Monthly Archives: June 2013

I can’t believe it!

most influential blogger award

most influential blogger award

Recently, I was nominated by SwittersB in his blog for the Most Influential Blogger Award – goodness knows why, but I’m honoured to be mentioned, thank-you, SwittersB. There are usually a series of questions that reveal some aspect of the nominee’s life, thoughts, passions, visions. So here are the questions, and my totally mundane answers……

1-If you could create your planet what would it look like? Utopia – might as well aim high.

2-If you could visit one nation you have never visited before, what nation would that be? I haven’t visited many; top of the loooong list at the moment, I think, would be Morocco – hope it’s considered a nation.

3-Have you ever taken a long distance train trip? The longest train trip I have taken was from Brisbane to Roma (in Australia), many years ago. It only takes about 6 hours to drive now but back then it was an overnighter and I slept the whole way , so it wasn’t very exciting.

4-What is something you would collectively change about humanity? Greed and jealousy

5-What is your favourite song? It changes all the time, at the moment probably P!nk’s “Just Give Me a Reason”

6-If you could meet one person who is still alive who would you choose to meet?  I’d love to meet all of the amazing people whose blogs I follow, so I’d have to pull a name out of a hat to choose just one!

7-If you could choose one symbol to represent you, what would that symbol be and why? A compass – and not particularly for the travel connection, but, the symbolism relating to time and personalities strike a chord with me in relation to my journey through life and my children. You’ll have to research the symbolism of a compass for yourselves if you want to understand more, hahaha!!

Now to give this worthy nomination to others……

Positive Bloomer

Brown Road Chronicles

Evis Lens


Sticky Notes and Quotes

Anna Lea West

Jump for Joy


Swimming to My 50’s

Marge in Italy

Sketch Away

Daydream Tourist

Freedman’s Travels

Ambling around Brisbane


Filed under Blog Awards, Travel

Yay, a good day in Northern Ireland!

13th May 2013

With a bit of backtracking again this morning I got out of Derry and headed in the right direction to see the Giants Causeway. Came across a sign for the Giants Causeway Scenic Route, yeah, I’ll take that, better than staying on the highway. Then I kept passing these little signs about some road being closed between certain times but didn’t take too much notice until I came to a bloody road-block – WTF again! I cannot believe the trouble I am having with getting from A to B at the moment. Okay, turn around and head back to where I’d seen a couple of vans turn off earlier and go that way; oops, I’ve gone from small road to even smaller one, but it’s too narrow and wet to turn around so I keep going and eventually come out somewhere near where I’d turned originally. One day I am going to learn, look it all up properly, take notes and follow the damn directions, don’t take detours – one day………

Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland

Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland

I didn’t realize but the Giants Causeway is under the National Trust and classified by Unesco so there’s a massive visitors centre and car park quite a way from the site with all the whizz bang facilities. Shop, cafe, interactive displays, guided tours, audio tours and buses to ferry you back and forth if you wish. I got my audio guide and headed down on foot, at times I almost got blown along, the wind was ferocious. It really is well worth a visit and they present their tours and information in a very original and entertaining way. The mythical story of how the causeway came to be is much more fun than the scientific facts, guess that’s to be expected though. I thought I’d only be there maybe half an hour or so but dragged myself away after a few hours to face the road again.

Finally I used some common sense when booking a place to stay; as probably my only sightseeing in Belfast will be the docks where the Titanic was built, I looked for something around that area. See, my thinking was that it should be well signed, because they now call it the Titanic Quarter. Yay, I was right for once, big signs all the way and straight to the hotel with no dramas, even had time to take in the big new centre this afternoon as it stays open until 7 at night.

Entrance to the Titanic Centre, Belfast

Entrance to the Titanic Centre, Belfast

Now, if you have even the slightest interest in the story of the Titanic, this is one excellent place to go. I’m always a bit skeptical when they put these big visitor centers in, but this one is something else. I would go so far as to say it’s the best of this type of thing I’ve ever visited. There are nine different galleries that take you from conception to the aftermath and if you go to Belfast, do not miss it. I absolutely loved it and am coming back tomorrow for a walking tour around the dock area for more of all things Titanic.

So, two successful visits in one day – in Ireland, no less – maybe my luck has made a turn for the better; fingers crossed!


Filed under Mid-life travel, Northern Ireland, Travel

Derry and the crazy drunk guy

12th May 2013

After driving over the same bridge and back three times, I stopped and worked out from google maps that I had come in the opposite side of the river to what  I thought! Fuck, I’m sick of trying to navigate without maps of towns or a GPS!!!! Sorry, but it is soooooo frustrating and then when I did find the correct street name I couldn’t find the actual place. So, one frantic sounding phone call to the owner, and she said she’d be with me in a few minutes. You wouldn’t believe it but I was actually less than 10 meters from the place and didn’t know it. Turns out she was having bathroom troubles so I stayed in her sisters B&B next door! Oh, by the way, I’m in Londonderry, or Derry, as it’s often called by those who live here.

Cannon along the Walls of Derry, Londonderry

Cannon along the Walls of Derry, Londonderry

Went for a walk along the top of the old walls of Derry for a bit then called in to a pub recommended by the B&B owner and listened to some great Irish music for a while before heading back to catch up on some journaling. I even spent some time sketching the band, and then regretted it, because after a while I realized they were looking at me strangely – my habit of checking what I’m drawing every few seconds must have looked pretty strange. Or maybe they thought I was just having a good perve!!

