Sherrill Joins Google Mapping Crew (almost)

Today I walked 9 miles round-trip to Bray Head lookout.  This was quite a hike for me, as I am not a “walker” naturally but I was determined to see Bray Head.

Because this is Ireland, the weather changes quite rapidly and being on the Wild Atlantic Way (WAW) makes it all that more capricious; starting with blue skies at 10 am.  By the time I got to the bridge it was clouding over quickly.  When I stepped onto the bridge, it began to shower.  By the time I was in the middle of the bridge I was being pelted with light hail and a wicked wind.  When I reached the other side, the rain was just a mist and the wind, a breeze.  Now wet, the choice was, go back, get dry, and hang out in the rec room – nope, not an option; so, onward and upward.

Wicked windy bridge
Wicked windy bridge
directional sign at the intersection, 2 miles down.
directional sign at the intersection, 2 miles down the road.

The day was improving by the minute; clouds now fluffy white with a small breeze.  Lovely things to look at on the narrow asphalt road.  Stopped to pet a friendly horse (up and back); picked and ate some blackberries growing wild; and, inhaled the fresh, cool Atlantic wind.  Ahhhhh

Roadside flower shop
Roadside flower shop
Great water views
Great water views

And, clicked off one of my bucket list items:  The place where the Trans-Atlantic Cable terminated.

From Wikipedia:  A transatlantic telegraph cable is an undersea cable running under the Atlantic Ocean used for telegraph communications. The first was laid across the floor of the Atlantic from Telegraph Field, Foilhommerum Bay, Valentia Island in western Ireland to Heart’s Content in eastern Newfoundland. The first communications occurred August 16, 1858, reducing the communication time between North America and Europe from ten days – the time it took to deliver a message by ship – to a matter of minutes. The South Atlantic was crossed between 1873 and 1874 with a three-phases cable running from Carcavelos beach, in Portugal, to Madeira and then Cape Verde, and from there to Recife, in Brazil. Transatlantic telegraph cables have been replaced by transatlantic telecommunications cables

This link takes you to an interesting sidebar about the owner of the property:

Historic Marker of First trans-Atlantic Cable termination point.
Historic Marker of First trans-Atlantic Cable termination point.

Now I am in sight of Bray Head, up, up, up the road.

I pass a man tending sheep and ask a question that I’ve not had an answer to – why do the sheep have paint on their butt and backs and numbers on their sides.  He explained that several farmers may graze on the same land and this is similar to branding cattle, but much more humane; and the numbers written on the sheep are to tell which ewe and lamb belong together.  Boy, oh boy, this day just keeps getting better and better.  But the best is yet to come, at the top of the hill in the parking area.  This is what I see:  Obviously something interesting is happening here and I want a piece of this action …

Google map crew
Google map crew

Google map crew is here with people from “Wild Atlantic Way”and they are mapping Bray Head and it is expected to be on-line in February.

Wild Atlantic Way (Click here to follow the link)

So, since they are allowing these people to try on the gear and take photos, I step up and get my photo taken wearing the (heavier than it looks) Google Mapping Camera.

Whooppee!   This is almost as good as being in the 40 million pound logging machine in Kielder (thank you Simon).

So, now I am sitting at the picnic table talking with the “WAW” crew who tell me that next week, Star Wars will be filming on Skellig Michael.  And, when had I planned to go to Skellig Michael …. you got it …. next week.  What a BONUS DAY!

DUBLIN and the Book of Kells … Bucket List #7

The Book of Kells is one of the rarest books in the world and is surrounded by some mystery; and, like Hadrian’s Wall, millions of words have been written about it.  The following You Tube link(s) are available to those of you who want the story.

You Tube, Book of Kells,  There are 7 parts.  When you go to Part 1, you will be able to continue through the other 6, or not, as you choose.

In this library there is one copy of every book ever published in Ireland
In this library there is one copy of every book ever published in Ireland.

The Long Room:  The main chamber of the Old Library at Trinity University, is the Long Room, and at nearly 65 meters in length, it is filled with 200,000 of the Library’s oldest books. When built (between 1712 and 1732) it had a flat plaster ceiling and shelving for books was on the lower level only, with an open gallery. By the 1850’s these shelves had become completely full; largely as since 1801 the Library had been given the right to claim a free copy of every book published in Britain and Ireland. In 1860 the roof was raised to allow construction of the present barrel-vaulted ceiling and upper gallery bookcases.

Marble busts line the Long Room, a collection that began in 1743 when 14 busts were commissioned from sculptor Peter Scheemakers. The busts are of the great philosophers and writers of the western world and also of men connected with Trinity College – famous and not so famous. The finest bust in the collection is of the writer Jonathan Swift by Louis Francois Roubiliac.

