Matt’s Week 4
Well what a great last week we have had and how long ago seven days feel. We started off spending a day out in Dublin followed by a night in with extended family in the south of Dublin then on to the early ferry back across to Liverpool and onto Lancashire to spend a couple of days with Mazza and Bazza near Chorley. From here we headed south stopping at the loudest campsite ever and then on to Devon for Jo’s birthday celebrations……and now we need a few days off and to slow the consumption of red wine which has flowed so freely in the last week.
Dublin is a great place, not too big and not too small, you feel after just one day of walking around you really get to know it. We stayed at a local authority campsite on the outskirts of town. It was a bit run down and noticeably more expensive than elsewhere in Ireland but I guess that’s the price you pay for location. After our first night we took the bus into the centre of Dublin and this is where I had my first taste of Dublin’s slightly erratic and very irregular bus service. We were getting the 8.35 and had rushed up to the bus stop scoffing breakfast quickly to be there on time only to wait half an hour for the bus to arrive. The funny thing was that even in a fairly built up area in what you would think would be a commuter zone the bus only ran once every hour and fifty five minutes!
In Dublin we found a good coffee shop to sit at and get our bearings and then Els and I split up with her looking for a vintage dress and me just wandering slightly aimlessly taking in the vibe and beat of the place.
Another reason for coming in to Dublin was to try out a restaurant called the Hot Stove, a good friend (Toby) of my brother (Kenny) works there and the food looked great and came highly recommended. We had a great meal, me with black pudding and butternut squash followed by slow cooked salt beef finishing with chocolate and lime torte and Els with haddock and poached eggs followed by braised lamb and artichoke finishing with a passionfruit style eton mess. It was indeed fab and added to the champagne to start and nice wine with the meal it really felt like quite a treat. However the meal became even more palatable when Kenny who had recommended that we go there had kindly paid the bill! Cheers mate!
Having eaten heavily at lunch you would think a nice relaxing evening before the early ferry the next morning would of been in order but the evening before we had had a phone call from Pauline (El’s Aunt from London) asking where about in Ireland we were as they were over in Dublin staying with Alexis’ (Els uncles) brother and sister in law in the south of Dublin and asked if we would like to join them for dinner. Needless to say we had said yes so after taking the 4.53 bus back to the campsite (the bus left on time to the second)(well done Ellie (I had made her jog for about ten minutes to get there on time)). We had a quick tidy up and prepared for our journey, all of 10 minutes down the road, to the Blackrock district of Dublin (in the end it took 20 minutes as like in many big towns and cities you have to drive miles past where you want to go just to find somewhere you can turn right!)
The evening was so nice, we got to know a great family in Louis and Mary and their children Kate and Ian and also Joanne a cousin. They have a beautiful home and garden full of life which acts as a great canvas for their large and highly impressive contemporary art collection.
During the evening there was great chat, great food and great wine, this evening was the perfect last night in Ireland and really summed up the warmth and friendliness that we had encountered across the whole of the Emerald Isle.
The next morning, not long after going to bed it was time to head to the ferry port, the ferry was more of a commercial type than we had been used to so only about 20 cars and us (the only motorhome) were surrounded by hundreds of arctic size lorry trailers and trucks. When we had been loaded it did seem as though there was a bit of confusion as to where to put everyone and the small army of Chinese workers had insisted after going up a long very narrow ramp that we turn around as we needed to be facing the other way to disembark and after a numerous point turn we locked up and headed for the lounge, which being a commercial trip was not as big as you would think but did have the bonus of free food and drink! When the time came to disembark we arrived back to the car deck to find a slight problem, it appeared that after we had parked the remaining vehicles coming on to the ship had been unable to turn and therefore were facing us. After a lot of head scratching and some considerable indecision it was decided that a huge, brand new arctic lorry would have to reverse down the long narrow ramp to make enough room for everyone else to get off. The driver was needless to say unimpressed with this decision. The manoeuvre being done with no wing mirrors (as it was too narrow) and the Chinese workers shouting instructions to the bemused and now slightly miffed driver led, needless to say, to quite a long delay!
From Liverpool dock we headed to Addlington near Chorley, Lancashire to El’s aunt and uncle Maureen and Barry who we affectionately call Mazza and Bazza (although until this post I am not sure if they know that is what we call them!) There is three things you can guarantee with any visit and they are; political discussion, good book recommendations and very liberal red wine pouring from Barry. So for two nights we talked the world to rights and consumed the liberally poured red wine. During the day we walked to Rivington Pyke to take in the breathtaking views all the way from Blackpool to Manchester.
From Lancashire we headed south to Burgh Island to celebrate Jo’s 21st birthday stopping off for the night at one of the least memorable campsites so far….it was only a week ago and yet I have no memory of what it was called, in fact my only memory of the place was that it was near Weston Super Mare and close enough to the M5 to be able to tell which radio station each vehicle had on as it blasted past. This has served to teach us a valuable lesson in where and where not to camp for the night. Who knew at 4am the M5 was quite so busy!
The next day we headed south into exeter to get the last of the things we needed for our hotel visit (me a shirt and El’s a pair of shoes). We then headed down to the south Hams district of Devon to a campsite at the end of what we thought at the time must be some of the thinnest and most awkward stretches of road in the country…… (well we would until tomorrow).
The following day we left the campsite at the end of the tiny road for our 10 mile journey up the coast (of which about six miles were down narrow lanes (Heidi is 2.2 meters wide)) annoying every other road user and forcing many reversing manoeuvres and hedge visits. We met El’s parents Barry and Sally and two brothers Phillip and Joe along with two of Joe’s close friends Hendrick and Russell. We duly took the arranged 4×4’s across the sand (low tide) to the hotel, a 1930’s art deco building sat on the side of its own island just off the south coast of Devon. All the rooms are named after famous people of the era including many of whom who were guests. Our room was called Josephine Baker and for those of you who don’t know she was an erotic dancer famed for being the first black woman to star in a major motion picture. She was also well known for her costumes, one of her most famous made entirely of pearl encrusted bananas!
It was a real experience and unlike any hotel I had visited before, there was a real sense of mystery (Agatha Christie had written here) and also of occasion (black tie to dinner is a requirement).
It was great to get to spend time with family and friends and browse around such a well preserved 1930’s buildings that still contains many of its original features. There was champagne, cocktails, an abundance of fine food, games on the beach croquet on the lawn and plenty of time to hang out and chat, making it a great way to mark the occasion.
So now it is time for us to go back to Heidi and re-start our adventure, but where to? The plan has yet to be made…time then to find a field, pitch up, get some wifi and work out Where To Go.