We spent the night in Fiumicno and then flew from Rome to London on the 31st August getting a wonderful view of the city on the way in bright sunshine. Summer had come! We transferred by shuttle bus to Gatwick (50mins) 50pounds total ($77) one way! The price of food and drink at the airport at Heathrow and Gatwick were much higher than their counterparts in Rome. Thank goodness we didn’t have to acclimatize too long to London prices before we flew to Dublin. The shuttle bus from the airport to Dalkey which also took 50mins only cost us a total of 18euros ($22)!

We also flew into Dublin to sunshine which was a treat. We stayed for three nights in Dalkey with Maurice’s cousin Dan. Dalkey is a quaint village with a lot of lovely eateries and specialty shops. The weather for the first couple of days was sunny/cloudy and no rain (although quite cool) so we made the most of it and went into Dublin on the Dart (the train which runs along the bay) and wandered around the city and into the grounds of Trinity College and St Stephen’s green where brides were having their pictures taken and the hardy Irish had their shirts off getting some sun – the men that is.

We stopped at the famous Bewly’s cafe which has been totally revamped (not to my liking) and could be run now by the Russian mafia by the look of the two young maitre D’s who were both about 6’3 and looked as though they had done a lot of work outs in the gym, all dressed in black with tattoos and shaven heads.

Dan cooked us a couple of lovely home made meals of salmon one night and a tasty Irish ham the second night.

On the Sunday we went over to Caroline (another of Maurice’s cousins of the same age) to have a few drinks and a meal with Barney her husband who had ended two days of being a tactician for the Irish National Sailing championships.

On Monday we dropped off most of the bags and went on Bus Iris to West Meath to meet up with our friends Des and Mary who were in Ireland for a wedding. We stayed with Mary (Mary’s sister in law). The house and grounds at “Foxbrook” are beautiful and it was lovely to see where Mary had grown up and to hear the history of the property and the area. The Mary’s and Des had arranged a great evening with about 28people – all family members (shades of Italy) with much food and wine.

The weather was wonderful since we arrived. We brought Summer with us to Ireland as well. Everyone has said what an awful Summer it has been with so much rain and some torrential rain so it is nice for the locals to have some good weather although it may change fairly soon going into late September and October.

Mary Eivers very kindly drove us all around the countryside and we went to Lillyput on the shores of Lough Ennell. Jonathon Swift made the name famous in Gulliver’s travels.

As we were taking photos, a white swan ( as if on cue ) drifted around the reeds to be photographed. We also went up to the house (now abandoned by it’s new owners) where Mary’s mother grew up. It was sad to see a once lovely house ruined by the elements. The house where Mary’s mother lived down the road has thank goodness been totally reconstructed and is in good condition.

We went up to Belvedere House in Mullingar County Westsmeath which is set in beautiful grounds and we wandered upstairs and downstairs. Further down the hill was an amazing folly called the “jealous wall” erected by Robert Lord Belfield who gained notoriety for imprisoning his wife for 31years on a charge of infidelity with his brother. The weather was nice so we could sit outside and have a picnic lunch.

Mary took us all up to Abbeyleix to meet Maurice’s cousin Paul and his wife Nell and we all had a nice lunch in the Manor House Hotel before we said our goodbyes and then Paul and Nell drove us up to their house in beautiful Clonmel. From their house you can see the moutain of Slievenamon and the lovely rolling hills. The enormous Bulmer’s cider factory is just down the hill. Maurice and I had a couple of lovely walks in the area and we went to

the”Railway Bar” one night and listened to some live Irish music. Paul and Nell have a very sustainable garden and a “Poly Tunnel” or hothouse where they grow herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers and they have many other vegetables in the garden. We also had some delicious fresh raspberries. It was lovely having such fresh produce. We had a wonderful BBQ one night with the neighbours and could also sit outside for some of the evening before it got too cool so we adjourned to inside the house where Mary one of her neighbours read us some of her poems that she had published. It was a real treat.

We then went onto Wexford to see an old friend of ours – Fritz O’Kelly – a franciscan monk who has been a friend of mine for 40years. He lived in Zambia for about 30years and spent 3years in Perth where I first met him. He is not your normal priest and has an amazing wit.

He is nearly 87 years old and has unfortunately had a recent stroke but he is still as sharp as a tack and still very funny. We stayed at the friary right in Wexford town and had a nice time with him and his fellow monks who made us very welcome. While he was in Zambia he used to write some very amusing and interesting newsletters on an old typewriter and copy them and send them to his over 200 friends worldwide. Some of these (there is enough material for another 3books) have been published in a book called “Love from Zambia” and we went straightaway and bought a copy.

We went back to Dublin and stayed with Caroline another first cousin of Maurice’s and her husband Barney who always make us so welcome. The have a lovely abode which many years ago housed the worker’s for the quarry in Dalkey. They have transformed two of the cottages into one house. It is a beautiful spot looking up into the quarry and Maurice and I walked up to the top of the quarry where we had wonderful views on a lovely sunny day across the bay to Howth on the other side of Dublin. There are some mansions in and around Dalkey and Kiliney which have fantastic views of the water. The economic downturn has reduced some of these to 1/3 of their value of a few years ago.

A five bedrrom/3bathroom house overlooking the water in Dalkey sold recently for 575,000euros – about $700,000 and there are two properties close by which have just been abandoned.

I was sitting in the sitting room at night and and happened to see a fox run by outside in the garden. They also used to have badgers coming into the gardens destroying the garden before Barney sealed it off. Maurice saw the fox the next night.

We have found cafes and restaurants have also lowered their prices and there are a lot of specials in restaurants such as 2courses for 12.95 or 15.95 euros.

We have found everyone we have spoken to in Ireland to be very helpful and friendly.

We repacked our bags and the suitcase that we had sent from Perth to Ireland was unpacked and the warmer clothes were packed into the one bag that we prepared for Germany, Sweden and Norway.

I knew we were leaving the country on the 13th September but didn’t check the day so we farewelled Barney and Caroline and Barney dropped us at the aircoach to the airport. We went straight to the check in to be told that we were a day early – it was only the 12th September! You can imagine how we felt – we landed back on the bus and Barney picked us up – the sheets were already on the line but they again made us welcome and we stayed the night on fresh sheets and repeated the process the next day. As we all said at least we were not a day late.

We left Dublin for Germany via London for the second time on the 13th September.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.