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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