Hotel Port Haliguen

Sat on our first floor balcony at Hotel Port Haliguen watching the traders arrive and set up for the weekly market. It is a hive of activity. Some of the early birds seem to be almost set up and ready for the first punters. Others are just arriving. Traders are chatting away.

L’Apero have two umbrellas each with a flag touting OLIVES and SAUCISSONS. A baker carries large baskets of bread from his green van to the trailer. BiHan Quiberon Boulanger, Patissier, Chocolatier. Three traders line up to buy breakfast from the serving girl who hasn’t finished setting up yet and isn’t really ready for them. The first has secured his pan au choc and eats it as he walks off.

It is a shame we have breakfast lined up at the hotel. Could have gone to the market 🙂

The Hotel Port Haliguen is a simple two star edifice looking down over the square. One of its attractions was the ease of parking which of course turned out not to be the case on this one day a week when the market rocks up. Managed to find a spot, the last spot, on the road at the back of the hotel. Couldn’t get as close to the wall as the other cars which I found strange until I realised they were all left hand drive! I had to be able to get out of the car. With hindsight I should either have just crawled over the passenger seat or parked facing the other way. It had been a long day!


Last morning in Killybegs

Last morning in Killybegs. We move on today. It is always great to come to Donegal and our cottage, situated as it is slap bang in the middle of town, was a perfect base for festivities.

Yesterday we gathered outside the Tara Hotel and were picked up by Terence’s minibus to take us to The Country Inn, Ballinakillew where cousin Gavin and his lovely wife Caroline were there to meet us.

The Country Inn is a classic Irish country pub. Very friendly. I chatted for a while with the former landlord William Walls who very kindly bought me a pint.

On to Lough Eske Castle where Gavin is Executive Chef. Lunch was v tasty and afterwards I was treated to a particularly special glass of Midleton whiskey. Life is short. Drink special whiskeys 🙂We had the usual team photo on the steps of the Castle.

Finished off in McCaffertys in Donegal. Great pub although it has been extended since we were last there and is full of screens so didn’t feel quite as intimate as it might. I guess there were smaller side rooms. In case you didn’t know it Arsenal thrashed Man U three one. Lots of dismayed Man U fans.

Back in Killybegs at around eight forty five and straight to the Fleet Inn to finish off the night. It must be said I only managed a pint there before hitting the hay. That’s all I have to say about yesterday other than the fact that I didn’t lose my hat. Thanks @Dearbhla 🙂

Pretty much packed thirty minutes ahead of schedule.

On board the Irish Ferries WB Yeats bound for Cherbourg. Feels like the beginning of a big adventure which it is. A long sea journey even though it is only a one nighter. Could be any international destination. Port Said. Macao.

If it was the latter we would be in it for the long haul and would definitely need a port side cabin. Our current gaff is on the starboard.

The cabin is comfortable enough. Doesn’t appear to have tea and coffee making facilities though. Squeezing as much cash as they can out of us. Never mind. A few Euros spent on onboard drinks and snacks will seem like small potatoes by the end of this trip.

We are quite looking forward to a quiet night in the cabin after the full on weekend with the O’Rourke Clan in Killybegs. It is twenty to five in the afternoon and we haven’t touched a drop of Guinness. This was a bit of an issue for us in Ireland. Being on holiday we (I) somehow started in the pub quite early. Times ranged between shortly after noon to two fifteen to three twenty. This meant my stamina for staying the course late into the night was severely dinted. Hey… We are grownups and can go to bed whenever we like innit.

I have a couple of books with me to read on the boat: Francis Harvey Collected Poems and Band of Brothers (again). Not often I get time to read without distractions. I could sign up for the wifi though it would be nice to know whether it had decent performance before doing so. It’s 15 Euros for 4 hours! They do offer 20 mins free so might try it out although it feels if I did I would be wasting the opportunity to have some time off away from connectivity.

Meanwhile we’ve been for a drink and a biscuit, checked out the dining options and returned to the room to watch TV. Bit of Rick Stein on Dave. Seen this one before obvs. It must be said that based on our two hours at sea so far I don’t think I could manage a cruise. OK I know that during the cruising day you are mostly on a coach trip in different destinations but there will be some days at sea where all we have to do is participate in the deck quoits tournament. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before so will stop now. Some of you lot are avid cruise fans.

