Tag Archives: Cork

Golf Is A Good Walk Spoiled.

Yesterday I played golf for the first time since 2012 when I was in Florida.

6 years is a long time when you’re in your 60’s and your body is fading like a £5 note in a Scotman’s pocket.

The weather WAS Floridian but that was the only comparison with my previous outing. I was using a trolley rather than a cart to carry my clubs, I had no companions to urge me on and worst of all, the course was ex-farming land that was just missing a few cows to still BE farming land.

Putting was a lottery although I did get excited when the ball dropped in for a 4 on the first hole – till I realised it was a par 3.

Then I 4 putted on the 2nd to make 7 and that was when I decided to class anything around 1-2 ft from the hole as being IN the hole. I know this sounds a bit cheat-y (although not on the same level as a Colombian player at the World Cup) but my reasoning was that the greens, being more patchy than my front garden, would cause me to score well over 100 if I tried to putt out on every hole.

Brandon Golf Course near Shadwell, Leeds is an 18 hole pay and play course which was created out of local fields with very little done to them since. Well not quite, but you’re constantly aware you’re not on a “proper golf course” like Augusta National.

Not even close, but then, where is ?

Any time I’d hit a decent straight drive, it would invariably land in a ditch or roll into a clump of trees in the middle of the fairway. With the blistering temps we’ve had over the last 2 weeks and the greens not having any sprinklers, any ball landing ON the green would roll into the next postcode before stopping.

Still, using my scoring system and a few kick outs from the extreme rough (a local rule I believe !) I went round in 88 and more importantly, due to the heat, I lost 2lbs as well as 2 balls.

Oh behave…..I mean golf balls.

I also found 3 balls which made me inordinately happy as they were better quality than the ones I was using !

Unlike my last game, I didn’t have to worry about gators or snakes or even geriatric cart drivers so those were pluses.

But the main difference was that that last game was when I was a few months shy of my 60th birthday and yesterday I was 9 days past 66. By the time I stumbled off the 18th green,  I was more than ready for a cool shower and a rub down from a Thai masseuse.

I had to settle for just the cool shower as the Thai masseuse didn’t work on a Wednesday.

Losing the 2lbs was important as I’m trying to lose (a lot of) weight as the results of my annual critical illness checkup last Friday showed that I’m definitely a type 2 diabetic now.  Seems the top “score” is 48 above which you’re no longer borderline. I’m now so far over that border (at 69) that I could be classed as an illegal immigrant !

I’m hoping that diet and exercise changes will bring that down as I don’t want to add even more pills to my daily regimen but I may not have a choice.

I’ve been out walking 4-5 miles every day for the last 2 weeks or so as the great weather has encouraged me to do that instead of using the treadmill. As a result I’ve lost 4lbs in that time so I’m off to a good start.

On a totally unrelated subject, I’m currently watching a Netflix series called La Casa De Papel which literally translates to The Paper House but in their wisdom, Netflix has called it Money Heist.  Maybe Google Translate was having an off day but actually, Money Heist is quite appropriate as the series is about a heist on the Spanish Mint.

But the point is that I have a choice of audio tracks to listen to – the original Spanish with subtitles or an English dubbed option. I usually watch it at night when I’m too tired to read subtitles so I pick the dubbed version and it’s just not working for me. It’s bad enough that words coming out of lips aren’t in sync, obviously, but the “actors” saying the dubbed lines are clearly phoning it in.

I’ve heard more enthusiasm in a Shackleton’s advert. Even in the dramatic scenes with loads of shouting between the police and the heisters (I may have made up that word) it’s like the dubbers are just reading from the script while reclining at home on their laz-y-boys.

I’m only 4 episodes in but I think I’ll switch to the Spanish audio and make do with the subtitles.

Or I could just learn Spanish I suppose !

On the subject of tv, when I returned from Florida in 2012, I treated myself to a new tv and made it a 3D tv as I thought that was the future.

Hmmmm.  Seems not.

The great British public didn’t think so and after a small uptake in tv shows being broadcast in 3D, it died a death and for the last few years, you haven’t even been able to buy a 3D tv.

So it’s a minor miracle, and a good one for me, that many movies and documentaries etc are still produced in 3D.  I have about 80 in my collection and really love watching them from time to time.

Facebook memories reminded me that I published a post on this day in 2013 that the BBC had broadcast the Wimbledon men’s semi final in 3D.   I wasn’t a fan. This was because the angle they showed was on a level with the net rather than from above so that once the ball went over the net, I’d no idea where it landed. I had to do my own “hawk-eye” tracking to try to work out where it had gone based on where it had crossed the net !

I also missed out on ever seeing a football match in 3D as Sky Sports had that sewn up and didn’t grant Virgin Media access to the broadcasts.

I was and am a Virgin Media customer so boo hiss to Sky.

I think I’d have enjoyed footy in 3D as long as the cameras weren’t at pitch level.

As for movies, I love animated ones in 3D.

