Archives for the month of: September, 2013

We spent the week in Dalkey and I did a bit of cooking as Caroline was not feeling very well with a dreadful flu.

Maurice and I did go to Carrickmines and Dundrum to the large shopping centres and got some bargains. On Thursday we drove to Bellucci’s restaurant in Ballsbridge where we had a nice lunch. Friday we went back to Dundrum and then onto the lovely little villagle of Enniskerry and had lunch. The weather was changeable with rain and mist and then we had a heatwave 23degrees! for a couple of days.
On Saturday the 21st we set off for County Wicklow and Brigid O’Grady (Maurice’s cousin) and on the way down we stopped at Enniskerry again and we had a delicious lunch  at Powerscourt (a  stately castle) which has been very tastefully converted into the Avoca cafe and gift shop. We took Amber, Brigid’s  Leonberger dog for a walk around Avondale house and vast grounds and the river where Amber had a great time swimming after sticks thrown for her. Brigid has Amber and two lovely cats called Ted and Doogle.
We went up to the Motte Stone (a left over boulder from the ice age) but it was too dark for good photos so we decided to come back the next day. Eoin her son joined us and we had a lovely dinner and chat until about 2am.
On Sunday Brigid took us up again to the Motte stone where I got some good shots of it and the beautiful 360degree surrounding landscape and we then went on to Glendalough (the second
most visited spot in Ireland) which is a vast natural reserve consisting of lakes and mountains. It was a warm and sunny day and we went for a walk around the lake and then stopped on the way back  at the “Wicklow Heather” where we had a wonderful lunch.
Brigid then took us to the original Avoca handweavers where the last working mill in Ireland is found.  We left Brigid in the late afternoon and the misty rain had just started for the hour’s drive back to Dalkey.
On Monday Maurice and I caught the “dart” (train) into Dublin city and to the “Chester Beatty” library which is located within the grounds of Dublin castle.  They have an amazing collection of early manuscripts and books from around the world.  After wandering around town all afternoon we caught the dart which travels along the coast to Dalkey.

We made our way to Kilkenny to see and stay with Maurice’s nephew Padraig (pronounced Porrig) Irish for Patrick.  Kilkenny is a beautiful large town with interesting shops and a wealth of coffee shops and restaurants.  We had a very good meal at the “Italian Connection” restaurant.  Padraig lives in a laneway right of the main street and it is handy to everything.  We met his lovely girlfriend Kathryn and went to a local bar where we had a few drinks.  The next morning we headed for Cork which was a journey of about 2 1/2 hours by the time we got to Eileen and Chris’s place for lunch.  They live about 20minutes out of Cork in the country.  We had lunch with them and their son Chris and it was nice to catch up with them after them being in Australia 5years ago.

Maurice then wanted to find “Model Farm Road” where his grandfather and father studied dairying and butter, milk and cheese production.  The old buildings are gone and it is a large technology park now but it was nice to see the area.  From there we drove around town looking for a parking spot (difficult again because of height restrictions) and parking on the street asked for parkiing discs.  These turned out to be a form of parking tickets that you could buy from a convenience store so we got one and found a parking spot for the evening.  We ate a nice light Japanese meal in a restaurant opposite the “Everyman Theatre” where we met Paul (another of Maurice’s cousins) and Nell to see a production of “Orpheus”.  The building dated from 1896 and was a beautifully ornate  theatre.  The play was excellent and the choreographer did a great job incorporating the members of the small orchestra into the play where they moved onto and around the actors on the stage.   We followed Paul and Nell back to Clonmel where we spent a nice relaxing couple of days before heading down to Wexford on the 28th September.

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We made good time travelling from Chesham to Holyhead in Wales to catch the ferry to Ireland at 5.15pm on the 10th September 2013.

The captain warned us that the catamaran would roll a bit as the water was fairly rough going out of Holyhead but we found that it wasn’t bad at all and the journey only took two and a half hours. We arrived in Dun Laoghaire and drove the hour to our friend Mary’s house where we stayed until Saturday. A lot of her house is covered with beautiful Virginia Creeper which has already started to turn lovely shades of red.
The day after we arrived Maurice came down with an ear infection and he went off to the doctor to get some antibiotics so we had a rest day.
On Thursday we drove with Mary to Warrenpoint in Northern Ireland where we could look across the water to Southern Ireland. David a friend of Mary’s played host to us and gave us a very interesting tour of the surrounding area. A friend of his Marcus Hay who owns a castle called Narrow water invited us all for coffee so we sat in the drawing room of the castle and had coffee with him and his two dogs – a tiny Jack Russell and an enormous Irish Wolfhound called Shakti.
There were several wreaths opposite the castle on a fence and David explained to us that during the height of the troubles in Northern Ireland a British patrol of 17men stopped next to a large truck laden with hay. This was loaded with explosives and 6 of the men were killed.
They saw a fisherman on the opposite bank of the river and thought he was the one detonating the bomb so they killed him. He turned out to be an innocent British tourist who was really fishing.
The others took shelter behind the wall at the entrance to the castle which was mined and they were also killed.
David then took us up to Kilkeen where there is a large divide between the British loyalists who fly the Union Jack and the Israeli flag on many lightpoles and on the other side of town the Nationalists who fly the Tricolour and the Palestinian flag. It is sad to think of this great divide where never the twain shall meet and people that still today have such animosity to those with a different view.
We stopped for lunch at the “Old Schoolhouse” cafe and then made our way back through lovely countryside (a pity about the rain and the fog)back to Warrenpoint.
We stopped in Newry for a bit of retail therapy before heading back to Ballivor.
On Friday we set out late to Blanchstown near Dublin to the outlet stores where we made a couple of purchases before going home to make an Indian meal for dinner. There were nine of us for dinner including three of Mary’s sons and we had a nice evening.
The three days went too quickly and we left Mary on a lovely sunny Saturday via Trim for the hour’s drive to Maurice’s cousin Caroline and her husband Barney in Dalkey.    The sun was shining as we arrived in Dalkey.  On Sunday Barney and I got into gear and prepared the meal for lunchtime when we celebrated Maurice’s birthday a few days early.   Five of Maurice’s first cousins plus Caroline’s daughter Edwina and four other friends joined us and we had a wonderful meal of a large baked ham, new potatoes and Barney’s special green beans followed by a large array of deserts.

