Gin and Gumboots

“It’s a thing to see when a boy comes home.”
― John Steinbeck

With such a close connection to the Australian outback, we could never wish away the rain especially when so many of our family and friends are in the middle of one of the longest droughts in the country’s history. Liam and I had decided that whatever the weather was like in Europe we would embrace it wholeheartedly! Even with such good intentions if anyone told me I would be standing in the freezing rain at a music festival wearing a pair of borrowed gumboots, I would not have believed them. For anyone who knows me, being cold, wet and attending music festivals are not really my thing. Spoilt with amazing weather back in Brisbane I would scoff at the idea of exposing myself to the outdoors in anything other than ‘perfect’ weather but sometimes you just surprise yourself.

I loved every minute of it.

Gumboots

surprising yourself

Our lovely hosts Linda and John had asked us to join them and their friend Rose for a day at the Valentia Isle Festival on the picturesque Valentia Island. Valentia Island is one of the most westerly points in Europe and the Festival itself overlooked the beautiful King of Kerry and its surrounding mountains. Not being sure what to expect, especially after Linda insisting I borrow a pair of gumboots, we walked up to the entrance. It was a far cry from the intense security of Australia’s music events –  barely a police presence, no bag searches and barrel to drop any glass alcohol bottles into as we entered the main section of the Festival. There were kids playing on hay bales, young spirited hipsters, suburban couples and old time hippies all mingling together in a colourful cross section of the community. All with one thing in common, a love of music.

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Casual entry

Our Crew - Liam, Myself, Linda, John & Rose

Our Crew – Liam, Myself, Linda, John & Rose

 I clutched my Gin and Tonic as we danced our hearts out as cold rain spattered down. We sang along to tunes like ‘Is this love’ performed by Natty Wailer, formerly of Bob Marley and the Wailers. Natty took the crowd on a music journey of classic reggae music and spoke of hope and freedom and of love and liberation. Very fitting with the vibe of the festival as it really was a love-fest between the different mix of people who attended. We also discovered some amazing home grown music from Irish bands like Corner Boys (please look them up, you won’t be disappointed) and King Kong Company.

Not only did this festival have music but fantastic food as well. My favourite being the Eco Cafe Bus which is mobile cafe made from a vintage 1968 Bristol Lodekka Double Decker Bus which is run on recycled waste vegetable oil.  They had seating upstairs and a kitchen downstairs full of delectable delights as well as selling hot water bottles for the odd cold festival goer.

Eco Bus Cafe

Eco Bus Cafe

Hot Water Bottle Special

Hot Water Bottle Special

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On the Eco Bus Cafe – you could even have a snooze 😉

The Girls

The Girls

Corner Boys

Corner Boys

There was another reason that made this day so special. Without even knowing it, Liam stood on Valentia Island singing along to Irish bands on the day his Grandmother was born there 103 years ago (Liam’s mum told us with great delight the following day on the phone when we told her where we had been). Elsie left Ireland in her early twenties to then never return to her native homeland. I wonder if she ever though her only Grandson would visit her birthplace over 100 years later on her birthday. Talk about a full circle moment.

Our Crew

Our Crew

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One of the Festival Attendees

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Festival Attendees

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DJs 

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One love, one heart

We wanted to say a big thank you to Linda and John for being such fabulous hosts in Tralee. You made us try something new and we had an amazing day. We also wanted to thank Patrick and Eileen O’Shea for our wonderful stay at the O’Shea’s B&B in Cahersiveen Kerry. We are so lucky to have such a generous and welcoming family in Ireland.

xoxoxo 

Country Ireland

“I have seen landscapes…which, under a particular light, made me feel that at any moment a giant might raise his head over the next ridge. Nature has that in her which compels us to invent giants: and only giants will do.”

– C.S. Lewis

Oh Ireland, you may have only given us a day and half of sunshine while we were there but it doesn’t stop you from being spectacular. You can see why there are so many Irish folk songs that sing of their homeland. Even in the cold, drizzling rain the countryside is truly beautiful. Their rolling green hills are full of wildflowers, their impossibly clean Friesian dairy cows speckle the countryside and the red doors of country cottages are framed with hanging flower baskets. As stated in the C.S. Lewis quote above it really is a place that you can image a magical fantasy world full of mystical beasts and talking animals.

Oh Ireland

Oh Ireland

Liam and I said farewell to Dublin and jumped on the train to visit a little town called Tralee to catch up with Liam’s cousin Linda and her husband John.We then picked up a rental car and headed out to explore the area since we had sometime to kill before Linda finished work. My first thoughts were to see an Irish beach so we drove to one called Banna Beach for an ice cream.I wasn’t sure what I was expecting but let’s just say they are a little different to Australia’s! It was windy, wet and a bit dismal! Not to be discouraged I bought my soft serve with sprinkles and joined the three others on the shore; a guy in a wetsuit and a dad with his daughter building sandcastles in full tracksuits.With cold hands and chattering teeth we walked down to the shoreline and felt the temperature of the water (freezing) and then raced back to the car!

