A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: lyndel.hebden

The most amazing adventure ever

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IMG_1070.jpg 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.
IMG_1025.jpg 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.
90_IMG_1048.jpg 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.
IMG_1035.jpg 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.
IMG_1046.jpg 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!
180_IMG_1073.jpg 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.
90_IMG_1080.jpg 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.
IMG_1091.jpg 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.
IMG_1100.jpgI 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.
IMG_1155.jpg 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.
IMG_1168.jpg 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. 180_IMG_1169.jpg
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!

Posted by lyndel.hebden 03:40 Archived in Sweden Comments (0)

The many greens of Ireland

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IMG_0934.jpg Sunday was our final day of riding to Cork to stay with Conor at his parents' house in Military Road, a fine example of 1870's architecture perched high atop a hill looking down into Cork city. We left Jack O'Rourke's about 10ish and, in fair weather, motored south along "bog roads" so described by Angela our host.
IMG_0958.jpg These roads were certainly not tourist roads but they were perfectly designed for the type of riding we wanted to do. Quiet, small, local sealed roads that went through some iconic Irish farming country and gave us an up close and personal look at the way the small communities of this country live.
IMG_0939.jpg We rode through wooded dells, along narrow tracks with hedges that abutted the tarmac and over ridges with rolling pastures either side. The variety of green on show was beautiful and I can only imagine how the vistas in this country comes alive in autumn as the leaves change colour. IMG_0959.jpg
As breakfast was not part of the deal with our room we needed to travel as far as Kanturk, about 50kms away, to find a place that was open and serving food. Late breakfast consumed we continued to travel the magical bog roads, past castles and stone walls hiding who knows what until finally, and a little reluctantly, we once again joined the rat race on the freeway into the city of Cork.
We arrived, with the weather still not raining, at the house and were greeted by Conor and his parents Gerry and Geraldine. A hot bowl of soup and a cuppa went down well for a late lunch.
Again Jim tended to the bikes and I ran a load of clothes through wash, this time FOC. A bit of oil, tightening of the head bolts on the scout and a clean of the contacts in the distributors (so much rain!) and both bikes were ship shape. We had a lazy rest of the afternoon until Fintan and Irene (Conor's brother and sister in law) and another brother Niall arrived to share a roast pork dinner cooked by Gerry. As well as the roast several different cheeses and bottles of red, white, prosecco and Baileys were consumed and the night concluded in the wee hours of Monday morning.
IMG_0951.jpg With the weather definitely on the improve we walked the 15 minutes into Cork for a look around about 10 this morning. The walk was a steady downhill gradient which meant the return journey was going to be a challenge so, to fortify ourselves, we (Lyndel, Jim, Frank) made our way up and down Oliver Plunkett street till we found a cafe with seating in the sun and had a coffee.
C and K were in town already tending to some personal matters so we arranged to meet them for lunch at 12:30pm. Jim stayed at the coffee cafe and F and I went our separate ways for the hour or so before we had to meet everyone back at the GPO.
IMG_0998.jpg Lunch was eaten at a close by restaurant and then we all split again to do our own thing - walking around the town, having another carafe of red, buying some souvenirs, drinking tea, looking inside and outside the many historic buildings and streets in Corcaigh, one of the world's top 10 destinations according to The Huffington Post and Lonely Planet.
The plan for dinner is to go to a local pub that has Irish entertainment and good food and immerse ourselves in what the people of Cork do - enjoy themselves!

Posted by lyndel.hebden 07:41 Comments (0)

