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Welcome to my blog. Thanks for dropping by. Hope you'll stay and enjoy reading about where I've been and what I've been doing!

I don't mean this to be a replacement for personal emails, but it gives me the chance to put up photos and my scrapbook layouts, so I don't block up your in-boxes, or have to send the same photos and stories to everyone separately!
Thanks, and welcome, to the followers of my blog. I'm very honoured that you enjoy it. Drop me some comments from time to time! It's good to hear what you think about the posts. Come back again soon.

Thanks also to Mary of Mary's Mixes for doing all the work on the blog's heading. You are great, Mary!


Sunday, 28 June 2009

Galway still

Having a lovely visit with Michael and Bernadette. Their youngest daughter, Mary, her fiance and their baby daughter, also stay with them, and we have all had days out together. I will have to save the details till I get home, as I don't want to hog Michael's laptop. I really just logged on tonight to check-in online for my homeward flight on Tuesday afternoon. Got that sorted and printed, so all should be OK on Tuesday. I can go straight to the boarding gate and not have to queue/line up for a boarding pass!

I have taken SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO many photos, it is going to be hard to whittle them down to show you, but I can do the write up over a few days!!! Must go! It's dinner time! Roast pork tonight! Mmmm! Beautiful smells coming from the kitchen next door!

Talk again very soon.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Galway - nearly

I have arrived at my friends' new house near Galway now, having had loads of lovely experiences on the way here, and with hundreds of photos in the camera to go through. I won't bore you with all of them but I will show you the best - when I get home! That will be about Wednesday. Yesterday was a lovely chill-out day, and this morning I am going with her daughters Mary and Louise and their children, to a surprise "party" for Bernadette at her nursery school in Galway. She's retiring next week and family and parents, former pupils too, are getting together to say thanks! Isn't that marvellous?
I may manage a line or two over the next few days, but photos will have to wait.
Talk again soon.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

The peninsulas of the south west

Now where did I get to? It is quite hard to find places with internet access, but now I am in Kilrush in County Clare, having had the most fabulous experiences.

From Kenmare I set of towards the Iveragh Peninsula which includes the scenic route they call the Ring of Kerry. What exactly happened I will blame on the dreadful signposting over here! I'd been told to take "the second road on the right" which I did, but because the road sign at the road end I SHOULD have taken was not a name I recognised I kept straight on -
and ended up in the middle of nowhere faced by a gate with a herd of cows staring me in the face. I went to take a photo over the gate and leaning on it to photograph Madame Bovine, discovered - guess what? It had just been painted! Not a soul around for miles - and the gate had wet paint on it! I've got rid of it all now, but it took a bit of doing!
Nothing for it but to turn back - it had been a pretty drive anyway - past hedgerows of fuchsia with views of the hills - but eventually I found where I should have turned and at last I found myself on the right road. Why it didn't signpost the town the road led to I don't know. The sign had pointed to some small hamlet I passed through on route!


So round McGillycuddy's Reeks I drove - odd name for a mountain range! Don't know where it came from - and got fabulous views of Carrauntoohill, as I headed for Killorglin - or so I thought! No sign actually said Killorglin so I ended up driving west instead of north and then west along the coast and finally found myself at Waterville, actually not too far from where I had ultimately planned to get to.

I wanted to get to Valencia Island, so it was just a short drive back along the road I should have been on to the turn off to Port Magee where I found the hostel, and a nice pub to have tea at.

Next day my plan was to get a boat out to the Skellig Islands, two very craggy rocks about 8 miles out to sea. One is the second largest gannet colony in the world - the biggest is at North Berwick in Scotland - and the other was where some early Christian monks decided to build their retreat in the 6th or 7th century. Boy, was I lucky! I got the last place on the last boat to go out that day! It was the best 40 euros I could have spent! I could go daft showing you pictures of the birds and the wild flowers , not to mention the beehive stone huts clinging onto the rock about two thirds of the way up, but you will have to be content with a few pics or we'll be here all day.

There are 600 rocky steps that twist and turn up the face of the rock and everywhere you look there were puffins just sitting there watching you, quite content to have all these people wander through their territory. They are such comical little birds, smaller than I thought they'd be - I kind of imagined small hen size, but they were more like big chick size - with their colourful big beaks, and large reddy coloured feet that they fold up neatly behind them once they have taken off into the air!

They are not the bird world's best takers-off or landers. In fact they can really be quite clumsy!
So up the steep steps we climbed - not wanting to think about the coming back down - and eventually up ahead was the gateway to the monastery of stone huts. What a fascinating place to be, feeling like you were at the top of the world - which was probably how these long ago monks thought of the place, nearer to heaven! There was a small church and several terraces of huts, even a tiny raised burial ground, just wide enough for the bodies to lie full length across it.

