Day 29 – Another Rising Tide

Bullybunion

Well it is almost impossible to believe that it is November!!! Today has been like summer and Colin and I braved the Atlantic waves which was an exhilarating but very cold experience . We were the only ones in the sea – maybe the Irish have more sense!!
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So the last blog left us sitting having a Guiness in Killarney. We slept well after a fab meal of roast lamb next to the fire. The next morning we set off (with me driving!! Colin was very quiet 😜) through the mountains around Killarney with the aim of heading to the most south westerly point of Ireland – Baltimore and Skibereen – for Colin to revisit the site of a student field trip experience on Sherkin Isle many years ago. The drive took us over the pass at Ladies View before running down into Kenmare and then on to Bantry.
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We decided to stop off at Loch Hyne for the night. Thus was again a place Colin recalled as a marine biologists dream with an almost land locked sea Lough with a narrow and shallow entrance. He had stopped here on the way to Sherkin Isle 35 years ago. We camped up a layby on the side of the Lough to have lunch. Colin had a football chat with a local wearing a Liverpool tracksuit who said in answer to Colin’s query about seaweed on the wrong side of the layby that he had been trapped by the tide but that we had nothing to fear. We then went off for separate cycle rides as I was demanding some space – I got back to the camper first and as I was making a cup of tea noticed that the tide was starting to creep through the sea wall – an English couple said ‘no need to worry- high tide is at 4.10….. However the tide continued to come in now over the sea wall at which point there was a frantic knocking on the door . The same man saying ‘sorry I was wrong it is obviously a freak high tide and we are off! Suggest you move now!’
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He had a Land Rover and I decided it was too risky to drive the van through the rising water so pulled the other way up a slight incline off onto a grassy verge. I sat there and watched the water rise higher and higher, it got dark and I was surrounded by water with a real fear that it would start to come in the van.
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I decided at that point to start praying and was also starting to wonder if God was using the tides to show me how powerless I really am and that it really is time to stop trusting in my own strength…..

Even the locals (there were 2 men swimming in the loch at the time) were exclaiming loudly about the phenomenon of the tide seemingly continuing to rise well after it should have stopped!

At this point a wet figure appeared at the window – Colin had managed to push his way with his bike through waist high water to get back to the van . I was very pleased to see him (understatement) – these things are much less scary with 2 of you. It turned out Colin had cycled to Baltimore and whilst chatting to locals drinking Guinness watching kids play in the water lapping over the top of the harbour. The locals were bemused at the height of the tide and Colin had idly wondered if the camper would be alright (note to Colin – try to spot when the Holy Spirit is talking!)

Anyway with Colin settling Kathy we cooked up some bangers and mash and the water started to recede. Once the ground was dry enough we drove off quickly in the dark to avoid any further crises. We arrived at a pub in Baltimore and they agreed we could spend the night in the car park. Slept well and awoke to find we were camped opposite yet again another lovely view overlooking Baltimore Harbour and the sun was shining.

Colin now wanted a day to visit Sherkin Isle to get closure on an incident from 35yrs ago. He took the ferry to the island talking with a guy who was moving there with his artist wife – both teachers. Once on the island he set off and found the pub now called the Jolly Roger. It looked exactly the same inside as it did 35 years ago! He decided to trek to the end of the road and the walk around the coast via beaches and cliffs which proved to be a mistake. 2 hours later after risking being barged over the cliff by a bull, having to go in and out of a multitude of tiny coves and fighting his way through 100m of 4ft brambles he got back to the pub. Next stop was retracing his steps to where he lost part of his right ear on a dry stone wall during his one and only adult fight. A few tears and prayers later and the closure was achieved. It’s funny how these things stay with us for years.
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That evening we decided to drive north inland past Skibereen on to Drimoleague and a campsite Cyril and Gabrielle had told us about called Top of The Rock. It was up a very narrow steep muddy track that the Passion Wagon aka Boadicea (Bo for short) managed with some coaxing. There the owner David greeted us so warmly and we had the luxury of hot showers, laundry and electric hook up. David is farmer, campsite owner and pastor. It’s a lovely location with pods to live in (wooden tents that look like upside brown boats) animals to feed, views across hills and a centre for walking several paths such as the 37km St Finbar’s way which Kathy did a little of ending at Castle Drimoleague.