Heading for Cork

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90_IMG_0860.jpg The summer in the UK AND Ireland has been particularly bad this year with very little sun and warmth and a lot of rain. Don't we know that! However, Saturday 8th August dawned in sparkling sun and, after another delicious breakfast at the Abrae Court Guest House cooked by Nina, we rode off with our first destination for the day being Nenagh, at the foot of the Arra Mountains, a couple of hours away.
Frank's mother's family came from Nenagh and so he wanted to go there and have a look around. We had left the N7 about an hour out of Dublin and were travelling local roads when the road we wanted to use was closed. Quick GPS recalculation and we found ourselves in the town of Mountrath (County Laois) where we refuelled bikes and then ourselves with hot drinks and Jim, an eclair. IMG_0885.jpg The countryside we rode through was what you see in picture books, rolling green hills with stone walls segmenting the land into one giant jigsaw. Even the crappy weather of the afternoon didn't spoil what we were seeing.
Off again, still in sunshine, to Nenagh where we stopped for a quick look round and some pics.
IMG_0897.jpg There is a castle there as well as a most quaint historical village and, with the time now around 12:30pm, we agreed to keep riding and find a pub to eat at.
CEEA0F9F062FC0A45E1CAB505E117242.jpg What we found, about 40 mins later, was this fabulous tavern (Matt The Thresher) in a little town called Birdhill, the town dating back 500 years. Chatting to the owner we found out that the previous owner had been Tony Ryan, the founder of Ryanair, who had been born and raised in the local area. We also found out that the sign above one of the doors "Shebeen" meant an illicit bar where alcohol was sold without a licence. The owner told us there were still shebeens operating in the area. We also noticed there was the Coffee Culture Barista Training Academy next door. We are still wondering where all those baristas are as we can't get a cappuccino to save our lives!! Frank thinks they've all gone to Melbourne...
The weather was fast disintegrating and so was the traffic with several traffic jams encountered along the way to our night's stop on the border of the counties of Limerick and Kerry. The first long queue of vehicles was at Adare, a designated historical town founded in the 13th century on the river Maigue. The reason for the traffic was people stopping to sightsee at the 13thC Desmond Castle, the 14thC Franciscan Friary and the Trinitarian Priory built in 1202 as well as the many thatched roof buildings etc. along the main street. There was also a wedding going on with two Silver Shadow rollers as the wedding cars. Nice! The next jam was at Rathkeale and, you guessed it, another wedding. What we found as we were riding the back roads is that the County of North Tipperary and further south west the County of Limerick are littered with castles and monasteries dating back to before the 12th and 13th the centuries.
IMG_0953.jpg With all that behind us we arrived, in steady rain, at our room for the night - Jack O'Rourke's Bar and accommodation, The Square, Abbeyfeale. We were met by Angela who showed us our rooms and after a change of clothes we settled in down in the bar to sink a few and watch Gaelic footy. We walked to Leens Hotel, four bars up from The Square, for dinner and then back to our rooms about 10:30pm for yet another well earned sleep.

Posted by lyndel.hebden 16:39 Comments (0)

Off to Ireland

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IMG_0681.jpg On Wednesday morning 5 August our ferry from Troon to Larne in Northern Ireland sailed at 11:45 so we said our goodbyes to Jim and Heather and set off to ride 166 kms to the P&O terminal.
With us crossing the Irish Sea were many bikes heading to the Ulster GP that was on that weekend. We made friends with a group from Lithuania, Baltic Bikers. The crossing took 2.5 hours so we found comfy seats and had a snooze. Off again in Larne and down the freeway to find the HD dealer just out of Belfast, well 30 miles out! I ran out of petrol just as we rolled into the driveway so Jim gave me a splash and after a quick coffee I left him there getting the job done. With Conor now leading we headed off only for me to run out of gas AGAIN this time on the freeway. By the time the other three bikes had stopped I had about 600 metres to push my bike to where they had pulled up. Conor bled some petrol from Kay's bike into my water bottle and off we went getting fuel another mile down the road. A couple of traffic jams (by now peak hour) to get to the south side of the city to Windermere House and a well deserved pint!
In Belfast our accom was just around the corner from where we stayed on our UK tour in 2009 and we ate and drank at the same pub, The Botanic, we did 6 years ago. The next morning dawned sunny and we all headed into the city to catch the Hop on Hop off bus for a morning's tour.
We drove past many points of interest and through West Belfast and up the loyalist Shankill road and the republican Falls road where the International Peace Wall is located. This was a very moving and confronting experience.
We had a sandwich at a top little deli and walked back to load up and ride off to Dublin around 2pm. Weather still OK we rode the A1/M1 stopping off for a coffee at Drogheda, about one hour out of Dublin. 90_IMG_0766.jpg With our wet weathers off, we rode confidently into peak traffic only to have the heavens open and arrive at Abrae Court Guest House in the suburb of Rathgar on the southside quite damp... 90_IMG_0699.jpg
90_IMG_0780.jpg Good little room, a triple, in a quiet groovy location. Dinner and beers at the local and then a deep and satisfying sleep.
Jim did not accompany Frank and me on Friday to go ride the Hop on Hop off bus so the two of us set off on the number 14 bus into Dublin City about 9:30am. 90_IMG_0776.jpg We got a top seat on the top deck of the HoHo bus and enjoyed a couple of hours of seeing Dublin from atop a double decker. IMG_0804.jpg Guess what? The weather forecast lied and F and I got wet as we walked back to the guesthouse to meet Jim for lunch. Murphys stayed with relatives so the three musketeers spent a lazy afternoon resting in readiness for our journey west to Limerick on Saturday. IMG_0850.jpg Dinner on Friday night was at pub 10 minutes walk away where I ate one of the best meals I have had all trip. 90_IMG_0784.jpg

Posted by lyndel.hebden 14:38 Comments (0)

Tested by the elements!

