We had a leisurely start to the day as we left Dublin by the coast road. It passes through Dalkey and Killiney (I once stayed in the Castle Hotel here for a research project meeting) and to our first port of call: breakfast at Shankill Street Food Outlet. There is an Oscar Wilde quote on the wall in the toilet here and a map of a 47km walk which crosses over to Tallaght.
We then drove through Greystone which was voted the most liveable place in the world in 2008. It was not immediately obvious driving through why this might be as it did not seem all that very different from other places we could think of. I am sure there must be more under the surface, not visible to the passing traveller. After passing through Wicklow, driving and food meant that when we reached Brittas Bay, a beach walk was essential. I noticed a couple of nearby campsites which took tourers and made a note to return when we have our campervan. The beach was quiet but had lifeguards and a few families enjoying the sun. I found some sea glass and our friends picked up some shells.
We made a significant contribution to our daily 10,000 steps.
Beyond Arklow the road leaves the coast and diverts inland to Gorey, Enniscorthy and New Ross before reaching Waterford. We made use of the last sunshine exploring Ireland’s oldest town, founded by Vikings in 914 AD.
The tower near the end of the esplanade dates from 1003.
There are old fortifications, the oldest Catholic Church in Ireland and many other buildings of various ages and architectural style to look at.
There is also a fair amount of street art. One of the hotel staff said that every year, various artists arrive in the town to add more during the annual Spraoi Street Art Festival. In 2017 this takes place on August 4-6th. I spotted some art down an alley:
You can visit the Tower, the museum, Bishops Palace and other sights but it began to rain so we escaped to the comfort of our hotel which is in an old building.
Delayed trains and slow trains were the order of the day but the clouds were parting, patches of blue sky and very occasionally the sun, were appearing so things looked a little more promising as we headed south (albeit at a snail’s pace). I had been intending to return to explore the interior of the library in Birmingham whose exterior had impressed me on as I walked past it last summer and James was keen to see the largest Christmas fair in England. We both wanted to use our day off to go and explore somewhere rather than spend the day catching up on chores. The Christmas markets provided sights, sounds and smells from the street food which were all absorbed. We did not have any shopping to do but I admired the skill of the people whose crafts were on display and we enjoyed the live music:
One drummer was using a homemade drum kit. The Council Building reminded me of a time several years ago when I had had to give a lecture in the council chamber.
and the roof of one of the shopping centres was quite impressive:
The interior of the library was as amazing as the exterior.
Outside were planted areas and a terrace with views over the city. Standing there, I was reminded that I would only like to live in a small city, not one that has buildings as far as the eye can see. I prefer those that I can see the hills, or sea or river and get out of fairly quickly. In Edinburgh I can see the hills and in Liverpool the sea or river is not far away. We had lunch in the library cafe and as the tables inside were all occupied, sat outside. Amazingly it was warm enough to do that in December. The big wheel was operating although I could only see a few people aboard. The big wheel was next to the temporary ice rink and made me wonder about their history as every city seems to have one now. Our journey home was quicker than the outward one. I observed herons and trainspotters en route and we were soon back home.
Woken this morning by someones burglar alarm at 5.30am. At least we were staying in Lavenham for a final exploration so plenty of time for a cup of tea. The day started sunny but very windy so we wandered around looking at the buildings and the two antique centres. The old buildings really are wonderful and it is such a shame that we have lost so many in our towns and villages. When I am travelling in Australasia and the later-colonised parts of North America, I am reminded that I do love living in an ‘old country’ where our history is all around us as Patrick Wright wrote. It also highlights how colonial expansion previously and now the demand for fuels and food is removing many peoples from their places and history. The sky has now clouded over so the rest of the day will be spent reading and relaxing as tomorrow we leave. The plan is to divert to the coast between Aldeburgh and Southwold before turning back inland towards Norwich to visit my brother and sister in law. On Saturday we will be heading homewards.