Adrigole, Beara Penninsula, Ireland
August 2007

 

 

Saturday

Woke up after a long sleep.  Today is our first full day at Carney Cottage in Adrigole.  Lay in bed thinking about how long it had taken us to get here.

We left home at 6pm on Thursday night, arriving in South Wales around 10.30 pm. We had decided to spend some time with Simon's Dad in South Wales before the holiday and catch the Pembroke/Rosslaire ferry over to Irleand. Caught up on news with Jack for about an hour or so before retiring.

Friday morning just chilled out.  Went down to Saundersfoot in the afternoon to get some new pj’s for Jenny as the new pair she had bought were ‘too short and uncomfortable’.  After unsuccessfully trying to find some Cwm Deri Wild Bramble Licquor (a favourite of mine) in Saundersfoot, we drove the half hour to the vineyard and picked up a couple of bottles for ourselves and one as a present for Jack for putting us up.

Had a fish and chip supper.  Watched Kara Louise and Tracy get evicted from the Big Brother House before getting changed and ready to make our way to Pembroke Dock for the ferry to Ireland.

I thought that leaving Saundersfoot at midnight was a little early for the 2.45 am ferry, it being only a half an hour drive, but we didn’t want to keep Jack up too late.

As we arrived the ferry was docking and we were told that due to heavy traffic for that sailing, they would start embarkating at 12.30.  It still took another hour and half before we actually got on the ferry but we just found some comfy seats where we could get a couple of hours sleep.

As the ferry arrived in Ireland it was extremely foggy but this had lifted by the time we disembarked. Getting off the ferry we made our way down to Waterford, it was good to pass by places like New Ross and see Wexford in the distance – places I have either read about or been told about by friends who have lived and worked there.  The terrain reminded me a lot of Wales, quite flat and very green and a lot of the houses are very similiar.

Simon had decided we would stop in Waterford for some breakfast and I had previously enquired of some friends where might be open for breakfast at 8.00 am.  We’ve been advised that there were a couple of places in George’s Court just off the Quayside so we made our way there.

We couldn’t find the Pantry Café so ate breakfast at BB’s – a bit of a home from home as we had a similar snack at one of their Sheffield branches just a few weeks before.

We left Waterford and headed off on the Cork Road passing the Ballybeg Estate where Hazel lives whilst not at college in Dublin, and the Waterford Crystal factory that we last visited 22 years ago on our honeymoon.  I seem to remember there was very little standing around it at the time but there are now a lot more buildings and units.  We also passed the Ramada Hotel where we stayed on our last visit over 2 years ago.

It felt really strange not to be meeting up with any of the many folks I know in the city, but we felt it was too early to expect anyone to turn out and we had a long journey ahead of us so didn’t want to tarry there too long.

By now the sun was shining, quite a rarity this summer.  I had hoped against hope that we would get a good week of weather and so far so good.

When we got to Dungarven Simon decided he needed some sleep.  We found a road that ran down the side of the Dungaren Harbour called Helvic Head where we could park and which had great views across the bay.  We all dropped off for about an hour, waking a bit more refreshed and ready to carry on our way.

It was only 11.30 am when we left but felt like 4.30 pm.

We set off again picking up a few provisions at a Spar.  The rest of the journey was fairly uneventful, but it felt good to be back in Ireland again.  We took a wrong turn off the road and ended up coming down through the Pass of Keimaneigh, a detour which was to our advantage as the views and scenery are stunning.

We arrived at Glengariff around 2 pm, the sun was still blazing down and we all agreed that we would be making a visit to the town very early in the holiday. 

Adrigole is just a few miles away.  The owner of the house we are staying in, despite being English is obviously of the Ashure persuasion ("Ashure, you'll find your way easy enough").  The instructions to get to the house read as follows:

“You will probably find there are some road works just before you get to Adrigole.  Take the first unmarked road just after the road works, it’s lined by trees and there is a yellow house with a flat roof just by the side of the road.’

As it turned out, the yellow house was more off white or dirty cream, and the unmarked road was in the middle of the road works. There were trees everywhere. Consequently we took a few detours before finding the right turn off, but in doing so we discovered a few little bays that we will endeavour to visit later on.  The downside was that the tracks were so narrow they dislodged something under the car, which was to rattle and drag for the next few days.