Shortly after six thirty we went down for dinner. Both had childs portions which were perfectly adequate. Chicken curry with rice (THG) and sausage beans and chips (moi). When I sussed out the options earlier I was a bit worried that the chips looked like they’d been in the serving bowl thingy for a while with the risk of coming out cold. However at six thirty it was rush hour and the chips were fresh. V important 🙂

The sea is dead calm and we did wonder how fast the boat was going. Knots yanow. At that time the captain wandered by and had I not been eating I would have asked him. Could work it out. Twenty one hours at sea but I have no idea of the distance, without tinternet.

Most people in the bar and restaurant area are tucking into beers or bottles of red wine. I’m quite content with not doing this. Back in the room oscillating between reading and updating this diary entry as I think of new things to say.

The idea of being offline for a lengthy period of time is a strange one to get the brain around. We are so used to checking things from time to time (often). Facebook, whatsapp, the weather. You name it. An extended trip offline would need careful planning. Bills need paying etc. How on earth did people do it? 

On the bus to The Country Inn yesterday I booked a hotel room in London for October. Click click tap tap done. Simples. I recall in my early days in product mangements at Marconi Electronic Devices one of the departmental secretaries (Brenda) ringing a London hotel to get a price and book me a room. Either pre www or very early days. Gosh. 

Strand Palace Hotel I remember. During the first gulf war. She got a good price. Thirty quid maybe. Person in front of me at the checkout was paying three times as much. Incredible, especially when you consider today’s London hotel prices.

Found University Challenge on the box. It’s a prog we watch. Together. A little piece of home on the high seas. Now watching Sky News. It isn’t a programme we normally watch. Brings home the reality that we don’t watch much terrestrial telly. It’s all streamed.

Dark out there. No visible lights. No shipping in sight. Empty. 

Slept well. Up now at five forty to see what I could see. Nothing. Nowt. One light in the far distance which must be another ship. I’ve stopped calling them boats.

A ship’s officer, one striper, and a man in a tee shirt walk past me purposefully through the deserted lounge with no sideways glance at just another passenger. Do they not realise it’s mee they are ignoring? No they don’t.

It would appear that all passengers on this ferry have a cabin. If they don’t they are hidden away somewhere. Probably gone off in search of a bench seat on which to stretch out. Away from the glare and the hubbub, of which there is none.

The tables and chairs in this lounge are tidily laid out in an orderly manner. Someone went around straightening them all after the punters had gone to bed. Shipshape. A tidy ship is a well run ship. 

Over the course of ten minutes several individuals have appeared. Wandering. One is sat patiently outside the entrance to Boylan’s Brasserie. Waiting for the first coffee of the day no doubt. All of them are fully dressed. I am fully in my pyjamas.

I had been expecting to see the dawn at this time but I guess we are much further south than Lincoln with the shorter days. The brightly lit lounge might also obscure any lightening of the sky outside.

Man has appeared and is now sat down reading his book. At least I assume it is his book. He might have borrowed it. Unlikely to be from a library though I’d have thought. Wonder what it is. I smile at the idea of going up to him and asking.

First woman of the day has appeared, so to speak. Wearing a green coat. She is looking around to see what action there is. I too am earing a coat. My fleece. This is so that I have a pocket in which to put my wallet and phone, in case I find somewhere to purchayse a cup of tea. Not tried the other end of the deck yet.

The man has packed away his book, taken a swig from his water bottle and slung his blue back over his shoulder. I thought he was going to move on but all he has done is turned around in his seat to survey the rest of the lounge. Nowhere to move on to really. No, wait, he has moved. 

It is definitely getting lighter out there. I’m off out on deck. I was the only one there earlier but it was dark.

Had a great little chat with the Sergeant at Arms who was having a quiet smoke. Polish guy. The ship averages 20 knots. All your questions answered. 24 knots if it is a following wind.

The captain and first mate work two weeks on two weeks off. The rest of the officers have a four week rotation and the Seargeant at Arms himself does six weeks on, three weeks off. The can’t afford to take any more time off. Company flies him home but flights are currently harder to come by due to the rugby world cup.

