Figuring out where to stay in England at the end of the summer…

A portion of the Twelve Bens mountains.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”

“Funerals are sad occasions in
Ireland, but they are very seldom a sad event. Family members use funerals to speak about the deceased life and share memories. Funerals are held in churches and often include food and drinks. Many churches tried to ban alcohol years
ago, but failed in doing so, and now allow alcohol at each funeral and
wedding.”
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This morning we lit the fireplace using some of the plentiful supplies left for us by our thoughtful property owner, Eileen.  There’s firewood, peat, and the equivalent of Duraflame logs.  It was easy for Tom to start the fire.  

It’s 14C, 57F, and yet after 15 months in the heat and humidity of South Africa, we’re really feeling the cold.  There’s a unique solar system for the house which includes a range that is used for cooking and warming the house.  Here’s a photo of the range, which we’ve seen now and then in photos of potential rental properties throughout the world.

This is  a Rayburn range used for heating the house, cooking and the water.

This is our first experience operating this type of system and Eileen stopped by this morning to make sure it was providing enough heat to keep us comfortable.  She’d explained how to use it the day we arrived but we were so exhausted after an overnight flight, neither of us remembered how to use it except for the oven.

There’s a well-prepared loose leaf binder here with instructions for literally everything in the house.  But neither of refer to these instruction booklets unless there’s an emergency after we’ve usually read it within days after our arrival.

Ireland is certainly known for being green and aptly named “The Emerald Island” with its cool rainy weather.

Now, with her instructions, we have heat in the house, certainly, enough to take the chill out the air and the fire burning in the what appears to be an “insert” type of fireplace rather than an open hearth.

Yesterday, we continued the tedious task of trying to find where we’ll stay in England for 62 days beginning on August 23rd, ending on October 24th.  This hasn’t been an easy task.  

Connemara ponies as described here:  From this site:  “The Connemara’s origins are shrouded in mystery. Some believe that they are descendants of horses brought over by Vikings and others that they are descendants of the Irish Hobby, which was once hugely popular but is now extinct. There is also a legend that Andalucian horses found their way ashore after the destruction of the Spanish Armada and bred with the local ponies. It is known that many of the ships which survived the initial attack subsequently were wrecked off the coasts of Scotland and Ireland (partly due to severe storms) and so it is at least feasible that some horses (and humans) would have made their escape to shore. This may be why Connemaras are notably finer than most native breeds, although there was also extensive cross-breeding in the 18th century, particularly with Arabs and also Thoroughbreds and Hackneys.”
Prices are high in the UK and with our requirement of including unlimited WiFi and preferring a house, cottage, townhouse or condo, rather than an apartment, the challenges are escalated.

Yesterday, Tom had an ingenious idea (to us anyway) that rather than book one property for the entire 62 days, we should book three or four properties in different areas for sequential dates.  At first, I hedged over his suggestion when thinking about packing and unpacking every two weeks or so.

But, after careful consideration, I agreed this was an interesting idea.  Now the challenge is finding the right properties in four distinct areas with dates matching accordingly.  
Gorgeous views of the countryside.

Over the next few days, we’ll continue the research, mainly using the HomeAway link on our website that will take us to the thousands of listings in England.  In the past few years, HomeAway purchased a number of vacation/holiday home websites leaving them number two next to Airbnb as follows:  

“A major vacation rental website is HomeAway, and it is one of the main competitors to Airbnb. The company is now owned by Expedia (as are Vrbo and VacationRentals.com).”

“Which Is Bigger: HomeAway or Airbnb? HomeAway and its companies (such as VRBO and VacationRentals.com) have over one million listings in 190 countries. However, with 2.3 million listings worldwide, from 640,000 hosts across 191 countries, Airbnb is the clear winner of the size competition.”


Why don’t we use the larger company AirBnB?  We have used it a few times.  But, overall we prefer HomeAway based on the fact they have a more liberal deposit program as opposed to paying 100% of the cost for the rental at the time of the booking.

Sunset view from our house.

Occasionally, we may book a property a year or more in advance.  We do not want to lay out the entire amount for a two or three-month rental so far in advance.  Plus AirBnB has a huge amount of shared housing situations, none of which appeal to us.


So, back to the drawing board today as we continue our search.  We hope that by the end of the weekend, we’ll have this wrapped up.


Tomorrow, we’ll share a frustrating car rental situation.  Please check back then.


Enjoy your day, your weekend and everything you do.

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Photo from one year ago today, May 31, 2018:

Excellent nightime viewing. Kudus seem to be intimated by zebras due to their powerful kicks and thus, won’t join in on the snacks.  For more photos, please click here.

Happy hour is back!…A good time to define our goals…

A pair of look-alike cows may be a mom and a calf.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
Connemara is also the name of a brand
of Irish whiskey produced at the Cooley Distillery.”

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Over the past four months, since Dr. Theo discovered my heart issues from a cardiac stress test done in his office on a Saturday morning, I’ve contemplated
whether or not to continue drinking a few glasses of wine now and then.

