A Travellerspoint blog

Saturday and we went to Bath

and so much for an early tea

sunny 18 °C
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We woke up at 8.30am at Bradford Upon Avon. We got ready dressed and all packed up and we were on the canal nice and early. We had our delicious breakfast (Strawberries, Blueberries and Granola) out on the deck on our way to Bath.


On our journey, we spotted quite a few unusual things. Like Herons


Cafe Boats


And also, we saw something that isn't too unusual for canals, Aqueducts. Aqueducts are similar too bridges, but for boats. One that we went on went over top of railways.They tend to be very narrow but very busy with people wanting to go over them from all angles.

I had a go at driving the boat, which went really well. I even managed to steer the boat around a sharp corner. I did accidentally snap off a few branches though.


I enjoyed our journey to Bath, it was very nice just relaxing on the boat. Although, I jumped at the chance to get off the boat when we finally arrived in Bath.

Bath seemed very grand from the outside, and when we finally walked in we were very impressed with the grand old buildings. We all decided that we wanted a milkshake and were glad when we found a store that sold milkshakes, cakes and had a very impressive view. I had a Ferro Rocher milkshake and Madison had Malteaser. They were both really nice.


We then carried on into the town when we saw some butterflies made out of flowers.


We had a look at some of the shops and markets and booked a tour for the next day. We headed back home for an ‘early’ tea. I jumped in the shower whilst tea was on cooking and when I came out, there was no one there. A minute or so later, Madison came down saying that everyone had gone over to the neighbouring boat. I was in my pyjamas with a towel wrapped around my head. I stayed in the boat, shut all the windows and curtains and set the table for tea.


Im not too sure what time Mum, Dad and Madison came back, but it was NOT an early tea.

Anyway, after tea we had a look at the Lochs


and played cards until it was time to go to bed.


It was a very nice day and I was looking forward to the walking tour the next day

Below are some general photos of our trip to Bath


Posted by Touringteamf 01:24 Archived in England Comments (1)

Friday we went to three countries in one day

and set out on the high seas in more ways than 1

overcast 17 °C
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We rose to a beautiful smell of gourmet pancakes and free range eggs. We didn't linger long in our room and hurried down the stairs.

Once Mackenzie and I had finished our breakfast we left to catch our ferry.

As we drove up to the port, a titanic-sized ferry was looking us right in the face. We were all buzzing until we carried on driving to find there was a much smaller ferry behind it…

The ferry we went on was still very big and certainly not a damp squib!

We got into our Club Lounge (triple the size as before) and stocked up on food and green tea. Well I did.

I was feeling quite guilty afterwards and went for a 2mile walk around the top of the ship. There was a fitness track on the top and if you did it 6 times you had just walked 2 miles!

When we got back in our car three and a half hours later, we realised we were in Wales! Wales made a great first impression on me and I was gutted we couldn't see anymore on our trip.

We finally arrived in Trowbridge and made our way down to the canal boat hire place. We picked up our canal boat and unloaded the back boot while we were getting cold stares from the staff members. We had arrived just before 5.00 pm, and all the staff were keen to get us underway, so they could go home. When we unloaded 8 weeks of luggage for a three day trip, there was a fair bit of eye rolling going on.

It was time to set sail after a couple of rules and safety messages but of course no one really listened, we were all to excited to get going to Bath.

After a couple of pre dinner drinks and snacks we were heading towards a lock! Another boat was going in with us so we all helped each other to get it done.

We moored up on the other side of the lock and found ourselves moored behind the same people we went through the lock with!

We got talking and realised it was 9:50pm. We cooked ourselves a meal had some White Choc Bubbly Moose and went to bed.


Bring on tomorrows big adventure to Bath!

Posted by Touringteamf 14:30 Archived in England Comments (1)

Thursday we spoke a lot of Blarney

and things became crystal clear

all seasons in one day 18 °C
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We packed up the car and headed out of Cork for Blarney Castle. To our surprise there was a queue – something we’re not use to and didn’t expect.

