Cornwall – Part Two

The second segment of our visit to Cornwall includes stops along the way on our drive from Penzance to Port Isaac, a bit about Port Isaac itself, and the drive to our first housesitting adventure in Bretforton.

We left Penzance around 10am and decided on a fairly direct route to Port Isaac with a couple of stops planned along the way. Originally, we had wanted to go to St Ives, but we’d heard stories about more traffic gridlock caused by a man with a bunch of wives, sacks, cats, and kittens….. no seriously, it was just another touristy town with no place to park so we didn’t even try.

And so our first stop was at Holywell Bay with its pair of small rocky islands just off-shore, and where some of the Poldark beach scenes are filmed.  As luck would have it, the NTS manages the property so we saved the £6 parking fee. As we walked down to the beach, there was a huge dune where kids were sliding down on boogie boards as if it were snow. They were having a blast!

The tide was out so we walked the width of the beach and back, and then found a shady spot to sit for awhile.  There were lots of families there, and again, many of them had the windbreak tarps set up. Some sat near the dunes, some by the shore, and others by the stream that wound down to the sea.  Happy kids were everywhere on this sunny day.

We stayed for about an hour and a half and then drove the last 90 minutes to Port Isaac.  Again, we skipped a stop we’d considered earlier – the beautiful beaches of Padstow – but we knew it would be busy, and we really wanted to have enough time to spend in Port Isaac since it was just an overnight visit.

We arrived in Port Isaac around 1pm and found our B&B, which was about 1km out of town, and much more affordable than the in-town spots. We had a nice room with a lots of space, access to a fridge, washer and dryer, and pretty outdoor patio.  Although we were an hour early, we saw our host, Roy, out working in the garden and we asked if we could leave the car as we were hungry and wanted to walk into the town to eat.

He let us check in right away, and then gave us a ride into town, dropping us off at the school where “Louisa” works, on the show “Doc Martin” –  and yes, you aren’t imagining things, there does seem to be a theme to this trip – we are often visiting film locations for many of the British TV shows Erik and I enjoy watching all winter.  First Poldark, now Doc Martin, and then later we will go to Blockley where Father Brown is filmed.

We went straight to the Chapel Cafe that we’d read about on Trip Advisor, and seconded by our hosts, and had a delicious lunch – I had fresh crab sandwich and Erik had the fish fingers sandwich. I highly recommend the restaurant which is housed in the same building as an art gallery/store.

After lunch, we wandered around the pretty village.  We picked up a Doc Martin guidebook map and checked out the Doc’s house/surgery, Louisa’s house and workplace, Bert Large’s restaurant, and a few other spots.  We climbed up the hill to get a wonderful view of the town and surrounding area and took lots of photos. It was so much fun!

Around 4pm, we walked uphill all the way back to the B&B – I think it was closer to a mile than a kilometre – and then sat out in the sunshine on our patio and read and chatted with our hosts – Roy and Christine.  We were both full from our big lunch, and too lazy to walk all the way back into town for dinner, so we pulled out all the random leftover snack food that we had kicking around, and ate it out on the patio.  Then Christine brought us our Cornish scones with strawberry preserves and clotted cream – yum! By the way, in Cornwall, you must put the preserves on first, and THEN the cream on top.

The next day, we had an excellent breakfast in the dining room of the main house that was filled with antique treasures, then we packed up, said our goodbyes, and headed out by 10am.

We had seven hours to do a four hour drive to our first house sit in the village of Bretforton in the Cotswolds, so we figured we’d make at least one stop along the way. We could have taken the A30 to Exeter and driven the big M5 freeway to save an hour of driving, but we decided to take the quieter A39 that hugged the coast and passed through Barnstaple before finally connecting to the M5.

When we saw the road got close to the sea, we turned off and spent an hour at Widemouth Bay. It was another pretty beach with the tide out and loads of families spending their last weekend at the seashore. Gradually the clouds crept in as we  enjoyed our last walk along the beach for this trip to the UK and so it was time to get back on the road.

We continued our drive toward Barnstaple where we briefly stopped for gas and decided to have a sandwich and use the washrooms since we didn’t know what lay ahead.  It turned out to be an excellent decision because an hour later we were stuck on the parking lot that they call the M5 on the Friday of the busiest bank holiday weekend of the year.  We had expected to be in Bretforton about 4pm, which would have been an hour early, but the traffic was so bad, that we finally turned off the M5 and took smaller roads a few hours later in Cirencester.  We eventually arrived at our housesit accommodation at 5:45pm.  What a long day!

The family was all ready for their trip to Spain and eager to show us around their beautiful home.  We were excited and trying to take in all of the information – how to use the stove, what to feed the dog and rabbits, where the vacuum was located, how to use the skeleton key locks, where to go for walks and groceries – the list was endless.

At 7, we went to the pub next door for supper and had an animated and enjoyable meal with the couple and their two daughters, who are aged 10 and 11.  We got back to the house by 8:30, and the family went straight to bed as they had to get up at 2:30 am (!) in order to get to the airport for their 4:30am flight (gotta love Ryanair).

Erik and I brought in our luggage and got settled into our own room to read for a little while before sleep, and Pom, our lovely, gentle, female black lab, came right into our room with us and slept on the floor.  It’s as if she already knew we’d be her caretakers for the week!

As we settled in for the night, we wondered what the next week was going to be like, but we both had a feeling it was going to great!

Next up: Our First House Sit

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Sliding down the dunes
Holywell Bay
Port Isaac, tide is out
Doc Martin’s house
The Pharmacy
Louisa’s house
Cheers from Port Isaac!

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Families on the beach
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This little guy didn’t want to go in the water
Traffic gridlock on the M5
I think I’m gonna like it here. 🙂

Cornwall – Part One

Land’s End

Our first night along the drive to Cornwall was in Plymouth, Devonshire.  It was about halfway to our destination of Penzance, and seemed like a good place to spend the night and try to catch up on a few zzzz’s.  We started off the day feeling pretty good, but once we were on the road for our final three hour drive after Bramshott, our energy began to wane.  First we got caught in the traffic drama that bypasses Stone Henge and we saw the great stone circle from a distance. Unless I can get up close and walk among the stones without a thousand other tourists, I’ll be happy to skip the site. We may return for a proper visit when we are staying at our second housesit which is only 20 minutes away if it’s less busy in September. We’ll see.

We stopped for some lunch and then soldiered on to Plymouth. Since Erik was doing all the driving, it was my job to keep him awake – no napping for me. I only wished my tin whistle wasn’t so snugly packed in my suitcase or I would have regaled him with a few tunes.

