Saturday 1st May and Sunday
2nd May 2004
Well having been back from Turkey for only two days I was off again.
I had to go to Cheltenham to collect a bag of clothes that I had left there when I first arrived.
It was full of singlets and the Marlins jacket Brett gave me in his first season - more on that later.
The bus ride to Cheltenham was three hours and I figured if I was going all that way I may as well do something while I was out there.
After a bit of looking around I discovered that Stratford-upon-Avon was only about an hour away
My friend Amanda decided to come with me
I also decided to see a show while I was up there and booked a ticket to see "Romeo and Juliet" at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre
We got to Cheltenham and had a traditional 'bangers and mash' lunch at a pub and then walked to Enids.
Unfortunately she was away for the long weekend but had left the bag out for me - it was bigger than I remembered and Amanda and I had to carry it together - lucky she came with me.
We then had to wait for the bus so we went and sat in a coffee shop for a while.
We got to Stratford and caught a taxi to Eversely Bears Guest House
It is a B&B with a world famous teddy bear collection - they were everywhere - in the front garden, on the light switches, on the door stops, the stair banisters!
We basically had to change and go straight to the Theatre which we could see from the front door of the B & B but it was about a 10 minute walk away.
Amanda and I were sitting in the cheap seats and were in different places because she decided to come after I had booked but that was no problem.
We had a really good view and I really enjoyed the show
The actor that played the Prince was great and I also impressed with "Romeo and Juliet" (as I should have been I guess).
After the show we walked out of the theatre which opened onto a walkway by the Avon.
It was quite foggy and looked lovely.
We then went and found a place for dinner and completely stuffed ourselves with pasta and cake and went home.
Breakfast was served between 8.30am and 9.00am in the morning so we went down to fresh juice, coffee, tea, cereal, bacon, eggs, tomato, toast and beans.
It was really good.
We then headed off for the day (after the owners kindly agreed to let us leave the bags there so we did have to lug them around all day - that would have really sucked!!)
We walked by Halls Croft but didnt go in
It was a lovely old house lived in by Shakespeares son-in-law who was the town doctor.
We then headed down to Holy Trinity Church as that is where his grave is.
It was a Sunday morning and there was a service on so we werent allowed in until 12.00am so we wandered back towards town along the river.
It was so beautiful.
There were lots of parks and families and little boats and ducks and weeping willows
It was really pretty.
We got to Shakespeares birthplace and after taking photos outside we went in
It was a lovely old house as you will see from the photos
The floors were old and creaky and leaning and it was really interesting to see the old furniture.
After hanging around in the garden out the back a bit we went and found a pub for lunch
After that we walked the 2 miles or so to Anne Hathaways Cottage which is where his wife grew up.
It was my favourite of the two.
The gardens were beautiful and the thatched roof is so different to anything you see at home
We wandered around in there for ages and took more illegal photos but it was lovely.
Crooked, creaky floors upstairs and sloping stone floors downstairs.
A guide told us they used to clean the chimneys by dropping a chicken down from the top and she would flap her wings the whole way down!
I thought that was quite funny!
We walked back towards town and brought an ice cream of a street vendor and then went and sat in the church grounds by the river and ate them watching boys trying to be cool taking girls rowing on the river.
Watching them try to go back upstream was very amusing!
We then went into the Church and saw the graves of Shakespeare and his wife.
We werent allowed to take photos in there and as it was a church we werent brave enough to take illegal ones!
After that we went back to the B & B and got the bags and went to the train station to go home.
The train ride through the country was lovely and then it was back to London.
I wasnt feeling very well and had sneezed about a thousand times but Stratford-upon-Avon is beautiful.
It would be a lovely place to visit in the summer and picnic by the river!
Now back to the Marlins jacket.
The only reason I brought it was because it was warm and I bought coats that fit me as soon as I got here.
I no longer own the jacket but it has gone to a very very good home.
Johnathon who I met at the Nevern is an avid sports fan.
He collects team jerseys and we often go to the pub together to watch a game.