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5BBBC3EEB832843270EE1A9264750BB7.jpg Sadly, when we woke Monday morning 3 August it was raining and so, fully kitted up for the wet, we set off to ride to Applecross for some lunch and then over the Bealach nam Bo (Pass of the Cow).
90_IMG_0653.jpg With Jim L (aka our local guide) leading, first we got lost so Jim L asked Jim P if he could borrow the map and kick the GPS in. Then Jim L, on his HD, broke down and asked to borrow the WD40 to try and start the HD, which is when I bogged my front wheel as I stopped and had to be pulled out. Jim P told Jim L "three strikes and you're out!" And then Jim L fell off...
Lunch consumed and the weather heavily overcast but not raining, we took off for the pass. The sign at the start of the climb said the road was not suitable for caravans and dangerous in bad weather and we soon could see why. The road up to the pass was single lane with passing places and literally up the spine of the mountain. In clear weather you can apparently see for miles and miles but that could be a little scary as you can see exactly where you are, high, high up a very skinny bit of bitumen. As it was we were in rain and cloud and I spent all my time focused on keeping the bike from jumping out of first gear and staying on the road. Coming down was no better with limited visibility, tight hairpin bends and cross winds. We were later told by other riders we met that a bloke and his wife had come off their BMW when he touched the front brake. Once down on the main road again we made good time, now in pouring rain to Fort William to the Alexandra Hotel. We rode through deep glens and along side Loch Ness for ages, sadly not seeing much as it was very wet.
At Fort William we regrouped with the Murphys who had been off on their own Highland adventure travelling to the Isle of Skye among other places north west. We settled into our room, this time a triple with three single beds to sleep Jim, Frank and me. The price of accommodation in this part of the country and at this time of the year is high so the triple room was the cheapest option. All good, only Jim and I snored, allegedly...
WILL IT EVER STOP RAINING? Apparently not as Tuesday morning dawned with solid rain everywhere. Bearsden, a suburb of Glasgow, where Jim L and his wife Heather live, and our stop for the night, was our end point but to get there we had to ride 100 miles or so in 50mph cross winds and pelting rain. Coming up through a particularly long valley just after Glencoe and over the open moor I thought at one stage we would all be blown off our bikes by the blast of road spray and wind from the tour coaches belting along at high speed. The amount of water gushing down the mountainsides and across the road was phenomenal and it was hard not to stare at the beauty of these "pop up" waterfalls close to the road, but extreme concentration was the order of the day and that was what we all did.
The group got separated at The Green Welly Stop on the A82 as Conor, Jim on the HD and I stopped for fuel, a bit of a dry out and a phone call to a mate so a rear tyre could be ordered for Mr Parker's chief and be waiting to be fitted at the HD dealer in Belfast, our next day's destination. Back on the road the three bikes travelled successfully to where the others were waiting in a warm house with lunch of cheese, meats, bread and many pots of tea.
Having been on the road for 14 days, as you can imagine, there were several loads of washing to be done and dried in order for us to continue our journey to Ireland. So, with three garbage full of some quite gnarly riding gear in need of a good spruce up, I tagged along with the two Jim's as they went off on an expedition to find Dunchattan street Glasgow, the place of Jim P's grandfather's birth in 1887, and also to find a laundry to take on the challenge of the washing. Success! Not only a laundry with a very accommodating woman that would wash and dry clothes for the bargain price of £22.50 (don't bother converting to AUD$!!) we also found the street in the west of Glasgow, but not until our host had hailed down a cab to ask directions and the cabby said "follow me", which we did. Cup of coffee, first to pass as a cappuccino, washing collected then back to Bearsden for a baked chicken dinner and pudding. On that Tuesday night the house slept 8 adults plus the dog, a great effort with beds, bodies and bags taking up every square inch of downstairs' space.

Posted by lyndel.hebden 13:55 Comments (0)

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