Yes, It’s that time again, another missive from the Emerald Isle, which can mean only one thing. Yes, it’s raining - and pretty hard at the moment too and with the wind lashing away as well we’ve had to batten down the hatches - or close the roof vents anyway. I don’t think it will last too long though, and as I type it’s already showing signs of easing up.
So, what’s been happening? Well, the gap between this and the last blog might suggest not a lot. And that’s sort of true. We’ve two weeks here and this is our ‘chill-out’ period if you like. Because the rest has been SO hard work I can tell you! Yeah,right. Ok, let’s go:
Sunday saw us leave Cong and head up and across to Lough Arrow, here in the south of County Sligo. We didn’t take the shortest route, deciding to stick to the more major roads but it was worth it. Once again, the site was easy to find - although a 5 mile drive from either of the lake along a pretty narrow road is necessary - and by midday we were getting set up. It’s a small site - Adults Only - with some great views too, but I haven’t been around it with the camera yet so you’ll have to wait until the next part for the pics.
There’s very little to report from Monday or Tuesday - I concentrated on doing the last two blogs and we had our first look at the town of Boyle whilst hunting out a Supermarket. Late Tuesday afternoon we went and sat on the jetty on the lake just across the road. It turned out to be a lovely afternoon, though I managed - foolishly - to get burnt. Should have known better.
Tuesday night, after a quick meal out we stopped on the way back at the ‘local’. We’d passed it on the way in with the caravan - but with a couple of petrol pumps rusting away outside we had assumed it had closed up. Not so. It was very much open for business and doing a decent trade too. Through the back is also the local shop, which having had a very brief glance seems to sell all the essentials and more. A great find and, once again, pictures in the next blog.
Wednesday, and me with a burning red torso soaked in Nivea we were back on the sightseeing trail, stopping first at Sligo town. There’s a nice walk along the river between two of the bridges and the town certainly wasn’t short of traffic, but a number of empty units indicated tough times.
A few K’s to the west of Sligo is Rosses Point, and the road to it hugs the river estuary. A statue looks out to sea and represents the anguish of those with loved ones on the high seas and waiting for them to return safely:
At the end is a beach and perched above is a campsite with some truly lovely - though perhaps on occasion blustery - views.
The evening brought with it some burnt offerings from the bbq, washed down later with a couple at the ‘local’. It’s largely bypassed by tourists it seems - but is clearly popular with locals and fishermen. In fact the busiest the roads are around the lake is in the evening! From what we’ve heard though the lake’s resident trout are proving pretty elusive…
Thursday brought with it the promise of more dry weather - at least in the morning, so we set off for a drive around some of the lakes vantage points:
Neighbouring Lough Arrow, is the smaller Lough Key and we followed the signs to the so called viewing point. You get a view of sorts - the N4 road can be seen clearly below, but a decent view of the lake is partially obscured by greenery and was not worth a photo. A sculpture of a bloke on a horse warranted a couple of clicks though, inspired by some local battle in 1599. It was quite impressive.
Next up, we returned to Boyle and first to the Abbey on the outskirts of town. You can look at a lot of it from the outside by a sensible admission fee saw us handing over a few euros for a look around inside too.
We stopped for a sandwich at a little cafe in Boyle - but there was lots of homemade cakes, sponges and pastries on offer too and it seemed rude not too. Jeez I’m getting fatter by the minute. I decided to work some of it off in the afternoon with some intense reading in the recliner.
Friday was another ‘day off’. We had planned - after looking at the forecast - to do nothing more than sit on the jetty by the lake. We took the recliners down there and I, having read a few pages of a book settled in to a pleasant nap.
I stirred, a while later with the sun beating down, and what I though was a tractor bearing down on me but further investigation - actually opening an eye - revealed nothing more than the fact that now The Portly Partner was in the land of nod. I decided that some music would make a better soundtrack to the scenery than his snoring and stuck some headphones on.
A regular visitor to the pier was Lucy - a six year old Golden Retriever, who had great fun jumping in to the lake to fetch a stick. Her owner has a caravan on site and has been over from Wicklow for a few days fishing - without much luck he tells us.
A couple went out for a ride in their inflatable kayak - which looked great fun, and a German family stopped for picnic later on in the afternoon. Whilst the legs and arms got a good dose of vitamin D, the torso, which was still glowing had to remain covered. By late afternoon we decided we’d roasted enough and returned to the site which was even hotter. There were ice creams in the shop freezer though which helped……
We’d been given directions to a pub restaurant just a few miles away overlooking Lough Key and that was our intended dining venue. It was in a great location and I’m sure this went some way to explaining the prices on the menu. We had one drink, left and drove the short distance in to Boyle and stopped at the first pub that advertised food - The James Clark in St Patrick Street.
And what choice it was too. Nothing fancy - which suited us - but good reasonably priced home cooked grub, served with a smile. A simple combination to get right you would think but one that so often fails at home. We returned absolutely stuffed and only found room for one pint in the local on the way back.
Back on the road again on Saturday and out west to Ballina, passing through Bonniconlon on the way, which brought with it the sight of petrol pumps on the roadside, something we no longer see at home.
A busy bustling town awaited us in Ballina, noted for it’s Salmon fishing and indeed there were several fishermen in the river waving their tackle about, although in the short time we watched them, there were no takers.
A drive along took us along the road to Ballina Quay and then further out on the coast was the seaside town of Inishcrone - or Enniscrone depending on what signs you read. A great looking beached backed by sand dunes and clearly popular with families.
We continued east in the rough direction of Lough Gill just outside Sligo but decided we were all sceneried out for the day and called back at Ballymote for a fry up and a dawdle around the nearby supermarket.
Saturday evening saw again in the local which was even busier. It’s easy to see how much more important this place to the local community than just being a pub and how invaluable amenities like this are to rural areas. Something we’re only finding out at home when it’s too late.
Right, there we are. Up to date again, and the time is really flying by now. Don’t expect a blog for another week or so - hopefully the weather will be kind to us and we intend to enjoy it!