We arrived in Ireland just over three weeks ago … and guess what … we love it! Surprise surprise.
We crossed over from Wales to the bottom of the East coast at Rosslare. We tried to see as much as we could in a couple of days. We managed to get to Waterford … home of Waterford Crystal. I thoroughly enjoyed wondering around the showroom and looking at all of the beautiful crystal, however, I didn’t buy anything … our lifestyle and crystal just don’t go hand in hand. From there we headed along the southern coast and stopped at Cobh an Coon where the Titanic left from on its tragic journey. Then along to Clonakilty. However, that is as far as we got along that coast. I would have loved to have made it to the Ring of Kerry, unfortunately it isn’t going to happen on this trip to Ireland. We had to start heading up to Laytown for our housesit. On our way north we did a “drive through” through Cork and then headed to Blarney to visit the famous castle.
I gave kissing the Blarney Stone a good shot but I’m afraid I had no idea what was expected and when this old guy told me to lie down (we are about three stories up) he would hold me, I had to trust him and slide down on my back, hanging upside down and kiss the Blarney Stone. I failed. I thought I was going to throw up. I had gone ahead of John and when he came up he did it … just … and told me I wouldn’t handle it, which made me feel better.
However, I really enjoyed the beautiful grounds with all of the autumn colours.
That night we stayed at Cashel … famous for the Rock of Cashel … which as it turns out is the ruin of an older cathedral/castle? Hard to tell from a distance. We were really pushing it to make sure we arrived on time in Laytown.
We arrived on Friday 31 October. Suzie and Shay were lovely when we arrived. We had coffee and a huge chat followed by great homemade soup and sandwiches and a drive around the area. The house is a small two storied terrace house but fairly modern and completely immaculate! I had no intention of repeating the farm in France episode. Suzie and Shay had the house looking immaculate for us … scarily so …I took photos of exactly where everything was placed so we could return it in the immaculate condition that we found it. Jack de Cat is a gorgeous old 17 year old black and white beauty. He has his own bedroom and bathroom … ha! and sleeps most of the day. He jumps up each morning for cuddles and his treats. He sits on the chair next to me while I have a coffee and check my emails and then he heads back to bed for a lot of the day. He wonders in and out of the catdoor but joins us in the loungeroom at night when the fire is going. First of all he used to come close for cuddles, then he started jumping on my armchair and walking across my lap and then he decided he really liked me and sat on my lap. So I think I have made it as a “cat lady”!
When Suzie and Shay left they had a slow cook meal on for us, red wine and flowers on the table. We are their 8th house sitters so they are professionals at it. Suzie left two boxes of tourist information … all neatly sorted into different areas, a folder with the manual for every appliance in the house and a folder with everything we could possibly need to know about the house and the area.
We joined the local gym which has a pretty good gym area and an indoor (of course) 20 metre pool. It is an half hour walk along a rather lovely beach. If the tide is in we walk the road. John has been doing a lot of weights and is trying to bulk up for sailing so is eating a lot. I on the other hand am doing light weights, swimming a km and running for 25 minutes on the treadmill and trying to slim down and lose weight. Two different agendas but we are both enjoying it. It is right on the beach so has a great outlook directly on to the beach.
We consider that we have been really lucky with the weather and have managed to get out for a walk most days. It is great walking along the beach or along the country roads.
We have headed off twice for overnight trips. The first time we only made it about 50 kms inland. This area around us has lots to see including the very interesting Newgrange which is an ancient burial mound and is older than the Pyramids. We found it very interesting. There was a visitors centre with a museum which we wondered through and then we had to catch a bus up to the actual site and where a lovely lady took us on a guided tour.
We also visited the Hill of Slane but Slane Castle where U2 produced an album was closed for the winter. Unfortunately most things are closed for the winter but we are managing to find enough to keep us occupied.
We are really enjoying being in the house and it is perfect because we have the van parked right outside the front door … literally about 8 steps to the door of the van. This has given us the chance to wash and iron (thats a first) every bit of our summer and winter clothes, plus spring cleaning everything else in the van. I have put everything through the dishwasher etc etc etc. John is hanging special hooks in the back to store poles, outside washing broom etc etc. Usually we do all of the spring cleaning (or winter close down more like it) in a caravan park … but this is perfect.
Last weekend we woke up Saturday morning and the sun was shining brilliantly so we threw some food in the van and headed to Galway. The plan had been to watch all of the rugby on TV but the weather was just too good. Fortunately we found a pub right around the road from where we parked the van for the night (in a churchyard with paid parking … that was also a first!) and we managed to watch the main game for the day … France beat Australia!
The next day we drove up along the west coast to Sligo and I have to say it was my favourite drive of the whole year. The autumnal colours combined with the blue water and skies were just divine!
Today we had Shay’s brother Aidan around for coffee. John phoned him yesterday and invited him around. He was a lovely fellow and it was great to hear more about the area. This afternoon we hit the gym again. Tomorrow more van maintenance and gym.
We did go into Dublin one day by train but it bucketed down all day. We managed some admin jobs and got the lay of the land though. We will head back there soon for some actual sightseeing.
So … that is where we are now. I hope to go back through the photos and do some more blogs of our adventures in the last couple of months over the next week or so.