A visit to the quaint town of Oughterard...More planning for the future...

A popular pub in Oughterard.
"Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland""James Hoban, an Irishman, was the designer of the U.S. White House."

It was an enjoyable day in the charming town of Oughterard.  When we arrived in Ireland 44 days ago, we drove through the town  on our way to Glinsce and decided at some point we'd return, long before we were to drive back to Dublin to depart on August 8, 2019.
During the summer months Oughterard is a popular tourist town.
As it turns out, when I checked how many days had passed until we arrived and when we depart at this site, today is the exact midway point of our 88 night stay, ending in 44 days from today.
This is considered a busy intersection in the small town with a population of 1318 (as of 2016).
We didn't have a plan or specific shopping in mind when we commenced our walk through the downtown area.  We found ourselves browsing one shop after another, never making any purchases but enjoying the equivalent of window shopping.
There are many restaurants and bars in Oughterard.
Even Tom, who dislikes shopping suggested we investigate a number of shops that in our old lives, he'd never enter.  With cultural differences, fairly obvious in the historical Connemara area, its always interesting to see the products offered to mainly tourists.  
The work of local artists are on display.
We can't imagine many locals purchasing clothing and household goods in these small-town shops with the high prices.  Perhaps they wait until a visit to Dublin (544,000 population) or Galway (80,000 population) which as larger cities offer more choices for household goods and clothing.
Gift and craft shop on the main street.
There's no doubt prices are higher here than in many areas of the world we've visited, especially recently coming from South Africa, one of the most affordable countries we've seen to date.

We learn so much about local culture in these small towns and villages.  The people are friendly, the architecture in interesting and the restaurants and shops are many.
Pansies in a pot on the sidewalk.
The only item we purchased was sausage for Tom's pizza from the butcher in a tiny grocery store.  It was as good as any sausage we'd purchased anywhere.  Of course, we didn't get out of the store without Tom buying a box of fresh baked chocolate covered doughnuts.

It's not easy finding unique food items or snacks for me.  Now that I kinked my diet to reduce the amount of fat I consume, while still having plenty of healthy fats, baking anything low carb is out of the question when most recipes require huge amounts of fat.  Who knows if I'm doing the right thing for my heart?  
There are a few organic markets in the village.
Even science and my doctors didn't have a clue as to how I should eat after this big surgery.  Studies are skewed by big business and doctors have little experience with nutrition, if at all.  So, on my own, I've continued with a low carb way of eating but reduced my daily fat intake by about 30%.

Recently, noticing how sparse our future itinerary is looking, we came to the conclusion we need to start planning more for the future.  Currently, we amid the process of pinning down a new country to visit with exciting venues along the way.

Church of the Immaculate Conception, located at the end of the business district.  "In the 2016 Irish census 78.3% of the population identified as Catholic in Ireland; numbering approximately 3.7 million people. Unlike Catholics in some other countries, Ireland has seen a significant decline from the 84.2% who identified as Catholic in the 2011 census."
Once we have things wrapped up, we'll be sharing photos and the information here.  We've always made a point of waiting until we've paid deposits before listing the locations here.  

What we dream is one thing.  What we do is another.  When we can combine these two, life is bliss.
Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, June 25, 2018:
It's always enjoyable watching the young calves playing in the water, discovering the wonders of their trunks.  For more photos, please click here.

A visit to a popular craft shop in Ireland...Story about the Connemara Giant...

The Connemara Giant.  Please see the story below.
"Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland"
"The Royal Cork Yacht Club is the oldest in the world and originally began in Ireland."

On our recent drive to Oughterard (try pronouncing this name...ow-ter-ard), we had an opportunity to do a fair amount of sightseeing with photos we'll post over the next several days.
A sign at the entrance to Joyce's Craft Shop and Art Gallery.
It was a worthwhile outing on a rare relatively clear day with blue skies and fluffy white clouds.  The temperature was cool at 14C, 57F, with a strong breeze. This temperature is cool for us after 15 months in Africa but slowly we're adapting to the differences.
Paintings of the stunning local scenery.
We were thrilled to get out and see more of Connemara, a vast area known for its quaint charm, ocean views, history, and kindly citizens.  The drive to Oughterard was long but the scenery never failed to amaze us.
Artwork made by local artists line the walls and shelves in the store.
We encountered many sites along the way.  Today, we're sharing the following three points of interest.  More will follow in days to come.
Although these look like bath towels they are actually soft wool blankets.  “Wool is natural, it is carbon friendly, it is renewable. There are no animals killed or slaughtered. It’s a beautiful product!"
Connemara Giant (as shown in the main photo with information from this site):
"The Connemara Giant statue highlights the Irish humor perfectly. The statue was created by Joyce’s Craft Shop, located across the road, “for no apparent reason”. 

