Week Eleven: Dublin To the Very End …

[As this is the last official blog for our little adventure, it was to be extremely photo-heavy, but my computer froze on Thursday, so not as many as planned—I’ll add them later or in another blog once I get the computer up and running again (do make sure you click on images for descriptions) … and the blog is rather verbose]

OUR FRIDAY IN DUBLIN WAS wonderful—even though a wee bit damp! Thursday I walked oodles and Sandy had a good time on her Cliffs of Mohr and Galway adventure … both of us slept very well—actually slept in on Friday, because it was raining when we awoke. Rain—that is a good thing. We planned on wandering around a bit, but with the rain, we changed plans (yeah—that “best laid plans” bit … teehee) and worked on sorting through receipts (we’d put that chore off for a little too long). There were lots of receipts. Sandy got a bit fidgety as I sorted mine and decided to go out to Mountjoy Square to attempt to fly her kite <giggle>—yes, a real kite (wish I’d been there to take photos!). She asked staff at the front desk for help and they willingly “abandoned” their post and went to the park her to put it together for her (very sweet of them!). She did manage to get it airborne, but only for short bits. But, she did have fun and that’s the point. When she returned, we made lunch and preparing for our special night out (<giggle> … no, we didn’t finish working on our receipts). Our evening was set in stone. We were not going to let that plan slip away, so we grabbed a taxi to attend the event across the River Liffey near Temple Bar. It’s so nice to not have a car—honest. A car has been wonderful to get into places inaccessible by train and buses—and for those spontaneous moments—”Oooh! Stop. I wanna check that out” moments. But now that we are in a fixed place … a large city, it’s easy to depend on foot power, buses and taxis. Not having to find parking, paying the parking fees, etc—that’s really nice.

An Evening of Food, Folklore and Fairies, held at the An Evening of Food, Folklore and FariesBrazen Head Pub near Temple Bar, was a delightful experience. ‘Twas not the normal storytelling of fairies and such, but more of a historical telling of the Irish people, their food and how the fairies shaped their lives—plus a few fun fairy stories and some Celtic music thrown in Two men playing Celtic Music A Full House at the Brazen Head Pubfor good measure. Don’t let the “historical” bit put you off—it was well told, very informative, definitely entertaining and I’d highly recommend it. The weather was perfect (rain had stopped by midday) so, though we hired a cab for both directions, we only “cabbed it” to Dusky Shot of the River Liffeythe event—’twas far too beautiful to miss out on our first walk “home” at night. After all the delicious food and drink, we walked in the twilight back to the hostel to help burn off those extra calories. Timing could not have been better—as we came up to the last long block, it started to get a wee bit misty. We were slightly damp when we reached the hostel. It was a delightful evening!

Saturday was our planned downtime day. Well, sorta: time Trinity College Bronze Sculpturewalking around Temple Bar and Trinity College (Book of Kell & their massively gorgeous library archived with smelly ol’ tomes <insert a similarly Image of a green space at Trinity College Trinity College, Dublin Irelandmassive grin>) was factored into the day. Our late night … and breakers-of-the-11pm-Quiet-Curfew kept us up till nearly 2am, so we were a bit groggy come morning-time. After breakfast, we has a bit of a snooze <insert grin and a wink> Nothing wrong with a late start … but we weren’t able to tick off all the to-do items from our list. The day is a bit of a blur, honestly …

We did finally see Temple Bar and Trinity College together … on Wednesday, I think.

Earlier in the week, we actually found a Protestant church to attend on Sunday … but a new group of all-night (literally!) chatterers (though relatively quiet), kept us up again most of the night. Another groggy morning. Very groggy. There’s even a sign posted on the door to the patio stating the open hours of the patio: 7am-11pm <sigh> Instead of church, we took a long time getting our engines running, then wandered down to the River Liffey to Dublin Discovered Boat Rides Samuel Beckett Bridge: aka The Harp Bridge Boat along side the tour boat Image of rugby arena just beyond Liffey River reserve seats on the Dublin Discovered Boat Ride. Another way to see the city—one I don’t think I’ve explored before … and we enjoyed it very much. Pictures from river level were interesting. Unfortunately, the ride was in a closed cabin, so there’s window splashes and glares in my photos. The heat was a wee bit stifling, but because there was no rain, they were able to keep the large hatch open for ventilation—thankfully. After the boat ride, we wandered back down into the area we’d seen from the boat (to capture a Artwork of squirrel on pub wallphoto of a very famous red squirrel), then The Dublin Custom Housewhile Sandy visited a museum at the Dublin Custom House, I worked my way partway down the street and onto a bridge to take a few more photos of the area.

