Thursday, 29 August 2013

What's the craic in Ireland ?

"What's the craic?" I overheard one woman ask another.  Craic is a term for news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation.

So here's my news on was different to what I had expected...

On Tuesday, 13th August we caught a ferry from Troon in Scotland to Larne in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland and Ireland are two separate countries.  Northern Ireland uses miles and pounds sterling, whilst Ireland uses kilometres and euros. Larne is in the north east of NI and we drove along the coast to Giant's Causeway - I had no idea what to expect and was very surprised to find hundreds of people of there, a huge tourist centre and some great natural, geological wonders in the form of hexagonal colums!  It is called Giant's Causeway due to the legend of Irish giant Finn McCool creating these structures by walking over the ground.

On Wednesday, 14th August we continued driving anti-clockwise and just over the border into Ireland we came to a stone walled fort called Grianan Ailligh.

It was a dull rainy day, so not great for photos but the scenery was still great, esp in Glenveagh National Park.

We stopped for the night in Donegal not far from the castle which is basically in the middle of town.

The next day, Thursday, 15th August we continued south to Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery - this prehistoric sites contains large tombs - passage tombs and portal tombs/dolmens, burial cairns and stone circles.

That night we stopped in Castlebar and went to the local theatre and saw an amazing musical - The Emigrant's Farewell, set in April 1912 before the Titanic left Southhampton - with Irish music, singing, dancing and acting. It was a real treat and highlight of our trip - I loved it.

Friday, 16th August we headed to Galway through some beautiful roads, lakes and falls.

Saturday, 17th August we took a trip to the Cliffs of Moher via the Burren which is a very rocky area.

On Sunday, 18th August we headed south to Killarney, stopping at Dingle for lunch. On Monday, 19th of August we did a scenic drive called the ring of Kerry and the Skellig Ring.

On Tuesday, 20th August we headed east to Cork and Blarney Castle where I kissed the blarney stone. Or did I???  Maybe that's a bunch of blarney or baloney or something....

On Wednesday, 21st August we went to Jameson's Distillery in Midleton for a tour and a whiskey tasting - you must book ahead for tours as they are usually limited in numbers and busy.

On Thursday, 22nd August we headed north to Kilkenny, stopping at the Rock of Cashel to have a look at these old religious building from 1100 - 1500, it was previously a royal site with a castle on but those building were made out of wood and haven't survived.

It was a beautiful warm and sunny day so we stopped on the castle lawn/public gardens to lay down and take a nap!

Friday, 23rd of August we went on the St Francis Abbey Brewery Tour of Smithwicks Brewery.  On this site in the 14th century the monks used to brew beer and 300 years ago the Smithwick family took over and against all odds - religious and society - they have built a successful brewery.

I don't like beer or whiskey, more of a cider girl, but I really enjoyed the tours we did, seeing where they are made and hearing the history of their production.

Saturday, 24th August we headed to Wexford as on Sunday, 25th August we caught the ferry from Rosslare to Fishguard in Wales.

Ireland is a beautiful country and the north west area is more rocky whilst the south east areas are more the lush, green rolling hills that I expected.

Today, Thursday, 29th August we are back in London sorting out our motorbike and getting it ready to be shipped home, tomorrow we take it to Felixstowe where it is put in a sea container and shipped to Melbourne which will take about 6-8 weeks. It will probably be repaired/fixed in Melbourne then hubby will go pick it up and ride it back to Perth.

Thanks for reading, next blog on Wales will be much shorter as we were only there a couple of days.  Take care and no, I didn't kiss the Blarney Stone!!!  hehehehe....

Monday, 19 August 2013

Stunning Scotland

On Tuesday, 6th August we crossed the border into Scotland and headed for Perth. A few miles before we got there we had bike trouble, our bike had not been fixed in Leeds, so we decided to hire a van and put the bike in there and continue on our trip.  It's not as much fun in the van but it is drier and warmer and you can listen to the radio.

Along the way hubby had collected stickers from all the countries we had been to. The top box contains my 'suitcase' - backpack, shoes. The left panier has hubby's backpack in it and the right has out laptop, box of electrical cords, my art book/supplies.

