*be sceptical - take nothing for granted!
Unless otherwise indicated all photos © Richard McKie 2005 - 2019

Who is Online

We have 214 guests and no members online

Translate to another language

Article Index

 

 

 

 

In October 2018 we travelled to Ireland. Later we would go on to England (the south coast and London) before travelling overland (and underwater) by rail to Belgium and then on to Berlin to visit our grandchildren there. 

The island of Ireland is not very big, about a quarter as large again as Tasmania, with a population not much bigger than Sydney (4.75 million in the Republic of Ireland with another 1.85 million in Northern Ireland).  So it's mainly rural and not very densely populated. 

It was unusually warm for October in Europe, including Germany, and Ireland is a very pleasant part of the world, not unlike Tasmania, and in many ways familiar, due to a shared language and culture.

 

Our Travels

 

We had a simple plan.  We would hire a car in Dublin and drive around the island in an anti-clockwise fashion to Belfast, stopping at points of interest, as recommended by friends, the tour brochures and the Internet travel apps. 

To minimise the number of hotels we would spend several nights in some places and use those as a base for day trips to nearby points of interest. With three days in the two largest cities (Dublin and Belfast) at the beginning and the end we decided the two weeks would be sufficient for an introduction.  

We resolved to find middle priced accommodation with parking in the following locations.

City/Town County
Dublin
Waterford
Kinsale (for the Cork area)
Killarney (for the Dingle area)
Galway
Sligo
Derry
Bushmills (for Portrush area)
Belfast
Dublin
Waterford
Cork
Kerry
Galway
Sligo
Londonderry (UK)
Antrim (UK)
Antrim & Down (UK)

 

Wendy had been to Ireland over forty years ago but it's a different country now.

Today Ireland is an easy country to drive in. They have similar road rules to Australia, so there isn't that alarm exiting a driveway one has in Europe or North America:  'Damn! What side of the road am I supposed to be on?'  The roads are generally very good. Highways, that we often avoided, are like those in England or Australia and local roads are mostly two lanes finished in smooth black hot-mix. The speed limit on these is typically 100 Km/h limit, except through towns, and we didn't encounter much slow traffic, for example tractors.  The longest driving time between the towns listed above was two and a half hours. Several were only an hour apart, so we had plenty of time to stop at a view or to find a pub or cafe for lunch; or on one occasion to shop for grandchild requested Lego.

Unfortunately the Seat Toledo* we'd hired in Dublin was unaware of the antiquated system of mensuration in the North (there was no mph marking on the speedo) so we had to rely on Tom Tom (our invaluable worldwide GPS) to stay within the speed limits.  Another issue for the unwary traveller is that Northern Ireland is not in the Euro zone, so it's a good idea to have some Irish or English pounds when crossing the border.  Of course one can simply use a credit card for essential things, like petrol. 

Yet I came to grief attempting to use some very old one pound coins, brought from a stash home, and even a relatively recent five pound note. The Bank of England has finally seen the light, only thirty years after Englishmen first mocked Australia's colourful 'plastic money'.  Britain is at last progressively withdrawing its old fashioned paper money from circulation.  A bank in Derry happily replaced the paper notes with plastic ones but not the coins.

When travelling my principal goal is not to lie on a beach; hang out in a luxury hotel; or get close to nature; but to learn more of the history of the place; its people; and their beliefs. Wendy is even keener to get out among the locals.

 

*The Car - for those interested only

We hired the car, well in advance, from AVIS in Dublin. They were the only company we found there that allowed us to drop it off in Belfast (in a different country).

I'd not driven a Seat before - it's a Spanish VW - described in one review as:  "the automotive equivalent of a Bosch dishwasher: well made, utterly functional and entirely devoid of character.

It lacked 'bells and whistles like self-parking and the Sat-nav was disabled, but it was more roadworthy and comfortable than many other cars we've hired while travelling.

With a 1.2-litre petrol engine and a five-speed manual gearbox it was light on fuel, that's expensive in Ireland.  Yet mountainous winding roads, leafy, slippery lanes and overtaking were not a problem. 

Even on a stretch of boggy unmade farm road, that TomTom had led us onto as a 'shortcut' after missing a turn, the Toledo ploughed on.  It even took a steep climb over a grassy bank out onto the made road, obviating the imminent need to find a farmer to extricate us.  We had a flashback to Sicily

But the best thing was a big boot, that took both the big bags and the small ones too.

 

 

Add comment


Security code
Refresh


    Have you read this???     -  this content changes with each opening of a menu item


Travel

Bridge over the River Kwai

 

 

In 1957-58 the film ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai‘ was ground breaking.  It was remarkable for being mainly shot on location (in Ceylon not Thailand) rather than in a studio and for involving the construction and demolition of a real, fully functioning rail bridge.   It's still regarded by many as one of the finest movies ever made. 

One of the things a tourist to Bangkok is encouraged to do is to take a day trip to the actual bridge.

Read more ...

Fiction, Recollections & News

The McKie Family

 

 

 

Introduction

 

 

This is the story of the McKie family down a path through the gardens of the past that led to where I'm standing.  Other paths converged and merged as the McKies met and wed and bred.  Where possible I've glimpsed backwards up those paths as far as records would allow. 

The setting is Newcastle upon Tyne in northeast England and my path winds through a time when the gardens there flowered with exotic blooms and their seeds and nectar changed the entire world.  This was the blossoming of the late industrial and early scientific revolution and it flowered most brilliantly in Newcastle.

I've been to trace a couple of lines of ancestry back six generations to around the turn of the 19th century. Six generations ago, around the turn of the century, lived sixty-four individuals who each contributed a little less 1.6% of their genome to me, half of them on my mother's side and half on my father's.  Yet I can't name half a dozen of them.  But I do know one was called McKie.  So this is about his descendents; and the path they took; and some things a few of them contributed to Newcastle's fortunes; and who they met on the way.

In six generations, unless there is duplication due to copulating cousins, we all have 126 ancestors.  Over half of mine remain obscure to me but I know the majority had one thing in common, they lived in or around Newcastle upon Tyne.  Thus they contributed to the prosperity, fertility and skill of that blossoming town during the century and a half when the garden there was at its most fecund. So it's also a tale of one city.

My mother's family is the subject of a separate article on this website. 

 

Read more ...

Opinions and Philosophy

Population and Climate Change – An update

 

 

Climate

 

I originally wrote the paper, Issues Arising from the Greenhouse Hypothesis, in 1990 and do not see a need to revise it substantially.  Some of the science is better defined and there have been some minor changes in some of the projections; but otherwise little has changed.

In the Introduction to the 2006 update to that paper I wrote:

Climate change has wide ranging implications...  ranging from its impacts on agriculture (through drought, floods, water availability, land degradation and carbon credits) mining (by limiting markets for coal and minerals processing) manufacturing and transport (through energy costs) to property damage resulting from storms.

The issues are complex, ranging from disputes about the impact of human activities on global warming, to arguments about what should be done and the consequences of the various actions proposed.

Read more ...

Terms of Use                                           Copyright