Sunday, July 23, 2023

Goodby Lucy

Just a quick post to let you know that yesterday morning we lost our Lucy.

She woke me up early and I found her walking in a left circle rubbing against the walls. She was staggering and seemed exhausted. I think she might’ve been doing it for hours. When I got up i tried to pick her up and she yelped.  I started feeling her and she was in pain in her left hip.

I gave her some of Gracies pain medication’s and 20 minutes later she was finally able to lay down and passed out exhausted.

Couple hours later we finally got her to a vet up near Edinburgh and she was no better.   She would slowly walk in left circles and seemed in distress.   The vet examined her and we both agreed that it was likely a stroke during the night.

It was then that we said goodbye.

Dec 13,  2008 - Jul 22, 2023

Always eager to please.  Never a moments trouble.   She was as good a dog as we could have hoped for.   She’ll always be in our hearts.   Goodbye LuLu

In just under 3 months.  First Gracie then Lucy.  The perfect traveling pair are gone.

Friday, July 21, 2023

Titanic Museum to Windermere, UK


We left you last while we were floating on a converted barge in Belfast Harbor.
We were only there for two nights; Friday and Saturday.   We were staying in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast, so named due to the fact that the Titanic was built and launched about 1,000 feet from our barge.

On Saturday I had made a 1130 reservation to visit the Titanic Museum which is  located on the site of where the ship was built.

On the way to the museum, we passed by the ship below.   The SS Nomadic.  This ship was the actual tender that ferried 1st and 2nd class passengers who were boarding in Cherbourg, France out to the Titanic, plus other ships of the day.   It is the only surviving White Star Line vessel.

SS Nomadic in Belfast Harbor

The painting below is a depiction of the Nomadic pulled up to Titanic.   You can see the size difference.

The plaque below explains how passengers would make their way to Titanic from all over Europe.

And below - an account of waiting for Titanic by a first class passenger

The upper first class lounge on Nomadic.   There was an additional lounge on the deck below.
The floor pattern is the same as was found in the First Class Saloon on Titanic.

First class bar in the lounge. 

The second class lounge.   The walls did not have the ornate carvings, nor the fancy flooring

A first class ladies sitting room.

One deck above the upper lounges is the promenade deck.

We were bumping against our 1130 time slot so we walked to the museum just a couple of hundred feet from the Nomadic.

Titanic Museum Belfast

The museum not only explains about the building of Titanic and its ill fated voyage, but also tells the story of Belfast.

Unfortunately, even though they sell limited tickets...  they still sell way too many and the place was way over crowded.   This totally ruined the experience.   There was places we just had to bypass because it will filled with people and would have to wait and wait more.

Below they did have an exhibit of what a first, second, and third class cabin would look like.

A smaller 1st class accommodation on Titanic

A second class accommodation on Titanic

3rd class accommodation on Titanic

We had an early appointment the next morning with our ferry to Scotland.   We were in line a 0630 and by 720 we were on board the Stena Superfast III and headed to the lounge.   Like our crossing to Ireland, we left the dogs in the car.

I booked a premium ticket which included the Stena Plus lounge.   Its a bit quieter, and has a free breakfast.    We got 2 nice seats by a window overlooking the bow of the ship.

Stena Plus Lounge on MV Superfast III

Just prior to our departure the Celebrity Apex came into the harbor.

It's only 2.5 hrs from Belfast to Cairnryan, Scotland, so before we knew it we were back in the car and disembarking.     There was a rest area just a mile or so from the ferry, so I pulled in to let the dogs stretch their legs, and give Annie a bit of breakfast since she did not have any when we left in the early am.

The UK has lots of nice little "rest areas" on thier "A" roads.  Nothing fancy, just a place to pull over and rest for a bit, but they are often found every few miles or so it seems.

Since we had time to kill before we could check into our place in the Lake District, and we were in the general vicinity, I did a quick google search and found that the Lockerbie Air Disaster memorial garden was just a few miles off of our route.