On Wednesday, 7th August, after getting the bike into the van headed north to Inverness via Loch Ness - we didn't see Nessie though. :(

 On Thursday, 8th August we headed north-west towards Dornie, we stopped to take in the scenery of the beautiful Loch Maree. Dornie is home to Scotlands most photographed castle sitting on an isle at the junction of three lochs, Eilean Donan - great history of being built in the 13th Century and ruined in 1719 and the rebuilt between 1919 and 1932. It also starred in the Braveheart movie!

We stayed in Inverate at a B and B on a hill with the best view of the mountains and loch.

The next day we popped over to the Isle of Skye....

On Saturday, 10th August we headed south to Oban and stopped at Dunstaffnage Castle along the way where I bought this book on Scotland's castle with all the pictures in colourful watercolours - so inspiring as I was wondering how am I go to paint 'colourless' castles.....

On Sunday, 11th August we travelled south towards Ayr and stopped at Kilmartin, this are is one of the most concentrated areas of prehistoric monuments and historical sites. There are interesting gravestones, burial cairns and standing stones. If you ever go to Scotland the west coast esp Kilmartin is one of the best places to go.

On Monday, 12th August we had a day off and I went to the laundromat and hubby did some work on the bike.  The following day we caught the ferry to Larne in Ireland and started our anti-clockwise journey around the Emerald isle. Right now we are in Milltown, near Killarney and tomorrow we will do the Ring of Kerry driving tour...

Hope your weekend went well, I hope to blog a little about Ireland in the next few days...we're heading to Cork to kiss the Blarney Stone on Tuesday and after that we haven't planned anything....


Sunday, 18 August 2013

York and Hadrian's Wall in England

On Saturday, 3rd August, we spent the day walking through the city of York which was founded in 71AD by the Romans but was then invaded by the Vikings in 866AD.  The York Minster is a huge cathedral which was mainly built between 1100 and 1500 and is full of history.

York is a walled city and here is one of the gates, some old buildings and bridges and the newer Millenium Bridge.

I'm not a landscape or architect painter/artist so I concentrated on patterns...

and found the colours interesting in these Roman paintings that archaeologist found under the York Minster.

The view from the tower.

We also visited the Jorvik Viking Centre which was built over the actual area where the viking village was discovered.

On Sunday, 4th August we headed further north and stopped for lunch at Raby Castle in Darlington.

We stayed near Hexam to see Hadrian's Wall which was built by Roman Emperor Hadrian in 122AD to stop the Romans from going any further north and to keep the Scots out. On Monday, 5th August we went to a Roman fort at Housesteads, the weather was not kind to us and it rained and rained and everyone visiting there that day got soaked.

On Tuesday, 5th August we headed to Perth in Scotland and this is when the bike started running rough so we made the decision to hire a van and put the bike in the back...more on that in the next blog on Scotland.

Right now we are in Galway, Ireland, so it's time to say 'slan' - goodbye!

Saturday, 10 August 2013

The Dales and the Lake District

On Tuesday morning, 30th July, we arrived in Hull on the ferry and rode north-west to Leeds to the Ducati dealer to put our bike in for repairs and service.  The bike had been riding rough since leaving my aunt's house in Germany - losing power and then surging when the throttle was applied so we were worried about getting to Leeds. We picked up a hire car and headed to the Yorkshire Dales.

The following day, Wednesday, 31st July, we drove west to the Lakes District. Beautiful countryside with high hills and gorgeous lakes and quaint villages. Just loved it there.

We stayed in Keswick and the following day it was overcast and raining a little so we took a ferry ride on Derwentwater, hopped off and went for a walk and hopped back on again. In the afternoon we went for a drive around the countryside.

On Friday, 2nd August, we went to the Cumberland Pencil Museum in Keswick where they make Derwent Pencils - you know? those yummy ones that are watercolours, graphitints, pastel and artist as well as inktense ones which my hubby bought me.  :D

After we visited the museum we headed back to Leeds to pick up our motorbike, which they had serviced but not fixed any of our problems and headed up to York.

Thanks for reading, hope all is well with you, next time I'll write about York and Hadrian's Wall both very interesting historical places.

Take care.