Back to Ireland – 5 April 18 June 2018 cont – England and Scotland

 

Scotland

Wallace statue

Wallace statue, Stirling Castle

After a Full English Breakfast we got back on the road and drove to Stirling Castle.

DSC08031

Wallace Monument

We could see the Wallace Monument in the distance but drove around in circles for ages trying unsuccessfully to find the turn-off to it. We gave up and continued on to the Falkirk Wheel, an enormous structure that moves boats between the Forth and Clyde Canal and the Union Canal.

DSC08039

Here’s a slideshow of the wheel in motion:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

From the Wheel we drove to Falkirk town and negotiated our way through a very complex one-way system to our hotel, probably the worst place we stayed in throughout our overseas trip. The website had warned that the lift didn’t service all floors, in fact it didn’t service any. It was out of order due to a brawl the night before! That will give you some insight as to the class of hotel I’d booked us into. Our room was up several flights of stairs, interspersed with long corridors, badly lit with sensor lights not all of which worked. The white towels were grey and threadbare, the heating was temperamental and the bathroom flooded in the middle of the night. When reception wasn’t staffed you had to go into the bar for service. It stank! Fortunately we only had to spend one night there.

We had a walk around the town and found somewhere to have dinner, the Orchard Hotel, where the food was tasty and the staff were friendly and renewed our faith in Scottish hospitality.

After that we went to Helix Park to see the Kelpies. These are amazing, giant, metal horse-head structures that are illuminated at night. Normally you can do a tour to see the structures from the inside, but there was a crew recording a TV show when we were there so the tours weren’t operating.

DSC08056DSC08057DSC08059DSC08061DSC08064DSC08071DSC08073DSC08078DSC08080DSC08081

Helix Park is a vast community-use space incorporating wetlands, canals, the Kelpies and the Wheel.

dsc080742.jpg

DSC08045DSC08055DSC08054DSC08062DSC08070DSC08063DSC08079DSC08076DSC08084

We drove to Edinburgh the next day. We parked in the city and walked up to the castle, then down through the gardens. I looked for the floral clock I’d seen there about 40 years ago but it was too early in the season so it hadn’t been planted yet.

DSC08088DSC08091DSC08092

Next, back to England.

Advertisements

Back to Ireland – 5 April 18 June 2018 cont – England and Scotland

Dublin to Liverpool and beyond 

High tea at Ann & Eddie's 9.5 (7)DSC07973Beth & Jeanette 9.5 (9)

Catching up over high tea and dinner

DSC07982

____________________________________________________

Note to self: Take your phone out of your pocket before going through airport security.

It wasn’t the metal implant from my hip to my knee that set off the security alarm, just my phone.

When we approached Security at Dublin Airport we were asked to remove our belts, loose change, keys, watches, jackets. I was even asked to remove my cardigan. We put everything  into trays including my walking stick and proceeded to walk through the scanner. Brian went through OK but I set off the alarm and even though we established that it was my mobile phone that I’d left in my jeans pocket, I still had to undergo a full body scan and pat down. Then our hand luggage got pulled off the conveyor belt for checking – mine twice because the first time they found liquids, as in shampoo I’d taken out but Brian put back in thinking I’d forgotten it, and the second time because they let me keep it!

Then we tried to exchange Euro for Sterling at three ATMs unsuccessfully. Fortunately, when we got to John Lennon Airport, Liverpool, we found one that worked. My phone didn’t though, so neither did my iPad because they were connected to the one SIM card.

We were very grateful to the Budget salesperson who, when we couldn’t find the car hire firm we’d booked a car through, phoned them on our behalf and got them to come and take us to their office which was off site.

It took forever for them to process our car rental, so we were running really late when we left to go to my cousin’s house, following the directions she’d given us via the Birkenhead Tunnel. The first problem was the Birkenhead Tunnel. It was closed for repairs overnight so we had to take a detour. Eventually, that took us to where we would have come out of the tunnel where our directions were to take the first left, but there was another detour! By the time we finished following that, it was only Brian’s good memory that got us to our destination because he recognised the final turnoff from a previous visit many years earlier. My cousin and her husband were more than glad to see us, firstly because they were worried about what could have happened to us, also because  they were hungry as they’d held dinner for us. Needless to say we made short work of the delicious meal they had prepared and we had a great and late night catching up.