It didn’t take too long to get to the head of the line and we were through the gates and on our way through the lovely park like gardens.

The castle which was built in around 1446 by Dermot MacCarthy, the King of Munster came into view and was really impressive. No one lives in the castle now but it attracts thousands of people because of the Blarney Stone or Stone of Eloquence which is found at the top of the tower. The story goes that Cormac MacCarthy (also known as the King of Munster) who subsequently lived in the castle helped Robert the Bruce by supplying troupes for the battle of Bannockburn. Robert the Bruce showed his appreciation by gifting the stone to MacCarthy.


Queen Elizabeth 1 wanted the castle under her command as part of the English rule but each time her people tried to negotiate the process with MacCarthy he found a way around it. Queen Elizabeth was said to have been that irritated by MacCarthy’s nonsense that she said it was “blarney”.

By kissing the stone you get the gift of eloquence or the gift of the gab.

We toured the grounds and then headed into the castle and up the spiral stone staircase. The closer we got to the top of the tower, the narrower the stairs became – not for those who suffer from claustrophobia! We waited in line to take our turn at kissing the stone. Needless to say, not being that keen on heights, I wasn’t overly fussed on the idea of lying on my back over a gap between the castle and the tower to kiss the stone. Here are the photos of us all having our turn:


After kissing the stone and all speaking eloquently, we headed off to view Blarney House which is also on the estate. This building too was very impressive. This home was built around 1846 by Sir George and Lady Louisa Jane Colthurst. We had a guided tour of the house which was well worth while as we were told many interesting facts about the home and the previous owners that lived there. The house has been occupied since it was built by the Colthurst family. Today, the 10th Baronet, Sir Charles Colthurst lives there with his family. As it is a family home we weren’t able to take any photos inside unfortunately.


Following the tour we left the grounds, purchased some lunch and headed for Waterford to tour the Waterford Crystal Factory. This may sound boring but in fact it was anything but. We were able to watch all the production steps from the paper plans, wooden moulds, glass blowing, hand marking, cutting, sculpting and engraving.

The men that make the crystal have to complete at least a five year apprenticeship...those doing the engraving complete a ten year apprenticeship which includes two years at an art school! They make the usual crystal ware as well as a lot of sporting trophies and entertainment awards used around the world.


From there it was back in the car again and off to Wexford, our final stay before boarding the ferry to Fishguard in Wales. We had a little bit of trouble finding the Killiane Castle and Farm B&B as Helpful Helen wasn’t at her best and to be fair the property was down a little lane.

What a surprise and relief to pull up outside. A lovely farm house with a bit of a castle attached. We checked in and headed to the local pub for a quick tea and blog update.


A great day with some interesting sights.

Posted by Touringteamf 23:05 Archived in Ireland Comments (1)

Wednesday we headed for Cork

via The Burren and the Cliffs of Moher

semi-overcast 16 °C
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We headed for Cork. The day was clear but the driving conditions appeared to be more foggy than usual.

We headed south, to see the Cliffs of Moher. First stop was a lovely seaside village of Kinvara, complete with its own castle.


We ended up taken the coastal route, which I think was a lot slowly. The width of the road would suggest the local panel beaters would do a roaring trade. Traffic was bumper to bumper, often having to stop to let oncoming traffic passed.

We went through The Burren. Aptly named. Wall to wall rock. Not rocks, just rock. We noted that there were internal fences. Not sure why. Virtually no grass in the paddocks, just rock. Mind you with plenty of fence building material at hand, and not much else to do, then why not.

We passed some cattle, and everyone else stopped to take photos, so when in Ireland... It was a good excuse to get some fresh air. The scenery was quite special, but driving was hard work on the roads.


We eventually got to the Cliffs of Moher at midday. They were well worth the slow trip to see them. Sheer, rugged and wild.

We whiled away an hour and half, and back in the car for Cork.


We found our B&B, settled in before venturing out for tea. B&BS are good, but obviously no facilities to self cater. Looking forward to some longer stays in apartments, and being able to cook for ourselves.