We eventually got to the cottage.  As with our Spanish holiday earlier in the year, the cottage is in the garden of the owner’s property and next door to their house.  We were greeted by Dan and his dog George, who was to be a comical companion on our later walks up and down the lane to check out the immediate area.  Dan warned us not to encourage George by throwing stones for him or we would never be rid of him.  Every morning throughout the holiday when I opened the front door, George was dozing on the doorstep, waiting to say good morning.

The cottage is beautiful, very light and airy.  It’s one storey high with a high ceiling living room.  The floor is laid with slate tiles which makes it very echoey throughout and the walls are painted white giving it a spacious airy feel.  With the sunshine streaming through the many windows, its fresh and lovely

We unpacked then chilled out with the complimentary bottle of Chenin Blanc left by the owners and a meal of pasta.

From the ferry leaving Pembroke Dock to arriving, it has taken us twelve hours.  That doesn’t include the drive down to Wales from Sheffield to spend time with Simon’s Dad.  We must be mad.  Geographically there has to be quicker ways of coming such a relatively short distance, we’ve flown to Tenerife in 6 hours door to door before now, but despite the length of time taken to get here – it is definitely worth it.

As I sit typing this, I am looking out of the cottage window over Bantry Bay, the sun sprinkling sparkles on the water and the Caha Mountains behind.  It doesn’t get any better than this.

We had a game of scrabble in the garden and checked out a few of the brochures for possibilities during the coming week.  Was interested to see that Wexford born writer Billy Roche was speaking at the local library, unfortunately on further investigation the brochure was out of date and Billy had been to visit in May.   I was introduced to Billy’s work two years ago by a friend who was born and raised in Wexford, some of his stories I love but some I find difficult due the harshness despite them being true accounts of life in the area.

Having only had 3 hours sleep in the past 24, I was the first to admit defeat and retired to my bed around 9 pm.

Sunday

Got up around 10.00 am to glorious sunshine again.  I don’t know why it is so important to me that we have some sun this holiday, just anything to make me feel better and less stressed than I have been over recent months I guess.  The odds are certainly stacked against us given the amount of rainfall we have had so far.  Sheffield in particular having been flooded, causing people a great deal of distress with loss of home and in a couple of instances, loss of life too.

Given also that we have chosen to come to Ireland, where the weather is predominantly rain (if I believe my Irish friends!), the likelihood of some sunshine was very thin. 

So in my mind, good weather and holidays have to go hand in hand if Im going to come back at all refreshed and rejunvenated.  My current mental state demands that good weather is essential for a successful holiday.

So Sunday.  Had a slow start getting up and ready.  We needed some food supplies, having brought very little with us, most of which was pasta, cakes or crisps, you know, the healthy options! So I did a shopping list for the next few days and we headed off to Castletownbere – about 16 km south of the cottage.

Approaching the town reminds me of the road going into Tenby from Saundersfoot, although that is where the similarity ends.  We parked in the village square and right away I spotted a familiar sight.

Over the way was McCarthy’s bar.  A place which features in and indeed on the cover of Peter McCarthy’s book of the same name.  I remember reading this about 3 or 4 years back. Peter travels the length of Ireland looking for long lost relatives six times removed, and invariably stops at as many establishments that bear his name as possible.

Our usual pattern when we hit somewhere like this is to meander up and down the main street looking for something to eat.  Comments such as ‘too expensive’ or ‘I don’t like anything on the menu’ usually frustrate me so I nipped it in the bud this time by marching across to McCarthy’s and asking if they did food.  That most of the pubs did food but didn’t actually advertise that they did, would have put me off, but I was in no mood for standing shyly outside places when all we had to do was ask.

Result!  Panini’s for myself and Jenny, and BLT’s for Simon and Becks.  Both served with a hearty salad, coleslaw and potato salad.  Definitely filled a hole and very tasty too.

This is the life, eating lunch outside a pub, drinking beer whilst an articulated lorry carrying a tractor on the back hurtles past your outstretched legs. 

There was a very elderly lady sat at the next table to us.  She had been accompanied by what I assume was her daughter and grand-daughter, but they had left her to have a smoke and a rest whilst they visited some shops.    We didn’t make conversation past me commenting on how lovely the weather was when she took off her leather jacket, but when her relatives came back, she bid me a hearty goodbye, which was swiftly followed up by the same from her daughter.  So much gratitude for just having shared the time of day took me aback.

