Archive for October, 2015

October highlights

October 31, 2015

It’s mostly been a quiet month. I’ve been kept diligently working away at my writing. It is going slower than I hoped and that may become a problem, but for now I’m just continuing to work away at it. In another month or two I’ll have a clearer sense of my pace and whether or not I need to make any drastic changes in my work schedule.

We had the same local company that did some interior work for us in the summer come back for some exterior work. There were some damage to the siding and trim of the house that needed repair, but the big project was to install some gutters and heating wires in the back corner where we’ve had leaking and ice dam problems. It’ll be a few months before we can say whether the problem has been fixed or not, but we hope this will make a difference.

We’ve had a good display of colorful leaves this month, but they’re mostly gone now. It’ll be time to start raking soon.

I carved a jack-o’-lantern, as always do. I doubt we’ll get any trick-or-treaters, but we’re supplied just in case.

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween

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Sheep’s Head Walk – The Wet Half

October 5, 2015

Day 4

Today was the one truly miserable day of our trip. It was also, sadly, my birthday. Since this whole trip was a sort of birthday present for myself, this was a disapointment.

We’d had a few days of mostly good weather, but todayour luck ran out. It was sheeting rain and blwoing a gale off the ocean today. We could have skipped walking entirely today, but we didn’t like missing out an entire day of it so we dressed up in all our rain gear and headed out. The B&B keepers drove us back to the tip of the peninsula where they picked us up the day before and we set out from there to walk back to the B&B from there. The trail would have had us climbing hills and going through fields, but we decided that today was a day to just stick to the road.

We stopped at one point where a farmer was leading his cows from one field to another. He was a firendly young man and we chatted with him while the cows were passing. He had a very friendly dog with him, too, who was interested in us.

Later, on the road, the farmer came by in his van and stopped to ask us if we wanted a ride into town. It was nice of him to offer, but we were determined to walk. As the van drove away, the dog came running after it. When the dog couldn’t catch up with the van, it decided to trot along with us. We didn’t mind the dog’s copmany (and we figured that, being a local dog, it was fine to go wandering around), but it kept chasing cars on the road. There weren’t a lot of cars for it to chase, but we were so worried about it getting hit. Fortunately, all of us made it into Kilcrochane safe and the dog went wandering off.

We got back to the B&B in the early afternoon, soaked through and cold. The B&B keepers took our jackets and boots to dry, but for everythign else we were on our own. After hot showers, we hugn up all our gear as best we could to dry, but it was hard. Not one of the B&Bs we stayed in had proper drying racks or even hooks in the room. I really don’t know what the Irish do to dry their own clothes, but whatever it is they don’t seem interested in sharing it with their guests.

We hung out and took it easy for the afternoon, concentrating on staying dry and warm. In the evening we went out looking for some dinner. There was a pub in town that was advertising live music, so we went to check it out, but it turned out they didn’t serve food. We got drinks and waited to see what sort of music there would be, but when an hour after the music was supposed to start the musicians were still standing around the bar watching tv, we gave up. We ended up back at the hotel restarant for dinner, which was fine, but we had ben hoping for a little variety.

To cap the day off, I had insomnia and barely got three hours of sleep that night. Fortunately, I had slept very well on the previous nights so I was able to keep going the next day. Still, all in all, I think I can safely say this was the worst birthday I’ve ever had.

Day 5

We walked from Kilcrochane to Durrus today. Durrus is a town at the head of Dunmanus Bay. When we finished our walk today, we were technically no longer on the Sheep’s Head Peninsula.

The weather today was unsettled. The morning was dry and partly cloudy. We had a few sheeting rainstorms and a few scattered showers that came and went during the day, then we ended the walk mostly in sunshine. We could see the weather coming from out over the Atlantic and we spent a god part of the day looking up at the sky and wondering whether the rain clouds or sunny breaks were going to hit us.

The trail for today’s walk made a lot of loops and turns, but we decided to forgo most of those and navigate ourselves by map, mostly along roads and country tracks. We detoured a couple of times to look for some sites of archaeological interest. There was supposed to be a stone circle and the remains of a ringfort along the trail. We found the stone circle, right on the trail and very easily visible. The ringfort remains were much harder to identify, but we think we spotted where they were supposed to be.