It almost felt too as if you were in some South American country, somewhere that the Aztecs, or was it the Incas, might have built!


Could I go on and on about the place, but if you ever find yourself in this part of Ireland, you just HAVE to come out here - but bring a walking stick, and a hat! With all these seabirds flying around, it's inevitable that someone is going to get doo-doo'd on at some point. Coming back down those 600 steps was going to be pretty scary for me with my bad co-ordination but luckily a local girl out there for the first time ever, realised my plight and offered her help, all the way back down! That's where a walking pole would have helped enormously, but thanks to that lass if she ever by chance hits upon this blog!
Well, I still have masses more to show you, but I will jhave to stop for now. It's getting towards the time my parking time is up - and I don't want to risk getting a parking fine here! Everything is much dearer than at home thanks to the euro being pretty strong against our pound! More whenever! I'm off to the Irish music mecca tonight, a place called Doolin, which I last visited probably not far off 40 years ago. The music was fabulous! There are 3 hostels there now so I ho;e one of them has room for little old me!
Talk again soon!

Friday, 19 June 2009

So far!

It's now the next morning and I'm back. Going to try and add some pictures here. Plain unadulterated non-edited ones at that!
Here's Bunratty Castle with the pub where I had supper the other night , accompanied by a wee glass of Guinness! It was good! The castle stands in a large park that has been trurned into a folk museum with buildings from other parts of the country rebuilt here. You can also banquet medieval style in the castle! I chose the cheaper option - in Durty Nelly's next door! No idea yet what "durty" means or whether it is just what you think it is! Anyway it was very nice, so I wasn't complaining!

Onwards then, to the town of Adare where you can see some "pretty" thatched houses from the 19th century.

The church, once a trinitarian monastery, is very beautiful too.

I drove south to Killarney which was hoaching with people because of the Fleadh - Flah - a big music festival.
No place to stop so I just had to drive on to look at the lake and McGillycuddy's Reeks, the highest mountains in Ireland.
I once climbed Carrauntoohill with my visually impaired friends, the Milton Mountaineers. It was quite a slog with some hairy moments on hands and feet scrambling up the Devil's staircase. Not this time though! I was content with the view from afar.

The meadows from my viewpoint are covered in wild flowers.

In the Ireland of my childhood the houses in the villages were painted pastel shades of pink, green, blue, yellow, but today any colour goes, and it doesn't matter what colour your next door neighbours choose. Actually I like it! This is in Glengarriff, and this is the village where Ian's family and mine met all those years ago! I texted Ian, in France.

The famous sight here is the island garden of Garinish, reached by one of a collection of little boats. I chose to go from the Blue Pool, not looking too blue as the sky was quite grey, and we did get rain later.
On the way we passed some skerries with seals posing for photos - well, not really but they are naturals in front of a camera!
I will show you a couple of photos from the garden but I could do a whole week's worth of blogs from there with the photos I took!

This is the most famous picture of the gardens - the Italian garden., and the view from the highest point of the garden.

Yesterday I drove round the Beara peninsula, one of the several fingers of land on the south west corner of the country.
Beautiful seascapes here!
Great views altogether.
Add Image
History abounds - stone circles, ring forts, more recent deserted hamlets on the hillsides....

....more coloured houses...

and some lovely effects of the weather.

So, eventually I reached Kenmare, where I stayed last night. Today I plan on driving round the next peninsula, probably staying tonight along the coast somewhere, so time I was off!

Talk again soon!

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Ireland

A quick blog without photos tonight as I have only about ten minutes if that! The internet cafe closes then!

I'm in Ireland, and enjoying the wonderful scenery - landscapes, hills, fields, hedgerows, meadows etc. and seascapes - powerful waves crashing on rocks stuff! This is my third night over here. First night was near Shannon airport. Sounded as if I should have been on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, said Linda when she heard the hostel name was Jamaica Inn! Last night I was at Glengarriff which was where my friend Ian and I met, 40 something years ago!
Getting chucked out! Gotta go!

Monday, 15 June 2009

Well, I guess you'll all have just about given up on me, so I do hope you see this! I don't know where the time went, that I should have been keeping up with my blog. Anyway, just a quick run through the past week, with some photos.

I attended a fantastic choir concert one evening in the Parish Church. The choir is called InChorus and its members have only been singing together for eight or nine months. They sing all sorts of music from classical pieces to a medley that includes the Muppet Show music! Their Adiemus by Carl Jenkins was wonderful, and O Fortuna by Carl Orff set the hairs on the back of my neck tingling! It was terrific. I loved their Bridge over Troubled Water, Bohemian Rhapsody, and the Leonard Cohen song Halleluia. I loved it all actually! The music director is terrific! He's often in the shop and I had no idea he was a musician. His day job is as a policeman. I'd love to sing with a choir like InChorus! It would be wonderful to make such glorious sounds. They are holding auditions next month so I was thinking....... Mmm! Don't know if I'd be up to it! And I'm going to be away for several weeks. I know they have a waiting list already so maybe the auditions are to join the waiting list!?

