Monday, 21 September 2009

The sun always shines in West Cork. Eventually.

We didn't head to West Cork - the Sheep's Head peninsula to be exact - for the weather. So three days in, it wasn't the biggest surprise that it had rained almost incessantly. Chilling out after Electric Picnic, and the long drive down, was all very well - but cabin fever was beginning to set in & I was nearly through my first book. Tuesday night, we went for a stroll from the house - was that the sun we saw setting?

Next morning, we awoke to glorious sunshine and blue skies. Big breakfast, made packed lunch, bikes on the car-rack and we headed towards Crookhaven to a spot we'd biked around before. The roads there are fairly quiet & it's not too hilly - Ruby adds 20kg to my load, so it's a good workout.

Up and over towards Barley Cove, beautiful beach, but not safe to swim I'm told. Richenda took this picture of cows being driven across the lagoon, a bizarre sight - particulary the crazed farmer who abandoned his car in the middle of the road - door still swinging open of course - and started chasing what we can only presume (or hope) were his own cattle.

We were getting close to Mizen Head now, but had been a couple of times - it's really just a carpark, so why not try something different? I had an OS map so picked another route. We probably didn't see another car again, good move. Half hour later through spectacular farmland -
with the obligatory crazed sheepdogs - and coastline, we came to this - Dunlough Bay.

Time for lunch.

Saw a huge seal - he came right in to check us out.

There was a slipway here - chatted to a lad who told us that this is where the huge cocaine haul happened a couple of years ago. That'll be the last time yer man puts diesel into a petrol engine.

There was a closed gate here with signs - No Camping; No Cars etc. Spoke to the farmer who had no problem with us biking on through his land. I guess farmers get a bad rap in relation to access - The Bull up at Ben Bulben comes to mind (I think he just shoots hikers) - but shure they're not ALL bad. We soon abandoned the bikes, and the pace slowed as we negotiated the trail which seemed to heading towards a well-known (to tourists anyway) castle. Up over the ridge, and there it was - right on the coast, steep cliffs behind, and in front of a lake. One of the nicest places I've been in Ireland, and not a person in sight. On a bit further, carrying Aster on my shoulders now, and keeping well away from the edges.

Stayed as long as we could, and headed back to the bikes. Knew we'd have to negotiate those sheepdogs on the return trip. I let Richenda go first, knowing that the second bike through had more chance of being chased - sure enough, she was around the corner before the dogs knew what was happening. But, they had me well lined up - very quiet they were too, always a worry. I couldn't really swing a boot at them with Ruby sitting at the back, so it was head down, and a bit of roaring (after trying Nice Doggy first) and we were through. Whew.

If you've never been to Crookhaven, it's probably the nicest village in the country. Set right in a harbour, with views to Fastnet Rock and Cape Clear on one side, and gannets diving in the bay on the other. O'Sullivans pub is on the quayside. A little beach there for the girls to play in, and we settled in for probably the nicest pint of stout I've ever had - I tried ordering a Guinness, and the landlord mumbled something about that "foreign beer". What else could I do?

A perfect day, and it wasn't over yet. I would have been happy with one of these days, but we had four more before leaving on Sunday. Jammy feckers, I know...

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Philip Deignan wins a Grand tour stage

Philip Deignan won the 165km 18th stage at the Vuelta a España on 17 September. He becomes only the 5th Irishman to win a stage in a Grand tour after Elliot, Roche, Kelly and Earley, 17 years since the last, in the tour in 92 by Roche.

He has a while to go before he matches Sean Kelly 16 Vuelta a España stage wins, who won his first at 23 with Deignan now 26.
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