Victoria in Autumn

I had an opportunity to travel to the state of Victoria in Australia for 5 days in the Autumn this year. After two years of Covid and lockdowns in Victoria six times, it was very interesting talking to the people who have lived through this time of lack of social interactions and loss of business and jobs across the state. There is a feeling of loss about it all and how much people have missed out on seeing people and being barred from visiting loved ones who, under normal circumstances, would have been able to see each other. Gatherings were halted and people retreated to their homes. And now, even though the restrictions have been lifted, not everyone is ready to socialise again. There are masks on many, but not all wear them on public transport. Some youngsters said they had already had covid so were immune for three months so were not worried about getting it again, because their experience with the virus was mild and not a major issue for them, so if they did get it again, they were treating it as a flu-like virus.

Like a lot of older Australians, I am cautious and wear my mask in settings where there are crowds. I have not had Covid and I have also had a second covid booster and feel relatively safe and also a flu jab too. But I am not prepared to take any risks, and wear a mask in my job as a secondary teacher.

So on with the journey. I landed in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria. The weather was predictable, there was a coolness in the air but it was not very cold. I prefer to travel with a certain winter feel in preference for to a hot climate, especially a humid one.

I spent day catching up with my very good friends and preparing for the gathering I was here to enjoy. A significant birthday.

It was terrific seeing familiar people and meeting new ones.

The following day, I caught the VLine train – a country train as opposed to the suburban network. So for an hour I travelled north to a largish town called Seymour. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seymour,_Victoria

The area has has industries surrounding horses, cattle, sheep and wine. The population is around 6 000, so a small but significant sized town in Victoria. From there my friend who met me at the train drove me through the countryside, west on Pyalong Road towards Kyneton. On that journey we came across this lovely trestle bridge.

Historic Trestle Bridge is a Rail Bridge which was constructed for the Victorian Railways in 1890 by McDermott & Sons
along the Wandong-Bendigo line, south of Pyalong.

My friend who drove me to Kyneton’s grandfather, used to drive trains along this route and over the trestle bridge.

Lancefield

Lancefield was a lovely historical town with traditional buildings and great photo opportunities. Established round 1865. www.aussietowns.com.au/town/lancefield-vic

Really loved the garage with its old world charm and clever marketing. He has embraced the history of the the town and capitalised on the tourist interest in historic and rustic decorations. The only disappointment is that the Hay and Grain store was not! On the corner facing the street there were steep steps into a very small, new age style gift shop with incense, candles, trinkets, glass balls and soaps. Not what I expected. Just around the corner on the side of the building was an old wool press and that was all that showed any of the history other than the structure itself.

Wool Press in Lancefield
Lancefield Hay & Grain Store

After a walk around Lancefield, we had a lovely muffin and eggs and bacon for my friend and a cup of tea at the Aspy Cafe – which I might add was very tasty and fast to the table. It was lovely. The staff are friendly and efficient. #AspyCafe

Kyneton

The town was established as a supplier of goods for the goldrush in the 1850s and there is an example of the buildings of the time in

“Kyneton’s oldest surviving stone building, the Church of England Rectory, located at 61 Ebden Street, commenced in 1850 and is a rare surviving example of a pre-gold rush dwelling.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyneton

Old Kyneton Rectory, Victoria, Australia – also now, luxury accommodation.

The winter is approaching and all around Victoria the deciduous trees are colouring their leaves. Reds, and browns, yellows and orange. Beautiful against the often grey skies.

Trentham

My next stop was the town of Trentham where some long time family friends live. Our parents were friends and as a result we spent time together as kids and have remained relatively close since. I really love seeing them, now all our parents are gone. It’s a link to our shared pasts and a welcome one.

The following information was copied from https://visithepburnshire.com.au/trentham/

So go have a read if you want. It’s a lovely village. With charm and history and it is just great to look at. It has a tendency to get snow often, sometimes enough to make snowballs.