Other treasures in the Long Room include one of the few remaining copies of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic which was read outside the General Post Office on 24 April 1916 by Patrick Pearse at the start of the Easter Rising. The harp is the oldest of its kind in Ireland and probably dates from the 15th century. It is made of oak and willow with 29 brass strings. It is the model for the emblem of Ireland.

Just pull up a chair and a reading lamp and start.
Just pull up a chair and a reading lamp and start.

Sorry to say all of these books are definitely off limits to the general public.  No soft leather chairs here.  No reading lamps; nothing to encourage you to sit, sip coffee and go to far away places in your mind.

Ha’Penny Bridge.

Ha'penny bridge,Dublin over the River Liffey
Ha’penny bridge, over the River Liffey.

The Ha’penny Bridge is the best known of Dublin’s bridges. It was built in 1816 and was the first iron bridge in Ireland. It is a single span structure with cast iron railings and decorative lamps. It was originally named the Liffey Bridge but is now called the Ha’penny because until 1919 to cross it there was a half-penny charge.

Before the Ha’penny Bridge was built there were seven ferries, operated by a William Walsh, across the Liffey. The ferries were in a bad condition and Walsh was informed that he had to either fix them or build a bridge. Walsh chose the latter option and was granted the right to extract a ha’penny toll from anyone crossing it for 100 years.

The toll was increased for a time to a Penny Ha’penny (one and a half pence), but was eventually dropped in 1919. While the toll was in operation, there were turnstiles at either end the bridge.  I was told that at one point 2 men who wanted to cross the bridge asked the keeper at the turnstile if there was an extra charge for baggage.  When told no, one man jumped on the back of the other and both crossed the bridge for a ha’penny.

Locks of Love on the Liffey
Locks of Love on the Liffey

Today in Dublin there is concern over the “Locks of Love” which are locks placed on the bridge by lovers.  The city has started to remove the locks because the extra weight causes damage to the structure.  The same problems are apparent in Paris on the Pont des Artes and in Venice on the Ponte dell’Accademia.

Go to link below for multiple photos of locks of love on bridges.

Butlers Chocolate Cafe ..Heavenly, nothing else to say!

Chocolate Heaven
Chocolate Heaven
I had already eaten the piece of double chocolate, chocolate before I took the shot.
I had already eaten the piece of double double chocolate, before I took the shot.

Celtic Circle Tour:  If, like me, you are interested in history, you would have enjoyed walking among the neolithic sites and old castles in the Boyne Valley, north of Dublin.

The Hill of Tara was the highlight for me, only because in the 11th century The Book of Invasions noted it as the seat of the high-kings of Ireland; (and my ancestors came from Ireland). Written records show that high kings were inaugurated there, and the “Seanchas Mor” legal text (written some time after 600AD) specified that the king must drink ale and symbolically marry the goddess Maeve (Medb) in order to qualify for high kingship.

Disputes over Tara’s initial importance increased when 20th-century archaeologists identified pre-Iron Age monuments from the Neolithic period (roughly 5,000 years ago). One of these forms, the Mound of the Hostages, has IMG_1143a short passage aligned with sunrise on the solar cross-quarter-days coinciding with ancient annual Celtic festivals celebrated on the midpoints between vernal and autumnal equinox  and summer and winter solstice.

There have, in the past decade, been archaeologists/scientists who have used ground penetrating radar to look under the mounds and were quite surprised at the depth and circumference of this area.

For those of you who are not enamored with history, there is also a Fairy Tree where people write wishes and hang them on the tree with ribbons.Sherrill at the Fairy Tree, Hill of Tara

It turned out to be a lovely day for the tour and I met a very nice woman from Canada, with a similar background to mine, working with adults with disabilities, who became my “traveling partner” for the day.


And, this is Trim Castle used as the backdrop for the movie Braveheart and it is also where my camera battery died.


Trim Castle used the the filming of Braveheart IMG_1168

See you next time, with a fresh battery, on the Ring of Kerry, in southwestern Ireland.

Hadrian’s Wall .. Bucket List #4

Millions of words have been written about Hadrian’s Wall, but none can adequately express the astounding feeling of seeing and touching stones placed, forts built and personal objects recovered from historical Roman sites in Britain, as early as AD40.  Of the 84 miles where people can walk parallel to where the wall once stood, only one very short section is still in its original form since the construction 1,883 years ago in AD122.  This section at Housesteads, England is approximately 500′ and it is the only place where a person can walk on the actual wall, which is exactly what I did!  Although the wall looks relatively short in height where I am standing, if you were to step behind me and look down there is a drop of about 10′.  From this vantage point, on a clear day Roman guards could see 360 degrees around and approximately 10 miles distance.