Most of the next morning was spent trying to get the phone to work but when it worked the iPad didn’t, which was extremely frustrating as we needed both to make bookings and keep in touch with family and friends. I resented spending time on that instead of with the people we’d come to visit but it couldn’t be helped.

We made up for it in the afternoon though when we visited another cousin for afternoon tea and caught up with almost all the rest of the family. The remainder met us that night for a sumptuous dinner at Risa Spice Indian Restaurant.

 

Liverpool to the Lakes District

DSC07985DSC08021DSC07983

After a lovely breakfast, we left my cousin’s and got on the road to the Lakes District to visit our friends Gail and Steve. They own the beautiful Meadfoot Guesthouse in Windemere, an ideal base for touring the Lakes whether driving or walking.

We enjoyed dinner and a fun quiz night at one of the local pubs, The Brookside.

Next morning, after a delicious Full English Breakfast, we went for a drive and did the Aira Force Waterfall walk.

DSC08011DSC08010DSC08009DSC08008DSC08003DSC07999DSC08001DSC08002DSC08017DSC08018

 

We finished off our stay with dinner at the Cafe Italia.

DSC08030

Next stop Scotland!

Back to Ireland – 5 April 18 June 2018  

DSC07855

Welcome back! Sorry for the long delay in posting but I found it impossible to maintain this site while travelling. A recent knee operation has forced me to stay still for a while so I’m going to take the opportunity to bring it up to date. As I will be relying on my diary and camera to jog my memory, it will be mostly photos of our visits to more of Ireland; parts of England and Scotland; Holland, Belgium and northern France; and a different part of Singapore on the way home. Hope you enjoy the trip!

DSC07852

 

Up the mountains

We enjoyed spending times with friends and family in the Dublin and Wicklow Mountains, including a visit to Avoca Mills and the Meeting of the Waters. It was great to be able to have a look around the mill which is still working – the oldest working mill in Ireland I think and free to enter. Afternoon tea in the coffee shop wasn’t bad either!

 

Cobh to Clare

or the scenic route from Dublin to Doolin

 

It was a beautiful sunny day when we left Dublin and we had a lovely drive to Cork to visit my cousin and her family. We took a detour to Cobh on the way so as not to arrive too early. By this time the wind had started to get up and rain was threatening.

Next morning the rain was horizontal so we enjoyed a forced rest-day indoors with good company, good food and a bit of forward planning for our trip to Normandy later.

 

 

We drove into Cork the following morning and had a walk around the English Market and St Fin Barre’s Cathedral before getting on the road to Tralee via the Dingle Peninsula; the ruins of a Celtic stone settlement from 500 BC; and, Slea Head.

 

DSC07914DSC07917DSC07919DSC07922DSC07924DSC07926

 

It was so bitterly cold and wet in Tralee that night, I nearly didn’t stop to photograph this mural, but now I’m glad I did.

DSC07928DSC07930

 

We visited Ardfert Cathedral on the way to Talbert to get the ferry, then on to Kilrush, Kilkee, Doonbeg, Quilty, Spanish Point and Lahinch.

DSC07939

It was a short drive from Lahinch to Doolin. Lucky we didn’t want to see the Cliffs of Moher on the way as they were shrouded in rain clouds. Visibility didn’t improve throughout our stay but we’ve been there before so no great loss.

DSC07944

After checking into our accommodation at McGann’s Pub, we caught up with the family at the Doolin Hotel for our grand-nephew’s post-Confirmation function –  something like a wedding reception with the bride and groom replaced by 100-plus children and their families, all in fine attire.

DSC07953

We had dinner at McGann’s that night with some of the family, then enjoyed the session afterwards.

DSC07964

 

 

DSC07955DSC07957

We drove through the Burren on the way back to Dublin.

DSC07967 (2)DSC07968DSC07969

Next stop: parts of England and Scotland.

