A dance weekend in Jersey

Amazingly I’ve never visited this charming island, the largest of the Channel Island group.

IMG_1669

Liberation Square

I’d planned to go with a group of other Scottish dancers, to participate in their anual dance weekend.  This consisted of dances on the Friday and Saturday evenings, 18 dances each evening, some of them rather challenging, and a welcome drink and buffet supper included.

IMG_1615 - Copy

Water feature in the market

 

Not wanting to let the side down, we had dilligently met each week and worked our way through all 36 dances! These included such formations as La Baratte, a reverse set and link, and Hello-goodbye poussette. Phew!

And then, half way through the summer, I fell and broke a bone in my foot.  We carried on with our practice sessions, me barking orders from the sidelines, and my ultimate target was to be able to come along, walk the parkrun to get my letter J, and do some gentle dancing.

There’s only one flight from Belfast each week.  One of our group took that option, and made a whole week of staying on the island.

IMG_1701

Other members of the group flew via Liverpool.

IMG_1617 - Copy

Crapaud – French for toad, slang for islander

 

There’s one flight a day from Dublin, and that’s what I went for.  I took the very good value bus from Sprucefield right to the airport, £17 return.  It’s an Aer Lingus flight, but operated by Stobart Air on a wee propeller plane. I’d wished I had a map in front of me as we passed over various headlands, islands and rocky outcrops.  A small airport, but well connected to St Helier via the Liberty Bus srvice – £2.30 cash, £2.00 contactless.

Once in the centre, I used google maps to take me to the Mornington hotel.  This was a rather circuitous route, going thorugh a tunnel under Fort Regent, but I found quicker routes later in the trip.

IMG_1684

strings across open air spaces to discourage birds

 

The Mornington is on Don Road, just past the main shopping streets. So it’s a convenient spot to reach the centre.

IMG_1634 - Copy

 

I was a bit concerned about the layout of the room, with stairs up/ down to the en suite.

IMG_1635 - Copy

After a GnT in the hotel bar, I went for an orientation walkabout, stopping for dinner in the So Bar.  Fab sounding cocktails, but I plumped for a genorous prawn pad thai.

IMG_1606 - Copy (2) - Copy - Copy

On Friday, I’d intended to do the museum and a boat tour, but when I called into the boat/coach tour place there were no boat tours due to high winds.  And the coach tour was number dependent, and they still needed another 5.

So I decided to be my own tour guide, and took the number 7 bus to la Mare wine estate.

There is a real relaxed pace to life on the island – maximum speed limit is 40 mph, and most places are 30 or 20.  The roads are rather twisty, and with much bicycle and farmimg traffic around, drivers are quite often stuck behind slower vehicles.  There is a politeness in the driving, at roundabouts it’s Give Way in Turn, and there are a number of green lanes where cyclists and horses have priority.

IMG_1700

The tour at the winery was lovely – I really liked the white, the rose was a bit bland, and the red not to my taste.  But an interesting tour, and I treated myself to a cream tea in the cafe. With black butter!  Not a butter at all, a sort oF apple preserve with Christmassy flavours.

IMG_1631 - Copy

The Liberty Bus  service is excellent – get yourself a timetable and a map and you can be your own our operator.

IMG_1697

I always buy jewellry when I travel.  It’s easy to transport, something I use, and I have a story to tell anytime someone asks Oh that’s a nice necklace!

 

I opted for a set in polished Jersey granite, bought from the designer, who told me this was the first design she ever created.

IMG_1637 - Copy

To the Friday night dance! It was wonderful to meet up with friends I’d met at St Andrews and other events, particularly those from the south of England and from France.

IMG_1643

Saturday morning was parkrun, of course!

Jersey parkrun

Back in town, and I usually have a local fish’n’chips.  But I was too tempted by the seafood linguine with Jersey crab.  I do like a seafood restaurant that provides tartare sauce for you to help yourself.

Dessert was a Jersey ice cream!

IMG_1673

A quick change at the hotel, and I wandered through the lovely Howard Davis Park, before taking a paddle in the sea.

Then I caught the number 1 bus round the coast to Gorey Pier, a delightful little cove with bars and shop hugging the pier, where I treated myself to some grey drop earings in Jersey pearl.

then caught the number 13 bus to stop off at the Hotel de France.  My husband had stayed here 50 years ago, where he’d watched the moon landings.  As it was his birthday, I toasted him with a glass of bubbly. (Oh don’t worry, he was happily camping in a field with a crowd of bikers!)