After asking the three doctors I worked with, the surgeon, the cardiologist and Dr. Theo, they encouraged me to enjoy red wine regularly.  I contemplated and researched dozens of studies on how red wine affects the arteries.  I couldn’t find any consistency in the pros and cons of drinking a glass or two (no more) on occasion.
Note the dots on this cottage.  I refer to this as the polka dot house while Tom refers to it as the nipple house.  Typical male.
For over 20 years I didn’t drink any alcohol assuming it was better for my health based on my genetic profile.  I only began drinking a bit of red wine in the past few years, mainly on cruises and then at happy hour in South Africa.  

The condition of my arteries, according to the doctors, occurred over the past 20 years or more. It didn’t happen overnight.  Who’s to say that drinking wine or not drinking wine made a difference especially after I abstained for over 20 years.
We see this larger fishing boat almost daily in Bertraghboy Bay, where we’re located.
Good grief, I’ve thought.  I have multiple hereditary medical conditions and according to the recent diagnosis, my prognosis for the future isn’t optimistic. I already restrict myself by eating a special diet for the past eight years. 

I haven’t had a cookie, a cracker, a potato, a pasta dish or a sugary dessert all these years.  The benefits of this low inflammation diet made me well enough eight years ago that we eventually decided to travel the world which would have been impossible before the diet change.  

A painful heredity condition was eradicated through the diet, not necessarily “cured” but allowed for a pain-free lifestyle. But, through heredity, this drastic situation with my arteries ensued.
Fishing boat in the bay in front of our holiday home.
Thus, the thought of never drinking a glass of red wine again, as one indulgence of few, makes sense to me since I don’t seem to have any ill effects from drinking a dry red wine.  If it’s good for me, great.  If it’s not, I’ll never know since my ongoing cardiac issues won’t change either way.

The first time I drank wine since the surgeries months ago, was last Saturday night at a pub/restaurant.  It was such a joy to sip on the silky flavor of a good Malbec.  I drank about 1½ glasses and must admit I felt a bit tipsy after not drinking for four months.

This Tuesday when we grocery shopped, we purchased two bottles of red wine for me and a bottle of Courvoisier for Tom.  Happy hour was about to begin again.  It’s not so much about sipping the tasty liquids that appeal to either of us.  Its the ritual associated with setting aside time to talk, to dream to plan while enjoying our respective drinks.

Sheep on a hill.
We rearranged the living room furniture and put two comfy chairs with an end table in between in front of the big windows overlooking the bay. We can sit there comfortably for an hour a day, and then switch to ice tea or mineral water for the remainder of the evening.

This one hour has already become special to us.  It’s a perfect time to discuss the research we’ve done throughout the day.  With inclement weather, we haven’t ventured out this week other than to grocery shop in Clifden on Tuesday.  

Again, today, it’s foggy, misty and rainy hardly a day to inspire us to get out sightseeing.  Hopefully soon, as we get closer to summer, we’re hoping we’ll enjoy more sunny days.  

We don’t mind the cool weather.  But, its no fun touring on rainy days when the chill goes right through us.  We’re accustomed to the hot weather in South Africa, often hot and humid throughout the day and evening.  It’s quite an adjustment especially with the clothes we have on hand.

There are numerous islands in the lakes in Connemara.
Plus, the remaining instability of my legs prevents us from walking on wet surfaces due to a risk of falling.  This is not exactly how we envisioned as our time in Ireland but this is a reality we’ve had to face.

So, now as we plan and dream for the future during our pleasant “happy hour” as we look out to the sea, we’ve begun to shape some goals of where we’d like to travel after January 2020.  At this point, we won’t necessarily be booking any adventure-type activities until we know my legs are fully healed.

However, we are researching where we’ll live for 62 days while in the UK between August 23, 2019, and October 24, 2019, while we await an upcoming trans-Atlantic cruise out of Southampton, UK.
On upcoming August 11th, we board a cruise out of Amsterdam to sail the Baltic Sea for 12 days ending in Amsterdam at which point we’ll then fly to the UK for the above mentioned 62 days.  We’re hoping to wrap up a holiday home for this period this week.
 
That’s all folks!  Have a great day!
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Photo from one year ago today, May 30, 2018:
“Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, if you like then you should have put a ring on it!”  This wildebeest pose reminded me of the song by Beyonce at the 47-second mark in the video.  Watch the video to see what I mean. (Click the above link).  For more photos from this date, please click here.

Part 4…Irish history…Connemara Heritage and History Centre…Remaining photos from Dan O’Hara’s home

This is the tiny house Dan O’Hara, his wife, and seven children lived until they were forced to vacate when they couldn’t pay the rent during the potato famine.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“Any person who is born on St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland is considered to be very lucky.”

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The story of Dan O’Hara and his family is heartbreaking and yet so typical of other farms families in Ireland during the time of the potato famine.  As we learned of he and his family living in a simple cottage with seven children we’re reminded of how grateful people of his day were for what that had, not what they could have had.