However local legend has it that the Connemara Giant may have a bit of Irish magic about him. It is believed that if you touch the hand of the giant you will be blessed with the knowledge of his ancient tribe."
As we entered Joyce's Craft Shop and Art Gallery.
(Mr.) Joyce's Craft Shop and Art Gallery (from this site):
"Located in Recess village, 13 miles from Clifden on the main N59 road to Galway City, Joyce’s Craft Shop and Art Gallery is one of the best craft shops in Ireland, as well as being the home of the famous Connemara green marble. Wide range of knitwear, rare books, antiques, hand-made jewelry, and original gifts. Touch the hand of the ‘Connemara Giant’ across the street."
A massive polished Connemara stone.  See more below on marble in Ireland.
Connemara Marble (from this site):
"Connemara is bounded on three sides by the Atlantic Ocean and encompasses a wide variety of natural and semi-natural habitats, reflecting its great geomorphologic and geological complexity. It also has diverse economic resources. Among the more unusual are extensive deposits of soapstone and veins of green marble and vivid white quartz. In Neolithic times, the green marble was traded as far away as Lough Gur, County Limerick, and possibly to the Boyne Valley.

Connemara Marble is a serpentine-rich rock, popular since ancient times as a decorative facing stone. With its ‘forty shades of green’ and its wild patterns, it represents perfectly the landscapes of the Emerald Isle. Connemara Marble inspired artists, architects, and artisans throughout the world. Jewelry and other small objects such as key rings, coasters, and crosses are also made with this unique stone."
A lone sheep reminds us of the valuable wool business in Connemara.
It's always exciting for us to take new and unfamiliar routes for the outstanding scenery on the way to and from a destination. The countryside in Ireland never disappoints with an abundance of lake and ocean scenes, barnyard animals and lush greenery.

We continue to be in awe of all the sheep everywhere, as we drive carefully on the winding roads to avoid the possibility of an unexpected encounter with a sheep, cattle, or donkey grazing on the side of the road.  

Many animals have their young in tow during the spring and summer seasons, and they've yet to learn to stay clear of vehicles on the roadway.  Eventually, they all learn to move off the road as cars and trucks are approaching.

Have a great Monday, everyone!  May your day be filled with wonderful surprises!


Photo from one year ago today, June 24, 2018:
For the first time, the prior night at Jabula Restaurant we saw a Thick-Tailed Bushbaby. These are huge compared to the tiny bushbabies, the "Lesser Bushbaby," which we see each night on the little stand where we place the little cup of fruity yogurt.  For more photos, please click here.

Kindness and the ugly American...More museum photos...

An antique turnip cleaner.
"Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland"
"Only about 9% of people in Ireland have natural red hair, contrary to popular belief."
Traveling can be frustrating at times.  Service may be slow, venues may be booked incorrectly, plans may be changed over which we have no control, food isn't hot or tasting as anticipated or there's the complaint consisting of "there's a fly in my soup." 
Blue ribbons on display for events with Connemara Ponies.
Notoriously, airline and cruise lines have a tendency, based on the millions of passengers they serve each year, to make endless mistakes both human and technologically impacting travelers, leaving them in a wake of confusion and frustration.

These same issues may be prevalent in our "hometown" even when not traveling.  Based on the fact we have no home, our perspective is slightly different.  Perhaps, in some ways, and in some situations, our expectations may be higher.
A wagon filled with peat, a common product used for fuel in Ireland.
Tourism is the lifeblood of many towns, villages, regions, states, and countries.  Without tourists, the bulk of an area's revenue and thousands (if not millions) of jobs would be lost.

The reality remains, not all employees and companies place enough importance and emphasis on the value of the customer and the vital role they play in keeping their business alive and flourishing.
A variety of antique items.
In the process of these types of inconveniences, we as the recipients of human or computer error, have a decision we can make as to how we respond to the situation.  

We can choose to enact volatile behavior and/or uncooperativeness to those we encounter in the process.  Or, we can choose to remain calm, although confident and assertive, tossing in a healthy dose of kindness.
A 100-year-old saddle.
The perception of the "ugly American" does exist throughout the world.  And even as Americans, in a prejudiced manner, we may hypothesize on what appears to be stereotypical behavior of people from certain countries.

I will admit on a few occasions, we've entertained such comments in a group of friends, stating that people from this country and that, generally react in a certain way.  And, no doubt, cultural differences can play a role in these behaviors, acceptable in their country but perhaps not so much in our own or others.
Parts of horse harness.
But, often times, our perceptions, right or wrong, may be totally changed when we encounter those who are kind, friendly and easy-going regardless of the circumstances that impact their travel.  They look on the bright side reacting accordingly.  

