Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Ireland, West Cork, July 2017

In July 2017 some good friends were getting married in Ireland so we decided to make a weeks holiday of it. So the three of us, Pina our dog came too travelled across from Holyhead to Dublin by ferry. We broke the journey to Holyhead staying the previous night in a B&B in the lovely Welsh town of Betys y Coed in the stunning Snowdonia National Park. At time of writing we seem to have 'lost' a lot of our photos from this trip so all you see were taken on an iPhone which is why some aren't as good as we'd like them to be.

After a couple of days in Dublin we drive down to Durrus to our home for the next few nights at Carbery Cottage Guest Lodge. Carbery Cottage is an award winning B&B situated on the Sheepshead peninsula. It is a wonderful place, Julia and Mike who own and run it are incredibly welcoming and are full of great advice about what to do and see. Their breakfasts are delicious and filling with all the produce sourced locally.

View from our bedroom's terrace.

Pina making herself at home
Welcome tea and yummy brownies
Looking for somewhere to eat on our first evening Julia recommended Arundels at the village of Akahista, less than a 10 minutes drive from Carberry Lodge. The food was good and this pub/restaurant was busy and seemed to be the place to go in the area. For those of you who have heard of Graham Norton, the Cork born BBC1 chat show host, Akahista is where he spends his summers in a beautiful house next to the Akahista Bar (see below).

The beauty of West Cork is that there is so much to do and see which is why this is the third time we've visited this neck of the woods on holiday. One of the highlights of the trip was our drive round the Beara peninsula. It offers some spectacular views especially the stretch between Allihies and Eyeries as well as the narrow winding Healey Pass. At the start of the peninsula you'll enter the town of Glengarriff, do stop here and take the ferry across to Garnish Island. This small island was turned into an exotic garden in 1910 for Annan Bryce a Belfast businessman. Framed by views of Bantry Bay the island contains a collection of flora from around the world. If you're lucky you'll spot some seals from the ferry as you journey to and fro. if you're peckish when you get back from the island, give the Park Bistro a go, you'll find it on the main street.

Italian Garden on Ganrish Island.

View from the Healey Pass

Another trip well worth doing is out to Mizen Head, the most south-westerly tip of Ireland. The Mizen Head visitor's centre and lighthouse are the main attraction. If you haven't got a head for heights there is an alternative route to the light house to the bridge below. One word of warning, the road to Mizen is narrow so watch out for cars coming in the other direction driving quicker than they should.

Views from Mizen Head

On the way out to Mizen Head you'll see signs for Crookhaven a pretty sailing harbour, highly recommend a stop here for lunch and a bite to eat, some great seafood if you like it at O'Sullivans.

View from Crookhaven

As I mentioned at the start of this blogpost, Carbery Cottage where we stayed is located on the Sheepshead peninsula, it's well worth a drive to the end of the peninsula to walk as far as the lighthouse for yet more stunning views. The only downside for us that dog's aren't allowed on the walk so Pina had to wait in the car, still can't fathom out why.

Sheepshead lighthouse in the background 

If you enjoyed this post about West Cork and are interested in reading more about the area click here and here.


Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Malta, September 2016 
As I find myself with some time on my hands as a result of a self imposed career sabbatical one of my goals is to try and bring our travel blog back up to speed and keep it up to date. On one trip flying out of East Midlands airport we noticed that there was a flight to Malta so living close by this airport that sealed our decision as to where we'd go for our late summer holiday 2016. We stayed in St. Julians Bay Hotel in a large, comfortable spacious room with a small terrace over looking the bay the hotel is named after.

Right in front of the hotel you'll find a bus stop, ideal for catching a bus into the historic capital city of Valletta. Alternatively you can hop off in Sliema and take a ferry across the bay, a great way to view and arrive at the beautiful city. Malta isn't the ideal destination for a beach holiday unless you head to the islands of Gozo. It is however ideal if you enjoy a sense of history, wandering through beautiful streets dominated by impressive architecture.


Valletta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site easily explored by foot. Some of the main points of interest in the city include: St John's Cathedral, the Grand Master's Palace and Fort Elmo. Also well worth a visit is the war rooms which give you a fascinating insight into what the citizen's of Malta went through during WW II.

