Helpful ReplyHot!Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland

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Foodbme
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/05 21:05:53 (permalink)
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/06 19:13:17 (permalink)
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Speaking of Guinness:
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/07 13:54:11 (permalink)
Beautiful pictures!
 
The first time I went to England I had culture shock from the indifferent, sometimes scowling service. I went to an Italian restaurant just so someone would baby me. I've found people are much more friendly outside of London. Even the outlying areas like Brompton were easier for an aggressively friendly and loud American like me.
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/07 14:11:05 (permalink)
Funny how we let an experience form an opinion. I've been to London many times and would not describe any service I've had as "scowling"....Give it another try. I think you'll find the people of London as, as one told me,"long lost cousins". But I'll agree, country folk tend to be friendlier than most city people...even in America!
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/07 14:15:22 (permalink)
Going back a bit in this thread, I have to leap to the defense of Fortnum & Mason. I was in London a few days ago, and my husband and I met a (Brit) friend for breakfast in the Fountain restaurant. http://www.fortnumandmason.com/c-158-the-fountain-restaurant-fountain-restaurant-london-piccadilly.aspx  It was low-key, not crowded, and very pleasant. The food was varied and delicious (ranging from classic full English breakfast to buckwheat and chestnut pancakes, stuffed with hazelnuts and carob -- and they were delicious).  Attire is "smart" casual at Sunday breakfast (I wore slacks and a pullover sweater), and as our British friend said, it's a very "English" experience (we didn't see any tourists there).  We had tried to telephone to make a reservation, and got a recording, so my husband stopped in (we were staying nearby) just to make sure they were open.  The guy he spoke to was very apologetic about the problem with the recording, told us it was going to be "attended to," and gave us a small box of F&M truffles to thank us for letting them know. 
 
We've been going to the Fountain restaurant since the mid-1980s, and have always enjoyed the experience.  I can't speak for the other restaurants at F&M.
 
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/07 14:37:51 (permalink)
leethebard
Funny how we let an experience form an opinion. I've been to London many times and would not describe any service I've had as "scowling"....Give it another try. I think you'll find the people of London as, as one told me,"long lost cousins". But I'll agree, country folk tend to be friendlier than most city people...even in America!



I wouldn't use the word "scowling" for any service we received in London (except possibly for the hostess at Fortnum & Mason), but the only service that might qualify as "long lost cousins" would be the Bangladeshi guys at the Empress.
 
We did get very nice service from cabbies, tour guides, the constable, and the innkeeper.
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/07 14:58:06 (permalink)
rumaki
Going back a bit in this thread, I have to leap to the defense of Fortnum & Mason. I was in London a few days ago, and my husband and I met a (Brit) friend for breakfast in the Fountain restaurant. http://www.fortnumandmason.com/c-158-the-fountain-restaurant-fountain-restaurant-london-piccadilly.aspx  It was low-key, not crowded, and very pleasant. The food was varied and delicious (ranging from classic full English breakfast to buckwheat and chestnut pancakes, stuffed with hazelnuts and carob -- and they were delicious).  Attire is "smart" casual at Sunday breakfast (I wore slacks and a pullover sweater), and as our British friend said, it's a very "English" experience (we didn't see any tourists there).  We had tried to telephone to make a reservation, and got a recording, so my husband stopped in (we were staying nearby) just to make sure they were open.  The guy he spoke to was very apologetic about the problem with the recording, told us it was going to be "attended to," and gave us a small box of F&M truffles to thank us for letting them know. 
 
We've been going to the Fountain restaurant since the mid-1980s, and have always enjoyed the experience.  I can't speak for the other restaurants at F&M.



I certainly would not want to dismiss your experience, but our experience at the Fountain was very different. (The Fountain was where we encountered the dismissive hostess who sent us to the Parlour.)
There are probably several factors that contributed to the difference:
- I'm sure we looked like sweaty, disheveled tourists. (But we weren't super-casual; Lori was wearing a skirt and a sweater, I was wearing slacks, a long-sleeve button-down shirt, and a travel vest. But the hostess came out from behind our stand to see whether we were wearing shorts.)
- We didn't have a reservation; we didn't even have a clear idea of what we were seeking.
- Once we went to the Parlour, tea was probably not what the Parlour was best at; in particular, watching the ice cream cakes melt made us feel rushed, and we used that to feed our ire.
 