Anyway we hopped on the bus outside our B&B and headed into town. Found a pub with music. Two blokes again, one with a fiddle. Had a good meal and the music was fine.


We didn’t linger too long, and headed back for an earlyish night

Posted by Touringteamf 03:45 Archived in Ireland Comments (1)

Tuesday and we toured Galway

..... and got delayed in a pub

all seasons in one day 15 °C
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We headed into Galway to do a Hop On Hop Off Bus tour. It was raining so we took our grand supply of umbrella’s with us. The rain cleared enough for us to sit up on the open air top deck of the bus.

We skirted around Eyre Square, over the Corrib River and past St Patricks Cathedral, down to Salt Hill, with views over Galway Bay, Claddagh, onto the Spanish Arch, past Quay St and back to the square. Just as we pulled into the square, it started raining again.


The commentary told of the Irish being expelled from the City by the seven trading families. Most went to live in either Salt Hill or Claddagh.

Being the furtherest West port of Ireland, the port became the third busiest in Ireland and Britain, with the trade going to and from the America’s. Christopher Colombus is reputed to have visited on his way to discovering the new world.

Anyway the seven English trading families kicked out the Irish. Claddagh has since become well known as the home of the Claddagh ring. The Irish ring with the heart, crown and two hands.

Salt Hill became a popular holiday spot, with its seaweed and rock baths. This has since died off with the introduction of cheap flights to Spain and Portugal.

After the tour we went into the Quay St area and sussed out the pubs that had music on at reasonable time for us to be able to eat dinner and listen to music. The only one that really worked for us was the Spanish Arch on Quay St. Music started at 7.00 pm.

We then retraced a lot of the bus tour on foot, and got some sandwiches along from the Spanish Arch, and wandered up the Corrib River to see St Nicholas’s church where Jane Eyre has an impressive Epitaph.


Jane Eyre was the daughter of the Grand Mayor (Mr Eyre) who donated the land of Eyre Square to the city. She is not the Jane Eyre of Charlotte Bronte’s creation.


We then spent sometime wandering around some shops, before we headed back to our B&B.

About 6.30 we headed back into town for dinner and live Irish music. Got a good table and ordered dinner. By 7.30 still no music. When I asked they said the Band had cancelled at the last minute. Galway was turning out to be a Damp Squib.

About quarter of an hour later they came over and said they had found a replacement, and would hopefully have music soon.

The band duly arrived. Two blokes with guitars. They were pretty good, but lacked a couple of red haired Irish lasses with a fiddle and drum. Later one pulled out an Irish Bango and it started to get a bit more authentic. Irish ballads initially. Marg said it would be good if they played something a bit more cheerful, but as I said they had 600 years of oppression to get through first.

It didn’t take long before they started on Johnny Cash, and mixed in a bit of Lou Reed and Bob Dillon. Although I must say they were good.

We got chatting to an Irish couple beside us. Jack and Lindsay from Cork. They were on their honeymoon. A great couple, and when they started buying drinks for us, we had to start buying drinks for them. They seemed keen for a session, and it would have been rude not to oblige.

Anyway the music became secondary as we enjoyed each other’s company. We were heading to Cork the next day. They insisted we stay at their house. They weren’t using it, and the key is under the mat. We declined.


At 11.30, the pub had emptied out, and they were shutting up for the night. Probably just as well. My decision making must have been slightly impaired, as I bought a CD of the band’s music.

In the end it was a good night, and a good day.

Posted by Touringteamf 02:25 Archived in Ireland Comments (1)

Monday we traced the Flannery history

and then headed for Gallway.

semi-overcast 17 °C
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After a restful sleep and a bit of a lie in we had breakfast and Margaret took us to Rockingham Estate, a large public wooded park on the shores of Lough Key. The trip was mainly to take the dogs for a walk, but it served a useful purpose for us as well.


