Helpful ReplyHot!Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland

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Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/29 11:30:06 (permalink)
As we were coming to the end of the trip, we were getting second thoughts about eating the full Irish fry every morning, and we were staying in B&Bs that offered menus for breakfast. I ordered poached eggs on toast topped with cheddar cheese, because I hadn’t seen it on menus elsewhere. It was tasty, like a meatless eggs Benedict.


Lori chose porridge, eggs and bacon, and a scone.



Plan A had been to walk to the corner and take a bus into Galway. But we were a few minutes late and the bus did not run that often. And it was a beautiful day, and it didn’t look that far on the B&B’s hand-drawn map. So I talked Lori into walking along the Promenade into Galway. We might not have walked it if we had known how long it would be, but it was a very pleasant walk. (And every time we raised our map to check our course, somebody stopped to offer help.)


Had we not walked, we might not have spent any time in Claddagh, the tiny village famous for Claddagh rings (and now a suburb of Galway). And it’s very likely that we might not have stopped for a snack at the Gourmet Tart Shop. 



Galway’s Latin Quarter was a very good place for us to finish our shopping in Ireland. Every tourist chain of stores we had seen anywhere was represented there, and the Quarter was so compact that it was easy to find everything.



The King’s Head pub was so named because of its role in the beheading of King Charles I. 
  


Lori with Oscar Wilde. I’m not quite sure what the Galway-Wilde connection is.


We ate a wonderful lunch at Sheridan’s Cheesemongers. We invited the cheesemonger to recommend meat and cheese and wine for us, and he was very enthusiastic and did a terrific job. He served us a lovely Valpolicella wine and a great platter of Irish meats and cheeses. At my request, he wrote down a list of everything - unfortunately, I can’t quite remember which one was which.
St. Tola goat cheese
Kileen young goat cheese
Boyne Valley Blue
Gubeen smoked cheese (from the cheese maker in Eyeries that we had failed to find on our drive through the Beara peninsula Monday)
Durrus farmhouse cheese
Gubeen chorizo
Gubeen black pepper salami
Gubeen pepperoni
The Gubeen salami was so good that we bought some to bring home for ourselves and some as a gift for Lori’s father. Unfortunately, it was confiscated when we went through Customs.


For dessert, Lori had her last millionaire’s shortbread of the trip, a very good one.


We tried once more to find an Irish session. When we’d asked Mary, the innkeeper at our B&B, for recommendations for Irish music, she’d said “Irish people don’t listen to Irish music,” but despite that, she had suggested Taaffe’s as a place with a regular session. I think this was a reasonably authentic session - the folks playing were playing for each other, instead of for the audience, musicians joined the group from time to time, and no one offered CDs for sale. 



Mary may have been exaggerating, but she was not wholly wrong; everyone in the audience appeared to be a tourist, including this particularly cute spectator.


Galway at dusk.


For dinner, we followed a Yelp tip to The Pie Maker, a little shop serving Australian pies. This was one of the finest Roadfood stops we’ve ever had, because we got into a great conversation with Stephanie, the woman making the pies.


It was a tiny shop, with just four booths and a counter.


We drank Australian beverages: Bundaberg ginger beer (very fiery) and Belvoir elderflower soda (somewhat bitter).


I had a chicken curry pie, Lori had a ham and cheese pie, and both were wonderful. After weeks of thick, heavy crust, it was a nice change to find that Australian pie crusts are light and flaky like pie crusts in the US. Its hard to tell from these pictures which pie is which. Stephanie can tell them apart by the garnishes on the pie crust, but I no longer remember which one was which.
 

For dessert, I had a splendid rhubarb tart and Lori had an outstanding banoffee pie. Stephanie was very firm on the claim that banoffee pie was an Irish creation, because so many bananas pass through Dublin on the way to other places. I didn’t argue too strongly with her, but there seems to be fairly clear evidence that banoffee pie was originated at the Hungry Monk pub in England. Stephanie very kindly gave us her recipe for banoffee pie, and we’ve made it ourselves with good results.