But that hostess was so very dismissive. The reception we got from the hostess at the Fountain was much less friendly than the reception we got when Lori and I accidentally walked in on dinner at an all-male monastery.
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/07 17:04:12 (permalink)
I should also note that this would not be the first time that we've had a lousy experience at a place that others have enjoyed repeatedly; we've surprised folks with our tales of bad experiences at Red's Eats and Hodad's.
So I'm perfectly willing to believe that your experience at Fortnum & Mason is the norm, although I will not soon return because of my bad first impression.
 
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/07 18:20:08 (permalink)
As I mentioned previously, I lived in London on and off for 20 years. We went to Fortnum & Mason many, many times. I never experienced anything but helpful and caring service at all times. Your "off" experience must have been an anomaly. I'll bet that woman no longer is in service at F&M.
 
London's Italian restaurants have probably the most caring service of all restaurants in London. Especially if you have a pretty lady on your arm. 
 
London's cabbies have to take the blue ribbon prize for their service and congeniality. 
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rumaki
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/07 19:05:01 (permalink)
You can't beat the Italian welcome at Cicchetti, on Piccadilly in London.  Lots and lots of Italian "small plates" --pizzas, pasta, vegetables, fish and fowl, antipasti (including wonderful prosciutto), wines by the glass or bottle.  Eat at a table or the marble-topped counter.  Everything is authentic and absolutely spectacular. The service couldn't be more warm and welcoming.  Despite the location, it isn't touristy, and the staff is superb at accommodating children (we don't have any, but have observed them) without in any way spoiling the experience for adults.  We enjoyed it so much we ate there twice on our recent trip. Not cheap, but a good value.
 
(I wouldn't remotely characterize myself as "pretty," by the way, so that's not compulsory.)
 
Cicchetti London, 215 PICCADILLY, London, W1J 9HL
Tel: 0207 4949435; email: Piccadillycicchetti@sancarlo.co.uk
Open 7 days a Week, 10am - 12am, Including Bank holidays
Twinwillow
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/07 19:33:53 (permalink)
Our favorite Italian restaurant in London was Ponte Nuovo on Brompton Road. But alas, no longer in business.
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/07 19:59:04 (permalink)
I spend much time in the UK. Lets face it folks, everyone has a bad day now and again. Not that I believe it but I have been told that I am not the most agreeable person at my job. But, All over the west in Cornwall in Middlesex I have only met the most gracious and warmly friendly people imaginable. There are places here in the states I would rather avoid due to the unpleasant nature of the populace. You know who you are. 
Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/07 21:38:34 (permalink)
It is merely a sign of my inexperience as a world traveler, but it would take several more trips before I sought out Italian food in London. I know that London is one of the world's great cosmopolitan cities; I expect that it has some of the best, most authentic Italian restaurants outside Italy. But the same is true of New York, and I can go to New York without jet lag. So in London I would seek out particularly British things still.
 
I take that back, though; there is some Italian food I would seek out. There are certain foods that are universal to a genre of restaurant. For example, if you are blindfolded, taken to a restaurant in the US, and told only that it looks like a tornado deposited the contents of a flea market onto the walls, you can order chicken fingers with honey mustard and be confident you will be served. In Victorian pubs we visited, the omnipresent food was lasagna. Not every pub offered fish and chips, but every one offered lasagna.
 
What is the hidden bond between pubs and lasagna? Is this lasagna something an Italian would recognize, or is it as far from its Italian roots as American pizza? I do not know the answers to these questions, and in another few trips I would order a pub lasagna in order to find out.
leethebard
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/07 22:41:37 (permalink)
Oh that's so true...typical pub grub is lasagna...I found that so strange.....tried it ONCE and it was pretty good...still when in Rome do as the Romans do, when in London do as the Londoners do.....I feel that includes the food...so I try to experience the cuisine of an area,
Twinwillow
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/07 22:56:59 (permalink)
We found the Italian food in London to be tailored more to the taste of upscale Londoners.
The food is more Tuscan and Roman in style than say, Sicilian and Neapolitan as is the Italian food served in New York City.
Twinwillow
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/07 23:08:30 (permalink)
Never ate lasagna in country pubs. Come to think about it, I don't even remember seeing it on the menu or chalkboard.
 
