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.

The Beatles Merseyside (2)

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

 

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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.

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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  

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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!

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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.

 

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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Next stop: parts of England and Scotland.