Looking across to the snow capped alpine mountains seen from the back seat of a motorcycle

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Countryside, Culture And Carlingford Lough

By Rev. Mick!

Day 2

Day 2 in Clane, County Kildare opened to the dawn chorus, sunshine and bacon rolls about as good as it gets for a man suffering from some rehydration after effects. It was many thanks to Morris for my bed and aforementioned breakfast. See you back in Kerry next week.

The route was working North and East up into Meath and then Louth. Using little L roads, roughly like the UK’s B roads, I stumbled across many strange sights both natural and man made.

A broad slow flowing river tips over a small weir in luscious tree filled countryside

In some places the road became a tree lined tunnel, a bit Game of Thrones. We even passed very close to the hill of Tara at one point. At Sloane it was back on the main road to cross the bridge over the River Boyne with it’s huge impressive weir.

Trees with light green leaves form a light tunnel above the lane disappearing into the distance

I had to call into the town of Ardee, home of a good friend of ours and it looked a very picturesque little town with lovely independent local shops. I had ride through very slowly as a huge funeral was taking place - not only out of respect just that it was so big with so much traffic that there was no other option. No one does funerals like rural Ireland.

Then on up through Louth. Dundalk the last big town in the south seemed to be doing a great shopping day in a sunny Saturday lunch time. There were a few interactions with Google maps and I left the northside of town into... Africa? As I came out along the Newry road the whole roadside on both sides was thronged with African people all in great form and seemed to be dressed to the nines. Much laughter and waving, I have no idea why but would guess some occasion - a wedding/funeral/church? Everyone was dressed up. 

In my fascination and consideration I got the wrong road and found myself at a roundabout that I was not supposed to be at. Looking round before a Molly Google interview I noticed a sign saying “Carlingford Scenic Ferry”. I understood that the reason for going to Newry is you need to get round Carlingford Lough to get into The North. If I crossed the border by ferry I’d then be in South Down and I wanted to come into South Belfast so it seem worth a try. So thanking the universe for my misdirection I followed the sign.

A lovely ride ensued along the woods and shore of Carlingford Lough. There seemed to be loads of old wooded country estates and lots of people building new country homes. Caravan parks and golf courses too.

The ferry sails from Greenore, this seems to be where the Lough is narrowest. The ferry takes about 20 mins and while I’m in the car park waiting we could see it loading on the other bank. As we watched it come back I fell into a talk with the other 2 wheelers, two guys with a Bennelli and a Honda CB 650. It is the way it always is with 2 wheelers.

A small vehicle ferry large enough for perhaps 20 cars and the waters of the Carlingford Lough

We talked about trips done and ones we hoped to do. They were having a day out blasting on the long weekend courtesy of her majesty’s funeral. The crossing is lovely with great views of the mountains of Mourne.

Looking out from the ferry we see mountains and the Lough
The lads talk in their bike gear stood next to the bikes and the ferry crosses the calm waters

The lads insisted on riding ahead to get me on the Belfast road. So we had a magic blast down the Mourne Coastal road. The Innova did not let me down when keeping up, though I suspect they were taking it easy plus speed limits and bank holiday traffic at the sea side. Respect to you lads that was very gracious of you. Soon enough they pointed me up the Belfast road and with a hoot and wave they they turn for the arcades, kiss me quick hats, and candy floss of The Front at Newcastle.

I whizzed up this fast road, a quick fuel and pee stop in Ballynahinch and up to Belfast. As I hit the southern outskirts it was in with an earbud and sweet Molly Google whispered me to Annette’s house. It was close enough to the Kingspan Stadium for me hear the Ulster v Connacht game live.

A lovely quiet evening in Belfast ready for an early start in the morning. Annette just mentioned The Belfast Half Marathon is on in the morning. The last statement might cause me some problems I had yet not realised.

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Holy Water On Departure It's Rev. Mick!'s day of departure, in spite of his wife's misgivings. He's crossing Ireland and he's already lost in his own country.
Countryside, Culture And Carlingford Lough Rev. Mick! is finding a ferry and fascinating sights as he makes his way northbound towards Belfast. A good day all in all but there may be just one small hiccup ahead.
Police, Passages, Pals, and Pints Rev. Mick! is escorted by the police, hangs out with Scooter types and catches TWO ferries. It seems he can't have an "ordinary" day.
Ferries And Fun But No Food It's all ferries and frolics for Rev. Mick! as he gets deep into The Highlands and islands. The riding and crossings are good but there's a problem with acquiring sustenance.
Motorcycle Meditation In The Wild And Wet Rev. Mick! is having one hell of a day. The Hebridean weather is throwing it's worst at them as they make their way northbound to their raison d'etre.
Lovely Lewis And Chilled Chums Rev. Mick! finds today to be much calmer and enjoyable rather than endurable. A tour of the northern half of Lewis and some good company sees Mick swinging and snoring.
A Laid Back, Easy Day On Lewis While their hosts are working Rev. Mick! and Drew enjoy and easy mooch around. There's just that one place Rev. Mick! still hasn't managed to reach.
Homeward Bound From Lewis To Mallaig It's way too early for Rev. Mick! this morning but needs must. Sadly it's time to head homeward but that won't spoil a good day looking around Skye.
Veggie Brekkie, Bikes And A Blast Rev. Mick!'s enjoying a day through some classic Highland scenery then pondering the past, present and a future yet to come.
The End of the Fellowship With the parting of the pals comes a tinge of remorse yet Rev. Mick! still has many more miles to cover before his heroic return to home. Did anyone notice he'd even left?