The food was all excellent, but the best thing about the meal was the conversation with Stephanie. For most of the evening, we were alone in the place with her, and we had a long, rambling, lovely conversation. (The conversation would have been long anyway, but it was made even longer because they only took cash and we were out. I left Lori there “as collateral” and went out walking to find an ATM, but the first ATM I found quit working at 6pm. I had to walk much further to find an ATM that would give us cash.)
She had grown up in the United States, and had been a social worker in New Mexico until she burned out. She had moved to Inishmor (one of the Aran Islands, off the west coast of Ireland not far from Galway) because of a guy, and felt that she hadn’t been welcomed by the community there. But when that romance ended with a “psychotic” breakup, the whole community took care of her, and someone unexpected called the police.
She had moved to Kinsale for a while, and learned to cook through cultivating a recommendation for being available as a dishwasher, potato peeler, or whatever odd job was needed for a restaurant that might be short-handed for a day for a staff emergency until chefs started giving her tips and jobs.
Now she lives on Inishmor and goes to Galway for four days each week to work in the pie shop. She runs the Pie Maker herself most of the time she’s there, making all the pies, serving customers, and everything. The job makes her wonderfully happy.
She also told us about some of her romantic hopes, and invited our advice. I’m not going to write those details here, just in case the guy she was attracted to should happen to find this page in a Google search - but Stephanie, if you should ever read this, we have our fingers crossed for you, and we’d love to know how it works out. Best of luck!

We loved talking with Stephanie about life and pie, and we wish her and the shop the very best. This was one of our favorite stops in Ireland.
CajunKing
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/30 09:25:47 (permalink)
Let me guess she had heard of this stranger in a strange land who LOVES pie and his initials are BB and she cant wait for him to come to Ireland.
leethebard
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/30 10:42:23 (permalink)
Can you share theBanaffee recipe?
Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/30 14:19:02 (permalink)
This is what Lori said about the recipe for banoffee pie:
 
"Stef’s recipe was simple - piecrust (cracker or pastry, unsure if she even specified), sliced bananas covering the bottom, can of dulche de leche spread over that, whipped cream, some chocolate curls or mini chips."
leethebard
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/30 14:51:26 (permalink)
Thanks for the recipe. That's do-able.
Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/31 12:52:16 (permalink)
Lori’s pancakes at Marless House.


On Friday, we were growing aware that our time in Ireland was ending soon.
We found a post office and mailed home all the books we’d bought, so that we could fit everything into our bags. We then parked near the Latin Quarter (in a parking garage with such small parking spaces that parking was a nerve-wracking process) to finish up our shopping.

We stumbled on a group of preteens doing a balloon release. Lori learned that this was honoring a classmate who had died.



We ate our last lunch at Griffin’s Bakery and Coffee Shop, because it had caught Lori’s fancy the previous day.



Unfortunately, it was not very satisfying; we were squeezed uncomfortably into a tight corner, and service was very slow.

My bacon and brie sandwich convinced me of two things: 1) brie is not the best cheese to accompany Irish bacon, and 2) if you’re going to cook the bacon and toast the bread, I think you really ought to melt the cheese as well.


Lori’s burger was so overcooked it was hard, and though it was not a very large burger, it was so tall that it was hard to eat. A friend of ours has a similar story of a burger in Ireland with a hard, round patty; he’s been told by his Irish coworkers that a burger in Ireland is typically eaten with a knife and fork. I am of course biased by my upbringing, but I prefer American burger style.


Lori had chosen the bakery more because of its promise of dessert, and after much deliberation over all the possibilities, she settled on an eclair.


It took us a while to finish our shopping, and then we hit a traffic jam leaving Galway. So it was late afternoon before we arrived at our final hotel. Had we known what we were getting, we would have struggled to have more time there.

I have mentioned before that the travel agent who had recommended Ballyseede Castle to us had been very cost-focused. But my belief is that if I’m going to splurge (and any castle stay is at least a bit of a splurge), I should splurge big enough that the sense of luxury overwhelms my penny-pinching, cost-compromising ways. I feel more splurged with an utter splurge rarely than with a partial splurge more frequently. So after we gave up on that travel agent, we asked a consultant at Rick Steves about options for a wondrous castle splurge. He too was very cost-conscious at first, but he realized what we wanted and adjusted, and his recommendation was Dromoland Castle.


