Tuesday, October 23rd
I tossed and turned at night in the Castle. I will admit, between the rich dinner sitting heavy on my tummy, other muscle soreness and feeling a bit spooked from... trying to get spooked, I didn't sleep well at all. We had a lazy morning in and had decided to take it even easier by ordering "Breakfast in Bed". I got the Traditional Irish Breakfast, and I must admit; I am not a fan of Black Pudding. What is black pudding, you ask? Well, the picture of the plate (seen below) with the eggs and bacon, you can see 2 round things... one very dark? That is the Black Pudding. Ok, but Colleen... what IS black pudding? Wikipedia defines it as "a type of blood sausage originating in Great Britain and Ireland. It is made from pork blood, with pork fat or beef suet, and a cereal, usually oatmeal, oat groats or barley groats."..... needless to say after sampling a tiny bite, it was not my favourite.
After breakfast, as I had already packed and did my morning routine, I opted to go out and walk around the grounds one more time before we checked out of the castle.
Our chauffeur, in a nice Mercedes, picked us up after Sarah had to pull me off of the Castle. Ha. Joke. Our driver was so friendly and helpful. He told us about the hot spots to visit in Dublin and helped us know what to expect. I had mentioned how I wanted to visit Pheonix Park and see the deer... so he took that way and stopped to let us out and get closer to the deer! This was my favourite capture (seen below). There were so many of them. We were only out of the car for about 10 minutes and eagerly jumped back in as the wind was so intense!
When we reached the O'Callaghan Davenport (first rude service from front desk) we got up to our room & started to unpack. We would be staying here for the remainder of our vacation; 7 more sleeps! I really liked the bathroom here, very bright & a great big raindrop shower head. The view from this window was a drastic change from the view from the Castle window, but it was still alright. The Pub called the Ginger Man seemed like a hop'n place later that night and we made a point to check it out before we left Ireland, as it was so conveniently close.
It was now around 2pm-ish and our big Breakfast was wearing off. We went and sat ourselves down in the Hotel Restaurant. While Sarah enjoyed a Chocolatini with sandwich and fries, I decided to try the Super Food Salad. It sounded amazing! Baby kale, charred avocado, couscous, apple baked ricotta, quinoa popcorn, lemon dressing and I added chicken! It was a HUGE salad.
During lunch, we agreed to go walk around and check out where our pick-up point in the morning would be; 6am the next morning at the Molly Malone statue. We also decided to stop by the tourism place to confirm our bus tours were still a go for Wednesday and Thursday. So with our minds at ease for the upcoming sight seeing days, we took to Grafton street to shop! To be honest, we both were fairly underwhelmed. Other than the Claddagh Jeweler's, the only other store that was entertaining was the Disney store... but once we got down to the lower level it smelled like sewer back-up. We took our pics with the Hulk and high tailed it out of there to catch our breath.
We continued down Grafton until we saw the corner entrance into a park called St. Stephens Green. I am so proud of Sarah. For someone with a huge fear of birds, she walked through that park like a boss. It was so heavily populated with pidgeons (with no respect for personal space), and seagulls (the size of turkeys). There were also swans, ducks, and magpies. We also saw a crane or 2. Honestly.... bird poop everywhere! At least 25 birds for 1 person in that park.
Once we got out of the park we wanted to wet our whistle with a Guinness. Honestly it tastes so great over here. Creamy and smooth and filling like a meal. We found a bar that was called O'Donoghue's (and found out there is more than one O'Donaghue's in Dublin). This place was pretty much a bar set up in an alleyway with heat lamps galore. The staff were up beat but they didn't serve food here. So after a nice relaxing beer in an alleyway, we crossed the street to check out a grocers. We pick up some food for the evening and got us some breakfast to eat before heading out the next morning. We headed back to the hotel, got cozy and settled down for the night. It was going to be an early morning!
- 31 weeks Smoke-free!
- 5 days until my hike with Team Diabetes at Wicklow Mountain !!!!!!
- We are in Dublin Ireland!!!!!!!
Thanks for checking in!
I will be posting 6 more blog posts.