We started to walk back, but the heat was too oppressive—caught a cab back to the hostel. Like I said—foot power and local transportation is a good thing <grin>. Taxi rides, depending on how far we’ve ventured, have averaged about 7 Euros. marginally “expensive”, but well worth it when all you can think of is lying down to cool down.

Monday was spent in a day-long Paddy Wagon tour of Monasterboice Plaque Image of round tower and gravestone at MonasterboiceMonasterboice Cemetery, Belfast City Centre and the Titanic Museum. When talking with Sandy, I’ve made it no secret that I really didn’t see a reason to visit Belfast and was still a bit wary of the tension that might still exist. I’m glad I did the tour, but would never have done the trip on my own. The Titanic Museum was well worth the time, as was the tour-within-a-tour—Black Taxi Tour of areas that the Paddy Wagon would not be allowed. It was extremely educational, filling in huge gaps in my knowledge of what transpired in the late 1900s. As an outsider, though told things are so much better by our old-timer tour guides (who lived through the worst of it), I see that the tension and separationist attitudes still exist. Scary in a way … I did feel safe, but would never have ventured this far without a local. Absolutely not. I will put the pictures here with only one comment: what I saw and heard (with the tour guides’ information given) is the appearance of a city united, yet still quite divided.
Belfast and Black Taxi Tour Photos: Image of building with copper dome at Belfast City CentreDowntown Belfast and Traffic Welcome to Belfast-Peace BallImage of Belfast street scene, with old Presbyterian church and a tower structure A Neighbourhood in Belfast Murals on buildings paying tribute to their fallen in Belfast neighbourhood. Memorial of neighbourhood streets lost in the conflicts of Belfast Black Taxi Tour—Belfast Neighbourhoods Peace Walls Between Neighbourhoods Black Taxi Tour: Peace Wall Image Peace Wall Image, Belfast 2018 Peace Wall Image, Belfast 2018 Image of neighbourhood with an Irish flag flying. Image of Peace Wall Art
Titanic Museum Photos: Titanic Museum: Time Clock Titanic Museum: The Launch Titanic Museum: Path of the Titanic Image of quote from "The Convergence of the Twain" by Thomas Hardy Image of The Titanic Museum: The Building Image of The Titanic Museum: The Building The Titanic Museum: The EntranceImage of Yours Truly: Windblown, Hot and Tired

Tuesday—oh, my … so close to departure day, and still so much to cram in before then! … And laundry <ugh> Guess I shouldn’t complain—I brought way too much clothes, so not having to do it as frequently <giggle> and, Sandy has offered to do it the last two times (God bless her!!). She did the laundry and I worked on uploading photos for the blog.

Wednesday evening was spent attending a Riverdance performance at the Gaiety Theatre. It was great, even though I had two tall people sitting in front of me, blocking about half the stage. I concentrated on listening to the story, music and the sounds of the Celtic dancing … and enjoyed what bits I could see from stage right. I think I will re-visit the theatre and performance the next time I visit Dublin and go for a seat closer to the balcony edge, to avoid long-torsoed bodies blocking my view … it’s well worth a second viewing. Aaah, yes. And, up to this point in our trip, there has been no issue with using a credit card for taxi rides—until after our Riverdance experience. We kept walking down the queue of taxis, asking if they took credit cards Nope, nope, nope … this went on for about ten taxis. At that point, I said we’d walk—pulled up the route to take …1.9 miles  Ugh. So, we asked one more driver—thank God he said yes. Moral of the story, make sure you have cash!! We did have to listen to a rather heavy dose of extremely “salty” language as he joked with us the whole way back—yikes!

