“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” Joshua 1:9

August 16, 2016

Day 4 - Castle Mary

 4th August 

It was as if we had taken a step back in time. As if we had arrived at a grand hotel in the midst of all this greenery, where time stands still and Louis Armstrong and his gang play live music to the beat of a bouncy dance routine. I could just about imagine handing my bag to a concierge, and being led to my double room with an open fireplace and ensuite bathroom. Only time will tell if this will be a reality, and not a dream of times past ...

We woke up to the sun shining in to Danielle and my double rooms. As we both sat at the morning table, and ate our breakfasts (Danielle had cereal and I had my usual: poached egg on toast with tea), we discussed what we would do today.

Would we do anything? We could just sit and talk ...

We went outside into Danielle's large garden to do some more thinking.

Awesome rope swing in their garden, nearby the "bus stop" which is the covered area to my right where you can sit and read peacefully :)
It was spectacular!!
I then had the opportunity to play my favourite card game called "SkipBo" with Danielle, her mum and brother. They were all very competitive ;)

Who won again? I think it was Caroline, Danielle's mum ;)

After some further thinking and brainstorming, we decided to bake some scones to take with us as a picnic afternoon tea at a nearby ruined Castle Mary. I thought that sounded so enchanting, and Danielle had made huge plans to renovate this ruined castle in her future, so I was all for going!!

We then made the scones, one batch with orange peel (as I had been inspired from my bike ride with Caroline talking with Ursula), and the other half plain. The original is always so good!

We put them in the oven, and cleaned up after ourselves. We are VERY good girls ;)

After 15 minutes we opened the oven, took them out, and laid them to rest. We couldn't resist taking one to try, and I shared an orange peel scone with Caroline, which was heavenly all warm from the oven!!

Danielle's mum had to leave to the shops to get some ingredients for lunch, so Danielle and I amused ourselves for a while. We were getting quite hungry by this stage, so we decided to taste test a plain scone this time. We had half each, with butter, cream and jam.

It was like biting into a crunchy cloud!!

After lunch, and packing our back packs with scones, jam, cream, butter, tea, milk and a thermos (I contributed by packing the milk in my small backpack ;), we began our walk.

Beginnings of our journey!!
Passing a field of cows
Descending into the castle 
It was full of ferns, so it was difficult to wind our way through the mazed walls 
The amazing doorway!! You can still see the lovely features
It was a huge castle!! It would have had around 4 floors!! 
Lush ferns
Amazing features of the doorway and windows

We then thought it was time to have our picnic, so I suggested getting up onto one of the high windowsills to eat our scones. 

Here I am after getting up on the windowsill ;) We were looking into a room, possibly a lounge room, where you could see the remains of a fireplace.
Danielle came up with the amazing idea to use a pen that I had in my bag as a knife, as we completely forgot one!! We wrapped it in cling film, as she does at work when creating a frozen vase, and wahlaa!!
My scone all dressed up, and tea in the background ;) We had also forgotten mugs as well. haha
This is the view we were looking out on from the windowsill where we ate afternoon tea
I had to take a photo of Danielle here, because it is her dream to renovate this castle in her future. Never know how much this photo might be worth the it is all renovated ;) 
Here I am below the windowsill we had eaten on. As you can see, it was quite high up!!
After finishing our meal, and packing up, Danielle took the car, which Caroline drove to us, to work. Caroline and I then walked back to their house through some lovely paddocks.

The road we took 
Amazing views over County Cork

I increasingly felt inspired to paint these rolling hills, but alas, I cannot paint :( Perhaps you can? ;) 
 We then arrived back home, and we had a lovely afternoon of not doing much ;) When Danielle's dad got home from work, Caroline, Michael and I all had tea in the bus stop in the garden, which I showed to you previously.

We then decided that, because it was high tide for a couple of hours, we should go sailing.

The amazing sailing boat we went on. Danielle's parents knew the people who owned this boat, and can use it when they are not using it :) 
It was very fun!! I did get wet, from the water splashing up onto the seats, but that is all part of the experience :) 
Michael steering the sails. He told us what to do with the front sail, and when to change sides of the boat. 
We went to the other side of the water body, and then sailed back again. It was quite gusty in the area which was shielded by trees, so it was difficult to predict the wind's direction.