Cool country. Spud country. For a tiny town, Trentham packs a punch. Not just what it is famous for – but for its lesser known gems too.

A quaint village retaining many historic buildings and a charming streetscape also boasts drop-dead pretty gardens and shady tree-lined streets (not to mention the main street has even featured in several movies, but Trentham is too modest to boast of such things).

Situated half way between Woodend and Daylesford and located high on the Great Dividing Range, Trentham’s soil is fabulous for growing some of the country’s best spuds along with a veritable cornucopia of seasonal produce. From chestnuts and cherries, to heirloom fruits and olives, there isn’t much that won’t flourish in this rich volcanic dirt.

In June 2021 there was a damaging storm and Wombat Forest was decimated. Most of the forest is ‘new’ growth as opposed to old growth. The reason for this is during the goldrush years in the 1850’s there were huge demand on the forest for timber for shafts and tools for the gold diggers. So as a result not much of the forest in very old, and so was nt strong enough to handle the huge winds.

Well that is the end of this little visit to Victoria in the Autumn. I highly recommend it.

Direct ACTION

Direct ActionDirect Action by JD Svenson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. Real, honest, relatable female lead. Beautifully and descriptively written. Pictures painted with finesse, informative and fun to read.

This is the debut novel by my cousin and I am so excited for her to be a ‘published author’. Go get yourself a copy of this book and enjoy!

Click on the green Direct Action to read the publisher’s blurb.

My 10 Step System For Building An Online Business From Scratch”

Click below

https://checkout.samcart.com/referral/10-secrets/rqEEIZeGwBGQipsA

Limerick, Tipperary and on to Ballybraid, Co, Wicklow. Ireland

Monday 7th October – My dad’s 90th Birthday-We are travelling to Ballybraid Co, Wicklow – 2 days in a cottage with no traffic, or cold and no wifi, – we didn’t know we had to pay until after we got there and then could not contact the owner so left it at that .

We had a great time driving from Doolin to Limerick, and Tipperary to our final stay in Ireland at Ballybraid.

The day was planned to be a 4-5 hour drive across the country from the west to the east. So goodbye to Storyteller’s Cottage.

Storyteller’s Cottage in Luogh South near Doolin

We left the Burren , in County Clare and headed across the island to the ‘garden’ of Ireland, County Wicklow.

First we went to Limerick and then Tipperary.

Limerick – Erson’s Lane

So Limerick was a lovely stop on the drive, where we had morning tea and a wander.

Our journey was unhurried and full of new villages and fields and sights for me to photograph.  

Limerick
Beaches
Tipperary
Tipperary

The lunch was terrific, vegetable soup and brown bread. The bread is heavy and wholesome and so tasty with a nuttiness I wasn’t expecting. It is the norm, with soup here, it appears.

Narrow roads

At one stage we passed a dairy farm and the road was closed with a gate opposite us and a procession of black and white cows were meandering across the road from the milking shed to their night accommodation.  It was lovely watching the young woman in charge move around her charges and a young boy employed to move cones and ropes off the road once they had passed.  Just lovely to see.

We drove from Doolin to Glenmalure – to a lovely cottage called Ballybraid in the Wicklow mountains near to the Wicklow Mountains National Park.  The trees and undergrowth are thick and constant in this area.  We found the drive in once off the motorway to be long, winding and narrow.  We stayed on the N76 as it zig-zagged across the country.  The last hour was on narrow winding roads and we were very pleased to arrive at our accommodation.  

See, winding roads!

We had an ‘air code’ to put into google maps to find the cottage.  We arrive and started reversing out of a very narrow lane, and our hostess arrived just in the nick of time and lead the way up a very potholed steep driveway to our little cottage.  It is a lovely spot on top of a hill looking down into the valley across dark glossy green fields dotted with white sheep with blue markings, who eat incessantly and move around all over the incline outside our door.  