 

Back to Ireland – 5 April 18 June 2018  

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Two and a half weeks into the trip and it’s still wet and miserable. Summer happened last Saturday. The sun came out. So did the shorts and short-sleeved tops, revealing an unsightly amount of bare lily-white skin. I’m still cringing.

We did manage to get out a couple of times, first to Dubllin Castle to see the art exhibition ‘Coming Home: Art & the Great Hunger’ a visual interpretation of the Famine with artworks from the 1830s to the present. 

The Great Hunger (1845-52) was the worst demographic catastrophe of nineteenth-century Europe. The conflicting need to remember and the desperate need to forget, result in an extraordinarily moving exhibition… Curated by Niamh O’Sullivan.

The second exhibition, ‘Caution! Fragile – Irish Glass – Tradition in Transition’ was at the National Museum of Ireland in Collins Barracks. This place was an absolutely fascinating treasure trove. We went for the glass exhibition but there was so much more. We spent hours there but still didn’t see all of the exhibits, about thirty, so I hope we get the chance to go back.

We also got to catch up with some family and friends.

Link

Thursday 12 April. 2018

It’s a week since we left Darwin, flying to Dublin via Singapore and Abu Dhabi, it was an uneventful trip.


During our 10-hour stopover in Singapore we visited the Kampong Glam area and Haji Lane, places we hadn’t heard of on previous trips and well worth the trip.

Singapore airport, Changi, is interesting enough in itself with an indoor orchid garden and rooftop sunflower garden at Terminal 2.


Our Ethiad flight landed in Dublin 30 minutes early and we had no delays with collecting our luggage or getting through Imigration, which would have been great except that without an Irish SIM card I couldn’t phone my brother who was picking us up. I had to use the free Dublin Airport wifi to message our daughter Aisling in Sydney, who messaged Barry in Dublin, who eventually came to get us after being parked behind the airport plane-watching, waiting for the Ethiad plane to land! The weather was bleak – cold, grey and raining.

A week later it hasn’t improved. The only place we’ve been other than grocery shopping is the Phoenix Park which we drove through yesterday. We saw a couple of herds of deer quite close to the road but didn’t get out of the car, it was too cold.

Sydney to Darwin – The big drive home

Sydney – Tamworth

On Monday, the first day of our 4200-kilometre drive home, we left Sydney just after 11.00 am and drove through the Hunter Valley passed vineyards, coalmining, horse breeding and sheep and cattle rearing country to Tamworth, stopping only at Wilberforce for fuel and Bulga to eat lunch.

We got to Tamworth around 6.00 pm.The information centre was closed but we managed to find the tourist park we’d stayed at before.

Tamworth – St George

We did a bit of shopping before leaving Tamworth next day, then stopped for fuel at Barraba and had a pitstop at Warialda Apex Park. After getting an hour back when we crossed the Queensland border, we stopped for lunch in Goondiwindi and visited the information centre and the statue of Gunsyng.


We got to St George just after 4.00 pm, checked into our cabin and went for a walk along the Balonne River.



St George – Barcaldine

On Wednesday we left St George for Barcaldine. On the way we saw an echidna, a very special privilege, scurrying into the undergrowth by the side of the road; and, a couple of herds of cattle being driven along the ‘Long Paddock’; again, not  something you get to see every day..

We stopped for lunch at Meat Ant Park in Augathella, then fuelled up and drove on to Barcaldine through Tambo and Blackall.

Barcaldine – Mt Isa

Before leaving Barcaldine on Thursday morning, we visited the Shearers Memorial and the remains of the Tree of Knowledge. 



Longreach
was our first top for fuel then Winton where we watched the reconstruction of the Waltzing Matilda Centre while we ate lunch. The original was destroyed by fire in 2015.

We had a pitstop at McKinley and fuelled up again at Cloncurry before arriving at Mt Isa around 6.00 pm..

Next day we intended doing a tour of the Hard Times Mine but it was closed for maintenance so instead we just had a walk around town, drove to the lookout, went back to the cabin for lunch, then drove out to Moondarra Dam.