When we got back to where we parked our car, Caroline and I had to get out of the boat to wait for Michael to dock the boat, and when I was walking in the water to get back to shore I fell into the water ;) There was a small drop off in the seabed, and so my jeans got soaked!! Thinking back, that could have been where I got my cold that I now have ... ;)

When I got back I googled Castle Mary, and this is what it looks like from above. 
This is Castle Mary in 1785, when it was built. It was burnt down in 1920. 
If you want to know more about the Castle, click the caption of the sketch above.

Now you are uptodate,

Laura xoxo


August 12, 2016

Day 3 - Cobh

3rd August 2016

Today we decided to go to look around a town called Cobh. Cobh (pronounced Cove), is a small harbour town where the Titanic ship last docked before sinking in 1912, and is therefore a main tourist destination.

When we (Danielle, her brother called Oliver and I) set out the weather was quite gloomy, looking like it would rain, so we were hoping that that would not be the case. 

Great Island: where Cobh is located. Below Great Island there is the Cork Habour. In the top left there is Fota Island, where we would be stopping later in the day. 
After driving to Great Island, which is where Cobh is, we stopped at the town and decided to go the playground ;) haha, not really. I was just teasing Danielle about going there.

Danielle taking a picture of Cobh Cathedral from the harbour
A selfie of Danielle and I with the wind dancing through our hair :) 
We then went for a walk to St. Colman's (Cobh) Cathedral, which opened in 1911 after 47 years of building!! The builders must have been soo glad to finally get it finished after 47 years!! 

Cobh Cathedral
View from the Cathedral to Cork Habour and Spike Island (center right), which is a small military island. 
We then went inside, and explored the many nooks and crannies in the cathedral.

Amazing Gothic Revival architecture!!
I love the pattern on the floor!! Danielle and I challenged ourselves to see whether it was all one continuous pattern, and we found that it wasn't. Each section of a pattern loops in one continuos stroke. Amazing!!
Oliver and Danielle, mucking around ;)
Danielle was confused why it was called a cathedral, when there is a church like this in Cork that is only called a church and not a cathedral. So, I did a bit of research:

A cathedral is not necessarily larger than a church, contrary to beliefs. A cathedral is actually a church which houses a bishop, and where the church is run under the authority of a bishop. In terms of denominations, the older Roman Catholics (which the Cobh Cathedral is) and Orthodox have cathedrals, and the newer denominations such as Baptists and Methodists don't have cathedrals. 

An interesting fact is that in the older days in Britain under King Henry VII a town could only be called a town if it had a cathedral in it :) 

By this stage we were getting hungry, so Danielle suggested we go the Titanic museum to eat. 

Old titanic sign. Very idyllic :)

It was a while to walk there, but it was lovely scenery along the way :) 
Walking down from the cathedral on the hill. 
Cobh main street
After refuelling our bodies with energy, we left Cobh for Fota Island. Fota Island is where Ireland's only wildlife park is located, as well as famous gardens and a golf course.

We decided to go to Fota Island to see the famous botanic gardens.

After parking we started off walking ...

Entrance to the Fota gardens
Oliver had to take a small pit stop, so Danielle and I kept walking. 

Awesome fauna we noticed along the way
We soon realised that Oliver wouldn't know how to find us, as there were many turns that you could take where we left him.

So we walked back to where we left him, calling out along the way, but we couldn’t find him. He must have taken the wrong turn ... 

So we went to the main house and gardens (largest area) hoping he would come there, but we couldn't find him there either … 

So, eventually we went back to the car, wrote a note saying we would be at the cafe in the main house drinking tea, and placed the note on the front seat of the car in hopes that he would eventually see it.

This part of the garden was fenced off, and we didn't know why. So, we decided to go through the barrier that was there to keep us out! Luckily, we are both super skinny, so we easily slid through the side of the barrier :) We were thinking there might have been a murder which happened there, or a dangerous animal that they are trying to contain, or ... 

Drinking our lovely tea, hot chocolate and digging in to the cakes :)
After we had bought some tea and cakes from the cafe ... 

and were drinking our drinks and beginning to eat our cakes ...

Oliver walked in! 

So he did eventually go to the car to see our note ;) haha :D 

Oliver took a photo of my apple sponge to show us how to take a good photo of food. This definitely makes it look yummy :)
After Oliver finished off Danielle's hot chocolate, and my large cake, we started our walk again :D

This time, we were all together!