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We spent two days at Hitchin Caravans having a radio fitted to the van and
doing some housekeeping.  We had a recommendation from a couple of people there to go to the Luton Hoo hotel near Luton and also the Lavender Farm near Hitchin. Even though the lavender was past it’s prime. it still looked amazing and  there was a wonderful scent of lavender in the air and it still looked beautiful.  We picked three sunflowers from the large plot next to the lavender field to take with us.

From Hitchin we drove the hour and a half to our friends Ruth and Michael who live in the Chiltern hills near Chesham. There are lovely little laneways, avenues of trees and fields surrounding the houses dotted around the  hills. There is an abundance of wildlife there and we have seen squirrels, Glis, glis (small squirrel like animals) that invade the roof space a little like the possums at home, Muntjacs  (a small deer of Chinese origin) and badgers. We heard the owls at night which was a novelty for us.
Maurice and I both ended up with colds so it was nice to be able to take it easy and not have to drive anywhere for a few days. Michael and Ruth took us down to their boat where we had a lovely leisurely day tonking down the Thames to Cookham and back.
One evening we went to chef Raymond Blanc’s restaurant in Old Amersham (a picturesque old town) and had a lovely meal.
I did a bit of cooking which I did enjoy and made a couple of curries and a spaghetti bolognese one night.  It was nice having a large kitchen in which to cook for a change!
It was a warm and sunny day (we have had a week of good weather)so Maurice and I drove to Southend on Sea on the 4th September to get a copy of his father’s birth certificate which we may need in our quest for a British passport for Maurice if the Irish one doesn’t work.

The Irish passport cannot be  issued in Ireland for some strange reason but they will now do it in London!
We then drove on to see Leigh on Sea, a more upmarket seaside town and then we went on to have lunch with our friend Barry in Broxbourne and then back to the Chilterns. We had a dream run all the way to the east coast and back leaving at 7am and getting back at 4.30pm.

On Thursday the 5th September Michael dropped us at Chesham station and we headed into London for three days.

That evening we went to the “Busaba Eathai” Thai restaurant which was just near Selfridges and had a great meal.  We finished early so went to the Odeon cinema at Marble Arch to see a movie “About Time” and then back to the club.

On Friday we  caught the tube to Windemere St to have lunch with Alice and Dan, (a cousin of Maurice’s mother) in Muswell Hill but we ended up in Windermere St in Archway instead so hurredly caught a taxi to the correct address.   We had a nice lunch with them before Alice kindly dropped us to the tube station and  we visited Maurice’s niece where she works to pick up all the documents I needed from home which Tony and Maura had kindly organized.  From there we went on to Australia House to vote in our Federal Election.  It was very well organized and there were a lot of Australians there doing the same thing.

After buying a pair of jeans we headed back to the Club and then out to dinner with our friend David and his sister Sarah to the Pakistani Kebab house in the East end where we had a  meal including  the most delicious lamb chops.

We did want to stay on in London on  Saturday night but the club was full so we left back to Chesham (fighting the crowds on their way to the last night of the Proms in Hyde Park).  We caught the tube to Amersham and then a taxi back to the Chilterns.  I felt like cooking so made a beef bourguignon, vegetable soup and spiced plums for dinner the next night.

Maurice and I left for Aylesbury on Monday the 9th September for  my appointment with the Registrar’s office to lodge my application for British citizenship – a lengthy and drawn out interview and then the UK border agency decided that my referees couldn’t be completely retired (not stated in their guide!) so we had to call on Michael to drive to Aylesbury (luckily only 20minutes away) so that he could slightly amend his status to “semi-retired”.  It is now up to the discretion of the officer examining my application as to whether I do get or not get British citizenship.  They will send a letter of receipt within 10days and then we must wait (up to 6months) for approval or rejection, although the checking officer said that it could be sooner.  It rained all day and was quite cool which was a stark contrast to the last week of wonderful weather.

If approved I will need to attend a citizenship ceremony where I swear an oath and get a certificate and then I can apply for a passport.

We will leave the Chilterns tomorrow the 10th September to drive to Holyhead to catch the ferry to Dun Laoghaire and on to our friend Mary Eivers in Ballivor.

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