Category Archives: travel

Happy 72 to ME!

A decade ago Donny took me to Paris via London for my 62nd birthday. We covered a lot of ground in the two nights and one day that we were in London. I decided it would be fun to title my LiveJournal post about it all London in Six Hundred and Sixty-Two minutes which of course we didn’t pace quite that fast but almost.


The London Eye makes a great halo!

The condensed version

1. Struggle out of bed
2. Eat complimentary hotel breakfast at 7th floor restaurant – great panoramic view looking west over the city
3. Buy bus ticket around the corner
4. Hop bus to London Bridge
5. Get bus map (finally) at London Bridge Station/ big and bustling
6. Leave station; Donny asks about old cathedral close by; I say it must be a lesser place as it is not noted on my walking tour guide
7. Walk down Nancy’s Steps (from Oliver Twist) to cathedral
8. Discover cathedral is Southwark, very important; Shakespeare’s brother and John Harvard (university founder) both worshipped here
9. Get nice private tour talk from Welcomer lady
10. Walk to St Mary Overie Dock where replica of Golden Hinde (Sir Francis Drake’s ship) is docked; very small, intimate place
11. Pass by rose window; remains of Bishop of Winchester’s Palace
12. Pass by The Clink, BofW’s personal prison
13. Continue walk along Thames, this whole area called Bankside; then outside London proper so not subject to city regulations
14. Have coffee at Starbucks next to Globe Theatre; not impressed with Globe
15. Finish coffee; walk round the corner; see real Globe; now impressed
16. Amazed at the three 17th century houses next door rather tucked away in the middle of all this commerce; they are for let; Provost Lodging
17. Note Cardinal’s Cap Alley; very narrow walkway typical of the 1500’s
18. Overwhelmed by Tate Gallery of Modern Art (will go inside another trip), partially housed in first London public power station; it is huge; we walk through garden
19. Cross Millennium Bridge; called wobbly bridge as it had to be closed for a year to fix constant wobbling that resulted from too many people on it at same time
20. Wonder about odd look of St Paul’s; as we get closer discover we have been looking at cloth façade covering sand blasting
21. Get city map from Tourist Information; at last a guide to the rest of London
22. Do not chose to pay fee to see St Paul’s inside; walk through garden
23. Head back toward Thames; pass St Andrew’s By-The-Wardrobe
24. Pass Blackfriars Bridge; walking is fun but the levels and lack of pedestrian crosswalks in places make it challenging; I tell Donny we need a 3-D map too
25. Find the river walk; pass many war memorials
26. Pass Somerset House
27. Pass Charing Cross Station
28. Marvel at Obelisk and history of it; make friends here with a lone tourist that we photograph on his camera phone in front of the adjacent Sphinx; he takes our picture
29. Pause across from the Eye; Donny takes my picture with it as my halo; see our friend and take his picture with Eye; decide not to cross over to find out why it is not running (even at night we never catch it running)
30. Approach Big Ben and House of Parliament
31. Turn away from river at Westminster Bridge
32. Circle Parliament Square noting protest signs
33. Walk around Westminster Abbey; do not pay to go in
34. Pass Jewel Tower which looks interesting but it is getting toward dusk and we have more to see
35. Confused about where Diana got married (I think St Paul’s as the steps are better for showing off the gown) we also cannot decide where her funeral service was held; Donny thinks he remembers a walk from Buckingham
36. Walk on to Westminster Cathedral which I have noticed on the map near Buckingham so maybe the service was here
37. Arrive at this Roman Catholic place of worship so beautiful in its red Byzantine style after walk down Victoria St
38. Photo interesting huge (wider than the church) flag spread out in cathedral outside entry courtyard (it is gone by the time we leave)
39. Happy there is no fee we go in; contributions to offset the daily operating costs (L3000) are welcome
40. Stop at adjacent McDonald’s (at the separate “McD’s Café” inside) for bathroom break
41. Need to shop for some gloves for Donny; we are in a shopping district and it flows toward Buckingham Palace; but no gloves are found here
42. Reach Buckingham Palace as a car is entering; much searching is going on; it is now dark and the whole scene is very clandestine-like
43. Have to backtrack on ourselves to simply cross the street to walk down The Mall
44. Walk down The Mall past St James Park toward Trafalgar Square; it is dark
45. Intend to see the tree in Trafalgar Square (which was lit yesterday) by night we come upon it just as we planned (it is tall but skinny)
46. Go inside St Martin’s in the Field which is diagonally across from the square
47. Hungry, we dine amongst the dead in the Crypt Café; we have stumbled upon the best in London for church meals; it is equal to a five star restaurant
48. Hustled out (but we did get to eat at a nice pace) because a sold out concert is about to start and the cafe is closing
49. Buy expensive StM’s academy and chorus Christmas cd in the bookstore as it is closing (the partially pulled down metal security doorway, literally, on Donny’s head as he walks into it leaving – nice bruise, no blood)
50. Head for Covent Garden which is supposed to be beautiful at night
51. Climb Duke of York steps
52. Consider theater tickets at Leicester Square
53. Would go to Christmas Carol with Patrick Stewart but starts 6/12 (6 December)
54. Have been stopped three times(including once by a bus driver) for directions; we pass for Brits
55. Find gloves at a shop (Next) in Covent Garden
56. Weave our way through narrow cobblestone walkwaysinto the square
57. Photo tree from good side; side without garishly lit Santa (note Covent Garden literature also photos non-Santa side)
58. Aim for bus stop
59. Board bus to Shoreditch (Globe Theatre originally in this district) and hotel
60. Arrive at St Gregory
61. Shower and pack for early departure
62. Happy Birthday #62

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Packing a LOT into & on our last DAY

Ireland 2005 Day 10

cat youghalyoughal turret overlooking youghalOur last day in Ireland. We have so many things to do. Becki and I start with an early walk. I show her the beautiful garden I discovered. Then we explore the church yard. We are just a step behind the man with the keys opening up the locked gates for the day.

The church yard has graves everywhere. Front, sides and back. Behind the church and up the hill to the city wall the graveyard continues. There are new and old graves. We climb a turret in the city wall. We can see everywhere from here.

We are due back at nine to help pack the costumes for shipping home. We meet the guys and drive to the Mall Arts Center as B,B & D’s costumes are in the car.

Everyone has assembled to move the process along. I make lists of what goes into each box. It doesn’t take too long to finish up. We load the boxes into our car and Carl’s car until a decision can be made about which courier to use.

Becki and I head for the Tourist Office to meet Pascal and see the jewelry she has. Her office is on the second floor. It’s a cute cluster of filing cabinets and desks etc. The girls who work with her were at the Rendezvous.

She clears off her desk and gets a black cloth to display the pieces. Becki and I have a hard time picking but we finally make our choices. I leave to go to the ATM machine to get the funds I need. Becki is still finalizing her decisions. Back, I pay Pascal and go downstairs to shop in the gift shop. Becki joins me, we tell Marsha, who is shopping, about the jewels. She wants to see what Pascal has. I take her up to the office. She is as delighted as we are with the selection.

Downstairs I run into members of our group shopping. Becki is doing some last minute shopping too. lebame tells me that we are to meet the mayor for lunch. She wants me to take pictures as discussion about twinning with Manteo is to be discussed and preliminary papers signed. We are to meet at Harvey’s dock at one. I am in my jogging clothes. I need to go change.

Donny has gone on ahead of us after the packing was finished. No one else in my group knows about the lunch. They are all too busy anyway. I shower and change and head out to meet whoever. No one is anywhere around. I circle the parking lot and decide I must have gotten my information wrong (not unlike me).

I go back upstairs. Donny and Becki suggest I ring lebame’s doorbell and see if anyone is there. I go back downstairs and around the corner to her building. I ring the bell, lebame answers. She says Carl was looking for me and then went on. She is not sure where the luncheon is to be, but she thinks the Quality Inn outside of town. She tries to get into the office to call The Nook which is where she sent Carl to look for me. The office is closed for lunch. Just then Chris comes around the corner. lebame borrows his cell phone to call the Nook. I go upstairs to ask Bill to drive me or I can drive myself but Bill can go faster.

contractor and undertaker

Typical Irish sensibility, put together what works together best for you. We found it very amusing.

lebame has not been able to reach anyone. She suggests stopping at the tourist bureau to check. Bill is in the shower. I know driving myself will go a lot slower. Bill runs downstairs barefooted. We are off. I reason all of the offices are closed for lunch. We decide to check the Quality Inn. We head out of town past the lighthouse toward The Strand with only a vague notion of where we are going. We pass where I think lebame is talking about. We are ready to turn around as we are in the country when we see a sign for the Quality Inn. It is several kilometers more down a couple of country roads which puts it on the ocean. It is a beautiful setting. But there is no luncheon going on. The staff suggests I try the Raleigh Hotel. We drive back to town. As we are passing a restaurant called The Tides I tell Bill I think that is where they are, but I have no basis for this (trust the dousing Sandra trust the dousing). Bill almost runs into a parked car looking for Carl. He thinks he sees him in the window, but we do not go back.