Driving took longer than we expected and we didn’t arrive at the Cassandra Guest House, in downtown Plymouth, until 7pm.  We checked in and then went for a walk about town before it got dark.  I hadn’t realized that Plymouth is the point where the Mayflower set sail for North America in 1620!  We took lots of photos along the promenade as the sun set, and saw the Plymouth Memorial Steps where all of the Mayflower passengers are listed.  Two surnames – Priest and Fuller – interest me as I have Quaker ancestors of those names from Norfolk, UK.  I wonder if there is some distance connection to these early pilgrims?

As it was a Saturday night, the bars along the Quay were busy and noisy.  Groups of young people, adorned in various costumes, were carousing and milling about – the Brits do love their Stag and Hen parties, and we enjoyed the spectacle. We stopped at one street side pub to get a late supper, only to find that few places were still serving food.   We stayed for a beer and then continued on our way, looking for a quick meal.  Eventually we gave up, went back to our guest house, looked online, and found a late night pizza place nearby where we shared a pizza at 10pm.  Finally to bed by 11 – we were exhausted!

The next day, after another big breakfast, we set off for Penzance, but chose to take the slower roads at least part of the way, in order to visit some of the little fishing villages along the coast.  Our first stop was not far, at East Looe.  We were lucky to find a parking spot, and then took our time wandering around the little town.  It was fairly touristy, but the shops were quaint and we enjoyed looking at all of the places boasting the “Best Pasty in the World!”.

We also laughed at how many warning/information signs were posted in the village.  Clearly, they are sick and tired of tourists doing stupid things – from “Do not feed the seagulls – they are vicious” to a sign with a tally of how many people have defied the “Do not jump off the pier” sign and had either been fined or died this year. Everywhere you looked, there was a “Do not…” sign. I wish I had taken more photos of them.

Back on the road, our next stop was Charlestown where parts of Poldark are filmed.  Unfortunately, it was getting busy now and after 15 minutes of driving around looking for a parking spot, we gave up and left.  This was just a harbinger of things to come as we had chosen to visit Cornwall on what turned out to be the busiest week of the summer – the last week of vacation.

We were getting hungry and tired so we got back on the faster A390 and headed for Truro.  Our trusty iPad GPS directed us to a large car park, and we were soon parked and walking around the centre of town.  It was quite an interesting city with lots of old buildings and cool shops. We went inside the beautiful cathedral and enjoyed the quiet for a few minutes.  Back outside, it turned showery so we tucked into a pub and had some lunch where we chatted with a young local couple and visited with their dog who was sitting quietly at their feet.  They gave us some advice about getting to Penzance, and soon we were back on the road. We arrived at our AirBnB studio suite about 4pm and checked in.  It was on Chapel Street, one of the oldest streets in Penzance, just a few blocks from the promenade. A bonus for Erik were the two pubs within the same block. The area is dotted with pirate logos and it turns out that we will just be a day or two short of participating in the Guinness Book of World Records “Pirates on the Prom” as they vie to regain their title for the most pirates in one place (current record is over 14,000 so it may be just as well that we are gone by then.)

We dropped off our luggage and then parked a few blocks down the road. Our room was a former art studio, in a separate building in the back of a larger house, with vaulted ceilings, and a partial wall dividing the bedroom with the rest of the studio.  Three skylights provided lots of natural light in the suite. There was a wood stove and a small but fully equipped kitchen, and it had a private garden patio, should the sun come out.

Chris and Liv, our hosts who live in the main house, were a retired couple just a little older than Erik. They were both really friendly and interesting and we had several long chats with them during our visit to Penzance. Among other things, we learned that Liv had dated Eric Clapton while they were in high school. We thought that was pretty cool! They had both worked in the film and TV industry, in set design I think, and Chris had a shop where he was building props for his pirate costume, including a pirate hat with a pirate galleon on top!

We spent four nights at the studio suite, eating home cooked food every night but one, and we really enjoyed the area in general. There was lots to see within walking distance, and we took several day trips to see some of the nearby sights. Here are a few places we visited.

St Michael’s Mount

Although only 5 km down the road from Penzance, and quite visible from the promenade near our B&B, this was another horrifically busy site.  It only took 10 minutes to drive there, but at least 20-30 to find a parking spot. We eventually had to give up, loop around, and go back to a beach lot about 1km away.  We paid for 2 hours parking (in retrospect we should have booked longer), and walked along the beach to the causeway.  This interesting island is only accessible by foot during low tide and so the pathway is opened during 4-6 hours each day, with a schedule posted. The rest of the time, you can take a small boat over and back for £2 per person each way although I suspect the lineup might be quite long, given the crowds visiting.

Once we arrived at the island and showed our NTS “get in free” card, we learned that the “queue” for the castle was about 90 minutes long, and the gardens were closed that day. Ah well. We navigated the crowds, sat on the grass for awhile, took a few pictures and headed back to the car.  This is another place we will have to visit some day when there aren’t 1000+ other tourists around. More info about St Michael’s Mount can be found here.


First of all, it’s it’s pronounced “Mowzle”, not “Mouse Hole”. This adorable little village is only a 10 minutes drive northwest from Penzance. As the streets are VERY narrow and there’s next to no parking, we parked about 1km outside of town and walked along the path to the quay. The village is tiny but it looks like it would be a really nice place to have a holiday “let”, especially if you have a kitchen (we didn’t see many restaurants).  We took some photos of the quirky buildings and of the people sunbathing on the empty cove (as it was low tide and there was a string of boats resting in the mud) and then walked back the car to continue our journey.  The weather was mild and sunny and I actually got a sunburn that day!

Porthcurno Beach

This was a non-starter.  I really wanted to visit this beach where some of Poldark scenes were filmed.  It was only a short drive from Penzance, but it was so busy that we could not find a parking spot and eventually had to give up and drive away.  Pics of Porthcurno can be found here.

Lands End, near Sennen

Next we drove another 20 minutes to most south-westerly point of England – Land’s End. Similar to Sagres, in Portugal, which was visited in the Spring, this rocky outcrop of land provided spectacular views from the the cliffs high above the sea. There was plenty of parking (£6 for the day with re-entry privileges for 7 days), however, we had to walk through a horribly touristy section which boasted no fewer than four ‘attractions” including Shaun the Sheep Experience (?!), and a number of fast food joints where we made the mistake of having a quick lunch (I’m sure that hot dog was the cause of my tummy upset the next day).  Once we passed through the commercial section, the walk along the coast was lovely and we took lots of pictures.

As a side note, I’ve heard that Lizard Point is an equally beautiful, and less touristy, spot to see but we didn’t have the time to visit – next time!

