A Sligo Holiday

OK, here is a new thing, our hols written on Andy’s blog. I hope it’s interesting for you. It’s missing the photos – sorry.

We have toured and explored quite a few counties in Eire, but Sligo has not been one of them, so what better excuse to have, to go there. Jay did the research, and we came up with a cottage, that we managed to get swapped out of, but this one is about the fun stuff.

Hogans got us a sailing on a slow ferry, on the Saturday of 25th, and that got us in to Dublin just before noon. As usual, my satnav1 got us through Dublin and out onto the N4 in well under an hour, which is top notch. I call Jay satnav1, because she sat beside me and did the navigating, not to be confused with satnav2, as that’s electronic, and definitely not to be trusted, but can be very useful for short fiddly bits, like the last few miles of a journey – sometimes!! Satnav3 (that is I) plays with satnav2, and is almost as unreliable too, but is only used when satnav1 is inoperable, i.e. she’s driving.

We had a very nice drive, with a picnic and driver change at Lough Owel. We chose this spot as it had a geocache. I had put 20 plus caches on our geocaching GPS, nicknamed the cachenav, from likely spots that we would be visiting across Eire and Northern Ireland, and likely routes too. I took over the navigating, and missed a turn to one site in a forest/lough combination, but got Jay to Jamestown Quay, on the river Shannon; very pretty; ideal for a coffee break and a cache. Then onto Sligo and Cliffoney and the cottage, but lets forget about THAT one.

We always keep a diary of our holidays, which are hand written by me each day, and then Jay types my bits into the computer at home, adding her own bits as she goes along, so this time the diary got a big inject from Jay on the house. Relax, this will just be a précis of the highlights, not the 25 to 40 page novelette that we usually end up with, complete with 50 to 80 photos in it.

The basic holiday plan, was to go out on the fine days, and ride out the wet ones with games on the Wii. Alie and Gerry’s cottage had a good quality (Phillips) widescreen CRT TV, (it must be good, as we have one ourselves). Games evenings are a big part of our holiday, so a good TV is very nice. Oh yes, the plan. Meg isn’t one for sitting in a car for long periods, and likes to get out and explore places, so she is very good for us, but she can cope with a big trip every so often. The problem with this holiday was that the weather was never bad enough to keep us in; but luckily, there were lots of places to visit, and most of our day trips out were only 60 to 100 miles around.

The beaches and coastlines along Sligo are superb, with huge long lazy rollers coming in from the Atlantic, and lots of sandy bays. We popped into Bundoran regularly throughout the holiday, had a coffee in a carpark overlooking the bay, or an Angelito ice-cream, and watched the surfers riding the rollers. This coast is a surfers paradise, waves 4 to 10 feet high. One American lassie we spoke to, said Sligo beaches were the best kept secret in Eire. There is some amazing geology around and off the coasts of Sligo, and the reefs of rock turn the rollers into spectacular water sprays, and for photo taking addicts like us, they gave us hours of pleasure – and hours at the computer sorting the naff from the fantastic and nearly fantastic. Of course, you need a contrast to make the sandy bays look so peaceful, and curvaceous, and the rocky headlands do a perfect job, adding more picturesque shapes to the scenery, and more chances to take even more pictures.

Mullaghmore Head, with it’s circular road, (not shown on our road map), is on a beautiful peninsular, with multi-headlands, multi viewing points, and plenty of places to just sit, and enjoy the views, the waves, the skies, the sounds – so why are crashing waves so relaxing? We often checked out Mullaghmore Head as we left our cottage in the morning, before heading for an inland lough or Slieve (mountain), and again, on our way back to base at the end of the day. It’s just under two miles from the Head to our cottage base, and one morning, we were watching the waves for so long, we had a coffee-break before continuing on our way.

We are normally mountain types, and we drove into the mountains and around the lakes, of which there are many, but in Sligo and Mayo, although there are pretty inland views, they didn’t draw us away from the beaches for long. Ladies Brae in the Slieve Gamph was pretty, and the Dartry mountains in a line behind the Bundoran to Sligo road had lots of pretty places. Disappointingly, several of the lakes we went to were devoid of viewing places, but we found pretty narrow roads, lovely woods and forests and walks, so no one day was a complete disappointment.

Alie and Gerry were so nice and helpful. I popped round to say thanks for them getting some chair raisers for Jay, and got treated to tea and cakes and chat – Jay thought I’d got lost, and I’d only been away three hours!! They couldn’t have made us more at home, if they’d tried. They only get a small paragraph, but heir impact on the holiday was enormous.

After our two weeks in Sligo, we took Meg home, and stayed with her until the following Thursday. We had time to catch up with the new additions to the family – babies Ava and Riley. Ava, a granddaughter for Meg, is pretty and laid back, and Riley, a great-grandson to Meg, is a gorgeous little bundle of energy. We caught up with most of the family while we were there, and visited some of our favourite places. If you ever go to Northern Ireland, visit Ballintoy harbour; a little old lady runs a cafe there, called Roarks Cabin, and she and her team make delicious cakes and meals. The harbour is very picturesque, but the day we went, the sea was like a mill pond, so you see, there’s a first for everything. Having said that, it was just as nice as having huge crashing waves, which we get a lot there.

This holiday was notable for several reasons, and one of them was… Meg bought a Notebook computer. She has said that she wanted nothing to do with them, but recently she lost one of her camera cards, so she decided to get a notebook on which to store back-ups of all her camera cards. We went into Sligo for some AA batteries, and she came out with a notebook too. We had tuition sessions every evening from then on, and Meg quickly got the hang of copying her photos onto her notebook, and experimenting with editing. She prefers to print her photos from her camera cards, directly in her little standalone Canon Selphy printer, which is a brilliant little no nonsense gadget. Meg can adjust her photos with the printers own routines, so that’s neat. She has printed photos on the Selphy, when connected to the computer, just to prove to herself that it can be done, but she won’t be doing it that way normally. We’ve disabled the wi-fi etc, as it started to get in the way, and she doesn’t need it anyway.

We didn’t manage to get Meg interested in Geocaching, although she came out with us and helped search for the caches, and even found her first cache. She just doesn’t get the point of it all. We found 9 caches in Eire, and six in Northern Ireland, taking our totals past 50. As usual, the cache sites introduced us to some lovely scenic places. I have now taken over my son’s old iPhone, so I don’t have to rely on forward planning and computers to get info on where the cache sites are. Can I cope with all this technology I wonder?