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Portwenn Online
A Magical Cornish Village
Doc Martin is
IN
Day 1
Just one picture of the departure from Windsor, Ontario airport
The small purple buttons below each blog post are slideshows
You can watch on auto or use controls to pause or scroll manually
 
Day 3 - no wi-fi on Day 2 and frankly it was a pretty lost day.

Not-so-quick update. I REALLY hate airports (big ones). Had to walk miles through Toronto Pearson
and London Heathrow to make my connections. Flight from Toronto to London left almost two hours
late. Although the premium economy seats were nice and bigger than economy, the placement of
the legs in the seat in front kept me moving my legs to find a comfortable spot - I actually found the
legroom in coach on the two smaller planes more comfortable. I slept probably a total of an hour the
whole night - but I did watch "The Martian" and enjoyed it. I thought I had missed my connection
from Heathrow to Shannon, but then I heard my name on the PA and they were holding the flight for
me. I walked as quickly as possible the rest of the way to the gate and the lady was standing in the
aisle watching for me. Shannon Airport is much smaller, but very old. Reminds me of the old Smith
Terminal at DTW.

So, landed at Shannon and of course, my checked bag never appeared. You know, the one with all
my clothes, all my underwear, all my toiletries? Filled out the paperwork, got my rental car and
started driving to my B&B. Getting used to driving on the left, driving a manual transmission for the
first time in 14 years (last time I was here), manouvering through all those flippin' roundabouts as
you leave Shannon (I think they put them there on purpose just to shock your system - I'll be used to
them in a day or two), trying to get used to all the important knobs and buttons in an unfamiliar car,
the drivers seat on the right (which is actually helpful because it keeps reminding you that you aren't
in Kansas anymore), and the Garmin GPS I paid extra for which is completely useless (I don't know if
it's actually useless or operator error, but it gives a couple of "turn left at N21" type messages miles
before you even get to N21 and then you never hear from it again. I have been really lost at least a
half dozen times now in just two days).

The funniest thing though was yesterday when I realized I had passed a turn on the way to the B&B.
It's so hard here just to find a place to turn around, so I finally chose a road and turned into it hoping
to find a drive to use to turn around. But another car was right behind me for miles and I saw no good
places - mostly they were residences with gates at the road. I finally saw a lane that led to a
abandoned-looking barn. So I turned in and then tried everything I could to put in in reverse. I know
over the years always having that problem in manual transmission cars. Sometimes you have to do
odd things to them, push down while pushing into position, whacking it really hard while pushing left
and up, etc. I tried everything and nothing worked - I kept ending up in 1st and was slowly inching
my way up the lane. I didn't know what I was going to do - I was in the middle of nowhere and there
was no phone service. I finally decided to drive into the yard by the barn and prayed that the car's
turning radius was small enough to do it without needing to reverse - the prayer worked - I just
barely cleared the corner of the barn. Later, after still being lost, I found a place to pull over and
decided come hell or high water I was going to have to figure out how to reverse and I did - there's a
ring at the bottom of the shifter that you need to pull up and then push it left and up. Whew! I also
had to pull over to the side of the road today to figure out how to turn on the freakin windshield
wipers. I still haven't figured out the lights - my lesson for tomorrow!  ;-)

Anyway, I finally found the B&B - and the landlady, Pauline, was a gem. I highly recommend her
place for anyone flying into or out of Shannon since it's so close. It's a wonderful welcome to Ireland.
I climbed into bed at about 5PM and took a 3 hour nap. Got up for a few hours and the airline called at
9PM to say they were delivering my bag at 9:30 the next morning. Yay! Another night sleeping in the
clothes I had been wearing for 2 days. Then I went back to bed and slept for 9 1/2 hours - jet lag
conquered! But the bag didn't show up until 1PM - so more frustration just sitting there waiting for it -
but Pauline was so wonderful.

The traffic on the drive from Adare to Tahilla Cove (in Kerry) was ridiculous. I'm hoping it was just
Saturday traffic. I'm feeling more confident with every roundabout but still can't believe how narrow
even well travelled roads can be. Lots of rubbing the bushes on the left side of the car. I'm doing
pretty well with the manual transmission - have not stalled even once!

