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Here we go again!

Irish Cuisine in France

Pam’s Picnic Holidays

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Pam’s Picnic Holidays


(I remembered it’s Wednesday so I’m doing creative!)

It’s nearly lunchtime as I write and I’m a little distracted… because I’m hungry and today we’re going on a picnic! Ever since Pam commented on Facebook about holidays as a child where her Dad would drive them all over Europe having picnics I couldn’t wait to try it. Maybe I’ll stop now and get back to you later with pictures….


(Some French desert)

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(Pam’s Picnic Holidays… this is definitely happening)


(Our picnic site – that’s the Loire)

I’m back from the picnic –  it was great! Lovely view, lovely food… not exactly a small French town but almost, it’s a small French campsite. Baby steps. We had the picnic area all to ourselves. Maybe it’s the Irish weather that trains us to be able to sit outside at lunch time? Fortunately, I had remembered the sun cream and the little fluffy clouds managed to shade us at intervals. We made the rolls ourselves: French bread ordered yesterday from reception, French brie (bought in France), French lettuce (bought in France) and some very nice apple chutney made by my mother-in-law. Yum. Maybe a little snooze to follow.

Dear Eilish – please send more, it’s very good! Mairead.

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Irish Cuisine in France


(As requested by Moira: Picture of Ruby on a trip to Cork last weekend)

We’ve arrived in our first campsite on the edge of the city of Rennes, a couple of hours south of Cherbourg. It’s hot here or maybe we’re just not used to anything about 19 degrees celsius yet… I think it’s 100… oh, ok it’s not, its 27. The campsite is in the middle of a huge park with walking paths, cycle paths, sports fields, swimming pool and lots and lots of trees. We’re a ten minute bus journey from the city but all I can hear is birdsong.

Before we left I had a request from Julie D. for information about travelling in a motor home (or camper van not sure which to call our home… her name is Ruby.) So from time to time I’m going to include some practical details that may or may not be of interest to you. Feel free to ask questions in the comments and I’ll answer if I can.


(Road to Rosslare)

Ruby has a small fridge with a little icebox. The fridge runs on electricity when we are connected to a power supply at the campsite or at home. It runs on the van battery when we are driving and then when we stop by the side of the road it runs on gas.


(The almost empty fridge)

I, of course, knew all that before we left but being new to the whole concept of having everything to hand didn’t fill the fridge…. Anyway, we left the ferry at about 10.30am this morning and promised ourselves a nice cup of tea as soon as we found a lay-by. Every other time we’ve been in France on the bike or in the car we’ve stopped at motorway services where you can get petrol/diesel, visit the restaurant, use the toilets, buy souvenirs, groceries and even beer. But this time we don’t need restaurants and we have a big tank so we stop less for fuel and we buy groceries at the supermarket (well… we will just as soon as we get our bearings.) And no one really needs souvenirs… There’s lots of these motorway services but there’s also lots of the other places. The places with only parking and toilets. They are called Aires and they are probably going to be our new best friends.



Unfortunately, there’s not lots of them on the road from Cherbourg to Rennes, feeling a little dehydrated, we decided to stop at the first motorway services place. But it was full! Literally, there wasn’t even one car parking space. We had to leave. Sad Campers :( We had been so looking forward to our first cup of tea in France. On and on we drove, the temperature rising all the time. At 1pm on the dot the first Aire came into view. Happy Campers :) There was room for us to park and the toilets were not too bad. (We do have a toilet in the motor home but I’ll explain another time why we use other toilets as much as we can!) That’s when I realised I hadn’t brought any lunch stuff (well, I was still thinking food = restaurants…) there was no bread, no cheese, no salad. There was some milk – possibly of dodgy quality.There were biscuits – possibly of dodgy nutritional value. Fortunately, I love breakfast and had remembered it so we had some great Irish porridge oats for our first meal in France.

Viva la Flahavans! Mairead.

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Here we go again!

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(On the way down I crocheted a jumper for my mug!)

It might come as some surprise to hear that we’re off travelling again. This time to France… and this time in a Camper van. It comes as a bit of a surprise to me. It all happened very fast and I’m still not quite sure how, I’m guessing I’ll be telling that story at some stage but for now, I’m just telling you the travelling is about to begin. As I write we’re waiting in Rosslare Harbour to board the ferry.

Sunny Saturday to you, Mairead

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Bubbles of Joy

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(Old petrol station in Birr, Co. Offaly)

We’re back home after our week away. We have lots of photos and memories of beautiful places. I have lots of new ideas, as does Denis. Travelling for repeated stretches without the possibility of checking for messages, emails, social media allows little projects to be formed. I suppose you could call it daydreaming. Not every daydream needs to be activated but without action a daydream or an idea is just interesting.