The cottage is two-story with a steep wooden staircase at the back of the house.  There are three bedrooms upstairs with an en-suite in the master.  It is centrally heated and it is so warm and cosy.  Each of the windows has shutters inside to close over the 18 inch window sills.  It’s very effective at shutting out the light, sound of the wind and cold.

The interior is clean and there is wood panelling on the ground floor ceiling, on open fire with exposed brick to the roof on the wall where where the fireplace is located.

There is a washer and drier so we caught up with our laundry. We have been self-catering for about 5 days now so have all the food we need to stay ensconced in this lovely place and get some rest.  

An old farm building

The only flaw in this plan is that we will have to drive back along the long and windy road – maybe not as far because we are going in a different direction – towards Dublin for our 8:40 flight during the dead of night.  We have found that Google’s estimates of how long routes will take to drive is not accurate and usually only half the time it will take.  So, we plan to allow four hours for our journey so that we are well on time for our flight.

8th October 2019

The cottage is part of a working farm and this morning the sheep were taken to be drenched.  The farmer arrived with two black and white border collies enthusiastically rounding up the flock.  It took about two minutes for all the sheep to be in a group and moving forward towards the drenching area.

One of the sheep stayed sitting down in the grass and one of the dogs went back to get it.  It stood and staggered forward as if its front legs were damaged.  It then sat down.  The farmer instructed the dog to leave the animal where it was, and he then went and looked more closely, again it struggled to its feet and then collapsed and the farmer left it there and went towards the job to be done.

Afterwards, the dogs came just inside the driveway gate with the farmer and milled while another man in a van appeared with a brown and white border collie on the edge of the driveway. The brown dog was herding his flock down the driveway with the man in the van close behind.  The farmer signalled to his two, now filthy dogs, to stay with him while the sheep were processing down the race. 

Soon they were gone, and the farmer’s mob were back grazing where they had been this morning.  

Such a great show to observe from the kitchen window in our cosy cottage at Ballybraid, Glenmalure.

The hostess of the cottage has written a history book about the area called Glenmalure: The Wild Heart of the Mountains.  A valley and its People by Carmel O’Toole, Glenmalure, County Wicklow, Ireland. It took her 5 years and it is magnificent.

It is a fascinating read and I am hoping to get a copy in due course.

Printed in Ireland by Colourworld Print Ltd, Kilkenny. Edited by Richard Beeler.

Belfast to Luogh South

Story Tellers Cottage – Doolin

4th October 2019

A decent drive today – 251 miles = 404kms and it took 9 hours and we only stopped for lunch and morning tea! Its not like Australia lol.

Ireland is wonderful – in spite of the weather. No-one seems to care and just gets on with their day. It’s a little uncomfortable at times, but hey, life’s like that. Everyone has a jacket or an umbrella so there is really nothing to complain about. We are very well equipped and have not suffered much so far. My high tech pants just let water sit on them until I stamp my feet for it to get off. They dry in a very short time. Very weird but clever.

We had a weather warning to consider yesterday – Hurricane Lorenzo was heading our way, at 3pm. We were heading into the storm for a while and then went south – as planned – and avoided most of it. The roads were wet and windy but we were not staying in its predicted path so it was all ok on the day.

This is the track of Hurricane Lorenzo and we drove across the top from Belfast to Sligo then south and we are staying where that black dot is, so only a little way south and the winds have been relentless.

I slept through it, I might add, but have been up since 5:30 am and they keep blowing ferociously. This house is solid and cosy so no dramas really but it certainly is windy!

Long drive – but so much to see.

We hit the road earlyish around 9am to avoid too much of the peak-hour traffic. At the beginning of the trip we were on the M1 and made good progress through lovely green fields and good quality roads.

We did see a lot of farm animals and found those roads you hear about that are narrow and tricky to pass on. Well add rain, wind, fading light, unfamiliarity and its quite a challenge. But we were up for it!!