Levant Mine and Beam Engine

A little further up the coast, we stopped in at this National Trust site and were lucky to be able to join the last tour of the day.  We learned about the history of Copper and Tin mining to the Cornwall coast, and we got to go underground a ways to see what it was like in the narrow passageways. When out of work, the skilled Cornish miners have travelled all over the world to find work and so wherever there are mines, you will find men of Cornish heritage.  Levant mine was particularly interesting because it is one of the filming locations for one of my favourite shows “Poldark” about an 18th century mining family.  If you haven’t seen it, check it out – the book series is good as well.

The traditional Cornish Pasty (pronounced past-y, not paste-y), is made with a tasty combination of beef, potato, turnip, and onions in a hearty pastry crust. Some believe that the crimped edge of the pasty enabled the miners to hold their meal in one hand, and then toss the edge of the crust where their arsenic-covered fingers had held it.  Regardless, Cornish pasties can be found all over Cornwall and we enjoyed them several times while we were there.  I suspect I’ll be trying my hand at making some when I get home this fall.

Penzance turned out to be the perfect spot to use a home base and the four days were definitely not enough time to see everything at a leisurely pace. Subsequently, we took our time and only chose a few places to visit.  We’d go for a week if we were doing it again.  We also found that the traffic and parking was terrible and it would have been better to have come after school starts in September. However, it’s always nice to know we have to go back again some day!

Next Up: Cornwall, Part Two



Mayflower Memorial Steps
Plymouth marina
Pirate ship in Plymouth
East Looe, Pasty Shop
East Looe
Another of the best?
Truro Cathedral
Artist Studio, Penzance. Home for 4 nights
St Michael’s Mount


Land’s End
Land’s End
Land’s End
Levant Mine
Levant Mine
Half a pasty


Bramshott Camp – WW1

Just a little post-edit remark – I’ve noticed that this particular blog post seems to be getting hits every day and I’m not sure why.  Is it from people doing a google search for Bramshott, or has my post been linked some place?  I’d love to know why.  So if you have just happened upon this post, would you mind letting me know how you came upon it, either in the comments section, or by emailing me at kelownagurl at gmail dot com.  Even if the post was not what you were looking for!  Thanks!


We had a great nine hour flight via Westjet, direct from Calgary, and were lucky to be able to book the bulkhead seats on this trip so Erik had plenty of leg room. The only downside to our flight was was arriving at 10am (body time 2am), but our hosts at the Gatwick House B&B in Horley, which is only a 5 minute bus ride from Gatwick, graciously allowed us a very early check in and we went straight to bed around noon, for a 3 hour nap.  We dragged our butts out of bed, had an early dinner and forced ourselves to stay awake until 8pm. We had a fitful 11 hour sleep but awoke feeling fairly refreshed, albeit a bit buzzed.  Ah jet lag, I do not love you.

And so, after a “Full English Breakfast” for Erik and yogurt and toast for me, our hosts drove us back to the airport where we picked up our rental car and hit the road.  We had a 4 hour drive to Plymouth, on the outskirts of Cornwall, with one planned stop in Bramshott, Hampshire, along the way.

Bramshott is a small village about an hour’s drive southwest of London and was the site of two military camps in WW1 and WW2 – Bramshott Camp and Bordon Camp. It was here that many Canadian soldiers trained during the war before being sent to the front. I decided to visit the village because my Dad’s father, Robert Fleming Park, had been stationed here near the end of WW1 and I really wanted to see where he had lived for the 15 months he was in England. And when I looked at the map and saw that the village was practically along the route for our drive, I couldn’t resist.

As we first neared the village, we drove along the Canadian Memorial Drive which is lined with Maple trees.  We stopped to see if we could find the memorial stone, but it didn’t seem to be evident, so we drove a little further on to the church.  The sites of the camps themselves are nothing more than old roads and overgrown grass and bushes now, with all signs of buildings having been long removed. However, there is a memorial stone and quite a bit of info both inside St Mary’s church and outside in the cemetery.

The No 12 Canada General Hospital served the area, and 318 Canadian soldiers are buried in the St Mary churchyard. Some of them died from wounds received in battle, but most had survived the war, only to succumb to the 1918-1920 Spanish Flu pandemic that infected over 500 million people worldwide, killing 50-100 million people (3-5% of the world’s population). 187 Canadian soldiers were buried at St Mary’s in 1918 alone and most of those young men died of the flu.

As I looked through my Grandfather’s military records (available online at the Canadian Archives) , I could see a number of things had occurred that would enable my grandfather to return home to marry my grandmother, and ensure my father was born.  If things had gone differently, I may never have been born!

The Canadian government brought in the Military Service Act in August of 1917, after much debate, which required that all able bodied men from 20-45 serve in the military if called. My grandfather, born in 1897, turned 20 that very month, and so I’m sure he expected to be called up soon. I only knew him as an older man, and he always seemed very quiet, peaceful, and devout, and I had a hard time imagining that he would have wanted to go to war.  However, after he finished school, he served six months in the 6th Regiment D.C.O.R. (Duke of Connaught’s Own Rifles) in Vancouver (January-June of 1917) while working as a telegrapher, followed by 5 months in the Railway Service Guard in Vancouver.  On December of 1917, he had his military medical exam and was called up on January 3, 1918 to the 1st depot Battalion for training at the Drill Hall in Vancouver.

His personnel records are really interesting to read, as they include many details on his physical stature, weight, and medical and dental health. He was healthy and categorized as A2 “fit for despatching overseas”, although it was noted that he had enlarged tonsils, a fact which would come in play later.

In April he was transferred to the 68th Battery and in June 1918, he set sail on the troop ship, SS Waimana, for England. Luckily, this was only about four months before the end of the war, so he would never be sent to the front.

I’m not sure where the ship landed but Robert spent the next few months training as a gunner at Witley Camp, SE of London. After the war ended five months later on November 11, 1918, he was transferred to Camp Bordon and Camp Bramshott, where he work as a driver for the records office. During his short term in the military, I suspect he likely used his skills as a telegrapher.

It was during this time that so many young soldiers were becoming ill and dying of a virulent form of influenza that seemed to prefer healthy young people.  The bug got into their lungs and most died of pneumonia within a few days.

Although the war was now officially over, there was still work to be done and my Grandfather wouldn’t be demobilized until the following year. However, in March of 1919, he was admitted to the Canada General Hospital in Bramshott with bronchitis and tonsillitis.  His medical records indicate his fever was as high as 103* at time.

He remained in hospital for ten days before being transferred to a larger hospital in Orpington, southeast of London, where he had a tonsillectomy and spent another month recovering.  He was finally discharged in June 1919 and sent back to Bramshott where he served out the rest of his tour. On August 9, 1919, he embarked on the SS Cassandra back to Canada (train to Vancouver), and he was discharged from the army on Aug 25, 1919.