Downed by a terrorist bomb on December 2, 1988, the 747 was enroute with a plane filled with people returning home for the holidays.   This included 35 students from Syracuse University who were returning home for Christmas while studying at the schools overseas campus.

Called the Lockerbie Garden of Remembrance, it is located within Dryfesdale Cemetery about 4 miles outside of Lockerbie.   It pays homage to the 270 lives lost (259 on the aircraft and 11 on the ground)

In addition to the main stone tablet, there are numerous other plaques paying tribute to individuals on the plane.   One from Pan American World Airways is in tribute to the crew lost, and one by a wife and mother remembering not only her husband, but her son and daughter as well.

Plaques to the Pan Am Crew and others

Besides the garden, there are a few other smaller monuments in the local area as bodies, and parts of the plane were scattered over a wide area.

Thoroughly somber after leaving there, we had a couple of hours more till we arrived our our next place.   A nice apartment on a marina on Lake Windermere, the UK's largest lake.

Went fishing and caught a nice Shaggy Trout.

(PS - Annie is wearing a harness - no worries it doesn't hurt or bother her.)

Bowness on Windermere Marina, the view from our deck.

There is a nice footpath from here to town so we made the trip a few times walking along the lake.

Lots of Geese and Ducks along the shoreline.

We've been here before so I was not as active with my camera as I should have and I did not get any pictures of the town.   It's a very busy tourist town with lots of people, restaurants, and shops.

While there, Annie brought be back a flock of young college co-eds.

Good girl Annie!

An interesting thing about the area is that the RAF and USAF use the Lake District for low altitude flying practice.    Each day, several times a day, we would hear the roar as several fighter jets, one after another, would make a low pass leaving the lake and passing almost directly overhead a low altitude.

There were several types of British Aircraft, plus F22's or 35's, plus each day a wing of F15's would come hotdogging by.  These F15 pilots knew that the town of Windermere below was loaded with tourists looking up at the screaming jets, and I'm sure they were having a blast showing off.

F15 heading this way

I could not see the markings as they went too fast, but I'm pretty sure the F15's would be from the USAF 48th Fighter Wing, as the Brits do not fly F15's

And passing by pulling G's

And again, like a broken record, I can't believe it but another week has gone by.

Tomorrow - Saturday - we have a 3hr drive up north to Edinburgh where we will pick up our Motorhome that we are renting for the next 10 days.   We will be renting a Swift Edge 464.    Quite a bit smaller than the PartyBus that we are used to, but the roads over here would just not allow something that big.   This is more like what we started out in, and is still bigger that the truck camper (The Dog House) that we had a few years back.

After we pick up the Motorhome, we have another 3 hrs drive up to our first stop near Ballachulish, where we stayed 4 years ago.   Lots of beautiful territory ahead, and more new experiences for the new pup.

Our friends Craig & Vickie are driving up in their motorhome and the 4 of us will travel together and visit the west coast of Scotland in the Scottish Highlands.

See you next in Bonnie Scotland!

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Kinsale to Belfast


Hello again!

Continuing on our Irish Road Show. since our last check-in, we left Kinsale and traveled to Kenmare for a week, then moved on to Galway for 5 days, and just yesterday we arrived in Belfast, Northern Ireland.  
We were in Ireland for a month and boy that month went fast.    Tomorrow we are on the ferry bright and early at 0730 headed to Scotland.

But before I get too far ahead of myself, let me back up and start with our departure from Kinsale enroute to Kenmare.

It is only about a 90 minute drive from one to the other, and we had lots of time between our check out and check in times, so we took the scenic route along the coast.

Here is the trip map from our spotwalla page that now shows our whole time in Ireland to date

Some of the views along our coastal route from Kinsale to Kenmare

Our route took us on a loop around the Beara Peninsula.    The photo below is where we started to round the corner and head back east along the north coast of the peninsula.

Our plan was to continue east along the coast.   Then take a mountain road over Healy Pass to the south coast, and back track a bit east to pick up another highway that would take me north to Kenmare.  