This was the former estate of the King family. It was previously owned by the McDermott family. The McDermotts ruled this area until the 17th century when it was granted to the King family from England under the Cromwellian settlement. Members of Cromwell’s army were rewarded for their victory with land confiscated from the Irish Landlords.


McDermott had built a Castle on a rock in the middle of the Lough. However under the under the King family’s ownership they built an impressive manor house. This burnt down in 1958.

Now all that remains is a hole in the ground showing the original foot print, the tunnels down to the lake, and an eyesore of a tower commemorating the historic family home. Supplies were mostly delivered via the Lough. The servants, not able to be seen above ground had tunnels to the lake, as to be able to bring the supplies back to the house unseen.


They also had an Ice House, a rock/brick lined conical shaft, also linked to the tunnels. They harvested ice from the Lough during the winter, and stored it in the Ice House. This allowed the family to have ice most of the year.


Later in the morning we headed over the county boarder from Roscommon to Sligo, the former county of the “4 brothers”. The 4 Flannery brothers left Clooncunny in 1860 for New Zealand. One of these, Thomas Flannery was my Great Grandfather.

The house they left from still stands today, but is no longer used as a home. I was in this home in 1988, but a replacement home has since been built. The property is owned by Paddy Flannery, a descendant of one of the brothers who stayed behind. Paddy’s sister Mary and her husband Dan Hanrahan were visiting from Dublin. We were joined by Paddy Casey, an adjoining neighbour, who is also a descendant of those that remained.


Both Paddys are bachelors and Mary and Dan have two children. Twins now in their 40s.

“They’re nearly as old as Dan and I now”, Mary said.

Paddy Flannery is somewhat deaf and reserved. Paddy Casey is more jovial, I suspect an intelligent man, who would have made a good philosopher. The two Paddys appear to be good friends. Margaret Mulligan and the two Paddys gave us a tour of the historical and relevant sites of the wider area of Monasteraden, of which Clooncunny is part of.

First stop was the Monasteraden parish church, St Aiden’s. While there Paddy said he had always wondered what it would be like to preach from the pulpit. So he took his place.


Paddy Flannery Aah Paddy sure enough you look grand. You would ‘a made a fine preacher.

Paddy Casey Right enough there P. It’s the preaching that’s no bother. The trick would be getting em to listen.

Anyway the church has a plaque commemorating the death at Gallipoli of Hugh McDermott, the Prince of Coolavin.

This relevant in the fact that Coolavin is the name of our family farm in Poolburn, settled by my Grandfather, and now owned by my brother Gerard and his wife Rosemary. McDermotts were the landlords of the district, and the Flannerys would have been tenant farmers of the McDermotts. The McDermotts were regarded as good landlords and Catholics. So it is perhaps understandable as to why my Grandfather would have called the farm Coolavin. His brother, my Great Uncle Martin, called their family farm Clooncunny after the district they left from. We then drove into the old Coolavin Estate and saw the Coolavin house which appears to be under restoration.


From there it was on to a monument commemorating an event of 1881. The inscription is as follows:

[Erected to the memory of Joseph Corcoran and Bryan Flannery, who, while defending with other brave men and heroic women of this district, their hearths and homes against landlord oppression, were shot by police and process server, April 2nd 1881.

(Google Corcoran and Flannery for more information if anyone is interested). A web site has a ballard of the event. Below is a copy from the web.

[On 2 April 1881, during the land war, James Broder, the local process server was serving notices on tenants on the property of the landlord Arthur French at Clogher, Monasteraden. He was assisted by a small force of four R.I.C. policemen. They were met by a group of men, women and children. Stones were thrown at the police who opened fire and killed Corcoran and Flannery. The crowd then attacked the police and Sergeant Armstrong was killed.]


Paddy Casey explained that Landlords ruled with no mercy. If you were late with your rent, or they just simply didn’t like you they would evict you and burn your house down so you couldn’t return. He also said if they took a fancy to your wife or daughter that was that.

So in 1881 according to Paddy, the locals had grown a bit sick of this oppression, and they came to the defence of a family about to be evicted. The police fired indiscriminately into the crowd and the two men were killed. He also said he thought a policeman was bludgeoned to death.