The sea is very calm now but during July and August it has been quite rough due to the weather system causing the extreme heat down south. Apaz they are expecting the ‘weather’ to return in a week or so. We will be solidly on terra firma.

His dad was from the mountainous region near the border with the Czech Republic. I wonder if I remembered that right.He also mentioned Belarus. I’ll have to check when I get connectivity. Not hugely familiar with that part of the world.

I told him of the RIPE dinner in Krakow that involved a different bottle of vodka with each of seven courses. In reply he said that at Polish weddings there was much singing and consumption of vodka. Different groups of men (married, single etc) would stand up and sing a song and then down a shot. He had recently attended a wedding between a  Polish girl and a Brit. The Brits all had serious vodka inspired hangovers the next day 🙂

I mentioned the lack of sightings of other ships. Apparently they mostly see fishing fleets en route, concentrated on where the fish were at any particular moment in time. As they get sloser to the channel it also gets busier as you might expect.

Quite a productive time on deck. He told me that the cafe was open all night so I am now in there letting a hot cup of tea cool a little to a drinkable temperature. In ten minutes or so I’ll take one down to THG. Cafe floor ten, bedroom floor nine.

Looking out of the windows I keep expecting to see dolphins swiming playfully alongside. Where are they all, c’mon. Visibility not great at this time on the morning. Mists still need buring off. 

Tis going to be a hot one I believe. We are headed south to the Quiberon Peninsula. Port Haliguen. First stopping point on the journey to Toulouse. Doing it in shortish hops. Didn’t see the point in thrashing ourselves.

Quite a few people around at six forty six. Sitting here on my own feels as if I am a solo traveller. People watching.

diary travel

Another grey start to the day in Killybegs

Another grey start to the day in Killybegs. After breakfast yesterday I took a stroll around the harbour to check out the fishing fleet. Many of the boats were registered in Sligo. Impressive bits of kit.

At the end of the quay there were three guys fishing with rods. Big contrast between the rods and the industrial scale fishing out of the boats. Nothing was being caught and later I bumped into one of the fishermen walking through the village. He was relocating to another spot in the hope of better luck.

All is quiet in the cottage. Was a big day yesterday with a contingent of us heading out on a boat trip to Slieve League. Great afternoon out fair play. On return to the harbour the party dispersed with Toby George and I heading to the Harbour Bar for some refreshment. We hadn’t quite realised it was only around three thirty pm. We were meeting the others in the Bay View Hotel at around nine!

Gradually the Davies and Cookson parties converged on the bar and a pre order for fish and chips from the Seafood Shack was compiled. Twelve meals for picking up at seven twenty. The point here I guess is that there were four hours of Guinness consumption before dinner with the prospect of a further spell afterwards in the Bay View. The energy levels after eating were understandably low but we made it out, at least to show our faces.

Notable events during the day included Joe being hustled at pool at the Harbour Bar. Someone played him in the best of three frames and Joe won easily in the first. After that a bet of twenty euros was laid and the other guy proceeded to thrash his unsuspecting victim. Classic hustle. The Harbour Bar was Uncle Patsy’s local apaz.

In the Bay View a band was banging out Irish folk music and they attracted a number of couples to the dance floors for what I can only describe as old time dancing. There is a video somewhere of THG dancing with one of the locals 🙂

The consequence of yesterday’s merriment is a slow start for everyone this morning. Fair enough. We are on holiday. THG however has gone out running. The woman is superhuman. After thirty five years of marriage she never ceases to impress. Problem is it puts the rest of us, well me, to shame. Ah well.

Today is our last in Killybegs for this trip and tomorrow I will point the car towards Dublin and the ferry to France. Plenty happening between now and then though so stay tuned.

Church bells calling the faithful to mass. First session of the day, presumably.


Food order seafood shack killybegs

Food order seafood shack killybegs
Tref Haddock chips and tartar sauce
Geo Haddock chips and tartar sauce
Hannah Haddock chips
Anne seafood box
Large chips
Tom large chips
Joe Haddock and chips
Lucy seafood box
John calamari chips and garlic Mayo
Ann cod goujons chips and Coleslaw
Tobe Haddock chips and coleslaw
Lils scampi and chips
Megs Haddock chips tartar sauce

early one morning travel

Foggy start

Looking out of the cottage first floor window at the line of fishing boats tied up next to each other in Killybegs harbour. Ireland’s premier fishing port and we are smack bang in the middle of it. 