But my GPS had a different idea and sent me up this tiny cow path.    As we started to climb into the mountains I said to Kate that something was wrong here and I was going to look for a place to turn around before we got too far up and had to back our way down.

About that time, a man with young daughter came down the road on a 4 wheeler and confirmed my suspicions.   He told me a good place to turn around was right around the next curve and that it would be a good idea to take advantage of the opportunity which we did.

So we back traced our way around the Beara Peninsula, and found, and took, Healy pass from South to North instead.

Starting up Healy Pass

Goats keep watch over the pass

Almost to the top

Healy Pass looking back down from where we came

Looking down on Glanmore Lake from the pass

Around 4pm we arrived at our home for the next 7 nights.
A really nice place about 3km outide of Kenmare just a short drive down a 1-lane road

This place has ranked up there as one of our favorite houses, plus the County Kerry area is really great.


For those down times, we had a great Sky Satellite package with lots of channels.   We've gotten into watching some old Sopranos and Game of Thrones reruns.    The only ding against the place is that internet is supplied my a cell hotspot that is only putting out about 3mb of download speed.   Plenty for email and such, but no streaming.  We are down in a bit of a valley so a booster would be helpful here.

Expansive yard with lots of outdoor furniture

We went into Kenmare several times.   It was a pretty little town with easy to find free parking in the council car park.

While there we made another trip to a vet in Killarney.   Our 4th since leaving NY.  One night Lucy was chewing on a bone and what we thought was part of her molar appeared on the floor.

ARK Veterinary Hospital in Killarney

The good news was that it was not a piece of tooth, but a broken off piece of tartar.   The vet gave Lucy a thorough going over and pronounced her teeth to be sound and in good health.   She went over Lucys previous bloodwork from Wales, and said everything looked good for a 14.5 yr old dog.   Our total vet bill was only €50

Driving back from Killarney we took the scenic route thru Killarney National Park.   Before the week was out we'll have driven thru the park several times.

Driving N71 thru Killarney National Park

Its a very scenic park and attracts visitors from near and far.

Meanwhile, Kate keeps telling me to smile when I take a picture so I gritted my teeth and really beared my choppers here.    

The constipated look

Sisters view in KNP

N71 on the S side of the park

One day we set aside to drive the Ring of Kerry, and another day to visit the Dingle Peninsula.   Kates Irish side came from the Dingle Peninsula and we wanted to visit the small village near Fenit from where her grandmother emigrated.   It was this grandmother who entitled Kate to her Irish Citizenship.

Ring of Kerry drive

Ring of Kerry drive

The village where Kates Grandmother came from is still pretty tiny but larger than the 17 or so properties that were listed on the 1901 Census.   The only RC Church in the immediate area is now in a state of disrepair having suffered during the Troubles.   The graveyard next to it would most likely be where her ancestors would have been buried.   I met some caretakers there and upon discussing with them, they pointed me to the side of the graveyard where they would have most likely been interred.   Unfortunately that side of the graveyard is older and in complete disrepair with broken, eroded, and damaged stones.

On the newer side however, there were plenty of Fitzgeralds of newer vintage and perhaps one of them is a descendant of her grandparents.

Churchill Graveyard - not sure if this is a relative.   Need to research.e

Driving around, Kate was moved knowing that she was looking over the same fields, ocean, and mountains that her ancestors would have.   Mostly unchanged in all of these years.

Views around Fenit

It was about a 90 minute drive from our house to the Fenit area.   Add to that the time spent touring along the way there and back, it was starting to get late.    So again we took a detour thru Killarney National Park.

Sister view in clear weather

A day was also set aside for a visit to the Killarney downtown.   It's such a nice small city.   

We had lunch at an outdoor cafe on this street

Pedestrian mall

Before we knew it, another week had passed by.    Seriously - where do they go?
It was time to hit the road for our next port of call, Galway.
It was about a 2 1/2hr drive going directly, but again, I took the longer route along the coast.
This took us most of the day and included a ferry crossing of the Shannon River near where it empties into the Atlantic.

