Ireland, Scotland, England & Spain
October & November 2013




LAUNCHED: 9 December 2013.       LAST UPDATED: 9 December 2013


Accessed at least many times since 9 December 2013.




Sunday 20 October 2013. Set out from Jaffrey on a beautiful mild day for the bus terminal in Nashua. Took the Boston Express bus to Logan. Checked my bag and then went to Terminal B for dinner at Legal Sea Foods. Aer Lingus flight to Dublin; only about 2/3rds full. Left on time and arrived early.

Monday 21 October 2013. Good old Joe O'Farrell was there to meet me. Rainy. Headed to Enniskerry through heavy rush-hour traffic. Welcomed by Barbara. A Full Irish breakfast hit the spot. Then a long nap. Later in the day Joe and I went into Enniskerry to do some errands, then to Dun Laoghaire and the Shackleton-Hurley exhibit at the Ferry Terminal. That evening a very good Fish Pie for dinner.


The Shackleton exhibit in Dun Laoghaire. The Fish Pie.


Barbara Martin and Joe O'Farrell.

Tuesday 22 October 2013. Slept in to past 9am. Breakfast. Overcast and some rain (Later, "I think I see a touch of blue."). Into Bray with Joe: he renews his car registration and I use the ATM. Later in afternoon we drive into Dublin to the Collins Barracks—now the National Museum, Decorative Arts and History, a marvelous building.


Collins Barracks; now a great museum.

Have a late lunch there, then back in Enniskerry around 6pm. Later we go into the village for a nice dinner at Emilias, an Italian restaurant.


Barbara and Joe at Emilias.

Wednesday 23 October 2013. Joe and I are off to the airport to meet his daughter, they then go off to Limerick, and I get the bus to Belfast. A relaxing ride of nearly two hours. Arrive and go to the The Crown for a beer and fish and chips (probably the worst I’ve ever had). Barbara and I had a drink in this very colorful pub the year before.


I love fish & chips but these were pretty bad.

Over to the Vodafone store and get a new SIM card and put £20 on it. Then to Boots for some medicine, then a look at the Linen Hall Library, somewhat akin to the Boston Athenaeum. Then to Jury’s Inn to meet up with Jim McAdam at 4pm. We leave Belfast and round Lough Neigh to the north. On the west side, after leaving Churchtown, we went on to a track and started to climb and so arrived at Jim and Geraldine's house which is about eight years old and designed by them. Some impressive features: double-glazed windows, lovely plaster work, a restored Aga, in-floor geothermal heating, lots of light.


Jim and Geraldine's house near Churchtown.


My bedroom and the view from the window.

We enjoyed a drink then had a very nice beef bourguignon type of stew. Wine and conversation.


Dinner with Jim and Geraldine


Jim and Geraldine and the restored Aga.

Thursday 24 October 2013. Lovely sunrise. After porridge (with whisky) and toast I had a look around the outside with Jim, admiring his 1960s Massey Ferguson tractor. We had lettuce and nettle soup for lunch and not long afterwards Jim and I set out for a circular tour of the district, through Cookstown and Moneymore. Stopped at Springhill, a National Trust property. The house was closed but we walked around the grounds.


Springhill, a 17th century plantation house in Ballindrum, Moneymore.

Stopped at the Shepherd’s Rest pub in Draperstown and had a pint in front of the coal fire.


By the fire at The Shepherds Rest.

On to Plumbridge through the Glenelly Valley—very picturesque. To Gortin, reputed to have 13 pubs but we only counted five. Eventually back to the house. Had a drink, then off to Maghera where Jim is to give a talk. On the way stopped for dinner in Magherafelt at The Church Street Restaurant. Quite nice. Jim’s talk was on Irish Polar Explorers—Arctic and Antarctic.


Jim and Geraldine at The Church Street Restaurant.