Tom had to duck his head to enter the house.

But, the sorrow of the times due to famine and subsequent loss of life in the mid-1800s brought most people living in Connemara and other parts of Ireland to their knees.  More than one million people died between 1846 and 1851 as a result of the Potato Famine. Many of these died from starvation. Many more died from diseases that preyed on people weakened by the loss of food.

There was a fire in the fireplace which the staff must start each day but it didn’t smell well ventilated.

They tried to escape Ireland by embarking on long and dangerous Atlantic Ocean crossings with little to no food, no money, often leaving most of their belongings behind to what they assumed was the land of plenty, the US.  

This twin-size daybed is located in the main living area, although there is a bedroom as shown in the photo below.

Many escaped to other countries such as England, Canada, and Australia as was the case for some of Tom’s ancestors.  Irish descendants may be found all over the world, often in surprising locations.

The one bedroom in the house was most likely where Dan and his wife slept.

Here is the story of Dan O’Hara and his wife and seven children from this site:

“‘Dan O’Hara’s homestead is built on the original site of the home of Dan from Connemara renowned in the popular ballad all over the world. Dan O Hara lived with his wife and seven children in a cottage shadowed by the Twelve Bens. The family were self-sufficient on 8 acres of land and lived a simple but happy lifestyle. The main part of the farm was given over to the potato crop and they kept a variety of animals on the farm.

Spinning wheel in a corner of the bedroom.

The turf for the fire was cut in the local bog and kept the family warm and cozy through the winter months. Dan O’ Hara’s was a visiting house and many a romance began in the flickering firelight of the hearth. Social gatherings such as storytelling and céilis kept the Irish language and traditions alive.

The Dutch door to the barn next to the house.

Most of Dan O’Hara’s land was given over to the potato crop. Its advantage was that it grew in the poorest conditions and an acre and a half would sustain five or six people for six months. Some of the crops were used to feed a pig. Potatoes along with buttermilk ensured that the population of Connemara at the time was robust and healthy although poor.

Note the small size of the barn.

Like most people in Connemara at the time Dan O’Hara did not own the house he lived in or the land. He paid rent to the local landlord. His simple but happy lifestyle came abruptly to an end when he was evicted for non-payment of his rent. He had decided to increase the size of the windows in his house and this led to increased rent payments. 


He was evicted from his home and forced to emigrate. He arrived in New York, a broken man. His wife and three of his children died on the harsh sea journey and penniless and destitute he had to put the remaining children into care. He ended his days selling matches on the street far from his beloved Connemara.”

Many wealthy individuals, companies, and organizations have donated trees for the grounds.

We were both in contemplative thought upon leaving Dan O’Hara’s homestead located on the grounds of the Connemara Heritage and History Centre and didn’t say a word until we made the steep walk back to the car and began our 40-minute drive back to our holiday home.


We were both touched and saddened by what we’d learned.  No doubt, for Tom this was particularly heartwrenching when he knew many of his ancestors suffered this same fate.

This breed of white horses is indigenous to Connemara.

But, most of us, were we become aware of the strife experienced by our ancestors, we’d often find that they too suffered greatly.  It reminds us how grateful we should be for the times in which we live our lives in this modern day and age.  

View of the landscape from Dan O’Hara homestead, located up a steep hill from the car park.

For most of us, we have a roof over our heads, food in the refrigerator and cupboards and the benefit of using machines and technology that has been a part of our lives since the day we were born.


However, like all things, everything is relative.  We experience our daily struggles and challenges and rarely dismiss them to realize just how lucky we are to live in these times.

A shed used to store peat moss which may often be used for heating as well as: “Gardeners use peat moss mainly as a soil amendment or ingredient in potting soil. It has an acid pH, so it’s ideal for acid-loving plants, such as blueberries and camellias. For plants that with more alkaline soil, compost may be a better choice.”

From time to time and now as we explore Ireland and other countries, we’ve become entrenched in the facts of the hardships our ancestors suffered in times past and hope we continue to learn from their experiences.

View of the creek running through the history centre’s grounds.

Today, we’ll stay in on yet another rainy and cool day.   We’ve begun to research where we’d like to go after we’re done in the US at the end of this year.  We have some cruises booked in the next few years but we have plenty of times in between to search for future adventures.


Have a fulfilling and meaningful day.
                  __________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, May 29, 2018:

Each night I practice taking photos in the dark once the bushbabies arrive.  For more photos please click here.

Part 3…Irish history…Connemara Heritage and History Centre…Finally, photos of us…

Tom has been wearing the flannel shirt he purchased in Penguin, Tasmania in 2016/2017.  It comes in handy in cooler weather in Ireland.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
Poet Carl Sandburg‘s home of 22 years in Flat Rock, North Carolina, which is now a national monument, is named after the Connemara region.”

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Today, we continue with photos from the Connemara Heritage and History Centre.  Although this area is rich in history, customs, and culture, there are a few museums and historical facilities in the general area.