We paid a visit to the local store, which was quite big and had most things on my shopping list, apart from fresh corn on the cob which I can live without for the week.  As we invariably self cater on our holidays, it is often a small concern to me that we will be able to find somewhere that will sell enough variety of foods to keep 2 vegetarians and 2 meat eaters happy for the week.   I always start off feeling that holiday food should somehow be different to what we eat at home, but apart from a couple of meals out we invariably end up eating what we normally would.

So the shopping was done and packed in cardboard boxes and we headed back off to the cottage.  We did stop at Pat’s Place, a well stocked convenience store situated around the bend of a road, for ice-creams.

Back at the cottage the girls wanted to find a way down to the sea which was only a few hundred yards away over some fields, so I set off with them up the lane to do some investigating. 

We discovered that the place is teeming with blackberry bushes, and as one of my favourite things to do at this time of year is to do a blackberry pick and cook us a nice tart, earmarked this as something else that ‘has to be done this week’. 

We meandered down to the sea, negotiating boggy patches, prickly broom and nettles, but we got there in the end. Suddenly, seemingly from out of nowhere appeared a soggy streak of brown and white, bounding past us and straight into the water.  After gathering ourselves together it appeared that George had got wind of where we were and decided to come and play.

I was about to comment to the girls on the bad manners of the locals who had used the place as a bit of a dumping ground after what must have been family picnics by the water, when I spotted shells and crabs amongst the debris also.  I realised that all this had been washed in by the tide, but from whence they came and who had dumped them in to the water in the first place who knows.     I guess that, along with the dubious smell of the bay is just another sign of modern living.

Back to the cottage for a bit of sunbathing, (resulting in very red arms), tea and then a game of scrabble which Becky won.  Watched Tim Allen and Courtney Cox in previously unheard of superhero film – Zoom, picked up from Matalan really cheap.  We now know why it was really cheap and nobody had heard of it.

Unfortunately, one of the bottles of Wild Bramble Licquor is now all but finished, I might have to phone Jack to see if he can pick some more up for us in the week to collect on Sunday when we see him again.

Monday

Woke up at a reasonable hour, but decided to spend some time in bed writing up my diary and then reading some more of Alan Bennett’s ‘Untold Stories’.  Not the sort of book that I would normally pick up, but I quite liked his Talking Heads that I saw a few years back so thought I would give him a whirl.

This is the latest in a series of books that seem to have ‘come my way’ when I have needed them.  As much as I try not to attribute any sort of pattern or underlying force to life, everyday circumstances repeatedly give lie to this way of thinking.

He talks a lot about his family, and how they were ‘different’, but I think that every family feels that they are different to the norm.  The constant measuring up of ourselves and our habits against other people to see if we are normal is obviously not just something that I participate in.

At one point he talks about the films that he watched as a boy and how they had clear cut good and evil characters.  There was invariably a ‘moral’ to be gleaned from the story, and a satisfactory outcome.  This resonated with me a lot, and like Alan, maybe I too find I have an underlying desire for life to be like that, but as we grow we find that most of us are made up of light and shade, some things we never get over but just have to bear them without a neat ending, and people don’t always manage to learn anything from the lessons that life puts their way.

Whilst most of us brought up with those films know now that life isn’t a fairy tale, maybe somewhere in our psyche we bought into the hope that maybe life can be just that.

Anyway, enough of the deep and meaningfuls, I'm on me holidays.

Becky made me some toast which I ate in bed while reading, then finally got up around lunch time.  We played a few games of ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’, after finding the DVD player on the television didn’t like it, neither did any of the software on my laptop, we finally found that Becky’s portable DVD player for the car was happy with Chris Tarrant and his questions.

Afterwards Jenny and I went blackberry picking whilst Simon and Becky went up to Glengarriff in the car to bring back supplies of custard or cream to go with the pie I intended to make.

I did wake up early in the morning with the realisation that I didn’t have a rolling pin, but soon discovered that a chilled bottle of Chenin Blanc did the trick nicely.  Being cold from the fridge, it was ideal for rolling out pastry.

Whilst up to my arms in flour our host appeared on the doorstep to apologise for the water having gone off.  I had noticed this when trying to de-flour (ooh arr missus!) myself, and couldn’t help thinking that, like at home, people never visit when the place is looking spick and span.

Made lamb kebabs in pitta bread for tea, with roast peppers & mushrooms for the veggie version, followed by the wonderful home made blackberry pie and cream. 