Banna Beach

Banna Beach

After that we headed back to Linda and John’s townhouse where they graciously hosted us for the next couple of nights. We had lots of lovely chats with many cups of tea and biscuits while they told us what sights to visit.

Over the next few days saw lots of the countryside in the Counties of Kerry and Clare. In the misty rain we drove around the Dingle Peninsular along their narrow, winding, cliff side roads. There we stopped to see the ancient Beehive huts that were inhabited by the local people of that area in Ancient times.

Dingle Peninsula

Dingle Peninsula

We caught a ferry at Tarbert and then drove to the natural wonders that are the Cliffs of Moher. The wind swept cliffs rise 214 meters tall at their highest point and are 8 kilometers long. There is no real barrier along much of these cliffs so many visitors stood dangerously close trying to capture the perfect photo, myself included. Liam stood far back yelling at me to ‘get away from the edge, you know you’re clumsy’ while I scrambled down the embankment to try and find a spot for my selfie. I think I managed it ok without falling off which was a small miracle!

dangerously close to the edge selfie

dangerously close to the edge selfie

We had a tour through Ross Castle, a 15th Century tower house on the edge of Lough Leane Lake. We danced around in our sexy Ponchos in the rain through the magnificent gardens of Muckross Estate. To warm up we stopped for Irish Coffees and a piece of Apple Pie while we drove the famous King of Kerry coastline. We even stayed in a little B&B with rooms that looked like a delightful bedroom of a sweet Irish granny.

Braving the weather - Muckross Estate

Liam braving the weather – Muckross Estate

Irish Coffee & Apple Pie

Irish Coffee & Apple Pie

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was then on our second last day that the sky cleared and the sunlight poured across the coastline. We finished the Ring of Kerry drive seeing Ireland in all it glory. Then with the sunshine on our backs we climbed the ruin of the 16th Century Ballycarbery Castle, just outside of Cahersiveen. This would have had to be one of my favourite moments in Ireland. There is no queue, tour guide or visitor’s centre at this site, just a ruin in someone paddock that anyone can stop and climb. Just you, the crumbling towers and your imagination as it brings back that childlike wonder that as an adult, you thought was lost.

Ballycarberry Castle

Ballycarberry Castle

Thank you Ireland for bringing out that sunshine. Considering it rains on average of 225 days of the year we were truly thankful.

Also I wanted to note that John’s back garden has the most luscious, thickest and greenest grass I have ever seen. A true marvel to the eye!!

John's Impressive Grass

John’s Impressive Grass

xoxo

Click the photos below to see more of our journey in a slideshow

In Dublin’s Fair City…

For Liam:

“I had that stubborn streak, the Irish in me I guess.” – Gregory Peck

Walking through Dublin’s Customs brought back a flood of fond memories from when I was here in 2007. A bubbly Irish beauty, who was the current reigning ‘Rose of Tralee’ at the time, collected myself and a friend from the airport for a whirlwind week around Ireland. We danced at local pubs in the Temple Bar District, drank pints of Guinness at the Guinness Factory, braved the rain at the Giant’s Causeway and took a Black Cab tour around Belfast. She was the perfect host for an adventure in the Emerald Isle and I just loved every minute of it. Ireland sure had a lot to live up too this time around.

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Ireland back in 2007

Unfortunately that feeling faded pretty quickly. When you arrive at 9.30am on a Sunday morning severely jet lagged, you can be a little grumpy (correction – I can be a little grumpy). It seems that just like a hang-over, I don’t recover as quickly from jet lag as i once used too. With only a few hours sleep after flying for 23hrs straight, Liam and I decided we would try and adapt to the local time, so we faced the long day ahead of us. We checked into our hotel and hit the streets of Dublin to take in some of the sights…at the local cinema. It was the only place I could think of that was almost like sleeping! The rest of the day turned into a blur and ended with me asleep on a bench seat in a pub while having dinner.

Thankfully each day we were there we awoke feeling more and more human. With every new part of Dublin we discovered I felt that tingle of excitement that hits you hard at the bottom of stomach. Our adventure had truly begun.

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Dublin’s Streets

Dublin you did not disappoint.

xoxo

Click on the photos below to see where we went.

The Curious Two

“Blessed are the curious, for they shall have adventures”

-Lovelle Drachman

On Saturday the 5th July, Liam and I boarded a plane at the Brisbane International Airport bound for Dublin, Ireland. Our dream honeymoon had finally begun.

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Waiting to board in Brisbane

This trip was originally planned for the European summer in 2014 but after a few ups and downs that year it was pushed out till July 2015. So after two year of wishing, hoping, thinking and planning we have embarked on a two month holiday around Europe.  This blog is just a little space to record our thoughts, feelings and photos from our trip so our loved ones can follow us on this journey.  I originally had planned to post our first entry long before we left but as usual I am behind my deadline! We are already four days into travelling around Ireland so I should have an update very soon to let you all know how it is going.

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Good-Bye Brisbane

Sending all our love

Rishy & Liam

xoxo