Monthly Archives: April 2014

Drone tour of Cork City

Bret found this drone tour of Cork city.

Around 6:43 there is a great shot of our neighborhood. the Marguerita Villa.


If you look hard, you may be able to see me taking my garbage to the curb.  I came inside and told Bret I had just seen a UFO flying around St. Finbarr’s Cathedral and he thought I was crazy.

Bret doesn’t endorse this behavior (nor do a bunch of the commenters).  It seems the guys who taped it may be in big trouble, so who knows how long the video will be up.


The Dingle Peninsula

Climbing Mount Brandon
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Top of the mountain but not much view.  Still a great hike, however.

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The view from Connors PassDSC_0552

…and the other direction…


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Former location of our favourite Kerry county beer brew pub.  It is for sale if anyone wants to buy a pub.




Three days on the Dingle

Wow, we just had an incredible three days on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry.  Both Good Friday and Easter Monday are University holidays in Ireland.  Some of Bret’s colleagues invited us on a Good Friday hike, so we decided to make the most of the time off and join them for the hike, then stay in Dingle for a couple extra days.

Mt. Brandon

At 951m Mt. Brandon, by many accounts, is considered Ireland’s 2nd highest peak.  It isn’t really, it is just that all of the higher peaks are in one mountain range, the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks, which has about 27 peaks stretched over 12 miles (8 of which are taller than Mt. Brandon).  So, after the Macgillycuddy Reeks, it is the highest peak in Ireland.


It was overcast, so this was the last grand vista we had before we entered into the cloud zone.  To the left is the north coast of the Dingle Peninsula.  The first section of the trail ran through private farm land, so there were plenty of sheep to keep us company and several fence crossings.  Shortly after this photo, we reached the small cirque on the east side of the peak.


There were some lovely lakes, so we sat for a bit and had lunch in the mist.

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The rocks were really neat. They are so smooth and even in color, I thought they were basalt, but it turns out they are sandstone.  They are covered in vibrant green and blue lichens.


After lunch, we had the hardest climb of the day.  It was a bit muddy and wet, but not too bad.IMG_2711 IMG_2715

Here, we thought we were at the top, but not quite…


At the top, we stopped for a group picture next to the shrine for St. Brendan.  St. Brendan is one of the 12 Apostles of Ireland and many believe that he was the first European to reach North America.  Many Irish Catholics perform a pilgrimage from the southern tip of the Dingle Peninsula to the shrine at the top of Mt. Brandon. We may, in fact, have run in to many of them.  There were quite of few folks out on the trail despite the weather and it was Good Friday.

We had the trail to ourselves on the route down however, since we did not take the main trail.  We did see some sheep, including a number of little, bitty lambs!  So cute.  We also saw an Ogham stone, which is a megolith with the oldest form of Irish writing (just slashes).


Shortly after coming back out of the clouds, Bret and I found our dream home.


From there back to the car, we were on a small dirt road that winded through more pasture land.



We were all pretty exhausted by the time we got back to the car.  It took us 20 minutes to drive over Conner Pass from the north side of the peninsula to the town of Dingle on the south side of the peninsula, but it is pretty dramatic landscape.  After we supped with our hiking companions, Bret and I were pretty happy to be minutes away from our bed at Higgins B&B in Dingle.

Dingle Town and Fungie the Dolphin

Saturday, the weather was a little more clear.  We wandered around Dingle for a bit and enjoyed looking in the shops.  There seem to be a number of crafty/ artsy people, so intermingled with lots of touristy souvenir shops, there were some nice crafts and art to admire.  There also were a couple local craft beers to admire.  We stopped by the Dingle Brewing Company, where they brew Tom Crean’s Irish Lager.  We enjoyed a short self-guided tour through the brewery, which is located in the old Dingle Dairy.  We mostly learned about Tom Crean’s crazy Antarctic adventures.  We also taste- tested the wares.  Not bad for a lager.  However, we preferred the peninsula’s other microbrewery, the West Kerry Brewery.  They make a dark ale, a pale bitter, and a porter.  We tested out the dark ale and the porter in the local pub.

In the afternoon, we wanted to take the harbor boat tour.  Unfortunately, there was not enough interest in that, so they gave a discount on the Fungie- the- dolphin tour.  Fungie has apparently made a rock cave just outside of the Dingle harbor his home since 1983.  At the discounted price, we were not granted the money back guarantee of a sighting though.  Rest assured, we did see Fungie. It was sort of awful though and we really just felt bad for the poor dolphin that is apparently harassed by humans all day.  We really enjoyed the views from the trip however.