Whilst typing this up Simon and Jenny are watching Irish TV.  If I had to listen to this day in and day out, it would drive me mental, thank goodness for Sky.

Attempted to play a game of Bullseye on the telly DVD player, it was really, really slow, I was really, really tired, and then when everyone else just started farting about I decided I’d had enough and went to bed with Alan Bennett.

Tuesday

Invariably on family holidays Simon gets up around 8 am unable to sleep and the rest of us follow a couple of hours later.  Becky made me toast to eat in bed again accompanied by Alan Bennett (it’s a very thick book!), then she set about making omelettes for herself and the others. 

I seem to have had the irritables a bit early in the holiday, although I guess if we include our pre-amble in Wales, the timing is probably just about right.  It seems to be a rite of passage that we have to go through every holiday, I guess getting used to being in so close proximity with each other brings out all of the things I find irritating about myself and my family.  The thing that gets to me most though is that everyone really slobs out leaving the place messy and untidy. 

Whilst I’m not the most organised person at home, and am happy for things to be left for a while, I can’t tolerate it on holiday.  I want everything to be ‘just so’, orderly, and tidy – a holiday from the usual mess perhaps – maybe there isn’t so much madness in this as I first thought, but see it as a break from the norm.  I guess on holiday I have more time for tidying and fussing around, whilst at home there is always something else that needs to be done.

So these are the thoughts that I wake up with on Tuesday morning.  Sometimes I think it would be nice to have a holiday from my mind.

Glorious sunshine.  I feel that I have at last found favour with my maker once again.   Daft I know.

Simon has recouperated enough the past couple of days to venture further a field.  Another habit of our holidays is that he needs a couple of days to unwind and chill out before thinking about where we want to go and what we can do around and abouts.

Usually this makes the girls really bored and restless, but they have brought some craft kits, painting and poi things with them, which so far have managed to keep them entertained.

Drove up to Glengarrif Nature Reserve and went on the short walk up a hill and steps to Lady Bantry’s Lookout.  It is a fabulous view from the top – you can see right over the bay.  We were all hungry after our short walk so went into Glengarrif and had some toasted sandwiches at the Glengarrif Park Hotel.  Checked out the evening menu for later in the week.   Glengarrif reminds Jenny of Betwys-Coed in Wales, complete with its own similar small waterfall in the nature reserve, they could be twin towns.

Spotted a couple of kingfisher blue dragon flies and tried to capture them on video with my camera – only just managed a couple of seconds.  I love dragonflies, they are so graceful, their iridescent hues one of natures more beautiful things.

Went back into the town to pick up some supplies before heading back to the cottage.  We’d passed by the Sacred Heart Catholic church on the way to the nature reserve and  I had expressed an interest in taking some photos, so we parked outside of it while ‘your mother reconnects with her Catholic roots’  (Simon’s comment).  My mother was catholic, and whilst she stopped practicing after she married my Dad, I remember vivid tales of the Saints  and hell and damnation, and how when the world ends it will be in a huge ball of fire.  Things that as an adult I can put into perspective but gave me a dark sense of foreboding as a child and instilled in me a fear of being punished for the slightest misdemeanour.

Multiple very itchy midgy bites on my upper arms and back are driving me mad.

Sweet & Sour Chicken or Veg for tea.  Becky had been wanting to make her own egg fried rice, so she attended to that whilst I prepared the rest of the meal.

Despite trying to keep an orderly house and also doing most of the meals, I’m starting to relax a bit and it’s nice just to take our time and potter about.

Played another game of scrabble then ended the evening watching Patrick Kielty on DVD.  Very funny, and very fitting being here in Ireland.  He is very irreverend, with some funny parallels between the IRA and Muslim terrorists (IRA is the same as Iraq, you just have to add a Q).  Also his account of gatecrashing the late Pope’s funeral had us in stitches.

Wednesday

Woke up after some very strange religious dreams. 

I blame Patrick Kielty and that church.

Got up around 9.30 – we’re going to drive around the Ring of Kerry today, which should take about 4 hours.  We want a relatively early start so we can stop as and when the fancy takes us, so I imagine we shall be out for most of the day.

Also want to pick up some presents, hopefully something nice for Sylvia & Les’s Silver Wedding Anniversary and a couple of other gifts that I need to take back too.  We haven’t done any tourist shops as yet, so hopefully this will be put to rights today.