And so now I found myself walking through St Mary’s church cemetery in Bramshott, looking at all of the young soldier’s gravestones, each marked with a Maple Leaf. The cemetery is kept pristine, with the grave markers lined up perfectly, and the lawn around them carefully mowed. I wondered how many of these men were friends or colleagues of my grandfather and what it must have been like to attend a burial almost every day.

As we walked through the cemetery, a woman approached us on her way through.  We explained why we were there and she told us how important the Canadian soldiers were, and still are, to the people of the area.  She explained how even now, on the Wednesday closest to Canada Day (July 1), the local school has each student adopt a soldier’s grave, tidy it, and place a Canadian flag on each grave.  Then the community members have a ceremony and sing O Canada.  It was really touching to hear the reverence in her voice as she talked and I’ll admit I was choked up, with tears in my eyes.  And as I looked at the ages on the markers, so many just around 20, I tried to imagine having to send my now-19 year old son to war.  I couldn’t fathom it.

The woman encouraged us to look at the memorial items inside the church as well, and we saw that many of the pew cushions were embroidered with Canadian flags and other symbols such as moose and beaver and provincial flowers.  There were Canadian flags all over, and at least one stained glass window with pane for each province.  It was incredibly moving to think of the importance the local people still place on our soldiers, even 100 years later.

Next summer, it will be 100 years since my Grandpa arrived for his short stay in the military camps in the area.  I am so thankful that the war ended so soon after he arrived, and that he did not succumb to the Spanish Flu while he was ill.  With only a few changes to his life’s plan, he may never have returned to Canada to marry my Grandmother 10 years later, and my father may never have been born.

And so we took one last look around at the churchyard, drove slowly past the now empty fields where the camps and hospital had been located, and set off for our next stop – Plymouth, England, where the Mayflower stopped before her voyage to the new world in 1620.

Next up:  Cornwall

grandpa 1918 age 20
Robert Fleming Park, age 20
Railway Service Guards YVR 1917
Railway Service Guard Vancouver 1917
1st Depot Battery YVR 1918
1st Depot Battery Vancouver 1918
Maple Trees near Bramshott
St Mary’s church, Bramshott


Pew cushions embroidered with Canadian symbols




Heading Off On Another Adventure

We’ve had a wonderful, albeit smoky, summer in Kelowna and had lots of time for R&R for the last two months.  We spent time puttering in the garden, sipped our coffee on the deck every morning, ate dinner outdoors every night, read, hiked a lot up in Crawford, went to our meditative yoga class twice a week, cooked, worked on my genealogy, did a bit of belated spring cleaning, and of course, spent time with family and friends in Kelowna and Osoyoos. We also had fun taking care of three different cats – Big Kitsa, Little Kitsa, and Scout – and enjoyed visiting with one puppy, which was good practice for our pet-sitting plans this fall.

However, we also had to deal with smoky skies for at least half of the summer, and what turned out the be the longest drought in recent history (44 days with no precipitation as of today, Friday, Aug 11).  In fact, Kelowna hasn’t had any appreciable rain since June 1 (the only other rain was less than 1mm on June 28).  The fire season started early and there have been thousands of people evacuated for weeks in central BC, many homes  and cabins burned, thousands of cattle lost, and heavily smoky skies since the mid-July.  With temps in the mid 30’s for most of the summer, I was glad we have an  air conditioned house and car, and I’ll admit I’m looking forward to cool, clean skies of the UK soon. I’m beginning to wonder if a smoke-filled sky is going to be the new normal for summer in the Okanagan #ClimateChange?

And so now, in less than a week, we will be on a plane to London for our Housesitting Adventure.  First off, we will spend a week driving around Cornwall to check out some beautiful seaside villages, sandy beaches, rugged cliffs, and the gorgeous wild scenery that Erik and I have enjoyed so much when watching Poldark and Doc Martin.  With any luck, we will be able to visit a few of the film locations along the way.

After we tour around Cornwall, we begin the first of three house/pet sits that will span about 6 weeks in total.  The first sit is a week in the Cotswolds in a picture perfect village, next to a traditional pub, where we will have fun taking care of a black lab and two rabbits.

After the sit, we will stay in the Cotswolds for two more nights before our second housesit begins in North Dorset, about an hour north of Bournemouth. There, we will look after two rescue pointers for a week while their “parents” run a marathon in Patagonia, South America!

Again, we have two days off between house sits, and so after Dorset, we will drive up to Liverpool and visit some of the locations where my GG-Grandmother, Elizabeth Sinclair, lived before she left on a bride ship to Victoria BC in 1870.

Our last housesit is in a rural part of Lincolnshire, in east-central England.  There, we will be staying in an old converted barn, and will have four dogs to care for – two Spring Spaniels and two English Setters – as well as 10 egg-laying chickens. That will be our longest house sit at about 16 days and should be an adventure unto itself!

Finally, we will take a couple of days to drive back to London and then fly to Greece where we will spend our last week at a resort on the lovely island of Crete. And so, if we end up with cool showery weather for 7 weeks in the UK, we might at least end with a little warmer beach weather at the end.

I had thought we’d be home in time for Thanksgiving, but unfortunately we don’t return until October 12, about 3 days late.  I guess we will have to have a delayed Thanksgiving dinner with the family when we get home. Once again, my wonderful sister and her cat will be house sitting for us so we don’t have to worry about anything while we’re away.

I will definitely write a few posts about our house sitting adventures while we are away, but naturally I will have to be very vague about locations and personal details/photos of our accommodations, in order to respect the owners’ privacy. We are really excited about our trip and looking forward to “living like the locals” in England this fall.  If this goes well, we hope to do a few more housesits next year – possibly in New Zealand in the spring when we go to visit Erik’s daughter and our grandsons, and then maybe France or Italy next fall.

Here are a few pictures from our summer in the Okanagan.

We checked in on Daisy during the day when her owners were at work.
Okanagan Lake before the smoke arrived
Baking Sourdough
Campfire Singalong in Osoyoos
Forest Fire Smoke Settles in
You wouldn’t know there was a lake down there
Scout is about 10 weeks old
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Scout loved exploring the garden
We looked after Kitsa after she was spayed
She much prefers life without the cone
Hiking in Crawford
Big Kitsa loved sitting on the deck this summer
She is quite the mouser, bringing in at least one a day.  Today was a two-fer.