Usually started with smoked mackerel or fried whitebait.
 
Then on to the typical Sunday roast of beef or lamb with lots of delicious oven roasted potatoes and plenty of veggies.
 
 
If we were in a really good "foodie" pub, roast guinea hen would be my first choice.
 
When in season, game is an excellent choice in the UK.
mikeam
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/08 08:29:10 (permalink)
Great report and pictures. Thanks for sharing your trip!
Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/08 10:46:07 (permalink)
Lori very kindly wrote up this day. What follows is from her except for the occasional comment from me.


We woke to another beautiful day. We were spoiled by all the great weather we had on this trip. It was generally sunny and mild, and it didn’t rain nearly as much as we’d expected.

We got up and dressed pretty quickly, as the first stop of the day would be to attend Mass. We ended up ordering the same two-course breakfast: porridge with honey (and cinnamon) followed by smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. Kilronan House’s breakfast food was fine each morning, but it wasn’t especially memorable. I remember more that the dining area was always a bit crowded, and service wasn’t bad, but it was a bit indifferent.


We went to St. Andrew’s for Mass. I blush to admit we chose it mostly because it wasn’t far from us and had a convenient Mass time for us. We really were fortunate, though. St. Andrew’s was a beautiful church built in 1834. There were many gorgeous statues and the whole church was simply lovely. 
 


After Mass, there was some fellowship time over coffee, tea and scones. We enjoyed this, too and were glad to talk with the priest about some tourist details afterward.



He explained that the rings at the edge of each pew were for holding banners and pointed out the umbrella stands in each pew.



“Those were all hand-carved from Irish oak;” he said, “they’re 160 years old and don’t have a single creak among them.”



We also noticed a separate chapel to the right side of the church. This was a wedding chapel - there was a time when weddings were quiet affairs conducted in this lovely, small chapel. He also told us the last time they had such fine weather in Dublin in late September was in 1979 when Pope John Paul the 23rd visited! We really enjoyed our chat with him. I wish I could remember his name.



Next, we walked further toward Trinity College to see the College and most importantly the Long Room and the Book of Kells. We visited O’Brien’s, a chain deli/sub shop for lunch. Ralph had a chicken tikka sandwich that he found fairly bland. [Ralph: I think “Tikka” has more or less the same role in British and Irish cuisine that “Cajun” has in the US. Getting Cajun turkey breast in a sandwich shop does not imply any connection at all to the Louisiana bayou, and tikka chicken may have only the flimsiest connection to India.]


My club sandwich was pretty good, but not anything special. 




[Ralph: we had no idea about the political situation in Ireland, but it was clear that there was vigorous political debate going on. We learned that there was an upcoming referendum on abolishing the Seanad, one of the two houses of the Irish parliament. This debate was particularly evident in the signs on light poles.




I have no informed opinion about whether the Seanad should have been abolished or not; all I really know is that there is no more effective way to get a Dublin cabbie to use the word “gob****es” than to mention the Seanad. But despite the anti-Seanad sentiment among the cabbies, the referendum did not actually pass.


Another sign of political passion: protest marches in the streets.



 

Our tour of Trinity was really entertaining. An engaging almost-graduated student began the tour with an impish grin. He told us his nametag said “Niall,” but his real name was Michael. In a shocking turn of events, Michael was out drinking the night before and had gotten up a bit late and forgot his academic robe and badge. He did say that if we didn’t enjoy ourselves, “Niall” was the name to be reported for being a bum guide. There was no need of this, though - Michael was funny and knowledgeable. [Ralph: it was interesting in itself that the tour guides wear academic gowns as part of their daily wear. (All students had to wear academic gowns until the 1970s or so.) I’ve only seen academic gowns worn for special occasions, so I had never seen an academic gown as worn and faded as Michael’s.]

He did a good job of giving the historical information, peppered with remarks on the various dorms. According to Michael, the Rubrics are disfavored residences; you have to go outside to get to the shower. He pointed out that from his own residence, he could enjoy a cup of tea in the morning while admiring the view of shivering underclassmen in line outside for the showers. We enjoyed his tour, and contributed to his next night of revelry as a thank you.