Favs are Frozen, Despicable Me, Ice Age, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo……oh any animation really. The first 3D movie I saw at home was Hugo which at the time was rated as the best 3D movie going but the one that really blew me away was Rise Of The Guardians, especially the opening scenes.

It’s such a shame to me that home 3D never took off.

Moving on, it’s been a while since my mini road trip to Wales and with the end of the World Cup on the horizon, thoughts, my thoughts at least, are turning to a proper road trip before these old bones give out.

Yes I know a road trip is by car but one still has a lot of walking to do at each location and I’m not as sprightly as I used to be. Not quite ready for a zimmer frame and on the level I can, and do, walk for miles. But the world is not flat, no matter what some people would have us believe and I do love exploring continental hill towns.

My current thinking is either 3-4 weeks around Spain as I’ve never been below Barcelona which leaves a lot of country to explore or a shorter time in Ireland, especially Co. Donegal as despite coming from N. Ireland, I’ve rarely been to Co. Donegal.

If I do that, I’ll also complete the Wild Atlantic Way as when on it in 2016, I stopped at Bundoran which was just a mile or so into Co. Donegal and after that I went across to N. Ireland and so I still have a couple of hundred miles to go to say I’ve done it all.

If you aren’t aware of the Wild Atlantic Way, it’s a 1600 mile coastal route around the western (Atlantic) side of Ireland starting in Kinsale near Cork and ending in Derry in N. Ireland. From there you have the equally stunning, if not more so, Causeway Coast route down to Belfast. I blogged about it all as part of my Ireland road trip back then and the Wild Atlantic Way part starts with Day 8.  

The next few weeks should firm up my plans and who knows, maybe do both.

I love being retired !

By the way, the title of this post, popularly attributed to him, was not in fact uttered (or written) by Mark Twain. Just so you know.

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Ireland Road Trip Day 7 – Sun 17/4/2016

I’d like to say that I left Dawn House at….well dawn…..but I didn’t.  After another excellent Irish breakfast where I met and chatted with the 4 Kiwi guests who had arrived late the previous night, I packed up, paid the €40 and at 10:00, I headed off westwards to Cobh (pronounced Cove) along the N25.

It was a lovely sunny morning and the 90 minute drive to Cobh was delightful and gave me cause to believe from now on, I’d have lovely scenic coastal vistas for the rest of this Irish road trip…..in glorious sunshine.

And I pretty much did !

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35 miles from the b&b I crossed a bridge over the River Tourig and in doing so, left Co. Waterford and entered Co. Cork. Another 21 miles along the N25 and I turned off onto the R624 for the 5 mile drive south to the town of Cobh and arrived at 11:30, so made good time despite stopping several times to take photos, like the one above.

I’d never heard of Cobh before but soon discovered that it has strong links to both the RMS Titanic and the RMS Lusitania and was only too eager to highlight them for tourists.  It’s also Ireland’s only dedicated cruise ship terminal and over 100,000 passengers and crew arrive every year……..only to get onto buses to be taken to other tourist destinations !

No but seriously though, Cobh was a delightful little seaport with a population of under 10,000 and until I did a bit of research for this post, I wasn’t aware that Paddy Walsh, who taught at my old boarding school in my first year (and went on to become Bishop of Down & Connor) came from Cobh. Despite that, I quite liked the place.

Originally called Cove, the name changed to Queenstown in 1850 to commemorate a visit by Queen Victoria and then changed again to the Irish version of Cove, namely Cobh, in the late 1920’s.

So it was when it was Queenstown that RMS Titanic arrived from Cherburg to take on the last of its passengers before heading out into the Atlantic in 1912 for its appointment with an iceberg. The link to the RMS Lusitania was just as tragic as when sailing from the US to Liverpool during WW1, it was sunk near Cobh by a German U-boat with the loss of 1,198 passengers. Many of the 700 survivors, along with the bodies of the dead, were taken to the town and there are over 100 graves and a memorial above the town to remind tourists of that fateful event.

On a lighter note, the town sure has one big ass Cathedral.  I’ve never seen a town so dominated by one building before. It’s freakin’ massive and looms…..yes not like that squat Hook Head lighthouse….looms over the town and harbour like a modern day colossus.

Anyway I’m getting ahead of myself here. First of all I parked in a lovely area that could have come from any small town in France…..or from the set of ‘Allo, ‘Allo.

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As it was 11:30 on a Sunday in the off season, the town was as quiet as a very quiet mouse with laryngitis. The blue skies had also become grey so my first impressions of the town were not that favourable, despite the brightly painted buildings and the pretty harbour.

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Walking to the end of the harbour jetty, I turned around and was overwhelmed by the sight of St. Colman’s Cathedral towering above the town. This massive Roman Catholic Cathedral, one of the tallest in Ireland, has the only church carillon in the country with 49 bells and they were getting a good workout when I was there because as well as being rung at regular times each hour, there was also a First Communion Mass in progress at the time.

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Apologies for the “white” sky but they say God moves in mysterious ways and providing nice weather for my visit to Cobh wasn’t one of His ways.