We try the Raleigh. They know even less than the Quality Inn folks. Bill is sure the luncheon is over anyway. I want to try the tourist bureau, but they are closed for lunch still. We check the Mall Arts. They are open. The girls tell me that the group is at The Tides! Back we go. I hop out and check. Yes, they are and have only just finished their appetizers. They say Bill can join in. He is in the car waiting for me to report. He declines, no shoes you see. During this entire escapade I was not panicked just determined to go the extra mile, or kilometer. I figured John was there with his camera which turned out to be true. But lebame had asked me to do this and I did not want to let her down.

The lunch is excellent. John and I take some great pictures of the document signing.

Actually what Bill saw in the upstairs bay window of The Tides was the mayor. Her short hair makes her sorta look like Carl.

bill distillery bill tasting midleton distillery midletonWhile we were shopping earlier we learn that Joe, our bus driver, has been hired to take us to Midleton to the Jameson Distillery this afternoon. Becki feels pressure to stay in town and tidy up her shopping. Marian tells her she can shop there. At last minute Becki caves in and joins us.

The old distillery is amazing. To check a batch of whiskey to see if it was ready the workers struck a match to a sample. If nothing happened, the batch was not ready. If it burned it was perfect. If it exploded it was overdone. No wonder they had their own fire department.

Bill gets selected to take the whiskey taste test. Three kinds of Irish, all of which is distilled three times, Scotch only twice, and lowly bourbon just once. The three tasters pick their favorite Irish and then compare that to a fine scotch and aged American bourbon. They pick their favorite. Of course it must be an Irish or they fail the test.

Midleton is a special blend of Jameson that is bottled in limited quantities each year. You can only buy it at the distillery. Donny buys us a bottle and also a bottle of 12 year old Powers packed in a nice tin. Our Midleton is packed in a wooden hinged box. It is numbered and the label is signed by the master distiller. Ours is number 027822 bottled in the year 2004.

Now Joe takes us to Ferry Point so that we can see Youghal from across the cove. Becki has been itching to get to this point since we first got to Youghal. It is directly across from our rooms. Donny and Bill have divided up the few houses on the spit and figure running a pub and B&B from there would work. On the way from Midleton to Ferry Point, Marian falls asleep on my shoulder. This is the way the week has turned out. We are all now family.

another across the way across the inletIt takes us a while to get across the river as someone has crashed the rail the night before in a drunken drive. It is a small bridge anyway and now it is down to take turns traffic.

Carl is having fits. He has things to do before the party he and John are giving for our hosts and hostesses tonight. We tell him we will help. Breeda says they will not know the difference. We tell her in this case she would (the gifts are baskets of goodies not yet completely put together).

Ferry Point is lovely and Carl is glad we did not skip it. Marian’s in laws live just up the road. They have castle remains on their land. Joe’s sister rents the house on the spit that is Donny’s B&B. We see her in the yard and wave. We are going to be late for the party. But this is Ireland, everyone is late. And Joe, Marian and Breeda are with us so they will be as late as we are.

Back at the Harvey Becki and I grab Gloria and we sprint up to Carl & John’s apartment to wrap the baskets. Carl has cellophane paper but no ribbon. It’s me to the rescue with my ribbons I got from the little boys.

Becki and I go home to freshen up. We will wear our new jewels from Pascal, even though Carl said casual dress.

Off to the Nook we go. A few of our guests are there but the evening is early and even though we are late the party is only just beginning to get going. Tommy Bulman, my Irish sword friend, sees me come in. He pulls me aside and hands me two packs of pictures he has had printed of our day at the craft fair. He says that the one package has pictures for me. The other is for sharing. How sweet. Like I said we are all family now. I’ll be sending him a group of pictures from my lot including his sword photo. Tommy has also made me a list of Irish phrases for me but it is in his car and we do not connect again. No worries I have his address. He is proud of the list as he quit school quite young, but he knows how to speak and write Gaelic.

It is a wonderful night. Iona has walked over from Myrtle Grove. Carl has a gift basket for her. When he hands out all of the gift baskets later everyone is delighted. Mid-evening Marsha assembles us to give lebame a gift from the group, she is the glue that holds us together. Bill has brought his guitar. There is much music, singing and merriment.

Then Bill’s G-string breaks.

john and sibs

Breeda’s brood. Shiv, Claran & John.

A new friend Michael has a replacement and he and Bill strum together. Everyone sings and dances, jigs and solos. Breeda’s rugby player son sings a haunting Irish ballad.

The mayor has a gift for Carl. It is a piece of Waterford crystal. And also a piece of Waterford for John Wilson, the mayor of Manteo. During the gift exchange Carl begins a story about arriving in Youghal and trying to park the car he has rented. The mayor steps in and fills in a few amusing details. It seems that upon arriving in Youghal from Shannon airport, Carl pulls the car into a street space. Being from a small town himself he understands small towns and limited street parking issues so he calls out to a lady close by to ask if it is okay to park where he has. She goes over to him. She is dressed in pajamas and floppy slippers. Her hair is rumpled. She begins telling him the parking rules.

Carl is looking at her wondering whether to believe her or not since she very much looks like a bag lady. Just then the town constable comes along unlocking the various gates and so on. Meanwhile the floppy slipper gal, who has slipped into town to quickly sign some papers figuring that no one of importance would see her, has figured out that Carl is one of the expected guests from North Carolina. She welcomes him and tells him that she is the mayor. The constable laughs and tells Carl that she actually lives in the home for the mentally unstable up the way, to pay her no mind. The mayor explains to Mike that these are the guests from North Carolina and to please acknowledge who she is. Mike repeats his story adding that she has probably forgotten to take her medication. Carl begins to believe Mike since he is so convincing and the mayor doesn’t look very mayoral. And since it is okay to park while he gets the room keys etc from the tourist bureau he moves on.

Later that week at the opening reception, the mayor addresses the audience. Carl sees that he has been a victim of Irish humor.

me and marsha irish toast irish friends breeda flowersFor once we have started earlier than usual at the pub and so end up leaving not that late, even so it is after midnight. We are still the pub closers, for our group anyway. Goodbyes are sad. Everyone is in tears. We would stay longer but we must pack and drive to Shannon in the morning.

We are walking home with Greg. Suddenly I remember that we have not made our Abbey Road picture that Becki wanted to do. The perfect crosswalk is back a few blocks. Everyone is hesitant. I declare that if I can walk back in my party shoes surely they can make it. And Greg can take the picture. But Bill points out that Becki is still walking home. Greg tells Becki to turn around. She does. Bill is amazed, saying we should have had Greg to herd us along all week.

Even though it is after midnight, there is occasion traffic fortunately only one way but still it is usually someone hurrying home so we time our moment in the crosswalk. Becki has on a light jacket so she is the barefoot Beatle.

We take a picture of Greg climbing a street light.

Back home we get to packing. We must leave by seven in the morning to make our noon flight.

abby road ireland

Recreating Abbey Road cover Youghal style. Heading home to the Harvey one more time.


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We See The IRISH Sea

Ireland 2005 Day 9

donny sandy irish sea

Donny & Sandy and the Irish Sea

Today we are going to explore on our own. We want to go to Galway but everyone tells us that we will only get there before we have to come back again especially if we want to be home in time for the classical concert that will end the festival. It is being held at St Mary’s Church this evening at eight.

So we consider Killarney still a long trip but closer than Galway. We could go to Waterford but decide to save that for another time.

By the time we get up, shower and eat it is almost noon. We strike out toward Killarney anyway. We decide to take the long way following the coastline when we can. Our first stop is on the Strand right here in Youghal. It is the closest beach to town, rather on the outskirts of town. It is where the train used to stop. Train service in Youghal dried up in the mid-seventies. Everyone blames that for the decline in tourism.

sandy vamping from the water donny running becki bill irish sea becki and billThe tide is out and the beach is wide and wonderful. The sand is very fine. There are a few smooth rocks near the water. There is a lot of seaweed, but it is harmless. Bill decides he has not come this close to the Irish Sea to skip putting his toes in. He sheds his shoes and socks. I agree and follow. We roll up our pants legs and wade into the very shallow water. There is barely any surf and the drop is non-existent. The water is not that cold. I would not swim, but I could if pressed. Donny & Becki join us. We take pictures of each other.