Friday 25 October 2013. Heavy rain during the night and foggy in the morning but better as the day progressed. Jim, Geraldine and I set out after breakfast and headed south through Cookstown. Drove around Armagh and saw both cathedrals—the Catholic and the Church of Ireland. A nice city, worthy of a return visit. Eventually joined the main road between Belfast and Dublin, got on the M50 and then headed west on the road to Athy. Stopped at Avoca for lunch—fish and chips. (Miles better than the ones I had at The Crown.) Got to Athy and went to the Council chambers for the 4pm reception. Enjoyed a glass of wine with Bob Headland, Zaz Shackleton, Charles Swithinbank, the Burtons, Brad Borkan, et al. The McAdams then dropped me off at the Aurora House B&B where I would stay for the next two nights.


The Aurora House B&B.

Picked up a few things then we went on to Seamus and Miriam Taaffe’s house for a dinner of Irish stew. Also there: Paul Davies and Geir Kløver. Then to the Heritage Centre for the Autumn School's opening reception. Met up with Jonathan, Arthur and Carol Shackleton, Janice Tipping, and others. The Australian ambassador opened things and not long after we were over at O’Brien's enjoying a drink. Sometime later I walked back to the Aurora House, about a mile.


Zaz and Margaret posing in the council chambers.


At the Taafe's: Jim, Miriam, Gerladine, Rob and Geir Kløver, director of Oslo's Fram Museum. Irish stew—what could be more appropriate?


Seamus introduciing the Australian ambassador who opened the School. And afterwards, enjoying a pint at O'Briens.


Judith and Wayne behind the counter and Judith with her father, Frank.


Frank O'Brien behind his bar.


In the back room of Obrien's.


Geraldine and Joe singing show tunes.


O'Brien's.

Saturday 26 October 2013. Not a bad morning. Had a full Irish breakfast, then set out by foot to the Heritage Centre. The talks on Saturday and Sunday were excellent on the whole. Had lunch with Jonathan at Bradbury’s, joined by Paul Davies and Joan Booth later. Walked back to the B&B, changed and was picked up by Frank Taaffe at 5:25, and went, along with a Spanish couple, to Frank and Bridg’s house for the usual drinks party. Then to the Clanard Court Hotel for the annual banquet, good as usual. By taxi to O’Brien's for a pint or two. Seamus gave me a ride back to the B&B sometime after midnight.


The Athy Library, with the Heritage Centre on the ground floor, venue for the Autumn School.


Frank Taaffe, Joan Booth and Jason Anthony in Frank's library

Sunday 27 October 2013. A bright morning. Excellent French toast at Aurora House. Walked into Athy and arrived about 9:30 for the start at 10. Another good day of talks. Had sandwiches and a beer for lunch and a beer at the close at O’Brien's and then with Jonathan to pick up my bag at Aurora House, then on to the market to buy wine. We then drove to Abbeyleix and Fruitlawn, Arthur and Carol’s house. Ion and Monica arrived and we had a nice dinner of fish pie.


Fish pie at Carol & Arthur's.


Jonathan, Carol and Arthur at Fruitlawn.

Monday 28 October 2013. Bank Holiday Monday. A nice Full Irish cooked up by Arthur and not long after Jonathan and I are on our way to Mullagh, arriving around 3 or so. Have some lunch and get settled. At 8pm have a hearty dinner of pork (from the Shackleton’s farm) along with soup and desserts done up by the two WWOOFers (WWOOF), from Switzerland and Germany (Laura and Suzanne). Daughters Jane and Hannah both showed up.


Daphne, Jonathan, Hannah, Suzanne and Laura.

Tuesday 29 October 2013. After breakfast the WWOOFers, Jonathan and Daphne and I went off to a foxhunt at Ardbraccan House, a remarkable Palladian mansion in Navan, Co Meath, owned by the American Charlie Noell of Maryland. Lovely day and very colorful.


Ardbraccan House.


About to set off.