The Grand Master's Palace

Inside St. John's Cathedral
Fort St.Elmo

If you fancy a break from exploring Valetta do take a trip to the equally stunning old Maltese capital city of Mdina. Steeped in history you'll really enjoy wandering around the maze of streets safe in the knowledge that its very hard to get lost. If you come across Bacchus Restaurant & Bar whilst you're savouring the atmosphere of Mdina and feel a bit peckish, pop in as the food is delicious.

Main gate into Mdina

St. Paul's Cathedral

If you've had enough walking but still want to continue exploring you have to check out Rolling Geeks over in the area know as The Three Cities. You'll be given your own electric car much like a golf buggy which comes complete with a pre-progammed GPS system to guide you round your tour. It's safe and a lot of fun, if you get lost the team back at the office are tracking you and contactable from the car. Do try this, it's something not to miss out on. 

Another way to explore the island is the Hop on, Hop off Tour buses, there are two routes both well worth giving a go. Below you'll see a photo taken from the shore of Marsaxlokk, Malta's largest fishing village and one of the Tour Bus stops. You can enjoy a nice walk by the shore line, meander through the street market and enjoy a tasty seafood lunch.

We loved Malta, it's an island full of history, beautiful architecture and lovely food. It's relaxed, the weather is lovely and if you're not great at languages you'll be right at home as English is the main language. So would we recommend it, yes we would!


Monday, January 2, 2017

Ireland, June 2016

After falling out of love with Apple's once wonderfully easy to use photo software I neglected our blog in 2016. Sitting here on a very rainy New Year's Day 2017 I'm endeavouring to catch up starting with our trip to Ireland in June last year along with Susy's mum Ana. We spent a fun week in Ireland visiting some of my family and showing Ana some of Ireland's treasures.

Glendalough, County Wicklow

,Before heading down to Cork and our base for a few nights at the Dunmore House hotel just outside Clonakilty, we spent a day exploring Glendalough and driving through the Sally Gap. Glendalough is one of Ireland's most important monastic sites founded in the 6th century by St. Kevin. It's a popular destination for tourists thanks to it's historic importance and spectacular setting in 'the valley of the two lakes'.

St. Kevin's Cross in the centre.

The Sally Gap

The following morning we said our goodbyes and hopped in the car to drive down to our home for the next few nights, The Dunmore House Hotel near Clonakility. This is a gem of a hotel, wonderful friendly staff, an amazing location on the edge of the Atlantic Coast and to top it all of it is dog friendly too. We had a wonderful time there,  enjoyed delicious food and the staff really made us feel at home.

Clonakility main street

The market town of Clonakility has a real West Cork feel about it, its a welcoming town with some nice shops, bars and restaurants. Be sure and buy some of it's famous Clonakilty black pudding, the perfect accompaniment to a full Irish Breakfast.

Bantry House
Bantry House and Gardens is home to the Shelswell-White family descendants of the Earls of Bantry.  Whilst slightly run down the house and gardens are well worth a visit, you can enjoy a tour of the main house and a relaxing walk around the gardens which have a stunning view over Bantry Bay. The tea rooms and patio are welcoming and the perfect place to sit and enjoy this wonderful location. We really enjoyed ourselves here and recommend taking the time to enjoy this stunning house, dogs are welcome in the gardens as long as they are kept on their lead.

View of Bantry Bay from the front of the house.

Italian gardens at the rear of Bantry House.

Pina enjoying her walk in the gardens.

Our destination the following day was Baltimore, in my opinion the centre of Baltimore itself is not the prettiest however its well worth visiting the 15th century castle which overlooks the harbour and the coastline walk out to the Beacon provides you with some spectacular views. So despite the lack of  charm of the village you won't be disappointed by your visit. Baltimore's main claim to fame is the amazing story which dates back to 1631 when 100 citizens were carried off as slaves by Algerian pirates, you'll find out more about this if you visit the castle.

Baltimore harbour

Baltimore centre

Former home to the O'Driscoll clan.

Baltimore beacon for boats approaching the town.

On our way back to Dublin we stopped off at the beautiful town of Kinsale for lunch, despite the poor weather we enjoyed a wander round this colourful harbour town full of delightful shops. To see more of Kinsale, Click here for some photos from a previous trip.