They are wonderful looking boats. The nearest is Pacelli D383. Most people here are associated with the fishing industry one way or another. Times are not great since they were forced to give up some quota post brexshit. UK waters. Mackerel don’t recognise territoriality 🙂

Bright lights are still on around the quayside as it is very foggy, a fact that was drawn to my attention by the foghorn blasting out periodically. Presumably from a nearby lighthouse.

John has gone off surfing with Toby and Lils. 7am start. They are welcome to it. A hardy bunch. John does not have a wetsuit which he may find out to be an issue. We will know soon enough.

Everyone knows everyone here. Was in the Harbour Inn early doors yesterday chatting to an O’Rourke from Leitrim. Mam was an O’Rourke from Leitrim. Spent the night with the extended family: Fidelma, Dearbhla, Rory, Lachlan, Cathy, Claire  et al. Tara Hotel and The Fleet.

Today’s entertainment is a boat trip to the cliffs of Slieve League. Hoping the fog will have lifted. The forecast is good and the fog should burn off. Light winds also which is obvs desirable when going on a long sea journey. 3 hours apaz. Right now the fog does seem to be getting heavier though!

There are signs of life in the cottage. Noises from a downstairs bathroom. I am in the kitchen. A good orientation and hence the view.

I have breakfast options this morning. Sausage sandwich or bacon sandwich. The sausages are Irish recipe and I am tempted. The bacon is just the rubbish you get in supermarkets. Ditto the sausages really but I do have a soft spot for ‘Irish recipe’ as mam used to sometimes serve them up when we were kids. 

Two sandwiches are an option but I do need to pace myself. This trip is a marathon not a sprint. I’l mull it over. No rush. It is a Saturday morning in Killybegs and most non surfers are still snuggled up in bed.

I can see a scenario where a stroll around the corner to buy a paper might be in order. Fishing Times or similar. If they sell it anywhere it will be in Killybegs.

We are joining the boat at one pm this afternoon from a spot in front of the Ahoy Cafe. A goodly emporium if you are looking for bodily sustenance before a long voyage. Or anytime you are hungry I suppose. Had breakfast there with Rory a couple of trips back.

Then just along from there is the ship’s chandlers. A truly wonderful aladdin’s cave selling every kind of cleat, block and tackle and rope going. I love that kind of stuff and have to restrain myself from buying any. Don’t really need it although it would of course look great in the shed. If there was any room which there isn’t. I guess a block and tackle would be perfectly positioned hanging outside under the overhang at the front of the shed. Hmm. I still regret not buying the spitfire squadron scramble bell from Hemswell Antique Centre a few years back. It was a bit on the big side and I already have a bell, albeit a ship’s bell. Keep meaning to go back and see if they still have it.

THG is now up and a second cup of tea has appeared. For the record I made the first, for both of us. I just opted to drink mine in the kitchen where, as you know, I was able to look out over the harbour, were it not blanketed in fog.


a state of ecstasy

Long old drive today. Two hundred and ten miles or so. Boring motorway most of the way. Arrived at the Gazelle and have a room with a wonderful view. Menai Straits and Bangor Pier. To the right in the distance is the Menai Suspension Bridge. To the left Beaumaris.

Quite a self contained spot here. Once you’ve arrived you have the pub, the view and nothing else. It is fine. We finished dinner quite early and are now listening to Sheffield United versus the Red Imps on the wireless. Crap connectivity.

It must be said I am sat outside the Gazelle in a state of ecstasy. The Menai Straits  have the gentlest of ripples on an otherwise flat surface. Birdsong surrounds me. Over the water Bangor Pier stands serene, still, with small flocks and individual sea birds flying across its reflection.

Bangor itself is hidden behind the hill, on top of which is the old university building. Green and red triangles mark the route to the ancient slipway in front of the hotel and there is a hollow red diamond near the landside end.