It's not always easy to be diplomatic and kind and by no means are we examples of perfection in these areas, but somehow, we try to remember the words "ugly American" and simply...make every effort to be kind and play a role, however small, in dispelling this perception.
A two-wheeled buggy used over 100 years ago.
It's easy in Ireland.  Everyone is outrageously friendly and kind.  We've yet to encounter a single individual who has treated us in any manner short, of being a long lost friend, who they revere and hold in the highest esteem.

For this, we are in awe and ultimately very grateful.  For this reason alone, we know we are in the right place, exactly where we should be at this time in our world travels.  We still have challenges to face with my health and ongoing recovery.  
One of the first types of marine radios.
But, this welcoming place has made living in Ireland for three months all the more meaningful and memorable.  

Be well.  Be happy.

Photo from one year ago today, June 23, 2018:
An adult hippo needs to resurface every 3 to 5 minutes to breathe.  For more photos from Kruger National Park, please click here.

Visit to a museum...Connemara Ponies and more...First non-stop transatlantic flight...

View from the second story of the museum.
"Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland"
"Ireland has mounds of dirt that are known as "fairy forts" Legend has it that those who disturb one of these mounds will be riddled with bad luck. These mounds are actually ancient dwellings from the Iron Age."

A few days ago, we decided to take advantage of our shopping trip to Clifden and visit the Station House Museum which was listed as an important place to tour while in Connemara.
We arrived at the Station House Museum a little too early and left wandering about town until it opened 30 minutes later. The entrance fee is Euro 3, US $3.42 per person.
Keeping in mind that Connemara, although with a small population of around 32,000, is a vast area covering many miles.  We can easily drive for almost two hours and still be within the region. 

Located in County Galway, its a point of interest for many tourists visiting Ireland for its scenery, history, people and cozy country feel with sheep, horses, donkeys, and cattle easily spotted on the narrow, winding roads, often only wide enough for one car to pass.  For "city" people this is a unique experience.
Replica of the biplane that made the first non-stop transatlantic flight by two British pilots from St. Johns Newfoundland to Clifden.
For us, and our world travel experience, it's another interesting place to live with a number of worthwhile sites in the area.  Less interested in long all day road trips,  we strive to find the venues that appeal to us both that are within a reasonable driving distance.  Museums are often top on the list.

What an excellent way to learn about a community, its culture, and its people.  Such was the case when a few days ago, we visited the Station House Museum located close to downtown Clifden, the small town where we've found shopping to be enjoyable, with its friendly, often Irish-speaking population who've learned English over the generations.

A saddle from the early 1900s.
We arrived at 10:00 am as advertised online but when we arrived promptly, we found a note on the door stating they wouldn't be open until 10:30.  No worries.  We busied ourselves walking around while we waited for the opening.

The Station House Museum is small but packed with historical facts and memorabilia that we found both refreshing and enlightening.  Here's some information we found online about the museum:
Replica of Connemara Pony and cart.
From this site: "Located in a former train shed, this small, absorbing museum has displays on the local ponies and pivotal aspects of Clifden's history, including the Galway to Clifden Connemara Railway (in service from 1895 to 1935) and Guglielmo Marconi's transatlantic wireless station at Derrigimlagh, which was also the site of the crash landing of John Alcock and Arthur Brown's first nonstop transatlantic aeroplane crossing in 1919."

Additionally, we discovered the following information from this site:

"An international library of Connemara pony stud books and journals is available for research by enthusiasts. A video of the ponies in their native habitat filmed nearly forty years ago is shown daily. The ground floor is dedicated to Ireland’s native pony breed, the Connemara.
One hundred years ago, British aviators "John Alcock and Arthur Brown as shown in these statues made the first non-stop transatlantic flight in June 1919.  They flew a modified First World War Vickers Vimy bomber from St. John'sNewfoundland, to ClifdenConnemaraCounty Galway, Ireland.[The Secretary of State for AirWinston Churchill, presented them with the Daily Mail prize for the first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by aeroplane in "less than 72 consecutive hours".A small amount of mail was carried on the flight, making it the first transatlantic airmail flight. The two aviators were awarded the honour of Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) a week later by King George V at Windsor Castle."
The high roofed interior, with tall shedding windows either side, is the backdrop for montage panels of photographs and documents. These are well supported by memorabilia and artifacts.
A sign posted near above statues.
All the latter have an intimate association with breeders and ponies from the Western Seaboard throughout the last two centuries."
A buggy from yesteryear.
An upper gallery takes visitors step by step through the rich history of the region, D’Arcy early in the nineteenth century, to the building and life of the Galway to Clifden railway line (1895 – 1935).

A photographic exhibition of the Marconi Wireless Station at Derrygimla (1905 – 1925) and lifesize figures of Alcock and Brown who landed on this site after their historic flight (1919) complement the interesting range of exhibits."