Far from the big cities of Dublin (1,173,179), Cork (208,669), Limerick (94,192) and Galway (79,934) are the four most populated cities in the country, the Republic of Ireland, all of which have numerous tourist venues.  For more information on population numbers in cities throughout Ireland, please click this link.

Tom stands in the doorway of an old building located on the grounds of the centre.


The tourist business in Connemara appears to be a result of travelers visiting Galway and driving to see the gorgeous scenery including the ocean, lakes, rivers, streams, and variety of bogs, typical in the area.  Based on our drive from Galway when we arrived on May 12th, it’s approximately a one hour drive, not too far a drive for most tourists.

It’s easy to see how tiny this lamb is standing next to Tom.

There are roughly 30 hotels and bed and breakfasts in Connemara and a number of holiday homes such as this lovely house we’ve rented for 90 days.  There certainly are sufficient accommodations to attract tourists to spend their holiday time in this historic and charming area.  

Me, in the doorway of the old fieldstone building on the ground of the centre.

However, when we’re out and about, we don’t get a feeling of there being as many tourists as we’ve seen in many other areas throughout the world.  Today, while in Clifden to grocery shop I stopped at a clothing store to buy a few white tee shirts.  The prices on most items were outrageous.  

Pretty flowers blooming on the shore of the lake in the garden.  Thanks to reader Laurie for identifying these flowers as rhododendron!

When I didn’t find what I was looking for a kindly salesperson disappeared to a back room and returned with two white tee shirts that were perfect to wear under other shirts to add to the warmth.  


Since these two very-stretchy tee shirts were large in children’s sizes, she assured me there would be no sales tax charged for the items.  There’s no sales tax on children’s clothing in Ireland.  Fortunately, they both fit and the total was Euro 27.98, US $31.28.  In a GAP or Old Navy store in the US, these two very basic tees would have been half this price.  

There was one little lamb in the facility’s garden who seemed very interested in us.  Wish we’d had some pellets!

It’s expensive here, especially coming from South Africa, where everything is half as much as many other countries.  I suppose we were spoiled in our 15 months in Marloth Park and must continue to brace ourselves as we visit other countries upcoming in the near future.
  
Our next stop is Amsterdam for two days.  No doubt prices could be even higher than they are here in Ireland.  Prices may be a deterrent to many travelers when the costs of food, dining out, hotels and rental cars are at the top end.

Note the little horns growing on this lamb.  Too cute!


While dining out last Saturday, we didn’t see what appeared to be tourists with only a few appearing to be local residents.  When we shopped in Clifden each week, the next closest town, there’s a presence of some gift and trinket shops that mainly appeal to tourists.  


Today’s visit to a clothing store reminded us of tourist pricing, we’ve seen in bigger cities throughout the world – a captive audience.  The store was packed with what most likely were tourists looking to purchase an Irish sweater, fleece jacket, am Irish-made woolen scarf or some Irish trinkets, all of which appeared to be of high quality.

Pansies at the Connemara Heritage and History Centre appear to have little faces.

Perhaps, I’m being a bit more of a “tightwad” than usual when we’re still having to pay incoming hospital and doctor’s bills as we struggle with our insurance company who’s refusing to pay, claiming I had a pre-existing condition which I did not.  

This has been a huge source of frustration emotionally and financially, especially while trying to focus on a full recovery.  Subsequently, we’re watching our budget more than ever with this upsetting imbalance and inequity.  We’ll report back what transpires as we continue to fight this battle.

These two buildings were homes at one time.

Otherwise, we’re good, generally cheerful.  I’m now at a point where I don’t have to ask Tom to help me so much.  I am working hard at doing things for myself. The more I do, the stronger I get. 


I’ve even taken over the process of making my own protein smoothie each day which he’d done for months with no complaint.  I cook the majority of each meal, make the bed, do most of the laundry and tidy up around the house.  

Bridge across the lake to an old home.

He continues to do all the dishes, put everything away, help prepare dinner, does some laundry and does all of the heavy lifting.  When we grocery shopped this morning, I packed the bags we’d brought along while he loaded them into the car and later in the house, emptying all the bags.  I put everything away since storage space is limited and don’t get frustrated figuring it out.


The bottom line… We’re tourists.  As much as we’d like to believe we’re unique and fit right in, the fact remains “we are visitors in a strange land.”  If we don’t like the prices, don’t buy the quality of the products we enjoy and go the budget route instead.  Don’t purchase a few bottles of red wine at twice the cost as in South Africa.  Don’t go out to dinner.  Don’t shop for items of clothing.

Anyone know the name of these flowers?   We’ve seen them often here in Ireland.

But, the fact remains, we choose this life we love and we’ll take the good and bad with it.  Many have asked us over these years, the following question:  “What will you do if the worst thing happens, short of passing away or being kidnapped?”