[Ralph: I forget the name of this building, but I remember Michael talking about the Italian architecture. He was quite apologetic about the fact that it was forbidden to visitors, and went into careful precise detail about which entrances it was forbidden to enter without probable detection.



Video of a fascinating “Sphere within Sphere” sculpture on the Trinity Campus: https://flic.kr/p/hWXwUg]

After the tour, we went on to the Book of Kells exhibit and the college’s original library, called the Long Room. The exhibit is wonderful, and includes many wall-sized pages from the book as it tells the story of the Book of Kells. You then go into a special viewing room and view two pages (in a glass case, of course) from the Book of Kells and two from another book of the same period. [Ralph: No pictures allowed, unfortunately.]

We then entered the breathtaking Long Room. It is simply one long, high-ceilinged room with balcony upon balcony of bookshelves and an amazing collection of books. Our guide for this room explained that the books are arranged by size, and a librarian finds and fetches any book you want to peruse.


In the center of the room, they have a great exhibit on the art and science of book preservation.



You also see the Harp of Brian Boru in a glass case in the middle of the library. Trinity College, The Book of Kells, and The Long Room really are worth seeing if you’re in Dublin.
 


We still had some time, so we made our way to National Museum of Ireland: Archaeology.


This museum has great exhibits of archeological finds in Ireland over the years. Two bog bodies are on display: Oldcroghan Man and Clonycavan Man. Both have well-detailed exhibits that help you to understand what you’re seeing and the time period the body was from. Fascinating, though the tiniest bit creepy. We also visited the stunning Hall of Treasures, where we saw famous pieces like the Tara Broach and the Chalice of Armagh, and many other dazzling examples of Celtic craftsmanship and art. [Ralph: I expected the Tara Broach to be beautiful, but I was surprised by how big and deadly it is. It would be totally reasonable to prohibit bringing this on a plane.]
 





The tiny, intricate panels of knotwork on the Chalice of Armagh really fascinated me. I just marveled imagining the work and art it took to create them.



We wished we had more time for this and other museums, but our time in Dublin was short (maybe too short), and we arrived about 45 minutes before their closing time. 

We had some time on our hands between the museum’s closing and our evening event, so we went shopping in the Kilkenny shop. The Kilkenny shops pride themselves on offering high-end Irish crafts and artwork, along with some higher-end tourist merchandise. As we were looking around, we suddenly heard a woman screaming “you’re hurting me!” She was being subdued by security. She had been stealing things, and when confronted by security she pulled a pair of scissors out of her bag and got violent. Store security and the Garda (police) handled it, and no people were hurt, though she did smash some china and/or glassware. It was an unsettling experience for shoppers and staff alike. We did buy some crystal there, and enjoyed looking at the many beautiful things they sold.

For the evening’s entertainment, we went to Food, Folk, and Fairies at the Brazen Head, which is one of the oldest pubs in Ireland, dating back to the Middle Ages. We had high hopes for this event, which would feature a storyteller, live music, and dinner. [Ralph: I really wanted to experience some Irish storytelling on this trip, but the only storytelling we found was this very tourist-oriented one.]



Our storyteller was wonderful. In the “first act,” she talked about the food history of Ireland, mostly about the potato. [Ralph: I particularly remember the detail that farmers would leave one thumbnail very long for peeling potatoes.] The “second act” featured fairy lore and a few stories of the fair folk. She was engaging, warm and humorous, and she had a lovely soprano singing voice. All in all, she was excellent, and our only complaint about her is we wanted to hear more!


[Ralph: a snippet of video from her storytelling: https://flic.kr/p/hWXaW5]

Unfortunately, the food was not that great. It definitely had the feel of food prepared en masse for a banquet. Also, it is a large event (there were at least two tour busses helping to fill the sixty-some chairs in the room), and service was a bit quick and indifferent. I had fish cakes for an appetizer, bacon and cabbage for a main dish, and apple pie for dessert. Ralph had the same appetizer and dessert, but tried the beef and Guinness for his main dish. None of our food was bad, it just wasn’t very good, and it felt a little mass-produced. 
 