We decide that although we could stay here all day, as the sun is bright and beautiful, we must move on.

boat slicker

Lobster pots

boat tractor

Pulling the boat out


We weave our way westward staying as close to the coast as we can get. We wander into a boat launch area clearly for neighborhood fishermen. A farmer on a tractor is pulling a boat shaped trailer into the water. He is getting set to load on a single man boat. It is a lobsterman who has been pulling up pots as the season is over. Bill chats with the fisherman for a few minutes and then we leave this tiny rugged area.

red cow cow farm b&w cowWe continue westward. We wander down small Irish one lane roads. We spy a small herd of wonderful looking cattle. They have horns and shaggy fur. A gentleman out for a walk tells us they are his. Their breed is called Highland. They grow the fur in the winter and will shed it in the springtime.

We tarry on. Next we find a deserted cove although there are signs indicating dangerous rocks, so it is not too deserted. On the map it is called Knockadoon Head.

sea life tide pool rocks tide pool blue rock tide poolThis cove is very rocky with small pockets of sand. There are high rocky cliffs. The rocks are not jagged, but smooth. They are pink with green low growing seaweed. There are numerous tide pools with sea anemone and other life inside them. There are many small snails and barnacle like creatures. It is absolutely wonderful. Getting the car out is a bit tricky but not for Bill. No L sticker for him. An L sticker is what all beginner learners must post on their car windshield while they are still novice drivers. It is a large solid white decal with a big red L in the middle. It is about eight inches square.

Now we are getting hungry and decide to find a suitable pub for lunch. That doesn’t take long. We wander into a village and park the car. The women’s football championship is on. Cork is favored to win. Later I find out that they do. Bill orders the Irish breakfast. B, D & I order sandwiches and of course we all order beer. Murphy’s is the beer of choice for our guys As far as beer goes it really is good. But I like cider best overall.

becki sitting

cliff ireland After lunch we tarry on to Ballycotton. There is a very cool cliff walk adjacent to the beach in this coastal village. The day is just a bit breezy although still sunny and lunch has worked its charm on me. I take a nap in the car while the others explore. Donny comes back after a short walk and joins me. B&B elect to try the cliff walk for awhile.

Suddenly everyone is tired. And we have not gotten near Killarney. We have not even left the south coast of County Cork, but it has been a great day of exploring. We head for home. We arrive in time to freshen up before the concert. Becki is concerned that we will get hungry before the concert is over knowing that the pubs do not serve food later in the evening. So she is very happy at intermission to find that finger sandwiches are served along with the wine.

The concert is very good. There are two choirs and a violin soloist as well as a flute soloist.

marian singing

Marian entertains. All the Irish sing at the drop of a hat and do it very well.

irish gals toasting

These amazing committee gals made our trip very special.

Now we go to The Point, Marian’s brother-in-law’s pub. He has invited us to hear some Irish music. We gather in a back room. This pub is a bit newer and the room is more modern. Still there is a fireplace and everything is wooden. As the evening goes on Marian hires the accordion player to play just for us. He has been playing out front where we could not hear him all that well. He is a delight. He plays all sorts of songs. We sing, dance and have a merry time. We pass the hat to give him a tip. He is very sweet. He rides his bike everywhere because his eyes are not good enough for him to drive a car.

After sitting so long in the drafty church Greg is chilled and asks the bartender for something warm. When he gets his drink, it looks so wonderful we all want one. It seems that we have rediscovered the hot toddy. Whiskey, hot water, a slice of lemon with cloves stuck into the rind. Perfect for a chilly evening. Members of the group begin to drift away. We are the last chapter again.

Every evening in Youghal is our favorite until the next one, which becomes our new favorite.

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Ransoming the QUEEN’S Gown

Ireland 2005 Day 9

street fair

Youghal street fair

Today there is a craft and goods fair set up between the two streets at the Clock Gate. We are to parade in costume and the madrigals sing to draw attention to our Rendezvous Dinner to be held this evening at the Walter Raleigh Hotel. Joan has a wench costume for me to wear. We parade to town single file lead by Greg also in costume, then the YaYas and I (now a YaYa). The queen is last.

It is a sunny day, a bit chilly but the sun is nice. The madrigals sing at the fair and then we mingle with the crowd. Some of us buy a bit of food. I get a mulled wine and Chester Cake. The cake is awesome. I ask the lady for her recipe. She is dressed as Mary Queen of Scots and has had a good time getting her picture taken with Barbara. Her real name is Frances. She writes down the recipe for me. She is a little old lady who recently got married again. The extra cloth from her wedding dress has been used in her costume. She baked all of the goods in her booth, cakes and pies, early this morning.

tyntes castle

Tynte’s Castle is right in the heart of the town

Now we move on to Tynte’s Castle. It is a town castle, mostly a very tall tower shaped building, than a sprawling edifice. It is amazing to have a chance to see the inside of this structure. Tom, who had us to dinner at his pub a few nights back, owns the castle with his two brothers. They are restoring it. They have just purchased two cinderblock sized stones for a doorway. They cost 700 sterling.

We parade up the up street to the castle. All of the shoppers, merchants and car folk wave to us. We go inside the castle tower which for now is all that is open at this stage of its renovation. We assemble here for photos and then the madrigals sing for the video that is being made. The room is fairly small but open all the way up so you can get an idea of things to be done. Exposed doorways and wonderful huge wooden beams are visible.

After the singing we march back to the fair where the madrigals sing again. I am getting chilled. Pascal, a young French member of the committee, offers me her shawl. As she is selling Sharovski jewels at the fair for a friend she is dressed for the weather, so I take the shawl. There is another photo session and then we are excused. I do not see Pascal to return the shawl. I stop to say good bye to Frances as her booth is nearby. She admires my shawl and says she has one just like it. She says she has loaned it to the French girl selling jewels. I laugh and say this must be her shawl. Later before I leave the market, I return the shawl to Pascal. She promises to show me the entire jewel collection later at the tourist bureau which is where she works.

youghal gang street costumes craft fair barbara and her guysI want to buy a few things at the market but have no euros. Donny doesn’t either but he heads for the ATM machine to replenish our supply. A cute lad selling flowers wants me to buy. I tell him I will be back when I get some euros. When Donny gets back I buy a beaded necklace which I have also promised to procure when I get cash. Then I go to get my flowers. The stall is maintained by two boys who are about ten years old. They have picked the flowers and made scented pinecones. They also have a basket of ribbons. I hand them five euros to buy the flowers which are three euros fifty. They tell me I can get pinecones and ribbons plus the flowers for my five euros. They want to be sure I get a fair deal. They keep telling me to get one more pinecone or ribbon. I want to be sure they are getting a fair deal. I tell them I am satisfied. They insist I take some ribbons. They dig in their box for the most scented pinecones. The mom who has been visiting a nearby stall and has her own things next to the boys returns and asks if they are treating me well. She says that her husband has been doing all the video work of the festival group.

market flowers

Flowers I bought at the fair.

We go to the Mall Arts Center to undress and pack up costumes, either for going back to the states or being transferred to the Walter Raleigh Hotel where the Rendezvous is to be held. Finally all the costumes are settled and we have swept up the dressing rooms.

Back home I dress the window with our flowers. They are prettier than any I have seen for sale in the shops. Becki says we have just enough time for a soup lunch before meeting at Myrtle Grove. It seems that we have been invited after all to tour Myrtle Grove. But only us. The owners are very protective of their heirlooms and privacy.

mrytle grove

Myrtle Grove is still occupied today

Myrtle is the house Raleigh would have lived in when he was in Youghal. It is still privately owned and lived in. We are so excited to have this opportunity to see history closer to the way it actually was rather than in a museum type setting.

BBD&I go for soup and no sooner have we eaten and returned to the Harvey where we are to meet than we find Marian and Greg walking toward Myrtle Grove. The rest have gone on by car. We are cautioned by Carl, lebame and our Irish friends to not take any photos inside the house. The grounds are permissible but not inside.

