Sunday, November 30, 2008


It has been over 2 years since we have seen a live game of Rugby so when the opportunity came up to see the Wallabies v Wales at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff, we grabbed it. Cardiff is only 2 1/2 hours away by train, which made it a nice day trip.
Last time we were there we didn't see the Castle so decided to make that the activity for the morning before the 2:30pm Rugby kick-off. Sadly, we had just finished our gudied tour of the Castle House when we were evacuated off the grounds because there was a suspicious looking gentlemen around. Not happy, as the gentleman was already in police custody (and there were quite a few of them still around) and we still hadn't seen any of the grounds or used our little audio guides.
The Norman Keep (this was as close as we got)
Part of the Castle Wall leading into the house

After an early lunch and a quick walk along the river we headed into the stadium to find our seats. Needed every minute as we were in the back row of the top tier. Very high up, glad I took my glasses as the players did look a little like ants. The roof was still open though, which we didn't understand because it was only 2 degrees.
Welsh team arriving at Stadium
View from our seats
Steve in our seats, and I am still standing in the top tier as well
Couldn't resist getting a little Wallaby on my cheek

The pre-match entertainment was very different to Australia. A welsh choir and marching band which sounded amazing, especially when the crowd joined in. The roof was finally closed when play started, but the temperature didn't warm up any. Hat, gloves, and coats all stayed on and we wished for thicker socks. Sadly the game didn't go our way but was very exciting to watch.

Sorry there aren't more photos but we didn't take the proper camera and my phone ran out of memory.

As we stood in the dark waiting to catch the train back to London, in near zero temperatures we were just glad it wasn't raining as well!

Friday, November 21, 2008


We started our week in Cork and used it to explore the areas of Blarney Castle, Cobh (pronounced Cove), Middleton and Kinsale before moving onto Killarney and Dingle.

Cobh seafront and cathedral

Blarney Castle

The stone is a bit lower then you first think. This guy does take most of your weight.

Jameson Whisky Distillery, where we became certified Irish Whisky Tasters.

Innovative use for an old barrelDrombeg Stone Circle

After moving onto Killarney, we embarked on the tourist trail 'The Ring of Kerry'. Even though the tourist buses take 2 days to drive the Ring, we decided one day was enough. It was only 200km after all.

Ross Castle is walking distance of Killarney and we were in luck, arriving in time for the last tour of the season and we were the only 2 on it! The castle was bought by american businessmen and eventually returned to the Irish Government with the proviso that it was renovated fully with original techniques.

Following the tour, we hung around for 20minutes waiting for the spot lights to be turned on so Steve could take 'the shot'. Sadly that must only happen during the summer season. The best we could do was snapping this one just before they turned the inside lights off!

Muckross House, Killarney - We did a guided tour with the only other people being a couple of history buffs from Melbourne. The most notable feature of the House is that it took the owners 6 years to prepare for a 2 day visit from Queen Victoria in 1861. The grounds are now part of the Killarney National Park and led to Torc Waterfall.

As our guidebook said, when the mist rolls into Dingle, it maybe wise to delay your trip until the weather improves. As we had experienced pretty good weather all week, we promptly ignored the book. However, once we were within about 20km of Dingle the fogged rolled in. A drive around the headland was practice for Steve driving on windy cliff top roads, with little visibility and gale force winds, whilst dodging a few sheep and the odd cow.

Dingle is a town with a population of 1500. Apparently there are 52 pubs, although I can't see the 'Foxy Johns' Pub/Cycle Hire/Hardware store concept taking off.

Before we sign off, there needs to be a few words on driving. A grasp of the gaelic language is handy. Although most signs are in gaelic and english, the Dingle (or 'An Daingaen') Pennisula is not. There is a law that states all directional signs are to be in gaelic only, so the english versions have been covered over. Not all maps in the guide books have the gaelic names though. Maybe a Sat Nav would have been a good idea.

Turn left for gaelic, or right for english...

7 days, 800km, with an average speed of about 45km/hr says it all. That does include a few detours on some very country roads. Many tractors, cattle, sheep, as well as the occasional person driving a mobility scooter on the roads make it a little difficult. For some reason the European Union have been doing 'Pavement Improvement Works'. I think that they may need to look into funding some 'Road Improvement Works' as well!!

One sign we noticed whilst on the Ring of Kerry was - “End of Improved Road”. Ever the optimistic Irish….

Whilst on our week away, Claire finished a 629 page Wilbur Smith book. Steve worked on his photography skills, and got into Rugby mode in preparation for the upcoming trip to watch the Wallabies in Cardiff, by watching Ireland v All Blacks, although the mid week game with Munster v All Blacks was far more entertaining.

Thanks a million Ireland!