Category Archives: Travel

What were you doing on Friday?

I went for a drive, in a freshly washed, hoovered and dusted car.

We are old friends now, the car and I. Sixteen years we have spent together, tootling over hill and dale.

I spoke gently to her on the way.

Be a good girl and do all the things the nice man asks you to do.

She did and here is the evidence:

My car sitting aloft

My car sitting aloft

Twenty five minutes later we back on the road smiling like two Cheshire cats! Adventure here we come!!

On the move again!

In Work for today on 7th January, I was telling you about applying for my driving licence.

Move forward to 11th May and the following conversation took place:

After several attempts to try and get through to DVA in Coleraine, I finally managed to do so at 11:30. The long route of listening and clicking through a million options, brought me to a recorded voice advising me that I was number nine in the answering queue.


I was not moving. I held on listening to some gentle music and eventually spoke to a young lady.

I had of course to prove who I was etc., And having related the whole tired story, she put me on hold to contact the Post Room to check if they had record of receiving my money. Yes they did. (£30 I paid on 21st April).

Next she put me on hold while she went to check progress with the Medical department…

Back she came to tell me: ‘On 5th May my status was changed from Stopped to current by the medical team’??? The same medical team who gave me verbal permission to drive.

So in order for the new licence to be processed it must go to Swansea, in Wales. The DVA are unable to produce the little plastic ‘credit’ sized cards that include a photograph, in Northern Ireland… so it would be another few days before I got it.

Twenty five minutes to learn all of that and I was still a lady-in-waiting.

Another few days she said. It has been one hell of a long few days since 19-01-16.

And finally…

On 16th May my letterbox rattled and Lo and Behold My brand spanking new driving licence landed in my hall!

One whole week later I finally manage to share my delight with you. This new licence  is for three years and at least the next one will be free.

Planning & dreaming

The last few days I have been “grass-hoppering” – I ricochet from job to job, starting everything, finishing nothing. You can blame excitement.

I am planning a few days in London. At the moment my destination is a secret. I’ll be meeting a fella. A kinda date. I never met him before… only on the internet. I think he is real and not like Mr Moss!

This here mystery man even organised my accommodation before telling me.

Do not worry. I’ll have a chaperone. Not like in the old days… an elderly aunt or fussing mother in a little bonnet, high necked blouse with mutton leg sleeves over her whale bone stays and skirts that polish the floor never mind her button boots. All finished off with a tiny lacy hanky to wipe away her tears or hide her blushes!

No. my chaperone will be young at heart, young in body and with a sense of humour just like mine. He chose well. All will be grand.

I know I still have a few weeks to wait, but I am already planning my packing… only one small cabin bag with wheels. No trunks with mountains of outfits that will never see the light of day.

It will be a case of one to wear, one to wash and one for spare with the undies.* I am praying the weather will be kind and not saturatingly soggy.

Outer layers will all be mix & match – the best idea the fashion industry ever came up with.

No skirts. It will be trousers all the way, I have no intention of advertising my pallid flesh, knock-knees, corns, bunions and more blue veins that a Stilton cheese!

And when the clothing is sorted I’ll need to deal with technology:

My cell phone


My phone

My Tablets

My Tablets

Tablets, yes more than one.

Then there in my latest acquisition…

I have joined the world of the pad. NO. Not TENA Lady, stop smirking toyboy techies, I mean something totally different and it works. Bigtime.

My Eye Pad.

My eye pad

My eye pad

Thirty seconds in the microwave and my eyes sparkle!

*  The mention of travel and undies made me giggle. A sudden memory of disposable pants that were all the go when I was a young twenty year old. You wore one for a day and then dumped them, Great for holiday packing but oh so uncomfortable. They were made of the same paper type fabric as the disposable hospital gowns that are in use today.


We are all go for another year!

I drove on the all new bright and shiny A8 to Larne, this lovely sunny morning. There were stretches where I was all alone with green fields and cows chewing away, far too busy to notice me tootling along.

Naturally I was early for my appointment. I was asked to arrive at the vehicle testing Centre ten minutes before the appointed time.  I was due to arrive at 10:40hrs, for a test at 10:50hrs.  At the appointed time, you draw the vehicle up to the line and wait until you are beckoned to move forward.

Being a little earlier than required, I reversed into a parking space with full view of all that was going on. Driving school cars with would-be drivers nervously arriving to take their driving test. then I noticed some unusual activity from the MOT hanger …

The car in waiting at Lane one, began to reverse away from the building. It was closely followed by another car and a white van.  Then ever so slowly I saw something bright yellow inching the way out of the hanger. I got out of my car with my cell phone a photoo opportunity if ever there was one…

Wait for me!

Wait for me!

One of the testers was at the wheel, he reversed in a circle before roaring off to circuit the building.  I was ready when he came round to the front again,  I hit the button not quite sure if I had the object of my interest lined up properly … he was moving fast, but with caution.  Another half circuit and the sound of the engine died, so I expect the car belonged to the driver and he needed to return to duty.