I offered the coat to him and he was thrilled.
It fits him because he is quite tall and I know it will be very well looked after.
I will try and get a photo of him in it to put on the site.
Wednesday 5th May 2004
Gonna book another trip today.
Going to Belgium at the end of the month
There is a long weekend so me and Amanda are going to Eurostar it to Brussels and spend a day in Brugges as well.
It takes just three hours.
Going to book at lunch time.
Friday 7th May 2004
Do you like the sound of Switzerland for Christmas?
I do...thinking about it and maybe going with Amanda.
A girl from work has just been and it looks so nice.
Amanda wants to go and I reckon it sounds great.
Monday 10th May 2004
Belgium is booked!
I am going on 29th May for 3 days with Amanda.
The tour company is called Hallam Anderson Tours and These are the same people we went to Paris with.
The trip is called "Brussels by Eurostar"...another train ride!
Amanda and I are also taking a trip to Bruges on the last day.
Everyone who has been there says it is great!
Monday 10th May 2004
Celebrity sighting last night and no it wasn't at the restaurant
It was on the Tube!
First things first and that is Fifteen Restaurant
It was really quite nice but not at all what I thought.
There are two parts to the place and we were in the cheapie bit.
The actual restuarant bit was much flasher - we peeked in!
Anyway for starters they brought out fresh italia bread and a dip made of balsamic vinegar and olive oil - so good.
For a main I had nice ravioli freshmade filled with crab meat.
It was nice but I would have preferred more than 4 pieces!
The desert was a chocolate tart which was also nice.
It wasn't too expensive either because we weren't in the Trattoria but we had fun.
Amanda and I left before everyone else as we had a bit further to to and neither of us were drinking and were a bit tired.
We got to the tube station and a guy walked past us - quite close - we both went "Hey you're that guy..." and he turned around and winked at us
He got on the next carriage
We got on the train and said "I can't believe we just saw a guy from Neighbours"
There were three English girls opposite us who said "where?"
We pointed him out in the next carriage and they went "Oh my god it is him. Its Joe Scully"
Amanda and I were laughing
We decided that we had to get a photo so we watched him
When he got of the train at South Kensington Station we followed him and asked him for a photo
He was very nice about it
We decided that we must have been away from home too long if we got excited about seeing someone from Neighbours!
Tuesday 11th May 2004
Ireland tomorrow - to be sure to be sure!
Wednesday 12th May to Sunday 16th May 2004
My visit to the Republic of Ireland
Wednesday 12th May 2004 ------(simply click on the date to see photos of everything Tanya mentions below)
Left work at about 3.45am to head to the airport - once again that part of the trip was longer than the flight but I got there.
The bus dropped me off right around the corner from the hostel and I pretty much went straight to bed.
Thursday 13th May 2004 ------(simply click on the date to see photos of everything Tanya mentions below)
It was a very early start with the bus leaving at 8.00am so it was up early for breakfast.
Talked to a few people at brekky and it seemed that everyone was going on the tour.
There ended up being 14 of us in all and 7 Aussies - two couples and two blokes on their own and me.
Our tour guides was very very Irish his name was Joseph Patrick Mulligan.
He looked like a little leprechaun and he was all about the craic (Irish word for fun and laughs and good times).
He sang a lot of old Irish songs and generally kept us entertained.
Our first stop was the Rock of Cashel.
On the way there we drove past the place were they filmed some of "Braveheart" (which was actually set in Scotland)
and the part of Ireland where the top race horse studs are that is where Melbourne Cup Winner Vintage Crop came from.
Then we got to the Rock of Cashel.
Joey stopped for us on the highway so we could take some shots before we got there.
It did look pretty special perched up on the hill.
Just as we were getting ready to go again a massive big tour coach parked right in front of us to let its passengers off for photos as well.
Joey was a bit cranky at this and got around them and then stopped right in front of the group of tourists blocking their view it was funny!
The Rock of Cashel up close was pretty cool as well.