Morag and I have started going for short walks every now and again, though we feel we ought to do it more often. The trouble is though, that I keep stopping to take photos, so I'm not really getting my heart rate going very much faster than normal. Here are a couple of my flower photos, taken on one walk and some taken from the path beside the river.








Click to enlarge the one on the path beside the tree. There are several bunnies playing just ahead of us! As we crossed Fotheringham Bridge a group of youngsters had lit a fire and were enjoying the sunny afternoon by the river, while a fisherman casts his line in the middle of it!
Getting back towards Peebles again there was a beautiful shot just waiting to be taken. The church behind the trees with the reflections in the still water. It was idyllic - apart from the midges!

Another day I went back up to the National Library where I spent a few hours with JG and family, but at length, I found myself starting to nod off, which seemed to me to be a good time to leave them and take a walk outside in the air. More or less opposite is Victoria Street that follows the hill down to the Grassmarket. Above the street a terrace runs alongside it, above the shops and cafes, pubs and restaurants. A notice caught my eye, pointing out the Family history centre along the terrace, so I decided to investigate.
I was given a guided tour of all the little nooks and crannies of what must have been the barrel vaulted cellars of houses above. There is everything a genealogist could want to track down the type of lives their ancestors would have lived, as well as records of births, marriages and deaths from the old parish registers, that preceded the manatory registration of these that began in 1855. These records are kept in register house at the foot of the Bridges, but copies of everything else can be found in the FHC. I whiled away another couple of hours poring over old parish registers that have been microfilmed to protect the originals. Once you get into the swing, you soon find that the hand writing that seemed totally illegible at first is starting to make sense. In one register of deaths, I found a family that lost three youngdsters in the space of a few days. 16, 11 and 3 years old, they were. It doesn't say what they died of.

At the weekend I was invited to a birthday tea, for the young son of two of my favourite customers at the shop. Fergus was to be three! He and his parents, and elder brother live in a farm cottage not too far out of town - picture to the right. What a beautiful spot to grow up in. Mum and Dad are landscape gardeners, and have created a beautiful space out the back with woodland and lawn, not to mention a burn - a stream - trickling along at the foot of the garden - though of course that wasn't of their creation!. The flowerbeds are packed with colours, plants of varying textures and shapes, and a large green parasol nicely shades the table and chairs on the patio.

The toys in the garden were enough to keep the littlies happily occupied for long enough though there were the odd crying sessions when someone fell over - or was he pushed - or had climbed too high on the climbing frame and couldn't get down, and even the birthday boy wasn't immune as he tried to keep possession of the ball he had got from a wee pal.

Later a game of pass the parcel, or as birthday boy's bro calls it "Parcel Parcel!", kept them all guessing as each time the music stopped another layer of paper was removed, till finally the prize was revealed by the lucky winner!
Tea was quite an on the hoof affair, the kids going to and fro with sandwiches, cheesy biscuits, cheese strings and SHOCKING PINK-ICED FAIRY CAKES made by mum and grown up big sis. They went down well!!! The adults drank tea and nibbled at sausage rolls, and cakes at the table on the patio, until the weather changed and down came the rain, thunder rumbling in the background! The party switched to indoors and toys and television became the order of the day. Soon though it was time to go and mums and dads called to collect their littlies, and peace reigned once more.
I was heading for Edinburgh next, to meet Linda, but as I was a little early I detoured under an arch dedicated to George Harrison - not the Beatle - to reach the National Atronomical Observatory on Blackford Hill. There were good views from the hill itself so I started tp walk round to the right of the building to the path that leads uphill to the top. The better views were to be had from higher up, so I walked further up till suddenly the top was in view. Might as well go right to the top! So I did!
In the picture of Arthur Seat, on the right I can almost pinpoint where I grew up - well I can see the church we went to as children, so can almost work out which was our street!

On reaching Linda's, the delicious scent of the philadelphus beside her front door, wafted in the air. Mmmm! Gorgeous! The ceanothus behind it is also pretty stunning. We ate out Italian-style, and I eventually got home about 1 a.m. All was quiet!
Next morning when I went up to the street, the festive bunting adorned the street and pennants and flags waved gently. Beltane has begun!


You can read about it on my Peebles for Pleasure blog!
I have to confess to be going away on my holidays tomorrow, so I won't actually be here to take photos, but I have set up a series of Beltane entries that will get published each day. I do hope you won't mind that the pictures are from another Beltane altogether!
I'll blog again soon, maybe from Ireland where I am spending a couple of weeks. I fly to the west of Ireland tomorrow afternoon to begin my adventure!
Talk again soon,