Using Googlemaps Offline

Although I always buy a SIM card when travelling so I have data while away from wifi, I have recently enjoyed using the googlemaps app offline when we are driving, and I have found it works really well.  Why pay for a GPS in your rental vehicle when you have an iPad or iPhone and Googlemaps?!  You simply download an area you plan to visit, and then use the GPS function on the app whenever you are driving (or walking). Here are the steps to show you how.

Just a warning – using your device as a GPS does use up your battery so be sure to take a cable to plug your device into the USB or cigarette lighter port of your rental vehicle so your device charges while you’re driving. I always take an extra cable to leave in the car for our entire trip.

(You can probably do this with an Android device as well but I don’t know how. You will have to go to youtube to find a how-to video.)

What you need:

  • An iPad or iPhone – the bigger the screen, the easier to use.
  • Enough memory space on your device to store downloaded maps.
  • A gmail account (easy and free to sign up if you don’t have one).
  • The Googlemaps app installed on your device.

To Download a Map to Use Offline

  1. It’s best to do this before you leave, or someplace where you have and a fast and  reliable wifi (or data) connection.
  2. Open Googlemaps on your device.
  3. Click on the top left-hand menu (three short horizontal lines indicate a menu).
  4. Log into your gmail account (if not already logged in) within the app.
  5. Type your destination in the search bar. It can be a city or a country.
  6. Click the “DOWNLOAD” button under the blue bar with destination name.
  7. Move map around so the area you want, fits inside the box. You can’t enlarge the download box so you may have to do more than one download to get entire area.
  8. You will see how much space you have available on your device at the bottom.
  9. Click DOWNLOAD in bottom right corner of your screen.
  10. Wait patiently.  It can take a long time to download, depending on the speed of your wifi. I often just walk away and come back later. You will see a percentage downloaded as it goes. It will continue to download in the background as long as you are connected to wifi or data, even if the screen goes to sleep, or the app seems to close and you will be notified once it has finished downloading.
  11. If you are unable to fit the entire area you want in the download window, repeat the procedure above, moving the box to download a different map segment with just a little overlap from your first download.  The overlap part won’t download again and mapping will be seamless when you are using it, despite having downloaded it in two parts.

Once you have all maps downloaded, you just use googlemaps gps as you normally do. Even when you are offline, if you type in a destination, the app will show you the map and give you directions as you drive.  If you make a wrong turn, it will reroute your map or give you suggestions for making a u turn.

As with any GPS, you have to use common sense and understand that there can sometimes be errors.  I find this is particularly true when using a GPS in small medieval villages in Europe, or areas where there is construction. Once in awhile, I tell Erik to ignore the GPS and go a different route. However, GPS directions are improving all the time.

Before we drive a particularly complex route, I sometimes look at sections of a map using Google Streetview so I can check what roadsigns to watch for, and try to figure out what lane we need to be in to get off the highway.

Below you will find a video of my iPad screen to show you how to download the maps.  I won’t have arrows on the screen to point out buttons to click but I will try to describe them and you can always pause the video or go back to figure out what I clicked.

I hope you find this helpful!!

Part One – How to Download Map 


Part Two – End of the download


Next up:  Preparation for our house/pet sitting trip to the UK on August 17!

Galway, Ireland, and Home Again!

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Old Galway City

June 14-16, 2017

Galway was our final stop along the Wild Atlantic Way, which starts in Kinsale, and actually ends long past Galway, winding 2500km all along the western coast of Ireland up to Derry.  We didn’t driven the whole thing of course – that would have required considerably more time than we had allowed, but we did manage to hit a number of segments, including the Ring of Beara and the Dingle Peninsula as well as plenty of straight highway road as well.

It was a 3 1/2 hour drive from Dingle to Galway, but we stopped just passed Limerick, for a visit to the famous Bunratty Castle.  We had looked online and decided to blow €20 to visit the castle and folk museum since we had some time to spare.  However, when we got there, we found out that you had to book online 24 hours in advance in order to get that price and we weren’t interested in spending €32 so instead, we walked around the town for awhile, ate a picnic lunch in the car, and then headed back to the highway to Galway.

We didn’t know what to expect of Galway but were pleasantly surprised.  It is a pretty big city but we had a B&B which was just a block from the downtown medieval core of the city. We had a safe parking spot and we could easily walk into the core whenever we wanted, and so we spent our last two nights wandering the interesting old streets of Galway. The River Corrib runs through the city, and there are several canals with locks built in the mid 1800’s. Streams seem to rush into the canals and river all the way along so everywhere you look, there is a lovely “water feature”.

We found a nice restaurant – the Quay Street Kitchen – and had an early meal, listened to some live Irish music in two different pubs (Taaffes Bar and Tig Coili), and then spent the rest of the evening at our B&B. Once again, it was showery, windy, and cool.

The next morning, after a full Irish breakfast (eggs, sausages, bacon, beans, tomato, and toast for Erik, egg and toast for me), we walked around the old part of town, enjoying the 400+ year old buildings, and the talented buskers on every block. The weather changed every few minutes, but the wind was fairly constant. Whenever it started to rain, we ducked inside a shop to browse around, and in one sweater shop, I bought Erik a traditional Irish “grandfather” shirt. I loved all of the beautiful knit sweaters and would love to get the pattern for one of the ponchos (see my photos below) – a new knitting challenge perhaps?!

On our second night, we ended up back in the same restaurant for dinner where we shared three starters, and then we sat on the street and listened to a great 5 piece band for at least half an hour.  There was a young woman doing Irish dancing, and a cute little 5 year old girl who was full of energy doing her own hilarious version of the dance. Eventually we made our way back to the B&B and started to get our bags ready for the long haul travel on Saturday.

On Friday we drove to Swords, a suburb of Dublin, near the airport and stopped at a mall where we had a late lunch and bought a few snack foods for dinner at our hotel. Then we checked into our hotel and Erik drove to the airport to drop off the rental car, and returned by shuttle. We needed to get to bed early because we had to be at the airport around 6:30 am for our 8:30am flight.  We figured we’d be home about 23 hours from the time we leave the hotel. Gotta love those long flights home….

This was our first time flying Westjet for a transatlantic flight and we were pleasantly surprised.  We were in row 4, and we seemed to have lots of room – much more leg room than some of the other airlines we’ve flown with. Our first leg to St John’s Newfoundland took just under 5 hours and we had to disembark, go through customs, drop off our bags again, and then get back onto the same plane.  It was nice to have a 2 hour break.  Our next flight took us to Toronto in about 3 1/2 hours and it was a bit of a bumpy ride at the end because of building thunderclouds.  Since we had a 4 hour layover there, we decided to use up two of our four free Priority Passes that come with our MasterCard and so we have access to Premium Lounges at airports around the world. We were able to find two comfy armchairs next to the window, enjoy free food and liquor, and really relax for about 3 hours. While we waited, there was a massive thunderstorm with torrential rain and the airport was shut down for about an hour to wait out the tornado warning.  Luckily for us, it all cleared before our 6pm flight and we had no delays in taking off for the final 4 1/2 hour leg of our trip.