Mt Isa – Renner Springs
We left Mt Isa at 9.15 am and drove to Camooweal where we stopped for fuel before crossing the border back into the Northern Territory and getting back another half an hour, so it was now 10.55 am not 11.25 am as it was in Queensland. 

We stopped at the Barclay Homestead around 1.oo pm and ate lunch, then at the Threeways for fuel at 3.10 pm before getting to Renner Springs at 4.15 pm, where we stopped for the night.

The walking tracks were shortened by the recent rain but we saw plenty of birdlife around the motel and dam.

Found this pair on our way to dinner.



Sitting outside our room after watching our last outback sunset, I suddenly had a green tree frog land in my lap! 
Renner Springs –  Darwin

Between the resident cockerel and the ‘ventilated’ curtains, we didn’t need a wake-up call the next morning.

So we started the last leg of our journey and left Renner Springs at 8.40 Sunday morning. We stopped for fuel at Elliot and Mataranka and had a pitstop at the explorer Alexander Forrest memorial cairn. We were going to eat lunch at Bitter Springs but it was closed due to a crocodile sighting so we continued on to a roadside stop just before King River.

After lunch it was less than an hour’s drive to Katherine where we fuelled up, then on to Adelaide River for our last pitstop before the final drive home, arriving in Darwin at 5.30 pm.


It rained for a week after we got home!

Well that’s it, the end of another journey. Thanks for joining us. Hope you enjoyed it. Bye for now!

Sydney break before the big drive home

It was lovely to be back with family, even if it was just for the weekend.


We had a domestic day on the Saturday, going to Chattswood shopping and unsuccessfully trying to get my iPad problem sorted. By this stage the battery was so swollen I was advised not to use it all because it was in danger of exploding and killing us with the lethal gas it would emit. This is one of the reasons my blog is so far behind.

Sunday the weather was unpredictable and windy. We ended up going to Manly Dam in the afternoon where we were treated to a black swan courtship performance.


Adelaide to Sydney highlights continued

Bairnsdale to Eden 

After the very informative and enjoyable tour of St Mary’s Church and visiting the information centre nextdoor, we started our journey to Eden – as in the town, not the ‘Garden of …’.

This was one of the most enjoyable day’s drive. The misty mountain roads made driving enchanting without being too dangerous and the walk in the Drummer Rainforest after lunch was just magical.

imageimage

 

I love Eden. We stayed there once before. Again, the only accommodation the information centre  could find us was a motel. No kitchen facilities meant we had to eat out. First we checked out the views from a couple of lookouts before having dinner at a lovely Chinese restaurant, the Golden Ocean, where the food and service were excellent. The staff went out of their way to make us feel welcome and nothing was too much to ask. It even said on the menu that if there was something you wanted that wasn’t on there, they’d do their best to make it for you.

Eden to Batemans Bay

Before we left Eden. We drove down to the very popular Aslinn Beach, the beachfront of the local tourist park.


From Eden we went to Merimbula and the Blue Pool, though it wasn’t very blue due to an algae outbreak. From there we drove to the beautiful Bermagui where we stopped for lunch.


At Batemans Bay we checked into the tourist park, shopped for groceries, then went for a drive to the beautiful beaches nearby, before going for a walk along the seafront.DSC07366

On our second day at Batemans Bay we finally had the big breakfast we’d been carrying with us since Broken Hill!  We walked that off at Eurobodella Botanic Gardens on our way to Mogo, a picturesque little town we’d been to quite a few times, the main attraction for us being the cheese tasting, although many go for the fudge, ice cream and pies. Overall it’s a very tasty place.

DSC07373DSC07377DSC07378DSC07381

DSC07384

lrg_dsc07363

Community Building Mogo

We went back to the cabin for lunch, then drove across the bridge to Nelligen, another historic little township.

DSC07390DSC07396

Batemans Bay to Sydney

We started the last day of our Adelaide to Sydney roadtrip around 9.00 am, stopped for lunch and a visit to the craft shop at Berry, then at Bald Hill Lookout, before arriving at our destination around 4.15 pm.