Thursday was to be my usual time-to-tidy-up-blog-and-download-photos Day. Oh, yeah—and Packing Day. Yup. Thursday ended up being spent attempting to edit on my iPhone (so sorry if there are missed bits of bad grammar, spelling, punctuation,  etc—so hard to work from the little phone); packing and repacking followed. Did I mention that we each purchased a small carry-on sized, four wheel suitcase last week? Teehee … we got tired of mailing stuff off. If checked, it will probably cost an extra $60, but it’s worth it—and now, I’ve a four-wheel case that actually works the way it should! I did manage to squeeze in a bit of walking, but I’ll add those photos when I load the others.

Our plane leaves at noon today, and we must be at the airport three-hours prior for our international flight. I’d crossed my fingers and prayed I’d get the upgrade for business class so I could lay flat for a portion of our trip. Did that happen? Nope … so I am assuming I’ll be in the cattle car with everyone else. Sigh.  Oh, well. It was worth a shot.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, I will either revisit this to add the photos that are hiding on my computer, or I will have one final blog with a hodge-podge of photos and thoughts on our travels to the UK and Ireland.

So, until I can get things sorted out, I’ll bid you adieu and wish you well on this Friday, weekend and upcoming week—see you next week, when I’ll be home once again.

Toodles and God bless!

 

Week Ten—We’re Winding Down: Anglesey to Dublin

View from window in a quaint little town somewhere in Snowdonia, Wales

Please remember to click on each photo—I’ve made comments on many of them.

“BEST LAID PLANS THAT’S how the saying goes, right? This week was no different <giggle and eye roll>. On Friday, Navi took us on a wild goose chase because, even though destinations are saved, Navi doesn’t really save specific routes taken. And I didn’t stop to try to save the location … but I did remember—miracles—the name of a nearby hotel. When I put our previous destination in, a different route came up … with lots of alternate routes thrown in—leading us to a completely different place. I tried to outsmart her (I should know better—insert eye roll) by altering the final destination … but later we discovered that was even worse. Our sweet little Navi took us on a very long, very bland trail of one track roads that were populated with newer homes—far, far away from the majestic mountains and the quaint village I sought in Snowdonia. Sigh—not what we were looking for. Not knowing the town name was the problem. Not finding the landmark I remembered (The Swallow Falls Hotel) in Navi’s “accommodations” failed. We did make one stop for lunch (wish we’d taken time to wander around as it was the only lovely bit of our trip—sniff). Finally, after a long, dismal day of driving (after returning to our room), I reached out to friends on FB, trying to discover what town it was the CIVers had traveled to a number of years ago—eureka! Betws Y Coed! (see pronunciation here) So I finally had a destination to put into Navi—but it would have to be another day! Sigh.

All of the driving on Friday wiped us out, so Saturday was a recovery day—we hung around the hotel and the Old Derelict HomeCommunity Safety Information posterImage of foliage and a white castle Image of walled in white castle "Castle" Manor Turretharbour, meandering and taking photos. The plan was to find a church to attend on Sunday, then make our journey to Betws Y Coed and have fun wandering the streets and paths. Again, that “best laid plans” thing reared it’s ugly head. Though we Holyhead As Viewed from Soldier Point Breakwaterwere given church names by staff at the hotel, we could not find information about service times—nor locations … so again,we altered our plans and decided our drive into Snowdonia would be our priority on Sunday. It Spectacular Snowdonia Park in Wales Mountainous Terrain of Snowdonia Image of sheep grazing Creek (River?) in Betws Y Coed Bridge at Western Edge of Betws Y Coed The Town of Betws Y Coed St Mary's Church with clock tower Commemorative Bridge in Betws Y Coedwas lovely! A tiny bit of rain (yay!) cleared the air, oodles of deliciously billowy clouds parading up in the sky … just lovely! Lots of photos were taken, both in the valleys surrounded by mountains and lakes … and in the quaint little town I sought! We even managed a yummy lunch at bistro (near the western edge of town) … and an ice cream near the centre of town.