Monday, October 22nd
I slept for 12 hours! I woke up and spent the morning out on the veranda while Sarah got ready. It was a beautiful day. Nice, sunny, bright and a little cool. Perfect for exploring the grounds! We had slept through breakfast, but didn't care. Reception called us to let us know they had a porter ready to pick us up from the lodge when we are ready to bring us to our Castle room. So after a very leisurely morning in the room we were ready to be brought to the Castle! We said goodbye to the lodge & the same guy who portered us yesterday helped us with our luggage & brought us straight to our new room. Whiling being driven through the Courtyard our driver helped explain how we would get to the forest paths of Dun A Ri (A place I was eager to visit and walk through). Afterwards we followed him up through the Castle to our new room. He exchanged keys with us and we went into Room #33 to see what it was like.
When you first entered through the door there was a small hallway with a writing desk, then your turn left into the main bedroom. Decorated with antique furnishings there was an old dresser with a TV (never watched it) a sofa and lounge table with floor lamp, a table with 4 chairs and a bottle of water. The beds were warm and soft like in the lodge room and we had a separate closet area with iron, coffee maker, dresser, shelf and clothes rack. The bathroom was HUGE! Complete with a claw foot tub and stand up shower, it was bigger than my bedroom back home! At our window there was a built in seat which was lovely to sit at and admire the country side and listen to the birds who lived on the castle turret next to our room.
After a little unpacking, we explored the castle a bit. This place is so mazing. Tons of stairs everywhere. No shortage of portraits hanging on the walls, and the statues and old furnishings where everywhere. They had Autumn inspired decorated tables scattered throughout in the main building. We went into different rooms and took a look at everything we could. After exploring, we made our way to the Derby Bar for our first meal of the day.
We settled down by a windowed table for two, & placed our order. I got a cup of tea, the soup of the day (Curried Parsnip = best soup ever), and a Caesar Salad. It was pretty yummy. Perfect food to fill up on for our nice long walk. While we were enjoying our lunch I noticed a new posting from Cabra Castle on Instagram (yes I follow them). The post was "Oscar is out in front of the Castle enjoying the sun this morning." Oscar is the resident Irish Wolfhound that I had yet to see. I dropped my fork and raced outside to see him. He is stunning & regal. On the way back into the castle, I struck up a conversation with the ladies at reception and they proceeded in telling me how to get to Dun a Ri. They were extremely helpful. I went back into the Derby Bar and finished lunch with Sarah and then we went up to our room to ready ourselves for our afternoon walk.
Monday, October 22nd - AFTERNOON WALK
Dun a Ri Forest Path
Cabra Castle has a long private drive called 'Cabra View' lined with old oak trees. Along the drive is also a cow pasture beside a creek. Once we got down to the end of Cabra View we walked down R179 a bit to get to the pathway entrance and short cut to get to the forest paths. Here is a rough map of our route this afternoon. The castle also has a 9 hole golf course which we walked through. They have a really pretty deer statue halfway down the drive. So there was a lot to see on our way to the forest which was very nice.
Here is the description of the Park from their Official Website:
" Dun a Ri Forest Park forms part of what was formerly the Cabra Estate which was owned by the Pratt family. Legend stretches back to the time of Cuchullain the Gaelic warrior who rested in these woods while fighting the armies of Queen Maeve of Connaught. The O’ Reilly family owned the lands up until the end of the 16th century when they were acquired by Thomas Fleming who built Flemings Castle . The ruins of the castle can still be seen in the park. The estate was acquired by the Pratt family and they built the town of Kingscourt in the years 1760-1770.The lands were acquired by the Irish Forest Service in 1959 and were developed into a forest park in the early 1970s.
There is a great diversity of wildlife in the park.
The flora is varied and in many areas spectacular. The tree storey is dominated by oak and ash but includes many other species often with an under storey of hazel, holly and rhododendron. The ground is, in season, carpeted with a rich layer of plants including snowdrops, bluebells, wood anemone, woodrush, foxgloves, wood sorrel and a wide range of ferns.