Replica of Connemara farmhouse with donkeys pulling a cart.  We see many donkeys in this area.
Nearby, only a few steps away from the museum is the popular Clifden Station House Hotel with two restaurants and a pub serving tourists and locals.  After reviewing their menu, surely during our time here, we'll try the restaurant, most likely for lunch rather than dinner. 

(We're avoiding driving long distances at night with a high risk of accidents on the narrow winding roads, especially after a few drinks).

A variety of winning ribbons for Connemara Ponies.
As shown in our photos, we found plenty of interesting information and artifacts in the museum and learned a lot more about this appealing area, country and its people.

We're staying in over the weekend but after another outing yesterday, we have plenty of new photos to share.  A special thanks to all of our new readers for stopping by.  From whence you come...we have no idea but, we're happy to see you here.  We have no access to your email or personal information but we can see we've had new visitors.

May your weekend be filled with awe and wonder!


Photo from one year ago today, June 22, 2018:

This male was "standing watch" so the others could relax and nod off.  For more photos, please click here.

Late posting due to sightseeing outing...Planning for departure day....

 This is the sun on its final ascent.
"Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland"
"Even though he is considered their patron saint, Saint Patrick was not born in Ireland. He was actually born in Britain, according to research, and some believe that he was kidnapped as a teenager and brought to Ireland."
This morning, before I had a chance to start the post, we decided to drive the hour plus drive, back toward Galway to the quaint town of Oughterard which we'd noticed as we drove to Glinsce on the day we arrived on May 12, 2019. 
Sunset from our holiday home overlooking Bertraghboy Bay, an outlet to the Atlantic Ocean.
Gosh, that seems like a long time ago.  And yet, we've only been here for 40 days and nights.  Undoubtedly, we haven't been sightseeing as much as we'd prefer but in the past week we've picked up the pace and have been getting out a little more often. 
More of a beautiful sunset.
We're accumulating many photos we'll share over the next many days but after returning so late in the afternoon today, I realized I had little time to upload today's post. 

Subsequently, getting into details regarding our recent sightseeing trips wasn't on today's agenda with this late start.  The afternoon is almost over and after around 1500 hours, 3:00 pm to 1600 hours, 4:00 pm, I usually lose motivation to get it done or get into historical details.  
Moments later it was gone from view.
I'm a morning person and once mid-afternoon presents itself, I've always had trouble being creative and/or innovative.  Since the onset of my recent recovery, I've had particular difficulty motivating myself in the later part of the afternoon to get much of anything underway.

Laundry and preparing dinner is yet to be completed and today, we're researching and deciding if we'll stay in a hotel in Dublin on our last night here, August 8th.  This way travel day will be less stressful.  
This particular style of the exterior of apartment buildings is often seen in European countries.
Although we often have the expense of leaving our holiday home a day early and not getting a refund for the one-night from the owner/manager and in bearing the cost of the hotel and dining out, we've found this plan to be of particular appeal with the 3½ drive from Glinsce to Dublin.

While in Oughterard, we stopped at the dentist's office to make appointments at 11:00 am to have our teeth cleaned on August 8, while we're on our way to Dublin.  This saves us the long drive back to Oughterard between now and then and we'll have plenty of time that day.
Some of the apartment buildings and office suites have been built in the past 20 to 30 years.
By the time we're done, we'll complete the remaining 2½ drive to Dublin.  Tom will drop me at the hotel, which we'll book today and drive to the rental car location which is quite a distance from the airport.  Their shuttle will return him to the airport and the hotel's free shuttle will pick him up.  

We'll save one day's rental on the car and taxi fare to and from the rental car facility and the hotel. By selecting a hotel offering a free shuttle and also free breakfast and WiFi, we save even more. 
The old railway station in Clifden.
Even arranging one single night in a hotel requires a certain amount of planning, which is a vital part of our day to day lives.  Thank goodness, neither of us minds spending time on these types of tasks.

Soon, we'll wind down for the day, pour ourselves a libation and get situated in our two comfy chairs facing the big window out to the sea, chatting over the day's events and plans for the future.  An hour later, we'll switch to water and iced tea and prepare our dinner rolling into a pleasant evening.
Storefront in Clifden off the main street.
Today is the summer solstice and here in Ireland, the sunrise was at 5:12 am and sets at 2212, 10:12 pm.  There are seven hours the sun is not in the sky leaving 19 hours of light due to light an hour before sunrise and an hour after sunset.  

Wherever you may live, enjoy this first day of summer!

Photo from one year ago today, June 21, 2018:

At night, Little Wart Face, later named "Little'"  lies down for a nap, exhausted from eating pellets and his busy day.  I miss him...For more please click here.