Dark, gloomy day but we don’t mind
Roadside flowers
The ‘green’ of Ireland we have come to see.
Stopped for a closeup of these berries which are everywhere.
The stock doesn’t seem to mind the weather.

Morning Tea in Enniskillen

There seem to be two parts to Enniskillen – one old, traditional and one more modern and commercial looking.

We found a Tesco store and fuel and bought what we needed and headed to Jenny’s Coffee House and Bakery. The best!

Sooooo yummy. Had tea for two and a scone with jam.

Onwards to Sligo and we found a lovely pub called The Harp Tavern.

There were moments of sunlight o the way.
Some beautifully maintained cottages and some not so.
Heading towards Sligo
Roads are good and windy-not straight and yes the wind was blowing too, just for clarification.

Lunch in Sligo

Lunch or Irish Stew and Mushroom soup. Yum!! Also, served by the lovely Ann who could not understand why businesses were shutting because of a “little wind”.
Interior of the Harp Tavern
Sligo, Sligo

Then we continued south,, towards County Clare, and along roads made for smaller vehicles than two of the modern sort. The roads are pretty good, albeit a few cracks, potholes and flooding. We made good time in spite of our newness to this type of driving.

Rally driving without the gravel.

The speed limit on the skinny roads was 80kms but in the rain and conditions generally neither of us got over about 60kms per hour. Safety first!!

But then you round a corner and happen upon sights that just don’t seem real.

The ruins of Kilmacduagh Monastery near Gort, County Galway

Kilmacduagh sits at the edge of the Burren, dominating the rural landscape some 5km south-west of Gort, in Co. Galway. In the medieval period, it was the most important church of the Uí Fiachrach Aidhne, a powerful local dynasty who held lands that stretched from the Atlantic coast to the mountains of the Burren and Slieve Aughty. By the twelfth century, Kilmacduagh had an enclosed settlement with the main church at the centre, at least three subsidiary churches, a round tower, the grave of the founder, Cólmán mac Duach, and a well dedicated to him. The settlement was transformed when the main church was enlarged as a cathedral and a monastery for Augustinian canons was established in the thirteenth century. http://monastic.ie/history/kilmacduagh/

Gort cows.
What about a castle instead?

Wonderful landscape just keeps changing.
As the road narrows – we are almost there.

Lorenzo burns slowly in the north

Galway and surrounds

Don’t ever believe the Garmin SatNav – it lies. We ended up travelling for and hour and a half to cover 18 mins worth of distance. We knew this because we had done it correctly the day before. Later we instigated the google Maps app instead and found it to be superior. But really we didn’t care, we were looking around at the scenery anyway, and we had no time restrictions so we enjoyed the detours too.

Saw some more drywalls and some stock
I really like cows.

We drove between our place and through to Ennistymon again but then went on to a different coffee place in the Main Street.

Little Fox cafe – very green and environmentally responsible.

Had a great day driving around Clare County. Some of the roads are a little tricky to navigate but patience and concentration is required.

Slowly, sharing nicely……

The weather was better today and we headed out towards the Cliffs of Moher and decided we had seen enough from the Doolin jetty so decided not to pay for the parking and walk in the blustering wind for half a mile to look at cliffs. So on we went, the sat nav must have taken offence at our lack of inclination to pay to see cliffs so sent us on a long and winding road to Ennistymon – where we were yesterday. But today there was no rain, so clearer pics and more fun.

After morning tea we headed north as we had planned to and arrived about 40mins later. We found Galway lovely. Lots of old traditional buildings and decorated streets. So glad we went to see it.

Lunch venue – Sea food restaurant of the year 2018. We had fish and chips and it was beautiful.

Some lovely buildings all over Ireland and the blue stone appears all over the place. It really looks solid and long lasting.

