Musings

No cats

Cats safety sign

Cleverest traffic safety sign of the day (and poorest-quality snapshot): “Cats have 9 lives. You are not a cat. Buckle up.”

Sunset golden

Compelling sunset; unenhanced, original color—so golden and rich.

Two statistics

Rose brillian

We drove 1926 miles in Ireland. That was over 16.5 days (average 116.7 mi/day).

Hydrangea blue tinted

One day that we climbed to several fortified ringforts, my Fitbit recorded that I climbed 169 flights of stairs. My phone recorded that I climbed a mere 14 that same day. The fact that, as I understand it, the Fitbit counts 8.5 feet as a flight, and the phone uses 10 feet doesn’t account for that discrepancy. And I don’t think either was close to accurate.

Final leg

Heathrow Term 3 ladies

One of the larger women’s rooms I’ve been in—and still there was a line! The row of doors is so long it’s impossible to tell if a stall is occupied without walking down to check…and there was a staff-member doing just that…. [Heathrow Terminal 3, the main toilets.]

Inflight map

And, we’re off! [Why include shipwrecks on these flight maps?]

Many shaped

Remarkable Bakery’s “Many-Shaped Miscellaney of Biscuits for Cheese”—yup, all different, all three of them. [I thought the crackers better than the cheese.]

GA gold dome

Lookee there! The gold dome! One more bus ride and…a short walk…and home!

Lovely trip!

Art embedded

Building site

Coffee-sipping view. Accuracy underway.

Buxton 1835 Emancipation

This dates to 1835, and honors the emancipation of slaves in 1834, erected by MP Charles Buxton. The fountain inside doesn’t seem to function any longer.

Tate ART

We spent our energy today on Art, presented first at Tate Britain, then at Tate Modern.

Cerith Wyn Evans 2017 Forms

This neon installation by Cerith Wyn Evans, and commissioned for this space this year. It’s called “Forms in Space…by Light (in Time).” Wyn Evans says it addresses flows of energy….

CWE view up

View from below of one section of “Forms….”

Henry Moore RecumbentFigure1938

Detail of “elbow” of Henry Moore’s “Recumbent Figure,” 1938. It’s of Green Hornton stone, which to me is shades of brown.

Cornelius Johnson Unknown Gentleman 1629

This is the lace collar of “Portrait of an Unknown Gentleman,” by Cornelius Johnson, 1629. I admire the skill it takes to make this detail seem so real.

NathanielBacon Cookmaid c1620 25cabbages

Ditto—so real-looking. Cabbages are part of Nathaniel Bacon’s ~1620–1625 “Cookmaid with Still Life of Vegetables and Fruit.”

Arthur Hacker Annunciation 1892

Compelling face by Arthur Hacker, 1892, “The Annunciation.”

Commuter boat

We took a vessel like the blue-and-white one up-river to the Tate Modern.

Ben from river

En route, we saw Big Ben tower from a vantage point we’ve never enjoyed before.

Like architecture

Wouldn’t you know that I’d find architecture-like modern art compelling? For shame, I didn’t note the artist/title/date.

Bride picture

We headed back toward our bags, stashed at last night’s hotel, along Fleet Street, then Strand. I assume this was a wedding photo, but it could be a fashion shoot.

Trafalgar square

We found Trafalgar Square busy with tourists and people just off work. More bride-outfits. In the central background is St Martin-in-the-Fields, which in the 1500s was in the fields between London and Westminster; however, much of this building dates to the early 1700s. It is the parish church of the Royals and Number 10 Downing.

Admiralty Arch

Great light on the Edwardian Admiralty Arch. Note flag at half mast (squint), honoring the dead in Manchester.

Gin and tonic foam

Chipping potatoes

We had a last drive across the countryside in eastern Ireland, first Northern then Republic. AVS on this truck stands for Ace Vegetable Suppliers. The left promotional phrase is: Suppliers of the best quality chipping potatoes. I was ready to leave chipped potatoes behind (for a while only; potatoes are sacred food to me). And, in the process, leaving Guinness. Sigh.

