Thursday, November 7, 2013

Hong Kong

Good morning from Hong Kong. It's around 4am here and we are both up again in the early hours for the second night since arriving here. Our body clocks are still on Europe time and we've been wide awake since around 3am.....the joys of travelling!
We are staying at the Salisbury YMCA (stop singing!, and yes it is called the YMCA) which is right near Hong Kong harbour. When we arrived we were told that the hotel had been overbooked so they'd given us an upgrade. Thanks - look at that view!!! The quality of this photo isn't so great as it's through the window of our suite but you get the to speak!!!
Last night we sat with glasses of wine in hand and watched the nightly light show - pure decadence, and yep it was pretty spectacular.  
 During our early morning risings we've been watching the goings on across the road. It's a luxury shopping mall called 1881 Heritage (which is the old Marine Police headquarters - lovely old buildings) and they are going all out with their Xmas decorations. The decorating has been happening under cover of night and covered up during the day in purple wrappings. Hope they don't read this 'cause I've just spoiled the surprise...! There are millions of fairy lights across hedges and up trees and two huge bells complete with cherubs, and a big Xmas tree. There have been dozens of men with trucks and cranes working away like busy little ants for the big reveal.
 Good morning Hong Kong - James in his finest!
 Yesterday we walked around Kowloon and popped into shops, camera stores (uh oh! so much camera gear here!) and markets. There are some interesting sights. Hong Kong is such a full on city - it never stops. So many people, so many neon signs, so much traffic - fun!
 We hopped on the MTR to get through town.
 Night markets. I love those places - the sights, the noise, the sounds, the smell....
 Nathan Road - so much neon in one place.
 Washing drying from buildings everywhere, and so many air conditioners. Half of the world's air conditioners are in Hong Kong - the other half are in Dubai!! If you're an air conditioner mechanic you'd never be out of work in these cities!
 More shopping...

 Scaffolding asian style. We've seen this before but it always amazes me that bamboo is the material used for scaffolding in asian countries - and not just for small buildings. They build skyscrapers with this stuff!
So tonight is our final night here in Hong Kong and the last night of our trip before we hop on another plane and head for home. Paris and Ireland seem such a long time ago, but it's also gone so quickly. 
As always, we know that we are truly lucky to be able to travel the world and see such wonderful places and meet so many friendly and generous people along the way. 
We also know how lucky we are to have everything and everyone at home, and at this time in our travels we are always getting quite homesick and eager to see those we love and be back in familiar surroundings.
Thanks so much for following us on our journey here, as well as on Instagram and Facebook. We love getting your comments and hearing from you when we are so far away from home. Makes the homesickness a little less!
Looking forward to seeing everyone very soon.
Until our next journey, love to all.
Kerrie and James xx

Sunday, November 3, 2013

In Dublin Fair City.....

Hello from Dublin. We've been here for three days now and have been exploring this very cosmopolitan city. Yesterday we did a walking tour with a history graduate from Trinity College which was a great way to see the sights and gain some knowledge of Irish history. And very entertaining as well - highly recommend if you are coming to Dublin.
 We started in Trinity College where it was raining....really?! It's been wet the last few days - they tell me this isn't normal! 
 We meandered around the streets and saw Old Parliament House, Temple Bar area, Dublin Castle, Town Hall and lots in between - all smattered with Irish history and interesting tidbits along the way. As it was Saturday morning there were small markets in various spots - James bought a kebab with horse meat at one of them....yep that's right, horse meat. Tasty too!
And did you know they like potatoes here in Ireland? Seventeen different varieties in every shop - true! 
 The previous day we went to see the Book of Kells - amazing. And this place - Wow! It's called The Long Room. Shelves and shelves of precious old books and manuscripts. Classical music playing, lovely smell, I could have stayed there all day and just looked. It's a working library, although you do have to make an appointment to use it - who wouldn't?!
 Our guide yesterday told us that George Lucas modelled the Jedi library in Star Wars on the Long Room - look it up, it's true.
 Yesterday afternoon the weather turned very cold and nasty so we walked back through St. Stephen's Green to out hotel. These lovely swans were being fed by a little asian girl and her family. There were both parents and eight young swans almost fully grown - they're called Mute Swans (they weren't...mute that is). Plus lots of other water birds with them.

Our time in Ireland has almost come to an end - it's our last day today. This really is a gorgeous country with very friendly and welcoming people. We had the most lovely talk with our taxi driver coming to the hotel - who couldn't understand why we would leave our lovely weather to come here!
Tomorrow we begin our journey home via an overnight stop in Paris and a few nights in Hong Kong. Thanks for keeping up with us here and on Facebook and Instagram. It's lovely to hear from you all - technology really does make the world a smaller place.
Love to all - see you soon. xx 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

We've been to BallyK!

Yes we did! We went to Ballykissangel - remember the show? And yes, that's Fitzgerald's Pub right there! I'm sure I saw Brian Quigley driving up the street!
 The town is actually called Avoca and is set in a very picturesque little valley in County Wicklow. It was raining quite a bit so we didn't get to explore the village very much but we did spend quite a bit of time in another place here....
 My idea of heaven....shelves and shelves of yarns, the smell of lanolin, gorgeous colours...
 more colour and yarn...
 and these....
 producing these....yes we were at Avoca Weaving Mill which has been making handwoven goods since 1723. Today the looms are power looms, which means they're automated but still need human assistance to ensure everything is working properly. You can walk through the weaving sheds and watch each process - fascinating.
And these gorgeous throws are ready for the finishing process - washing, brushing, fulling.
 All the metres and metres of fabric which comes off the looms is inspected by hand for faults and repaired.
 And just in case you're wondering - yes I did buy something. It's very colourful, naturally! A gorgeous rug which may be just for decorative purposes when we get home to the heat!
And just further up the road from Avoca was this lovely place which has been our accommodation for the night - Woodenbridge Hotel. Beautiful setting nestled in under the hill with a running river under the bridge and pine trees all around.
Today we return our car and head into Dublin fair city for our last few days in Ireland.
Love to all xx

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Wild Weather and Moving On.