Two different coloured bands of seaweed line the pebbled shore, the lighter nearer the water. To the right, in the distance, stands Telford’s famous suspension bridge. Still in operation today we drove across it en route to our destination for the night. A row of white painted cottages lines the shore opposite.

This is a perfect place to spend time before breakfast. I had to open the front door and let myself out. As I write I have just spotted movement on the pier and zooming in with my camera I can see a light in the cafe with someone inside busying themselves with preparations for the day.

When in this part of the world we normally stay in the Black Boy Inn in Caernarfon but as we are catching the ferry to Dublin today we thought it made more sense to stop at the Gazelle which represents a shorter drive to the port. Wow what a result.

The pub itself was full of families having dinner but the restaurant section was pleasant with great views out over the water. We had a couple of drinks, ate our food and whilst the sun began to set retired upstairs to listen to the Imps beat Sheffield United on penalties in the Carabao Cup.

All in all a great start to our trip.

early one morning

the blink of an eye

My right eye blinked open. I could see the time was 5.25. a m. The left eye was buried in the pillow. Awake I contemplated getting out of bed. Should I leave my comfortable spot and get up and do something? It wasn’t even my turn to make the tea. I don’t mind that. Taking extra turns 🙂

Dawn is with us, accompanied by her avian chorus. Welcome to the day.

A busy morning ahead. No rush, for anything. I see snail trails on the patio. We need a pet hedgehog. Wouldn’t need to feed it. Just let it live in the garden and eat slugs and snails. I say this every year but have never got around to building a hedgehog house.

Twilight in the garden. Minimal lighting in the shed. My Lagunitas IPA sign and a couple of handmade lamps from Prendinas. Marseterchef on in the TV room. Silence.

It’s been a busy day. Tomorrow morning the house will be a hive of activity as we load up the car for our trip. All the paperwork has been printed out. Car valeted. Haircut had.

The haircut is a story in itself. I went to Antonios as it is easy to park in Tesco and wander around the corner onto Wragby Road. There are two barbers in residence: Antonio and Alfio, or similar. Antonio is very quick and chatty. Alfio is extremely slow with no conversation whatsoever. 

I arrived at the barbers and there was one guy in front of me in the queue. The two As were clipping away. Then Antonio finished and the next bloke went and sat in the chair. Oh no I thought. I’m going to be stuck with slow Alfio. Fortunately Alfio was so slow and Antonio so quick that the latter had finished the next punter before Alfio’s chair became vacant.

Phew. I strode up and sat in the vacant chair in front of Antonio as soon as it was empty. Yanow the haircut is nothing special but it is number two back and sides with a trim off the top. All I need. All I ask is that I can’t grab the hair at the back of my neck. It will last me a couple of months. £12. No problemo.


carwash walk

Just dropped the Defender off to be valeted at the hand car wash on Outer Circle Road, behind Tesco. Then strolled around the Carlton Centre running a few errands. Bit of a contradiction in terms there.

In Dunelm, whence I had been dispatched by THG to buy something for the kitchen, I noticed a couple, must have been in their sixties, who had gone there to buy two very specific things: a 20cm aluminium non-stick frying pan and a rug. She held the frying pan and he the rug. I wrote this down otherwise the moment would have been lost.

I realise that some may think these are not very important observations. We will have to agree to disagree. Everything is important.

I stopped for a coffee in a local emporium of such things and noticed an old man talking very loudly to the server. He sat outside with his walking stick and loudly apologised for his loudness telling her he was deaf. Later I could hear him at the till in Halfords as I walked past the open door of the store. He was Scottish. At first I heard the clacking of his stick and then he started to speak.

When you walk around places you notice a lot more than when driving. On the way home two white fuel tankers were just leaving the Tesco garage. Interesting that they drove around in pairs I thought.

Then a young woman strode purposefully past me on Wragby Road going in the opposite direction. She was walking quite quickly with her eyes mostly shut listening to music and puffing away on a vape. I wasn’t quite sure whether it was the effect of the vape that made her close her eyes or the emotional intensity of the music. Maybe both. It felt that her vaping was at odds with her healthy pace.