Set off for the Ring of Kerry just after 11.  Went via Healys Pass, a windy road up the side of the mountain.  There was a shrine and gift shop at the top point of the road so we stopped.  One of Jenny’s friends had requested a cloth badge of Ireland to add to her collection and we were able to pick up a tasteful one with an Irish Harp on for her.  Got talking to a family from Norfolk, the grandmother of whom is Irish, hence their annual visits to Ireland.  They advised us that just over the brow of the hill the view was even more spectacular.  We told them of our intention to do the Ring of Kelly and they were sceptical that we would be able to do it in a day, and recommended that we go across the middle of the ring through  Mullighanattin  as it was “breathtaking”.  Something to think about perhaps.

Drove through Kenmare, a lovely traditional Irish town, the sort you see on those nice postcards with lots of pubs, hotels and craft shops all daubed in varying pastel shades. 

Then drove up to Killarney and stopped for some lunch.  We had paninis and beer for lunch in The Failte Pub, which was nice.   The pub looked traditional in a ‘we’ve always been this way’ rather than a ‘traditionally decorated to attract the tourists’ kind of way which was good.  Someone was obviously a keen Celtic Rangers fan due to the photographs on the wall, and totally unrelated, as we were leaving I spotted a picture of Slim Jim Phantom from the Stray Cats in full performance mode.

We decided that we would follow the road a bit further round the Ring of Kerry and when we hit the turn off for  Mullighanattin we would decide which way to go.  My gut instinct said stick to the Ring of Kerry, we’d so far only done the top end of it which, whilst quite scenic, took in the mountains, whilst the bottom half was more of a coast road alongside the sea.  However, deciding to go with our acquaintances wisdom we took the mountain pass right across the middle of the ring.

Which was the wrong thing to do!  Undoubtedly it was beautiful, in a rugged kind of way, but I wouldn’t call it breathtaking.  The road was really narrow and once again I started fearing for the bottom of the car. Low slung cars may look attractive (emphasis on the word ‘may’ in this case) but aren’t as practical as a 4 x 4 would have been. 

We decided to go back to Kenmare for some shopping.  Bought Sylvia and Les  a set of 6 crystal glasses as their 25th Wedding Anniversary pressie – having given up on finding anything tasteful in silver.  The girls were keen to go round the gift shops.  There is so much tack in places like this, it makes you wonder who buys the stuff.  Still, Becky managed to find herself a necklace of a small celtic cross, and I got  a nice print of Kenmare Harbour to get framed when I get home. 

Simon presented me with a bottle opener in the shape of a guiness bottle, complete with (I assume) guiness floating inside, saying it would be ideal for Stuart and Hilary who are feeding our cats as they recently converted the back end of their garage into a bar.  I now realise who buys the tack!

Found a nice Italian Restaurant that was due to open in 10 minutes so went for a wander to pass the time.  On returning, there was a bit of a queue outside, some of whom were undoubtedly locals, others who were tourists.  That all seemed a good recommendation anyway, so we went there for tea.

Afterwards we decided to give the Healy Pass a miss and return to Adrigole via Glengarriff. 

Got back around 8.30 pm and had another game of scrabble.  I seem to consistently be the loser this week and will have to make more of an effort!

Thursday

Woke up fairly early, due to more midgy bites having developed into itchy spots.  Made some toast and decided to read my book in the living room.  Revised this due to the volume of Jenny’s creative zen coming from the chair next to me, and curled back up in bed with Alan Bennett ... yet again! Surprisingly, Simon seems to be oblivious to the fact that I have spent a lot of time in bed with another man this holiday.  Simon came in a little while later and asked if I minded him packing some of the dirty washing away.  I said no, but I did mind really, as I didn’t want to start thinking about going home just yet, with 2 full days left at the cottage and a third day to visit Cork on the way to Rosslaire, it felt too soon to be starting to think about packing.

Finally dragged myself out for a shower around 11.00 am, having developed a deeper insight into Dame Thora Hird than I previously held (or indeed wanted really).  Appeared in the living room to Simon and the girls writing down what their perfect day would be.  Got dragged into the conversation and after some short considerations decided my perfect day would go something like this:

Get up early (who said a perfect day had to bear any resemblence to reality?)
Swim 40 lengths (in my own indoor pool!)
Shower
Have friends over for coffee in the kitchen and catch up on news.
Lunch out at a nice little relaxed restaurant, sat outside on the pavement eating paninis made with cheese and tomato and tomato and chilli relish.