Then it was on to the Blessed Well. A well that is reputed to have been blessed by St Attracta who toured Ireland with St Patrick in 400 AD. The well is in poor shape. Less than a year ago, a local farmer lost control of his tractor, slammed into the rock fence of the well and was killed.


Anyway Paddy Casey gave another of his philosophical points of view. He was suggesting how do we know what happened in 400 AD. Two people’s eye witness versions of the same event can be so different, who would know what really happened.

I said to him there is always two sides to a story and then there is the truth.

Paddy Casey: Aah what would ya be wanting with the truth. The truth is dull. There’s no fun in the truth. If we only ever spoke the truth, sure there would be no tourism in Ireland.

It was then onto the cemetery. We had a wander round with the two Paddys pointing out graves of relevance. There are some impressive monuments on many of the graves. It would be fair to say that if the Flannerys and the Caseys were taken out, there hardly be any body left.

Next stop was the four alters. At a time when the English banned mass, the Irish built the Four Alters. They would be built on a small hill with a good view of the surrounding district. Each alter would face the 4 points of the compass. The priest would say mass in the most sheltered alter, while the congregation would keep an eye out for any soldiers or police. If the police were spotted, the congregation would scarper in the opposite direction. This one in Monasteraden is a very well preserved example.


From there it was back to Clooncunny, and ham and tomato sandwiches made by Mary and Dan.

Meanwhile Paddy Flannery disappeared and reappeared with the photo below. While tracing your heritage in rural Ireland you don’t expect to see a photo of the farm gate were you grew up, of various relations from back home. This is a very well put together collage. An Irish relative had visited Central Otago recently and obviously met up with a few locals. I can’t recall who the relative was, but he had given Paddy a copy of this photo.

In the photo are my nephew Tristan, my sister-in-law Rosemary, cousins, John and Mon, Donna and Mark and their son, Wes, and Corene.


It was a great few hours spent in great company. Thank you Margaret Mulligan for organising it. It was back to Boyle with a quick look at the Abby, and cuppa and then Margaret pointed us in the scenic route for Galway.


We went passed a farmer harvesting peat or turf. Peat is cut from peat bog, put into a hopper and pressed into moulds and then left in the open to dry. Peat is used to fuel the fires of Ireland, and burns as hot as coal.

This peat was cut in June. He explained the first 5 days of drying was the most critical. Heavy rain in the first 5 days will reduce it to slush. Thereafter though, the rain is no concern. To harvest pet there are two key ingredients he said. Not to be afraid of hard work and not to be afraid of a sore back. They sell the peat commercially and he said the trailer load would be worth about 400 euro, and would be enough to heat two houses for the winter.


We carried on our merry way, driving through Cong and Maam, and down through the lovely lakes of Connemara County.


We finally made our B&B in Galway just after 8.00 pm. It was starting to rain so we got a taxi into town. Margaret M. had given us a few suggested pubs to try for a meal and to listen to live music. By the time we got into town, it was getting on for 9.00 pm. All the pubs were full and have to stop cooking at 9.30. So we went to an Italian/Mexican restaurant, Fat Freddy’s, which was the only restaurant we could get into. We had a good meal and went home.


A great day had by all and we really appreciated the efforts of Margaret Mulligan, the two Paddys, Mary and Dan.

Posted by Touringteamf 14:45 Archived in Ireland Comments (4)

Sunday was the day we toured Dublin

and headed west to Margaret Mulligan's

all seasons in one day 14 °C
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We left our apartment and headed to the train station to get the train into Dublin.


But not before we walked passed Aviva Stadium, formally known as Landsdowne Road Stadium. The girls we had met the previous evening (whose phone we used) described the stadium as “the stadium where we nearly beat the All Blacks last year”. I corrected them. That is the stadium where you should have beaten the All Blacks.