Standing on history
This is the only part of Hadrian’s Wall where one can stand on history.

When you click on the link below and go to the Hadrian’s Wall website you will see the wall as it leaves Housestead’s Fort.  Although this part of the wall is intact, it is not the section that can be walked upon.  (When this page opens, click on “things to see and do”)

Vindolanda is another site along the wall where excavations have continued for 40 years.  While there I overheard a conversation between an archaeologist and a visitor.  I felt my jaw drop when he said they could most likely continue uncovering this site for another 200 years, can you even imagine that?

When you go to this site, watch the camera move into a reconstructed building and up the stairs because it is exactly where I am in this photo, taken by a handsome Italian man, (Grazie).Door to history

Rather than enter my photos of Vindolanda, just click on the following link:

Last stop, for now,  is Newcastle, UK at Wallsend  (End of the Wall), Segedunum Roman Fort where there is a reconstructed piece of the wall, seen in the photo below.

Rebuilt section of the wall at Wallsend, NewcastleFollow this link:

….  and then go to “What’s On”

And, last but not least I want to show you the most famous tree in England, on Hadrian’s Wall.  It is at Sycamore Gap and is famous because it was featured in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves with Kevin Costner.  Follow this link.

Here is a BONUS for you:

I hope you enjoyed this trip back in history.

Victoria Sponge … What’s That?

Victoria Sponge  . . . . . .

  • Perhaps something sexy to use in your shower (British company Victoria Plumb IS a plumbing company and they ‘could’ be selling this product).
  • Could it be a fruit you find only at Victoria Falls, one of the greatest attractions in Africa and the largest and most spectacular waterfalls in the world found on the Zambezi River.
  • Could it be what Victoria Secret models put in their bra’s to stay so saucy?
  • Perhaps it’s something Spice Girl Victoria Beckham (spouse of well known soccer star David Beckham) would use to clean her kitchen sink.

Well, if you don’t know what it is, don’t feel alone because I didn’t know until I had some at the Artisan Bakery and Cafe in Hexham, Northumberland, England.  This is a photo of their Victoria Sponge: Victoria Cream at Artisan Bakery Hexham This is no Ordinary cake, ladies and gentlemen, there seems to be 2 history stories about this pastry.  The first found reference was in 1491 and they were said to be small cakes served to children (minus the whipped cream, vanilla cream filling, jam and fresh fruit topping.) However: this cake became famous because of  Anna, the Duchess of Bedford (1788-1861), one of Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting. You see, lunch in Victorian times was pretty skimpy so clever Anna had her servants sneak tea and snacks into her room late in the afternoon. I think we would call this a “closet eater”; however, she soon began to invite other lady friends to join her and when she returned to London in the fall, her “tea party” circle was in full swing. Queen Victoria adopted the new craze for tea parties and she and her ladies would show up in formal dress for afternoon teas.  This simple cake was one of the Queen’s favorites; and, according to historians, the cakes were named after her.

Wikipedia says:  The sponge cake is thought to be one of the first of the non-yeasted cakes, and the earliest attested sponge cake recipe in English is found in the 1615 book of English poet and author Gervase Markham, “The English Huswife, Containing the Inward and Outward Virtues Which Ought to Be in a Complete Woman”    (I must, read this book and find out what, if anything I have been missing … am I truly a “complete woman”).

And, here are some additional links to other Victoria Sponge history and information:

Cake Fit for a Queen: Victoria Sponge

Now I have come full circle from my first taste, through the history, to baking my first Victoria Sponge.

Voila! Absolutely delicious; oh, so simple to make and so beautiful to behold.

 Victoria YummmmSponge cake with raspberry or strawberry jam and whipped cream; or, vanilla cream filling between the layers and, then topped with sweetened whipped cream.  Top of the cake is slathered with freshly whipped cream, a hint of vanilla and a bit of sugar for sweetness, then garnished with fresh fruit.

My first Victoria Sponge
My first Victoria Sponge

Just to be certain it was as good as it looked, I asked my British friend Fiona to do a taste test.  Here is the result.

Going, going ….

Going, going ....And, goneUmmmmmm

However, I did not want a biased opinion from Fiona, although I value her honesty; so, I asked Paula and Luis (HelpXers at the B&B,  from Madrid) to try it.  The piece I cut and gave to Luis was gone before I could get Paula’s cut and on the table.  So, I guess it’s pretty good.

Here is the basic recipe I used if you would like to try a Victoria Sponge – easy, only 3 ingredients.

Yummmm it up!