Out and about in County Clare – Ireland

Weather today – foggy 15°C Drizzle – It is Ireland 🤪

We went to Doolin today which is the village 3 miles down the road. One the road through Doolin there are lovely shops and a pub called …. where there is live music every night of the week.

Street view
Street view
Interior of the pub with walls covered in US $1 notes and patches from Fire and Police personnel from all over the world.

Further down the road is the ferry to the Aran Islands and a view from the carpark towards the cliffs at the start of the Cliffs of Moher.

After that we went into a couple of stores which sell Aran Jumpers from the Aran Islands and there were lots of choice but none for me. I would like one but haven’t found ‘the one’ yet.

The view from our cottage
Same view – looking at the Atlantic Ocean
The Cliffs

Next we drove to Ennistymon (Ennistimon) – depending on the sign you are looking at. The rain was constant but my resolve is strong to get images for my blog and my memories.

On the way to Ennistimon
Main Street in Ennistymon
Our lunch venue – Ennistymon

During our time in Ennistymon we bought some bananas from a stall in the Main Street. It was a smallish stall but it had a large range of fruit and veggies. But the thing that intrigued me about the place was the HUGE range of countries that the food came from.

Veggie Stall
My bananas are from Costa Rica – Panama
A lichen on a tree in the street.
Colourful house in the street
Dry walls in Ennistymon
More fabulous dry walls
If there is a tractor on the road and you can pass – pass.
Fog in the afternoon – that’s our view today!

Molly’s Yard, Belfast

Our evening out and views on the way.

Come this way…..
Converted stables
Courtyard
Cosy interior with fire
Table for 4
Rib-eye M-WD , Pepper sauce on the side
Rib-eye Medium with pepper sauce.
We didn’t .

www.mollysyard.co.uk

Located in the heart of Queen’s University Quarter, Molly’s Yard is a beautiful restaurant in Belfast.

If you are interested in the history and restoration of this lovely place there is a video on the web-site above.

We walked to the restaurant – about 10 mins from our hotel. We saw some very eclectic places and lots of ‘students’ from the Queen’s University.

Nice piece done in silver to catch the early evening sun.

Belfast

Sunny and coolish

Today started slowly – we had booked a taxi tour for 11am so we took it easy, and I blogged and we took time to do quiet things.

The taxi tour is about the political history of Ireland, Belfast, Britain.

 I never really understood what the conflict in Belfast was about. Finally we understand! Dermott outlined what happened and where it is today. Black Taxi Tour included Shankill Road and Falls Road to see the murals of the troubles that occurred here. We saw the infamous Peaceline, a wall built to keep Nationalists and Loyalists apart and in the process divided the communities. Also, the women who were involved in the troubles – separate from the men.

We went to the Eileen Hickey Irish Republican History Museum. https://eileenhickeymuseum.com

Some tension remains but most people just want to get on with their lives peacefully.

The themes of most of the murals is human rights. The catholics support the Palestinians and the Protestants support the Israelis. The women who were imprisoned during the troubles used large handkerchiefs with notes written on them like letters from their loved ones who visited them. There are numerous examples in the Women’s museum.

A replica of a prison cell from the prison in Armagh – with a genuine door and bed from the prison
The image on the left wall is a handkerchief signed by all the women in the prison. There is a folder full of examples with messages of hope and later political messages from the outside to the prisoners.
From the door to her cell.

A very enlightening and very thought provoking tour. Glad we did it.

Wild and Woolly in Ireland

Dublin to Belfast

We grabbed our car and headed north towards Howth 12 miles away – a fishing village. They take their fishing seriously in Howth (pronouced like growth)

It’s a lovely village on a hill down to the sea with charming stores and classic churches.

On the pier where the boats were moored, restaurants were unstacking their chairs at the numerous tables outside, in a very optimistic fashion. Twenty tables at one place on a day like this during the week?? Must be a lot of fish eaters around.