The Ferry Queue

It was a 30 minute crossing and about 10 minutes into the trip I spotted a pod of dolphins swimming off of the port side.

Dolphins in the Shannon River seen from the ferry

At the halfway point we passed the ferry going in the opposite direction.

One of our stops along the way were the Cliffs of Moher.   They were very scenic (and popular) but unfortunately the light was the worst to capture them.   

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

About 5:30p we were rolling up the driveway of our home for 5 nights.   This place was a small annexe, which means attached apartment to a main house.   The owners were extremely nice and it was a good base of operations for the 5 days we were in Galway.

The Latin Quarter, Galway

We stopped at a pub in the Latin Quarter for a dog friendly lunch.   Ireland is dog friendly but not as much as the UK.    Most places will allow dogs outside, but few allow them inside, unlike in the UK where they can come inside in many many places.

Pup pups

While in Galway we walked to the Spanish Arch.   It is part of the old Medieval wall.   A section that guarded the port facilities.

A day trip took us north of the city towards Connemara National Park.    Along the way we stopped at the bridge that was used in filming the old film "The Quiet Man" starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Harra.

The Quiet Man Bridge

John on the bridge

Kate on the bridge

Further down the road we came across Kylemore Abbey.   Unfortunately it was dog unfriendly so we had to bypass it.
Kylemore Abbey on the lake

Further on we entered Connemara National Park.   A mountainous area, was quite pretty but I think Killarney NP was much prettier.

View in Connemara National Park

Driving in Connemara National Park

We timed our arrival back to near our home in time for a late lunch/early dinner.   So by 4 pm or so we were rollup up to Morans Oyster Cottage.   We grabbed a picnic table in the covered section in case of rain.    Soon we were having the obligatory Guiness.

Followed by Oysters Thermidor and steamed garlic Mussels for starters.    We polished that off with Fish & Chips for me and Kate had a whole lobster.

Right on the estuary, the restaurant has a great view.

Thursday was our last day here and it dawned rainy.    We'd had plenty of light rain while here but this was the real thing.   To wet for us dry landers to venture about.    The weather forecast was now for several days of this.

So I set up a few places that we could drive to and view.    The first was a very scenic castle called Dunguaire Castle.    Noted to be one of the most photographed in Ireland due to its scenic perch above the water.      It is called a castle but actually it was not for military purposes, but rather was simply the home of a wealthy individual.  Having your own castle home in those days was the rage.

Next on the list was the Thoor Ballylee Yeats Tower.    Built during the 14th century it is a fine specimen of that style and period.   It was restored by and home to the famous Irish Poet WB Yeats, and is where he wrote many of his works.

Another 5 days passed in the blink of an eye and as I write this, I am sitting in our new home away from home.   A converted barge floating in Belfast Harbor Marina.     It was a windy, rainly 4 hr drive here and when we arrived it was still coming down in buckets.    We had good rain gear, but the dogs....  well that is another story.     Fortunately today it is mostly sunny with just a few periods of light rain here and there.

The living room of "The barge at Titanic"

We are staying in a section of Belfast known as "the Titanic Quarter.
Titanic was built and launched here.   The photo below shows the Titanic Museum in the background.  
The building with the slanted walls.    The Harland & Wolfe Shipyard was right behind that building.  

Also, just to the right of the museum you can see Titanic Studios, where Game of Thrones was filmed.
A lot going on in this small area.

A view of the barge - looking down from the living area to the galley

Looking out over the marina as evening sets in.

Today we visited the Titanic Museum and some of the other Titanic sites right here around the marina.
But I'll bring you up to date on all of that next time.

Tomorrow we have a 0730 ferry departure for Scotland.   Leaving the ferry on the other side we have a 3.5hr drive to the Lake District in England.  

We have to be in the Ferry Queue by 0630 so its off and running in the am.

We'll see you in on the other side of the Irish Sea.