The Retirees go Abroad – France, Norway, UK and Ireland – My 60th Birthday

My Birthday. I awoke and opened my present from Doug and Nerida that I had kept for the day. I had the sausages (ho hum) and then we hit the track for the Bushmills distillery. I don’t need to tell you that was grand and I had three whiskeys to celebrate.

Nearby is the Giants Causeway and something I have always wanted to see. Just remarkable and a very stimulating walk to see nature’s handiwork at its best.

Kerry had noticed on our map the rope bridge at Carrick a Rene a little further along the Causeway coast. This is a 30m rope bridge from the cliffs on one side to the island on the other-side. The bridge started out as the means for fishermen to launch their nets to catch salmon (there is a cottage on this little rock with fishing dinghy and derrick to lower it to the sea). The bridge for them was a little cruder than today’s bridge (a single strand rope I am told). The walk to get there and the 172 steps down to the top of the ladder down to the bridge was pretty demanding. I can only imagine the trip for the fisherman and carrying gear across on the rope. It was great fun with dramatic scenery and something I would recommend to all visitors.  To end our visit we had a picnic lunch of leftovers and Vegemite sandwiches near the gift shop.

On the way back from the bridge we noticed other ruins on the coast and a nearby island. I chatted with the car park attendant who was a local and told me that they used to quarry dolomite for paving stones for Glasgow Streets and that the dolomite was transported to the island by flying fox and loaded onto ships for Scotland. When bitumen replaced cobbles the mining ceased but then they mined the limestone cliffs for the limestone so some of the other ruins were the kiln where they burnt the lime and the crusher. The gift shop was a former mine building and the mine mangers house is still used today. The mining ceased in 1970s.

We then went to Belfast and strolled the city streets. Kerry had found Deane’s Eipic Restaurant (spelling is said to be gaelic for Epicurean) by searching on the net. The owner and chef had operated a Michelin 2 star restaurant and had sold that business to open Deane’s Eipic to get away from the confines of the Michelin style. It is actually 3 restaurants adjoining one another – a steak restaurant with aged meats between the style of the Breakfast Creek Hotel and Moo Moo here in Brisbane, a seafood restaurant and a fine dining restaurant. It was my choice and fine dining for me. Finest dinner ever. Seven courses with a carafe of Spanish red in a fine dining restaurant – not what I had expected in Belfast. I went to bed very satisfied and won’t forget my sixtieth.


The Retirees go Abroad – France, Norway, UK and Ireland – Jet Plane to Dublin

Doug and Nerida had left to return to Australia and we are on another jet plane tomorrow at 7.55 am which means a 4.00 am start. Sleep was difficult. When the sun (yes the sun) came through our window I don’t think either of us were rested but things had to be done. .

Arrived at Dublin and I think we both slept most of the way. Picked up the hire car and Kerry drove us to Dublin without incident. Whilst Kerry parked in the street I went to the door of our supposed apartment and this proved to be quite an experience as there was no reception as such and by sheer fluke we caught up with the owner. The apartment was not ready and we were early so we went to the tourism office and ended up on the red bus (actually it was green but you get the idea) touring the city. Our car was parked in the back yard of the building (it looked like the yard in Steptoe and son). Our apartment was down the road a bit from the place where we met the owner but what a surprise – the space – it is a one-bedroom flat with kitchenette. And a gin palace across the road. We took a walk down the street and as it is near to St Patrick’s day this shop caught our eye.

Met with Leanne (co director in Phenix and international development director) and after a lengthy briefing we went to dinner and it was lovely. We slept in the next day and then continued to tour around the city. Went to see Trinity College and the Book of Kells. What a magnificent library. And this wonderful ancient harp and its story.

Then we went on to Guinness Brew House. Outstanding views. Printed on the glass was a description of the points of interest in front of you. And I actually drank a pint of the black stuff. Kerry got her nose to it and I got a second pint.

We then walked over to Jamieson’s former distillery – a renovation of the old distillery into a display and home units. We then walked back into the city and tried again to pay the rent and this time the door was answered.

We then went on to the National Library. I had brought with me some family documents which I thought might be of historical value to the National Library particularly as one of the documents was a 999-year lease to my great grandmother from Lord Rothschild under his seal. We dropped the documents into the library and they were received with great enthusiasm. From there we walked back to the northside of the Liffey (river running through Dublin) to see the restored dockland area. Here we picked up the bus tour again and returned to the apartment for some R&R before seeing some Celtic dancing tonight.

Well we went to Lanagan’s for dinner and never got to the Celtic dancing – having too much fun at Lanagan’s. Food was pub food and the drinks reasonably priced so we stayed and kept on drinking (check out their face book page for the proof). The following morning, I had a meeting for Phenix international with the City of Dublin Goldsmiths. This company incorporated by charter by King James 1 in 1608 is responsible for all the hallmarking of precious metals in Ireland. I got a grand tour and had our meeting in their board room.