Gate to the "walled garden"
Beautiful rose Danielle held up for me

We were all snapping away with our various cameras at all the awesome flowers and landscape in the gardens. It would have been some sight to see ;) haha
More lovely roses 
Awesome dahlia 
Here is a shot of brother and sister taking the SAME shot!! Who took it first?? ;)  
The pavilion surrounded by amazing coloured fauna
We then arrived home, had some dinner, and decided to head back out again to a pub to listen to some 'trad' (traditional) music. 
Danielle and I drinking our "7UP" with the trad band behind us. A lady just came up to us and asked us what we wanted to drink :D Very welcoming!!
The trad band :)
We met a French student called "Louis" in the pub. It was very hard to hear anything anyone said over the loud music, so I basically just nodded and said "Ohh" and "Ahh" all night ;) 
So after the trad band an Australian singer/songwriter came up and started to play. He was good, but Danielle and I were a bit tired and were really only at the pub to hear trad music, so we decided to leave. 

We had an awesome day today!! 

Now you are up to date,



August 11, 2016

Day 2 - Shannagarry, Kilkenny and Ballycotton

2nd August 2016

After waking up in my double bed, and washing my face in my ensuite bathroom ;), I had a lovely breakfast with the family. Danielle had work at 4 pm, so we had all morning to catch up and tour County Cork.

After breakfast we hopped in the car and headed for our first stop of the day at Ballycotton cookery school, where we went to the craft store. The drive was lovely, through natural tunnels of trees and rolling fields painted green and yellow.

Along the way we spotted many cows and sheep, basking in the non-existent sun :)

After the craft shop we went to the Kilkenny restaurant, where we sat down in a seat overlooking the Ballycotton lighthouse and read through the the menu.

The Ballycotton lighthouse is on the island in the far distance
I decided to get a goats cheese, butternut squash and leek quiche with wedges. I don't usually like quiche, because it is so eggey, but it sounded like what I most felt like (something warming and different). So it was lovely to find when this one came out that it was all lovely, soft and crunchy :)

This quiche is different to other quiches, because I couldn't taste much egg at all, just warm, soft cottage cheese. I definitely need to learn how to make that!!

Ah ... My mouth is watering just writing this!!

After finishing our meal, and Danielle sneakily paying for both of our meals (VERY sneakily), we headed to the shore: Shannagarry beach.

Shannagarry beach: Ballycotton lighthouse is behind me here
Shannagarry beach: You can almost feel the wind in these photos ;) 
You can see in this picture of Co. Cork that Ballycotton and Shannagarry are both very close to the ocean. The blue dot is Saleen, where Danielle's cottage is.

Shannagarry beach was extremely windy, and so it was difficult to take a good shot of us without our hair in our faces :)

Danielle than had to leave for work, so her mum (Caroline) and I went for a bike ride along the Cork harbour inlet close to their place. The road we followed was called Church View Road. Such a cute name ;)

It was a lovely, quiet road. And in the whole trip I think we only saw around 7 cars and a tractor.

As we were riding, and admiring the views, Caroline was explaining about the area, and that the tides here are really strong.

Natural tunnels we passed through. The sign in the corner says Caution: Children Running ;)
It was high tide here, which only lasts about four hours. The water is then pulled out to the Cork habour completely, leaving this area all muddy. 
We stopped along the way at a cottage. As we were passing Caroline called out that we were riding past, and they said to stop for a chat. haha. They are so friendly!! Imagine that happening in Finland :D
This is the path we were just passing along next to a cottage, when Caroline called out that we were passing by ;) 
So anyway, there were two ladies there who had the most beautiful Irish accents, and were discussing renovations on their house ect. Laughing and making jokes all the way through ;) Caroline knew them, btw :D

Then we got to talking about scones, as I wanted to see how they like making their scones in Cork, and they said that the best way to make your scone is crumbly and without too much baking powder. They really said to add no baking powder, just self-raising flour, but there is no self-raising flour in Helsinki so I guess a bit would be fine added to plain flour. They said that scones are lovely with berries or peels or chocolate in them :D

After this I felt very inspired to make my own scones with orange peel. I suddenly felt elated, and ready to take on the world of scone baking ;)

On we went and we passed a really old church (I can't remember how old it was). It must be why the road is called Church view Road.

I actually skidded along around a corner of mud, and tried to stop myself (effectively) while making a huge bruise on my inner leg (ouch). A week later and the bruise is still visible!!

Here I am at a town we passed along our bike journey
When we arrived back home, Caroline was full of energy, and I was exhausted. I kept telling myself it was just the last hill that I found difficult to do, because I stopped half way up the hill, and it is so much harder to start the bike again when you are at that point. That is why I was exhausted ;) Perhaps ...

Now you are up to date,