By this time, we were getting pretty tired having been up for 18 hours already, and it was midnight to our bodies.  We hit some turbulence several times while early on in the flight and I was feeling quite nauseous from motion sickness and extreme fatigue.  While I was in the bathroom, we hit a big pocket of turbulence and I had to hang onto the bar along the wall to keep from getting thrown around.  Then the mirrored cupboard door above the sink flew open and I couldn’t shut it, and the corner was right at my eye level. I really had trouble getting dressed again without getting hit in the face by the cupboard door. Trying to keep my head low, I practically crawled out of the bathroom, and hurried back to my seat (thank god it was only 4 rows) hanging on to the seats for dear life.

Once I was buckled back in my seat, I breathed a sigh of relief but the bouncing around, coupled with the fatigue, made me feel sicker and sicker.  Eventually, once the turbulence was over, I rushed back to the bathroom and threw up everything I’d eaten in Toronto, and then I felt better and dozed off and on for the next two hours, just praying to be home soon. Unfortunately, I began to feel worse again for the last 30 minutes of the flight. The moment we landed, Erik asked the stewardess to allow me to get off first, and I made my way to the front pushing past all the “Plus” guests, leaving Erik to gather my belongings. Once out of the plane, I staggered into Kelowna airport, hoping I was going to right way since I didn’t have anyone to follow.  I made it to the arrivals area, saw my sister and left her with the few things I was carrying, and said “Here, take this stuff  – I’m gonna throw up” and then Iran off to the airport bathroom. Ugh, what a flight.  I am getting too old to do 24 hour travel days.  LOL…

Kathleen drove us home, and she had the bed all made up with clean sheets, food in the fridge, and the house spotless.  We looked around the garden and then I took a Gravol and went straight to bed. I just needed 8 hours of sleep I think.  I’m really glad our fall flights are going to be in two hops, and only 13 hours in total.

Unrelated to my motion sickness story above, I didn’t mention in my previous blog posts that throughout our trip, I had some stomach issues that I strongly suspect are gallbladder related and so we found that impacted our trip to a certain extent.  I really couldn’t enjoy the food along the way, especially in Spain and Portugal, because I was always being careful about what I ate, trying to avoid heavy, spicy, or fatty foods, and I found I could not drink alcohol at all, so for most of the trip, I drank water – still or fizzy.  I didn’t get medical treatment while I was away because I was managing the symptoms (although we were prepared to if anything got really bad), but I do have an appointment with my own doctor as soon as I get home so hopefully I can get this sorted out before we leave the country again in two months! It really does suck to have to deal with health stuff when you are travelling in a different country, especially when you change cities every 2-3 days.

Overall, this has been an amazing, relaxing, and interesting trip – we’ve seen so much of Portugal, Spain, Scotland, and Ireland, and as always, I have loved the varying landscapes, the history, the architecture, and the people. Despite my gut issues, I was able to really enjoy the food and drink a few times at least, and as always, I loved meeting so many interesting people along the way, in particular, my 2nd cousins in Scotland. However, as much as I love to travel, I love coming home just as much.

And so, we will now enjoy two months at home in the Okanagan. I am really looking forward to sleeping in my own bed, eating my own food, working in my garden, sitting out on my deck, and seeing my friends and family! And then, on August 17, we are off to the UK for two months – first spending a week in Cornwall, and then we start our 5 weeks of house/pet sitting adventures before rounding out the trip with a week in an all-inclusive in Crete, then home again mid October. Life is always an adventure!

Next up: Summer in the Okanagan!

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Love the caps
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River dancer?  She wasn’t in her pretty dress in this one but just having a bit of fun.
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I want one – only €2000
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More buskers – these guys were excellent.
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This is a kid’s version but I want to make the adult one.
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A must-read – travelling makes me feel smarter
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Buskers galore
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Good music here
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Love the old buildings
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Another rainy day
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River Corrib

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At Taaffe’s Bar
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I finally had a beer!
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Durty Nelly’s in Bunratty

Dingle, Ireland

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Trad Sesh at Foxy John’s in Dingle

June 11-14, 2017: Dingle, Ireland

We were really looking forward to our three-night stay in this small town on the western coast of Ireland, known primarily for its multitude of pubs and live music.  We stayed in an AirBnb, in the master bedroom with ensuite of a 4 bedroom house, just a few blocks from the action.  We shared a kitchen with other guests and were able to make meals, in addition to the breakfast food provided.

Our drive from Kenmare went through more beautiful countryside, and we made several photo stops along the way, and then visited Muckross House, on the edge of Killarney National Park.  We enjoyed a guided tour of the stately Victorian mansion, as well as the beautiful grounds (€9 for adult ticket), and bought a small Pocket History of Ireland and a couple of CDs at the gift shop.  There was also a traditional 1930’s outdoor farm museum for an additional €9 (or €15 for the combined ticket) but we skipped it because we’d already done the Highland Folk Museum in Scotland.

We arrived in Dingle in the late afternoon and then had an early supper at The Anchor Down restaurant, a 1km walk from our accommodation.  The next day, we drove part of the Ring of Dingle – via Slea Head Drive – which took us for a one hour drive (over four hours with all the stops we made), through Ventry, Slea Head, Dunquin, and north up to Brandon Creek.  I’ve run out of superlatives to describe the Irish countryside – suffice to say, we absolutely loved the drive.

We stopped at a little cafe that looked down on the gorgeous Coomenoole Beach, then stopped by the Blasket Ferry terminal at Dunquin Harbour with its unique steep winding walkway down to the dock.  In the evening, we went to O’Sullivan’s Courthouse Pub to listen to live Irish music led by owner and musician, Tommy O’Sullivan.

On the second day, we did another loop on the peninsula, beginning with a drive over Conor Pass up in the misty clouds with a strong wind blowing us off our feet, and then down the other side to the wide empty beaches just west of Castelgregory, and then out to the farthest point at Ballycurrane, where we watched 10 horses wandering along the road and down onto the beach.  This drive was much shorter than the previous day and we only spent about 2 hours in total, eventually heading back over the same road to return to Dingle. Again, we had dinner at home and then went to Foxy John’s for more live music. This cool pub is a hardware store during the day, and a pub at night.  We had a great seat, right beside the slug bait, and a prime view of the three musicians who were playing that evening. Such fun!