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Next day Friday we drove back to Kilmalloch to see Maggie and the Hanleys. On the way we stopped off at the local AA meeting at Brough. No not because we’d got concerned over our Guinness consumption but because we realise alcohol has caused so much damage in Ireland and we thought we ought to investigate how this organisation works. It was a very honest and moving evening.

On Saturday we cooked everyone an Irish breakfast the watched our nephew Tadgh play soccer (football is Gaelic Football here) for his local team. He did well despite the team losing to some local rivals and we decided a cooked breakfast may not have been the best preparation for running around a soccer field. We then said our goodbyes and drove to Ballybunion via Newcastle West. After negotiating the Halloween celebrations in the village centre we got to Faha where Tom gave us a warm welcome and a lovely meal.

On Sunday Tom drove us to Listowell Church for their 11-1 service followed by soup and sandwiches. What a lovely open and honest congregation they are. People there are seeking God earnestly. The afternoon was spent swimming, yes swimming on the 1st November, as the weather was blue cloudless skies and warm sun. In the evening we welcomed Cyril and Gabrielle back from their journeys and meetings across the breadth of Ireland. It was a good evening followed by a Monday prayer time where God did some significant work. Tom’s home is a place where God does business.

So an eventful week! God did some deep work this week. Rising Tides in deed. Praise Him!n

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Day 24 – The Killarney Lakeside Hotel

Well I haven’t blogged since Friday because we have been living in the Wild on the Wild Atlantic Way!! And have rediscovered our joint love of adventure.

We are currently sitting in the bar of the hotel in the title all scruffy and sweaty after a long cycle ride around the Lakes of Killarney. Think we might be the only non-residents but makes it even more appealing and the settees are really comfortable and the view of the lake stunning.
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We camped rough for 3 nights over the weekend. The first night was at a Brit Stop pub – the Junction Inn where you can park in the car park for free – just had a Guinness in their bar looking out over the bay.Colin chatted to the waitress who told him they had had a wedding party turn up that had eaten all the food prepared for a different wedding party without the staff realising it! (Is there a lesson in that??)
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We woke up to wonderful sunshine and drove off along the Dingle Peninsula – there were various warnings about a mountain pass to Dingle Town which was clearly too narrow for the camper. We decided to stop off for a Guiness and get some wisdom from the locals about whether Connors Pass was indeed passable in a camper van. Unequivocal – so Colin decided to drive up to it to see!! I was not prepared for how hairy the pass was – Rock overhangs on one side with a sheer drop on the other with no passing space for a long stretch – there is no way I would have done it but Colin decided to go for it despite several signs saying TURN BACK NOW!! And one guy coming the other way waving his hands frantically mouthing ‘No way’. Amazing exhilarating – our camper emerged unscathed to the top of the pass, it really felt like a significant moment.
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After exploring Dingle we set off to Ventry and camped at a spot right next to the beach and spent the night listening to the waves and a flag pole chattering away in the constant wind. We woke again to amazing views over the water to mountains with wild cloudy skies.
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The next morning we went into Dingle and to the Church of Ireland service – at the lovely manageable time of 12 o clock after putting the clocks back too. It was a peaceful service with communion, old hymns and presided over by Phyllis an elderly ordinand from Bournemouth. Would be good to pray for her – if can’t be easy being an English vicar in rural Ireland covering 3 parishes with numerous miles between. We drove off along the Wild Atlantic Way in the pouring rain to Inch Strand – a fantastic sand bar peninsula sticking out 5km at right angles with a Restaurant/bar called Sammys on the beach. There was also Sammy’s campsite, Sammy’s souvenir shop and Sammy’s holiday cottages! We found a wild camp spot on a wide lay-by high up above the waves and cooked beef pot roast for the evening and woke to the most amazing sunrise the next morning.
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We drove down to the beach where Colin decided he wanted to walk to the end … We had driven the camper 1km onto the beach and I decided I’d had enough walking and would sit and drink coffee watching the waves. It seemed like Colin had been gone for ages so I decided to drive the camper up the beach to look for him – quite scary as the sand became really soft. I turned back as the tide was starting to come in really fast and panicked a bit when I realised how far I’d come. I drove back and parked up to wait for Colin no sign – with the tide was coming in very fast I decided to drive up the beach again to find him – as I turned I realised I was stuck in the sand with the tide nearly at my back wheels. Very scary moment!!! Had the presence of mind to dig out the traction mats Colin had insisted on buying and stick them in front of the front wheels – just sank further in … I was really jittery now and went to find help .. Found a sweet Asian man who held an umbrella over me and seemed to know less than I did about removing soon to be submerged camper vans from the sand – just then Colin appeared, rather wet and tired after his 10km trek along the sand and over the dunes, and got me to get back in with the traction mats behind the front wheels and I reversed as he pushed with the Asian guy. Out we popped from the hole — what a hero!!
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I was pretty shaken up so had to go in to Sammy’s for a Guinness (Guinness seems to crop up quite often!!) ended up having a really good chat and praying with the actual Sammy – an Irish/Pakistani Anglican called Mahmoud who had a vision to travel and bring back stories to expand the borders of the Anglican church in Ireland. He was very much born again and wanted the Holy Spirit to change things in the church – however he said that when the Holy Spirit begins to blow through the church Anglicans often shut the windows! Before we left Colin prayed a blessing for him over the bar, the second person to do that this year apparently, and asked that his dreams would be fulfilled and he would no longer be a bit of a lost soul in Ireland.