The entrance to Myrtle Grove is literally right next to the St Mary’s Church entrance on the quaint cobblestone up up street. Once inside the gate we feel like we have stepped back in time. We all know that the shops and town homes of Youghal are just outside the wooden entry but here inside it feels like we are in the countryside and another era. We take a lot of photos of Chris, who has come dressed as Raleigh, in front of the manor.

ds myrtle grove holly berry myrtle groveWe are to tour inside in two groups. The interior is truly amazing. There are so many family antiquities that anyone could spend an entire day or more in just one room. We all love the family touches, pictures, papers and such. Our lovely guide, who now maintains the house with her sister and brother, tells us great family stories. She continually apologizes about what she considers her lack of tour guide knowledge. She does fine by our account. One of my favorite stories Iona tells us is on herself. As a young girl she used to ride her pony all over the lawns and to this day her mother blames her for the poor condition of the grounds which is not true, they are beautiful.

Now it is time to get ready for the Rendezvous. As the result of a few miscommunications we feel that my costume is no longer at the Raleigh Hotel so I dress with my French silk skirt and an extra ruff and Elizabethan hat Becki has on hand, even though Joan told me earlier that she had an extra wench costume at the hotel.

me dressed up john costume guys at the bar donny close upWe drive to the hotel so that we can get our costumes back to our apartment easier after the show. Joan says my costume is fine. As Gloria is also costumed for the event I think she has worn the extra wench costume so this works out perfectly. She, the YaYas and I decide to go into the bar for a drink while the rest are dressing. The local paper photographer takes our picture. Maybe this one will make the paper too. I have not seen the last one he took of me with Carol and Jacquie at the opening but I hear it was in the paper. He always asks for names and even writes them down. Gloria says we have gotten lots of press. She has enough for a scrapbook. We have only found one picture, that of Jacquie at the ploughing.

Evidently the story of Barbara’s queen dress being held ransom by customs made all the tabloids. This happened before we got there. Customs would not release any of the boxes containing the queen’s clothing because they thought we were trying to smuggle them into the country. Finally customs said we could get the gowns for a $4000 fee. Carl almost croaked. He finally got the Bank of Ireland to post “bond” and the costumes were released one day before the first show which was the day we arrived.

It is time for the Rendezvous but few people are here. I notice that the announcement board in the hotel lobby says nine as the starting time. It should say eight. We wonder what the tickets say. Also the Irish are a very relaxed people about time, they would do well on the Outer Banks.

bill barbara chicken

Raleigh teaches HRH how to eat chicken

assisting hrh

HRH assisted by What and Sir Walter

The Rendezvous is to be like the one on the Outer Banks, a dinner with the queen type show. Bill Rea is to be Walter and Chris his son, fondly known as What. Calling out What, throughout the event, works well to cover mistakes and add extra merriment to the party. Now anytime someone says, “What?” We all holler back, “What? What? Where’s What.”

Donny & I have great seats since I am photoing for lebame.

When it comes time for the titling, our new Irish friends are delightfully surprised and pleased to have European titles. You can see they are going to have fun with them.

tynte's castle guys breeda dressed up becki and irish gals barbara pascale ann and paulEveryone has had a grand time. Carl has held up well. He is getting the ick that started with Chris and has wound its way through most of the company.

Donny has a toothache that is really bothering him now. It started this morning. I ask Breeda if she has any ideas. She suggests a clove and whiskey. She says she will get some cloves from the kitchen. She is our wonder worker. She saved Bill from totally losing his voice with some antibiotics left over from her niece’s ailment.

After the Rendezvous a two man band sets up on the stage and plays tunes for us to dance to. Most members of our group change into street clothes. I chat with Barbara’s mother, Connie, while Barbara changes. Connie loves line dancing but by the time I discover this the band has switched to slow numbers to close out their evening.

Slowly our group dwindles away. We remain conversing with members of the committee, friends, and family until well into the morning. The bartender is very gracious and does not push us along. It is well after two before we say our final goodbyes for the evening.

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Kissing THE Blarney Stone

more corkIreland Day 8, September 2005

Today we are venturing off on our own. There is a bus with room for us on it going to Blarney and Cork, the same places we are headed for, but we have rented the car for the week and we want to get some use out of it and also set our own pace.

We leave shortly after nine and plan to first stop in Cork so that Donny & Bill can get their cell phones fixed at the phone doctor there. Cork is a big city, a very big city compared to Youghal. Actually it is the second largest city in Ireland. We decide that we need to ask directions to the phone doctor. Two shop girls tell us we can walk from where we are but that driving our car will be harder.

We elect to drive anyway. We need to cross over the river, one block over, and then it is just a few blocks beyond. Well the girls were right. We eventually find the shop but we do not find a place to park our car. The city is a mad house of shoppers and cars with potential shoppers looking for a place to park. Donny finally hops out to take care of business while we continue to search for a parking place. Cork is one of those cities with very narrow streets half of which are one way, always going to wrong way. We find ourselves weaving farther and farther from Donny. Finally we get back closer and begin circling a pull in parking area that is very convenient but no one is leaving. We circle and circle. Then Bill spots Donny. He comes over to the car and announces that he has had to leave the phones and that they will be ready in about an hour.

We decide to go back across the river, park there at a carpark and then walk back to this central shopping district called Centre City, old Cork modernized. We do that and find the food market particularly interesting. We locate ourselves at a pub across from the Beamish factory for lunch. It is very old and has that usual old pub décor, rustic wood, tilting floors and low ceilings.

cork pubAfter lunch we go to the phone store. The new clerk tells Donny that she cannot move the phones up in the queue and that it will be hours before the technician can look at them. Becki and I have gone across the street to the shoe store. The guys come along and give us the news that they have scrubbed the project. We move on after first purchasing Lydia a very cute pair of aubergine colored suede boots. I know, Emily, but they are so adorable and the inside is very soft. We will certainly hope the size is good.

Now we wander into a music store but not before buying coffee and cheese at the market.

Bill finds a drum that he likes and a concertina but he will not spend the money.

We retrieve our car and leave town, none too soon for all of us who prefer the quiet countryside but especially Bill who is doing all the driving.

blarney looking down blarney turret way out dsbb blarneyIt’s on to Blarney Castle. We find parking there easier and pay the entrance fee. We start up the winding walkway through a pleasant park like area to the castle. We take a foot bridge over a stream called the Martin River. We stop to take our pictures by the river. Imagine our surprise to see our bus group walking on the path toward us having just toured the castle. We all laugh and say that could not have been staged any better. We all get a good chuckle out of our magnetic attraction.

bill kiss sandy kiss donny kiss kissing stone becki kissThe castle is huge and we tour several rooms on our way up, up, up to the stone itself. There are nothing but stone edifices at this point in their history, still it is fun to imagine life here. The famous Blarney stone is located on what would be the eaves of a modern house. Two gentlemen help you lean back by means of holding onto two rails and kiss the stone. You are supposed to be blessed with Irish eloquence. Becki and I are very excited to think we will be as eloquent as our new friend Marian.

Outside we tour the grounds which are full of huge old trees and rolling lawns. It is a great spot for children and adults too. Like a huge park. Many of the trees are over a thousand years old. There is a Fairy Glade, a Druids Circle, a Sacrificial Altar, a Witches Stone to name a few specific areas in this ideal park

bill gnome bill shadow becki shadow donny cute bd sacrificeWe get back to the picture place too late to see ourselves kissing the stone. I took pictures of everyone after the kiss but the guys were too quick with you for me to get the actual kissing on camera.

We buy a few things at the gift shop and go into the tiny village of Blarney which is just across the street. Most shops are closed for the evening but we find one open. The guys go to the pub while Becki and I shop.


Cohb, last port of call for the Titanic

titanic plaque

This plaque explains that the Titanic would have anchored at the mouth of the cove in the photo above.

We decide to wind our way home through the town of Cobh where the Titanic made its last stop. It is not too far away. By the time we get to Cobh most stores are closed and we only find one place open for dinner. They are full so we decide to move on. We have seen where the Titanic would have docked in the harbour. She would not have been able to actually dock because of water depth.

Near home we stop at a very old pub called The Thatch for dinner. This dinner is presented like a fine French meal. And it tastes just as good. We are stuffed full of good food.

Back at home we run into Chris who says the lecture at the arts center is over. They are having a short intermission before starting the play about witches in Ireland. Bill and Donny decide to stay in. Bill’s cold is coming back and Donny is worn out. Becki and I regroup and head for the arts center to catch the play. But once there we decide not to be disruptive and stay in the lobby until it is over. We do buy a book by the lecturer on witches in Ireland.

