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Published: April 2nd 2009
Poms worship a sunny day (9d) on Brighton
Kia Ora Koutou and Top of da mornin to ya, Love is all you need. I don't know why but I've been dragging my arse on this blog and had real trouble motivating myself to sit down and write. It seems ages ago that we were in Scotland and our time in Ole Blightey is drawing to an end but more about that later.
February (after the snow) was fairly quiet, we caught with friends on a couple of ocassions but with the weather at its worst we stayed indoors most of the month. However to visit Liverpool, home of the Beatles has always been on my "to do list" and at the end of February we caught the train up to Leeds to meet up with our English buddies Sham and Chris, then headed to the home of the Liver birds, Beatles and the best English cub side, Liverpool. Sham had booked a luxury apartment close to the renovated Albert Docks, close to all the sights. The highlight for me was of course the Beatles Museum (3 hours) but I also spent a sobering 90 minutes at the Maritime Museum which included a large section devoted to the atrocities
Anita and Sham at Albert Dock
of the slavery trade. We also took a tour of the city, viewed the Liver building walked the streets, went past the Carven (there are now 3) and had a drink in a pub (The Philharmonic dinning room) frequented by John Lennon. It was a great weekend, the scouses were friendly, the Mersey dirty and the weather fine but cold. All in all, a great weekend and another goal achieved.Thanks Sham and Chris for sharing the weekend with us!
The next event on the calender was a day in Brighton. We had been wanting to have a day on the promenade in Brighton for a long time however the right day seemed to have alluded us and trying to find a sunny weekend in London is harder than finding a pom with a tan. We decided the first sunny weekend day in March we we'd do it and on Sunday the 8th we awoke to a beautiful day and off we went. Its about a 90 minute train ride and it was really lovely. The sun shone all day and we strolled along the prom, had chips and vinegar on the pier and window shopped in the narrows lanes
World famous waterfront building (Livers are birds)
and alleyways. We were impressed and really glad we found the time.
But the highlight of the month was our trip to Ireland, it was good Craic. We flew into Dublin on Thursday evening (£75 return) and arrived 8pm. I had booked the hostel that the tour (Shamrocker) departed from. Not a great hostel for a couple of aged souls like ourselves but what can you expect for $130. We shared a two bunked room with 2 strangers and it was a bit on lively side (not the room, the hostel) but it was only a night and it saved the hassle of running around in the morning looking for the meeting point. Well at 8-30am the next morning 31 of us (mainly American students with few Aussies thrown in) and (yes we were the oldest AGAIN) with "Murph" our tour guide for a three day trip around the southern Counties of Ireland. We left Dublin and traveled through the green, fertile stud farms of Kildare to the rock of Cashel home of Brian Baru. We carried on through C. Tipperary to the beautiful Mitchelstown caves (I had previously seen them in 1995). Murph was a great yarn spinner
A eerie view of the castle and grounds of Blarney
and told us some grand embelished legends as we passed through the Counties. Now young Murph was blessed with the gift of the Gab and just out of Cork we had the chance to add to our story telling abilities by a visit to Blarney Castle and kiss the lucky stone. This we both did, Anita somewhat reluctantly, as lying on your back, holding on to 2 iron bars with a drop of 50 metres below is not that appealing, unless you're a thrill seeker. Its also worth mentioning that the grounds of Blarney Castle were beautiful with daffodils in abundance. From Blarney we headed to our hostel for the night in Killarney in County Kerry.
I had a great evening (Anita retired early) at a small pub. Murph had arranged for a story teller to entertain those interested, he was brilliant and for a fiver we spent 2 hours as he told stories, jokes and sung folk music. The Guinness over here is extra smooth and the pints slipped down a treat and lubricated the laughing muscles. A night of genuine Irish hospitality. The next morning we hit the road heading towards Dingle (a lovely wee shopping village)
I just thought this was a great photo
and then on to the western most point in Ireland and home to the Giant Finn MacCooill who lies sleeping in the sea, resting, in case Ireland needs him to defend their shores in the future. After a quick shirts off stop we headed toward County Clare across the Shannon to the Cliffs of Moher. For me cliffs are cliffs and I was looking forward to getting to our next stop Doolin, especially because the Irish and the Welsh were battling for the six nations and I wanted to see the game. We arrived in Doolin just at half time and while Anita checked us in to the hostel I rushed down to MacGanns (the local) to watch the action. What a second half and when O' Gara slotted the drop goal, just before full time, the locals went off. It was a great atmosphere and experience to be in a small Irish pub, drinking Guinness with the Irish securing the title for the first time in 61 years! We continue to enjoy the craic with an irish stew and a few more pints. They say Doolin is the home of traditional music and the band was in fine form
Anita and I on the rugged west cost in County Kerry
with flutes, pipes and guitars.
These tours are great but there is no rest for the wicked and at 8-30 we were on the road heading back to Dublin. On the way we explored the limestone landscape and the Pol na brone Dolmen on Burren before cleansing our souls at the ancient monastic city of Clonmacnoise. Finally it was a whiskey tasting at a distillery before heading back to the banks of the Liffey that is Dublin. We got back to our home in London at 1-30am tired but satisfied and really pleased we had a tase of Ireland. But bloody hell its expensive, worse than London.
Oh yeh I forgot to say we did an 8 mile walk for the North London Hospice, from East Finchley to Westminister, through a number of parks including Highgate, Hampstead Heath, Primrose, Regents, Hyde, Green, St James parks and a few I've forgotten. Raised £75 from our work mates sponsering us. So our plans for the future. Easter we are heading to York with our Nelsonian buddies Chris and Katrina and Zac. We leave work on the 17/4 and on the 21/4 fly out to Lisbon. From there we are making
Me, Murph and 2 Ozzies point out to Finn MacCooill
our way to Barcelona via places tive Evora, Albufiera, Seville, Granada, Alicante and wherever, after 3 days in Barcelona. We fly to Rome to join a GAP tour starting on the 9 May and end up 13 days later in Venice (more details in coming blogs). We fly back to London and after a quick three day trip to Wales to say goodbye to Chris and Jenny we fly out to Ghana on 30 May for 2 months voluntary work in schools and/or an orphanage. We fly back to London for 5 days before heading home to Aotearoa via Hong Kong (4 days) and Gold Coast (14 days). We should arrive in the South Island for the last 10 days of August and hit Auckland 1st September..........so until next time E noho ora mai koutou (you all stay well and warm!).
PS The London weather hasn't been to bad in the last month or so, alrigh, init.
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