We thoroughly enjoyed our three nights in Dingle, and could easily have stayed longer as there were many more live music venues and lovely drives to explore.  Next time!

Next up: Galway, Ireland

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I want to live here

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Note the speed limit for this windy one lane road

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Muckross House
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Getting sand blasted at Inch Beach
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Inch Beach
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Inch Beach
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Everything written in 2 languages
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Driving over a stream

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Blasket ferry access
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Blasket Ferry Terminal

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This rock was too big to move I guess
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Sitting at the Hardware/Pub in Dingle

Kenmare, and the Ring of Beara

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I’m a sheep addict

June 9-11, 2017

It was only a two hour drive from Kinsale to Kenmare, so we took our time and chose some of the quieter roads closer to the ocean.  Our only stop was to use the bathrooms and buy a tin whistle at Molly Gallivan’s Visitor Centre, (which would be a fun place to spend more time), and for the rest of the trip, I regaled Erik with tunes on my tin whistle while he tried to drive. 🙂

Kenmare is a nice little town that is a great base for driving the Ring of Kerry or the Ring of Beara. It has a main street with a number of interesting looking shops, pubs, and restaurants and lots of guest houses and B&Bs.  However, we chose to stay outside of town this time after we found a neat studio suite in an old building in the rural countryside, about 15 minutes from town.

Because there was no real address to the house, we had to put the GPS coordinates into Googlemaps on my iPad to find our way. And as a side note, I’m happy to say that you can now download sections of googlemaps to use offline.  This meant I was able to use my iPad for mapping for the whole trip, and never needed a SIM card (in the iPad).  This is particularly useful when you are in remote areas with no cell service.

Once we reached Kenmare, we drove a few kms up the Ring of Kerry road and then turned onto a narrow side road with the typical 6 foot hedge on each side, and wound through the country for about 6 km hoping we didn’t meet another car, until we reached “The Forge”. Our room was on one end of a long 200-year-old stone building that had once housed a forge.  The owner met us and showed us around our room which had a small kitchenette, a wood stove, and windows on three sides of the building. It was dark and rustic and so cozy!  We had picked up the fixings for a spaghetti supper in town, and it had begun to rain again, so we settled in for the night.  After dinner, we made a fire and sat in the cozy armchairs by the fire, and even watched a little Netflix on the TV.  I think that was one of the first times I’ve watched TV on this trip!

It was raining and windy all night long, but the skies began to clear in the morning and the day looked like it held promise.  We had been planning to drive the Ring of Kerry,  but after some discussion and a little research, we decided to drive back into Kenmare, and drive the Ring of Beara instead.  It was purported to be “just as beautiful” as the Ring of Kerry (although about 50-75km shorter I think), but without the steady stream of tour busses and stops crowded with tourists.  We were sold.

The initial drive was through the usual countryside – always green and gorgeous with patchwork fields dotted with sheep, and divided by old stone fences.  Then we drove up into the hills, the trees disappeared, and the hills became rocky with short grass. The road narrowed and the views of the valleys and the sea were absolutely spectacular!  We got to the top of one peak, and the wind was blowing so hard, we could hardly stand up. I took lots of pictures but they hardly do it justice.  You just need to go there to see those views yourself.

We stopped at an empty little beach and ate sandwiches we had brought along and then finally made our way back to Kenmare where we picked up more groceries, and went home for another dinner by the fire. Although the weather has been fairly wet on this trip, and frequently windy, we seemed to have been lucky when we’ve really needed it to be dryer.  My only wish is that I could get some better photos with blue skies so you could see the true colour of this amazing land.

We stayed at The Forge for two nights, and when we headed to Dingle the next morning, we were able to drive part of the Ring of Kerry to Killarney, and so we enjoyed some amazing views in Killarney National Park. What a gorgeous country this is. Sigh…


Driving to Kenmare
Handcut tunnels
Molly Gallivan’s Visitor Centre
Pile of peat drying
Colourful Kenmare
Tour bus squeezing down the road
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“The Forge” our home for a couple nights
Inside The Forge
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Driving the Ring of Beara

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Kinsale, Ireland

Colourful buildings in Kinsale

June 7-9, 2017:

We really enjoyed Kinsale, a small fishing town on an inlet of the River Bandon.  We had a lovely room at an Airbnb in a subdivision just on the outskirts of town, and only a 1-1/2 km walk to the town core.  Again, we spent two nights here and it was just enough time to get a feel for the place, although a third night might have been fun. And if you’re a foodie, you’ll love the restaurants here.

We left Waterford in the late morning, and headed northwest for a little over an hour towards the small town of Cashel where we planned to stop for a tour of the hauntingly beautiful ruins of the Rock of Cashel (also known as St Patrick’s Rock).  Once again it was raining and the countryside ran from misty to totally socked in.  We were glad we were in the car for much of the day.

When we arrived at the ticket office, we were delighted to find out that the first Wednesday of every month is free so we saved €14 (for one adult and one senior). The  tour was excellent and interesting and the guide tried to keep us under protection as it poured off and on during the one hour tour.

I learned a lot about Irish history and how truly “multi-cultural” the Irish people really are.  The island was originally settled by neolithic hunters and gatherers around 7500BC and during the iron age, they built large stone tombs which can still be found all over the UK. Around 1000BC, the Celts began to arrive from Western Europe and slowly the two peoples mixed, retaining aspects of both cultures, eventually becoming known as Gaels.

Christianity was introduced to these pagans around 400AD.  We’ve all heard of St Patrick but I wonder how many people actually know anything about him? He was a real person, born in Britain around 387AD. At age 16, he was abducted by the Irish and brought to Ireland to work as a slave and a herdsman. In his misery, he turned to God, and eventually escaped at age 21 and returned to Britain. Years later, he returned to Ireland to bring Christianity to the pagans where he converted Kings (including the king of Munster at the Rock of Cashel) and built churches all over the land. Other missionaries came and many monasteries were built over the next few centuries.

While the rest of Europe was in the midst of the dark ages, Ireland had an enlightened focus on learning, art, music, and written language. It was around 800AD that the famous illuminated manuscript of the new testament – the Book of Kells – was written and illustrated in such a detailed fashion.  You can see the Book of Kells in Dublin.  The monasteries had great powers, owning large tracts of land, and taking care of the peasants within their stone walls. Many had tall round stone towers to keep watch for mauraders, and some of these towers can still be seen.

However, when the Vikings were finally able to build ships capable of travelling across the Scottish and Irish Seas around 795 AD, they ransacked the monasteries, took some of the Irish as slaves, and built large port cities along the coast. The interior of Ireland was still divided into sections and ruled by Irish Kings, but the port cities were controlled by the Vikings, and so, Norse blood was introduced.  And although their power began to fade 200 years later, their influence can still be seen today in artwork and buildings of Ireland.