Which brings me to our current post cycling round Killarney, something we tried to do 20 years ago with the boys and this time we completed it passing across the bridges at the ‘meeting of waters’ and viewing ‘Torc Waterfall’. To top it all as we ended at Muckcross House we saw a vivid double rainbow. All significant pictures for us of God’s promises and refreshing us with His living water. We have met so many people who have said “Ah you’re lucky with the weather, we had an awful summer”. We know God has blessed the trip with so much great weather! So now We are ready for a good sleep after enjoying adventuring together.
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Day 20 – Tides Cafe in Ballyheigue

Well I can’t believe it’s been a whole week since I put anything on the blog!!

Last weekend went in a blur – we met the men from Kings at Shannon airport at 10pm and had a quick cup of tea before bed . We parked the camper outside Mungret College where a small group of people have been working incredibly hard to rebuild part of Gods Kingdom on the edge of Limerick. The building is massive and looks a bit like Colditz! – however they have created a church in the lovely chapel, a Christian school , a Bible college, an art gallery and a cafe. A real sense of excitement and growth. The men gathered on the Saturday with about 30 men from the West of Ireland.

The evening and sun lunchtime unsurprisingly for Ireland were dominated by the rugby (Ireland seems to have an endless capacity for sport😜) it was a sad experience to have sun lunch in the pub whilst watching Argentina beat the valiant 14 man Irish squad. The defeat was met with a quiet but gracious response. I in particular at the end of the weekend was feeling pretty disconnected and very unsure about what on earth we were doing in Ireland …..
After saying goodbye to the Kings men we then followed Cyril and Gabrielle down the Shannon estuary to Ballybunion and Toms house on the cliffs a small farming community called Faha. Tom is a delightful man from the area who has recently returned after 23 years in Liverpool working as a psychologist. He is just starting psychotherapy training and is gifted not just with years of experience of working with human beings but an uncanny insight and gift of dreams that were to be very significant for us over the few days.

The Passion Wagon outside Tom's placeCyril, Tom, Gabrielle and Kathy at Faha, Ballybunion

Our time was spent talking and praying cooking eating and meeting various friends from the area. We had a fantastic walk along Ballybunion beach between 2 weather fronts with massive black clouds either side of us but with a sense of an ‘open heaven ‘ with blue sky and sunshine over where we were walking and a huge gorgeous rainbow stretching over the sky and appearing to end over Faha.

