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’ and its associated restrictions, I thought I would file a 20-part series on those trips, under sub-headings.
PURPOSE OF TRIP
To attend the Rugby League Challenge Cup final at Wembley Stadium and to catch up with relatives and friends in England and Ireland.
England, Wales and Ireland.
FIRST THING OF NOTE I CAN RECALL
Listening to soccer transfer news on the radio in our car, on the way from Heathrow Airport to Oxford. Rasheed, our driver, was a soccer fan, and, in fact, pointed out a 17-year-old Oxford Town junior, walking along the street, as we entered Oxford.
Getting a cab from the Airport to our Dublin Hotel, ‘The Dawson’. Our cabbie was a rugby union man.
River Wye Valley, on the England/Wales border.
The Dingle Peninsula, even though the weather was miserable.
Chartwell, Kent. Former home of late British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill.
Kilkenny Castle, built in 1195 to control a fording-point of the River Nore and the junction of several routeways.
FIRST MEAL I CAN RECALL
Singapore noodles, Westgate Shopping Centre, Oxford.
Lamb loin at Ormonde Hotel, Kilkenny. My wife, Marie had seafood chowder. Both meals were excellent. The same could not be said for the service.
MOST MEMORABLE MEAL
Soup, and vegetable fritters at Michelin rated, Durham Cow pub in Yorkshire’s Howardian Hills. Washed down by Old Vic Bitter from Warwick. We were on our way to Leeds, from Sandsend, where we had stayed with Andrew and Sandy Varley.
Home cooked Sunday roast at the home of Oliver and Amy Kelly, Ileigh, County Tipperary.
FIRST PUB/BAR STOP
The Crown, Oxford. William Shakespeare and the Beatles drank there, but not at the same time. The barmaid referred to me as ‘my lovely’.
The Duke, Dublin.
MOST MEMORABLE BAR/PUB STOP
White Lion Inn, Wherwell, Test Valley, Hampshire. An oak beamed pub with a fine menu.
Jack Meade’s Bar and Beer Garden, outside Waterford. The pub dates back to 1705 and has been in the hands of the present family since 1857.
Wembley Challenge Cup final. French club, Catalans Dragons defeated favorites, Warrington 20-14 in a classic game. Former Australian Test rep., Greg Bird was missing from the Catalans’ side, but the Perpignan outfit defied the odds to record an emotional win.
My wife, Marie’s niece, Emma Kelly’s Camogie game for Clonmel against Moyle Rovers at Clonmel. Emma was brutal. She had one girl in tears, after cracking her on the shins.
EVENT OTHER THAN SPORT
Steam vintage rally, Hay on Wye.
Novena Mass, Holy Cross Abbey, County Tipperary, where Ellie Kelly sang in the choir. Ellie is the mother-in-law of my wife, Marie’s niece, Kellie Kelly. (You can’t make that stuff up).
Old Electric Shop, Hay on Wye. Food (modern vegetarian), drink and books.
Kilkee Cliffs, County Clare. The Cliffs of Moher are better known, but these are just as spectacular.
MOST UNUSUAL EXPERIENCE
Having to feed the gold fish at our accommodation in Hay-on-Wye. The owner was away, and she left a note asking as to look after the fish, which we need.
A tour of Tullamore Dew Distillery, conducted by Oliver Kelly, my wife, Marie’s niece’s brother-in-law. Oliver was in charge of quality control.
1 The Challenge Cup
2 River Wye Valley from the Welsh side
3 Chartwell, Kent
4 Kilkenny Castle
5 Marie Ricketts and Sandy Varley at Sandsend on the North Yorkshire Coast
6 Marie Ricketts in the Durham Cow Pub, Yorkshire
7 Clonmel take the field ahead of a home Camogie clash with Moyle Rovers
8 Kilkee Cliffs, County Clare