10.08.2015 - 22.08.2015
The plan for dinner on the night of Monday 10 August was to go to a local pub that had Irish entertainment and good food and immerse ourselves in what the people of Cork do - enjoy themselves! But our plan was foiled by the fact that live Irish folk music was not as ubiquitous in the city of Cork as Jim had hoped and so, after checking out many bars, we found ourselves back in Oliver Plunkett street having a bite. Not to worry, the weather was still fine and we sat outside, ate, enjoyed a couple of pints and watched the good citizens ambling by. Frank walked home up the big hill whilst Jim and I caught a taxi. Just as we were coming through the front door about 10:00pm we met Gerry donning his coat to go out. Out at this time of night? Yes, he was on his way to his local, "The Local", for a pint so J and I tagged along.
The bar is literally around the corner from the house and Gerry likes to go on a Sunday night but because he was having such a good time at the family dinner he didn't go, and so Monday night was his 'make up' night. Just as we were ordering our pints Frank walked in the bar door and so we sat and talked with our new friends Donal (neighbour immediately behind) and his son Michael. It seems the time to buy fresh hot chips in Cork is about midnight and so all the chip shops open just as people are starting to leave the bars. Donal presented Conor with a couple of bags as Conor was closing the shed for the night and so a late night snack was instantly provided.
A ride to Kinsale for lunch was organised for Tuesday and at about 11:30am we got the bikes out of the shed and got set to go. The chief would not start for Jim so Conor had a go and as he was priming it again he saw that the kick starter had a crack in it. Yep, two in fact so engines off and a call to a local Indian enthusiast to organise a time to go to his home later that afternoon to weld it. Now with the house being situated on the top of a very, very big hill there was no problem bump starting the bike and off we went for our afternoon's trip and a really great little ride down to the fishing town situated on the River Bandon that runs into the Celtic Sea.
No hills in the carpark at Kinsale so Conor, full of lunch, pushed Jim to start and off we rode home along some even prettier roads so Jim and Conor could go get the bike fixed before we set off on a two day excursion to ride around the Ring of Kerry with Fintan and Conor's friend Conan on Wednesday and Thursday. Again, the homeward riding was brilliant and the dinner that awaited us was the icing on the cake or should I say the baked ham, mashed potatoes and cabbage was just what was needed. Plans for the next two days were finalised with an overnight booking made to stay at Kenmare County Kerry the next night.
We met Fintan, Irene and Conan at Kay's family home on Wednesday about 10am and, in brilliant sunshine, headed south west on the N71 past Bandon, Clonakilty, Leap, Skibbereen for a lunch stop at Bantry. In the afternoon we rode The Healy Pass again, having ridden this route on our UK tour in 2009. This is seriously great country, the scenery spectacular, the sheep that graze on the mountains not at all phased by our noisy motorcycles roaring past and the riding just the ticket!
We arrived at our hotel about 5ish after an afternoon tea stop at Teddy O'Sullivan's, a little tea house in a fishing village looking out over the Kenmare River. We got together in the bar and had a beer whilst we waited for Conor's uncle Cyril, who has a house in Kenmare, to come to see Conor. He did and invited us all to dinner at a very smart restaurant in town, after which he promised some Irish music.
By this time Jim was so excited - Irish music at last! The meal was 5 star and the music at The Coachmans was provided by a duo, accordion and guitar. Cyril insisted we go back to his house and have a nightcap at what I can only say is the best stocked bar with more different types of whiskey than I have ever seen.
Thursday morning dawned sunny and bright and, with a meeting time of 10:30 in Killarney to meet Fintan, Irene and Conan who had ridden back to Cork the previous afternoon, we set off to ride The Ring of Kerry.
It was on this leg of our long adventure that I unfortunately found a bad piece of road about 10 kms out of Killarney and the Bluebird and I, instead of taking the sweeping right hand bend, found ourselves back to front down the embankment in deep but thankfully soft bracken and mud. Yes, that was the end of my riding as I cracked my right scapula and had to be driven back to Cork in a van with the bike and then off to Cork University Hospital for an X-ray. The Sport Scout is a tough little bike and sustained no damage at all being able to be ridden from the site of the crash into the town and then, the next day ridden by Conor to where it currently is until we organise to get it back to Sweden.
I convalesced under the care of Geraldine and Gerry that night and by Friday morning a flight was booked for me in the evening from Cork to Amsterdam to stay with Karelien in Yerseke. I cancelled the three night's accommodation in Caen, Amiens and Peronne where we had planned to tour the Somme to see where Jim's grandfather had been based as a rigger in the Australian Flying Corp in WWI.
Jim left during the morning to catch the 4pm ferry from Rosslare to Rosscoff in France and then ride the 900kms to Holland. What we had not factored in was that Saturday 15 August was one of the busiest days in the summer with all of France on holiday and most of them on the road. He had a marathon day, having to ride for over 14 hours, to eventually stay at our friends' place in Belgium. He could not find any accommodation anywhere even though he tried and tried and his foreign credit card was unusable at the petrol stations in the villages. He had to ask local people, many who spoke no English, to use their card and he paid them in Euros. The other major issue he had was that while he rode at 90kms an hour on the motorway cars travelled at 160kms and with no taillight he was virtually invisible so he had to ride as much as he could on the minor roads which were in complete darkness with no street lighting or cats eyes to guide him. Suffice it to say when he eventually arrived at Claude and Rolly's in Ostend on the coast of Belgium he was worn out. He had not eaten since disembarking the ferry at one o'clock but his first request, at 3 o'clock Sunday morning, was not for food but for a glass of wine! He recuperated on Sunday and on Monday 17 August he, Claude and Rolly came to us at Yerseke. After a dinner of mussels the Belgians left to drive the three hours home and Jim and I settled into life at Karelien's for the next few days.
Jim serviced his bike and I rested in readiness for our journey north to Sweden. We changed our ferry booking from Denmark to Sweden to a day later (Friday 8am) which gave us more time to travel to and stay overnight with our friends just outside the village of Vivild at the top of Juttland Denmark in their house built in 1680.
Saying goodbye to Anne Mette and Böf at 5:15am, with a thermos of coffee and sandwiches made fresh by Anne Mette, we drove two hours to catch the ferry from Frederikshavn to Gothenburg four hours sailing away.
450kms and five hours later we arrived back in Grevbo where we had started our journey 35 days before. Our flight to Melbourne leaves at 2:20pm tomorrow (Monday 23 August) so today is our final day. We've just arrived back at Jorgen's after a short trip to see yet another Indian owner who is also a pilot.
For Jim's 60th birthday present Jorgen organised for Jim to be taken up in a 1940 Steerman radial engine bi-plane, a surprise gift and a super way to end our holiday. The smile on Jim's face will be very hard to erase I can tell you.
The trip was a true adventure and every minute of it held a new and memorable experience. We planned it well and had the most excellent travelling companions in Karelien, Leo and Marianne, and Frank, Eamon, Conor and Kay - The FECKers. Once again our Swedish hosts Jorgen and Catarina showed great hospitality and were most generous allowing me to ride the Sport Scout to another rally. The rally itself was a real highlight and an annual event not to be missed so next year Germany is the place to be in the last weekend of July. We'll see you there!