This place is really beautiful - here is the view from my balcony. It's been a little misty this afternoon
so not really clear in the distance - hope to get a better view tomorrow. I'll be here until Tuesday -
hoping to go find a pub tomorrow in the next town that serves a proper Sunday roast.
 
Day 4 - found out that they don't do the whole Sunday roast with Yorkshire pudding here in Ireland -
will have to wait till I'm in England. I drove the ring of Kerry today - but most of the beautiful sights I
saw will have to remain picture memories because there just aren't enough places to pull over and
the traffic was really bad today. I think that's what I get for coming in August instead of June like I've
done in the past. The landlord here told me that this is really prime holiday season.

I am the kind of person who always asks for extra ice in my water or iced tea. Over here you have to
practically beg for ice. In fact, if you ask for "lots of ice" you will probably get 5 or 6 small pieces.
As I drove into the town of Killorglin, I saw signs that the goat festival "Puck Fair" was beginning in a
few days. Something seemed familiar to me - and as I entered the town square I immediately knew
what it was. There was a tall structure built in the middle of the square and I knew that they would be
placing a goat at the top of it. How did I know? In an episode of Ballykissangel they had the goat
festival and it looked just like this. I looked it up when I got back last night and this town is right next
to the town that the creator of the show used as the inspiration for the town in the show. And, in the
show, the next town over where they often had to go to talk to the bishop, appear in court, etc. was
called "Cildargan" which is awfully close to "Killorglin". When watching that episode, I never
expected that someday I would see a goat tower in person!

Oh, and two good luck charms. When talking to my landlady at the B&B in Adare, I found out that my
house is the same age as hers - 1892. And when I went to put my cases in the car I noticed that the
letters on my license plate are "KK" which, of course, matches my license plate at home "DBL K".
 
Day 5 - All that driving yesterday in the traffic and the winding roads (in certain areas of Ireland it
seems like the roads are continual blind curves) my legs were shot. Too much braking, shifting,
downshifting. I noticed the car has cruise control, but there was no chance of using it yet. So I
decided to stay here at Tahilla Cove for the day. And it was a beauty, with sunshine most of the day.

So, after another great breakfast (James, the landlord, makes the most amazing omelets), I sat in the
yard for a bit, went up and lounged on my bed reading for a bit, sat in the sun on my balcony for
awhile, and then walked around the property and spent a little time sitting on the bench at the end of
the pier. So here are pictures of this lovely place - Tahilla Cove Country House. I'll be leaving here
tomorrow and driving across the south of Ireland to Glendalough in the Wicklow Mountains.

Oh - I met James' wife Deirdre today. I had read in the info about the house that she is the local GP
while James runs the inn (which was started by his father). I told her that she was the embodiment
of my two favorite British television programs. Deirdre was the character name of one of the stars of
Coronation Street. Sadly, the actress who played her for several decades died last year and the
producers had her character die offscreen. And, of course, Doc Martin is the GP in the fishing village
where I am headed in another week.

There are two buildings here - the main building with some guest rooms, two sitting rooms, dining
room, and a small pub. Then over to the side is an annex with five (I think) guest rooms. I'm in the
annex - the center room upstairs. The tide was out when I was taking pictures on the dock
 
Well, the Day 6 update will come a little later. I arrived at my hotel a little while ago after a full day of
driving, and guess what? We have ANOTHER flat tire (or tyre as they say here). Luckily, it happened
just as I was parking the car at the hotel. I would have felt it if it happened on the road, but as I
unloaded my luggage, there it was. I have a message into Budget Rental to see what they can do. I
wasn't planning to drive anywhere tomorrow anyway after the full day on the road today. And there
is plenty to explore here.  (Last time I was in Ireland I also had a flat tire.)

I'm in the restaurant right now having a leg of lamb dinner, a couple of glasses of wine, and I plan to
have a fabulous dessert. Pictures later!