I’m picking the car up at 3pm. I shall be walking purposefully and may not stop to record any observations 🙂

Now back in the shed contemplating the day ahead. Apple has offered me a system upgrade for the Mac Mini. This I will accept but only when I’ve finished in the shed and get cracking with some of the day’s planned activities as the machine will be unusable for an unspecified amount of time.

Most activity will involve finishing packing for our trip but I do have some sealant to apply in the bathroom and shower room. A job I’ve been putting off for some time but feel that the 6 months SLA is getting close.

One task I do have to complete is to repack the tent. I didn’t do it properly after its last use as the poles were still wet. I like my tent. Every man should have a tent. Tents are not for sharing, after you pass a certain age. As a youth a three man tent would have held three people. Nowadays a three man tent is just the right size for me. I’ll have to see if the grass is dry this afternoon otherwise I’ll do it in the shed. There is space enough.


warm in the conservatory

My goodness it is warm in the conservatory. I’ve opened the door and moved to the shaded side. Shouldn’t complain really. It’s been such a poor summer weatherwise. 

It is still early. A cup of tea is at my side and once I’m ready for the day and THG has departed for church I mean to roll my sleeves up and get some jobs done. The rolling up of the sleeve will only be metaphoric as I will undoubtedly be sporting a t- shirt of some description. Not sure which one yet as most of my faves are already packed in my big yellow duffel bag in readiness for our forthcoming trip. 

Ditto my Hawaiian shirts. All my Tommy Bahama collection except the Christmassy one plus the made to measure jobs modelled on TB. Hardly worn them this summer. I’m sure they will come in handy in France.

Our first stop is going to be Ireland however. Dublin and Donegal. Killybegs to be precise. If you’ve never been it is a wonderful place to visit.

So in the meantime the last three days in Lincoln are all about getting ready to go which, in THG’s mind means getting the jobs done. Fair enough 🙂It includes putting away most of the camping gear I brought back from the Eisteddfod. It’s been sat in the living room for two weeks pending me deciding what to take with me on the trip. 

The tent etc is going to be there for emergencies once TGH has flown home. “We” wont be staying in it which is fair enough. There comes a time when comfort and luxury takes precedence over the great outdoors and camping. I’ll still be in France for a couple of weeks with the lads once the sheilas have left and will be prepared for any eventuality.

It won’t be a totally work free trip. That’s the benefit, I suppose, of internet everywhere. I have a number of conf calls lined up. You might say “hey Tref you have to be able to switch off sometime”and you would be right were it not for the fact that this is going to be a seven week trip. The wheels of industry will still need oiling. 🙂

I’ll be taking a jumper to Ireland. Just in case. And a raincoat. We have to be realistic here. WIll hopefully not be needed. Much of the time will be spent getting wet on the inside anyway.

Gotta go. Passports to dig out…

Jobs done, and more, mostly. Still a bit of wire to attach to the side fence in the garden but precipitation has started.


damp Thursday

‘Tis a damp Thursday in August. Veering towards the end of August. 24th. Parents will be starting to think about offloading their offspring back into the education system, some for the first time. Mixed emotions. A sigh of relief for most. Tense excitement for newbies.

Dampness is par for the course. I’m just glad I was able to get the shed sprayed yesterday. All is well in the jardin des Davies.

The roof of the shed is under continuous bombardment with acorns from the holm oak above. This will continue well into the autumn. Keeps the squirrel population going, unfortunately. I daresay squirrels serve a useful purpose in the food chain/ecosystem. The bombardment is more bemusing than a nuisance.

At eleven forty four I’m thinking of life, the universe and lunch. I also need to pop into town to go to the bank. Bit of a nuisance but sometimes it’s the only way to get some stuff done.

The dampness fled for friendlier parts. I am now sat in ‘t shed with doors wide open. Quite a bit of traffic noise, mitigated to some extent by some calming classical music toons emanating from my speakers. I sense it will soon be time to change the mood to upbeat.

Spent some time sorting out the rugby tickets for Nice. We will be there for a week, taking in Wales v Portugal and Italy v Uruguay together with immersion in some Cote d’Azur culture. Vin, pain et Picasso. That sort of thing.

The games we are seeing are scheduled at a very respectable five forty five pm. This means a leisurely lunch easing into the time we need to set off for the stadium. Not totes worked out the logistics yet but sure it will be fine. 