 

There was a pair of musicians to play during our dinner. They did an assortment of pub standards that are Irish, but probably have more of a life with American tourists these days. They were fine, but we got the impression they were a bit bored with this gig (understandable) and not giving it their all. In fact, we were pretty sure one of them was singing “blah, blah, blah” instead of the lyrics on “I’ll Tell My Ma.” Honestly, since the storytelling is pretty authentic, I think they should have traditional Irish music instead of the ballads. But, that’s just my opinion. The ballads are probably what a lot of their audience wants to hear.

After the event was done, we were wiped out. We hailed a cab and went back to our hotel. Another couple was chatting with the concierge and he was about to make them some Irish coffee, so he offered us some too. This probably killed two birds with one stone for him - he suggested we go into the sitting room, appeared shortly after with a tray of drinks for us, and then went back to his post at the desk. So, he made us happy with boozy coffees, and he handed the chatty couple off to us. We enjoyed talking with them while we sipped our coffees, then went up to bed.
leethebard
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/08 11:42:09 (permalink)
Fascinating pictorial! Thanks.
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/08 13:58:35 (permalink)
 I love the Fountain (indeed, that's where I took my brother to breakfast the morning of his wedding), but yeah, they've got some expectations of attire
Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/09 14:34:06 (permalink)
On Monday, we got up and had one more Irish fry. 

As I was heading upstairs, someone accosted me in the stairway. In a French accent, he insisted upon telling me that my snoring was keeping him awake - but the word “snore” wasn’t handy for him, so he had to substitute honking onomatopoeia. I was totally taken aback, and had no idea how to respond. When I told Lori about it later, she said that someone had been pounding on the door in the middle of the night; she’d put it down to ghosts, but apparently it was a pushy Frenchman.

We got the rental car with very little incident. Hertz upgraded us to a larger car, a Volkswagen Golf. The travel guides we’d read had recommended getting the smallest rental car one could, so I asked for a smaller one. As usual with me and rental agencies, it took me a while to figure out that “We’ve upgraded you” is code for “we don’t have any cars of the size you wanted.” Once that was established, I stopped fussing and we went off in the Golf.

Driving on the left side of the road required all my attention.

Our first destination in the car was Brú na Bóinne, the site of a great many prehistoric sites.

We started with lunch in the cafe in the visitor’s center: a chicken, leek, and mushroom pie with rhubarb pie for me, and a ham and cheese quiche and a caramel shortbread for Lori. Both of these were very tasty. The cafe is certainly not the reason to visit Brú na Bóinne, but our meal was very good.
 
 

We only had time to visit one of the many sites at Brú na Bóinne, so we chose Newgrange. (The other two major sites are Howth and Dowth.) Our admission to Newgrange included a bus ride to the site. These pictures show the sort of weather and scenery we saw that day; cloudy and damp without actually raining much. But they also do show the verdant beauty for which Ireland is renowned.



Newgrange is a passage tomb built on a hill. It was originally built around 3200-3100 BC, about five hundred years before the construction of the Pyramids. It was covered by a hill for centuries, and then rediscovered in 1699. (The front wall of quartz is a reconstruction, though apparently an accurate one.)


From the entrance, a narrow hallway slopes upward to three little rooms at the end. At dawn of the winter solstice, the sun shines through the opening above the doorway and penetrates up to the inner chamber. Electric lights have been installed to show visitors what that dawn is like, or there’s a lottery to be among the lucky few who get to be inside the chamber that day. (I had inferred that it was only on a single day that the light penetrated. It’s actually about six days centered on the solstice. It’s still an impressive feat of astronomical calibration.)


The thing that really impresses me about Newgrange is just how much planning and coordination it required. It’s not just the labor required to move the stones in place (Wikipedia says the entrance stone weighs about 5 tons, and it came from a river valley tens of miles away to the top of this hill); it’s also the scope of the plan. I made rough calculations about how long it would take to build Newgrange from what the tour guide about the population of the British Isles at the time and typical lifespans of the time. I forget the number I came up with, but it was multiple generations, long enough that the builders who started the project could not possibly see its end. (Wikipedia cites estimates of five years or thirty years, both of which are much shorter than my rough estimate.)
I build software for a living. For my team, our product of six years ago is so old that we don’t try to support it. Ten or fifteen years ago is a significantly different era of computing; twenty years ago is so old that I can’t read any of my floppy discs from that time. Even at the level of coordination of our federal government (which coordinates far more people than lived in the British Isles at that time), I can’t think of projects that take more than a few years without immediate benefit.
I can imagine how you would figure out how to align the passage to catch the rays of dawn on the solstice, but carrying out that plan over generations seems well-nigh unfathomable to me. I do know of other multi-generational projects, such as medieval cathedrals, but this takes on an extra level of bogglement because of the lack of written language. I can only dimly imagine generations of scholars memorizing and reciting the lore of just where the stones should go to carry out this process, and it staggers me.
 