Ann has invited everyone to her house for a late dinner after the show. But she did not anticipate it being this late! It seems the lecturer went way over his allotted time. And Marian could not signal him to stop as he had asked her, because he talked the entire time with his eyes closed. We are ferried to Ann & Paul’s house in various cars. It is not far. Their three young daughters are there to serve the food. It is wonderful. The house is very cozy with a lovely fire burning in the fireplace.

There is so much food and it is all marvelous. Ann & Paul’s youngest daughter and her two friends put on a short play for us. The youngest daughter nails Carl and his opening speech to theater participants. We all howl with laughter. Their play is very short but cute. It is Madame Butterfly. A short while later they put on an encore production. This is Elizabeth and Raleigh complete with Virginia Dare. We are all impressed with how much of our show they have retained.

Ann has a wonderful dessert that is so simple to make but gives the appearance of hours of work. You dip chocolate chip cookies into red or white wine. Then you layer them side by side with whipped fresh cream (here is the real clue, fresh cream) in between each cookie. Next you ice the entire confection with the whipped cream, add a few chocolate sprinkles if desired and chill.

Paul gives Becki, Greg and I a ride back to our flat. He takes us the scenic route by the city wall. Along the way Becki and Greg discover that Greg has worked with Marty in DC on some productions but he cannot remember which ones, he just knows Marty’s name is very familiar.

When Becki and I get home the guys are tucked soundly into bed.

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Ireland Day 7 September 2005

fruit tart

Typical bakery fruit tart

Donny has set the alarm for seven so Becki and I can walk before the cast call at ten. When the alarm goes off I start to sleep on but a brightness catches my attention. It is an Irish sunrise complete with clear skies. I dress quickly, grab the camera and head down to the street for a better view although the one from our window is pretty good. I leave Becki sleeping.

I take some pictures of the colorful sky but still do not see the actual sun. I decide it might be behind a cloud or might still be rising. I decide to walk uphill and see what’s what. I find Myrtle Grove, Sir Walter’s home while he was here. It is right beside St Mary’s Church but I cannot see over the wall. St Mary’s is still locked up. I will have to look for the grave with the tomb marker declaring, I Told You I Was Sick, later. We think Donald in particular will find it amusing.

I walk along the upper up street and find a lovely garden chapel open. Inside I discover that it is huge. It flows uphill and has large lawns and walkways. It has flower beds and a small orchard. It is surrounded by old parapets and parts of the old city wall. I take lots of pictures.

I leave the garden and continue south along the upper street. I pass the Catholic Church. A service is going on. There is a little dog tied up outside on the stone steps leading into the church.

I descend the stairs leading to the clock. I check the bakery and the butcher. They are not open yet. I buy a newspaper and head home. I find Donny up but B&B are slumbering on. They have time yet. Donny has made coffee and gotten up early to shower and leave it free for B&B.

I decide to take a short nap to warm up and keep out of the thespians way. Their big show is this morning and it is overbooked. They leave for cast call. I get up a bit later and shower. I have time to go to the café and upload photos but Donny has found an open site in the area of the theater. I decide to go for that option.

At the theater everyone is ready. Donny tries to access the site but cannot. I get him to fix the camera for filming. He wants me to video the show. Because I have not let him delete yesterday’s photos from the camera until I am sure they are on Picasa (he has already uploaded them onto the computer) there is not enough room on the memory card for the video. I tell him it is okay to delete. As soon as he does I remember that I have the other memory card in my purse. Later I realize that I have let him delete my sunrise pictures.

I find a spot among the throngs of school kids that have come for the matinee. I plan to stand in the rear window sill. There are so many kids Greg has to seat them two to a chair. It really is a full house. They are very well behaved and seem to enjoy the show. It must be difficult for all to totally understand our dialect. We definitely struggle with theirs but I bet they are better at deciphering than we are.

After the show I head for the internet café. Becki comes with me, she is going to try again to access the blog she has set up at school to tell the children about her adventures. At the café I find that my AIM is not on the computer. I also find that the clever Picasa program has the latest pictures tidily in a folder. So I could have let Donny delete last night and thus saved my sunrise pictures as they alone on the camera would have not taken up so much space. Later Donny reminds me to boot the computer to get my AIM back. I do not know why I always forget that option, but I usually do until he reminds me. At the café, I move on to LJ update and email. Becki finishes and leaves for practice. I am still at it. A drunk man wanders in and tries to engage me in conversation. The shop man tells him I am busy and sends him on his way but not before the drunk cusses him out.

I take the computer back to the apartment and go out shopping. Bill is trying to stay well and has skipped practice. Although he would not mind me being around, I figure shopping is a good way to let him have the apartment to himself.

shop window 2

Youghal shop window

I go north on the up street this time. There is a shop there that looked like it might have something good for Donny. I find it and do spot a nice shirt for him. I decide to look around a bit more. It is a tiny shop but the prices are good. A customer is trying on a very cool orange sweater. The clerk is telling her that she just got them in and only got three. She has bought the medium for herself. The customer is trying on the large. I ask her what size the third one is. It is XL but under that she has two more new sweaters that are black and white strips sewed together in a diagonal pattern. She has a medium and a large. I try the medium on. It fits well but I am not sure about the bold pattern. The orange sweater lady and I admire each other. We decide to treat ourselves. As I am buying my two items another customer comes in. I am wearing my new sweater. She loves it. I tell her she can have the only one in Youghal as mine is going to America. This pleases her.

Eileen the clerk tells me to look up the Fox’s Lane Museum before we leave town. She tells me where it is.

I head that way but stop by the bakery and buy a fruit tart and then the butcher to buy lamb shops and sausage. I think Bill might like to eat in tonight. If not we will eat the chops another time.

I take the packages back to the apartment. B&D are still not back. Bill wakes up and I tell him the cooking plan. He nods and drifts back off. I leave to shop some more and find the museum. The museum is just about to close but the owner, Mr Lynch, who is just sweeping up invites me in for a quick look see. It is full of things he has collected over his life time. It will be fun to go back with more time to visit. He has not been able to get to any of our shows or the lectures because his wife’s brother died suddenly this week.

I stop in the children’s shop across the street and inspect the clothes. They are so cute. I think Donny will like to help me pick out some things for Lydia. I go to the apothecary for hair color and decide to go back to Kidsz because with our driving tour tomorrow and the gala occupying Saturday, Donny & I might run out of shopping in Youghal together time.
Back home I unload. D&B are still not there. I decide to do my hair. I tell Bill that will bring them home. Sure enough five minutes later Donny walks in. Still no Becki. We decide to cook supper. Bill is appointed chef. He cooks the chops, fries some apples, boils some eggs, makes hot tea, slices up our brown bread and with our tart for dessert we are well off. Just as we sit down to eat Becki walks in. She has timed it perfectly.

After the delicious meal, Becki and I decide to go hear lebame give her lecture on Raleigh’s colony in the New World. It is to come after a panel discussion on old Youghal. But when we get to The Mall Arts Center is locked up tight. We can see lights on in the lecture hall but we cannot get it. As it is on the second floor we cannot get anyone’s attention. We check every door and gate. Becki is ready to go home. I want to check the front door one more time to see if anyone is coming downstairs to the bathrooms. Ah ha, there are two women leaving. They let us in.

the quays

The Quays Youghal

We tiptoe into the lecture. The panel is still discussing Youghal of old. I cannot follow their dialect at all. Becki does better. Finally it is time for lebame to speak. Her talk is very thorough and quite informative.

We congratulate her on a job well done. Carl tells us that the group is meeting at The Quays for a drink. We go home first to see if the guys want to join us. They are watching a mens’ soccer match. We decide to go back and leave them in their comfort. We meet lebame and Gloria on their way home. They tell us a few are still at The Quays. We find Carl, John, Breeda, Marian & Barbara (Aoile’s mother) there. Becki and I have a nice visit with Breeda and Barbara telling us many childhood stories between them. Per our usual style, we close the bar.

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Castle in the Clouds and an Irish Jig or Two

Ireland Day 6 September 2005

dressing room

Ladies dressing room. Joan, Marsha, Ellie, Jacquie, Marj

So far today I have managed to sleep in again. Becki has a school trip on her schedule with John and Chris. The guys are not due at the theater until 1:30. The madrigals will sing before the matinee show of Elizabeth R.

