Stop off in Donegall for a browse around, not much to recommend it apart from the friendliness and helpfulness of everyone.
Try to stop off for a saunter around Sligo but no coins and yet another rare app needs downloading to park. At this rate I’ll need an iPhone with a gigabyte of memory. Forget it, we drive on.Stop off at Tub of curry (Tubbercurry), a small Irish town with very little to recommend it. It had a Bank with no cash. No toilets due to that universal excuse for laziness and incompetnece, COVID. Signs to tourist office, but what a surprise it’s closed – no doubt COVID strikes again. Bizarre that they filmed “Normal People” here. Also famous for the Connaught Rangers and the India mutiny of 1920 – I’m sure you’re all familiar with that. We’ve had to spend the last 24 hours chasing our host to see how we get in. He finally rings us and wants to meet us in a pub car park to lead the way as sat nav not reliable he says. Meet him, follow him. No need as sat-nav is spot on. I suppose he thinks this is helpful customer service. Personally, I’d rather just have an email with details on how to open the door, that way you don’t have to harass them to know how to get in – simples.
Bungalows very nice and comfortable, although we’ll wear out a pair of trainers trapsing from remote kitchen back to lounge. Under floor heating is crap.
No toilets in Donegal but kind waitress when asked where the nearest ones were said “you’re welcome to use ours”. Can you imagine that in Blackburn.
Take a drive onto Achill Island to explore the WAW sites there. I’ll let the photos tell the story. A long 6 hour drive, made worse by the 40 minutes drive to our abode, but in my opinion worth it, Wendy not so happy about it.
Call in at a Tesco Super store for some dinner. The small corner shop of my childhood had a better choice. Really struggled to choose anything, ended up with a Paella. Really a yellow rice bowl that had been shown a glimpse of a shrimp, a prawn and a slither of chicken. Never mind I had some wine with me.
Wendy has had enough of driving the WAW. She wants to have an easy day sauntering around the shops in Westport. Joy. What a waste but never let it be said that I ain’t fair.
Have to say Westport is a lovely little town with some character. Stop for a cuppa, has to be the worst tea and coffee in Ireland, but interesting people watching sat outside. Take a short drive out to the Quay for a stroll.
I’m fed up of scratting around choosing what to have for tea so I implement my new menu item, dessert. Yes, just dessert for tea. I love desserts but never have one as they’re fattening, have to save the calories for some wine. Anyway tonight’s tea is lemon meringue pie and a chocolate mouse. How’s that for innovation.
A very leisurely day.
To the Thingimajaga and off to Dublin. It’s a grey miserable day but as we’re driving doesn’t matter. Have to spend 40 minutes driving down the side of the Liffey. Unbelievable traffic and then to top it off the Samuael Beckett bridge is closed – seems that boats are more important than tax-paying vehicles – so it’s a major diversion. Finally get to our underground car park and then a 4-minute walk to the hotel. The car will be having a 3 day rest in the cement caverns of Dublin’s docklands.
The hotel seems good on first impressions. We’ve upgraded to an executive room so should get sky movies, but yes you’ve guessed it another screw-up, it doesn’t work. It takes them 3 hours to try and fix it. In the end, at 20:30ish they move us to a room where it works.
You’ll be hearing more on the hotel in days to come.
Two of the awesome highlights of the WAW that got away. Never mind we’ll be back, perhaps we’ll get to them next time.
Hop off at the Temple bar area for a stroll around. I have a pint of Guinness in the famous Temple bar, what an awesome selection of whiskeys, while Wendy has a tuna sandwich. Wendy’s not at all impressed as there seems to be no shopping area.
Back on the bus to finish the tour. Neither of us are at all impressed with Dublin. Fortunately the weather is lovely.
Most of the Dublin pictures have been “acquired” off the internet rather than trying to take pictures of a moving bus which usually seem to end up with just the back of some bald old gits head or all sky.
Then it’s a real challenge as we try and find somewhere to eat around the yuppie docklands area. Half the places are closed, most of the menus seem to consist of just 3 items, end up at a Mexican equivalent of subway, build your own burrito. It’s very good but no plates to eat off. Wendy’s not at all impressed.
Sadly ran out of rants, jokes and comments on the religion of pieces and permanent offence. Fear not next blog will make up the deficit with a non-PC vengnece.
The tour is pretty good. The comparative tasting is even better. Then we do a cask barrel tasting where they draw whiskey straight from the barrel for tasting, I think it was 60 percent ABV. As I have to drink Wendy’s share plus the free basic Jameson sample, not forgetting the tasting samples I’m rat arsed by the end of it – I should fit in well with the Liffey strewn locals, although Cider seems to be their tipple.
Then we take a stroll back and call in at the Temple Bar area for a Boxty dinner, along with a pint of their Stout – see picture. Have to say the weather, Boxty and especially the Jameson tour has really improved my view of Dublin, but we wouldn’t come back. Really a tad disappointed, had great expectations of Dublin. Dread to think what it would have been like if we hadn’t had good weather.
Today’s Wave of Life has to be Jameson’s Black Barrel. Perhaps the closest of the Jamesons to a Bourbon.
Triple distilled, twice charred, for a rich smooth taste.
Awarded A Double Gold Medal at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and winner of best Irish blended whiskey RRP under €60, at the 2019 Irish Whiskey Awards.
Charring is an age-old method for invigorating barrels to intensify the taste. Jameson Black Barrel is our tribute to our coopers, who painstakingly give their bourbon barrels an additional charring to reveal their untold richness and complexity. Because every barrel contains secrets; the trick is coaxing them out.