I would have a quite and peaceful afternoon, making cards, or sewing, it would be pleasantly sunny.

In the evening I would go for a meal with lots of friends and family to somewhere like Viva Latino’s in Sheffield.  Somewhere with a great atmosphere.  I would eat some spicy Mexican dish, we would be a little on the riotous side, have a great laugh, drink some Peronis and end the evening with a Sambuca.

Surprisingly my day would not include either the internet or music, apart from some Latino type stuff at the restaurant.

So, back to Thursday and Ireland! 

We had omelettes for lunch and finally left the cottage at about 3 pm to  drive down to the farmost reaches of the peninsula, to see Dursey Island.

Just on the other side of Adrigole there is a furniture and craft shop called The Driftwood Craft Centre, which we had passed a few times and which I wanted to visit.

There are some wonderful pieces of garden furniture for sale.  Some very low slung chunky chairs made from cedar and oak, which look exceedingly uncomfortable until you actually sit in them, and find they are in fact, really comfy.

There was a couple of very weathered oak tables – the tops sculpted into daisy shapes – I didn’t ask the price, knowing they would be far out of the range of our pocket, but appreciated the workmanship that went into them nevertheless. 

The name of the craft centre comes from the many natural sculptures that are dotted around the garden.  Pieces of driftwood that have been sanded to bring out the hidden colours of the wood but left in their jagged and gnarled state.  It made me realise that even when something is past its ‘best’, like boughs broken from the tree, there is still beauty to be had there.

Halfway to Dursey Island we spotted a road sign announcing a stone circle in the proximity so followed the road up until we came to it.

There it was, just sat in a field, easily accessible.  Are the Irish more considerate of their heritage that they don’t feel the need to cordon these places off like Stonehenge for instance?  On investigation there are places in the UK such as this which are accessible to the public, and whilst this is as it should be, part of me can’t help wondering how long it will be before some lout happens along with a tin of paint or permanent marker. 

It’s always hard to imagine that places like this have been around for such a long time.  There were the remains of some dead flowers and some crude corn sculptures lying around the small stone in the middle of the circle, surely offerings or remnants of some recent pagan rite.

Behind one of the upright stones was a puddle of cents – we weren’t sure whether this was meant as a kind of waterless lucky wishing fountain, offering to a pagan deity or the local community chest, but I emptied my purse of coppers and made a wish just in case.  I shall endeavour to google it when I get home.

Some people would ascribe to such places, a special-ness that transcends the natural – in so far as that there are possibilities in such places that you wouldn’t find anywhere else.  I don’t as a rule subscribe to this sort of belief but in the spirit of being open minded sat myself down in the middle of the circle and relaxed for a few minutes, thus giving any sense of divinity the opportunity to manifest itself.

Unsurprisingly it didn’t. 

We followed the road further for a couple of kilometres as there was remnants of a hill fort to be seen.  It was a strange looking place – right in the middle of the field, more of a raised circular platform now overgrown with grass.  Around the sides the remains of the fort were exposed, the fort looking every inch like a birthday cake with a ribbon around it.  Albeit a green birthday cake, with one green conifer candle haphazardly stuck in the top.

We kept on driving and eventually came to Dursey Island.  That there was a guest house named Windy Corner will give you some idea as to the weather conditions.  The island is only a few hundred yards away from the mainland, and there was  a rusty and disused cable car which you would have been able to take over to the island once upon a time.

We were able to walk right to the edge of the low grassy cliff, and literally stand on the end of Ireland.

We doubled back on ourselves  a few hundred yards and visited Garinish Point – a small cove and harbour just around the corner from Dursey Island.   Becky had been itching to get into the sea all week, something I am increasing reluctant for any of us to do, given the debris that is washed up on the sand.  I relented this time and Jenny, Becky and I all went for a plodge. 

We went up to the harbour and took some photos of the small fishing boats.  The small islands off the harbour were stunning and at one point, the water, an inky blue colour, was mesmerising.  The undulating waves hypnotised until it was hard to pull your gaze away.