Donny wakes me at 12:30. He brings me the computer which I have left in the living room for Becki to upload pictures on, so that I can finish my journal in lazy style. He brings me breakfast in bed. This is very nice. Our room looks out over Youghal cove. I can see a rolling farm on a small hill all of which is on a spit into the water from the our bed. It’s a great view to write by. It is a very typical Irish day. Pouring rain which for the moment has tapered off to drizzle. The sky is entirely gray and the air is chilled.

show finale

The Lost Colony Concert Version finale. Donny is holding the flag.

ellie barbara chris

Ellie Chappell, HRH Barbara Hird, Chris Chappell


Reception after the show

Becki comes in from school and shortly they all take off for the theater. I finish my journaling, take a leisure bath and dress. Just as I finish they come in from their show. B&B have decided to go on the tour a castle about thirty minutes away. Donny wants to stay and wash clothes and clear his email.

I elect to go but have enough time beforehand to check my email. I leave to do that, Donny will spell me when it is time for me to meet B&B as we are driving our own car to the castle.

Donny shows up but I have only half finished my tasks. I do a few more and then sprint for the apartment to get my hat and coat. I run literally to the Mall Arts Center only to find the group waiting for lebame and Barbara to finish an interview. B&B are not even there yet. Finally they show up and we go to the tourist bureau a few buildings away to get a map. Since it is raining Bill drives us.

Back at the arts center the bus has arrived. Carl says there is room after all for us but we elect to stay with our car. We drive through Tallow and onto the town where the castle is located. Breeda negotiates the price for our group. Bill will buy Breeda’s ticket as well as ours. Breeda says she will give her money to two Americans that the castle lady turned away as they had no euros only American money. I split their fare with her so they can see the castle.


The castle and people actually live there


Sunflowers are universal

bill nose to nose

Bill nose to nose in the castle garden

me garden

Me in the lower castle garden

We tour the castle gardens which are beautiful. There is a working vegetable garden planted in plots. There is a small orchard. We are the only people in the garden. The weather has turned sunny on the drive over and stays that way. We munch our way along testing rose hips, apples, tomatoes, mint, anything that suits our fancy.

The grounds are vast and well kept. Boxwoods and other shrubs separate the areas. The castle is occupied so we cannot go inside. Prince Charles and Camilla recently visited. There is an upper and lower garden. The bus group decides to skip the lower garden. B&B, Greg and myself want to see the lower garden. Greg will ride back with us. We get his stuff off of the bus and wave goodbye.

The lower garden is mushy but nice. There are green lawns, big trees, flower beds and very modern sculpture. One is about six feet tall, made of bronze and has a floral design on the face. Nice enough, but when you look on the other side of this slightly bowed piece there are the elements of a nude female. Bill and I decide it is the flowering of a woman.

We almost get locked in but clever Bill has been whistling to announce that we are still here.

Back in Youghal we have just enough time for Becki to upload a bit of music before we head out to a special dinner held for us by Tom, one of the committee members. His pub is called McCarthy’s. He has planned a buffet meal for us that is beyond words. We are treated to all the drinks we want and the fabulous meal. We have our own room in the back of the pub.

ds dancing

Donny & I waltzing

carol chris ellie

Carol, Chris & Ellie jigging

After dinner a trio of girl musicians that performed at the hotel the night that Donny & I missed have been hired by Tom to repeat their performance. We finally get to hear traditional Irish music. There is a banjo, a button accordion, and a concertina. The girls are very young but very talented. The banjo player also sings and dances for us. Members of our group join in a various times. Donny & I waltz. Marilyn, Chris’ wife who is a dance instructor, does the jig. Their daughter Ellie who is about seven, also jigs. Others sing and dance. It is a lot of fun for all. Bill has joined the picking but as his voice is going he does not sing. He does tell a joke to appease the audience.

irish entertainment

Our Irish entertainment. There’s Bill Rea in the foreground picking along.

Finally Tom tells the girls to play one more tune. They do and then play the Irish national anthem. The show is over. Bill decides to go home and rest. Becki will walk him there and then join us at the Hotel Raleigh. A friend of Mirian’s, our main hostess, has organized a country dance for the ploughing visitors and Mirian wants to support the effort. We decide to support her. We have finally met her husband, Patrick, tonight. He is a very busy dairy farmer. We thank him for sharing her all week.

Aoile, one of our younger guides, offers Donny & me a ride to the hotel. We can walk but we take the ride. We are the first of our group there. We go into the bar and get settled. After a bit, Aoile goes to find our group. She discovers that they are in the events room, not the bar. There is a fee. We will pay but Aoile decides she wants to hang out with her friends at JD’s.

Shortly after we get settle with Mirian, Patrick and Gloria, Becki comes in. She has ridden over with Breeda who decides to bail out too. The music is loud and very country. While Donny is getting our drinks a young guy asks me to dance. I agree but am rather bad at following his excellent lead. He says he learned to waltz from his parents who are very good Irish dancers. He is in town for the ploughing. He lobbies for the farmers. He has friends with him. They all lobby for better farming conditions. His one friend tells me that if I want to hear really good Irish music to get up with Martin, another friend in the group. It appears that Martin’s neighbors are excellent musicians. They are all from Limerick. We get Martin’s phone number and promise to call over the weekend.

It sounds like a plan to find some more good Irish music. For once we do not close the place down. We leave before the band is finished. The group has their big show tomorrow and everyone wants to rest. Still it is past midnight when we get home.


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Ploughing Through County Cork

dead slow

We love road signs in Ireland

Youghal Ireland Day 5 September 2005.

Continuing the SandyBeachGirl travelogue and I think I’m finally learning how to spell Marjalene’s name after ten years. Sorry Marj!

Today the madrigal group is going to sing at the National Ploughing Championship. Rather like a cross between a state fair and a giant craft show, it covers three days. It is held in different counties each year and this year it is being held on a farm just up the road. The crowd is expected to exceed 150,000. Even though it is nearby, about a ten minute drive, it will take the group about two hours to get there because of traffic. Sounds like Ireland’s version of a hurricane evacuation only they are going to a fun event instead of leaving a potential disaster. Later to hear Donny’s version it sounded like a disaster (insert wink) but Bill and Becki had fun.

I plan to sleep in as there are only eight VIP tickets for our group and they all need to go to the singers. Again upon their return BB&D tell me I could have paid my way and gone as one lady in our group did just this but none of us knew that in time.

I am really tired anyway so this is not a problem for me.

I tell Donny goodbye at around 9 and roll over for more sleep. I awake at noon very refreshed. I take a shower and bring my journal up to date. After everything suits me I head out to the cybercafé to do internet things.

It is a beautiful day, sunny and clear very un-Irish like.

Back at the apartment I plug in the computer for charging and decide to go out for groceries. I make a list, grab my backpack and leave a note for BB&D.

plough signsheep irelandblack sheepcountryside fairbill fair    marsha john speech fairdonny becki fair casual fair irelandtractor ireland    becki hat acute bendI meet John coming up the walkway. The group is back. I continue on because I am sure they will need down time and we need sundries. On the way I stop in a thrift store and find a fun top and a black sweater that is a blend but looks warm, and both are cheap. Next I stop in one of two toy stores in town and find a fun theater type toy that has figures that move around by means of magnets on a stick for Martin & Lydia. Next I go to the grocery store and get the things we need. The list is short but essential, things like toilet paper and milk. Now I head for the butcher to get fresh eggs and sausage and to the bakery for bread.

The bakery lady comments on the traffic outside saying it is the crowds coming back from the ploughing. I ask her if she has ever been to a ploughing, telling her that my group is there. She laughs and says she went ten years ago when it was much smaller.

She says the idea is nice for the farmers but that the merchants stalls are too close together and that it is hard to see the merchandise and also hard for the merchants to sell since there is such a throng of people. And she says that the local town merchants will not benefit much from all the influx since most folks will go to the ploughing and then go back to their lodging without doing much shopping.

Outside the apartment I meet up with Becki & Bill. They tell me that Donny has gone to town looking for me. We see him waving to us from our third and top floor bathroom window so he is already back at the apartment. Becki decides to see if she can send any mail home as it was a tangle for her the other day, before they are due at the Mall Arts Center to sing before the performance of The Virgin Queen and Her Shepherd of the Ocean. We all want to see this show. It has debuted here and is only being performed twice. Tonight will be the last show.

I decide to try and find Becki at the café since I have all of her pictures on my computer. That way she can send some photos. Donny decides to go with me. Becki is not in the café. I take Donny on a walking tour of the shop street also called the up street. The street along the water is called the down street. I have had more opportunities to explore the town than BB&D.

