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October  2012

Week One:

This week should be titled "The Luck of the Irish, and Murphy's Law"!

On day three we were thoroughly enjoying our drive through the beautiful countryside. The weather was good, cool with sun and clouds. Ideal conditions for a walk along the river followed by lunch in one of the quaint little villages. After a satisfying lunch we walked back to the car to find a rear flat tire, panic stations!! However as LUCK would have it opposite the parking lot was a small gas station that had air. The attendant immediately thought we had a puncture and she directed us to a service station a mile further down the road. We got there just as the owner was departing for lunch, but as soon as he found out we were in a rental and on vacation he delayed lunch and fixed the puncture in record time....phew! How lucky can you get. We continued our tour through the countryside, took a lovely afternoon walk and went to the butchers to buy a couple of steaks for dinner.

The weather the following morning was not that good, but it was good enough to take a short drive and do some local geocaching before lunch. After lunch there was the "All National Hurling Championship" to watch at the local pub. It was a big deal because Kilkenny (the county we are in) was playing Galway in Dublin. The first cache was easy to find and it was only spitting rain so all went well. Then we went to find another cache. This proved more difficult and the clouds were thickening as we got out of the car and began our hike towards the river. We met a horse and rider en route and the trail was beginning to get muddy and slippery. Finally after walking quite a way off road, came upon the treasure hidden under a big log. In her excitement at finding the box of goodies Vanessa slipped and twisted her ankle, the heavens opened and she was caught up in the brambles.......(Murphy's Law - she was so looking forward to walking in Ireland). Fortunately she managed to get back to the car a bedraggled mess.  The rest of the day was spent on the couch watching the hurling. No pub, no more lovely hikes.  Not to worry though, it could have been much worse.

Well it turns out that things were not as good as we hoped.

We went to the Hospital in Waterford (Ireland) and they did an X-ray and found a small fracture.

As we dropped the car off in Dublin the rental company found some damage on the car so that cost us 250 Euro and the new tire we purchased coat 80 Euro ........... it's only money.

So into a cast and fly on to England which then became a problem when we had not registered Vanessa as handicapped. However we got on the flight and rented another car at Stansted.

We went to the Hospital in Essex and they did more X-rays and changed the cast. We are at Jan and John's house and being well cared for and back to the Hospital on Monday

We did make lunch with old friends Jane and Robin and caught up with all the family news.

What will next week bring???

Repair of the first puncture.

Loop walk Kilkenny

Inside our cottage

Bridge over the Nore river.

Fisherman in the distance

Wicklow mountains.

Glendalough Valley

Tower at Glendalough

More ruins

St. Mullins

The second punture with no wheel nut wrench.

Now we have problems.

Week Two:

This week started with the main reason for our trip: a visit with the family and to attend brother-in-law, John's 80 birthday party at his home in Essex. The weather couldn't have been better. There were hors d'oeuvres in the garden marquis followed by a sit down lunch in the conservatory- in all about 30 of us. It was great to see most of the family again and catch up on the latest news.

John's brother from Durban S.A. gave a great speech and John thanked everyone for coming. Food was good and John's whisky was good as well.

Sunday we had a late lunch with Vanessa's old school friend Jill and her husband Rob who told us about all of their recent travels.

Monday back to the Hospital and they took more X-rays and said that it did not look like pins would be needed. So onwards - as best we can. We bought a wheelchair as it was cheaper than hiring one. It certainly hasn't turned out to be the vacation we were planning, but we are doing our best!

Jan and John, Andrew's sister & brother-in-law, have been looking after us and John's cooking has been fantastic. Every meal had been a delight - except I think Vanessa and I are now putting on weight.

Our final day in Essex was spent watching our great nephew, Hugo, in his school rugby match. It brought back memories of watching our own children years ago.

We are now in Spain. It was an uneventful flight, special assistance needed for the invalid - that worked out very well. Let's see what this week brings.



George and Sarah

Ann and Derek

Jeff (Johns brother from South Africa) with speach

John (Birthday boy at 80)

John's daughter heading up Table 3

Liz heading up table 1

Table 4

Vanessa, Jill, Rob and Andrew - great Sunday lunch

Vanessa and John for a trip up Pleshey Village.

Hugo playing rugby.

Week Three:

We had an uneventful flight to Spain with the wheelchair in tow and stayed at John's and Ann's Villa about 20 miles North West of Benidorm. The weather was great ...... sunny days and cool nights.

Most of the time was spent with the family for outings to bars on the beach and drinking wine back at the villa. Towards the end of the week Jan and John flew back to UK and then we left to drive north to Barcelona.

John's and Ann's Villa in Spain

John's and Ann's Villa in Spain

John's and Ann's Villa in Spain

John's and Ann's Villa in Spain

John's and Ann's Villa in Spain

John's and Ann's Villa in Spain

View to the Med Sea.

John off for a walk

At a bar

At a bar again.

View from the top of the mountain.

At another bar AGAIN

Lunch halfway down the mountain.

Olive picking.

Week Four:

On our way to Barcelona we stopped for a night at a B&B in Tortosa. The location was way off the grid and it took us forever to find the farmhouse located in the middle of the olive groves. It was quite an experience and would have been fun had it not been for the awkwardness of hopalong Vanessa in tow! There have been many frustrating moments and it really does give us insight as to how difficult it can be for a disabled person to get around. You just don't know until you are in that situation! It rained most of the day and all night. Not the best weather for sightseeing. THe following morning we headed straight to our hotel in the middle of Barcelona and Andrew promptly got rid of the rental car.Driving out here is no fun. Strolling the streets and alleys of Barcelona on the other hand was great fun. I only wish we had spent more time there. Perhaps another time!

We arrived at the port early and tried to get a handicapped room. Unfortunately all were taken but we did upgrade to a room with balcony (worth the money under these circumstances). The ship is almost full, nearly 4,000 passengers, and although we are being taken care of, we both agree we'd never go on such a large cruise again. Why? Ask us when you next see us.

We are now at sea after stopping at our first port of call, Ponta Delgada, in the Azores. This is quite a large island, one of 9 in the Azores. It has quaint streets and lots of little stores to wander around...of course we didn't go in the stores much to Andrew's delight. The streets were not wheelchair friendly either so we did not spend too long ashore. Most of the roads and sidewalks are made of volcanic rock. The hills and mountains looked lovely.......this may be good for another trip when we are both fit. Talking of fit, well it may be a long time because all we are doing is eating and sitting and you know what happens next!  

Now that's a big ship....Norwegian Epic!

There are 18 floors in all.


Room with a view

The other view

Leaving port and passing another ship at the dock.

City gates at Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel, Azores

Notice the road and sidewalk designs.

St. Philips Church in Ponta Degada

Lighthouse at entrance to Azores port.

Sao Miguel from port.