We started the drive back to Castletownbear to get some supplies, then spotted a sign for the town of Alihies.  Which sounded nice so decided to take a short detour.  From there we saw signs for the Beara Way – a smaller version of the Ring of Kerry, which circles the Beara Penninsular.  As the road would eventually take us to Castletownbear in either direction, we followed the ring.  A good decision.  Here was some of the best scenery we had seen all week.  We drove alongside the sea with some of Beara’s hills behind the bay and mountains of the Ring of Kerry behind that.  The hillside we travelled on flattened off so there were farms and fields almost to the waters edge.  Apart from the buildings, the mountains and hills looked prehistoric, and it was here more than anywhere that I could feel the weight of time.  

The rocks by the wayside were covered in the richest coloured heather I have seen anywhere, varying shades of purple and pink, interspersed with yellow broom. 

One thing we have noticed whilst in County Cork is the hedgerows full of fuschias and the golden blaze of glory plants that we have in our front garden at home.  They are everywhere.

We got to Castletownbear, bought a few provisions then drove back to the cottage for tea at around 8.30 pm.

A few weeks ago Becky had been watching a programme called Cook Yourself Thin and saw a recipe for Pizzas made from Pitta Bread.  I said we would have go at making these whilst on holiday and tonight was designated as the time that we would.

It’s hard at the best of time to cut pitta pockets in half, so I was extremely careful and just about managed to get 8 bases for our pizzas without any holes in them.

Jenny and Becky had tinned tomatoes as their first layer, Simon and I opted for Pesto.  Becky and Simon then had pepperoni and cheese on top of this – the programme suggests one slice of pepperoni cut up, Becky and Simon had 6 slices on each piece of pitta, kind of defeating the object of the programme, but hey we ARE on holiday!

My topping was red pepper, mushrooms and cheese, and Jenny had red pepper, red onion, pineapple and cheese.

They were surprisingly nice and something that we’ll be making again no doubt.

We played a couple of games of Boggle and I managed to keep my eyes open just long enough to play Jenny at a promised game of Mastermind before going off to bed.

Friday

Up and out of bed by 9.10 this morning, and for the first time the sun isn’t shining, but its very cloudy. That said I can see the sun breaking through the clouds out over the bay, and it isn’t cold, so I think we will be in for some sunshine later on.

Today’s plan is to go for a walk in the Glen Inchaquin.  I am feeling completely lazy so it will be good to stretch my legs properly.  We were going to do a 4 hour walk, but after complaints from the girls (and me!) have settled on an hour and half one instead.

Both the girls want to visit the Lorge chocolate shop, which is just past Glengarriff – it’s the one thing they have repeatedly mentioned all week, so a visit is definitely in order.  We’ve done well at not eating too much crap this week, we’ve had the occasional chocolate bar, and Simon and I have downed a bottle of wine between us each night, but yesterday was the first day that I sanctioned the buying of some Pringles – something we would usually be our supper staple during past holidays.  Mind you have I have demolished a few plates of cheese and crackers covered in mayo for supper too and I can tell that my tummy is definitely large than it was when we left Wales.

However!  We set off for the Glen Inchaquin, driving off up the Healy Pass again.  We stopped for lunch at a pub just over the other side of the mountain, which was owned by a Mr and Mrs Healy (no relations of whoever the Healy Pass was named after).  My best friend from school married a guy who was a Healy, and I have vague recollections that his family were from Irish stock also.  Haven’t seen him for years as he ended up buggering off with a girl from one of his aerobics classes so no loss there.

Mrs Healy, the pub owner, was really firiendly and did her best to persuade us to do a walk on land that she owned which also incorporated a stone circle, but  I think the concensus was that ‘seen one stone circle, seen them all’ and the walk was Simon’s choice and he very much wanted to visit the Waterfall at Glen Inchaquin, so we stuck with our original plan.

We followed the signs to Glen Inchaquin, along yet another convex road for about 10 km – eventually arriving at our destination.  It was very pretty although I tried not to look at the path that we would be taking up the side of the hill, as it looked a bit on the steep side.

Jenny wasn’t impressed that we had insisted on her coming with us, and had gone totally into ‘I can’t’ mode, and consequently lagged significantly behind the rest of us.  Halfway up the hill was a lovely lake so we stopped there to let her catch up.  The next bit of the walk looked like you would be scrambling up the side of the hill holding on with your fingernails. The path was well hidden from view by the scrub but but once we followed it was actually a lot easier than it looked.  Jenny wasn’t convinced and it took some of Simon’s best persuasion techniques (think of the chocolate shop!) to get her to follow us.