Boyne ped bridge Drogheda

Along our drive we saw this pedestrian bridge just before we crossed the vehicle bridge…our last crossing of the Boyne.

GT palate cleanser

Once on the ground in GB, we took the train into London from the airport and unwound for a bit, deciding to eat our evening meal in a “good” place. Turns out we went for super-fine. We picked three courses and we were presented with seven different food offerings, several with multiple tastes. This was the palate cleanser after the main course. It had a soft cucumber sorbet (I think) on the bottom, with gin and tonic foam on top. I don’t know what kind of leaf decorated it.

Moscato

I even splurged and had a glass of Moscato with dessert. Yum. Yup, we changed our dining style!

London Eye

We walked down to pay homage to the Thames after we ate, and to let our courses and not-courses settle.

BigBen dusk

We caught the 9pm ringing of Big Ben, as it turned out. This was a few minutes later, after we’d admired the river and communed with a perfect light breeze.

Westminster Abbey towers

These are the towers of Westminster Abbey. They seem creamier/lighter-colored than I remember, but that’s probably just my lousy memory. [I have spared you many photos of the upper bits of buildings silhouetted against the sky; I’ve been rather obsessed with them this trip.]

Last full day

Flaggy RR bridge

Kinda overcast when we set out. We did have spots of sun and showers, the perfect set-up for a mellow day.

Bike racers

We came across a bike race with dispersed riders soon after we hit the road. Some were wearing bright anoraks…thankfully, they were going the other way.

StPaddys Armagh

It’s Sunday, so here’s the Church of Ireland Cathedral in Armagh. The RC Cathedral also honors St Patrick. The Archbishops of both sects are here and both are Primates of All Ireland (if I have it right). Armagh is historically far more of a center than it is today.

We still don’t know how to say Armagh. (Is it guttural?)

Armagh windmill

We found this six/seven-story ruin up Windmill Avenue, and indeed it was a windmill perhaps two centuries ago. No access; it’s fenced off. No informative signage.

Bike rack for two

Due west of Armagh is the pre-Patrick religious center, Navan Fort, properly Emain Macha. Folks don’t use much Irish around here, but the instructional materials at this location prefer the Emain Macha name.

Good thing the bikers weren’t headed here. This bike rack has a limited capacity.

Iron Age house reconstruction

We began with a visit to an Iron Age house, reconstructed and populated with this warrior, Fergus, and a bard named Sanka. Great fun!

Navan Fort building lump

The most unexpected thing that archaeologists discovered about these ritual features atop the hill is that the bump in the distance was the location for a series of timber structures. The largest, indeed the largest Iron Age ritual structure known in Europe, was built in 94BC (based on tree-ring dating). Before this hill became a ritual/construction site, a different hill was favored. Of course, later, the geographic ritual focus of the people living in this area moved to Armagh.

Navan Fort topo

This topo map may be helpful. I am standing on the left, lower feature (#1), and looking toward the right, major feature (#2). The white signs outline the outside of the hill outside of the ditch that encircles where the enormous soil-covered timber structure used to stand.

Plain Jayne sandwich

Lunch time: would you like a Plain Jayne sandwich, ham and cole slaw? (Did not buy.)

Faughart cemetery Brigids well

We moved on to the remains of a medieval motte-and-bailey castle (eroding; not pictured) and to the adjacent ruined church and graveyard. This is on the Hill of Faughart, believed to be where St Brigid (~451–525) was born and brought up. If she didn’t live on this ridge-nose, I’m pretty sure she must have come here. If, indeed, she was from what is today called the Hill of Faughart. Anyway, this dipping well is associated with St. Brigid. Leaving the rags tied to the tree is part of ritual visits here.