One of the most exciting activities was helping to replant the hedge that surrounds the house – it had recently been trimmed and there were numerous ‘breaches’ in the ‘wall’. We sought to link relevant scriptures as a way of ‘planting’ Gods Word in the land. This was particularly exciting for me as it was a teaching that Flame are particularly passionate about and they have many stories of how places have been spiritually restored following healing the land.
DSCN4565Cyril and Gabrielle planting in the gaps

So somewhat sadly after a time of rich fellowship we ‘stowed ship’ and set off for the unknown (possibly Dingle) with renewed hope and certainty that Agod knows what he is doing in a time of real uncertainity for all of us.

We drove down the Wild Atlantic Way heading towards Dingle. On the way we stopped at Ballyheigue, a place we had been before 20 years ago with Kathy’s family and the Hanleys. Colin recalled kayaking out to a large ominous black rock and kayaking with Bob Kathy’d dad among dolphins. We found views of the rock in a stormy sea and decided to stop at a snug watering hole called Tides Cafe, opposite the run by a delightful lady called Chris. We recommend you stop and try her breakfast.

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Friday

Friday
Woke up this morning to the most beautiful sunrise.

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inspired to get out of bed and walk to the toilets I came back via the beach and looking out over the curve of the bay I spotted some movement in the water – a sea otter swimming on its back !! never seen one before what a sight! What a wonderful campsite – if you are going to Connemara look for Acton’s beach camp site – Chris the guy who manages if will make you well welcome ( bring your wet suit though – had a quick dip yesterday and the water is absolutely freezing)
Spent a long while talking to a guy and got a real insight into rural Ireland . He talked about the devastation that the Catholic Church has caused with its control and widespread paedophila . Religion has not hot a good press here in Ireland.

Packed up reluctantly and drive to the Connemara National Park. We set off up the trail not intending to climb very far but it was such a gorgeous day and the path was do well built (slabs of limestone placed across the bog – very noticeable as soon as you stepped off the path) apparently Ireland has 50% of blanket bog in Europe and in Connemara people use the turf from the bogs to dry and use as fuel. Anyway couldn’t resist climbing to the top – Colin valiantly climbed about 2/3 up wearing his crocs ( there is a limit to what crocs can do Colin)

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Came down from the mountain in time to drive to Limerick for Colin to meet up with the men arriving for men’s weekend .

Here are some pictures from the mountain (Can you spot Kathy in the last two?):

imageimageimageimageDSCN4519Kathy made it to the top of Diamond Hill.

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Day 12 – Connemara 14-15 October

Connemara – Wednesday and Thursday

We left Doolin on Wednesday morning and drove on the Wild Atlantic Way to Galway – a fantastic road that hugged the coast line for miles with waves endlessly crashing against massive limestone ledges. We drove through ‘the Burren’ allegedly the landscape that inspired Tolkiens descriptions of the land in Lord of the Rings – massive limestone outcrops and strange gnarled trees and unusual plants. There is a profusion of wild fuschia growing in the hedgerows – it is a stark contrast to the grey rock.

We then hit ‘Connemara – James Joyce country….an unbelievably dramatic landscape of mountains and lakes but without the tourist villages and hundreds of walkers you find everywhere in the Lakes . Mid October Ireland is almost devoid of people and gives the most wonderful sense of space and freedom.

We headed out to a campsite Colin had found in the sand dunes with lovely beaches and supposedly seals and dolphins. An eco camp site it is so unspoilt with lovely views and Puccini’s 3rd violin concerto in the shower !!

Woke late on Thursday morning – there is no sound apart from the waves – we set off to explore Omey Island an island reached by sand bar at low tide – an island of great beauty and peace ( hard to put into words but a place that enlarges your spirit) then back to the pub – have fallen in love with chowder and Guinness .
Started weaving last night aspire to recreate some of the lovely scenery …. Watch this space – not necessarily that easy ….

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Day 11 – Irish adventure

Tuesday 13 October

Doolin – cliffs of Moher
Well it has been over a week now since we left Southampton!
After a great Chinese supper with Sarah Jon and Evie we spent our first night at Minto Rd Bristol – a road on the edge of an industrial estate where camper vans camp some complete with wood burning stoves – nice peaceful night parked on double yellow lines and waking to the sound of people going to work and parents walking children to school. A weird first time experience of camping wild .