It happened.  We had a major medical crisis, one of the worst we could imagine and we made it through to the other side.  We can whine all we want about tourist traffic, prices on products, budgetary concerns, and inconveniences. But the reality remains… We’re alive, recovering and the journey continues on.


Be well.  Be happy.
                   __________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, May 28, 2018:

We moved the bird feeder further from the veranda which without our looming presence has attracted birds at last.  Our prize of the day was this hornbill who stopped by for some seeds who later became familiar with us to come very close on the veranda.  For more photos, please click here.


Part 2…Irish history…Connemara Heritage and History Centre…Marconi and the first telegraph station…

From this site: “In 1896, Marconi, just 21, left Italy for England, where he hoped to drum up interest in a contraption he had invented: a box that could send Morse code signals across a room without any connecting wires. This was, quite simply, the first transmission of information by radio waves. Marconi called it “wireless telegraphy” — an improvement on the dominant technology of the day, the telegraph.”

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“Irish
weddings are elegant and large celebrations. Grooms dress in kilts that signify
their family’s clan, while brides dress in white to signify their purity.
Family members travel far and wide to attend weddings, and the receptions are
always massive celebrations involving beer and music.”

                          __________________________________
Today, we’ve included a number of photos of historical items we discovered at the Connemara Heritage and History Centre.  The rich history of Ireland will continue during our remaining time on the island.  Yes, Ireland is an island.  At times we can imagine it is connected to other European countries: “Ireland is an island in the North Atlantic with Just under 4.8 million living in the Republic of Ireland and just over 1.8 million live in Northern Ireland.

The small theatre at the Connemara Heritage and History Centre where we watched a movie about Connemara.

Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are two distinct countries:  “Ireland or the Republic of Ireland as it is officially named is now a completely separate country and has no longer any formal bond to the UK. Northern Ireland, on the other hand, is still a part of the UK (the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), together with England, Scotland and Wales.”

Items used in distilling.

Ireland became part of the United Kingdom in 1801. … The British government was forced to partition the six most north-eastern counties of the new Irish state to form Northern Ireland, in fear that Protestant civil unrest in Ulster would otherwise turn into a civil war against the new state.

These two glass cases contained a variety of items used in daily life in Ireland, many from centuries ago.

Ninety years ago Ireland was split in two after people living there went to war against their British rulers. The south became a separate state, now called the Republic of Ireland. But the break-up led to decades of unrest and violence in Northern Ireland, which remained part of the UK.


We are currently living in the Republic of Ireland, not Northern Ireland as shown in the map below:

Map of Ireland
I must admit I was ignorant of some of these facts.  Having no Irish heritage I paid little attention to its history, battles, and lifestyle.  Now, living here I’ve taken an interest in learning as much as I can, as often is the case as we travel from country to country.
Ireland has quite a history of uprisings beginning in 1534 as listed at this link.
Tom, on the other hand, is a wealth of information based on his interests in history and Irish ancestry.  After taking a DNA test a few years ago, it was determined he was nearly 100% Irish which is more than many who’ve lived their lives on the island.

Fortunately, I can readily ask him questions that arise in our day-to-day lives and gather more detailed information through online research.  We both share our curiosity and desire to learn something new each day we are here.
A variety of pots, trunks, and utensils used in Irelands over the centuries. 
With only 76 days remaining in our time here, we hope to get out more and more as I continue to heal.  Several of our devoted readers, including loyal reader Adele, whom we met with her husband, Wally in May 21013 at a hotel in Barcelona as we all waited for an upcoming cruise to the Middle East, wrote to me last night inquiring as to how I am doing.
Connemara marble is described as follows from this site: “Connemara is bounded on three sides by the Atlantic Ocean and encompasses a wide variety of natural and semi-natural habitats, reflecting its great geomorphologic and geological complexity. It also has diverse economic resources. Among the more unusual are extensive deposits of soapstone and veins of green marble and vivid white quartz. In Neolithic times, the green marble was traded as far away as Lough Gur, County Limerick, and possibly to the Boyne Valley. ‘Connemara Marble’ is a serpentine-rich rock, popular since ancient times as a decorative facing stone. With its ‘forty shades of green’ and its wild patterns, it represents perfectly the landscapes of the Emerald Isle. Connemara Marble inspired artists, architects, and artisans throughout the world. Jewelry and other small objects such as key rings, coasters, and crosses are also made with this unique stone.”
I hadn’t mentioned anything for several days assuming our readers were tired of reading about my health.  I’m tired of my health as well! For an update…we continue to treat the remaining open wound on my left leg every two days.  It is healing albeit slowly.  As mentioned earlier, it could be a few months until it fully heals.
The first commercial telegraph station was in Ireland.
In the interim, I am feeling relatively well, continuing to walk daily but have yet to reach my goal of 10,000 steps in one day.  A few days ago, I made it to 9500 steps but the next day, my legs felt heavy and weak.
Various tools used in fishing and farming.
When we visited the Connemara Heritage and History Centre, we ended up walking up a few steep hills.  I paid dearly for that, not with my heart racing which handled it fine but with my legs.  After all, it was only 56 days ago, I had the second surgery on both of my legs.  