Back to the hotel, change into LBD for the evening, and back to the town hall for another fabulous night.

IMG_1610 - Copy - Copy - Copy

My foot lasted well, the food was lovely, the camaaderie was warm, and the live music from Strathallen was just brilliant.

IMG_1695

Affectionate goodbyes, see you agains, do come to Belfasts, and it was all over.

Breakfast in the Mornington was generous, but no hot options.  Fruit juice and cereal on the table, warm croissants are offered, then a choice of platters – ham and cheese, fruit, or cheese.  I went for the cheese one, which had English and French cheeses with a selection of fruit.

I put some cheese on my toast, and added the strawberries and peach to my delicious Jersey yoghurt.  Having not eaten the banana on my first day, I noticed there was no banana on my plate the next day.  If that was deliberate, then 5 gold stars for personalised service!

At the airport, I was delighted to find a Jersey produce shop, where I could buy some black butter and white wine, and enjoyed a fish finger snadwich which was generous goujons in some seeded sourdough.  Oh, and an orange and peppercorn g’n’t.

I would so visit this place again – feels like a holiday with the French influence and warm climate, but speaks English and uses same currency (with added pound notes).  The food is amazing – cream, butter, ice cream, yoghurt, wine, seafood….

IMG_1608 - Copy (2) - Copy - Copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

parkrun tourism: Deerpark, Carlanstown

parkrun#241 event#57 Reason for visiting – to get Wilson Index number 9!

Access:

It was a really frosty morning when I visited, in fact 100s of parkruns were cancelled across the UK.  But the Facebook page had posted the night before that being a sort of trail run that it was likely to be frost resistant. So I kept the faith as I scraped the ice from my windscreen at 7.30 and set off.  I took the J16 turn-off south of Dundalk, which allowed me to call in to the Applegreen services before J15, as there are no loos at the event.  At Ardee I mistakenly carried on the N2 towards Derry, and had to backtrack and go INTO Ardee before finding the N52 towards Kells and Mullingar.  This road is VERY winding, so I couldn’t make up a lot of time.  But arrived with 5 minutes to spare, as opposed to my usual 20 minutes.

From the little village of Carlanstown itself, there were helpful yellow parkrun arrows pointing to the entrance to Deerpark.  Parking is at a premium, and I had to negotiate frosty grass to get into place.

Crowd:

The volunteers were super friendly, and were leading a warm-up session as I made my way to the start.  Only one other doggy, but quite a few younsters, and a good handful of walkers.

Facilities:

No loos, but tea and coffee and fruit is provided afterwards.

The start and finish are in different places, so a volunteer carried my shiny new Jog Lisburn puffa jacket to a shed by the finish.

Course:

There’s a short spur out to the main route, with a sharp left hand bend.

IMG_0745

 

From there it’s 3 rather undulating laps, with some cute motiviational signs, and each kilometre is marked.  It’s packed gravel/ trail all the way, which is good to run on.

Gear:

My Garmin behaved itself, my earphones worked, it was the opening match of the 6 Nations so I wore my Ireland rugby top, with gloves and headband as it was about 0 degrees.

Strangely Appropriate Song on Shuffle:

As I crossed into County Louth (Mornin’ Border!) the radio was playing Ride Like the Wind “Got such a long way to go, to make it to the border of Mexico….”

IMG_0749

Time:

Breathing was tricky in the temperatures, and I stopped on Lap 3 to take pictures, so I was pleased enough with a time just over 30 mins.  2nd in my age category…..to the woman who crossed the line 10 seconds ahead of me.

IMG_0763

All My parkruns:

all my parkruns

 

parkrun tourism: Kirkcaldy

parkrun #226 event #56 Letter K

I go to Perth every year for the Scottish dancing society AGM. The Perth parkrun is lovely, by the banks of the Tay, and I’ve done it a couple of times now. It very handily takes place right beside the Bells Sports Arena, where the dancing happens. But I like to take the opportunity to visit other parkruns when I’m away for the weekend, and I’d managed to do Camperdown in Dundee 2 years ago. When looking at the possibilities this year I whooped with delight when I found that Kirkcaldy was in reaching distance, and would give me a letter K missing from my alphabeteer collection.