A neolithic stone circle near Ahakista

A neolithic stone circle near Ahakista

We believe the shrub-covered hill here is the remains of a ringfort, but it's hard to tell for sure

We believe the shrub-covered hill here is the remains of a ringfort, but it’s hard to tell for sure

By the end of the day’s walk we could tell that we were getting into a larger town. After several days tromping through fields and on quiet country roads at the end of the peninsula, it was startling to have to dodge traffic and find ouselves walking on sidewalks again.

At the coast, near Durrus, looking back at the Sheep's Head Peninsula

At the coast, near Durrus, looking back at the Sheep’s Head Peninsula

We got into Durrus in the mid-afternoon, but our B&B wasn’t open until later, so we parked ourselves in a pub for a few hours. We started with tea (being still a bit cold and wet), moved on to cider, and eventually had an early dinner so that we cold just go and collapse at the B&B.

Our B&B for this night was a pleasant house a little way out of town. We finally found places to hang some of our gar from the previous day that was still not dry.

Day 6

Today we made it back to Bantry, returning to the same B&B we stayed in before.

In the morning, our host drove us a short way to a place where we could pick up the trail, skipping a boggy and uninteresting section. We followed the trail for a little while as it went up a hill and gave us some beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. After that we stuck to country roads and mae out way the back way around into Bantry.

A view from outside of Durrus

A view from outside of Durrus

The weather was again unsettled. Early on in the day the sky opened up with a torrential rain. We were caught with nowhere to tak shelter and had to just carry on as best we could. Then the afternoon turned sunny and windy and after a while we were mostly dry again.

We stopped to have a little lunch at a lookout point in the hills above Bantry. We had an excellent view down into the town and decent sunny weather to see it in.

When we finally got back down to our B&B there was a bit of trouble. The keeper was out shopping and we had to call her to come back and let us in, but the number the walking outfit had supplied to us for the B&B was actually to a different but related business. Fortunately, we were able to get the right number and get in touch, becaue today was our longest walking day and we were exhausted.

After a bit of a rest, we strolled down into Bantry and found a cozy little pizza place to have dinner.

The return trip

Happily, the return trip went much better than the trip out did. We had to do it over two days, just because there was no other way to make the various bus and flight schedules work, so one day was devoted to getting from Bantry to Shannon (by way of Cork), where we stayed a night in the airport hotel. That night we had a nice dinner in the hotel restaurant and were amused to note that we were the youngest people around.

The restaurant dinner was supposed to be billed to our hotel room. We checked in about it the next morning when we checked out, but the front desk said they had no record of our dinner. We were anxious that it might have gotten billed to the wrong room (we weren’t sure that our waiter heard our room number right), but they checked with the kitchen management and told us that it hadn’t been billed to a different room it just hadn’t been billed correctly at all, so since it was their mistkae they were just giving us the dinner for free. That was a nice perk and we were happy to take it.

At the airport we had some fuss with the check-in, but everything got smoothed out in the end and we were relieved to found ourselves seated together. US immigration is now doing customs at Shannon and Dublin airports, so we were able to go through customs clearance before even getting on our flight, when there was no line and we were well-rested and relaxed, a huge improvement over doing it in the US after a long flight.

We flew from Shannon to Philadelphia and from Philadelphia to Boston. On the Shannon-Philadelphia flight we were not only seated together bu had a whole row of seats to ourselves, which is always delightful. Everything went well and we wer picked up in Boston by our car company and driven home.

On balance, it was a good trip. We had some wonderful moments and some good walking, but the bad parts were pretty bad. The travel out was two long days of stress, the walking in the frist few days was much rougher than we had been expecting, we had one disappointing B&B, and the weather was sometimes unpleasant. Now that we’ve been home for a little while, the bad memories are fading and the good ones are still good, but still it was not the relaxing vacation I had been hoping for and I didn’t come home feeling refreshed and invigorated the way I wanted to.

Another rainbow from our final day of walking

Another rainbow, from our final day of walking