Anyway, we had a walking tour booked for 11.00 am, and we got into town by 10.00, to have a look at the shopping district around O’Connell St. However shops don’t open in Dublin until 11.00 on Sunday. What great joy!!


It was also starting to rain so we bought another couple of umbrellas. We found a Starbucks, had a cuppa and turned up on time for our two hour walking tour. It wasn’t so much a walking tour as a walking lecture. Our guide was a Lecturer of Irish History at Trinity College.


He told us he was going to give us 2,000 years in 2 hours, so we would need to listen carefully, or we might miss a century or two!! It wasn’t quite what we were expecting, but it was pretty good all the same. Maybe a bit boring for the girls, but Marg and I enjoyed it.

He told the history of Ireland, stopping off at various places of relevance along the way.

He started off with the Viking invasion and finally through to the granting of independence. He said that since the Queen had recently visited, the Irish no longer referred to the 600 years of English oppression. It is now called 600 years of Anglo Irish Relations.

He really did cover a lot, some of which was confusing, but some of which also helped put relevance on other things we had learnt and seen on our trip. We had seen Mary and William of Orange’s palace at Hampton Court, and had also learnt of James the II and Bonny Prince Charlie at Culloden. Both are very relevant in Irish history. But the dates and happenings of the long and tortuous road to independence got quite confusing. We didn’t quite understand how the land ownership moved from tenant farming to Irish ownership.

He spoke of the method of family succession, of the continual splitting up of family farms, and how the oldest son eventually would inherit the farm, but wouldn’t tend to marry until his Mother passed on. The older son would then marry late, and invariably marry someone much younger of child bearing age. So he would die maybe 20 years before his wife, so again their oldest son would not marry until his mother passed..... so on and so on.

One thing that did amaze us was the amount of spuds that were eaten.... 6 – 7 kgs per person per day. (This was confirmed later in the day by Margaret Mulligan who said a stone of spuds a day.)

Photos below show Trinity College, Dublin Castle, Sand sculpture in the courtyard of Dublin Castle, and Christ Church.


Thankfully the rain held off. After the tour, we boarded the “Hop on Hop Off” bus, and did a bus tour of the city, with a live commentary. Again we found this to be very informative and backed up a lot of what our walking tour guide had told us.


We then had time for a quick shop in the rain, and we then headed for Boyle, the home of my cousin Margaret Mulligan.

Margaret lived in Alexandra for 15 years or so, and it was great to see her again.

She has built herself a beautiful home on her family’s farm, and had a great cooked tea waiting for us, although not before a couple of pre dinner drinks of course. After tea we wandered up to her mother Nora’s house and spent a pleasant hour chatting with her. I had previously met Nora in 1988 during my OE, and it was good to see her again.

Back to Margaret’s for a couple of pre bed drinks and then retired for the night.

Posted by Touringteamf 13:27 Archived in Ireland Comments (2)

The Day We Came To Ireland


On Saturday morning, we got up nice and early and made our way down to Stranraer where we would catch the Ferry to Ireland. As we made our way down, we past Galloway which had some very nice stone fences. Dad thought they were just as nice as the ones in Galloway, New Zealand. But anyway, we arrived in Stranraer at 8.30. That meant that we had an hour and a half to fill in. We spent most of the time just sitting in the car in the line for the ferry. It turns out we were first on the ferry, which was pretty cool!


When we got onto the ferry, the first thing I saw was Starbucks, then around the corner was a food court and after that was a shop! We had upgraded our tickets to the Club Lounge, which gave us more seating options, complimentary drinks and snacks, and also free access to Wi-fi! The 2hour journey was very smooth and enjoyable. We docked in at Larne at 12.15 and were straight off the ferry. We continued straight to Dublin, only stopping at West Belfast for Lunch at Thyme Cafe.

On our journey we realised that we had to ring the place we were staying at so we could get the key. We tried ringing them from our cellphone, but it didn’t work. We tried to find a phone booth or a telephone in a store, but we couldn’t find anything! We decided that there was nothing we could do but turn up to outside the apartments and hope for the best.