Reader's Comments

Upt'North ¹ said :-
Those first pictures look very France like your Most Reverend.
Don't you just love it when you ride into town to find the plans turn upside down. Come on ED, get ya finger out, we wanna know!
Ta me duck.
20/10/2022 16:13:33 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
Sounds like a great trip. I've never visited Northern Ireland but am tempted although I've heard the local wine isn't up to what I'm used to...
21/10/2022 11:24:32 UTC
nab301 said :-
Ian , it'll give you something to whine about!
23/10/2022 20:36:07 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
So Ian - when making the tough decision as to where yourself and the good lady are to vacation next... your primary concern is "is the wine any good?" Being teetotal I can't say this is ever a consideration for myself.

Tea, on the other hand. Them European types, they have a lot of issues with tea. I have been able to find various forms of "English Breakfast" tea in the supermarkets. However this tea tends to come in small packets with an "artisan" feel and and equally "artisan" price, there's no massive bags of off-brand el-cheapo proper teabags to be found.

Don't get me started on the tea in the cafes. Oh coffee yeah, fracca mocca woppa chino, frappa boppa duppa express, americano latte double macchiato, and countless others. However coffee is evil and comes straight from the loins of Beelzebub himself. Those who drink coffee are in league with Satan. Tea is the drink of the gods there is no doubt.

Ask for a tea in France/Spain/Belgium? (Germany less so). First off they look at you like you've just pooped in the corner of their cafe. Then ask for it with milk? Now they look at you as though you've just pooped on their grandma who's sat in the corner of their cafe. It's not uncommon to hear a stifled "...anglais...pffft...".

And the cup? If you are very lucky they may understand you are a stupid Englishman who thinks he can speak their language but provide a proper full sized cup, or mug as they might call it (in French/Spanish/Belgian). Otherwise you may only receive a small coffee cup and I have even been given one of them tiny espresso cups! Blummin foreigners.

So in both Northern and The Republic of Ireland you can get a proper brew. Not only this you can successfully drive on the correct and proper side of the road. Not only this you can purchase tea as the good lord intended it to be. And they speak English (sort of). And AND they have real proper genuine bona-fide wet soggy rain. What's not to like?
25/10/2022 08:57:38 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
Not the primary concern but fairly high on the list - along with good food, scenery, friendly but polite people, cheap campsites next to towns / villages, open uncrowded roads, interesting museums, markets with local produce, locally owned shops.

France is the only place I know that provides all these.
25/10/2022 11:26:13 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
Oh, and for tea addicts take your own teabags. They're not heavy. I favour Clipper organic myself.
25/10/2022 11:43:23 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
Ooooooo, Ren's got out of the wrong side of bed. Perhaps he'd run out of Aldi Red Label. Steady fella, steady. But when you're right, you're right. Johnny foreigner can't make a decent mug of tea to save themselves, I only have hot water and a tea bag and they still can't do it, although they still manage to charge you €3.00 a cup.
I consider myself a little more fortunate in that I like the ground roasted beans too and they are definitely mainly sometimes maybe OK at that. I try to avoid the main stream coffee houses because they.......well,cant make coffee too well, which is kinda strange innit. I was in a Costa in Alnwick last week, the simple instructions were, medium americano with an extra shot of ground bean juice. Yukkety, yuk, yuk. How hard can it be and I avoid tea out unless it's your typical caff sort of place.
As for France, where does one start.........it's no different from everywhere else really, some will detest it, some will put up with it and some will rejoice it's every blade of beige grass. It's just the way it is.
Vive La Difference.
25/10/2022 12:46:55 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Once I've gotten past the ridiculous tea situation and driving on the wrong side of the road I think France has its merits.

As Ian points out they're very good at having campsites close to towns. Here you can take a stroll to admire the town/village, grab a bite to eat as well as a little shopping, and all without having to lug your helmet and kit around. Here in Blighty most campsite are a long way from any kind of civilisation requiring an additional trip to merely replenish the larder.