Dromoland was another opportunity to briefly experience another culture - in this case, the culture of the landed gentry. And they did a marvelous job of making that culture accessible by gently managing the experience. I will explain with three stories:
- A porter brought our bags to our room for us. (We appreciated this; there were several sets of stairs.) As we started to consider a tip, he vanished, making it quite clear that no tip was expected.
- I realized that I had left my phone in the car. So I walked to the front desk to ask where the cars were parked, because valet parking had whisked them away. The desk clerk suggested, “why don’t you let the porter get it for you?” I returned to our room, and a few minutes later, the porter knocked, handed me my phone, and vanished again.
- At dinner, they changed the table settings with every course. This eliminated any anxiety over what fork to use - there was only one set of utensils available at any time.

Our room at Dromoland was actually not as eccentrically wonderful as our room at Lawcus Farm. But the view from our window was splendid.


We had a bit of time to tour the grounds.

 



They had their own folly, a petite Greek temple.


The Hermit’s Cottage was built about a century ago and has probably never sheltered an actual hermit.


The lily pond next to it achieves greater authenticity by hosting actual lilies.


We spent the last twilight in the Walled Garden.


 


I was impressed with what good roses they had in October.
 
 

We dressed as smartly as we could for dinner at the Earl of Thomond. I wished I had brought a tie; I still felt underdressed. But no one made us feel unwelcome. Dinner was superb, and again they made the luxury very accessible, with very helpful explanations for all of our questions and good suggestions of food and wine. (The wine list was the size of a telephone book. Part of that turned out to be because the pages were very thick, but even so there were many pages.)

I began with a wild mushroom and chorizo risotto. It was amazing, with sumptuous flavor and rich texture.


The spoon provided for the risotto was very shallow, with an asymmetric shape that I didn’t recognize. I posted a quip about it on Facebook, and my sister asked for a picture, which I had not taken. So at breakfast the next day, I asked them to bring out such a spoon for me to photograph. (A friend later identified it as a French sauce spoon.)


Lori had a beautiful goat cheese appetizer.


A lovely champagne sorbet cleansed her palate before the entrees.


I had the fennel and star anise soup. It was much more delicious than it was photogenic.


Silver domes covered our entrees, and the staff would assemble around each table and lift all domes at the same time while exclaiming “voila!” This definitely gave a special feel to the experience, with the only fly in the ointment being the goon taking the picture. 


Lori’s entree was roast chicken with etuvee of cabbage, mashed potatoes with scallions. This may not sound terribly exciting, but there’s something wonderful about fresh ingredients prepared well. Lori’s dinner was delicious, and the new potatoes with butter were especially good.


I chose the entree of Irish beef sirloin with shallot sauce. It was wonderful, sumptuous beef. 


My dessert was caramel parfait, berry coulis, and house made ice cream. It might just be a matter of my own tastes, but I’d call it “quite good” instead of the “astounding” level of the previous dishes. But this may be like singling out the slowest runner at the Olympics.


Lori: pink meringue trio with mango sauce Lori was delighted by her sweet, pink dessert.


Because we were splurging, I asked the sommelier to recommend a nice port to finish the meal. He said he had an excellent 1988 port that he had just decanted, which he was offering at a special price. We had a moment of confusion when I thought the price he was quoting was for a whole bottle, not just a single glass. It was very good, but I think it was wasted on me; I think it would have been hard for me to distinguish it from a much cheaper port. Lori: Port and truffles were all incredibly lovely, and a rich finish to a sumptuous meal.


When staying at a nice hotel, nothing will take me out of that feeling of luxury more than nickel-and-diming with little charges. A minibar in the room will make me grumble, and paying for WiFi will make me sulk and snarl. Dromoland didn’t nickel-and-dime in that way, but did charge extra for some amenities - but when I discovered that falconry was available for an additional fee, my only reaction was regret that we had arrived too late for me to enjoy it.

Dromoland was certainly a mighty splurge, but we felt that we did get the splendidly luxurious experience that we had paid for. There were places like Lawcus Farm where we got much more value than what we paid for, but Dromoland was at least as good as its price. Lori repeatedly said that she didn’t want to leave, because pretending to be a princess was enchanting!
 
