2007 Galley Head Lighthouse

Fri 23rd March

This is the first time I’ve been on holiday without Andrew since we first got together.

The Cambridge Nutters & MK extras are off to Galley Head Lighthouse for our first Irish Landmark Trust holiday, booked last December. Andrew is too busy at work to make it, we’ve only been back from our honeymoon for three weeks.

Nick & I set off to Stansted to meet the Nutters, we have Nina, Jenny, Jennifer, Rick, Gavin, Louise, Bernie, Dave & Jon on this holiday. Went through usual check in stuff & settled in the bar for a pint before take off.

We arrived at Cork airport & set off to pick up the three cars we are hiring for the hols.

We drove for just over an hour in convoy to Clonakilty where we stopped off at a supermarket for necessary shopping. I phoned Gail the housekeeper as arranged & she met us at the lighthouse to let us in. She had a very welcoming fire going for us in the main sitting room.

The accommodation comprises of two cottages next to a working lighthouse, one of which used to be the lighthouse keepers cottage. They each have one double & one twin bedroom and a bathroom upstairs. The sitting room in J’s, Nina & I’s side was the largest & had the fire so became the main seating area. There is a walkway through both cottages downstairs, which is locked if smaller groups are renting separately.

Gav & Nick drove back to Clonakilty to pick up an Indian take away. The rest of us sat down with beer or wine by the fire.

I had a chat to Andrew & described the cottages to him, wishing he was here too.

Dave picked up the Book of Days by A. Miscellany. He read to us from the 23rd March in the 1800’s. We eventually ate at around midnight, a very average Indian, but thank you to Gav & Nick for going. Nina & I shut the shutters for the night, as the lighthouse is directly in front of our window & beams straight into our room.

Sat 24th March

I was up at 7am the sun was shining, although it was quite windy, Jennifer & Bernie were already up, so after coffee we went out for a walk to explore the area surrounding the lighthouse. We were surrounded on all sides by the sea. We walked on amazing springy grass, your feet bounced on it like walking on a trampoline, we discovered later that it is peat underneath, it’s wonderful to walk on.

Afterwards, having taken photos & done some videoing we went back for breakfast. Eggs, bacon & toast with fantastic spiced marmalade that we bought last night, never tried this before, it could be addictive.

Later all but Nina who was still asleep went for another walk. We found the incredible gorge which has an unreachable cave at the base with water constantly dripping, & a blowhole through which the waves come in & splash up the sides of the gorge walls, it was surrounded by the springy grass.

Everyone took photos & I took some film, Rick called us from the edge of the nearby cliffs, he had found two seals. We all went to watch them, I managed to get some video of them bobbing around, they have such smiley little faces.

Across the bay was a castle & a bright peach coloured cottage, sticking out vividly from the other stone cottages. The rock formations here are incredible and there is lots of green slate which is very pretty.

We wandered back to the lighthouse & collected Nina and drove down to Inchy Donney beach where Nick knew a place to eat. The Dune hotel has lovely food & we all settled outside at tables as the sun was shining. After lunch I walked over to the beach to do some filming & watched three horse wheeled traps being raced around the beach, it looked great fun, like something Ben Hur drove. As we walked back up the steep hill we saw a man paragliding overhead.

We set off in convoy to Bantry where Jenny wants to look at boats. Parked up by the harbour near some lovely old cottages that look Scottish in style. We stopped for coffee & home made cakes, then went for a wander around. We found a watermill and an old Catholic church with two rows of palm trees planted in the grounds.

We headed back to the lighthouse, on arrival Judith was waiting for us, she’s staying for dinner this evening. I was so full from lunch & cake that I didn’t bother with dinner, instead I phoned Andrew to see how he is and tell him about our day. It’s lovely sitting outside watching the lighthouse beams while we chat. I can see five beams circling around.

Later we all sat chatting & drinking wine or beer. Dave read 24th March out of The Book of Days all about Elizabeth 1st a really nice relaxing evening, so good to spend some time with Judith. She has invited us all for lunch on Monday. Shortly after Judith went I decided it was time for bed.

Sun 25th March

I was up very early as my stomach was bad, sat reading & drinking coffee, then Nina & I played with my Nintendo DS doing some brain training.

Later most of us went over to Baltimore which is very pretty, rows of brightly painted houses & a harbour. We lunched at La Jolie Brise - good pizza, then walked around the harbour & found a ferry trip to Cape Clear Island, decided we will go for a day later this week.

Found more seals in the bay here, watched them for a while before they dived & disappeared from view.

Jenny cooked spaghetti Bolognaise it was delicious. Then some of the group played Munchkin around the kitchen table, I can’t get the hang of it, Nina retired from the game, she couldn’t get into it either.

Lazed in front of the fire reading, then played Mahjong for a while before bed. I love just relaxing & reading in front of the fire at Landmarks, no television to disturb the peace & tranquillity.

Mon 26th March

We were off to visit Judith at her Rectory at Balineen about ½ hour drive away. We set off in convoy as usual, & arrived in time for lunch which was wonderful.

I spent some time cuddling Maud, Judith’s little grey cat who is sixteen now. She is as lovely & affectionate as ever, it’s some time since I last saw her. Judith’s other cat Fluffy is, as her name implies, quite the fluffiest cat I had ever met. She was very cute too.