Day 6 - as I mentioned last night, the day was mostly spent on the road. Part was on the little 2 lane
roads with no shoulders and lots of curves. It's still amazing that driving between decently large
cities here gives you only that option. It was only when I left Cork that I was able to take a motorway
(4 lane divided highway) most of the way here because it's the road that leads to Dublin. At one point
I needed a bathroom break and got off the motorway in a town I figured would have a gas station. It
did, and I topped off the tank, but no facilities. The clerk told me that the next exit had a McDonald's!
So off I went. We are so spoiled that along every freeway are signs for the exits that tell us what gas
stations, fast food places, etc are at that exit - I always know I will find a McDonald's, Wendy's, Tim
Horton's, etc for a bathroom break. There is really nothing like that here.

I got to the hotel and after I unpacked the car I saw that I had a flat tire - it must have just gone flat as
I pulled into the car park because I would have felt it otherwise. I'm sure it's from hitting a couple of
potholes in the last few miles - there was no way to avoid them with traffic coming from the other
direction. Waiting to hear from Budget Rentals, but I was planning to stick around here today anyway
- lots to see here. But it is raining - the first real rain I've seen, but it's not a heavy rain.
 
Day 7.1 - Just a mini update. I'm waiting for someone to come to fix the tire and taking advantage of
the wi-fi in the lobby. No wi-fi in the rooms (boo-hiss). But I had a really nice, long conversation with
a tour coach driver who holes up here while his passengers explore - this is his biggest stop of the
day tour that leaves from Dublin.

I just overheard a snippet of a conversation behind me. The receptionist said something and the
woman said, "No thanks, I have water in my pocket. In a bottle of course." If I had just taken a drink I
would have spit it out.

This is my 3rd stay at this hotel. My second time was 14 years ago and I arrived just a couple of days
before my 50th birthday. As I checked in that day, the receptionist handed me a card. She said it had
been left by someone a few weeks prior. It was a birthday card from my friends, the Loons. Nina
Kelly had been visiting Glendalough on a trip and knew I was staying in the hotel just a few weeks
later, so she left the card for me signed by all of the Loons.

During that visit, we had a really hard rainfall one morning and I took the attached picture through a
window in the hotel. It's always been my favorite photo and people say it looks like a Monet painting.
I showed it to the restaurant manager last night and she loved it - she had me email it to her and she
said the owners will love it too. This morning I took a matching picture - no flowers in the window
box this time


Day 7.2 - The nice gentleman arrived in the afternoon to change my tire and he found a small hole in
the side (I'm sure from the pothole). So, that means a new tire. Thank goodness I took the full
coverage - I will have to pay for the tire and turn in the receipt when I surrender the car and I will be
reimbursed. So he directed me to a place in the next town - I'll be on my way there after breakfast.
It's in the direction I planned to go today anyway to see the Sally Gap and Glenmacnass Falls.

Just to tell you a little about Glendalough. The name means "valley of the two lakes". The word
"lough" (pronounced "lock") means lake in Irish. It's also spelled "loch" in England and Scotland -
think the Loch Ness Monster. It's not really a town, more a place settled around the monastic ruins.
There is a visitors center, a hotel and a craft shop and that's about it. But around 10 AM the tour
buses start arriving and the place is bustling. I mostly hung around the hotel most of the day since it
was raining and lots of tourists around. But after a late lunch the place had settled down (about 5PM)
and it had stopped raining (and the sun was out!) so I walked around the ruins and there were only a
handful of people sharing the site with me. St Kevin established the monastery here in the early
500s. The three main building are the main cathedral that no longer has a roof, St Kevin's Church
(also called St Kevin's Kitchen) which is mostly intact, and the round tower which is also intact and is
about 100 feet tall. I visited this place on my first trip to Ireland and just felt a magic here.
Glendalough and Niagara Falls are the two places I have visited that have had that feeling for me. So,
this is my third trip to this location - and my third stay in the Glendalough Hotel.

