Back to Ireland – 5 April 18 June 2018 cont

A last taste of Ireland

During our last days in Ireland we concentrated on places around or close to Dublin.

We discovered a lovely walk along the banks of the River Liffey from Chapelizod to the Memorial Gardens in the shadow of the Phoenix Park.

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Nature’s flowers from the heart!

It wouldn’t be a trip to Ireland without a visit to the Hill of Tara.

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Dowth and Newgrange are other ancient burial mounds.

 

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Newgrange

 

The whole area is steeped in history.

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Slane Castle and Brewery

Slane Abbey

 

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Trim Castle

Closer to Dublin, we also explored Portmarnock, Malahide and Skerries  and a little further as far as Drogheda.

From a photo displayed in reception, I think we might be related to the original owner of Skerries Mills, Richard Flynn. I had an uncle Dick/Richard Flynn, and though not the same person, probably a relation as my Dad’s family came from around that area.

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Skerries Mills – We didn’t need to go to Holland to find windmills.

 

Malahide Abbey

 

Defensive forts called Martello Towers are dotted along the coast north and south of Dublin. The name comes from the tower they were modelled on at Mortella Point on the western side of the Gulf of San Fiorenzo, Corsica.
Read more at – History of Martello Tower

 

Drogheda was a good base to explore from.

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I’ll leave you with this idyllic Irish scene.

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Next stop Amsterdam!

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

England

From Edinburgh we drove to Newcastle-upon-Tyne where I used McDonald’s’ wifi to book us into the nearby Holiday Inn Express, which was sheer luxury in comparison to the previous night’s accommodation. It was on the outskirts of town so we went for a drive in the evening to find somewhere to have dinner.

 

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Next morning,  after a hearty breakfast which was included in the tariff, we got the very friendly, helpful staff at Reception to print out our boarding passes for our upcoming flight back to Dublin. We were flying Ryanair. With them you have to provide your own boarding pass, or pay something like €50 per person for them to do it at the airport. Your boarding pass can only be accessed within four days of departure an,d if you are not on a European passport, has to be in hard copy not electronic format. So it’s no easy feat producing one when you’re on the road without a printer in your backpack! I have noticed printers for public use in some airports but there’s no guarantee that it will be operational if you’re lucky enough to find one.

The rest of the morning was spent visiting the ancient South Shields’ ruins of the Arbeia Roman Fort. Parts of the site have been reconstructed to provide an insight to fort life at the time, around AD160 to 275.

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Working from home – we’ve come full circle

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Hadrian’s Wall was next on our list of ancient locations.

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The caretakers of Hadrian’s Wall

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View from Hadrian’s Wall

York

We got to York in plenty of time to have a walk on the city wall and around the old town including the Shambles and various churches and ancient buildings.

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The Shambles

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We tried Nepalese cuisine for the first time at TAAS restaurant where the staff were so attentive and friendly I felt guilty when I couldn’t finish the huge meal they’d served me.

Next morning we went for a walk to the River Ouse and around part of the town we hadn’t been to the night before. Saw some interesting wildlife.

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On our way from York to my cousin’s place in Skelmeresdale, Liverpool, we visited more ruins: Sawley Abbey – a Cistercian abbey founded in the 10th century and the Roman baths at Ribchester.

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It was a relatively short drive from Ribchester to Skelmeresdale. My cousin was working late but her husband welcomed us with a delicious dinner. We talked well into the night before going to my aunt’s house next-door to sleep. My aunt is in a nearby nursing home.

My cousin took us to see her the next day.

 

We took her around the corner to The Fox for achat and a cuppa.

She joined us again that evening for another sumptuous dinner at my cousin’s place, along with a family friend and later her sister who lives nearby. We had a good night talking about all of our travels and adventures past and planned.

After saying our goodbyes the following morning, we spent our last day in England visiting Antony Gormley’s Another Place – statues in the sea; and

 

the Beatles statues on the Mersey promenade, Liverpool.

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Then it was back to Ireland for a few days before taking off again to Europe.

 

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

 

Scotland

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Wallace statue, Stirling Castle

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

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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.

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Here’s a slideshow of the wheel in motion:

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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.

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

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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.

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Next, back to England.

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

Dublin to Liverpool and beyond 

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Catching up over high tea and dinner

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____________________________________________________

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

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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.

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

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Next stop Scotland!