After lunch Judith took us to a national park, this was about an hours drive from Balineen.

The woods were well worth visiting, several little waterfalls, stepping stones to cross the stream, moss everywhere and some fairly steep climbs uphill. The views are wonderful & remind me very much of parts of Scotland. We went down to the lake on the return journey, wandered around taking photos & film.

Gavin skimmed a few stones, we looked around the ruin. I went into the tiny St. Finbars church by the lake. Later on most people went back to Galley Head. Nick, Jenny, Bernie and I went off shopping with Judith to Glengarrif where we went to Quills woollen market where Bernie bought himself a granddad shirt, which really suits him. Jenny & I each bought a jumper, & Nick bought Judith a red jumper too.

Louise had cooked a veggie stew for everyone & Jennifer had made dumplings to go with it. Judith joined us for dinner, then later Nick and Jenny took her home. The rest of us curled up around the fire, or played Munchkin in the kitchen.

Andrew phoned me, so I sat out by the lighthouse chatting to him for a while, I do wish he was here with me…

Tue 27th March

All but Nina & Louise are off to Cape Clear Island or Oilean Chleire in Irish, for the day. We drove to Baltimore in time to catch the 11am ferry over, it’s about 1 hour crossing from the mainland.

We had a mug of tea at Siopa Beag before setting out to walk around the island. At the summit of the first steep hill, having passed the school & the priest’s house on the way up, we came to the Standing Stones, three in all, but couldn’t find any information on them whatsoever.

We walked for some time, everything was closed as the tourist season does not start till Easter.

Jennifer and I decided at the other side of the island to head back as we were very hot & thirsty, we’d hoped that the restaurant would be open after our long walk.

We cheated on the way back as the little island bus appeared. For 2 euros each we were driven the last half mile or so back to the cafe for a welcome drink.

When the others appeared we had a late lunch, before catching the ferry back to the mainland. We saw several crested cormorants & two seals on the way back, but no whales or dolphins.

Back at Galley Head we got ready to go out to O’Donovan’s in Clonakilty for the Irish folk evening, recommended by Judith.

We arrived in time to order dinner, and eat before the music began. Andrew rang part way through the evening so I went out to chat and have a ciggie, no smoking inside in Ireland these days.Nick, Dave, Jon & I stayed till the end of the evening, everyone else went back about 10ish. On our return Nina was still up so we had a drink & a chat before bed.

Wed 28th March

I was up quite late, had some coffee & Nick made porridge for breakfast, yummy, he’s good at porridge. Afterwards we went out for a walk, to the blow hole first and then over to the next bay. Cormorants were nesting in the cliffs and we could see the peaty grass overhanging the cliff by a couple of feet, scary! If you walked to the edge without realising this you could end up on the rocks below.

We wandered back, then down the little steps to a little fishing dock.

Later on we went off in convoy to Kinsale for the day. This is a very pretty town with a large commercial harbour, a huge tanker was being unloaded when we arrived.

Jenny is going to arrange hiring a boat later this year. We went to Dino’s fish & chip restaurant on the pier for lunch, really good haddock & chips with a nice cup of tea.

Nina, Jennifer & I went for a wander around the shops after lunch, while everyone else seemed to head for the harbour. We found a good book shop & Nina bought a couple of books.

I found a really nice blue & white striped granddad shirt for Andrew & bought him some Guinness toffees too. Nina & I posted some postcards, then we all met up at the tavern by the port for a drink.

Louise, Gav, Dave and I opted to go back to Galley Head afterwards, everyone else went to the dog races in Cork. I’d originally planned to go too, but was tired from our night out yesterday and had bad stomach cramps so a night in sounded better.

I hope that Andrew & I will go when we go to visit Judith. We had a lovely quiet evening in at the lighthouse, I had a chat to Andrew, then Louise & I cooked dinner for the four of us. Roasted chicken & bacon with leek & cheese mash followed by apple pie & custard.

Later we sat by the fire drinking wine & chatting till the others got home. Nina, Jennifer, Rick & I had a game of Scrabble before retiring for the night.

Thu 29th March

I was feeling pretty awful this morning, stomach really bad from all the naughty food I have been eating, so I decided on a quiet day in the lighthouse.

Everyone else went out for the day. I had a long soak in the bath, tidied up and packed ready to leave tomorrow morning. I went for a last walk to the blow hole, read by the fire and generally relaxed for the day.

We all had an Indian meal this evening, followed by a lovely trifle made by Jennifer. A quiet evening by the fire reading, or playing Scrabble or Munchkin in the kitchen followed.

Fri 30th March

We were all up early this morning, after breakfast, {left over trifle included} we tidied up, packed the cars & the housekeeper took a photo of all of us sitting outside the cottage.

We drove over to Judith with the games we had borrowed and some food we had left.

After a cup of tea, a chat, & a cuddle with Maud & Fluffy we said our goodbyes & thanks then drove into Cork for a wander round & some lunch.

Nick and I ate at Rossini a really nice fish restaurant before meeting up with the others to head for the car hire return & airport.

Fond farewells to all the Nutters at Stansted, then Nick & I drove back home to The Elms & went out for a curry with Andrew.

This has been another wonderful Landmark holiday, Andrew & I should visit Judith sometime this year, and show him all the lovely places we went to, including Galley Head Lighthouse of course.