Recently, a mate asked how many times I had been to Britain and/or Europe, and when I answered ’20’, he said I should write a book.
I’m not in the mood for that, and for those who follow this website, you will be aware that I regularly post stories from those travels.
But, having had time on my hands because of the ‘Chinese flu’ having forced restrictions on us, I thought I would file a 20-part series on those trips, under sub-headings.
PURPOSE OF TRIP
Holiday in Britain and Europe with my wife, Marie, and for the second half of the trip, with my sister, Gay Lynch and her husband, David. Our eldest boy, Damien and his partner, Emma were living in London.
England, France, Spain, Ireland.
FIRST THING OF NOTE
Walk along the canal at Bollington, beside the Adelphi Cotton Mill, in Cheshire.
Walk in Lyon’s Le Parc de la Tete d’Or, one of the largest urban parks in France, past the public zoo, which contains almost 400 animals, divided into 64 different species. We could see the giraffes (shock) as we walked by.
Coffee stop at the market town of Macroom, in County Cork, where Marie and I had stayed a night in 1977, during our first trip to Ireland.
North Yorkshire Moors, around Egton Bridge, in Esk River Valley.
Bantry Bay, regarded by many as the most beautiful of all Irish bays. It includes sub-tropical plants, washed there by the gulf stream.
Medieval town of Rye. With Winchelsea, it was one of the two ‘Ancient Towns’, that, in the Middle Ages, was given was given equal status with the Cinque Ports. During the Middle Ages, Rye contributed five ships to the Royal Fleet.
World famous cloisters of the Abbey of St Peter, at Moissac, on the River Tarn in France. My wife and I loved the town itself, the venue for an annual jazz festival.
Trinity College, Dublin. Founded by Elizabeth 1, and dating from 1592.
FIRST MEAL THAT I CAN RECALL
Indian takeaway, Leeds
Lebanese banquet at La Petite Tendance, Place Wilson, Villeurbanne, Lyon, France.
Crab cakes at Montenotte Hotel, Cork. Big mistake. My sister, Gay Lynch and her husband, David had the same, and we all came down with severe cases of food poisoning. My wife had fresh salmon, and was fine. I didn’t like the look of the chef beforehand – he appeared dirty – and my worst fears were confirmed.
MOST MEMORABLE MEAL
Slow cooked lamb (moi); roast lamb (Marie) at Old Boathouse Pub on the Leeds/Liverpool Canal at Astley, Greater Manchester, for our 34th wedding anniversary. It doesn’t get any more romantic than that.
Pig bits and cabbage at the home of Robert and Nathalie Pelissier, at Ansignan, in the Pyrenees-Orientales, France. There is no other way to describe the meal. Robert had been cooking the ‘pig’ all day, and nothing was wasted, ears included. Main course was preceded by Bavarian ale, and followed by vanilla slice, and 100-year-old cognac.
Christmas Day feast at the home of Alan and Kellie Kelly, Fantane, County Tipperary. Lunch was preceded by a walk in the snow-covered hills, followed by a game of hurling, involving Alan, me, my eldest son, Damien; my brother-in-law, David Lynch and Alan’s father, Ollie. I did a hammy, but forgot all about it, drinking Guinness and eating ham, beef and turkey – lots of turkey.
FIRST PUB/BAR STOP
Navigation Pub, at Buxworth Canal Basin, Derbyshire.
A bar at Place Wilson, Villeurbanne, Lyon, where a rough looking lady behind the bar, shouted Marie and I a drink.
‘Moorings’ Pub in the market town of Dungarvan, County Waterford.
MOST MEMORABLE BAR/PUB STOP
Red Lion, Barnes, after our son, Damien’s soccer match at Barnes Elms fields. He scored a goal, in a 5-1 win. We met members of the team at the Red Lion, for Sunday roast, that great British tradition. The lamb shank was quality, as was the London Pride.
Bar Wembley, Canet le Plage (near Perpignan), run by French rugby league identity, Jacques Jorda, who coached the French national side in the late 1980s – early 1990s. I interviewed him several times in my role as rugby league writer for ‘The Courier-Mail’.
O’Donoghue’s, Dublin where my sister, Gay Lynch and her husband, David and I caught up with former Australian Rugby League winger, Les Kiss; his wife and three children. Les was part of the Irish rugby union coaching set-up. A lovely ‘Colleen’ acceded to my request to sing ‘Rare Old Times’, my favorite Dubliners’ song. O’Donoghue’s was where the band got its start.
ONE SPORTING EVENT
Four Nations Rugby League final, Elland Road, Leeds. Australia won 46-16, after leading only 14-10 at halftime. Fullback, Billy Slater scored three tries for the Kangaroos.
Women’s rugby league match between Catalans Dragons and Avignon in Perpignan, France. Avignon won 30-20.
Training session for university rugby union side, at a field inside Trinity College, Dublin.
EVENT OTHER THAN SPORT
Play – ‘Woman in Black’ at Fortune Theatre, London. School children in the audience were out of control – no discipline from accompanying teachers. My sister, Gay Lynch, a school teacher, blew-up delux.
Last day at a bar in St Paul de-Fenouillet, France for the owner/manager, who was opening a restaurant in Perpignan. He was also president of St Paul’s rugby league side. While in the bar, the news came through, on the television, that the council in Perpignan had approved a new grandstand for Catalans’ Dragons, despite opposition from rugby union types. The whole bar erupted in applause.
Live music at crowded Sin’E, Cork, where the smell of dope was strong in the air.
MOST UNUSUAL EXPERIENCE
Listening to a London jazz band, the members of which were all geriatrics, at Louis Armstrong Pub, Dover. Their rendition of ‘Oh You Dirty Old Moll’ was a classic.
Algerian soccer fans running wild in Lyon, France. It wasn’t just unusual, it was scary. There were police everywhere. Algeria were playing Egypt that night, in a World Cup qualifier in Sudan. Algeria won 1-0, thank heavens.
Drinking out of the Sam Maguire Cup at a pub in Killarney. Kerry had won the All Ireland Football Title that year, and club members were taking the cup to every pub in the county.
1 Crossing the River Esk at Egton Bridge, Yorkshire
2 A giraffe in the middle of Lyon, France
3 Moissac’s cloisters
4 The pig is done. Robert Pelissier serves up helpings to his daughter, and local English resident, Richard Whibley at Ansignan, France.
5 Christmas Day hurling in Tipperary (from left) Alan Kelly, Steve Ricketts, Damien Ricketts and David Lynch
6 Singing ‘The Rare Old Times’ in O’Donoghue’s, Dublin.