CajunKing
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/31 12:58:36 (permalink)
Oh that dinner looks wonderful, Ralph and Lori You are on a roll with this trip.
brisketboy
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/31 13:15:23 (permalink)
During the early time of my many trips to the west of Cornwall I remember staying at a place not unlike the castle shown here. It was the Langdon Court and had been a English manor house during the Jacobite era. I recall that our meals were not that formal but elegant none the less. Excellent report and I am thoroughly enjoying every new posting. Thank you. 
leethebard
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/07/31 22:32:03 (permalink)
This trip is a hell of a ride...enjoying every turn in the road and every morsel of food eaten....thanks so much!!!!
Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/08/01 11:33:06 (permalink)
We ate breakfast at Dromoland before leaving. I took a picture of the dining room that I had not been willing to take the previous evening.


I saw a grilled kipper on the breakfast menu. I am usually only neutral on seafood, but this was something I'd heard of as a British breakfast dish and not yet tried. And I thought that I could be certain that it was prepared here as well as it might be anywhere, so I could be confident that I was judging it at its best. Well, now I've had a grilled kipper under good conditions, and I can feel confident when I choose something else in the future. It was intensely fishy, and the taste lingered for so long that I could still taste kipper when we landed in the US.


Where I tried for bold experimentation in my breakfast choice, Lori chose something she was confident she would like: lemon ricotta pancakes with raspberry coulis. They were delightful.


From that splendid finale at Dromoland, we plunged directly into mundanity.
Go to the airport. (Just a few miles away from Dromoland.)
Return the rental car and accept the charge for the broken side mirror.
Fly to Heathrow.
Fly to Washington, DC, arriving at midnight body time.
Wait in a series of very long lines for Customs. (They confiscated the Gubbeen salami that we had bought as a souvenir for Lori's father.)
Fly to Pittsburgh, arriving at 5am body time. (I am so glad that Paul was able to pick us up; I was definitely out of it after the long day of travel.)
brisketboy
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/08/01 11:41:56 (permalink)
All in all it looks as if you had a wonderful time. I too loathe the return travel and the toll it takes on ones body. But again this has to be one of the best series of trip reports I have seen on this website.
leethebard
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/08/01 11:59:16 (permalink)
I'm going to miss the further adventures....thanks so much for sharing the beauty and food of the gorgeous Emerald Isle!
Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/08/01 12:46:37 (permalink)
Thank you so much for your kind words. I am very glad you have enjoyed it.
will_work_4_bbq
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/08/01 13:21:36 (permalink)
I am going to miss my daily adventure with Ralph and Lori!
CajunKing
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/08/01 13:27:32 (permalink)
Ralph and Lori
 
An excellent adventure thank you for taking us along and the wonderful recap.  I look forward to this coming spring and my hopeful return to Ireland.  You pictures have inspired my thoughts of where to visit and what to do and eat.
 
 
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/08/01 19:03:42 (permalink)
Interesting comment on Galway. When we went "on holiday" from the UK in the early 90's it was also our biggest disappointment.  I made the mistake of booking us into some overpriced place because of its location, but it turned out to be nothing more than a huge single or two level US motel type place ( and a B- one at that). Maybe by now Butlins has reclaimed it for their own (no, was not part of that concentration camp) Dinner there was insipid, service awful. I was sorry it came near the end of an otherwise memorable trip. (I should note that is was well outside the city...about 25 miles along the coast, but we thought the children would like the seaside location)
 
But the Cliffs at Moher the next day made up for it and a nice ending before we heading back for the UK Ferry beyond Dublin, eating in a very small 2nd flr walk-up Chinese restaurant that was one of the best Chinese meals I've ever had..on many continents. Who knew?
 Chinese..............in Ireland!
post edited by FriedClamFanatic - 2014/08/01 19:22:32
Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/08/02 00:04:19 (permalink)
Hm, your experience of Galway was much worse than ours; for us, Galway was a great town and gave us two of our best meals. 
Foodbme
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/08/02 02:41:43 (permalink)
Ralph & Lori,
I've been on here 8 years and have read most all the great trip reports on here and yours ranks as the BEST one I've ever read.
It was like I was going down the wrong side of the road with Yinz!
Well crafted, great pictures, and a nice adventure! 
drummagick
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/08/02 22:42:48 (permalink)
Incredible thread.  This one and the one about Iceland are my all time favorites!!
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/08/03 10:29:03 (permalink)
Ralph, I have read your thread from beginning to the end and it sounds like Lori scored the best and you took the most adventurous food.  I would have done the same.  Great thread and wonderful pics.
 