Next, we headed further north along the coast and saw some really stormy seas. There was a fisherman out about 750 metres from the shore. Must be either pretty keen or some fairly fantastic seafood to catch to endure the conditions today!

Wild weather
Fishing? Really??

We stopped for morning tea in a lovely town called Malahide – it was raining and windy and cold so it was obviously time to eat.

Once inside, a woman, about my age at the next table, commented on how horrible the weather was. I agreed and she picked up my accent and said – “Oh, you’re a visitor, I’m sorry..” meaning you don’t want to talk to me about it – it was funny, and we did continue to talk about the weather and Malahide and what a great place to live it was. She then said and its the 1st of October (the significance of the date to her didn’t mean anything to me, however I did say) – and it’s my birthday – at which point she said ohhh, smiled and put out her hand to shake mine. It was a lovely moment. People can be so nice.
We continued along the coast through Malahide and found some stupid young men (my assumption) fighting to right a windsurfer. Two in the water and one coming to help. Again – if you’re strong enough I guess the conditions could be fun, maybe.

The tide is out on a windy day
Love the worn paint on this fence.
My version of the Mary McAleese Boyne Valley Bridge – different day – great effect lol.
Mary McAleese Boyne Valley Bridgehttps://www.irelandbeforeyoudie.com/irelands-most-iconic-bridges/

We travelled the A1 for most of the journey north until we reached Newry. The significance of this city is that its just over the border into Northern Ireland and my great-great grandmother, as a 12 year old, Anne Simpson came from here as a free settler and travelled to Sydney, Australia by ship.

Newry marked in black circle.

Spent a little time in Newry looking around and found the town hall and a lovely bridge over the river Newry. Newry River passes through the city of Newry and empties into Carlingford Lough near Warrenpoint.

George Preston High Class Florist
Armagh Down Bridge over Newry river
Mudamurphy Bridge and Town Hall

We had lunch in Newry at a fun place with a huge menu of very interesting food. The place was Art Bar Funkel run by Aiden and Sinead @ 3 Monaghan St, Newry BT35 6BB. Recommended.

Food was hot, tasty and fast and the staff lovely and friendly.

Dublin, Ireland

We have a White Toyota Corolla Hybrid and its great. GPS included.

We have been here for about 36 hours and we have covered a fair bit of ground. We collected our hire car at the airport from the very efficient staff at #Sixt. They have a hire car compound 2 mins from the airport so after we did our paperwork we went downstairs and turned left and found the very large shuttlebus to take us to our car.

I have found our experiences of Ireland and the people here to be all positive – even the rain doesn’t matter when you are prepared for it.

Monument of Light – O’Connell Street, Dublin

The Dublin Spire is a stainless steel monument measuring 121.2 metres in height. Designed by Ian Ritchie and completed in 2003 and is the tallest sculpture in the world. Located where Nelson’s Pillar once stood which was destroyed in an IRA bombing in 1966. Info taken from Where Cards.

O’Connell Street

We walked a total of 5.5 kms yesterday and for the second half of the walk we were rained on. The rain gear held up well, but there was a little water in a sock or two by the end of the day.

The Luas – Tram we used to get to town and back. Fantastic, efficient. Wikipedia

We had lunch at the Wynn Hotel in Abbey Street after we left the tram. Then looked at some shops in Abbey St and O’Connell. Lots to buy.

We wandered all over the place first towards Temple Bar and were given the heads up about a tea place in the area called Queen of Tarts. We loved it.

We walked all over the place and managed not to get lost, and just enjoyed the buildings and sculptures and happened upon Molly Malone.

I have enjoyed the cobblestones as long as its not raining – slippery and the all the pubs with their brightly coloured hanging flowers. So lovely and fresh.

Then we turned left to go over the bridge towards Grafton St. Beautiful shops – all the labels. Then we went to St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre but not for long – was just on a mission to replace my phone case which was falling apart.

Tomorrow we are off to Belfast and places on the way.

Where have you been?