Access:
I was staying in close proximity to Perth train station, and bought a return ticket for £19. The journey took around 40 minutes. The walk to Beveridge Park was about 10 – 15 minutes. If I had run at super duper speed I might have made the 10.15 train back, but I didn’t, and had to wait for the 11ish one.  At which point I couldn’t find the return portion of my ticket, and had to buy another single at £14!

Crowd:
There were almost 250 runners when I was there, including a couch-to-5k graduation group. I was amused by some of the names of local running clubs such as Scrambled Legs, and the Kirkcaldy Wizards. There’s a Wizard’s Walk in the park which prompted that one.

The volunteers were very friendly and encouraging, and I particularly liked the Tail Wagger.

IMG_0416

Facilities:
I passed loos on the way to the start – there was a notice on the door saying a charge of 30p, but I was able to open the door without having to part with any cash.

IMG_0398

Not sure about car parking, and coffee afterwards is in the Morrisons. I wandered through the rather empty Postings shopping centre, and found a cafe for a bacon butty and cuppa. There’s a nice museum beside the station should you find yourself with some time to kill.

Gear:
For the first time in my life I ALMOST forgot my barcode! I was halfway from the hotel to the station when I remembered, and had to weigh up whether to sprint back and get it, appeal to the mercy of the RD, or find an internet cafe and print off a paper copy. Sprint it was, I wasn’t taking any chances on missing a K!

My Garmin watch gave up at 30 minutes, I was using plug-in headphones rather than bone-conducting ones, and I wore my increasingly out of date 50 shirt. It was a chilly morning so I also had a long sleeved base layer, gloves, and my cow beanie.

Course:

The course is 2 laps, all on tarmac.  There’s an added loop around the duckpond on the second lap, and a rather testing hill.

Start and finish are not in the same place, so there’s a bag system for leaving tops/ keys/ cow beanies which is transported to the finish line.  I was there just after Hallowe’en, and the colours of the trees were magnificent.

Strangely Appropriate Song on Shuffle:

I was taking a different approach this time, and listening to the marathon 2 hour long episode of With Me Now.  I’ve always found this annoying as a listen when I’m JUST sitting and listening, but I’ve now discovered that it makes the perfect soundtrack to a train ride, stroll, and parkrun.  And I did shed a wee tear at the end when PSH was chatting to Danny.

Time:

A ridiculously slow 37 minutes, due to stopping and photographing.  But who cares – letter K!

IMG_0413

All My parkruns:

NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

parkrun tourism: Delaware and Raritan Canal

event #53 parkrun #219

I’m not sure if this one qualifies for the longest name of any parkrun, but I’m sure glad I didn’t have to get it to scan or rhyme in my “50 Ways” video!

Having missed out on Crissy Field last year (I may have mentioned this a couple of times….) I literally whooped with delight when I discoverd that a brand new parkrun was starting up which was reachable from New York, and that I would be there on a Saturday!  And so for their event number 3, I set off to join them on my first one outside UK and Ireland.

IMG_0217

Access:

OK, so it’s doable from Manhattan, but only by the really dedicated and serious tourist! It’s in New Jersey, so the NJ Tranist system is your first friend.  We were staying on 35th Street, just a couple of blocks from Penn Station, and I’d timed how long it would take us to walk there in time to catch a 7 am-ish train.  Your next and most important friend is the Facebook page.  So far, this has been outstanding at giving advice and and arranging station pick-ups for visiting tourists, and it was from FB that I contacted Neil, who offered to pick us up from New Brunswick station.  A return train ticket cost $28.  If you were going to get a taxi or Uber from there, it’s about 8 miles away.

A fellow tourist travelled out from her more southerly Manhattan base via the PATH, getting a lift at Bridgewater.  There definitely needs to be a volunteer credit for these fabulous local folk!

Facilities:

The Park is huge, and there is good parking and some restrooms nearby.  No cafe on site, and the usual meet-up spot was closed for Labor Day when I was there. It was very hot and humid in September, so do bring some water and maybe a small towel.  Start and finish are very close, so it’s easy enough to leave coats and bags there.

drvcoats

Course:

The pre-run brief takes place by the lovely wooden bridge across the canal, and the start is on the far side.  From there it’s an out-and-back along the side of the canal, with a turnaround point well marked, and across the bridge to finish. There’s one section of brick slipway, where you need to watch your step, but it’s flat the whole way.

Crowd:

Young and enthusiastic!  parkrun is still just getting going in the States, and there were only 36 runners there on my visit.  I’m sure it will be a “must do” for dedicated tourists, in the future, as well as attracting more home grown participants.