In an ideal world we would grab a cab back to the campsite but suspect that is a bit pie in the sky with tens of thousands of punters leaving the stadium at the same time. Probs want a few sherbs before heading back anyway.


I do 35

It was 35 years ago today,

THG said I do, yay yay,

Still together as a team, fair play,

What a wonderful day, wonderful day.


glorious morning

Another glorious morning on the Isle. Not a cloud in the sky. All is calm. I am packed and will shortly venture out to the bookshop in Michael Street. Probs pick up some milk en route back an’ all. Swing by Fenella Beach one last time on this trip.

Breakfast was toast made with a fine Noa Bakehouse sourdough. Sourdough’s real purpose in life is toast. Slathered with butter and spread thickly with Bonne Maman orange marmalade. Cup of tea.

My bag has all the clothes I bought with me. Everything just fits nicely. Not everyone in the travelling party is in the same boat, so to speak. We are on the same steam packet this pm but THG made some purchayses during her stay that mean the zip on the already tightly packed duffel bag will no longer close. Well…

Everyone on the Isle of Man calls the ferry the boat and the ferry terminal is the sea terminal. Ordinarily we arrive an hour or so before sailing and sit in a queue of cars awaiting boarding. 

As foot passengers we will arrive at the terminal building quite early this afternoon for check in as we are meeting Richard and Wendy for a spot of lunch at Noa Bakehouse which you may know  is just over the road. Hopefully the good staff of iomspco will let us on earlyish as it will be far nicer to sit in the comfort of the Premium Lounge onboard than slumming it in the departure area. Free drinks etc.

Farewell Elan Vannin. We shall return. We leave you with the sea as smooth as the proverbial millpond and the sun shining benevolently upon the good people of Man.

The lounge is a little warm. The deck windswept but not cold. Not a safe place for a hat which was been removed for preservation.

Out on deck the English coast is clearly visible on the port side and similarly the mountains of Wales can be seen across the starboard bow. When I were a lad working the Manx Electric Railway you would often be able to clearly see Winscale Nucelar Power Station on the run between Laxey and Ramsey. They changed the name to Sellafield decades ago because of the poor safety reputation associated with Winscale. Still Winscale to me.


cut short

This holiday is being cut short. Lunch at the Boatyard on Thursday put off until another visit. Plan B is Noa Bakehouse before we get on the boat tomorrow pm.

Why Tref, why? I hear you say. Well if you take a look at the weather forecast for the Isle of Man over the next few days you will note the following wind speeds:

Today 9mph gusting to 12mph

Wednesday 3mph gusting to 5mph

Thursday 18mph gusting to 25mph

Friday 24mph gusting to 35mph

We were booked to come back on Friday but the shipping forecast is saying winds veering to force 7. Force seven means mal de mer for passengers without sea legs (I’d be ok obvs) so we are taking the sensible approach.

Back in Peel after a day out exploring the delights of Douglas, few and far between, I treated meself to a Davidson’s ice cream from the parlour on the prom. Best ice cream going. You may not know but when Norman Wisdom died Davidsons gave everyone free ice cream in his memory. NW had been an investor in the business and helped get it off the ground.

The second hand bookshop was closed. I’ll have to pop back tomorrow morning. Last chance texaco. Gonna buy some more first day covers.

So currently chillaxin after a v pleasant lunch with Mike at 1886 Restaurant. We had planned to have a quiet night in but all plans are subject to change so now we are off out, again. Painting Peel town a very lovely pastel pink, or yellow, or mauve, or any colour you like really.

At least tomorrow’s sailing is at 3.15pm cf 7.15am on Friday. Makes for a more relaxed pack in the morning. We’ve booked into the Doubletree in Liverpeul tomorrow night to finish off the trip. If yer in the area gimme a call.


All quiet in Peel

All is quiet in Peel. I don’t think the residents of The Grove are early risers on a Sunday. I’m pretty sure it is Sunday though I haven’t looked. The grass badly needs cutting. Considering that the house has been in continuous occupation by one sibling or another this is a job that has been put off for far too long 🙂

Not much furniture left in the hoose. In the living room there is an old settee that would otherwise been taken to the tip, two camping chairs and a camping table. Outside the gulls are their usual vociferous selves. 