Wednesday 30 October 2013. Jonathan and I drove into Dublin and our first stop was an acquaintance of Jonathan's who had a painting that he thought might include Frank Shackleton. Couldn’t determine one way or another. A marvelous flat with lots of Georgian architectural salvage added. From there we went to Jonathan/s sister, Lydia, for lunch with her two daughters, Ruth and Rachel. Lydia, Jonathan and I then went to Airfield, an historic house and garden that was just re-opening after much renovation. Extensive gardens and landscaping some of which Daphne’s been working on. That evening we went to St Kyrans, quite an elegant restaurant on the road to Virginia. Our party: Jonathan, Daphne, Hannah, Jane and her boyfriend Patrick.


Lydia, Jonathan's sister, and her two daughters, Ruth and Rachel.


Airfield


Dinner at St. Kyrans.

Thursday 31 October 2013. Up around 6am. Jonathan drove me to Virginia where I got the 7:25 bus directly to the airport. Worked perfectly with plenty of time. Arrived at Glasgow airport on time and picked up a car at Enterprise. I was upgraded to a big hulking Vauxhall with automatic transmission.


My rental car. Too big for narrow Scottish roads.

Had the GPS on and no problem finding the Erskine Bridge and following directions. Stopped at Luss at Falcon's suggestion and walked around this restored village on the shores of Loch Lomond. Had fish and chips and a pint at the Loch Lomond Arms. Up through Tarbet, to Cairndow, then over to Inverary where I parked and went to the Tourist Information Centre and picked up brochures. Also dropped into the George Inn which Falcon had recommended. On again through very pretty countryside though it was raining most of the time. Through Lochgilphead and eventually arrived at Craobh Haven (pronounced croove) and found Falcon and Jane’s with no difficulty. Their two sons arrived on foot at about the same time (Christopher and Charles). That evening, a delicious homemade chicken pie.


Inverary, Scotland. On the way to Jane and Falcon's.

Friday 1 November 2013. Up around 8 and after a shower, had a bowl of cereal and toast and coffee. Jane and Falcon off to walk the dogs. Rainy and gray. Walked out to the end of island to see the view.


Panorama from Falcon's island.

Around 10, Falcon and I drove up to Lunga House, a fantastic place and a perfect venue for the SouthPole-sium v.2. in early May, 2015. We met with Meg and went over details and asked questions; then toured the place. Then drove around the estate.


Lunga House sits above Craobh Haven.


The dining room.


Two of the lounges at Lunga House.


The Ballroom. This will be the main venue for the SouthPole-sium v.2, including the banquet.

We drove out to the end of the peninsula, stopped at a very old church ruin, the Kirkton Chapel near Craignish, then to Ardfern where we had lunch in the café, then peeked inside the pub. Also had a look at the Village Hall. Next to Kilmartin where we checked out the museum (but didn’t go in). Then to some of the nearby burial mounds and a stone circle. Next to the Crinan Canal and its entrance at Crinan. A very quaint place. Then drove back to Falcon’s just as it was getting dark.
That night we went over to the pub in Craobh Haven and enjoyed the Halloween Bash.


Where the coal boats used to come in.


Kirkton Chapel and the view over Loch Craignish.


The Nether Largie Mid Cairn (burial mound) and rainbow.


The Temple Wood Stone Circle.


In Crinan.


View of the hotel from the church at Kilmartin.


The Halloween Bash.

Saturday 2 November 2013. After breakfast I headed south to see the Landmark Trust houses at Saddell. Very rainy with some road flooding. At Tarbert stopped for coffee and a sandwich and decided because of the weather to head back to Falcon’s. That evening we went into Lochgilphead to watch the fireworks and see the parade. Some very creative interior-lit animals carried or pushed along.


Falcon cooking up dinner.


Two of the animals in the parade in Lochgilphead.

Sunday 3 November 2013. Up at 7am and off by 8, heading for Glasgow Airport. North to Oban, then east to Crianlarich, then south along Loch Lomond. Some snow on the distant mountains.


On the road east of Oban.