We went in and wandered around and took photos.
The views over the valleys were lovely.
The next stop was Cahir Castle in Cahir.
It was like Caerphilly Castle in that it was in the middle of a town right next to the road.
It was nice inside and there was lots of climbing and running around to be done.
There is a nice photo of me on a set of stairs that went nowhere but they were very skinny and looked like they should have been in a castle.
We then went to a pub in Cahir and had a the biggest roast beef meal that I have had in a long time (although I still dont think it would have been enough for Brett!)
After that it was back on the bus for more driving (nothing is very far in Ireland so the driving wasnt too bad)
We drove through County Tipperary at which point Joey started singing to us Its a long way to Tipperary.
We drove past the last port of Titanic before she hit the "ice cube" (Joeys words)
and past Michael Flatleys house (Riverdance).
Then we got to Blarney Castle.
The grounds of Blarney were beautiful.
The Castle was lovely too and still in quite good condition.
We climbed all the way to the top through some very tight-fitting round staircases and then we lined up to kiss the Blarney Stone and be blessed with 'the gift of the gab for seven years'.
Gregg went first because he isnt good with heights and you have to hang out upside down to get to it.
I think I went next I like heights and this was fine.
There were steel bars to hold and to keep us from falling because the little old man holding our legs wasnt going to be able to do much at all!
Anyway not sure if I can spin a good yarn yet but I will keep you informed.
There was another guy Brett, who kissed the stone and after doing it we could all see his legs were shaking - he doesnt like heights at all!
The last drive of the day was to Kilarney our stop for the night - we did the itinerary backwards.
The hostel (another Paddys Palace) was okay there were six in a room and everyone in my room was on the tour.
We showered and went and had some dinner before heading to the cocktail bar for cheap drinks.
There were three Paddywagons in that night so as well as the hostel being full the bar was too.
The cocktails were nice but I only had one I had a bit of a headache.
Everyone then headed to the pub for some traditional Irish music (of which we caught about one and a half songs) then the pop music started.
My headache got worse so I headed back to the hostel with two girls and took some drugs and went to bed.
Friday 14th May 2004 ------(simply click on the date to see photos of everything Tanya mentions below)
Another early start - ready to go by 9.00am.
At that time we were picked up by two jaunting carts (horse and open carriage) for a ride into the Kilarney National Park.
Other than by foot it is the only way to get there.
It was lovely.
The morning was a bit cool but not too bad and the fresh air was wonderful!
The seven Aussies were in the first cart and the rest in the back one.
The driver even stopped and took photos of us all on seven cameras!
The park is beautiful there was a nice house just on the outskirts of the park that was lived in by the man (an Irishman) who designed the Pentagon in the US!
We saw cows - Ireland is full of them and I think I saw more cows in the four days I was there than I have in my whole life, deer and rabbits - all very cute!
There were bluebells everywhere (they are very sweet flowers) but none of my shots worked as I was moving in the cart when I was trying to take them.
Then we got on the bus and drove to our next stop which was lunch.
To get there we had to cross the Shannon Ferry and pass through Trallee which a very small town but it has 58 pubs in it.
At one place on the main street there were four in a row on one side and three in a row on the other side!
We stopped for lunch in Lahinich which is apparently a surfing town.
Make your own decision when you see the photos.
We had lunch in a pub that is run by a guy that used to be in the TV show "Father Ted".
It was a very funny show and Joey said that we had to call him Farrder the whole time.
Then it was off to the 750 foot Cliffs of Moher.
This place was good cool.
Joey wouldnt let us out of the bus until he had drilled into us the fact that if you fall you die and not to be 'stewped'.
He then told us to make sure that we go down onto the ledge and hang over the edge.
He contradicted himself slightly as we had to climb over safety barriers to get to the ledge but we did it anyway!
I am not afraid of heigths at all - in fact I love it but this was high.
We got down on our hands and knees and hung-crawled to the edge of the cliff then layed flat on our stomachs and poked out heads out.
I got a bit of a head spin actually!