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(Petrol was measured in gallons and charged in pounds, shillings and pence)

Like the idea I had on the first day to photograph old garages – the ones that fix your car. Not the big fancy ones that also sell new cars. The ones that were probably built in the 1950s or 1960’s. They are usually square concrete buildings that some might call ugly – not me. I see a glossy coffee table book with pictures of the owner and some of the staff standing outside the rusted sliding door, with the garage name visible over their heads. I see moody dark pictures of the workbench covered in tools, the only light coming through a small cracked window. I see a paragraph on the story of the building, how the present owner came to be there and who started the enterprise.

Car Accident

(The first death by car accident – Birr!)

For three days I searched the edges of towns we entered trying to spot the type of building I wanted. By the end of the second day I’d seen four and each time I was filled with a bubble of joy. Unfortunately, the bubble of joy lasted longer than it took to drive past and when I woke up I realised I didn’t know where we were, I wouldn’t be able to find that garage again and I hadn’t taken a picture. At the end of day three I decided to share my idea for a garage coffee table book with Denis. As I shared I realised the book would never happen it was just an interesting daydream.

Rock of Cashel Garage

(Picture from early 1960s of my Dad’s garage)

There are a few reasons. First, the market for people interested in square concrete garages is probably very small. Second, coffee table books are very expensive to produce. Third, I’m not confident in my technical ability to take the kind of pictures I see in my mind. Fourth, I am way too afraid to approach the owner of a garage and explain my daydream. But, the main reason this idea will never become a reality…. is because the daydream has nothing to do with garages, it’s all about forgotten memories that fill us with bubbles of joy and we don’t even know why. That’s the great thing about travel, about daydreaming about being in the fresh air with no smartphone… you end up discovering something you didn’t know about yourself, something you didn’t know you didn’t know, if you follow me.

Close up

(I scanned the picture of my Dad’s garage above into my laptop today so that I might at least have one old garage picture. Then I noticed for the first time there’s an adult (my mother?) and child (me? my brother?) standing at the door to the shop)

Until the next journey, Mairead.

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Obama and Me….

We’ve seen lots more beauty in the past two days since leaving Kilkee but we got a great surprise in a small town called Moneygall.

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(Beautiful place on Loop Head called Bridges of Ross)

Around noon I was hungry and we saw a cute little cafe in the town but it was closed so we travelled on for about a kilometre when we spotted a large service station that served Tim Hortons coffee.

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(Amazing view near the lighthouse at the tip of Loop Head)

The same coffee we had become addicted to in Canada! We stopped off and had some coffee. Then while we were there a lovely couple from America arrived.

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(Swallow feeding her chicks outside our bedroom at a farmhouse near Killaloe)

I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to get a picture with them…


(Me and Obama)

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 Turns out it’s their holiday home in Ireland. Who knew? Mairead.

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Writing on the Roads


(Sunny day in the west)

I’m sitting in the window seat of our room overlooking a group of men painting lines on the road. They must have started before 7am. It’s so busy here during the day I suppose they don’t want to interrupt traffic. The traffic of visitors. Accidentally, we have found one of the thriving towns in Ireland. The old shop fronts are sparkling. The only one I found boarded up was being renovated. Ok it’s not perfect, there are a few places closed but they’re not boarded up, they’re waiting for their time. And now the road painting crew are out early to make the traffic run more smoothly.

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(The bustling town of Kilkee)

We’re at the seaside in the town of Kilkee in Co. Clare and when we arrived yesterday it was at its best – sun shining, buckets and spades selling, ice creams dripping, wind breakers leaning and babies eating sand. There really is an air of prosperity here. Not showy prosperity, old-fashioned prosperity. On the seafront there’s a stall selling periwinkles and just now I’ve spotted a woman on the corner selling fish from a plastic box. She has a sizeable queue forming.

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The hotel is so busy there wasn’t a table for dinner last night, but we needn’t have worried searching on google we found 18… eighteen restaurants in the town… open! No worries so. It’s nearly time for breakfast now and I hope they have a table for us but if they don’t I bet there’s plenty of cafes here.


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(There were lots of colourful old shop fronts)

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(and even the closed shop fronts are interesting)

The lady with the fish is chatting with a family – mum with a buggy and two little girls. She’s let the girls pick up the fish. The taller one is holding a fish up in the air pretending it can fly. The smaller one is running around her sister pointing and laughing. The lady is giving them a towel to wipe their hands. No fish have been sold. Instead, connections are being made.

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(Spotted this at the front of the menu last night… community is part of a vision here)


Stories will be told of holidays in Kilkee where real fish can fly, Mairead.


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