Tuesday, June 03, 2008

May 29th 2008



These last few days have been spent in Cork, Ireland. We’ve been staying in the lovely Kingsley Hotel on the banks of the River Lee. Both our room and Alex’s room have spectacular views of the river. Spacious and beautifully decorated, the accommodation is very comfortable indeed. Guy has been working out of the Cork offices whilst Alex and I have been sightseeing.

Our first visit was to Blarney Castle. When I was a little girl, Dad always talked about The Blarney Stone and joked about kissing it. Sadly he never got there. So Alex and I headed off to the castle to fulfil his dream in memory of him. We walked through the beautiful grounds on the way to the castle. The castle itself is in ruins, but it is easy to picture it how it must have been in its heyday. We were surprised to find that you had to climb up a very precarious staircase to get to the top of the castle and the stone itself. Imagine my delight(!) when I saw the stone – actually more a piece of a wall -, over eighty-five feet up, accessible only by lying on your back and hanging over a precipice whilst hanging on to metal rods. The picture above demonstrates - and the one below that is the view from the ground up - the space in the middle above the three windows is what you hang over! A very friendly, and yet slightly forceful Irishman hangs on to your waist so you don’t fall to your death. It was utterly terrifying – just a couple metal rods between me and the ground eighty-five feet below! Then, having thought I did it, I sat up sighing with relief only to be thrust back down again by the aforementioned Irish chap as “your son didn’t get the picture yet”! This time he gave me a good old push to be sure I kissed the stone enthusiastically – what an experience!! I’m glad I’ve done it, but I’ll not be doing it again – and I urged Alexander to forego the pleasure which he was happy to do.

We had a cup of tea in a lovely little café afterwards. We sat outside in the garden and it was positively hot by then, despite dire predictions of cold and rain by the forecasters. Later, we met up with Guy and had a wonderful dinner at Man Friday, a seafood restaurant overlooking the harbour in the beautiful village of Kinsale. I had crab au gratin to start, followed by Turbot in a white wine sauce, all washed down by a yummy Pouilly Fusse. Guy had fish as well but Alex thoroughly enjoyed his steak – there are lots of choices for folks who are not keen on fish too. Dessert was a strawberry shortcake. It was made with shortbread and was delicious.

This morning Alex and I headed off to explore Kinsale, and then drove off down the coast. The scenery was quite spectacular and we had a super time sightseeing. Tonight we ate at Cafe Paradiso, a wonderful vegetarian restaurant in Cork. The food was so delicious and the atmosphere was really friendly and comfortable. I’ve never eaten at a vegetarian restaurant that was so clearly a gourmet experience. It is expensive, but worth every penny. If you do travel to Cork, I highly recommend a visit!
Tomorrow we return home. It has been a nice little mini break I must say. Although the city of Cork itself was not really to my taste, the surrounding area is just lovely.

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