Generally, one is expected to be ambulatory after any surgery within eight weeks.  I hope by continuing improving by walking which will aid in escalating the healing process.
An old sewing machine and statue of an Irish woman.
Many have commented I’m pushing it too hard this early on.  But, forcing oneself to exercise regularly requires discipline and determination and pushing ahead, works best for me.  I’m not hurting anything in doing so, just occasionally having to step it back a little.

I am now able to cook and perform most household tasks.  I no longer have to rely on Tom to do everything for me other than help with the continuing treatment on my left leg every other day.  
Note the date of this poster, June 15, 1728, offering a reward for the capture of two “highwaymen,” robbers who stole from travelers.
Tom carries items upstairs to leave my hands free to maneuver the steep spiral staircase when going up and down.  Of course, he helps with meals, does all the dishes and participates in a variety of household tasks.

Hopefully, soon we’ll get out more often.  For now, I am pacing myself as I continue to recover.

Thanks, Adele and all of our other readers who’ve inquired and continue to read my endless descriptions of this difficult and challenging healing process. We’ll stay in today.  The wind is blowing fiercely and its raining. 

Have a fantastic day and above all, be well. 

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Photo from one year ago today, May 27, 2018:

Frank and Mrs. Frank had been busy working at building a nest in the bush in our yard.  But, they never had a single chick while we were there.  For more photos, please click here.

An evening in a traditional Irish pub…Will this be our standard Saturday night dining experience?…Tomorrow, Part 2*…Irish history…Connemara Heritage and History Centre…

On the way to the pub, we stopped for a photo of this which I believe is some type of pheasant.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”St.
Patrick’s Day is celebrated grandly in Ireland. People eat traditional Irish food
which includes beer, pink bacon, and savory chicken.



*Part 2…Irish history…Connemara Heritage and History Centre…will continue in tomorrow’s post.  


Today, in order to break up the seriousness of Irish history, we are excited to share our first night in a traditional Irish pub with excellent meals options. The atmosphere is delightful, the staff friendly and helpful and the ambiance of patrons stopping in for an ale and a chat depicts the image I had in mind.

 
The patio at Tigh Mheaic.  We commented that we doubt diners would sit outdoors in such cool weather even when the weather warms up by a few degrees during the slightly warmer summer months. 

The last time we were in a traditional Irish pub was while on a cruise from Harwich, England to Boston, Massachusetts (USA) which had a few ports of call in Ireland along the way.


At that time in September 2014, we’d met several couples onboard and eight of us took a van from the ship to the town to check out a few pubs and shops.  For photos on this port of call visit, please click here.  It was on that cruise that we visited the Blarney Castle.  


Tom had previously kissed the “Blarney Stone” during his two previous visits to Ireland before we met, once with a girlfriend at the time and the second time with his dear mom, Mary Lyman who passed away in 2008, months from her 99th birthday.  When we were there in 2014 we didn’t kiss the stone when we’d read that mischief-makers peed on it after dark.  

Note the vines growing on the outside of their building.  Quite impressive.

Tom took his all of his accrued vacation time, 28 days, to take his mother to the Vatican to see the Pope, tour Italy to end up touring Ireland based on their strong Irish history.  It was this story that made me fall in love with him.  


I figured any son who’d use his entire year’s vacation to take his mother (just prior to her going totally blind) to fulfill her dreams was definitely my kind of man.  He humbly told me this story on our first date in June 1991, when I’d invited him to my home for dinner. 


He hated the food I’d made but he didn’t complain at the time: grilled Cajun swordfish, grilled baby asparagus, and couscous…none of which he eats. He didn’t care for the Cabernet Sauvignon I served since he’s not a wine drinker.  He did enjoy the Creme Brulee I’d made for dessert.

Hummm…we’ve seen this sign at locations throughout the world.

But, I was entrenched in the story of taking his mother to see the Pope and visit Ireland.  I realize I’ve told this story in a previous post.  However, after 2,479 posts as of today, it’s easy for me to tell a story I’ve told in the past.  

When I do retell a story in a post, I’m always aware its a repeated story but I also realize we always have a flow of new readers from all over the world that may not have seen the previous story.

Last night’s drinks and dinner at Fáilte go Tigh Mheaic, which the locals shorten to Tigh Mheaic.  The pronunciation of this name is tricky. Next time, we’ll ask for clarification.  The Irish language is exceedingly difficult for us foreigners to grasp including pronunciation and meanings.

The design and decor of the bar depict exactly what one would envision for a small town pub in Ireland.

As I am writing today’s post with Irish news on the TV in the background, a news story that unfolded was how the audience for the traditional Irish pub is going by the wayside.  These pubs used to be packed with heavy drinkers and loads of merriment and conversation, on occasion rowdy behavior.