Then it seemed to me that there were far too many people hanging around near the edge and I could see someone getting knocked over!
Went and sat way back!.
One of the girls on our tour was a gymnast and we had her do a handstand on a bit of a rise (way back from the edge) but it looked like she was doing it on the edge.
After we all got back on the bus safely we headed off through the Burren (which is a limestone plateau).
There were rock walls built on them that went nowhere and served no purpose.
They are called the famine walls.
They were built during the famine in Ireland when the Brits, when trying to break the spirits of the Irish and have them renounce their Catholicism, made the men, women and children build these walls.
Joey stopped the bus and we climbed out on the Burren.
It was like being on the moon - so different to the Ireland I thought which was rolling green hills and that sort of thing.
It seemed so pointless and Joey was very passionate when he was taking to us a bout it.
It did bring the mood down a little bit then he just did something else crazy and got us going again.
The last drive of the day was into Galway.
He told us a bit about the history of the place including that of the Claddagh ring - there is a brochure in the parcel I sent.
We got to the hostel which was really nice.
There was one American girl who didnt mix with anyone on the bus at all.
She sat on the bus with her headphones on and as soon as we got off it to do stuff she took off on her own.
She didnt have lunch or dinner or a drink with us the whole time.
She also mentioned to the South African girl on the tour that she felt left out - you have to help yourself out a bit.
I was on my own and had the best time!
Anyway, at the hostel one of the group was going to have to be in a room on their own.
She said that she would do it - jumped in so fast it wasnt funny.
She was thinking that she would get a single room (which we all knew she wouldnt) and instead she found out she was going to be in a room with no one from the tour that she knew and there was going to be boys in there which she wasnt happy about.
I saw her in the hallway and she was looking very upset.
She couldnt understand why hostels werent arranged according to sex and age and she thought she was going to be stuck with a whole lot of young drunk boys - I checked the bag tags of the people already in the room and there were girls names and boys names.
I offered to swap the rooms with her.
She asked if I really minded.
I said that I had absolutely no problem with this as I preferred being in dorms with boys and girls as they are usually more social.
I said that I did it most places I stayed.
I told her that I couldnt guarantee there were no boys in the room I was already in but at least there were two girls from our tour on there.
She was very appreciative and I had done my good deed for the day - nice hey, Mum?
We all (minus the American girl) headed to a pub for dinner.
They had reserved a space for us and we had dinner.
They played some funky music and the place soon filled up.
Then the Belfast Car Bombs came out - half a pint of Guiness, a shot glass half filled with Baileys Irish Cream in the bottom and the top half was Irish whiskey.
You drop the shot glass into the pint and then skull the whole think.
The last thing you taste is the Baileys which is really nice but the rest of the grog just rocks you.
Joey (who was a drinker) wouldnt do one and the American girls did two.
The rest of the group only did one far too dangerous!!!!
Meagan wasnt feeling well so her, Mai and me went back to the hostel.
There was no one in my room yet so I had a shower and dried my hair and got into bed before anyone got back.
I think I had a great room!
Saturday 15th May 2004 ------(simply click on the date to see photos of everything Tanya mentions below)
Wasnt a very long day today so Mai and I got up early and went shopping.
The bus left at ten so we had plenty of time.
We both wanted a Claddagh ring.
We went to three jewellery shops before I found one that fitted my fingers as they are meant to be worn on your little finger and mine are little.
Anyway Mai didnt find one she liked so I was the only one who brought but I was happy with my purchase.
We got on the bus and headed to Clonmacnoise which is where the best preserved Celtic crosses in Ireland are.
They were very big and very beautiful.
They had been moved inside a museum and they have replicas in the church grounds but they still looked lovely.
Then it was back in the bus for the drive to lunch at the Hiney Pub.
We had to drive through the Bog of Allen.
It was massive.
It is where they get all their fuel for the winter.
Joey had this song that we had to sing about bog, a hole, a tree, a branch, a twig, a leaf, a nest, a bird, an egg, a chick, a wing and a bug.