We head south window shopping. I show Donny the jewelry store I bought my earrings in and tell him that they have a bracelet I really like. He wants to see it. It is a well appointed store with Waterford crystal and nice jewelry. Donny likes the bracelet too and buys it for me.

rainbow no filter

No filter just your pot of gold if you can find the end

We continue on until the up street meets the down street just before the Mall Arts Center. We head north to our waterfront apartment to put the computer away. A beautiful rainbow is forming in the eastern sky. It is only a partial one but it gets brighter and brighter just like the ones Suzanne and I saw in Hawaii. We take pictures and cross paths with our jewelry store man who must be headed to the pub before going home.

Becki is back with some presents she has bought for the girls. It has been a shopping day for her. At the ploughing she got fun wool hats and gave me one. Bill bought her a beautiful Irish wool sweater there. She was happily surprised.

I tell her that we tried to find her on the up street. She says she had more trouble with email and went shopping instead. I tell her that I will send the email if she types it into a draft which she does. BB&D head for the theater, I head for the café. There I try to send the email but the pictures are in a form that is taking forever to go. I finally decide to pull some from my Picasa albums since I pretty much know what Becki wants and I know Picasa is quick.

After I open Picasa I am pleasantly surprised to see that Becki’s school folder has somehow weaved its way there. Great! I email it to the two addresses she has given me, herself and Cathy Evanoff, the media teacher at FFE. I am ready to leave, I check my mail one more time for no particular reason. Opps! There is a return mail. It is the mail to Cathy Evanoff. Her address must not be correct because Becki’s did not come back. So I have only sent mail to Becki. Sigh.

I am late for the show. I come in about half way through. Still it is brilliant. Everyone loves it. The storyline is Barbara as Elizabeth and Chris as Sir Walter recalling their glory days on the day he is to be executed. HRH is a ghost of course and Walter appears as he would have looked in his prime. Elizabeth appears as she would have looked on the day she was crowned queen. The wit and chemistry between the two characters and the two thespians is electric. lebame has written a jewel and Barbara and Chris deliver it to perfection.


Our great friend Breeda!

Now we head to JD’s Pub. The local mailman is singing. Everyone tells us that he is a local favorite. JD’s is the most popular hangout. We are a bit early. Bill and Donny secure a booth/table and Becki and I go up the street for Chinese take out. We will sneak our food into the pub. We are a bit hungry, but the pub does not serve food and also it is frowned upon to bring food in. Reeda tells us that the rule is you must share. That works for us.

When we get back the pub has filled. Our group has grown too. Jane and the YaYa’s (her sisters) are here. John, Greg (tech man), Carl, Barbara, her mum, lebame, the committee ladies, Gloria (props), Marge (Hunt Thomas’ mom and madrigal singer). We have an entourage tonight. The pub gets rocking fast.

bill lebame

Bill & lebame sporting her Elvis jacket

The drinks are flowing, folks are dancing, smoking is only allowed outside everywhere in Ireland, so the smokers are in and out the side door to smokers’ alley. You can see them outside our window. The lighting is reddish, very artsy looking. We all drift between the two booth/tables where we have settled. lebame appears at our table in a fabulous Elvis jacket. She bought it on his last concert tour. Only a few hundred were made. She paid big bucks, but like she says, she is still wearing the same jeans she had in high school. Since she is camera shy, I ask her how I can get a picture of the jacket. I could sneak a picture but I respect her wishes. She lets Becki wear it. Becki gives me a great Elvis pose.

connie barbara

Connie & Barbara

Everyone is happy. Marj is dancing in the aisles with John. We threaten to tell Hunt. She laughs, says she is done for the night, and bids farewell. Members of our group are beginning to drift away. Suddenly Carl summons me to bring my camera. I follow. We go outside, lebame wants me to take a picture of John and Carl with a Youghal native who now lives on Long Island. I oblige but the lighting is horrible. I keep moving them to a new spot. Finally we are at the front of the pub, as we have started out at the smoking door. Barbara and her mum are just leaving. We recompose the picture adding Barbara in it. lebame tells Barbara she will make her famous yet.

The girls take off. We go inside. Bill and Becki are dancing. It’s a good song I say to Donny. He takes the hint. We dance. Back at our table a fast song has started up. Donny tells John that we need to dance. We go for it. The song goes on forever, our postman has turned it into a medley. John and I keep looking for an exit. Finally others join us on the floor and we bail out.

irish gals

Our amazing welcoming committee

John and Carl head home. The committee ladies are still here. We join tables and chat with them for awhile about politics and culture. They are such wonderful ladies. It is getting late, they are tired and head home. So again it is BB &DS closing the bar with the local diehards. We dance a lot and finish our drinks. Mr New York is still here. He chats with us on the dance floor. I take him my card and meet his wife. Later they start dancing too. I tell her I knew a New York girl like her would have some fancy moves. I take their picture and get their email address so I can send it to them. All too soon last call is called out. We drain our cups and after three tries find the right door to leave by.

Your favorite Sandy beach girl in Ireland


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Y’all would LOVE Youghal

Ireland Day Four September 2005

top of youghal

Flowers, the city wall and the bay beyond that

It’s a typical Irish day today, cloudy and rainy, although we are told the weather is still unseasonably warm and has been all summer. But no one is complaining. Winter in Ireland is hard and that will be here soon enough.

Becki & I have decided to get up and walk early, well early for being on vacation. We have agreed on eight for our start time. Donny has set his phone to ring. Later into the depths of my sleep I hear a tap, tap, tap. I wonder who could be knocking at the apartment door and how could I possibly hear it in the bedroom. I continue my sleep only partially awakened anyway. Another tap, tap, tap marches into my slumber. Maybe it’s Becki I guess trying to figure out why Donny’s phone has not rung.

I call out to Becki and struggle out of bed. A moment later the chirping of Donny’s wake up birds calls out. Ah ha, Becki has been a quick one this morning.

town wall youghal

Original Youghal city wall

I dress, grab my camera and we venture forth. No rain yet only clouds. We climb the steps by the clock tower. They go up and up and up. When we start up the steps I tease Becki about repeating the circuit twenty times. She agrees. By the time we reach the top we think tomorrow will be soon enough. It’s really not that bad, somewhat like climbing the monument hill only higher. It’s a regular sort of neighborhood up here. Folks getting off to work and kids to school. In Ireland the kids wear uniforms to school. This street is still small, like all Irish streets, but very busy with morning activity.

The overlook from here onto the old village and cove down below is wonderful.

We are now above the church and its graveyard but cannot get in from here. The old city wall parallels our walk even as we start our descent about ¼ mile later. We see a lane winding up to our left and take it only to find ourselves right back where we started about fifteen minutes later. We are now on the shopping street and as it is time to go back so Becki can get ready for practice, we stop in the butcher for some fresh bacon, which is more like ham. Then we go to Collins the bakery for bread. The shop is full of baskets and barrels of huge loaves of bread in every direction. The shop lady tells us her husband bakes bread all night. We buy a brown loaf and a white one.

Back in the apartment we realize we have forgotten to buy a newspaper. I go out to get one while everyone else is prepping for the morning practice. I leave Becki starting breakfast but take over when I get back.

boat street youghal

Our home along Harvey’s Dock

There is a little time before practice after we have eaten. Donny decides to see if he can check his email and do computer business things. I plan to meet him and retrieve the computer and also check my mail etc. When I get there, Donny and Jacquie are standing outside the shop. Or rather Donny is kneeling in the sidewalk trying to view the computer screen. The shop is not open as we were told it would be. Donny is online but cannot see the screen because the glare is so bad. He gives up.We all wait a bit and then I go on to the grocery where I replenish our supplies. Back at the cybercafé, I find Donny inside just finishing up. We switch places. He is off to practice.

I chat with Cathie and Katelyn on AIM for awhile and send mail for a few folks. Then I pay up and head to the bakery to buy more coffee. So far it is the only place in town we have found to get coffee beans ground up freshly for us. The shop lady and I discuss her small variety of beans. She apologizes. I tell her it is fine. I tell her that Ireland more than makes up for it with wonderful whiskeys. She laughs. I tell her what I need to do is make some Irish coffee. Both she and her assistant start talking at once to tell me exactly how to do this to make the coffee perfectly right.

It is very simple, but very important to do the steps correctly, they say. Start with a splash of whiskey, Jamison, Power, or Paddy. Add hot black coffee. Then drizzle cream over the back of a spoon so that is curls into the coffee. Add some brown sugar if you must.

I have a full backpack of groceries plus the computer but this is too good sounding to put off. I head back to the grocery for cream and whiskey.