How long would it take to carve these stones when your only tools are rocks and antlers?
 

The site was reused centuries later for other structures whose meaning is equally uncertain to us.


A panorama of Newgrange (you can click through for a larger version):





As we drove away from Brú na Bóinne towards Kilkenny, the roads were very narrow. And though I was doing okay with remembering to drive on the left, I didn’t yet have an accurate sense of how the car was arranged around me. The point of this ominous foreshadowing: before I had driven a full hour in Ireland, I swerved to avoid an oncoming car and sideswiped a parked van. We parked and got out to assess the damage. We found the owner of the van, a guy working on a house nearby. We could not have asked for nicer treatment; he looked at the long mark on the van and said, “looks like you’ve improved it.” (The van was mud-splattered and worn, but although I might agree that we didn’t do any significant harm, I could not claim to have improved it with a straight face.) He assured us that he wouldn’t contact Hertz about the accident, and he advised us to get a replacement for the cracked side mirror, install it ourselves, and say nothing to Hertz. (We didn’t follow his advice; we used the accident-recording kit in the glove compartment.)
This shook my driving confidence for the rest of the trip.


Our destination that night was Lawcus Farm Guesthouse in Stoneyford, a small town of about five hundred people near Kilkenny. I had asked Lori to arrange a stay at a Farm B&B, and we had an impression of a place where we would hear chickens and be invited to help feed the pigs. Lawcus Farm was not at all what we had expected, and it was utterly splendid.

We knocked on the door near sunset, and Ann Marie welcomed us inside. She told us that she’d upgraded us to a deluxe room. This time we understood the code and didn’t argue with the upgrade. And what an amazing room it was! It was huge, spacious, and gorgeous.



Ann Marie’s husband Mark gave us a photocopy of a hand-drawn map of local sites. He gave us a recommendation for dinner: he said that Stoney Kebabish does good food, but they have no dining space. So the thing to do according to Mark is to order food there and have them deliver it to Malvard’s pub down the street. We followed Mark’s guidance and discovered that we were not the only Lawcus Farm guests to do so that night.



We spent the whole evening in conversation at Malvard’s. This was close to the craic we were seeking for our Ireland trip. (Craic is an Irish word for convivial conversation and banter - but see the Wikipedia article for discussion of whether it’s a real word.) But: our conversation was with the bartender and the other guests of Lawcus. There were no locals in the bar at first, and when locals did come in, their conversations didn’t merge with ours.

We definitely over-ordered at Stoney Kebabish, and got far more food than we could eat. I ordered the chicken goujon kebab, because I’d seen “goujon” on menus everywhere. The dictionary definition of goujon is a type of catfish, but based on this sandwich, I think that chicken goujons are more or less the same as chicken fingers. This was a tasty wrap in a soft bread, sized about the size of my forearm.


We had seen curry chips on a travel documentary, so I was eager to try them the first time I saw them on a menu. These are potato chips topped with curry sauce.


Lori chose the fish and chips, and both the fish and the chips were better than other examples we’d had on this trip.


For dessert we had a sweet naan with a creamy filling. I took no photo and I’ve forgotten the details, but it was our first encounter with a sweet naan.
 
BuddyRoadhouse
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/09 16:47:41 (permalink)
Goujons are comparable to medallions.  They tend to be dried out and tough.  I learned after our first meal in Ireland not to order any dish with the word "goujon" in it.
 
Nice report.  Dang, you stayed in some nice B&Bs.  No four-poster beds in any of the places we stayed.
 