Time:

Running in the heat and humidity is hard work, especially for an Irish woman more used to the wind and rain.  But I was happy enough with my 32-ish time, and even more delighted that I grabbed a new age-category record.

Strangely Appropriate Song on Shuffle:

I was running with no music, enjoying the sounds of the cicadas, but I did use the old Perry Como hit “What did Delaware” as my Cracker Says Facebook post.

 

All my parkruns

parkrun tourism: Ballincollig

 

IMG_1547We’re getting into a good groove now – my husband lets me know when he has business trips to parts of Ireland, and I work out which one has a nearby parkrun I’d like to visit. On this occasion it was to the city of my mother’s birth, and the capital of the self-styled Rebel County, Cork.

IMG_1546

 

It’s a 4 1/2 hour drive door to door, but we broke the journey on the way down, and then I got my first opportunity to drive his car and use the sat-nav to get to the Clayton Silver Springs Hotel.  Well, I  missed the turn-off first time round, as it’s a funny flyover affair, but I got there in the end.

Access:

I used the sat-nav to get me to the parkrun as well,  using an approximate nearby attraction.  The course page suggested parking at the Lidl store, where there is  loads of space.

IMG_1548  It’s a wee walk to the start of the run at the Regional Park, where there are a limited number of parking spaces.  And also a loo, though it’s one of those plastic pods which demands 20c off you.

IMG_1551

Crowd:

They seemed fairly young and speedy, but were very friendly and chatty.  I do love the very melodious Cork accent, but had to tune my ear in to catch the pre-run brief.

Course:

Two laps, pretty flat, all on tarmac or gravel, through some gorgeous trees.  It’s a sort of bow-tie shape, and as the start and finish are beside each other you can leave bags or jackets there.

IMG_1553There are markers at each km, and also a countdown at the finish.  Useful info is chalked onto the path at the start, as well as an encouraging message near the finish.

Gear:

This was their event number 47, and so they have no home-grown milestone T-shirt wearers yet.  I saw one red 50, but mine was the only black 100 on show, and that certainly attracted attention, in the form of supportive cheers on the way round, and some natter afterwards. My Garmin worked well, so did my headphones, and I used my Dogfit bag to store all my gear in, left at the tree at the start.

Strangely Appropriate Song On Shuffle:

I’m excited that it’s Eurovision 2017 next week, and have downloaded the CD already.  I smiled at the “Running on Air” song by Nathan Trent for Austria.

IMG_1559

OK so what’s your excuse for not sub-30-ing?:

Well, it was quite windy round the playing fields part.  And I get a bit nervous running on gravel.  And I’m nursing a sore throat.  Nothing to do with the amount of wine I drank last night, no, no, not at all.

And the rest:

Cork is a bit mad. I spent an afternoon aimless wandering its streets and entries, discovering that most of the cafes displayed a “Toilets are for customers use only” sign on the door. I’m guessing that there aren’t enough public toilets, everyone’s on a pub crawl, or the fact that the city centre is an island surrounded by water just promotes the urge…Pub Crawls aroud the heritage taverns, each with a suitably rebel name, are promoted, and I also enjoyed visiting the Elizabeth Fort and st Fin Barre’s Cathedral.

IMG_1572

After my parkrun I ventured down to Cobh.  Having visited Titanic Belfast, and Sea City in Southampton, I wanted to see how this town’s memories of Titanic had a local flavour.  The sat-nav and I fell out when she wanted to take me down a perilously steep road – Cobh is on a really sharp hillside and so consists of many many hills and steps.

I found myself wondering if its residents were particualrly fit after all that exercise, and. as if to prove my point, around the next corner I found a statue of Sonia O’Sullivam, Ireland’s greatest athlete.

IMG_1581

I visited the Cobh Heritage Centre, and learned not just about the Titanic connection,

but also about the Lusitania, the emigration story, the deporotation of convicts to penal colonies, the tale of Annie Moore, the first person to be processed through the Ellis Island immigration center, and the SS Sirius, the first ever ship to make the transatlantic crossing.

References to Titanic were everywhere – I walked all the way out to the memorial garden, which is a goodly hike out of the town centre.

I sustained myself with a seafood chowder at the heritage centre, and a delicious gluten free choclate cake at the Leonardo cafe in the town.

And the highlight of the trip was the breakfast stop-off at Blarney Woollen Mills – definitely worth a visit!

All my parkruns