Arrived at the airport about 11:30, returned the car and had plenty of time before the flight. Had a pint and a bowl of skink soup.
Took the tube from Heathrow to Waterloo. Checked into the Union Jack Club That evening went to Caprini for veal marsala.


My room at the Union Jack Club. Dinner that evening at Caprini.

Monday 4 November 2013. Full Monty breakfast at the UJC. Got a call from Mark Heathcote and learned that it's today not tomorrow that I’m due to meet up with him and Gill Blenkinsop. Get organize and take the tube to Sloane Square and catch the No 319 bus to Wandsworth. Meet up with Mark and we go back to his house and then in his car to Gill’s house, a large family place associated with the Oates family.
Then back to Mark’s for lunch with him and Sue.


Sue and Mark Heathcote.

I then walk back to the bus stop and go back to Sloane Square. Then tube to Green Park and to my bank.
Take the No 9 bus to the Royal Geographical Society where I relaxed in the Members Room, met up with Mike Bullock quite by chance, then convened with Wendy Driver, Cathy Cooper, Lora ? and Mark Heathcote for a very good talk by Alan Hinkes, a mountaineer who has climbed all fourteen 8,000+ meter mountains. Went to the Gore Hotel afterwards for a pleasant dinner. Mark and I walked to South Ken, then tube to Waterloo and the Union Jack Club.

Tuesday 5 November 2013. Over to Waterloo to use the ATM, then breakfast at McDonalds. Then head off to the Spanish Tourist Office which unfortunately has relocated. So to Leiscester Square to buy a ticket for “Jeeves and Wooster” for that night at the Duke of York. £57! From there to the “Lamb and Flag” for a pint and ham and cheese sandwich, and afterwards to Stanfords, the worlds greatest map store, to buy a map of the Costa Brava. Back to the UJC and rested my eyes for a bit. Later, the tube back to Leicester Square and pop into The Salisbury, in St Martins Lane, a great Edwardian pub, for a pint and some peanuts to keep me going. The show started at 7:30, a full house. Very good and very funny. Three actors playing numerous roles. Classic Wodehouse. Back to the UJC and a pint in the bar and then to bed.

Wednesday 6 November 2013. Checked out of the UJC after a big breakfast and took tube via the Northern Line, change at Warren, to Kings Cross. Just made the 10:15 to Cambridge, arriving around 11. Took a cab to the Warkworth House Hotel and checked into Room 2. Got reorganized and then headed to The Panton Arms, where I had a bit of lunch. Then to Scott Polar Research Institute and to the Archives which open at 2pm. Started up again on the Cape Adare Times. At 5 to the hotel and a drink, then over to The Prince Regent to meet up with Pete & Donna Cavanagh. First time Pete & I have met since the SIAFU trip back in the early 70s. We went from there to Yim Wah Express, a Chinese restaurant on the corner for a meal; then called it a night.

Thursday, 7 November 2013. Good breakfast at the hotel and then over to SPRI at 9:30. Worked most of the day with a break for lunch at The Alma and a visit to the Royal Bank of Scotland. Met with Naomi to go over details of publishing the Cape Adare Times. Then back to the hotel to fetch my bag. Got a taxi to the station and was soon on my way to Bishop's Stortford. Mary Cavanagh met me at the station and we went back to her place, nice as ever. Had a drink, then down the hill to an Indian restaurant, Zara. Terrific food.

Friday, 8 November 2013. Mary dropped me off at the station and I took the train into London. To the National Arts Library at the V&A, requested some early auction catalogues, and while waiting for them popped out to The Crown for lunch.


The Crown, a favorite lunch spot in Chelsea. Great Burgers!

Took the tube, not from South Ken (which was closed for some unaccountable reason) but from Knightsbridge which I had to walk to, then Victoria and then to West Dulwich for the James Caird Society AGM and talk, by Angie Butler, and dinner. Took the train back to Bishops Stortford and a taxi to Mary’s.