I’d not long dropped off to sleep than I woke up to some guy knocking on the front door of the B&B, calling out to Mick to let him in. He just kept knocking and yelling, then he started banging and swearing, I was a bit scared because the owners weren’t on-site and I didn’t know how many other people were there. Then I heard someone talking to him but he just kept yelling. All I could think was, oh crap, everyone at home will say I shouldn’t have come to Northern Ireland and I haven’t seen Europe yet! A while later I heard some other people come along and they, along with the drunk guy, came inside and stumbled upstairs – I dead set had my head under the blankets but straining to hear what was happening. Then, such an anticlimax, they must have gone to their rooms, doors banged and peace descended!

If I’d been a bit braver I would have banged a few doors myself in the morning to wake them all, but thought better of it. So, the big topic at breakfast amongst the oldies (and I’m including myself here), was the nocturnal happenings – and none of us were any the wiser when I left than we’d been last night. But it just goes to show I guess that staying in reputable places and areas is not necessarily going to keep the crazies or drunks away.

Donegal Castle Ireland

Donegal Castle Ireland

I just realized, I was so peeved about my navigation problems when I started writing this that I haven’t said anything about my day before then. A few people have told me that Donegal is a lovely place, so I made sure to go through there today. I didn’t have a very good look around, (it was raining again), but I did pay to go through the Donegal Castle. Parts of it were kind of cute but some parts looked out of character, like they were too new or something. Not that I particularly cared, I was out of the car and out of the rain – what more could I ask for.

Abbey Hotel restaurant, Donegal

Abbey Hotel restaurant, Donegal

It was Mother’s Day at home today so I decided to treat myself to lunch at a gorgeous old fashioned restaurant in the centre of the town; The Market House  Restaurant at the Abbey Hotel. I’d have to say, it was one of the best meals I’ve had for ages, roast with all the trimmings – even a Yorkshire pudding. and a huge selection of desserts to choose from afterwards.

Sometime during the day I had spotted another great ruin in the middle of a paddock, and couldn’t resist doing a U-turn to try and get a photo – I ended up having to do three u-turns, park up a side track and run across a busy highway – but I got the photos. Sometimes, when I look at them later, I think no-one will believe the colours are really that vivid, but the greens are truly so, so bright.

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Filed under Mid-life travel, Northern Ireland, Travel


11th May 2013

Market stall in Galway

Market stall in Galway

I was up and at ’em early today, Galway was almost deserted when I started walking around the town – very unusual for me to beat anyone out the door. Even some of the market stalls were still setting up as I walked through. There was a stall with big wooden tubs full of different types of olives and peppers, and a shop with more cheeses than I’ve seen in one place before – very tempting, even early in the morning.

After running out of sights around the town centre I headed over for a look at the Spanish Arch and then spent some quality time in the museum – although not large, it’s a mine of Irish information.

One of the saddest stories I came across was about the execution, for mutiny, of a soldier by the name of James Joseph Daly in 1920. Long story short, Irish soldiers serving in the British Army in India started receiving news of the savage treatment being handed out to supporters of Irish freedom by a special troop of British soldiers, called the Black and Tans, back in Ireland; at first they just refused to carry out orders in protest, but one thing led to another, and in the end, fourteen of them were sentenced to death and many more received long prison sentences. Only one of these death sentences was actually carried out, JJ Daly was shot in November 1920 as a result of his belief in the fight for Irish Freedom. No matter what your beliefs are about the Irish struggles it’s a sad, thought provoking story, well worth reading the link above.

Corrib River, Galway, Ireland

Corrib River, Galway, Ireland

I’d seen a tiny café just outside the museum that overlooked the river, it looked a good spot for a hot chocolate and some quiet time to maybe try my hand at a sketch. You could have knocked me down with a feather when I walked inside. It was full to bursting with tables tucked in every nook and people standing waiting for tables; but the staff were lovely and soon had me ensconced at a table with hot chocolate and piece of cake – you need to keep your strength up with all this travelling, don’t you?

As the weather was positively horrid I decided to take a drive to a place over on the coast that someone had recommended; apparently it’s where the locals go – Clifden. I drove through another very special part of Ireland on the way, the Connemara; all gorgeous grasslands, rivers and round hills.  While walking off my lunch, I found an art gallery with some unusual mixed media pieces and asked the guy there whether they were a local artist’s work; turns out they were his and he owned the gallery. He was such a nice guy and in for a huge chat about all sorts of things, from scrapbooking to the state of Irelands welfare system; it seems no matter where we live we all have a moan about the same topics. He was showing me his stash of bits and pieces he has cut from books and magazines and I said he must be an excellent “fussy cutter” – a term some scrap-bookers I know use for cutting out around intricate shapes. He was rather impressed with the term, so, there you go, Lisa Kamphuis, the queen of fussy cutting, there’s a quite successful Irish artist using fussy cutting in his pieces. This is a link to his website, Gavin Lavelle, but this is a good site for him too.

Galway in the morning

Galway in the morning

I wasn’t quite brave enough to take any different roads back but the scenery is all so different that I wasn’t bored with it at all – and I managed to stop at a deserted cottage for some photos. I took a few outside then walked up to a partly boarded up window to have a look inside; I’m not sure who got the biggest fright, me or the sheep inside – but I did get a shot of them so it was all good. I also called in at a little pub I’d remembered seeing that overlooked the ocean just out of Galway for a very healthy dinner of a plate of chips and glass of red wine. Don’t you love not having to cook for other people and being able to have something totally inappropriate for dinner?


Filed under Ireland, Mid-life travel, Travel