have both been traveling for so long.

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Day 122 –

L: Oh my word, not again – seems 4am is my bad hour. I heard the door bang and realised that someone was coming to sleep in one of the upstairs beds in our dorm. What was strange was that he didn’t have a bag or anything with him. I found that I could not relax so I was wide awake when he got up 2 hours later and left the room. I presumed that he was gone and I was just dozing when he came back to sleep again, I can’t get used to the “dorm” life.

S: We got up and went for breakfast and our room mate was still sleeping when we got back so it meant that we had to creep around in the dark to get showered and dressed.

I made sandwiches again for the bus trip and we set off. We started at St Patrick’s Chapel. The church charges 5,50 euro to tour and we noticed that they have a souvenir shop in the church. There are loads of people visiting so it looks like quite a thriving business.

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S: I suggested to Lesley that we stop at Phoenix Park where the Dublin Zoo is. There is a huge war memorial there too. It is so tall that Lesley could not get it into one frame for a photo.

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L: At this time we heard back from Nick and Agnes about the accommodation they rent out in their home in Donabate, near the seaside. Steve had found this on a site called Airbnb which advertises places in other peoples homes or on their properties for rent. Steve had seen it advertised for 30 euro per night, but it seemed to have gone up to 35 euro. Turns out they have two rooms they rent out. Anyway, when we said we were looking for something a little cheaper and we were booking for a week, Nick sent a message that they would have us for a week at 180 euro (plus service fee of 28 euro), excluding breakfast so that is fantastic and only 25 euro per day compared to the 40 euro per day at Avalon which then charges 2 euro per person extra for Fridays and Saturdays.

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S: Now we just have to figure out the busses and train as the bus that goes directly to Donabate only runs on weekdays. So it looks like we have to take the train.

We were going to Blessington Road to look at the hostels there, but decided to leave it now as we had committed to this one.

After having a snack, we hopped back on the bus and drove all the way back to St Patrick’s Chapel where we went in to the lovely grounds and bought a yummy ice-cream with a flake. 2.50 euro each, well spent. Ouch.

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S: Oh no, now the visa agency says that Lesley will have to go home to apply for the U.K. Permit as they won’t issue it here as she is only allowed in Ireland for 6 months. L: This is getting so hard, I feel so unwanted……:-(
We went back to the hostel so that we could research some more.

I wanted to curl into a little ball and bawl.

Now 2pm and a young coupe have moved in to the upstairs beds. They are from Paris, France.
Their accent is really hard to understand, but they are very friendly.

S: Now a message has just come in that the visa agency made a mistake and all should be alright applying from Ireland. Phew again and this is why they earn the big bucks………
L: I hate this visa word already. I will be so happy for us to have a little place, quietly on our own in the countryside. It promises to be lovely.

Coffee time, please!! So off we go, down to the busy kitchen.

We will finish most of what we have bought at the shops tonight so that we don’t have too much to lug with us as there is a bit of walking between bus and train. Our host has offered to fetch us when we arrive at the train station so that is a relief for us.

Time to make supper and post the blog and we will spend the last night here, or for a while anyway. I am really loving Dublin’s greenery and we have had 5 days of stunning weather. “No rain yet!” Ha ha. Off to the beach tomorrow……….

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