Bruce grave

The church walls are beneath the ivy at the far left and left center of this photo, left of the dark green evergreen. Just to the right of that dark green juniper? is a “flat” grave. The marker records that Edward Bruce (~1280–1318), brother of the Scottish king Robert the Bruce (Roibert a Briuis) is buried there. He died from wounds received in a battle in the lowland below this ridge nose.

Sunset lastnight

This is last night’s sunset, a bit prettier than the one tonight, and appropriate as we bring this chapter of our lives (trite trite) to a close and get those stray belongings packed into checked baggage, rather than in separate containers that can be stashed in the car, ready to be dragged into the next B&B.

Tired of ruins?

Cottage fireplace surround n table

We spent most of the day at a 170-acre living history village-and-rural-area that is paired with an indoor museum of transportation. We began in the rural area. At least a half-dozen stone cottages in different styles and dates offer the opportunity to think about heating/cooking with coal or peat turves and living in close proximity to farm animals. One cottage (no photo) even had a byre at one end and family space at the other—with no wall in between; maybe it was only used seasonally, however.

Spade smiths water powered trip hammer

We enjoyed a long chat with a spade-smith; he makes spades, not shovels (shovels are for loose materials). This is his water-powered trip hammer. 3K pounds of pressure per smack. No water flowing to make it trip today….

Ireland kinograph

And this is a shot from a 1940 news-reel/documentary about spade and shovel making in the town of Monard, County Cork. With water power and coal-fired forges. Laborers worked six days a week. On the seventh they went to church, played gambling games, and played music and danced. Ireland had a great diversity of spade and shovel types. Over a hundred, and then many different sizes of each. Diversity.

Johns angry geese

John tried a bullfighter move with these geese. No horns involved, thankfully, just hissing.

Horse moment

Me, I had a chat with this horse (we think in a field next to the museum property).

Begging burro nose

And we both had a moment with this donkey. One lady looked around for grass-not-nettles and fed her a small handful. Happy day for the donkey.

Cruck truss detail

This wall is cut-away and labeled to highlight the crucks—those curving beams that go up from the ground and support the roof beams. I think folks used ropes to bend trees to make the needed shapes. Crucks were also used in ship-building.

Simple rowhouse fireplace

Here’s the fireplace in one apartment in a row of village/urban row-homes with this small room downstairs, two teensy bedrooms upstairs, and a tiny yard out back with a water closet and coal bin, and a bit more room for washing laundry, etc. I thought this is the kind of place where TB would have spread quickly.

Carpenters shop

Look at the rows of tools etc. in this carpenter’s shop.

Co Donegal railways logo detail

Next we went across the highway to the Transport Museum. Of course, we started with trains. This is the shamrock detail on the County Donegal Railways seal.

Third class carriage

Here’s the third-class area on a train carriage. They had to pass a law in Ireland to make the railways put roofs and sidewalls on third-class spaces. They used to be like riding in a cart—just relatively low side walls, with riders fully exposed to the weather.

GCPBVR n T Co

Loved this stylized image of Giant’s Causeway and the cliffs that frame it even today. I think I read that this began to be a travelers’ destination in the 1700s. !!

1975MGBRoadster

Cars, too! An MGB Roadster, 1975 model.

RR bridge arch shadows drone

Droney made two short runs, and the Guru captured the lovely shadow from this long railroad bridge during the first one.

Winding things up

Ardboe high cross

I thought this was our “last” high cross of the trip, and then we saw a replica in a museum. Does that count?

Ardboe lilac

Also at Ardboe (no ruins of the monastery that was here), we found grave monument setters at work, and this lilac. Can you see the white spots in the first photo? And a couple of flies in this picture? Many bugs…a hatch. They weren’t house flies. Still annoying, however.

L shaped stoplight

Haven’t noticed L-shaped stoplights before….

Tailed sheep

Strange that all these sheep turned their tails toward us—and they have tails. Lots of that here, but plenty are docked.

Beaghmore stone circles etc

Last stone circles of the trip. These are the Beaghmore group.