When we finally arrived at the address of the confirmation email, we were a bit surprised of the street, which looked quite dodgy. There seemed to be no-one working so we went up to 2 girls standing on the street and asked if we could use there phones. They were very nice people who gave us lots of good advice on where to go for tea. The owners of the apartment, on the other hand, were not so helpful. It turns out that we weren't even in the right place to start with. So we went on a wild goose chase to find where we were staying, and then when we arrived, we weren't so happy with the results. There was a kitchen, washing machine, two bathrooms BUT there was no salt and pepper, no washing detergent and no washing machine powder. So that put an end to cooking our own meal.

We walked the streets aimlessly trying to find somewhere nice to eat. We were very limited for options so we decided to go to a pub called Slattery, where I had my first sip of Guinness. We were getting hungry and there were 2 options options on the menu, Chicken wings or pizza. We ordered 2 Pizzas and went to sit outside. We were quite shocked to find our pizza arrive on the back of a motorbike from another restaurant! A few minutes later, one of our pizzas was on our table, the second one soon to be on it’s way apparently. 10 minutes later and the motorbike was back again. Then he was away again. The waiter came over saying that it was not up to standard and we were getting another one. Needless to say, we would not go back to Slatterys again.


Before we went home we hopped into a Tessco’s to pick up a few necessities, including Microwave Popcorn and some Malteasers. On the way home we took a few photos, including some of the Aviva Stadium. We popped home, made the popcorn, sprinkled in the Malteasers and turned on the TV to catch the last 20minutes of Johnny English. A perfect way to end the night. We cleaned up the popcorn and headed to bed to rest for the big day ahead of us.


P.s : Sorry there aren't a lot of photos on this update. However, if you wish to see more photos from me, click here.

Posted by Touringteamf 09:31 Comments (0)

Friday and we headed south to Ayrshire

and had a few surprises along the way

overcast 15 °C
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After a good Scottish breakfast at The Hawthorns, we hit the road again. We went up the road to have a look at Balmaha, of the shores of Loch Lomond. Balmaha reminded us of Wanaka. There was property development happening, the first we had seen in the UK.


We headed further round the lake to Balloch, where we considered taking a 2 hour Lake Cruise, but decided to push on to our next stop, about 2 hours away.

The previous 2 days had seen a fair bit of travelling, and we all really just wanted to get to where we were going.

We were booked to stay at Bennane Shore Holiday Park on the south west coast of Scotland, in Ayrshire. Not too far from Stranraer where are due to catch the ferry to Ireland.

We decided to stop at a wee village somewhere for lunch on the way. We saw signs to Ayr and thought we would go there, expecting to find a quaint sea side village. It certainly wasn’t that. It is a University Town, and our first impressions was of a purpose built mid 1950’s town, and it seemed nothing had been done since it was built.

Anyway we stopped for lunch. We found a cafe, Tree House Cafe. We all ordered Pulled Pork Salad. Something light and leafy. The meals were huge and beautiful. Obviously popular spot in Ayr. By the time we left, they were queuing up out on the street. So for a dumpy looking town, it quite a surprise to find such a nice cafe.

As we drove out the other side, we drove through a very different town. Large homes, big sections, mature trees etc. Obviously a lovely down in days gone by, with a cheap looking town extension tacked on after WWII.

We headed to our Holiday Park following the coastal road. What a lovely drive. Rugged coast line, with some good looking farm land, and a good looking Castle, Castle Culzean, which we gave up the opportunity to go through.

We were booked to stay at the Bennane Shore Holiday Park. We passed a few on the way. Tacky looking holiday/caravan parks. The girls weren’t too fussed on what we might find, and I was sinking lower in my seat, having made the executive decision to book it from back home.

Anyway we pulled in, the girls faces lit up when it said Benane Shore Holiday Park and Spa. The facilities were virtually new. We were shown to our unit. A cross between an oversized caravan and a cottage. It was stunning. Front row, right on the coast. Certainly not a beach, but impressive view none the less. The photos describe it better than I can.