DSC07403DSC07401

 

 

Adelaide to Sydney highlights continued

Broken Hill to Mildura

Before leaving Broken Hill we did a quick tour of the Pro Hart Gallery which was fascinating and we wished we had more time to spend there but we had to press on. We were going to lose half an hour when we crossed into Victoria later that day.

DSC07287DSC07289DSC07292

We stopped by the river in Pooncarie for lunch.

Then it was on to Mildura where we appreciated the airconditioning of the Information Centre while they found us accommodation – it was 44ºC outside. The only cabin was a fair bit out of town, expensive and we had to make the bed ourselves. Not impressed!

It was too hot for us to even go for our walk so we just drove back into town, had a drive down by the river, then shopped for dinner before heading back to the airconditioning.

Mildura to Echuca

We drove to Swan Hill on the Murray River and ate lunch there before heading to Echuca where the only available accommodation was even more expensive but it was a beautiful fully equipped apartment with a spa and laundry.

DSC07297DSC07299DSC07300DSC07301

We had a look at the waterfront area where we were going to go on a river cruise the next morning and did the usual drive around town before shopping for dinner then heading home.

The lamb chops with baked potatoes and green beans went down a treat.

After dinner I decided to take advantage of having a laundry and did a load of washing, but when I went to get the clothes out of the dryer before going to bed I realised that the dryer had just been turning but not drying! I rang the host first thing the next morning and she offered me the use of the dryer nextdoor as there was nobody staying there that day. Needless to say, I took her up on that offer but it put our departure back by about an hour. We would have missed the river cruise but, as it turned out, the cruise wasn’t running that day and in any case it was raining  so we just got back on the road.

Echuca to Bairnsdale

Our first stop was Glenrowan, the site of Ned Kelly’s last stand.

DSC07302

Myrtleford was our lunch stop when there was a break in the drizzling rain.

DSC07303

Then we headed to Bairnsdale via the Great Alpine Way, a long twisting climb through the mountains and some astounding scenery.

DSC07309DSC07310DSC07315DSC07316

When we checked in at the tourist park in Bairnsdale,  I thought Brian had found religion because he asked if the local Catholic church was open. Then he reminded me that it was no ordinary church and we had visited it with our girls and my mother years earlier.

We visited St Mary’s the next morning. Its reason for fame is its frescoes painted by an Italian artist with a sense of humour, for example he painted some cherubs with their heads on back to front and modelled some of his subjects on locals.

DSC07324DSC07325DSC07326DSC07327

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adelaide to Sydney highlights

Yorke Peninsula was our first destination. The landscape on the way was vast, beige and pretty barren, with only stubble left where the crops had already been harvested.

However Coobowie, where we spent our first night, is a bird haven especially popular with pelicans and quite pretty.

Next day, not far from Coobowie, we passed through Wattle Point Wind Farm, the largest one we’ve ever come across.

At Innes National Park we walked to the lighthouse at Stenhouse Bay and around Inneston Historic Township.


That night we stayed in Wallaroo at a lovely heritage-style motel, the Sonbern Lodge, opposite the old train station.

Next day we stopped to eat lunch by the river at Jamestown.


Later we got to Broken Hill, checked into a tourist park, then did enough shopping for three days before having a drive around town. It was too hot to do anything outside, with the temperature around 40 degrees and forecast to get even hotter. Back at the cabin, trying to deal with a black ant invasion, we got a text message informing us the power company was cutting off supply from 8.00 am to 4.00 pm the next day. Not good.

True to their word, the power went off at 8.08 am before we had time to cook the big breakfast we’d bought the ingredients for. Brian had to put them and the rest of the food that had to be kept refrigerated into the car fridge and take them all with us for the day.

First we went to Silverton, another historic town, and had a look around the remaining buildings, the John Dynon Gallery and the Mad Max Museum before having a refreshing beer at the Silverton Hotel.

The power was still out when we got back to Broken Hill so we went to see the Broken Hill Sculptures and the Miners Memorial lookout.

DSC07279 DSC07280 DSC07271 DSC07262 DSC07261 DSC07282

 

 

DSC07245

DSC07246 DSC07248 DSC07250