Beaghmore partial drone

JCB and the drone captured some fine shots. This is just part of the area of circles, alignments, cairns, etc. Further, this valley is peppered with stone features. And without a doubt more are undiscovered beneath the peat. The peat is covered by brown and grey vegetation in the drone photo.

Tulach Óg defended entrance

On to the last ring fort occupied into the 1600s. This is a famous spot, as one of the last Gaelic kings (sub-king I’d say) was inaugurated here in 1593; his name was Aodh Mór Ó Néill. Aodh is Hugh in English. Mór means great. Aodh would have called this place Tulach Óc; today it’s Tullyhogue. Someone lived here in a wooden building into the 1600s. This is the entrance and the original entrance probably required a Z-shaped path between wooden palisades.

Hawthorn hedgerow

We’ve been seeing these blooming hawthorns everywhere—down hedgerows and here at Tulach Óc. The scent is strong.

Queens U Belfast

In Belfast! Here’s the formal façade of Queens University Belfast.

Garden signpost

Next to the core buildings of the Univ is the Ulster Botanic Gardens.

Palm house Belfast

This is the door to the Palm House. The plants were ho-hum. There was a HOT room, that made my chest feel compressed.

LordKelvin

A metal Lord Kelvin stands inside the main entrance to the BotGarden.

Ulster Museum outdoor sculpture

This is a sculpture outside the Ulster Museum.

Just periodic overcast, no sprinkles. Is this really Ireland?

Antrim coast, then inland

Road to Dunluce castle

This is the inland side of a promontory fort location, very defensible. The construction here dates to the same period as Donegal Castle that we visited yesterday. Visually, it looks quite different because the stuccoing (perhaps not the technical term) is gone here and not in Donegal. Anyway, the foreground is the original cobble street, discovered below the modern sod. Around me, the photog, are archaeological remains of the village that was outside the castle. This castle, far right and distant, was built/occupied by MacQuillans and then MacDonnells, Scottish landholders and traders. The village had a substantial Scottish merchant population, numbering nearly 300. There was an earlier castle here dating to the ~1200s. I suspect there may have been an earlier occupation, too….

Dunluce tourons

We arrived just after two big busloads of tourons. As we made our way to the ticket booth, we realized they were not entering the castle, only standing at the fence. Yay for the logic of bus-tour scheduling (?).

Dunluce chimney base detail

We took many detail shots of the castle and its setting. This is the remaining bottom portion of a fireplace surround, and the view through the hole in the wall of the next peninsula, covered with pasture and gorse. Strangely, it was not windy.

Dunluce galley etching

I’ve messed with the photo settings in an attempt to bring out an etching of a late medieval Scottish galley. Perhaps easiest to spot is an upright triangle, representing the sail, I think. At the bottom are a pair of horizontal lines indicating the ship, with a line of dots along the upper line. Perhaps you can see the upturned ends to the left and right.

Giants causeway upper

We went on east to a geological feature called Giant’s Causeway. It’s a basalt formation of hexagonal columns, broken and weathered on the tops. There are several folk tales about the formation; track them down if you like fanciful stories.

Giants causeway midway

This view is back at the bus turnaround. Many people take the bus down, or more likely back (uphill). We walked both ways. My fitbit has been giving me in excess of 100 flights per day over the last 10 days; not today, unexpectedly.

Giants causeway lower wave crashing

We spent some time watching the waves crash near the end of the formation, soaking in the sunshine. Just lovely.

Giants causeway tidepool

I found this tide pool with its brilliant green-yellow whatever-it-is. There are conical shells, too—barnacles? I don’t know much about sea-critters.

Giants causeway hexagons

Here’s a top-down view of the columns. Love the slight distortion of the geometrics.

Giants causeway

Here is a stand of the columns. So dramatic.

Dandelion with fly occupants

We spotted several dandelions along the return route to the parking lot, and even a few buttercups (I think), with flies camped out on them. In contrast, white flowers were bereft of flies. What’s the deal?