Walking is a great way to experience the delights of Dun a Ri while also benefiting both physical and mental health. Set your pace to suit your enjoyment and you will quickly feel fitter and better.
There are a number of beautiful sculptures within the park. "
This was when we took the same path back towards the castle. I loved this forest. I really want to go back and walk it again. Maybe I will go back to Ireland in the future. Well... when I do, I will make it a point to get here again.
Monday, October 22nd - GETTING BACK TO THE CASTLE
Looking forward to dinner and beer! This was a nice relaxing afternoon.
The best first day so far in Ireland!
Monday, October 22nd - DINNER
This restaurant is so pretty! We dressed up and got our table and started off with a bottle of Red and some hand-made bread. Yummy Buttered Rosemary Seasoned Buns to start it all off.
We got the 5 course meal; Bread, Starter, Soup, Main Course, Dessert and Coffee.
- I ordered the Deep Fried Brie with Cumberland Sauce, & Braised Red Cabbage for my Starter.
- Then we got the Hand-made Soup of the Day which was Wild Mushroom.
- My main course was the Char-Grilled Supreme of Irish Chicken, with Chorizo & Cheese Stuffing, presented on Mushroom, Garlic & Mixed Pepper Sherry Cream (I picked off the Peppers, but still yummy).
- My Dessert was the Raspberry & Pistachio Parfait.
We finished off with Freshly ground White Coffee. Sooooooooo Goooooood!!!
It was a great meal, filling! Which is needed as we had to fuel up before going Ghost Hunting!
Monday, October 22nd - GHOST HUNTING
It was nearing 11 pm and we went out exploring to see what sort of spooky things we could find in Ireland's most haunted Castle to tell Sarah's kids, and my niece about!
It was fun looking for some scary things. There were flickering lights, and a dark spooky ballroom but we didn't see much else. We finished the night off with a drink in the Derby Bar and headed up to our beds to finish off the day. Tomorrow we check out from the castle, and make our way into Dublin!
- 31 weeks Smoke-free!
- 6 days until my hike with Team Diabetes at Wicklow Mountain !!!!!!
- We are in a Castle in Ireland!!!!!
Thanks for checking in!
I will be posting 7 more blog posts.
Those who are friends with me on Facebook will probably have seen some of these photo's before,
but now I am writing in a little more detail, so hopefully these images make more sense.
Saturday, October 20th
Today is Travel Day! It's finally here! This is the first time I've ever flown over-seas!
We were so anxious to get through security and settle into our flight, so we got there way early. Our flight left at around 10:40pm.
Here's me and my Bestie. We are settling in for a 7 hour flight to Heathrow, then a 3 hour lay-over, then another 1.5 hours to Dublin, then another hour and 15 minutes to Cabra Castle.
Sunday, October 21st
I tried to sleep but it was so uncomfortable, even with a pillow and blanket. The lay-over, while only being 3 hours, felt much longer. We grabbed a breakfast/lunch (as it was 10:55 am when we landed) and napped on the benches in the terminal. When we landed in Dublin, I felt so incredibly queasy and exhausted, but we had made it to Ireland! Finally!
Ireland is a beautiful country and at this moment I still have only been seeing it through a window. We had a chauffeur service pick us up at the Dublin Airport and it was cool seeing my name on a sign in the arrivals area. Our driver John was friendly and informative. We got spooked initially when getting into the comfortable Mercedes, when our driver got into the passenger side to drive... well wait... It would take a while to get used to this driving on the other side of the street. So happy we are not driving a rental here. Everything is still so green here!
It was surreal getting driven up the long private drive to the Castle! It was a calming location in the country-side surrounded by farms and manors north of Dublin in the County of Cavan. A very peaceful spot, perfect to relax and calm down after all our traveling. We were dropped off at the main lobby and immediate was in awe. There were suits of armour, statues and antique furnishings everywhere. Off the main desk was a comforting and warm little den waiting area. Red décor, a fire burning and comfortable seating was very welcoming while they set up our stay and gave us our room key for the Lodge.