Leaving ground level, I climbed hundreds of steps up to the Cathedral, going against the flow of proud parents and their little darlings who were dressed in their First Communion finery. I’d seen a little girl in the town square on my arrival and as well as being dressed top to toe in white, she also had a cute little white parasol. Now I understood the reason.

I don’t know if the Cathedral would have been open later or charged for entry but as people were still leaving it after the Mass, I just went in.

If the outside had been impressive, the inside was even more so.  I’m not a fan of Cathedrals as I usually find them large, cold and impersonal places but this one was different. Yes it was large but it was more modern than most Cathedrals and so there wasn’t an abundance of cold, stone pillars, crumbling masonry and statues of local bigwigs that no one remembered anymore.

In fact the pillars were just like the ones in my old home church in Ballymoney.

By the time I’d reached the Cathedral, taken several large gulps of oxygen and waited for my heart to stop beating in my ears, the sun had come out and so once inside, the Cathedral was beautifully lit with that warm light that only nature and dozens of 200 watt spotlights can provide.

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Outside the main doors, the large open area was now empty, except for a man who approached me from his clapped out car which was on the Cathedral grounds with its boot/trunk open. He was holding what looked like loops of nasty string over his wrist and when he asked me where I was from, I was a bit taken aback so just said England rather than ignoring him.

Having now discovered I was a tourist rather that a more savvy local, he asked if I wanted to buy some “blessed medals” and it was THEN that I ignored him !

I left him pacing around in front of the doors and didn’t have the heart to tell him there were no others inside and took a photo of the view back down to the harbour.

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Down at ground level I went to the Titanic Exhibition building at the side of the harbour because it was housed in the original office where those poor souls bought their tickets.

No refunds !

There was also a Titanic themed restaurant at the side of the building which I guess was to be expected but I have to say all these Titanic cash cows are a bit much. Sticking “Titanic” in front of a few menu items was a bit tacky.

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The ship was built in Belfast (N.Ireland)  and registered in Liverpool (England). On its fateful maiden voyage it sailed from Southampton (England) to Cherburg (France) and finally to Queenstown (Ireland) before setting off to New York (US) but hit an iceberg and sank 400 miles south of Newfoundland (Canada).

All these locations have exhibits of some sort which is ok by me.  But when a company called Titanic Artifacts Inc found the sunken remains of the ship and brought many of its “treasures” to the surface, this opened up a whole new can of maritime worms to be exploited. These artifacts travel the world from Las Vegas to Cape Town and have probably repaid the salvage fees many times over. Many locations completely unrelated to anything to do with the Titanic have parts of museums containing its story in some way.

Branson, Missouri and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee for example !

Oh well, if you build them, they will come, as someone once said in a movie that, ironically, not many people went to see.

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There was a gift shop of course and I did have a bit of a laugh at this one item……..

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I heard some singing coming from the harbour so went to investigate. I found 6 locals entertaining about 7 people and two dogs with their lively shanty type music so I captured most of one song which, given its simple tune and repetitive chorus could well be the next Irish Eurovision entry.

Finally, to end with, here are a couple of non Titanic related photos just for the hell of it. The first is a statue of some local woman who won a silver medal at the Olympics and the other is a photo of some pretty sea shells…..from the seashore no less !

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It was time to leave Cobh so I drove back to the N25 and continued westwards to Cork and managed to get a great central parking place right on St. Patrick’s Street. I wasn’t up for a great deal of walking but I did my best.

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Despite, or maybe because, it was a Sunday, it was really busy in the city. Ignoring the Burger King across the road, I found a Subway with wifi and caught up on emails and messages while having a slightly more healthy meal.

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After this unfulfilling feast, I left and was still very tempted by the menu at a nearby eatery……..

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It’s not often I find a menu with so many meals I could order…….but I was good and walked on.

After a few hours exploring the city centre I’d had enough and returned to the car, taking in a few last scenes.

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I so prefer the countryside to cities !

I left at 17:00 and immediately started looking for a b&b along the R600 towards Kinsale. Just 9 miles from my parking bay in Cork and 4 miles from the airport, I saw a sign for the Insiara b&b which looked great from the roadside so I stopped to ask for availability and rates.

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Once again I had the benefit of touring in the off season so the owner, John, offered me a family room for €35 which was the best deal at the best b&b on my whole trip. The room was huge with a lovely en suite bathroom and the lavender soap and shower gel were so good that a few days later I bought 3 of each at a store to bring home before I left Ireland !

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I had a bit of a rest before heading out to find a place to eat.

John told me there was a good pub just 5 miles further down the R600 towards Kinsale so I took his advice and had a great chicken curry from the bar menu at The Huntsman in Belgooly.

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Back at the b&b I met John’s wife, Eileen, and we arranged the time for breakfast (I always picked 08:30) and after watching a couple of shows on the laptop, this wuss was in bed by 23:00.

Well I’d done a lot of walking and I’ve got little legs….with an old, overweight, unfit body on top of them.

I’d also crossed the 1000 mile mark since setting off from Leeds (1025 to be precise) 

I slept like a very tired log.