On the other hand - I have experienced some slight unpleasantness due to the site's proximity to a town. If perchance the local yoofs are bored while tanked on exquisite wines at affordable prices the campsite is an obvious place to hang out for shenanigans. There was no real trouble but a bunch of rowdy teenagers arguing with each other did rather make me uncomfortable.

Uncrowded roads? Yes, for the most part. But for anyone looking to travel in France they can do traffic jams and rush hour chaos in the major towns and on main roads as well as any other country. They also do speeding tickets but we BAT readers are all law abiding citizens are we not? Don't forget their limits are in KMH not MPH, it did seem rather odd to be doing 50 through the town...

25/10/2022 17:23:10 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
And don't forget the Gendarmes have guns and fast motorcycles. I've seen two of them guns right up close. I think I've told the story before but we weren't fazed by such French tomfoolery.
I can't say I've noticed the roads are any quieter than anywhere else, the cities and large towns are all busy from memory and the country roads are quieter, just what you would expect really. I think where the French riding experience is worthy of merit is the awareness of French drivers to the presence of motorcycles. They have eyes in their arris and insist you overtake even when you don't particularly want to.
But if we are reminiscing on favourite riding destinations, Italy takes some beating. The food is so simple too, incredible but simple. You don't have to go to an educational facility for a month just to allow you to order a meal and drink. It's just simple, like me.
25/10/2022 18:29:16 UTC
Rev. Mick! said :-
I have been thinking of motorcycles or more likely (close your ears the easily offended) scooters in India. Now there is one place you can get tea! The whole country runs on tea, or more correctly Chai. There is something amazing about Chai properly aerated from a man with a converted pram cart. In the old days you often got them in clay mugs. These were unfired and regarded as disposable. So you would see this poor man’s cart as if a shower of bricks or roof tiles had shattered around him.
However the evil bean is starting to be found especially in the south.
I remember riding through Assam on my way to Arunachal Pradesh and there were miles upon miles of vivid green rows of tea bushes up to the horizons. That fresh tea from an estate shop brewed over some twigs at the side of the road is about as good as it gets. Plus in India the food is just sublime, forget all that British Indian restaurant stuff that is kind of wedding food. Just simple delicious veggie food in people’s houses. Also very inexpensive and simple to find places to stay.
So Bob and I have been working on the idea of hiring small scooters and riding round the whole coast of India from the Raan of Kutch to Calcutta. If you put a hammock in the luggage you can just pitch between two trees at the beach. We reckon about six weeks. Now wouldn’t that be cool.
Fancy it anyone?
25/10/2022 20:44:17 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
Sorry Reverend. You'll have to count me out. There are lots of reasons, some probably best kept to myself but why would anyone want to ride a motorcycle in the hell hole which is India?
Not for Moi.
26/10/2022 09:42:30 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
I'm not sure my reasons would be the same as Upt's but my conclusion is similar - you couldn't pay me to ride there. It's worth a reread of Jupiter's Travels to see what Ted Simon, usually a very accommodating sort of fellow, thought of the country.
26/10/2022 11:24:00 UTC
Rev. Mick! said :-
Not quite sure what you mean by Hell hole. I have travelled in India a lot by all forms of transport including lots of bicycles and motorcycles/scooters, for over 35 years now. The cities can be hectic and congested, it is best have your wits about you and accept might is right. Also everything avoids cows where ever they lie down. Other than the cows like Rome. I find London far scarier. Interstate highways also scary, I once drove Chandrigarth to Delhi on the Toll Motorway and that rates as one of my near death experiences. Otherwise all my memories are of quiet rural roads with just local bikes, scooters and tractors sometimes the local bus. Hazards tend to be non traffic, wildlife including aforementioned cows, elephant and buffaloes, crops drying on the tarmac, boats parked, random holes and roadworks. So yes you do need to concentrate but ride B roads in the UK with horse riders, cows, tractors, slurry, oil spills, plus random holes and road works.
Rural drivers in India seem far more considerate to other drivers than many in the UK.
If you ride a simple local bike you can always get it fixed no matter where you are. At anytime night or day.
You can put your bike on a train no problem at all. And when you get off your sleeper train a man or two will wheel it up the platform to you. Same applies to buses with smaller bikes.
You will be bombarded with endless questions in varying standards of English. Plus British people are very fondly regarded. I have never suffered any racism what so ever.
Plus fantastic food, great hygiene, highest rate of recycling, signs in English, warm, very cheap, efficient. Not sure Hieronymus Bosch would recognise much.
It is changing however as there is now a far bigger middle class so many more cars than there was.
26/10/2022 13:26:29 UTC
Rev. Mick! said :-
Also nearly fell of a motorbike in Sri Lanka at the sight of a man literally impaled on hooks through his flesh to telegraph pole crucifix at the head of a procession. Each of us on that trip looked at each other in sheer horror and disbelief. That however seems a rare occurance!
26/10/2022 13:36:22 UTC

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