Ireland

1st October
Left our B&B in Bray after a pleasant night with internet access provided and all email etc. was up to date by the time we had gone to bed last night. Arrived in Roscrea and continued down the N62 but nothing looked familiar from 5 years back – road was too wide and well kept. Eventually we found a farmer and asked for Jean Talbot’s location. After a blank look I asked for Anthony Whitten. “Is he Frank Whitten’s brother?”, Yes – oh, that’s easy so we went back in to town and turned left at the lights and out the Limmerick Road, finding the turnoff to ‘Fancroft’ at the 3Km mark. We continued on for another 2Km and turned left at the pub then recognised Jean’s house and driveway from a photo supplied by Mary & Wes Whitten some 3 years ago.
We knocked on the door, and there was Jean with her brother Joe behind her (I had met Joe 3 years ago in Dublin). We had a nice cuppa and chatted for a while before being shown our room and getting our luggage in from the car. Sat down to a beautiful home cooked farm dinner before retiring to the loungeroom and Jean’s son David came in for a late lunch. Daughter Heather and her boy David came in for high tea which was served about 6pm but proceeded by a walk with David around the local streets looking at the cows etc.

2nd October
On Saturday evening we had Ned, Florrie and son Lester , along with Frank’s wife and son, Evelyn and William and we all chatted along with Anthony

3rd October
On Sunday after we had been to the Aghancon Irish Church and seen the most haunted house in Ireland we returned with Henry because Joe needed a quick lunch to catch the 2:30 bus back to Dublin. Went of to the Dungar Cemetary at Roscrea and returned via Billy’s where we spent a pleasant hour before returnng for tea with Henry, Heather and her David. Ned and Betty also joined us for supper.

4th October
Left jeans about 10am bound for Newbridge Silverware Factory & Dublin to see the Book of Kells in Dublin. Spent extra time at Newbridge because it was so fascinating what can be made using silver and then we enjoyed lunch using their silverware. Headed off to the Book of Kells and landed in the middle of Dublin before reslising that we just did not have enough time available to do the visit justice. Decided to head for the airport by fllowing the aeroplane signs and I think we went down every street and over many bridges because they all seemed to have one. We eventually succeeded but had to go right round the airport to fill up with fuel and then return the vehicle.
Caught the plane to Paris CDG where Julien & Mathilde collected us as promised. They had been driving for 7-8 hours to be able to get to Paris from Grenoble. Went home and finally met Syvlie and Pierre after numerous meetings via Skype over the last few months. Had a lovely dinner of Soup Feuilleteé (which was made up of Lotte fish – , wild duck with a follow up of a cheese board and some nice wine. We realised that it was 01:15 and very quickly had showers (Jen used the broken toilet which I guess is better than me breaking beds) and headed off to bed. Tomorrow looks like it will be a big and exciting day.

London to Dublin via Wales – 24-30 September

24th September – on our way to London
Arrived at Andrew & Susan’s home early evening with the wonderful Lodge taxi service waiting at the station for us.

25th September
Jennifer & Susan, along with Harry went off on the train to Brighton to shop for some size 13 shoes for Harry (amongst other things) and walk on the ‘sandy’ beaches and also to the end of the Brighton Pier before returning home to do some baking. Andrew, Toby & I went swimming or to the gym, then off to lunch in town whilst waiting for the girls to return so we could have a quick 9 holes @ Cuckfield Golf Course. Enjoyed a lovely family dinner including two of Toby’s friends who stayed overnight. Enjoyed learning a new card game like whist during the evening.

26th September
Jen, Susan, Harry & Toby disappeared early with Harry off to a theme park for the day and the other 3 off to church. Andrew & I had a sleep-in before getting up and starting to prepare the roast for lunch. Toffee (the dog) and I had an hour walk around the farmer’s field perimeters – the fields still beautifully green and Toffee just enjoying the chance for a run and chasing twigs. The opportunity of another 9 holes came up so I guess it just had to be taken :). Jennifer & Susan had a quiet afternoon with Toby but Toffee missed out on another walk.We all enjoyed the evening together

27th September
Andrew & Harry off to work & school, Jen and I headed of to Carshalton, south of London where we connected with Michael & Rosalind. Joyce, Margaret and Terry joined us for lunch with the younger members all joining us for dinner at the pub.

Jennifer, Rosalind, Michael, Tim, Catherine, Terry & Joyce having dinner at the pub

Unfortunately Jenny is at University in Bristol so was unable to join us. Chased up more stories about Dad and Bob and their cycling days in England, Germany and France during the 1930’s and 40’s.

28th September
Jumped on the train heading for Victoria where we ventured the underground to Euston. Caught the Virgin train to Chester and were greeted by our dear friend Doreen and introduced to her new partner John. We had a lovely time together staying with them in their new home in Connah’s Quay. We spent the afternoon together catching up on old times and seeing the latest photographs. Enjoyed a gorgeous apple pie for tea , made with apples from the garden.

29th September
Started off with a rather damp morning but this was breaking up and looked promising for the rest of the day. Headed off south into inner Wales by first visiting Llantwst Church and having a look at the Horseshoe Falls followed by a coffee at the Chain Bridge Hotel. Whilst there we noticed an old steam engine coming in to the Berwyn station on the other side of the river Dee. From here we went on to Llangollen and a good wander around the village before enjoying lunch up at the canal station kiosk on the Shropshire Union Canal.

The Card Shop near the Bridge in the town of LLangollen

It is most interesting that all road signs and place show both Welsh and English language. We found the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct which is 1007 feet

John, Doreen & Jennifer on Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

across and 123 feet high above the river so we went across on the walking path and were able to cadge a ride back on an empty tourist narrow boat. It was Doreens first ride on a narrow boat. The captain gave us a quick history of the aquaduct and explained about the plughole to drain the excess water from the canal when necessary. Thomas Telford built the aquaduct over ten years from 1795 out of iron and steel sealing it with lead and boiling sugar. After driving back up the horseshoe pass we had a stop at the top and checked out the sheep that wagged their tail behind them and the magnificent view of the Llangollen valley as by now the sun was shining. The mountains here are very old and rock faces grey with slate.

John, Jennifer & Doreen on the Betws-y-Coed bridge


We continued on to Betws-y-Coed arriving as the shops were shutting so we enjoyed the window shopping and a look at the gushing water over the rocks/falls and saw a salmon jump. We enjoyed fish for dinner together and then John drove us all safely home after a wonderful day.

30th September
Up early, washing done and then the drive to Chester. It was now time to take the train to Holyhead and board the Stena Line Adventurer for our trip across the Irish Sea to Dublin.

We picked up the hirecar and travelled down to the Old Rectory in Bray where we stayed for the night after a wonderful salmon dinner on the waterfront.