As I begin to tell you about Thursday, it is really Friday morning in my world. I am jammed in the back of Bernie’s trusty, but very full Primera, about to begin the journey home. The house has been scrubbed from top-to-bottom — mainly by Chappers and Bernie, it has to be said — and all our worldly goods are packed in the the car somehow. Right, start the wheels, Driver.
The horse again
Thursday was a leisurely day – in our respective ways of passing leisure time. Chappers went for a long walk, Bernie went for an even longer bike ride, and I drove around a bit. Allow me to tell you about it in more detail as Bernie speeds us toward Dublin…
In keeping with the laid-back nature of the day, nothing happened early on and it was around 10:30 before Chappers and I made a move. Dave has a special mission which I’m not allowed to tell you about as it is a surprise for Noeline. D’oh! I may have said to much already. <cough> leprechaun! </cough>. So I drove him into Carrick on Shannon. The journey started dramatically with a near-death-exerience as a local lady emerged from a driveway as we were leaving the village, completely without looking, sailing straight into our 80 km/h path. I narrowly missed her and she pulled over, ashen faced and full of apologies. The remainder of the drive into Carrick was relatively danger free, though we did witness some dubious use of the ‘spare lane’ which has led us both to question its merit.
We parked up alongside the Shannon and took a turn around the town, including a walk along the “Boardwalk”, a footpath suspended over the river. It was another sunny day and the town lent itself to photography much more than when I was there last week. Chappers’ mission was duly accomplished and I bought some small souvenirs too – throwing a minor strop as I was told there was a €15 minimum for card purchases. That’s all very well, but as I pay a cash advance credit card fee each time I take money out of a cash machine (which I’d just done – but only enough for that night’s beer) I wasn’t happy handing over my freshly acquired €20 note, knowing I’d have to replace it and pay another fee. Chunter, chunter….
Chappers calmed my irritation by buying us coffee, though we passed on the opportunity of the carrot and lentil soup the rather hippyish place we chose was serving. After a further walk around the town, during which Chappers expressed his opinions on architectural aesthetics by refusing to photograph the Old Court House – as it has now been turned into a theatre and has a rather garish aluminium structure tacked on to the front of the grand old building. I have to agree with him that it jars visually.
Old Court House at Carrick-on-Shannon (don’t look at the bag, Noeline!)
Back into the car and a stop at the two view points on the N4 as Dave hasn’t seen them yet. He did observe, however, that he and Bernie have pretty much walked the entire skyline visible from these points! Again, the sunshine improved the views no end from when I had been here previously. After several photos it was back to the house. Bernie had gone off on his bike ride, so there was just us for lunch.
Lough Arrow from the view point.
After lunch, Dave went off for a walk (of course) while I typed and posted Wednesday’s blog. Once that was done I went out to find Dave returning having got as far out as a crossroads a long way down on the Keadue road before turning back. We walked to the other side of the village to the castle which Ballinafad is almost famous for — the first time in eight days that we’d had the opportunity to visit it. Though obviously a ruin, it is a very well preserved ruin with a lot of consolidation work having been carried out on it over the years (including the installation of distinctly non-12th Century concrete lintels over all the windows, as Dave spotted). Still, if it keeps the ruins standing a few hundred more years, then it makes sense to ‘modernise’ it?
Back to the house for a coffee and a light snooze, just as Bernie returned from his epic ride. He’d been out as far as Strandhill and has basically retraced our collective footsteps from the previous two days. Including, he proudly announced, Ballytogher where he’d snapped a picture of the kangaroo sign for me!
Kangaroos in Ballytogher
As it was still a lovely sunny afternoon, at Bernie’s recommendation, Dave I went out for another walk up to the village cemetery, complete with ruined church, and down to a small jetty on Lough Arrow beyond. He was quite right, it was a really picturesque scene down there, just a little further from the house than he’d have me believe!
Lough Arrow Jetty
Back to the house for tea; the Boys having the rest of the salmon and me enjoying an old favourite in the form of a Fray Bentos pie! Once the washing up was done and dinner settled, we went up to the pub. As it was our last night in the village, the temptation not to stop at a round each was too strong. So too was the urge for experimentation, with me and Dave even trying the alternative to Guinness which is Smithwicks Bitter from Kilkenny. Bland, gassy and tasteless, so it had to be washed down with more Guinness. As it was cards night in the pub the place was very busy for a while, and a most convivial (and quite late!) evening was had.
The Angler’s Rest – once the village’s second pub. It seems to have fallen on hard times!