This is funny - I looked up the origin of Hollywood, which is quite near to here. According to what I
read, there are two explanations for the name. One is that it's named for the holly that grows on the
hillsides. But the other is because St Kevin lived here before establishing the monastery at
Glendalough, so they called it "Holy wood". The reason he left the town was because he was
tormented by a woman named Kathleen and to escape her attentions he fled across the mountains,
to the even greater isolation of Glendalough. LOL! See, I knew there was something that spoke to
me about this place! Incidentally, a family by the name of Guirke left Hollywood to emigrate to
America during the famine. One of their sons went out to the west and he established a small
community in southern California and named it after his hometown in Ireland. How about that!
 
Day 8 - I found the little auto repair place in the next town. The guy took the tire out of my trunk, but
said he didn't have the tire but could get it by 4:00. So I drove out to the Sally Gap, which is high up
in the Wicklow Mountains. These roads are the narrowest I've driven on yet - and sometimes they
were on the edge of the mountain, with only a short rock wall for protection. But I felt more confident
than ever. There wasn't a lot of traffic, and when I had someone coming from the other direction, I
would pull over as far as I could and stop to let them edge by. One time was funny. There really
wasn't room for both of us, but we both just inched forward. I then rolled down my window and
folded my side view mirror in - and he did the same so we were just able to pass. But a few seconds
later I realized he was an idiot because just behind him was a spot where he could have pulled over.
It was misting raining the whole time I was driving through the mountains, so the pics aren't great.
But it was a good drive. Then I came out at the top of a favorite spot - Glenmacnass Falls. I got a
couple of good pics of the valley below, but wasn't able to stop to look back and get a pic of the falls,
so I inserted a pic that I took of them 14 years ago.

I then went to the upper lake at Glendalough and it had started to clear by then. Lots of families
having picnics in the adjoining park. So I drove back to Roundwood (where the auto repair place
was) and went into the Coach House for lunch and to kill time until I could go back to get the tire.

Whenever there is a discussion on tipping in the US, I see people complain about the practice and
suggest that the restaurant & bar owners should just pay their employees more and add it to the
prices. After a week in Ireland, I hope our practice of tipping never ends. Even though it's not normal
to tip here, in England, and I think, in all of Europe, I still tend to add a tip. I just can't help it. But, with
the servers not used to getting tips, I have to say that service here is horrible. The pub where I had
lunch today - when she brought my plate of food, she left and I never saw her again. I saw her
wandering around and tried to flag her down because I wanted to order something called "Death by
Chocolate". Of course I wanted that!  But then I didn't see her anymore and I had been sitting there
for about 30 minutes after finishing my meal. Finally, a young man cleaning tables around me asked
if I wanted anything else and I said no, just bring me the check. I was worried that the auto repair
place might close. So, please - never stop the practice of tipping. I get great service at home and I
have to think the anticipation of the tip affects their attention to the customers.

As far as food though, I was craving the Irish and English breakfasts - and I haven't been
disappointed. Oh, the bacon. Oh, the sausages. Oh, the porridge. Oh, the black currant jam. Can't get
anything like it at home. Yum! Oh. Yea - and the goat cheese salads! (Sorry Suzy, but they are
amazing!)

I've been seeing commercials for the new movie coming out - Ricky Gervais in David Brent: Life on
the Road. Looks hilarious! I'll have to try to catch it when I get home.

Last day in Ireland today (Friday) and I'll be on a ferry to Wales tonight. Port Isaac tomorrow!
 
Day 9.1 - I just got in to Rosslare and I have over 6 hours before the ship leaves. I'm lounging in the
lobby of the Hotel Rosslare (and using their wi-fi) and trying to figure out where to surrender the car,
how I'm going to get from there to the ship with my luggage, and trying to arrange a cab to pick me
up at the dock at 12:45 AM. This is like work! LOL!

Day 9.2 - just a quick update. Long night and day because the ferry left Ireland at 8:45 PM and landed
in Wales at 12:45 AM, so it was about 1:30 before I was checked into my hotel.  A few pictures from
my last day in Ireland - Adare – where they filmed Ballykissangel.  Plus, a picture from the ferry
terminal and a couple on board the ferry.
Ireland   Aug 5-13