Walking from the cabin after a lovely shower, up to the castle was great. It was nice to stretch our legs. There was a small private residential road behind our lodge with a gorgeous old stone house. We went up a lit path (Narnia Lamps for the win) and it was coming onto the time when the sun was setting so all the lights were starting to flick on. We walked through the Courtyard (awesome architecture and doorways) and found a back way into the castle.
Maybe it was because we were ready to fall asleep at the table, or the fact we hadn't eaten much but our first Guinness's in Ireland went down way too easy. By the time my Beef Stew made it to me, I inhaled it and had ordered another drink.
After dinner we snooped around the castle outside in the dark. We found our way back to our room after walking through Mitzie's Garden and down the private drive to the Private Lodges. They light up the exterior of the castle and all the majestic old oaks so perfectly.
Yes, I am hugging that tree... I'm a tree hugger, I guess. The Oak trees here are stunning.
I'll be honest, I don't remember if we did much of anything when we got back to the room. I literally passed out and slept for 12 hours!
The next day will be in the next post :)
Hope you enjoyed this first one. Our first few hours in Ireland at the Castle were great!
- 31 weeks Smoke-free!
- 7 days until my hike with Team Diabetes at Wicklow Mountain !!!!!!
- We are in Ireland!!!!!
Thanks for checking in!
I will be posting 8 more blog posts (one for each Vacation day)
Welcome to my last weekly blog!
Mon, Oct 8 - 9.49 km
Tues, Oct 9 - 0.85 km
Wed, Oct 10 - 2.73 km
Thurs, Oct 11 - 1.03 km
Fri, Oct 12 - 1.75 km
Sat, Oct 13- 8.07 km
Sun, Oct 14 - 4.09 km
Well, this is it....
This is my last weekly blog.
I will of course blog about my Ireland trip when I get back, but I will take my time and enjoy sorting through images and collecting memories to share.
I'm happy, but a bit sad.
I'm happy that I don't have to blog weekly anymore, as that was starting to feel like a chore. To be honest, I'm not sure if anyone other than my best friend and family reads this blog.
I'm also happy for the future direction I will take this website. My plan is to turn this website into something more of a personal portfolio centered around my art and creative projects. I will still keep a blog, but only when something interesting happens... maybe dabble a bit in YouTube. I plan on working on my physical health in private, in hopes to feel less anxious about broadcasting how I am doing every day and feeling guilty when I do nothing.
I'm sad because this is soon to be an end of a life chapter for me. I joined Team Diabetes as a means to move more and start getting my Diabetes in check. I have learned so much! Fundraising the $7600 that I did in ten months was so incredibly stressful. I realized how much I don't enjoy asking people for money. I also witnessed a lot of good in people (you know who you are), but also had my eyes open up to some negativity too. I realized who was good on their word and truly supported me. It was an eye opener. New relationships formed, while existing relationships weakened. During this time, I've lost 2 loved ones and a dear friend. The thought of their support and encouragement at the beginning of this journey has helped spur me on to continue.
Okay - enough reflecting - onto the blog!
Monday, October 8th - Today is a holiday. Yay for Thanksgiving. When Mom, Matt and I went to the Pumpkin Farm yesterday we noticed the Algonquin trail crossed Shaw Road and continued what looked like all the way to Pakenham. We decided to tackle just from Shaw Road and come back into Arnprior. It was a nice walk. We were the only walkers though (until closer to town). I think about 8 RTV's and 9 bicycles passed us. We stopped to watch hundreds of starlings in a field and enjoyed the fall colours in the wild grasses.
Thursday, October 11th - Oh my Goodness, Oh my Goodness, Oh my Goodness!!! I got to go to the Justin Timberlake concert! It was so incredible! We had 100 level seats and with my naked eye, I could see details in his face! A little too far to throw my bra though... :P
It was unreal! What a great show! So entertaining!
The lighting and set design was phenomenal. If you follow me on Instagram, I posted 5 mini video clips that you can view. I had so much fun with the ladies I went with. Here are some of my favourite shots from my evening. The concert went by too quickly.
