Tag Archives: Kinsale

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 8 – Mon 18/4/2016

I was quite tempted to stay another night at the Insiara b&b as it was so nice but there was little of interest around it, with even the nearest village being over 5 miles away.

So at 10:00 and smelling of lavender after my shower, I set off for the short 9 mile drive to Kinsale…..a destination which totally underwhelmed me.

Yes it’s a cute fishing port and yes it has wonderful fish based restaurants where the food is probably so fresh that it’s still moving on the plates but it just wasn’t for me. I parked along the sea front and walked around the town, which took all of 30 minutes as there wasn’t much to see.

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I did visit the most recommended restaurant in Kinsale and the owner let me take photos inside as it wasn’t open for business at that time of the morning.

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I did make good use of the tourist office though and left armed with a series of lovely glossy guide books to all areas of Ireland which I found very useful for the rest of the trip.

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I’m not sure about the “pocket guide” descriptions though as you’d need very large, deep pockets to fit one of these guides inside.

Leaving the town behind, I drove south 10 miles to the Old Head of Kinsale but couldn’t go the last mile or so to the lighthouse because the land had been turned into a rather posh golf course and there was even a man by a stone portal who was making sure riff raff like me weren’t allowed to progress further.

Even telling him that I’d come all the way from Kinsale didn’t impress him !

Old Head Golf 4

At this point both sides of the path, for it wasn’t even a proper road, disappeared off down to the Atlantic but when the portal keeper saw my indecision, he helpfully told me to go to the right for better views.

And he was right.

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Craggy.  Definitely craggy.

I sat on that little sandy/grassy platform (top photo) and enjoyed the view for a while. Sea birds whirled around me before returning with food to their nesting sites. All in all it was a lovely spot and back at the car I thanked the portal keeper for his advice.

He asked me to wait a minute and went off to his little hut and returned with a gift for me…..a golf club brochure and here are 3 photos from it to show how dramatic a course it is and probably why it costs €240 to play 18 holes there. I’d probably lose balls to the same value if I played a round !  The last photo shows an aerial view of the course and the Old Head peninsula and I’ve added some text to show how far I got.

Old Head Golf 1

Old Head Golf 2

Old Head Golf 3a

I think there was a public route round to the lighthouse if I’d gone down from the path to the left instead of the right, but I was happy with the choice I’d made.

Driving back to the main roads, R604/R600/R603, I was meaning to go straight to Mizen Head but while sitting at that Old Head scenic spot I’d read the guide book from the tourist office in Kinsale and saw that a short detour would take me to Kilbrittain.

Why ?  Well obviously to see the skeleton of a fin whale that washed up on the beach and….oh let this sign tell the story……….

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It was 10 miles away and only a mile or so from my route anyway so worth a visit. When I got there I found that Kilbrittain consisted of 1 shop, a pub, a petrol station and 2 or 3 houses….maybe 4. The park where the skeleton was on display was basically a grassy hill with a small concrete area at the top where kids could kick a ball about BUT sure enough, in pride of place was the fin whale, or at least its bones.

I’m still not sure where the beach was as Kilbrittain is miles from the sea !  That whale was REALLY lost.

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It was a bizarre sight and for some reason it made me hungry.

I hit the trail again and also the N71 towards Mizen Head. I was now on the Wild Atlantic Way and I’d recommend the website to anyone planning to drive around any section of the west coast of Ireland. I did mostly follow it but sometimes I wanted to be even closer to the water so would go off down narrow tracks to get to the very edge of peninsulas around the coast.

50 miles from Kilbrittain (and after leaving the N71 onto the R592) I came upon a grouping of stones just a few feet from the road so as there was a parking area, I pulled in and went to explore.

Altar Tomb

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Good spot for a sheltered bbq I’d have thought or sacrificing a local maiden at the weekend..

Nearby were some great views with the crashing Atlantic waves breaking spectacularly over the black rocks  There were also sheltered bays and despite the late hour, I enjoyed clambering around them like I used to love doing when I was a kid.  Not there of course but back in N. Ireland.

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Then it was on to Mizen Head. The R591 forked just over 6 miles from Mizen Head but the road that WASN’T the continuation of the R591 didn’t have a number but the sign at the fork said Barley Cove and Mizen Head so I took it. This narrow unnamed road proved the point that you can totally miss something scenic by going one way as I’ll explain later. By the time I got to Mizen Head, all my stopping and starting had left me too late to get onto the bridge shown in my photo below. I’d no idea there would be a visitor centre and gift shop which meant there were opening hours but it seems that at the end of every peninsula in western island, at least ones with lighthouses, there are commercial enterprises to take your money of you.

At least there was a bridge here that would need maintaining so fair enough…..and it was only €4.50 to go across BUT it all closed at 17:00 and I arrived at 16:30.  I asked how long was the walk to the bridge and was told 15 minutes so it made no sense to stay.

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Here are a couple of photos from the web site to show what I missed !

Mizen Head Bridge 1

Mizen Head Bridge 2

Ah well…..another day !

On my drive back along the unnamed road to rejoin the R591 and just 2 miles from Mizen Head, I saw a lovely beach to my right that I’d totally missed on the outward journey as it was hidden when driving that way. It was at Barley Cove and to get onto the beach, I had to park at some apartments and walk down a long private path. Being off season there was no one around to challenge me and after a few minutes I was on the sand dunes and then on the beach

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I walked to the far end but for some reason there was a smell of sewage where the beach swept around due to a long channel that might have had an overflow pipe somewhere along it. I came back along the sand dunes and with the sand there being much softer and deeper, I was pretty tired by the time I had to face the very steep climb back up to the car park area. I can tell you the walk up took 10 times longer than the walk down and I had to sit in the car for a while to get my heart rate down to normal !

By now it was well after 6pm and I wanted to leave Bantry till the next day so just 19 miles from Barley Cove and a quarter of a mile from Durrus, still on the R591, I saw a b&b sign and went to check it out.  It was called J0-Al because the owners were John and Alice Hickey and not because they came from the planet Krypton ! I’m not sure why, but John gave me a lovely double room for an amazing €30 and when you see photos of the breakfast, I think I got the b&b deal of the decade.

Again I had a bit of a rest before inquiring about places to eat. I was told it was a short walk to Durrus and there were a few good places there but I’d had enough walking so drove to the village and picked O’Sullivan’s Bar.

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Non classic Irish bar with one local propping it up and thankfully no music. It was a warm evening so I sat well away from the fire and enjoyed my chicken in a basket and using the wifi to catch up on world events.

Back at the b&b I made my plans for the next day and then watched some more shows on the laptop but was ready for bed at midnight. Another long day with lots of exercise and I was asleep in minutes.

I didn’t know it then, but the next day was to be one of my favourites.