The young generation of today has little interest in hanging out in a bar.  Instead, they spend time in more sophisticated nightclubs packed with people their own age.  


Us, old timers, easily recall years of great times we had hanging out in a bar, meeting people and at times, developing romantic relationships, as was the case with Tom and I…we met in a bar in Bloomington, Minnesota, 28 years ago.

Eventually, we moved into the dining room to dine.

For the locals, there may still be a few diehards, who stop at a pub after work or in the evening but they are definitely not as prevalent as they were in the past.
My vision of dozens of people clamoring at the bar, engaged in lively chatter, may not be a reality after all, especially in this low population area.


The huge entire area of Connemara only has a total population of 32,000.  Carna, where the bar/restaurant has a population of only.  From this site: “There are currently 178 people living in Carna Village but there are 1,786 people living in the townlands around Carna and the Iorras Aithneach area. The population dramatically dropped from the previous average of 8000 before the Great Famine.”


With this low population and the risk of causing injury or death on the narrow winding roads to oneself and to others, excessive drinking makes no sense at all in this area or any area for that matter.  Surely, this fact, over the years has added to the lack of interest by the locals and tourists in “barhopping” or in “hanging out” at one location.

This taxidermy which we’re not fond of in general reminded us of the antelope heads at Jabula Lodge, our favorite restaurant in Marloth Park.

Speaking of drinking, last night for the first time in 3½ months I had two glasses of an excellent Malbec.  Of course, after not drinking for so long, I felt a little tipsy but I thoroughly enjoyed the delicious wine.


Nonetheless, we had a lovely evening. After a while, we left the bar to enter the adjacent dining room to order our dinner. The food was fresh and filled with local flavor.  We both had grilled scallops, Tom’s with salad, chips (fries) and mine with veg and salad.  Tom gave me his salad as he often does.


The bill was much higher than we’re used to after living in South Africa for 15 months.  Our bill before the tip was Euro 89.03, US 99.73.  Had I not ordered the entire bottle of wine, the bill would have been about Euro 78, US 87.41, by ordering just the two glasses separately.  I won’t do this again.  Plus, Tom left a cash tip of Euro 15, US $16.81, making our total for the evening Euro 104.50, US $117.06. We aren’t thrilled paying this much to dine out once a week.

We thought there’s be entertainment at this small stage but none started while we were there.  A handcrafted sailboat replica occupies the space between stage performances.

We brought home the remainder of the bottle with more than half remaining.  According to this site, a typical bottle of wine contains five glasses at 150 ml, 5 ounces each.  For my first wine since the cardiac bypass surgery, I wanted to make sure I controlled the size of my servings which in some locations, they pour too much, more than I’d want.


Today, cool and cloudy, we’ll stay put, make a nice Sunday dinner and settle back doing a “bunch of nothing” which, from time to time, is quite enjoyable.


May you do the same today.

  _________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, May 26, 2018:

The view from the restaurant, aptly named, Aamazing River View located in Marloth Park.  For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…Irish history…Connemara Heritage and History Centre…

The entrance to the Connemara Heritage and History Centre located near Clifden.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
When
children are little, each birthday it is traditional to pick up the child, turn
them over and bump their head gently on their birthday cake. The child’s head
is bumped once for each year they have lived. It is believed that partaking in
this tradition brings good luck and good fortune to the child.”

______________________________________________

Yesterday, upon arrival at the Connemara Heritage and History Centre, we took photos of the exterior.  It was a rainy and misty day prompting up to visit an indoor venue but we weren’t disappointed when we entered the gardens which we had no idea were so lovely and worthy of photos, rain or shine.

Beautiful flowers lined the parking area.


A sunny day would have ideal for many of the photos we’ll share here over the next few days. But, we decided we won’t keep the weather from preventing us from getting out and about unless it’s raining heavily.  The narrow winding roads are dangerous enough on sunny days.

A tractor pulling a trolley car is used for tours to the centre.


Once we paid the senior discounted entrance fee of Euro 7.5, US $8.40, and walked through the shops we were escorted to a small movie theatre where we watched a 20-minute video on the history of Connemara including the sorrowful story of Dan O’Hara, a local man, and his family who’s life story is heartbreaking.

There are numerous streams running through the scenic grounds of the centre.


Many farmers and families enjoyed a good life, although not easy, in Connemara up until the Great Famine as described below from this site:


“The Great Famine, or the Great Hunger, was a period in Ireland between 1845 and 1849 of mass starvation, disease, and emigration. Wikipedia

Start date: September 13, 1845

End date1849

Impact on demographics: Population fell by 20–25% due to mortality and emigration

Did you know: Great Irish Famine is the second-deadliest disaster in Great Britain and Ireland by death toll (1,000,000 to 1,500,000).”
Overlooking a stream.

In part, the video we watched focused on the Dan O’Hara family, the history of which must have been passed down over the generations.  The Connemara Heritage and History Centre dedicated the facility to his and his family’s memory with grace and dignity.