Did I mention that the island we stayed on (where Holyhead is located) is called Anglesey? And Holy Island? It’s Welsh name is Ynys Môn. ‘Tis the seat of the ancient Welsh empire. I’m finding the history via the Welsh tales I’m reading—purchased in Betws Y Coed. Loving the book. Love the folklore, too. It’s actually starting to bring my imagination alive <insert monster grin> … well, that and the deliciously beautiful countryside.

Monday was a travel day—after turning in the rental at the terminal. I’d been trying since Friday to reach Hertz via the phone. It left me very frustrated, not knowing if I’d have someone to turn the car into. When we picked up the car, we were told to call to let them know the date we’d be returning it (making an appointment, so there would be someone there to take it). It did resolve itself, but I did let them know I was unhappy with the way they handled things.

On Our Way—Stena Lines (Stena Plus Lounge) Good bye, Wales …! The ferry ride was uneventful, even with the bit of rain we had at the Holyhead side of the trip (oh—and half-way across). Dublin had a bit of rain a couple days prior to our arrival, but it looks Image of lighthouse at point of Dublin Harbourlike at least this week will stay dry, even though there are some lovely clouds floating by. There was a bit of a delay at the Dublin Terminal as immigration was doing spot checks on the cars <insert rolling eyes> … we didn’t get off the boat till around 6pm … and finding a taxi was a challenge for quite a few folks—including us. Image of plates and "grafitti" on wall

We spent the remainder of Monday settling into our new digs at The Gardiner House Hostel, located at 76 Gardiner Street in Dublin. This is a hostel I would heartily recommend. It seems to be closer to downtown Dublin than the Dublin International Hostel (DIH) on Mountjoy Street. Also seems to be better managed—the place is cleaner due to the fact that cleaning is scheduled at least four times a day—or more, which is amazing. And a big sell for me (over DIH) is the lift. Tiny, but functional. It is a God-send for me an’ my feeble legs (stairs are a really big nemesis for me).

Tuesday and Wednesday, we wandered around Dublin on foot—separately on Tuesday, and together on Wednesday. Together, we went to the Leprechaun Museum (it’s not just for children)—we both enjoyed the storytelling and I purchased a book, Dublin Folktales. I seem to be collecting folktale books <insert grin>. We finally made it to the Jameson Distillery, which was a let-down (for the first time ever). Two years ago, they did a massive (and apparently very expensive) overhaul of their facilities, jettisoning their lovely Barrowman’s dinner (celtic dancing, music, whiskey tasting and yummy food) and their lovely dining area upstairs … and cut their gift shop in half, with far fewer non-alcohol related items for sale. Despite the name (my maiden name), the appeal for me has been tarnished with the overhaul. I’ve no desire to make that a point of interest on return trips. But, if you enjoy whiskey and like to see the process, the tour is informative. Thursday had Sandy on a tour of Galway and Cliffs of Mohr whilst yours truly finalised this blog—downloading photos, etc.

Starting today, the upcoming seven days (day seven and eight will probably be spent packing, repacking and jettisoning items to keep under the 50# restrictions … and perhaps <insert grin> mailing a few items to help with the weight) will be filled with last-minute plans—seeing things we’ve missed, attending a fun event here and there. Plus time to play with our cameras. Please make sure you click on all of the photos I’ve included—I’m starting to be more consistent with making notes about most of the photos—notes I’m not mentioning within the blog itself.

I hope you are enjoying these blogs—I know they are a wee bit word heavy with these travels, but I’m hoping the verbosity is adequately off-set by the photos. Thank you for following me in my adventure in Ireland, Wales, England proper and Scotland … and back again. One more—maybe two blogs till I return to the “normal” craziness of this author-storyteller-photographer-artist. There are challenges ahead of me as a writer (and new publisher) and I must get artwork together for quite a few upcoming things. I’m trying to leave those worries and challenges back home … to be dealt with once I return home.