I can't believe how quickly I reverted into my giggly teen-age self... I swear he pointed at me :P
Saturday, October 13th - Today was a big day! I spent my day (pretty much all afternoon) at the Mill of Kintail. The photo contract I had to reschedule a couple weeks back is now for today, and I'm kind of happy we had our photo session later on. The colours are beautiful and it was a perfect backdrop for this beautiful family. I scoped out the location earlier before the family showed up. Unfortunately there was a wedding happening in the cloister so we had to avoid that area, but that was alright. This place is so photogenic - so was the family! Here are a couple of my favourites from their session. (By the way, really fun people. Very chill and easy going. I laughed a lot which was nice. I'm happy they enjoy these images.)
** Please do not use these images without the consent of both the Photographer (me) or the family. **
Sunday, October 14th - Happy 36th Birthday to me! :) Today started off with a nice lazy relaxed morning with a birthday pancake. I then took Sneakers for a walk in the Grove where we met up with mom. What a perfect day. The weather was amazing. On our walk we saw a huge red headed pileated woodpecker and 3 chickadees landed momentarily on my hand. I didn't have any seed unfortunately but I know where to go back and give them some again. I also got some more cool fungi pictures - I honestly don't know what my obsession stems from this year... oh, I wonder if I'll see any mushrooms in Ireland? Here are some pics of my morning walk through the Grove. Oh and remember those wreaths I talked about earlier? Ya! They were all gone. I hope I was able to bring a smile to a couple faces :)
The following days (October 15th to the 20th) I will be preparing for my trip, working at tying up projects at work and trying not to get sick by the time I leave the evening of the 20th.
I would like to thank you all for hanging in there and sticking with me during this journey.
Wish me luck in conquering Wicklow Mountain in Ireland! My hike is on the 28th.
(Expect something in the way of a Travel blog update in the week or two following my return.)
- 27 weeks Smoke-free. I now consider myself a non-smoker and look forward to being a non-smoker for the rest of my life.
- 13 days until my hike with Team Diabetes at Wicklow Mountain !!!!!!
- 5 days until my friend and I get on a plane & we leave for Ireland !!!!!
- This is my last weekly blog!
Team Diabetes and Diabetes Canada is an organization that means a lot to me and I will again join another hike in the future but will be focusing on personal goals first before picking up fundraising again. Please still donate to Diabetes Canada through one of my fellow members.
Sandra Sofalvi / Rachel Secours / Harry Flint / Robert Muir / Erin & Warren
Just look them up on the website.
Thanks for checking in, for the last time!
I won't see you next week! :P
What heals and centers You?
Mon, Oct 1 - 8.44 km
Tues, Oct 2 - 0.74 km
Wed, Oct 3 - 4.22 km
Thurs, Oct 4 - 0.59 km
Fri, Oct 5 - 2.51 km
Sat, Oct 6- 10.08 km
Sun, Oct 7 - 1.8 km
Monday, October 1st - During lunch I accompanied a couple of co-workers for a quick 30 minute walk through the forested paths near work, but I didn't feel truly calm until I set foot into the Grove on my own in the evening.
I cannot tell you how much The Grove means to me. It's changed so much since I was a child, but it is still just as important to me. From being introduced to it as a kid, and walking through it with my family, to now walking through it with Mom, or Sneakers, or just myself.
The trees have taken a beating through the elements and a lot of the old White Pines are having a hard time. I walk through the Grove and can pin point exactly where I am as there are different scenes. There is the tightly knit Pine Grove with the reed grass that reminds me of bamboo. There is the main path where the trees tower over you as you walk under them.
There are the Trilliums that grow in spring, and the mushrooms that grow in summer and fall. There is the field filled with milkweed and young birch, where the birds love to chirp and the monarchs flew in numbers this past year that I haven't seen in a long time. There is the Sumac path which is thinning now and is vivid with red. It is by far the BEST place in Arnprior, and one of the reasons I like to call it home. My evening walk of 6 kilometers started in the Grove, as usual. and continued up through town.
