Rockin’ the Castle

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

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Breakfast at BlackRock House is always worth getting up for.  We are given the table by the fireplace this morning and make a toast with our smoothies.  Today we discover this little gem on the table (how did we miss it yesterday?):

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Isn’t your butter hand-churned?

OMG.  I had forgotten how absolutely sinful the butter is here in Ireland. We were so infatuated with it on our last venture to Ireland. For today’s repast we have both opted for the Salmon and Scrambled eggs.  The fish is a thing of beauty and comes with just a side dusting of smoked seaweed.

The tiny black specks on the side is the smoked seaweed.Today we must leave Portrush and Blackrock House first to golf in nearby CastleRock and then to motor on to Derry (or LondonDerry depending on which side of the fence you stand). The forecast is once again predicting rain all day but that does not deter us.

It rains all during the drive to CastleRock and we are steeling ourselves for a wet round.

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At first glance, this golf club appears to be more “muni-like” than the other big boys we have played.  We are greeted warmly by the pro shop and told that our caddies are ready when we are.  Jordan and John ask if we would like to hit some practice balls at the facility around the back.  Sure – let’s go.

I take off for the range while the others are getting ready.  As I am walking around the back of the building, I fail to see the range.  I don’t want to look stupid, but where is it? Soon the boys come and direct me to a little “trailer” where Jordan unlocks the door. What???

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This is it!

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A few balls are smacked into the net and we are ready to go.  It is, indeed a bit wet at the start.  Nothing major – just a light mist.  We immediately like this course (and our caddies).

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Jordan and Rich make a pretty good team.

Rich and I have another lively match play round with our caddies cheering us on.  It is a very tight match, but Rich has to step it up because I am playing really well.

 

Notice the full on rain gear?  I discovered that if I left my hood up it would serve much like blinders on a horse and help me focus.

There was a point in the round where the sky opened up and we had a true downpour.  John made a feeble attempt to protect me with his umbrella, but it was of no use.  We played through the rain and it cleared up within about 10 minutes.

 

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Rain gear off

Rich and Jordan had some wee adventures:

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Rich claims he put this one on the green, but I don’t remember it…

I ended up barely winning the match today, but it was neck and neck all the way.  We loved this course and are so happy that we played it. Match play count: Rich 2/Linda 1.

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After golf we must head on over to Derry for the night.  No big plans – just wander, dinner and bed.  John gives us a list of restaurants and pubs that he likes in Derry and we are off.

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Coming into Derry

We know that Derry has a lot of history behind it – especially history regarding the “Troubles” that weren’t that long ago in Northern Ireland.  We don’t pretend to understand the issues and it is too bad we will not be in Derry long enough to delve deeper.  Derry is the place where Bloody Sunday happened in 1972.  Today Derry is a peaceful town.

Rich maneuvers the one way streets and with the help of our trusty nav system easily finds Abbey B&B where we will be staying for the night.

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We we try to open the front door only to find it locked!  A quick call to the proprietor gets us the reply “Be there in five minutes.”  Sure enough several moments later Seamus drives up in his van and checks us in. This is low key.

Abbey B&B is a simple guest house with a Tea Room down below.  Our room is large and clean.  I chose this place due to its close proximity (walking distance) to pubs/restaurants.

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Desperately trying to turn on the tv

The order of the evening is to find a pub, get a pint and then grab a bite to eat.   We consult Google maps and head out on foot.

 

After a bit of confusion, we come upon Peader O’Donnells Pub – one of John’s (my caddie) recommendations for a pub with live music.  It is too early for live music, but we sit at the atmospheric bar and have a pint. (I later learned that Peader O’Donnell was was “one of the foremost radicals of 20th-century Ireland. O’Donnell became prominent as an Irish republican, socialist activist, politician and writer.”

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Dinnertime has almost come and gone so we leave Peaders and roam the streets in search of food.  We spy Grannie Annie’s (another suggestion from John) just around the block.  Looks promising.

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Grannie’s is a cavernous place with 3 floors and at least 250 tables.  Fortunately for us, they are not busy at all.  We decide to share a starter of Parmesan Bread followed by a shared Steak and Guiness Pie. The pie was especially tasty.

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The red lighting at this place makes for terrible photos!

After dinner we are not quite ready to give it up for the night.  I really would like to hear some live music.  Peader’s looked like they would have music tonight so we went back there and asked the bartender.  He said “Sure – starting at 10:30pm.”  Good grief.  It is now about 9:30 and we rarely make it up past 10:00! However, we decide to persevere.  We grab a couple of pints and some grand seating in preparation for the musicians.

This was definitely worth the wait.  The flute (fife?) player was amazing. The music was really good and everyone around us was having a great time.  The photos are a bit blurry because I tried to “hit and run…”

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Our new friends

When it was time to go back home, the streets of Derry were basically empty.

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We wish we had more time to explore this interesting city.  But, tomorrow we leave Northern Ireland and head for the Republic of Ireland – way up north in Ireland.  Golfing awaits.

We walk back to our B&B and make certain NOT to snib the door.

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