In 1150AD Normans  invaded, first under the English King Henry ll, and then later, in 1185, under his son, Prince John. They destroyed the remaining monasteries, took land from the Irish and gave it away to their wealthy friends, and ruled the land for almost 800 years.

And so – the Irish people are a mixture of original Celtic, Viking, and British blood – how interesting! I liked that the tour guide said the country continues to evolve as they welcome new immigrants to Ireland, and stressed that their influence and culture is also valued.

But I digress – I was supposed to be talking about Kinsale! After our visit to the Rock of Cashel, we drove to Kinsale, found our B&B and checked in.  Hetty was a wonderful hostess – super interesting and friendly.  She has two rooms in her beautiful home that she rents out on Airbnb, both named after well known Irish photographers, Bill Doyle and John Minihan. Hetty is a Master Printer and has a darkroom in her garage where she does her amazing work, and many of the photographs adorn the walls of her home.

We had two nights in Kinsale, and both days we had a very late lunch and then went to a local pub called Kitty O’Se’s (pronounced O’Shea), where we listened to live traditional Irish music (called a Trad Session). The first night was a duo who sang folk music, and the second night had a 5 piece group playing accordion, guitar, tin whistle, bodran, and a few other instruments.  They played a nice mix of instrumental music and vocals and my new favourite song is an anti-war song from the 1800’s called Arthur McBride.

On our full day, we drove around a bit to see some of the local sights.  We saw (the exterior of) Charles Fort, (€5 fee), a star-shaped fort built in the late 1600’s, just a 10 minute drive on the south-east side of Kinsale.  Later, we crossed the river and drove to the peninsula of Old Head. The coastal scenery was spectacular!

Next up: Kenmare and the Ring of Beara


Live music at Kitty’ O’Se’s
Near Old Head
Old Head


Old Head
Charles Fort
Hetty, Erik, and Merlo
Rock of Cashel
Rock of Cashel
Rock of Cashel
Rock of Cashel
Bridge over a river along the way
Kitty’s O’Se’s on the 1st night


Tour of the Rock of Cashel
Rock of Cashel


Waterford, Ireland

Erik goes back to his Viking roots

June 5-7, 2017

Waterford, located about two hours south of Dublin, is the oldest city in Ireland. Founded first by the Vikings in 914, the oldest building is Reginald’s Tower which was built in 1003 (the current tower wasn’t built until the mid 1200’s). Although it has a population of over 50,000 (including the suburbs), the core of Waterford is fairly concentrated and makes the town feel smaller. We stayed at the Waterford Marina Hotel which is just a couple of blocks from the Tower and waterfront.  It was well-priced at under $100 CAD a night (we booked ahead), and offered free underground parking, a bonus in this town.

We left Dublin around 10am, and heading south on the M11, which runs a little closer to the ocean, and made our first brief stop in the town of Wicklow.  It was fairly non-descript on this cloudy morning, but we enjoyed watching a bunch of kids catching crabs at the bridge. We went for a long on the pier and met an older gentleman who talked our ears off for about 15-20 minutes.  It turned out he had worked at the Waterford Crystal factory for 30 years before being pensioned off early just before the slow-down, and he was a fount of information about the factory, the area of Wicklow and Waterford, and about life in general. Nearby are the Wicklow Mountains and Glendalough County, which is supposed to be beautiful and well worth a visit.

We continued on our way, taking the N30 towards New Ross where we stopped briefly to see the Dunbrody Famine Ship.  As it was pouring with rain, we took a couple of quick photos and then ran back to the car.  It looked like it would have been a nice place to wander if the weather had been nicer.  For €10 you can tour the ship and while I’m sure it would have been interesting, I’ve seen a couple of similar exhibits and decided to pass.

The plight of the Irish immigrant during the famine caused by a potato blight that started in 1845 is terribly sad and made me a little angry as well, as over 3,000,000 poor tenant farmers, who lived primarily on potatoes and water, were left to starve while the wealthy British landowners continued to exact steep rents and export vast quantities of food abroad despite starvation at home.  Over a period of ten years, the population of Ireland dwindled by about 1,500,000 as many peasants died or escaped to North America on the “famine ships”. More detailed information about the famine can be found here.

We arrived in Waterford in late afternoon.  As it was still pouring rain, we were happy to have underground parking although we did have to make the trek from the parking lot to the hotel outdoors.  We were in desperate need of clean clothes so we packed up two day packs and drove to a coin operated laundry facility that was located under a narrow shelter at a gas station.  It cost €4 for a load of wash and we got soaked just getting the laundry into the washer. We waited in a nearby mall for about an hour or so while it washed and dried. Unfortunately, our backpacks were now wet and we had to shove our dry clothes into the wet backpacks and get them into the car. Just one of the joys of travelling!

We had dinner at the hotel and stayed in because we didn’t feel like walking around town in the rain. The next morning, it was dryer, although still overcast. After breakfast, we went for a 30 minute drive to the coast (Annestown) and drove along the Copper Coast for about another 30 minutes, then looped back to Waterford.  We stopped at several beautiful, yet empty beaches, and thoroughly enjoyed the countryside – the sun even peeked out a few times! It was exciting, if a little nerve-racking to wind along the single-track roads, with 6′ hedges along both sides, and never know when you are suddenly going to come around a corner and meet another car.

When we got back, we walked around the “Viking Triangle” near our hotel, then had a delicious lunch on the rooftop patio of the Reg Bar.  In the late afternoon, we went on a tour of the House of Waterford Crystal which was really interesting, although a bit pricey (€23 for the 2 of us), as is the crystal itself. It was cool to see each stage of the making of the beautiful pieces, and I got lots of short videos.  I especially liked seeing them taking the hot glob of glass out of the furnace and blowing it. In the showroom, we tried to find the most and least expensive pieces for sale.  There was a shelf with some small items for €40-50 and the most expensive listed pieces was a fairy-tale styled carriage with four horses for about €40,000.  Yowza!

Overall, I thought two nights in Waterford was warranted and I wouldn’t have wanted to have only had one afternoon to try to see everything. Now we are just hoping the weather turns around!

Next up: Kinsale, Ireland



Laundry day!
Waiting for laundry
Dunbrody famine ship in New Ross
Ruins in Wicklow
Chatting with locals in Wicklow
Wicklow bridge sign


Great sandwich at The Reg Bar
Reginald’s Tower
Lower steps are worn from the waves
Annestown Beach
Wood forms
Viking Ship in Waterford
People’s Choice Awards


Annestown Beach