Time spent maturing in these barrels leads to intensified aromas of butterscotch, fudge and creamy toffee.
Nutty notes are in abundance alongside the smooth sweetness of spice and vanilla.
Enjoy the richness and intensity of toasted wood and vanilla. It’s another level of smoothness.
So what did we like about Ireland? The Dark Hedges; Giants Causeway; Wild Atlantic Way; Jameson distillery; two very comfortable VRBO’s; a really positive and sensible attitude to Covid prevention, even the stupid and selfish have to wear masks indoors; colourful hedgerows; friendly Irish people.
What didn’t we like? Mediocre hotels, Fawlty Towers with an Irish lilt; grey weather, but to be fair we didn’t have any rain; temporary traffic lights and roadworks; single track roads whose sole purpose seems to be to wreck my suspension; the disappointment that was Dublin.
One of the few good points of this hotel is their breakfast.
The customer relations manager is marauding around breakfast and asks for our opinion. Well, I bet she regretted that. Gave her the full sorry tale.
Then to top it off we try to return to our room, hang on our card won’t work in the lift. I wonder why? Track down the customer relations manager, who sets off to get us new ones. Low and behold get to the room and it won’t let us in either. It’s only 09:05 and they were that keen to get rid of us they’ve checked us out. The customer relations manager turns up with the new cards, I bet she wanted to sink under the carpet – “I rest my case”.
Take a leisurely drive up to Belfast around the Mourn coastal route. Quite pretty but not the WAW.
Stop off at the Titanic hotel for an excellent dinner. Pity about the Apple maps having it in the wrong place and the car park sign to the hotel taking you to the wrong location. Finally, get there. You really couldn’t make this incompetence up.
Then it’s off to the ferry for a two-hour queue to board. Noddy’s well past Big Ears by the time we board, so being conservative covid cautious old farts we’re straight to our cabin, not a deluxe this time, and so to sleep. Wow, an alcohol-free day.
For today’s rant I’ll focus on our hotel, should be renamed Fawlty Towers. Even Basil would be embarrassed. It’s supposed to be a 4 Star but I think 3 of the stars have gone over the event horizon and been swallowed by a black hole.
Let’s list the imperfections:
Sky movies didn’t work.
No bath robes.
No daily room service. Use the Covid protection excuse. We have to contact room service if we want servicing. Seems like a great excuse to save money.
They expect you to service your own room but don’t have the common sense to even provide a toilet brush – disgusting.
Phone for fresh towels. Delivered but they can’t be bothered to take the dirty ones away.
Kettle and coffee machine plug leads aren’t long enough.
Stupid pod coffee machine that had the temperament of women at the wrong time of the month.
Cards cancelled before checkout.
Building site noise – not really their fault – just adds to the joy.
One pillow as soft as a brick.
Basil trainees on reception who are clueless.
Dinner menu has hardly any choice and could be prepared by a microwave guru – choose form Fish and Chips, Burger and of course Pizza.
Fish was the size of a battered sardine.
Unable to charge meals to room.
And the one good thing is – they were that incompetent they didn’t charge for breakfast.
I rest my case.
Whisk(e)y with or without the e. Did anyone notice?
Generally speaking, whiskey (or whisky) can be any of a variety of distilled liquors that are made from a fermented mash of cereal grains and aged in wooden containers, which are usually constructed of oak. Commonly used grains are corn, barley malt, rye, and wheat. So what is it that sets these liquors apart? In a nutshell, the name is based on factors such as the type of cereal grain used in the distilling process as well as how and where it was produced.
So why do you see the name of the liquor spelled both as “whiskey” and as “whisky?” No, it’s not due to a spelling error or typo. It is generally spelled “whiskey”—with an e—in the United States and Ireland. It is spelled “whisky”—without the e—in Scotland and Canada, which are both well known for their whisk(e)y, and in several other countries.
Before we go on to explain the differences between whiskey, Scotch, bourbon, and rye, here is a quick primer on whiskey in general. Whiskeys can be straight or blended: the former are not mixed with anything or are mixed only with other whiskey from the same distiller and distillation period; the latter can include various combinations of whiskey products from different distillers and different distillation periods as well as other flavorings, such as fruit juice. Blended whiskeys generally have a lighter flavor than straight whiskeys.
Scotch is a whisky (no e) that gets its distinctive smoky flavor from the process in which it is made: the grain, primarily barley, is malted and then heated over a peat fire. There are United Kingdom laws governing the definitions of various categories and marketing of Scotch whisky; they set out production regulations and specify that a whisky cannot be called Scotch unless it is entirely produced and bottled in Scotland.
Bourbon, a whiskey that was first produced in Kentucky, U.S., uses at least 51% mash from corn in its production. It also uses a sour mash process—that is, the mash is fermented with yeast and includes a portion from a mash that has already been fermented. U.S. regulations specify that in order for a whiskey to be called bourbon, it must be made in the United States. There are also regulations dictating the ingredients and production methods of the spirit.
And rye whiskey? It’s a whiskey that uses a rye mash or a rye and malt mash. In the United States, regulations stipulate that the mash must be at least 51% rye in order for it to be called rye whiskey. In Canada, regulations do not specify a minimum percentage of rye.
Any whiskey aficionado will be able to tell you that there are more factors and nuances than what we’ve mentioned above, such as what water was used to make the spirit or how long the mash is heated, various blendings, etc. This is an admittedly concise, yet hopefully helpful, primer.