Back home I unload and try to take a bath. But I have not been given instructions to the tub hot water acquisition. Actually the first night here I took a bath and the water was extremely hot so I did not realize there was a hot water maze to negotiate. The water I used must have been left over from the previous folks. The shower has a heater box connected to it, but the tub has some type of switching plan in the hall. After a while I give up and take a sponge bath. For some reason I cannot get the shower to run at all, even though I know its sequence, so cannot fill the tub that way. About this time the group comes in and rescues me.

becki umbrella donny umbrellame countryside countryside youghalmarsha marian   bb countrysideIn a short while we are due to meet for a tour of unknown destination but it will be a driving one. We have a few minutes so Bill & Becki go to town to try and send some mail home to her music classes. I want to find a less dressy pair of earrings since for some reason all I have brought with me are big dangly ones which I love but not for day. Donny is sure we will all miss the bus. He promises to hold it for as long as he can.

I find an awesome pair of silver earrings that depict the Children of Lir legend. The story goes that an evil queen turned King Lir’s four children into swans. They were forced to live 300 years in each of three Irish places. Now all that is left of them is their lovely singing voices.

I get to the bus, as do B&B in plenty of time. Donny is there and the rest. It is a small van type bus. Two of the committee members have privately hired it to give us a tour of the countryside. We see the Irish Sea from a bluff. We see a section of Ireland preserved and protected by the government where Gaelic is still spoken and used in daily life. We see a monument to the America soldiers that helped with the Irish revolution. We cannot read it because it is in Gaelic, but Marian translates for us. We find this slightly amusing as any American wandering along will not know it addresses their countrymen unless they should happen to know Gaelic. We also see an abandoned church surrounded by equally abandoned graves.

mall arts

Mall Arts Center

Back at the Mall Arts Center, Marian and Tom, our tour sponsors, invite us for a drink at The Quay just down the street. We suggest our driver join us. He is happy to do so, but goes to park the bus first. We have our drinks and some of us order snacks as it is nearing dinner time. The madrigals are due to perform for the opening of Elizabeth R, Barbara’s one woman show, and then head to the Walter Raleigh Hotel to hear traditional Irish music so there is no time for other food.

At the arts center I run into my Irish sword friend who has written out a whole page of Gaelic for me but there is no time to chat now. He will get back with me later and explain it. He has brought that wonderful sword with him again.

power barbara barbara lebame laughing barbaralebame asks me to take pictures of HRH after the performance since there will be a similar set up as with the Lost Colony group in which certain scenes are restaged for a film being made. The crowd is small this evening but very appreciative of the show. Barbara’s mum, Connie, from England has flown over to see her and her performance. Barbara is sick but being the trooper that she is you would never know it from her marvelous performance.

Donny has waited for me rather than go on to the Raleigh. Not wanting to interrupt the show he has waited in the lobby. So he saw neither show because as it turns out just as we get to the hotel the last song has completed. Everyone tells us what a wonderful show we have missed, complete with River Dance rivaling Irish jigging. And the kids are all local. Breeda has taped it and shows us a selection. Bill has made his Irish debut during the talent portion of the show where anyone can sing or dance. He was a big hit with the audience.

The committee ladies want to take us to a close by pub. Just then the younger of the two guys performing at the Raleigh on Saturday night pops in and tells Bill that Dave, the other guy in the group, is playing at the Yawl Inn and would like Bill to join in. Bill is a happy camper. His fingers have been itching to jam with someone.

bill yawl

Bill jamming at the Yawl in Youghal

Apparently the Yawl Inn is a bit more casual than the ladies would like because they turn us over to Aoile, the young daughter of one of the committee members, and bid their goodnights.

We decide to walk to the Yawl. It is on the shop street just beyond The Hook we were at the night before.

Becki and I stop in a shop for a chicken sandwich to munch along the way.

The Yawl Inn is small much like a college bar only again all ages are enjoying their night out. Bill immediately joins Dave and another guy strumming. Here as well, he is a hit with the crowd and also with Dave. I tell Becki they will be invited back to tour with a music group. She laughs and says Bill always finds a group to jam with. She is surprised that it took him four days this time, on their trip to Hawaii it was only two.

Again we close the bar and wander home under a hazy crescent moon hovering just above the horizon.

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We TRIP Through Germany

“The suitcase. We left it on the bus!” Stephen rushes up to the bus door pounding on it before the driver can pull away.

We, Mom, middlemost child Stephen and myself, are in Germany only a few hours and already the comedy of errors is in full swing. We have gotten on the bus because the train master advises that our strasse is close by and we can save cab fare by using public transportation. Then when we ask the bus driver where to get off he looks confused (later we find out that Van Sparr Strasse is only three blocks long). A passenger lady tells us to walk, it is that close. More money saved. We exit the bus and in our jet lagged state leave the suitcase behind.

Emily & Lydia are headed to Germany for Lydia’s graduation celebration from 5th grade German emersion school. When the kids got into the German immersion school Emily & Marty decided that upon 5th grade graduation they would each take the respective child on a trip to Germany. Marty & Martin went two years ago. This year it’s the gals turn.

Head back to 2001 and travel with me, Mom & Stephen on our own trip to Germany. Mom has always wanted to go. Heritage on her daddy’s side, Edward Dyott Boschen, is rich in Hannover. Stephen Dyott has talked about going to Munich since he was a tween. I have a German artist friend who has an apartment in Koln. She rents it occasionally. It’s not occupied the month of August. I book it. Donny finds us mostly affordable tickets. We secure our Eurorail passes before we leave the states. Upon advice of Rick Steves whose guide I come to rely on as my bible.

Mom cannot believe that she is actually going. Donny & I pick her up at her home in Reedville Virginia. We head to Dulles where we catch our flight. We meet up with Stephen, who is coming from Raleigh, in Chicago and head across the pond to Koln.


Our three week plan. It is in pencil. And some things do change on literally the spur of the moment.

It is literally on the trip to Dulles that I truly realize that Mom and Stephen will be looking to me to make the specific plans about what we do each day. We could just tool around Koln but no, that is not what our trip is about. Rick Steves has plenty of good suggestions and what I like about his books is that all conversation is centered around the local train station. We will blitz Germany! I begin making notes.

I quickly assess that Mom has too much luggage even for us having a home base apartment. She good naturedly starts pulling things out of this bag and that and consolidates. She’s a veteran traveler. She knows how to power pack.


Our map to the apartment.

Back in Koln we are trudging along a beautiful city street for quite a while and decide that we have gone too far. We turn around and head back where we have come from. All we have to go on is a tiny hand drawn map and occasion advise from the occasion shops we pass on this residential street. We then learn that we have not gone too far and turn again. Mom is about to shoot us and convinced that the strasse and apartment are a myth. We get her some ice cream at a convenience store and sit on a low wall eating our treat. We begin again. Finally we find Von Sparr Strasse 50 and the deli that has the key to let us in the main building. (We have the apartment keys.)

Slightly begrudging us our success but happily so, Mom opts for a nap. We have sorted out sleeping. Mom and I take the bedroom. I pull the top mattress on the floor for myself. The under mattress is very soft and will give Mom more room. Stephen takes the couch in the tiny living room. We are cozy and happy. We are on the third floor. We have an on demand shower. A little kitchenette. And a street view.

I go out to find some help with directions and public transportation. And to get a few groceries. We are in what I call the Brooklyn of Koln. Nice neighborhood. Mix of people and life styles. We are on the other side of the river that dissects the city, not centrally located at all. We have few clues how to get anywhere. Later Mom meets a lovely lady named Gina in the common garden created by the backyards of our several buildings. She says to come to her place on the next block and she will give us her local train/subway schedule. We do. She does. We see that the closet train is a few blocks away. It’s the end of the line. Or the beginning depending on which way you are going. It’s not elevated and above ground. From there we can reach the world. And the rest of Germany!

We are ready for the blitz!! Below just a FEW of the places we visit. More about them and the rest in my next post on our whirl wind generation trip.


The center of Munich. So absolutely beautiful.


We see the Glockenspiel work its charm.


Stephen & I are in love with this museum. I would go to Germany JUST to spend days here.

berlin dom

We go to Berlin. I told you we blitzed!

chocolate museum

The chocolate museum in Koln. Flowing chocolate fountain!

baden baden

We spend a day in THE spa at Baden Baden in the Black Forest.


We visit Bavaria and THE castles.


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Filed under Bavaria, family, generation travel, Germany, Koln, travel, Van Sparr Strasse