Until then, I wish you adieu for another week. May your Friday, weekend and upcoming week be blessed in amazing ways. Cheers!

Common Ground

AAAAH … THE RAINY SEASON IS UPON US. Here in California, we can only hope and pray that it continues — to help pull us out of our five-year drought. As I lounge on the couch writing this, I can see out the window … up through the oak trees to see beautiful clouds floating by. Between the trees and the clouds, very little blue sky is visible, but the sun is out — since the very beginning of the day, but it looks like the clouds are going to dominate. There’s no forecast for rain, but I wouldn’t mind if they were wrong. We are so desperate for rain … every little bit helps.

But as delightful — and necessary — as rain is for us right now, historically, people don’t like to get out into it. To drive in it; to walk in it … which causes a problem for vendors at the craft fairs that are Final Set Up at Watsonville Elks Lodgeeverywhere this time of year. And, thankfully for the third year, I’m one of those vendors hawking my wares Settled In At Watsonville Elks Lodge(books and art) many weekends, from late October through mid-December.

Up until last weekend, everything was wonderful — no rain and a bevy of people, chatting with us then buying books and art. This last weekend Author's Corner at Aromas Grange… well, it was mixed. Saturday had very little rain and we did well. After we closed up shop and off n’ on overnight, it rained. On Sunday there were ominous clouds and threats of rain which turned into a couple spritzes here and there. The turnout seemed much lower (I did not keep track of numbers). More time between people stopping to chat. Or perhaps it was just that the “purchasing” crowd was lower … more “lookie-lous” than buyers, flying past our booth.

Of course I like to have sales, but I have so much fun talking with people too — whether they are interested in buying or not. Finding out about their likes and dislikes, what they enjoy reading (many times it’s not fantasy … and that’s okay — I get leads on some good books to investigate), what their family members like to read … or what kind of art they like. I also get feedback on what they think of my story line and art. For an introvert (yeah, really I am. I think I’d classify myself as a “socialised introvert” — though my daughter would disagree, saying I’m an outright extrovert since I’m able to talk with “complete strangers”) I have found my niche with chatting-up small numbers of people, discussing a variety of things. Strangers, yes. But, not really. We have one of two (or both) things in common. Each of us likes to read … or likes some form of art — or we discover something totally unexpected that connects us. A common ground to begin our conversations.

Having Joyce Oroz as my cohort-in-crime Joyce Oroz, Mystery Writer… with her Josephine Stuart Mysteries and my “somewhat-like-CS Lewis’-Narnia” fantasy, the two of us reel-in a very diverse crowd. Some are of the “love-mysteries-but-hate-fantasy” camp … and visa versa, which keeps us on our toes. And, since I’ve fallen in love with Joyce’s mysteries … and I’m the more out-going (and the more vocal) of the two, I find myself “selling” — talking-up — her books as well as mine. Someone even joked that I should be paid for my sales pitches … which I laugh off. Paid? Nope … then it wouldn’t be as much fun.

Having common ground … oh, I could go so many places with that, but I’ll stick to relatively safe ground. The dictionary says: “common ground •a point or argument accepted by both sides in a dispute. •ideas or interests shared by different people.” It’s what brings people together, focusing on shared interests, rather than everything that could build walls between people. For me, that means spending time with like-minded artist, writers, photographers — even though there may be a financial, political or religious (or whatever) chasm between us. We still enjoy sharing ideas, methods — and so much more that can enrich us as individuals and perhaps change how we perceive/create things. I’m always open to learning new things. It’s part of the challenge of being me. Keeping me enlivened, enthusiastic, responsive and open to change.

What is common ground for you? Could you walk up to someone — whether you know them or not — and discover common ground so that you could carry on a friendly, intelligent, non-divisive conversation? Or are your walls built so high that no one could scale them so you could find something exciting to talk about … to enlarge your knowledge base without an agenda? Ooh. Did that ruffle any feathers? It wasn’t meant to do that, but I’m sure there may be a few.

My dear readers, may this Day-After-Thanksgiving Friday — and in the coming week — find you open to new ideas, bursting with creativity and blessed.