I joined Lane 2 as arranged and in no time at all I was waved forward.

Nose into the hanger so the exhaust immision was tested. I was then invited to move forward to the next position and was asked to switch off the enging and open the bonnet/hood. Happy with that it was closed again and I had the fun of trying to remember the things I do automatically every time I drive:- indicators, lights on all three levels, fog light and the horn. That was my job complete and I was asked once more to switch off. vacate the car and move to the seating area along the side of the wall. With doors open at both ends it can feel rather cold, well it does for me.

The tester took over for the next stages, the car is driven forward the front wheels are placed on a metal pad and the guts are shaken out of the front axel/wheels, they are then dropped down in to a vice like well where they are pushed and pulled with gusto. This process is repeated for the back axel. When all four wheels are back on the ground level, I sigh with relief, only one more stage to go.

On to a ramp and up she goes!

My little Beauty

My little Beauty

Not bad for a car manufactured at the start of the century. Yes, the year was 2000 and the milage on the clock this morning? 70,474 miles.

I was talking to Elly when I came home she will be spending the wekend at the Sea of Galilee. When I told her the milage on my car, she replied “I will propable cover more than that on my working trips to Israel, by the end of the year”!

Elly has promised …I did hear her … not to try walking on water! Knowing her, she will probably dip her toes!

Stay safe my my love!


Mind the good chair!

Yesterday, one of those days when unsure what season we were in, so it took longer on choosing my clothes for the day. It was a day for layers. I had planned to collect my old young friend Janet, for a bit of adventure. I can see where she lives from my kitchen window.

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She lives on top of that bump to the right of the wind turbines.

Nearly there

Nearly there

The idea was to exercise our legs…. and our tongues with the odd bit of chatter.

Did I say the odd bit of chatter? I am not sure I gave Janet a chance to say more than a half dozen words. Next time, I will bring a band-aid to help keep my trap shut. 😉 I promise!

I was the driver for the duration, so as chief navigator, I allowed Janet to choose direction and the destination for our coffee spot. Our rain jackets travelled comfortably on the back seat.

She chose the Creative Gardens Galgorm Castle, Ballymena, County Antrim. It opened in February this year, so a first time visit for me. They have a Garden centre, Seasonal Shop and the now obligatory Coffee shop.

Mind the good chair_1

Mind the good chair_1

This display caught my eye as we were wandering about.

Side view of the chair

Side view of the chair

The plants are not just sitting on the chair. Oh no. The side view  gives you an idea of how it works. The original seat is long gone and a sacking type fabric is stapled to the inside of the seat space, slightly sagging, growing medium added and then the plants inserted. If you look very carefully you can actually see the petunia plugs, lifted out of the compost by the weight of the blooms.

If you try this please watch dear old aunt Mabel, in case she tries to sit on it! 😉

It did rain:- when we were in the car or sipping coffee.

Neither of us were in a hurry home.

Janet suggested a walk in Portglenone Forest Park. I was game for anything.

Map of Portglenone Forest

Map of Portglenone Forest

It was very overcast as we arrived in the car park.

“Do you think it will rain?” asked Janet.

“Not to worry, says I, we can shelter under a leaf!”

We took the Red route.

Portglenone, in Irish: Port Chluain Eoghain, means “The Fort of Eoghan’s meadow”. We local yokels might tease and call it Port-glen-one, but the correct pronunciation is more like Port-glen-own.

Portglenone Forest Park, lies 8.5 miles (14 km) west of Ballymena. It is classified as an ‘Ancient Woodland’, and has well marked nature trails, with the River Bann flowing through the forest. Records show that the forest was once part of a much larger woodland comprising Mountreivelen, Killetra, and Glenconkeyne Woods.

These woods formed one of the biggest oak forests in the country. In 1607 Sir John Davys, the Irish Attorney-General, described this area as “well nigh as large as the New Forest in Hampshire and stored with the best timber in Ireland.”

The ground flora contains extensive colonies of species such as bluebell, wood anemone, and wild garlic. We would need to go back in late April or early May to enjoy those beauties. These plants take centuries of woodland cover to establish, and provide the wood with its important conservation and educational aspects.

Augustine Henry (1857–1930) was an Irish plantsman and sinologist. He began work as a medical officer and customs assistant to the Chinese customs service in 1881. He was an ardent reader of botanical literature and collected 15,000 dry specimens and 500 live plant samples of flora for Kew botanical gardens.  From his specimens 25 new genera and 500 new species were identified.

In 1913 he was appointed the first Professor of Forestry at the Royal College of Science (now University College Dublin), serving until he retired in 1926. He was involved in developing the national Forestry Service and in evaluating foreign conifer species. These included Sitka Spruce and Lodgepole pine.

In 1935, J. W. Besant was to write: ‘The wealth of beautiful trees and flowering shrubs which adorn gardens in all temperate parts of the world today is due in a great measure to the pioneer work of the late Professor Henry’.


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I have another Janet surprise, but that is for tomorrow!