Off to the pool and spa. The facilities included a beautiful 25m pool, spa pool, sauna and steam room. We made full use of everything.It is fair to say, that over the previous few days, we had all been a bit scratchy. Travelling and tired. So it was fantastic to have a few hours of leisure. The travelling has been well worthwhile, to see the things we have seen, but it does take its toll.


The complex also had a very good Bistro, but we choose to self cater. I shot down to the local supermarket and got a couple frozen pizzas and other vital supplies, and we settled in and watched the stunning sunset.


It was a great complex, but I would say it is not doing that well. It is the peak of the holiday season, and there only seemed to be about 2 or 3 other people staying there.

It has been voted as a our best place to stay yet. High praise indeed.

Posted by Touringteamf 04:13 Archived in Scotland Comments (2)

Thursday we headed for Loch Lomond

along the low road!

overcast 19 °C
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Thursday 7 August 2014

After a brief but lovely stay in Inverness we packed our bags and headed off towards our next stop – Drymen. Our day mainly consisted of driving with the occasional little stop on the way.

Just out of Inverness we stopped at the Culloden Battlefields. This is the actual place of the final confrontation of the Jocobite Rising. The battle took place in Culloden on 16 April 1746 and lasted less than an hour! The site has the actual battlefield set up so you can go and view the exact areas where the battle took place. There is also an information/shop centre on at the venue which gives a full history of the battle and the history leading up to it. There were also demonstrations on the armoury used in the battle and the roles of the woman and children during that era. It was well worth the stop.













From there we headed towards Loch Ness, unfortunately Nessie wasn’t out and about today, however the Loch looked stunning and we were all surprised and how long it was.



Just down the road we stopped to see the medieval Urquhart Castle which was once one of Scotland's largest castles. The castle, now in ruins stands on the banks of Loch Ness with views of the Great Glen.





We hadn’t travelled very far from the castle when we came upon a father and son playing the pipes on the roadside near Loch Ness. They were very friendly and were just out for the day “busking” since the son was on holiday.



From there we hit the road again. We hadn’t gone very far when Madison spotted some Highland Cattle at Invermorrison. Another quick stop for some photos.



Next stop was Fort Augustus which amazingly has four locks. These locks allow access from Fort William to Loch Ness via the Caledonian Canal, which runs through Fort Augustus. We were fortunate enough to see six boats in the one lock waiting to go through. It takes approximately 1 hour 20 minutes to progress through all four locks. As part of the operation they closed off the bridge in Fort Augustus which then slid around sideways to allow the taller boats through into the lock. A very slick operation (unfortunately the photos don't really portray how amazing the locks are). Needless to say we didn’t stay to witness the whole process – we didn’t have the time! We grabbed a quick bite to eat and then headed back on the road.











Our next stop was Glencoe. Like most other places on our trip through Scotland Glencoe was stunning. Quite rugged and almost barren looking apart from the heather. Not a lot of stock on the land! We stopped briefly for some photos of the countryside and even managed to get a couple of the heather. Some of the James Bond movie Skyfall was also shot at Glencoe.











From there we drove directly to our B and B at Drymen. It is a lovely village complete with its own square. We checked in at the B and B, Chris and Jane our hosts were very friendly and hospitable. Jane showed us to our room, told us of a couple of local walks that were worth doing and where was good to eat in the village. The room was great, complete with tartan carpet and black watch blankets on the beds.



We put on some washing and then left for a walk up the hill to see Loch Lomond. Our view of the Loch wasn’t that great but was very scenic all the same (better photos of the Loch on Fridays blog). From there we walked back into the village to the local hotel and ordered our evening meal. The local piped band then arrived in the square just outside the hotel for their weekly performance. They were very talented and added to the ambience. They told us that they look forward to performing each Thursday in the square over summer as all the pipes and drums going in a small village hall gets quite loud!











From there we headed home to bed – another great day!

Posted by Touringteamf 11:43 Archived in Scotland Comments (2)

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