The wild weather has been and gone. It wreaked havoc across the UK and created some bad weather here in Ireland which we sat out in Ennis. Thankfully yesterday we were able to continue on our journey south and east although with some revised plans. We did backtrack yesterday morning and saw the Cliffs of Moher before we headed east. They are very spectacular and the conditions at the cliffs were still pretty wild. One man was blown over by a gust of wind and it was very difficult to get decent shots as the wind was so strong I couldn't hold the camera very steady. The spray was coming up from the sea - a pretty mean feat as it's a long way down! 
 The shiny patches in the the grass in this shot is the grass being laid flat by the wind.
 We then headed east. Unfortunately we had to decide that going further south was probably going to mean we would be rushing too much, so we didn't get to go down to the Ring of Kerry. We headed for Cashel which is about half way across this part of Ireland.
This morning we walked up through green fields to see the Rock of Cashel. It has a fascinating history dating back to the 4th century. It's been the home to kings, bishops and monks and sits high above the surrounding area. It was bitterly cold there this morning even though the sun was shining brightly.
 It's surrounded by rolling hills and beautiful agricultural land - the best in Europe apparently (according to our guide).
 There is significant preservation work going on to ensure that the buildings don't erode and decay any further. Amazing amount of money being spent on it to preserve what is still there. This gorgeous gothic church had secret steps and and walkways in the walls so the treasures could be secured and protected from enemies when they approached. It was a real fortress as well as a place of worship. You could walk right around the building and to connecting buildings without ever stepping foot on the ground.
 The cows were coming home....literally!
 The round tower where a watch was kept to protect the inhabitants.
 Cashel is a very pretty town.  

Tonight we are near Wexford on the east coast. The landscape is very different here to the west - such big changes in small distances. Tomorrow we head north from here and have one last night before we head back in to Dublin and return our car. Then it's four nights in Dublin fair city before we start our way home. Where has the time gone?
Hope you are all well at home. Looking forward to seeing everyone soon - but I've a few more Guinness to drink before then!!!
Love to all xx

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Leaving Roundstone.....

Hello again - it's been a few days and there's a few things to catch up on...
We left Roundstone this morning to the promise of wet and windy weather - more about that later.
Our last few days in Roundstone we spent exploring some of the lovely places to visit. Our first stop was Ballynahinch Castle which is now a hotel although open to the public to explore the grounds and eat at the restaurant. There are some beautiful walks around the lakes and rivers.
 The river walk takes you past gorgeous places like this.
 Salmon country!
 Ever seen the show 'An Idiot Abroad'? I have a contender for the next series....
 Deep in the woods. I was expecting a leprechaun to pop out at any moment - but no, nowhere to be seen!
 This little bird sang to us as we were getting back into the car. What a lovely little chap!
 On the way back to Roundstone - Connemara is a stunning region.
 We also visited Kylemore Abbey which is probably the most beautiful building I've seen here in Ireland in the most amazing landscape - nestled at the foot of a mountain with a lake at the front. And this Victorian walled garden with six acres of plants, trees, etc.
The estate has a very long and interesting history. It was originally built by Henry Mitchell, an Englishmen, who fell in love with Connemara on a holiday. He was a very clever man who designed many innovative things for the castle and gardens including hydro electricity to light and warm the castle and underground heating for the gardens so they could grow all sorts of exotic plants. 
 It is now the home of Benedictine nuns who moved into the estate after their nunnery in Belgium was bombed during World War One. They ran a boarding school for girls for many years which only closed in 2010. Now the nuns run the estate as a tourist attraction and they have done a wonderful job of restoring the castle and gardens to their former splendour.
Stunning spot to live.
 There's lots of fun things for little kiddies to play with in the grounds....anyone know the number for that TV show?!
 Yes, he's still following me around....
So we are now in County Clare in Ennis, south of Galway. As I said we left early this morning to the threat of some severe weather coming - heavy rain and winds, so seeing the Cliffs of Moher today was off the agenda. The trip down was wet but not too bad. We found a nice hotel to stay in and as we were getting our gear out of the car the heavy rain started. By the time we reached the front door we were drenched - just like we had been hosed off - literally! And within an hour it was clear! This weather is seriously changeable! Tonight it's falling down again, so we will have to wait and see what tomorrow brings.
We are down to the last week here in Ireland. A few more days with the car and then four nights in Dublin.
Love to all at home - thanks for following us on our travels. xx

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The view from here....

We are now in Roundstone, County Galway staying in our cottage for a week. We are right on the quay and this is more or less the view we wake to each morning.....gorgeous!
From the cottage we walk up the road to O'Dowd's Pub - famous for it's seafood. And the Guinness is pretty good too!
Afternoon walks around the village find all sorts of treasures - churches, donkeys, back laneways, locals out walking their dogs!
Night from the harbour - we were lucky enough to have a very clear night to get some good shots. A local fisherman came up behind u whilst we were down on the quay and commented "You can't possibly be getting any good photos down here at this time of night" in his thick Irish accent. I think he may have thought we were a little odd!
And here is our new friend who followed us home one afternoon. The dogs here lead a charmed life wandering around the village and chatting to anyone they come across!
We are just up the road from Roundstone at Clifden at the moment having coffee and food so we can use the free Wi-Fi. There's none in Roundstone! 
See you for now. Love to all xx