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Then an uneventful drive through Wales to Ffald y Brenin an amazing retreat centre perched on a hillside with incredible stories of healings and outpourings of the Holy Spirit. Joined in their lunchtime and evening prayers and were given a word from a guy in the coffee room about being like Joshua and Caleb going to spy out a new country and although we think we are not up to it assuring us that we can because God is with us. Interesting since he knew absolutely nothing about our plans to check out Ireland. …..

Then a hairy drive through very narrow windy lanes in the dark to get to the ferry glad Colin was driving!! Arrived in time for a few hours sleep before the ferry left at 1.45 –

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an unbelievably smooth crossing despite warnings of stormy weather – slept well on seats in the restaurant and woke to the smell of bacon and a misty Rosslare.

Grey drive to a mountain stop for breakfast – I carefully navigated the van up a narrow single track road ( Colin had to manoeuvre a 3 point turn to get us out) all part of the adventure Colin

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Arrived in Kilmallock mid afternoon and stopped in the town by the side of the road for soup and cheese sandwiches ….watching parents collect their children from school. Arrived at Maggies house early evening …

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We then spent several days with the family during the evenings spending the days touring around the area – walking and cycling and enjoying beautiful unexpected sunshine and the fantastic mountain scenery. Loved Loch Gur a prehistoric site where we met with Cyril and Gabrielle and experimented with our first tea and scone session in the camper with our China cups and saucers.

In the evening we went to see a play called Sive at a tiny theatre in Charlevillle – a rather disturbing drama set in Ireland in the 50’s about an illegitimate girl whose family marry her off to an aged man because of poverty.

Sunday morning we drove to Adare – a picturesque town (where everyone seems to go on a Sunday!!) to watch Tadhg play in his first county football game – great to have a chance to support our nephew – sport is a very central part of rural Irish life.

Monday morning time to depart and leave for our Irish tour – heading for the Wild Atlantic Way via Charleville for a coffee at the Four Winds – a pub managed by Tommy our eldest nephew.
Then off to the Cliffs of Moher 14km of 700ft cliffs – parked up and enjoyed a stunning cliff top walk and then drove off to Doolin to camp next to a small river (in the dark) . Could have been anywhere really!

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Woke up to the most beautiful sunshine again – and enjoyed walking on the limestone pavements on the edge of the Atlantic followed by a boat trip along the bottom of the cliffs as the sun was setting – majestic awesome – an exhilarating experience – shame the puffins have left. Beautiful day finished off with Guinness and Irish guitar player in the pub.
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Update from Ireland

well its been a long time since we left home and I was going to blog daily …..but more of a challenge than I thought. Had a lovely evening in Bristol at the China Sky restaurant eating Chinese with Sarah Jon and Evie. Was  amazed at the beauty of the toilets …

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Evie is increasingly interested in hair and fashion and spent some time inserting chopsticks into Sarah’s hair !

 

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Day 0 – Beginning of the Irish Adventure !!

Day 0 trying to decide what to take for 5 weeks on the Wild Atlantic Way .

vanilla essence and pecans for making cakes and lovely assortment of China cups and plates …. Hope we get some punters who are willing to come and have a cup of tea with us .

(Colin is most excited about some sweets we bought with verses of scripture wrapped around each one) we were given a discount by a very sweet man in Oasis in Romsey when he found out what we were up to .

Packing the van …….

Preparation Table

Preparation Table

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2014 The Year of Art

I have always wanted to paint more fine art and this year I got going. First via a week away at at Nicholaston House on a painting retreat and then by going out monthly with a dear friend to paint outdoors! People tell me I have a talent so I will keep going. I’d appreciate some feedback 🙂

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Stroll over the Malverns

On a journey from Nottingham to Bristol Josh and I stopped over at the Malvern Hills for a walk. The weather was crisp and clear. Because the Malverns stand out over surrounding land for miles the view can be fab. Today was a great day for a view.

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