Bushmills industrial

We made a quick stop at the Old Bushmills Distillery. We thought about taking the tour, but it was priced at £8/person, and we decided to pass. Even if it included a wee tasting at the end.

WildDuckPub Portglenone

Here’s your daily pub shot. This is the Wild Duck in Portglenone. The town is on the River Bann, which connects the large freshwater lake called Lough Neagh to the sea. Vikings sailed up the Bann, and spent the winter of 840/841 at the monasteries at Antrim and Ardboe. Subsequently, they made camps other places around the lake from which they raided elsewhere in the interior of this part of the island.

Watch the weather change

Cloud on mountain

Even before we left the B&B, we’d had sun, sprinkles, overcast, repeat. That was the pattern throughout the day. As we rolled down the road early on, we spotted a cloud sitting atop this ridge. By the time we got to the end of it, the cloud had lifted. Sunshine!

Donegal Castle river

First stop: Donegal Castle. One part is 15th C; another is 17th C; the whole was refurbished in the early 1990s. For several generations this was the seat of the O’Donnell leaders. The town has encroached upon all but a small area immediately adjacent to the castle. In the foreground here is the River Eske.

Donegal great hall

The Great Hall has been partly furnished. The fireplace surround is 16th-C, installed when the Brooke family owned the castle; they did many modifications/upgrades.

Donegal great hall roof

The room above the Great Hall has these fantastic beams supporting the roof. The engineering seems similar to that of covered bridges, etc.

Rhodo CU

Several days back we started seeing rhododendrons in the roadside vegetation. The Guru discovered that they’re an invasive species here. Beautiful flowers, however.

Killybegs working boats

We passed by Killybegs harbor, a hive of activity on the docks, and moored boats and ships, plus sailboats. I think these two are fishing vessels, but that’s a landlubber’s hypothesis.

First Irish only place sign

This is the first big highway sign that we noticed that did not have the English place-names paired with the Irish. Still haven’t overheard people speaking Gaelic very often.

Fiber optics coming to rural Donegal

We think this is fiber-optic installation. We spotted over a dozen yellow trucks that were part of the installation crew, we thought. It will be a big change to this rural area of County Donegal. Note mountain in the background.

Slieve League cliffs

From Carrick (An Charraig on the sign above), we took a side road out to this viewpoint for the seaside cliffs of Slieve League (Irish: Sliabh Liag). These are twice as high as the famous Cliffs of Moher, at just a fuzz under 2K feet.

John the Miners bar Carrick

We returned to Carrick to turn north toward (eventually) Derry and Northern Ireland. This place is called John the Miner’s Central Bar. FYI.

Sheep roadside

Rolling along, only a few times we’ve driven in open range. Usually, if sheep are on the road, they have escaped through the fence. I think that was the case with this one and her several buddies (not pictured).

View N Glengesh Pass

What a view as we passed down the northeast side from Glengesh Pass (translation: Glen of the Swans). Don’t those rounded flanks reek of glaciation?

Log truck

We’ve seen a few log trucks. The logs seem short compared to what we’ve seen in the USA. They come exclusively (or nearly so) from tree plantations.

Speed trap van

It behooves you to notice these buggies. That camera sign may look like a quaintly historic model; however, it signals a speed check/trap. They used to have installations along the roads, but now there are just vans randomly deployed. There aren’t many, as this is the second one we’ve spotted.

Grianán of Aileach drone

Droney took to the air at Grianán of Aileach, a reconstructed stone fort just west of Derry (officially Londonderry), but on a high spot in the Republic. This view is toward the southwest, so it’s all the Republic of Ireland.

International border

Another rainstorm hit as we crossed the international border. Can you see the change in the pavement in the foreground? That’s the border. How will it change with Brexit?

Soon, the rain had stopped and soon after that the sun was out. We have been very lucky with good weather on this trip.