Paul E. Smith
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lleechef
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/08/03 13:27:47 (permalink)
Ralph and Lori,
A great trip report!  Thanks so much for sharing!  A lot of the food reminds me when I was the chef at the Olde Irish Alehouse in Dedham, MA.  I didn't know beans about Irish food but the owners and the kitchen staff (all Irish) quickly taught me.  I still miss Irish bacon and bangers!
ScreamingChicken
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/08/03 14:30:53 (permalink)
Absolutely outstanding, Ralph and Lori!
Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/08/03 19:13:52 (permalink)
lleechef
Ralph and Lori,
A great trip report!  Thanks so much for sharing!  A lot of the food reminds me when I was the chef at the Olde Irish Alehouse in Dedham, MA.  I didn't know beans about Irish food but the owners and the kitchen staff (all Irish) quickly taught me.  I still miss Irish bacon and bangers!



Thank you very much. I agree, the Irish bacon and the Irish brown bread were excellent everywhere.
 
If you don't mind my asking, how did you get a job as the chef at an Irish pub without knowing about Irish food? It sounds like there's an interesting story there.
Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/08/03 19:17:25 (permalink)
drummagick
Incredible thread.  This one and the one about Iceland are my all time favorites!!


Thank you very much!
 
I was unsure about whether to post this thread, because a lot of the things we did are not really Roadfood to me. But I remembered how much I loved kaszeta's Iceland thread, and that made me feel that people would enjoy our tales of this trip.
Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/08/03 19:20:07 (permalink)
Sundancer7
Ralph, I have read your thread from beginning to the end and it sounds like Lori scored the best and you took the most adventurous food.  I would have done the same.  Great thread and wonderful pics.

 
It's certainly true that I tend to be much more adventurous with my food choices than Lori is. Fortunately, I get to nibble off her plate if something goes very wrong.
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/08/03 19:38:01 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby will_work_4_bbq 2014/08/03 20:28:45
First of all, thanks so much for all the kind words. Ralph writes about 90% of these and I chime in here and there. 
 
It's also true that he is way more adventurous than I am about trying new things. I did try a bite of black pudding and, well, it tasted mostly like blood to me, so I said "no thanks!" White pudding was okay, but the bacon was so much better, I tended to eat that instead. I still really miss the brown bread and bacon, but I did find a great brown soda bread recipe that fills the urge. Here it is - and it is very easy to make! It's well worth it to get some Kerrygold or other fine European-style butter to put on it. 
 
http://kerrygoldusa.com/recipe/mummys-brown-irish-soda-bread-from-darina-allen/
 
Happy eating! 
TooPhat
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/08/03 21:16:13 (permalink)
Really nice trip report. The detailed descriptions of all that you ate and encountered hooked me from the beginning and made me follow through to the end.
TnTinCT
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/08/04 10:28:02 (permalink)
Really great report, have thoroughly enjoyed every picture and every story!
 
lleechef
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/08/04 11:07:38 (permalink)
Ralph
Not a terribly interesting story about becoming chef at the Olde Irish Alehouse.  I was working at a Marriott in Danvers, MA and hated it.  I saw an ad in the paper for exec. chef and I applied.  I guess they liked the fact that I had been trained at La Varenne, so I got the job.  Josie McNulty (4-foot nothing with red hair) was my assistant, from County Claire.  Our maintenance guy was from County Cork and I never understood a word he said.  The menu was pretty straight-forward, shepherd's pie, chicken pie, fish 'n chips, corned beef and cabbage on Thursdays, but the best was Sunday brunch......we would always cook extra corned beef briskets to have left-overs for Sunday's corned beef hash.  We had live Irish music every night. 
Greymo
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Re:Ralph and Lori go to London and Ireland 2014/08/06 17:08:35 (permalink)
Ralph and Icecreamchick,
 
Thank you for the most beautifully written and wonderful report on your fantastic trip.  I read the whole thing  this afternoon and am now sorry that I never went there when I had to chance to go.  Instead, we spent the whole two weeks in England.  You certainly had a great trip.
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