THG and I will shortly set off on a perambulation. There is no particular rush. Pondering having breakfast at The Harbour Lights caff which notionally opens at ten. I did consider saying nominally opens at ten as it can be a bit erratic and sometimes feels as if it opens when the staff decide to get there. Maybe I’m being unfair.  I note they are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Must be more a lifestyle business than one seeking to make the most of the tourism industry. Maybe they can’t get the staff which wouldn’t come as a surprise.

In perambulating THG and I often go our separate ways and meet up for a coffee at the breakwater caff. It is a popular Peel destination and a gold mine for the owner. There are always people sat outside. I guess this is very much a seasonal thing. We mostly come in the spring and summer. It is from the breakwater that I had my one and only sighting of a basking shark. I visit there frequently in the hope of seeing another.

Stay tuned…


Tref and THG go to the Isle of Man

Tref and THG go to the Isle of Man. The latest episode soon to be available on all platforms. The Warner Bros advance is about to be spent. No point in doing the Isle of Man on the cheap. 

Having said that we are foot passengers for the first time since I used to use the boat to travel to and from the mainland when going to university. Taking the car would have cost around seven hundred quid versus around three hundred when leaving the car at the Crowne Plaza and hoofing it.

It’s not a biggie really. My very kind and generous sister Sue (I know she reads these posts 🙂) is picking us from the Sea Terminal in Doolish and will whisk us to our pad in Peel for the start of phase three of the holiday. It’s only phase 2 for THG as she didn’t come to the Eisteddfod. 

This is quite understandable considering the not very luxurious accommodation on offer together with the fact that her Welsh vocab  extends only as far as ‘faint o’r gloch yw hi?” and ‘alla chi basio’r bara brith os gwelwch yn dda’. My Welsh pals would have thought her not much of a conversationalist. Someone might even have given her a watch so she could look up the time herself. Also man/THG cannot live on bara brith alone 🙂 There’s also Welsh cakes obvs.

As the steam packet ploughs steadily through the Irish Sea, its course set for Douglas they are showing the England women v Columbia game on the telly. It’s a bit too far away to watch comfortably and I’m not really interested anyway. Of more interest is the Mighty Wales rematch with England at fortress Twickenham later today. I understand that Wales are putting out a completely different team to the one that wallopped the old foe in Cardiff last week. Even up the game a bit probs 🙂

It is a grey day out. It rained on us as we walked from the car to the ferry terminal. Force 4 to 5 wind forecast after we leave port and sea legs required. It is a little known fact that on such occasions the solution to fighting sea sickness is to sing sea shanties, loudly and rumbustiously. The clear absence of such merriment in the premium lounge suggests either an ignorance of this old sailor’s remedy or a solid complement of sea legs. What shall we do with a drunken sailor anyone?

The boat is exhibiting not inconsiderable lateral movement. This is because, as the masthead pennants tell me, the wind is blowing directly across the bows. The sea does not look to be inordinately rough. In fact it is quite pleasant out on deck once you have managed the climb. Letting go of the taffrail is not an option. There were some interesting facts to report from the deck. Out of fourteen people present, only five of them were sporting shorts. nine wore long trousers

My other observation concerns the number of oil rigs in the Irish Sea. Didn’t know there were so many. I suspect they are gas not oil but same difference. The Irish Sea is quite small really. No wonder the Vikings used to dart all over it, experienced rowers one and all. I wonder how they would have got one in a modern day regatta. Leaving their axes and swords behind to lighten the load could have made them unbeatable. Would have been quite an interesting sight. Eight fierce looking viking warriors in singlets and shorts being controlled by one short guy with a megaphone at the back.

Some pretty spectacular waves bashing against the lounge widows. I wonder if they copped it on deck. In the meantime the ladies, who initially went one down are now two one up. I could only tell the score because I took a pic with my phone at 10x zoom and then zoomed in on the photo. The telly behind me ain’t so far away but I’m facing the wrong way. It’s only football anyway.


Welcome to Peel. We never tire of coming here. As you drive down into the city the castle appears centre stage in the distance. We have a fantastic house here. Lots of very memorable summer holidays.