It all had actions that we had to do as well.
I was slightly concerned about the fact that Joey was doing this and driving but we were all (except the American girl) laughing too hard to worry about it.
We were all exhausted by the end of it.
Lunch at the pub was great - steak and guiness pie with fresh bread and butter - so good.
We went for a bit of a walk around the town.
I went into a little shop and brought and icecream.
I was talking to the guy that served me and he said Are you Australian by any chance.
I said that I was.
He picked up the paper and said Look one of your girls is a princess. She was just a commoner and now look.
It was quite funny and he was very excited.
I said Yep, thats Mary from Tassie. Shes a top chick!
Anyway he thought it was quite funny.
After that we headed back to Dublin.
It was a nice drive back through the greenery.
Joey took us into Phoenix Park which is the largest enclosed urban park in the world.
Hyde Park here in London would fit into it five times!
It was huge and we saw deer and rabbits and there is a zoo there and two cricket fields and five soccer fields.
The place was packed and Joey said that it was a nice place to go and relax and look upon heaven.
It turns out that you can see the Guiness Brewery from the park and that is what Joey meant by heaven!
It was then back to check in at the hostel and say good bye to everyone.
The seven Aussies were all staying at the hostel again so we checked in and arranged to go for a drink.
We ran in to the group of American girls outside and Joey as well.
Joey came and met us for a drink and the American girls came too.
We watched the Eurovision song contest.
It was really only me, Mai and Brett that took much notice but we did pick the winner!
It is really hilarious and it was being held in Turkey so they kept showing shots from around Istanbul and the country side and it was quite funny to think that I had been to a lot of those places!
After the pub shut we headed into the Temple Bar area which is the party place.
There were people spilling out of the clubs into the streets and it was so hot in the bars that we all walked straight out of the first one we went into and decided to go back to the hostel.
We all went into the TV room and put a movie on but my eyes were drooping badly so once again the girls went to bed and left the boys to play!
Sunday 16th May 2004 ------(simply click on the date to see photos of everything Tanya mentions below)
I was woken up by the sun on Sunday morning.
It was such a beautiful day and no clouds in the sky that I got straight up as I didnt want to waste any of it!
I put my bag in the storage room and headed off to jump on an open top bus.
I was told that was the best way to get to places as the Guiness Storehouse was a little way out of town probably too far to walk.
Mum will like this bit the places I wanted to go - Trinity College and Kilamohen Jail didnt open until after lunch and as I had to leave for the airport at 3.30 - 4.00pm I had to do the Guiness Factory first at about 10.00am on a Sunday.
I wandered around a bit down in the displays but I just really wanted to get upstairs and check out the view from the Gravity Bar and have my pint for morning tea!
Which I did.
The view was awesome and the beer was just as good.
After that I got back on the open top bus and went to the jail.
They filmed In the name of the Father there and the shots of the inside look just like they do in the movie.
Anyway - the jail was built to hold 200 people and at one point during the famine times there was 9000 people held in the jail.
The youngest recorded was an 8 year old girl and she was in there for stealing a coat in the winter to keep herself warm!
It was just so sad.
There was a lot of history there and we also went into the execution yard.
There was a cross where a whole lot of Irish rebel leaders were killed.
There was one at the other end of the yard to and our guide said that only one was killed there as he was too wounded to make it from the gate to the other end so they sat him in a chair next to the gate and shot him.
It was very very sad.
After that it was to Trinity College to view the Book of Kells.
The college was lovely and the book was well worth it.
It was written in 800 AD and is so beautifully illustrated.
The College library was awesome too.
There was a wrought iron staircase going to the first floor which stopped me in my tracks.
It was lovely.
You cant actually touch the books.
There are very old but well preserved.
The library was a beautiful old building.
After that my alarm went off and it was time to head back to the hostel to get my gear and go to the bus stop then the airport then home and my bed...very very tired!
It was great fun and Ireland is a well worth a visit.
Belgium is next - chocolate and more beer!