Buddy
CCJPO
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/09 19:12:14 (permalink)
I am enjoying your trip to England and Ireland. You were caught in the midst (mist) of "soft" weather. That is, it is not raining, and that it isn't, not raining, ergo, "soft". Common weather. Although I have been sunburned both in late spring and early to late fall. You were correct in trying to get the smallest car possible. On our first trip when we did a self drive we were given a Ford Concertina. After driving about ten miles we had an accident. Another American was driving on "his" side of the road, on a double track and ran into us. He kept yelling at me for being on the on the "wrong" side of the road. The Garda showed up, took him to the local "Gaol", as he was drunk after being in Ireland all of 8 hours. We ended up with an old VW camper van as a replacement rental. So much for smaller is better. I hope you enjoyed the rest of your trip. I am looking forward to the rest of your posts and pictures. We go back in late October
will_work_4_bbq
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/09 22:15:19 (permalink)
What a fantastic trip!  I look forward to each installment.  And what a remarkable job you both did in planning everything!  You also took some wonderful pictures!  Thank you for sharing it all.
leethebard
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/10 03:19:06 (permalink)
...oh,I'm enjoying this report sooooo much!!
love2bake
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/10 08:36:37 (permalink)
Maybe I missed this in your narration, but was the VW you rented a stick shift?  When I went to Ireland I had to make a choice between a Volvo with automatic transmission or a smaller car with stick, and I chose the Volvo, even though it was big.  Driving on the left was enough of a challenge without having to deal with the stick.  I drive a stick here, but everything's on the "wrong" side over there--way more to think about. " />
 
Newgrange was very cool.   I love Ireland.  Went twice in the 1990s.  Enjoying your report!!
 
That caramel shortbread looks awesome. 
Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/10 13:20:56 (permalink)
It was an automatic. I'd read that manual transmissions are the default, and it costs extra to rent a car with an automatic transmission. But I haven't driven a manual transmission in twenty years, and I decided that I was willing to pay the extra price so that I wouldn't have to deal with manual transmission, driving on the left, and navigating unfamiliar roads at the same time.
 
I do not regret that decision.
Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/10 13:45:32 (permalink)
BuddyRoadhouse
Goujons are comparable to medallions.  They tend to be dried out and tough.  I learned after our first meal in Ireland not to order any dish with the word "goujon" in it.
 
Nice report.  Dang, you stayed in some nice B&Bs.  No four-poster beds in any of the places we stayed.

 
I think "goujon" was the major word from British English that was unfamiliar to me. I've read plenty of British books and plenty of articles about usage differences between American English and British English; I understand the different usages of "chip" and "biscuit". But apparently Harry Potter never encountered goujons. 
 
Lawcus Farm was truly an extraordinary B&B, head and shoulders above any other B&B we stayed in. There was one other hotel that might have been as nice - but it was much more expensive. You'll see me rave more about Lawcus Farm in the next few posts.
Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/10 14:20:46 (permalink)
CCJPO
I am enjoying your trip to England and Ireland. You were caught in the midst (mist) of "soft" weather. That is, it is not raining, and that it isn't, not raining, ergo, "soft". Common weather. Although I have been sunburned both in late spring and early to late fall. You were correct in trying to get the smallest car possible. On our first trip when we did a self drive we were given a Ford Concertina. After driving about ten miles we had an accident. Another American was driving on "his" side of the road, on a double track and ran into us. He kept yelling at me for being on the on the "wrong" side of the road. The Garda showed up, took him to the local "Gaol", as he was drunk after being in Ireland all of 8 hours. We ended up with an old VW camper van as a replacement rental. So much for smaller is better. I hope you enjoyed the rest of your trip. I am looking forward to the rest of your posts and pictures. We go back in late October



We certainly had some days of soft weather, but we were really fortunate in the weather we had; we had about five days of soft weather and very little heavy rain.
 
I'm not quite sure whether you're making a joke or not - was there a real model of Ford named 'Concertina', or did the car just earn that name after the collision?
CCJPO
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/11 00:50:58 (permalink)
Ralph Melton. Good catch. It is a long time family joke. It was a Ford Cortina. The accident caused the vehicle to fold up like an accordion. Thus the nickname Ford Concertina. This made more sense than the Ford Accordion, as it was smaller than a real car as a concertina is smaller than an accordion. The VW on the other hand was huge as compared to the Cortina. We always follow he rule, that the smallest car which will fit your needs, is the best way to go. One thing we have found to strange is the number of vintage American made muscle cars that are on the road in Ireland and the British Isles.
 
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