Tuesday, October 2nd - I didn't walk too much today, as it was rather busy at work and in the afternoon when I picked up Matthew and Sneakers from work, I noticed Sneakers was urinating blood. I decided to stay home and keep an eye on him throughout the evening and therefor worked on a personal project. I crafted my own watercolour sketchbook from one of my Uncle's old English books from school in 1968. It will now become my Ireland travel book and I will be bringing this with me, along with a little pocket watercolour set an awesome co-worker is lending me. Here is my trial title page getting used to them.
Wednesday, October 3rd - Today Sneakers had a vets appointment in the afternoon. We made it to town early and I knew he knew something was up. I took him for a little stroll around the park to work off some nerves (mostly mine) and then took him to the vets. After his check-up, and other "maintenance" from a urine sample collected it was determined that he has a bladder infection. he is on meds leading up to my vacation and then will need another sample test done to determine if it's cleared.... oh and he is on a diet! His max calorie count a day is 165!!! And here I am complaining about 1300 calories! Ha!
Thursday, October 4th - A zero day. I took down my little fundraising thermometer page I had up in my workstation at work. I reflected on it and all the work that I did to get to this point, along with all the generosity friends, family and complete strangers have shown me. Some of these people who helped support me who I had never met before, I know consider a friend. In the evening I went to bed early after watching Netflix for a while. Oh yes, and I worked on a page in my personal sketchbook journal.
Friday, October 5th - My manager let us out of work early, and so we decided to do our weekend shopping tonight. After walking through the crowd of shoppers (it felt like the end of the world) we came home and relaxed. I started making some grapevine wreaths from the backyard - I have an idea, but that's all I am saying! (You will find out what I am doing with them next week!)
Saturday, October 6th - I've been looking forward to this day for a while. Mid-Summer I signed up for a course that would take place on this day and it was called "Discover the Fun with Fungi" guided by Richard Aaron. Located at the High Lonesome Nature Reserve, a place I had been eager to hike through again since last September. I had a great time. It was a chilly day and at times I wished I had dressed warmer, but that didn't make it any less enjoyable. I learned a lot! From slime molds to hunters hearts to the excitement we witness when Richard discovered a species of Fungi he had never come across before but knew of. It was pretty cool. There was a big group too. Afterwards when we congregated at the starting point, mom and I opted to continue back out on the trail to hike up to the Old Oak Tree. Setting out on White Pine Way, we took the left trail called Wolf Trail. We stayed on this one up until North Wind Trail to see the Old Oak Tree. This is where it got interesting. A tree had fallen on the path and we lost sight of the markers and ended up getting a little lost, for only about 10 minutes. We saw a clearing in the general direction we needed to go and thankfully saw a sign showing "Bear Rump Clearing" and were able to find ourselves on the map again... unfortunately, I wasn't paying attention to the plants I was walking through and got COVERED in tiny burrs! I took a lot of photo's from the day and I'm attaching a slideshow below that you can look through.
Sunday, October 7th - Today Mom, Matt and I went to the Needham Pumpkin Patch on Country Rd 29 on the way to Pakenham. It was fun. Who knew you could spend so much on Pumpkins? :)
We looked in the market building and I was so tempted to try out walking through that corn maze but we didn't have time. Matt and I wanted to decorate our front yard a bit before Mom and I headed up to my sister's for family dinner.
- 26 weeks Smoke-free. Can you believe it? A half year! Go me !!!!!!!!!!!!
- 21 days until my hike with Team Diabetes at Wicklow Mountain !!!!!!
- 13 days until my friend and I get on a plane & we leave for Ireland !!!!!
- The next blog will the last weekly blog until I get back from Ireland !!!
(I will create a blog the week I return to talk about my experience, but that will be the last one !!!!!)
Feel Free to still donate to Diabetes Canada through one of my fellow members.
Sandra Sofalvi / Rachel Secours / Harry Flint / Robert Muir / Erin & Warren
Just look them up on the website.
Thanks for checking in!
See you next week!
Colleen lives in Arnprior and is working to control her Type 2 Diabetes by training and Fundraising for the 2018 SSE Airtricity Wicklow Mountain Hike in Ireland with Team Diabetes.