4th October 2019 - 

We have left our lovely Manor and travel to Ireland the weather is getting slowly worse as the days shorten and autumn sets in with a vengeance, the upside of this is the changes in colours with the leaves being any colour from Green, red all shades of yellow and brown. Magnificent.

We drive to Holyhead in Wales to spend the night as the ferry leaves early in the morning. Our pub is on a one-way street and takes a bit of getting into the carpark. Ross gets direction but comes to the car saying he could not understand a word of it. The room when we arrive is large and clean the pub is the opposite, so we wander through Holyhead looking for somewhere to eat, not a very exciting town. We settle for Indian, it is the sort of place where if you order any drink other than beer the waiter looks at you and brings a beer anyway. We drink beer and have quite a pleasant meal.

A pleasant ferry trip followed by a race to Roscommon to see Father Norman, who is off on holiday the next day. We had a very pleasant visit and leave promising to return for his 100th Birthday in 18 months’ time. Our B and B that night was lovely if slightly out of our way. GPS issues had us lost on our return from dinner and me again envisioning a night in the car. We did eventually find it.

Ireland

Fr Norman at front door of castle

Fr Norman at front door of castle

Our B and B very nice if hard to find

B and B welcoming front door

A wet and windy trip saw us arrive in Kenmare where we are staying for 10 days. The house is on the main road and for some reason I go past it every time we return from anywhere. My cousin Paul and Jean came to stay, and we have a brilliant time travelling the Ring of Kerry with the “wow” scenery at every turn. The weather also put on a grand show with rain, mist, sun, rainbows and wind. Making the scenery magical and mystical. The rainbows in Ireland are the brightest I have ever seen one actually for a few moments had 3 arcs, I have never seen that before.

It is getting colder and the trees are wonderfully colourful, autumn is a wonderful time in Britain. After a few great meals and a fabulous afternoon tea at a hotel we would never have found, but one that Norma told us about we left Kenmore and set out to Derry.

After Paul and Jean left we had a few days by ourselves. A lovely trip on a cold but dry day saw us in Kilarney where I managed a bit of Christmas shopping. It is along the ring of Kerry so once more I could not resist the photo opportunities.

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We had been told by a friend in Derry, who knows this area not to miss the afternoon tea at Sheen Falls Hotel. This turned out not to be very far away, but not a spot we would have normally visited. When we got there the hotel is on the river with the falls in it's back garden a beautiful setting. We were one table amongst mostly empty tables it being mid week. One of the tables was a bride to be and her family organising the wedding party. I so wanted to gatecrash that wedding in such a fairy tale place. 

Afternoon tea was great and very filling a short walk in the gardens afterwards (good for the digestive system), i was luck enough to see a rainbow over the river and was joined by a cheeky robin. I know robins are carnivores, so did not offer him any crumbs. 

A lovely trip, we find the roads in Ireland easy the scenery breathtaking and we found a place to stay the night in Galway. Galway was a very pretty town with nice shops and good pubs.

In Derry we were warmly welcomed by Roz and Colm and went out to dinner with them both and Norma at a beautiful gastro pub in the local manor house. The meal was great as was the service until we tried to leave. We could not find anyone to pay!! I ended up going into the kitchen to get some help and we managed to pay. If Norma had not known the owners, it would have been tempting just to go. President Clinton had stayed at the Hotel and Norma had met him. How good is that.

Next stop Ballyclare and a visit to Paul and Jean. Paul took us to the Titanic exhibition, perhaps not the best choice for people about to embark on a 40-day cruise to Australia. Having said that it was a great exhibition which we all thoroughly enjoyed. I particularly enjoyed the ride in a cable car around the “factory” watching the ship being built.

Onto the ferry again and back to England another night in Holyhead. We had much better accommodation this time and although it was raining walked to the local feeding hole down the hill. We arrived slightly damp to be told it had finished serving early as the season was finished and to try the local Chinese. Two local (quite inebriated) who had been smoking in the doorway and had joked with us on the way in asked why we had not stayed. On being told we were hungry and were off to the Chinese, they jumped into action. First, we got a list of all the better places to eat, the ones that would be still open (a smaller list) then the ones in walking distance (should perhaps have started with these), I guess the alcohol was not helping. While one of the men was ringing the closest restaurant the other gave us the 5th degree as to why we were not staying at his B and B. Eventually we were sent on our way with directions to those lights over there!!

We arrived the next day in Portmerion, the set for the series The Prisoner which Ross really enjoys. We had a fabulous meal in the pub that evening. Our taxi driver to and from tried to teach us Welsh and quoted poetry to show us how beautiful the language is. She was extremely proud of being Welsh and living in the area.

We spent the whole day wandering around the village. Portmeirion was created by Welsh architect Clough Williams-Ellis from 1925 to 1976 to show how a naturally beautiful site could be developed without spoiling it. the village is still privately owned having been built by an eccentric, rich man many years ago. It is now a hotel with all the buildings being for hire. The whole town is exquisite all lovely bright colours and around very lovely parks and gardens. It is hilly so there are lots of great views glimpsed from between trees down onto the town.

Battery Square is home to The Round House, which was the fictional home of Number 6 in the TV series The Prisoner. The Campanile Bell Tower is the focal feature of Battery Square.

The Central Piazza at Portmeirion features a fountain pool, Gloriette, Gothic Pavilion, the Bristol Colonnade and the giant chessboard.

The historic Hercules Hall is located in this part of the village. Hercules Hall is an Arts-and-Crafts style village hall designed to house a Jacobean ceiling, paneling and mullioned windows salvaged from Emral Hall in Flintshire.

From the Triumphal Arch in Salutation Square, there are two main paths into Y Gwyllt Woodlands. Featuring 70 acres of woodland and 20 miles of walking paths, the Woodland is home to hidden treasures including the Dog Cemetery, Ghost Garden, Tangle Wood and the Chinese Lake. We enjoyed breath-taking views of the village and estuary from the Gazebo, designed by Susan Williams-Ellis to mark the centenary of Clough's birth.

It was with relief we arrived in Liverpool for a quiet stay with my cousin Stephen and Sharon. When asked what we wanted to do I answered “absolutely nothing” I think I have now finished my holidaying!!

A couple of days later we were on a plane to Berlin for dinner, as you do. We arrived at midnight and missed Carsten who had come to the station to meet us, sorry Carsten. We had an amazingly great meal with Carsten, Andreas, Uta and Ralph, great food and lots of laughter. We are lucky to have such great friends.

We returned to Liverpool and another couple of days of rest. .

Our last stay is in Sheffield, were I visit one last castle with my cousins. Bosover Castle which I have told should not be missed and is close to Sheffield.  

The castle was founded in the late 11th century by William Peveril, one of William the Conqueror's knights, but it was neglected from the mid-14th century. Its ruins provided the setting for the Little Castle begun in 1612 by Sir Charles Cavendish as a retreat from his principal seat at Welbeck, a few miles away.

The design of the Little Castle was intended to evoke a Norman great tower, which it clearly resembles viewed from a distance, rising sheer from the cliff. The interior continues the impression, with massive round Romanesque vaults in the basement and pointed Gothic ones on the entrance floor. The great windows of the upper floors were designed to give panoramic views across the landscape. The exquisitely carved fireplaces and richly coloured murals and paneling of its exceptionally well-preserved and beautifully restored interiors still take the visitor on an allegorical journey from earthly concerns to heavenly delights.