Once at the top we crossed over the waterfall – I’m sure this would have been spectacular over the past few weeks, but there wasn’t too much water today, although it did look nice at the top.   Then down the other side, where, surprisingly, Jenny strode off ahead of us.

At the end of the walk is a little river walk, which is delightful and it was very refreshing to follow it down the rest of the way back to the car park.

Got in the car and made our way towards Glengarriff and to the much longed for chocolate shop.

Unfortunately we only had about €20 in cash left, and the shop didn’t take credit cards, so there was much negotiating of what could and couldn’t be bought.

We drove back to the cottage before going out to find somewhere to eat for tea.   We were now down to our last €5 and needed to have some money to pay for the electricity we had used before we left the following day.   Simon was all for winging it, but I was more cautious and we ended up driving to Castletownbear in search of an ATM.   From there it was on to Glengarrif and the nightmare that was trying to decide on where to eat that all of us would agree on.

A couple of places that we all liked were booked up so we ended up in the worst looking place in the town.  By this time it was 9pm, and time for another executive decision..  Although the only available restaurant smelt like a greasy truckers café, and the furniture left a bit to be desired, the food was really nice, so all was not lost, we got fed and watered then wandered back off home.

Saturday

Our last day in Ireland.  Got up bright and early, did our last bits of packing, and tidied the place up.  Simon went in search of Margaret, who was still in bed having been living it up at a wedding the night before.  This is the first time I had seen or spoken to Dan’s wife, and she was lovely.   Originally from Ireland she spent a lot of time in Norwich where she met her husband, and they’ve only lived back in Ireland for 5 years.  She’s a district nurse with a lovely nature and great sense of humour.  She decided that she was too hung over to go and check the electricity meter, and it usually came to about €3 anyway, so she let us off with that.

Just as we left it started to drizzle, and driving out of Adrigole I looked over my shoulder at Hungry Hill to see an amazing rainbow manifest itself between the road and the hill.  Seeing that gave me the sense of peace that I had been looking for all week, but given up on.  It was so unexpected and so powerful, and a great way to end the holiday.

Driving up to Glengarriff we passed a lot of cyclists from the Cork Triathalon Club.  They all wore tight lycra shorts, except one chap.  Simon pointed him out commenting that he couldn’t be comfortable with those shorts on.  I recognised the shorts straight away as being part of our Polaris range, which was confirmed when we drew level with him and there on the leg was the Polaris logo.  We even managed to get a photo of him from the back, much to the delight of Roger, my boss.

We drove to Cork and spent a few hours there, having lunch and buying books and cd’s.  We can add Cork to the growing list of cities that me and the girls have visited Lush shops – Dublin, Covent Garden, Sheffield, and now Cork.

Cork is a lovely city, and I couldn’t help but compare it to Dublin.  Dublin, by comparison looks very tired and worn out, where as Cork is a lot cleaner and lighter in some way.  A lovely place which I’m sure we will be going back to sooner or later.

Simon hadn’t wanted to spend all afternoon there so we decided to giveour friend Skinny a call as it looked like he didn’t live too far away from the ferry port at Rosslaire.  I left a message on his answerphone, which I was relieved about, I’m never confident in these situations that people will want to see us, especially when i'ts on the spur of the moment, but I thought at least that gives him the option to not call back if he’s busy or not up for the visit.

Thankfully he called us back whilst we were having lunch and arranged to call him from Enniscorthy when we got there.   Eventually did and parked in the Lidl car park where Skinny came to meet up and escort us back to his house.

It was lovely to see him and he drove up complete in black shades and CBGB t-shirt looking every inch the rock star!  He has a lovely family.  Helen his wife was very hospitable to us and his children are absolutely gorgeous.  The little one being quite the smiler!

Downed a couple of beers and was shown the famous ‘music room’ before we had to take our leave and head for the ferry. Helen had kindly put together some cake and fruit for us to take on our way, which was much appreciated. I was really pleased that we'd taken the time to visit.

Got there later than we should have but still in plenty of time.  Simon tried to call his Dad a number of times from his mobile but it was blocked.  When he eventually got through we learned that Jack had been expecting us the previous night and had stayed up until 4 am awaiting our arrival.

When we finally did get back to his house he was in fine spirits despite having had 2 very late nights in a row, but ahh, these old folks, don’t need the same amount of sleep that we do, do they?

 

 

 

© Middle Distance Design 2008