Saturday, 9 November 2013. Up early and around 7:30 off by cab to Stansted Airport. Time for a nice breakfast, then lined up for the plane (Ryanair). About a two-hour flight to Girona, Spain. Warm and sunny. Picked up the rental car and headed off for Empuriabrava where Mary has a flat. (We're here to reconnoitre a spot for the next SIAFU reunion, our trans-African trip back in the 1970s.) A gigantic marina community.


The view from Mary's flat. That's it two floors above the red car.

Nice two-bedroom flat with a balcony. Not too far from the sea. Soon after we arrive we go upstairs to a friend’s flat, Delores Coma Mir. She prepared a nice lunch of sandwiches, tomatoes, cheese, wine, etc. Walked around the area, along the beach and one of the main streets. Many shops were closed as the season is over. Later met up with Delores again and drove to Peralada and walked around this old town. Dark but with lights most everywhere. There's a Casino in the old castle.


The dark streets of Peralada. The Casino.

Met friends of Delores: Dorothy and Enrique. Had some local champagne (cava) at a restaurant.


Enrique, Dorothy, Delores and Mary.

Then we headed back stopping in Vilanova de la Muga at Restaurant La Muga. Had some local dishes including fresh mushrooms.


Enjoying dinner at La Muga.

Back to Mary’s and to bed after a long day.

Sunday, 10 November 2013. Headed off after breakfast to the Aero Club to watch some skydiving: pretty hairy! A few steps away is Windoor, a big vertical wind tunnel affair that gives one the sensation of skydiving.


Skydiving and Windoor.

Then to Castello d' Empuries, the nearby old historic town, where we parked and walked around. Had a look at the Cathedral.


The Cathderal in Castello d' Empuries.


A door in Castello d' Empuries and the "washing place".

From there to Cadaques, approached by a twisty road going up and going down.


Approaching Cadaques and a view back on the way to Dali's house.


I bet Dali planted the tree. It's just outside his house.

Drove through the town then to the edge where Salvador Dali’s house is. You need to book ahead so we couldn’t get in. Continued on and stopped for lunch is Port de la Selva at the Ca la Paquita Had a good paella and wine.


Enjoying paella in Port de la Selva.

Gradually worked our way back and went through Peralada again, this time in daylight. Back to Mary’s flat for a quick lie-down. Met up with Delores and drove up to Roses to see Pilar, a friend of Delores and Mary’s. Walked up the road with them and had tapas and wine at a local place, El Caiman.


Tapas in Roses: Mary, Pilar and Rob.

Watched some TV, then to bed. During the night the Tramuntana winds started blowing.

Monday, 11 November 2013. Tramuntana winds still blowing but a sunny and blue sky. Took it easy most of the day. Had a long lunch at Taberna del Mar, a seafood place overlooking the beach. A little siesta. Around 8 went out to Siam et Shiki, a Thai restaurant up the road. Early start tomorrow.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013. Got up around 4:30am and headed off by 5am and were at the Girona airport by 7. Checked in and were soon on our way. Had a coffee and a breakfast bun at the airport while waiting for a taxi for Mary’s house.
Went into Bishops Stortford. To the Post Office for stamps; then the station to buy a ticket for tomorrow; then to the Library to check e-mail. Some other errands. Mary shows up around 6:30 and after a bit we go to Il Giardino, an Italian restaurant, and have a nice dinner. Walk back to her house and to bed.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013. Up around 7 or so and finish packing. A cup of coffee, then Mary drives me to the station. Take the train to Tottenham Hale, tube to Finsbury Park and change to the Piccadilly Line then again to the Heathrow train at Barons Court. Fly to Dublin. Through security twice and finally on our way from Dublin. Soon after I arrive, the Boston Express bus to Nashua arrives. My car is still in the parking lot and it starts up fine. Stop on the way home and get some groceries, also gas, the price of which has dropped significantly since I left. Arrived at a cold house: turned the water and the furnace on and went to bed.




All my trip photos—the good and the bad— are at http://smu.gs/1irjx2P and http://smu.gs/1jUygUt