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After dinner, we dropped by a local pub for a couple pints of our favorite local beers, then returned the b&b, exhausted once again.

Bike Ride around the Dingle

Sunday, we woke to one of the nicest days we’ve had in Ireland.  Not a cloud in the sky!  After breakfast, we jumped on our bikes and began our journey around Slea Head.

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We took our time and enjoyed the sights and cafes and restaurants.  So many lovely views to photograph (Just wait for Bret to upload his pics!) and soooo many adorable baby sheep.  Other than one tough climb, a minor bike crash when I didn’t get one of my shoes unclipped, and a bit of headwind towards the end of the day (luckily a tailwind for our final climb), the day was absolutely perfect!

After our ride, we tried the local chip shop, which we were told by many has the best fish and chips around.  It was pretty dang good.  Finally, after a four month hiatus from driving, I decided that if little, old, Irish ladies can drive, so can I!  I drove the manual rental car home, on the left side of the road-  the whole way.  Small victories.

Hope everyone else had as lovely an Easter weekend as we did!




Two day research Cruise

The last two days I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in a training on a research vessel called the Celtic Voyager.  The Celtic Voyager is 103ft long and has wet and dry chemical laboratories.  It was commissioned in 1997 and can support 6-8 scientists with a maximum endurance of 14 days.


It was an intensive two day course on how to collect data for characterizing the Cork Harbor, the second largest natural harbor in the world.  For example, this data might be used in an environmental impact assessment, for a project involving laying an electrical cable or pipe in the harbor.  It didn’t have any direct connection to my research but it is great to learn about this aspect of the industry and to get out on a boat for a couple of days! Here is the area we were working.

We had some pretty good weather and some spectacular views going in and out of the harbor

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This guy in a kayak was racing us for a while.
The city of Cobh looks quite nice from the harbor.
There are also quite a few factories and industrial buildings along the harbor.

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We learned several different ways to collect sediment samples and do preliminary analysis on them.DSC_0363 DSC_0364

We deployed a CTD which collects samples and measures salinity and temperature at different locations in the water column.

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We deployed a remotely operated underwater vehicle. (ROV)


and a side sonar instrument to get high resolution data for mapping the sea floor.


Overall it was a great learning experience and fun as well.


Then Emily and I went to our second Cork City Football game.



We looked at the weather forecast this weekend and saw rain, and more rain. So we decided it was a good time to go out to Midleton and check out the Jameson experience. It turns out that many types of Irish whiskey are made in Midleton at the new facility that opened in 1975.  Jameson, Redbreast, Midleton, Paddy’s, Powers are among them.  Adjacent to the new distillery is the old distillery which housed the Cork Distillery Company, which merged with Jameson in 1966 to form the Irish Distillers Group. The old distillery is now the Jameson Experience and is a collection of old buildings where they have a tour which talks about the process of making whiskey.


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In and around the buildings they have a lot of the old equipment on display and do a fairly thorough job of explaining the process of whiskey making.

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In this part they showed us barrels at different stages in the process which pointed out how the color changes over time and how much they lose to evaporation during the process.


At the end of the tour Emily and I were selected to be official whiskey tasters.  They had us compare a scotch, burbon, and Jameson whiskeys.  Emily and I both liked the Jameson the best.  We even got a personalized certificate showing our status as whiskey tasters.


We then had a nice lunch,  then went to the Mad Monk before heading back to Cork.


All in all, we liked Midleton and the whiskey experience.

London (Day 3)

On our final day in London, we decided to go to the Tower of London. It was a bright sunny day and we were there when it opened.  It turns out that during its history, many animals were kept at the tower.  As a recognition of this these wire sculptures were made of some of the animals.  They are pretty impressive, made of what seems to be chicken wire.



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There are a lot of ravens roaming around the grounds.


We then took off for where I used to live 14 years ago.  I cannot believe it has been that long.  We got off the tube at sloan square and had lunch at an upscale eatery ( they charged us extra for essentially filtering our tap water) among other extra charges.  We then walked over to Battersea park, where we saw these love birds.DSC_0248
We then had a pint at the Prince Albert (my old watering hole).

And then went by my old flat.


Then it was across the Albert bridge and back to Sloan Square.


Overall a very fun trip.