Planning & Scheming


Has wheels will travel:


Betty Rubble

Betty Rubble

Betty Rubble image credit to:

One event booked I know the ‘when and where’.

A ‘Phone me when you are free, and we will meet for coffee’, I know the where. Last time we met at 11:30 and several coffees later we parted at 16:30…. not quite hoarse!

Lunch engagement – know the ‘who & where’ but not yet the ‘when’.

It all depends on the main reason for my visit…

A total new experience, but I have yet to find out the ‘where and when’.

Blogging might be light next week, so please forgive me.

One Happy Bunny!

The rain stayed away, allowing the sun to shine.
I drove my car to the vehicle inspection Centre.

She behaved so well, I took the winding road home via Carrickfergus.


Back on the road.

Back on the road.

That is my white car next to Carrickfergus castle. The usual car park was full, so I had difficulty finding a place to park with the castle in the background.

Now with a much lighter pocket, I am ready to run the roads!

My legs won’t work!

I went for a walk.
Got a hug and a kiss,
Discovered the bus times
Heard of another broken hip,

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Turning a corner in search of green fields
There were laneways and roadworks
And trees with no leaves,
Natives were friendly and curious to,
They came running to greet me
with the odd gentle Moo!

Céad Míle Fáilte

Ireland, the land of A Hundred Thousand Welcomes, – Céad Míle Fáilte, it  is a pronounced like this:

How would you like a welcome to Dublin like this:

I bet that got your toes tapping! It was a flash mob of Irish dancers from the cast of ‘Take The Floor 2013’ at Dublin Airport recently.

Now there’s a grand way to get rid of jet lag!

Trip to Paris

Reading The Incident on the Champs-Élysées at Nelly’s Garden It brought back a memory for me.

Over forty years ago I was invited to join a group who were going to Paris for a five day weekend. The dates worked for me and I had a valid passport. So I said “Yes, I would love to go along”!

My name was added to the list and accommodation booked, so all I had to do was decide what to wear, pack a bag and turn up at Dublin Airport at the appointed hour.

My knowledge of Paris, at that time, came from the movies or books. I knew little more about the small group of girls I was to spend the few day with, all booked into same hotel. In fact The only person I knew on the whole trip was the friend who invited me. We were part of a much larger group, scattered about in different hotels. By the end of the five days I knew at least twenty five by first name and we had plenty of fun & laughter as well as great food, vino and much shorter legs!

Our hotel was central, good for walking from place to place, quite small with lots of stairs. Thankfully we were booked on a Bed & Breakfast tariff, so once we came down those stairs, we returned no more that once in the day and that was usually to freshen up and change before dinner.

We covered most of the popular tourist attractions:

Arc de Triumph, Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysées, and Place de la Concorde, where the guillotine took the life of King Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, and where today Tour de France runs its grand finale.

Notre Dame Cathedral where, because of the great number of tourists, I did not feel the spiritual magic of the cathedral, but enjoyed the quirky, funny, scary, and spiritual details of the artwork and the architecture. All those Gargoyles and flying buttresses were something else!

We visited the Louvre Museum not quite covering over 35,000 pieces of artwork, we had only allowed three hours for our visit. We waved to the armless beauty of the “Venus de Milo,” and “Winged Victory,” before joining a long queue to see the Louvre’s most famous work – Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. This small, iconic painting, only 21 by 30 inches (53 by 77 cms) was covered with bullet-proof glass and flanked by guards; with not a hope of getting anyway near it – the result of it being stolen in 1911. (It was recovered in 1913.) Is it any wonder her smile is a little faded! 😉

We drooled our way along Place Vendôme – where owning a store is a haughty statement and every shop window is worth over €1 million. You may remember Place Vendôme the 1998 movie starring Catherine Deneuve. We however, moved on and found time and shops with prices more suitable to our fast emptying purses.

We allowed more time for The Château de Versailles, which 30 years ago was added to the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. I have visited again (when Elly lived in France) and my memories of Versailles are from that time.

We explored back-streets where ordinary tourists don’t generally venture. We felt the real Paris as we passed elegantly dressed young mothers escorting their dancing or skipping young children to or from school or kindergarten.

We found time to eat, drink and pause to soak up the atmosphere and one evening we went to the movies. Last tango in Paris, had been banned or cut to ribbons by the censors in Dublin, so we wanted to take the opportunity of seeing the film in Paris. We found a cinema with the film in English so booked for a late showing.

We returned along the Champs-Elysées late that night chatting animatedly about the movie, on the way to our accommodation. The street was busy with people walking in both directions, when a man bumped heavily into me. He almost knocked me over. He mumbled and staggered past, and as I looked over my shoulder I saw him lurching through the crowd behind me. We walked on, I had no handbag/purse to think about. My money was in my gloved hand, a trick I learned from my mother. It was only when we got back to our hotel, that I discovered I had blood all down my new, first time airing – dry clean only -trouser suit. We were going home the next day so the stains had to wait until I reached Dublin, to be sorted.

We never discovered the ‘what or why’ of the incident, from the amount of blood, I assume the guy had been stabbed.