The centre is located within a 20-minute uphill walk on a rocky road to the remainder of the homestead and barn of Dan O’Hara.  Fortunately, we were able to drive to the historic home and grounds.

Once indoors, we paid the entrance fee of Euro 7.5, US $8.40, the senior rate.


Over the years private and well-known public figures from around the world have dedicated the planting of a tree to the grounds as stated here from the centre’s website:


“Plant Your Roots in Ireland

Dan O’ Hara’s Homestead, the award-winning Connemara Heritage & History Centre has been welcoming visitors from all over the world for many years. Situated in the Gaeltacht and dedicated to the memory of the immortalized Dan O’ Hara who along with his wife and seven children was evicted from this homestead by his landlord in 1845. Along with so many more people from Connemara and Ireland during this era, he was forced to immigrate on the coffin ships to the US.”
The restaurant was quiet at 10:30 am.  Surely during tours, this facility would have been busy.

“Unfortunately, his wife and 3 of his children did not survive the journey and needless to say he arrived in New York a very broken man. Dan O’ Hara’s homestead offers a very unique insight into the life and times of Connemara during the 19th Century along with the history of the region not to mention a verse of the renowned Ballad Dan O’ Hara.


As part of our commitment to the continued and sensitive development of the Connemara Heritage & History Centre and to Dan O’ Hara’s memory and those of the many Irish who were forced to leave their homesteads for America we have developed “A Roots from Ireland Park.”

The Irish wear sweaters, flannel shirts, and fleece-lined jackets to stay warm in the cool summer months and snowy winters.  We have sufficient warm clothing with us and didn’t make a purchase.

“Here we will plant indigenous Irish Trees, Ash, Alder, Hawthorn and Sycamore Trees which can be dedicated to your ancestors, a family member or a good friend. A personalized plaque at the foot of the tree will accompany each tree planted and the person for whom it is chosen will receive a Certificate of Ownership for their home or office wall.”


Ironically, the above-mentioned song, Dan O’Hara, was sung by Finbar Furey at the Minnesota Irish Fair on August 8th, 2015.  The link for the song may be found here at this link.

More in the gift shop, filled with Irish memorabilia and trinkets of high quality.

Both of us were touched by this sad story and when we left the centre’s main building and gardens to visit Dan O’Hara’s home and grounds, it all had a special meaning, especially to Tom.  


As we’ve mentioned in the past, Tom’s ancestors are from Ireland, many from nearby counties and many who immigrated to the US from the 1830s to the 1850s as they escaped the devastating famine and sailed across the sea after considerable loss of loved ones and a life of hard work on the land.

These 30 breeds of sheep may be found in Ireland.  We’ve already encountered several.


Tomorrow, we’ll return with more photos and history of the life of the people of Connemara.  It is indeed special to learn about the island of Ireland and its rich history and determined people.


For our loved ones and friends in the USA, have a safe and meaningful Memorial Day weekend.  For our friends throughout the world enjoy the weekend and holidays in your countries at this time.

  _________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, May 25, 2018:

A face of a cape buffalo only a mother could love spotted in Kruger National Park.  For more photos, please click here.

First “out of the car” sightseeing outing in over three months…”Cruising on down the road”…

Cashel Catholic church, not far from us.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland” 
The Irish drinking song “The Hills of Connemara” has
been recorded and performed by a number of Irish and Celtic-themed bands.

Today was the first time in over three months that we went out on a sightseeing tour.  During my recovery period, I haven’t felt motivated or energetic enough to engage in the walking often required on such tours.

Low rocks walls line most of the properties in Connemara.

In this past week, as I’ve worked toward my goal of walking 10,000 steps a day (the highest day was 9500.  I’m working on the rest!) while doing a series of circuit training type exercises in the process using household items as props.


As it turns out there isn’t a fitness center nearby, not within an hour’s drive.  There’s no way it makes sense to drive two hours a day to go to a fitness facility when I can exercise at “home.”

Cattle on the side of the road.

Thank goodness for this past week’s exercise.  Had I not done it, there’s no way I’d ever have been able to participate in any type of self-tour.  Not only was there a lot of walking and standing within the facility but with many outbuildings, a garden, steep rocky walks and hills to navigate, it would have been impossible.


Most patients three months after cardiac bypass surgery are quite able to engage in such activities since they began walking right after surgery.  For me, the leg infections and two additional surgeries prevented me from being able to walk and exercise up until a little over two weeks ago.

Chaiseal describes a “stone fort” in the Irish language.

One of our kindly reader/friends wrote to me concerned I am being too hard on myself by attempting to catch up so quickly.  But, I decided if I can do without strain, to proceed without fear and excess caution.  


A few days ago when I managed the 9500 steps in one day, I was elated but exhausted.  Never during the walking itself did I struggle.  I only had to ease back a little the next day to 7500 steps when my legs were tired.  Today, with our outing and the climbing up and down hills, I should be able to accomplish around 8000 steps, again striving for the higher number.

View across the bay.

I have to remind myself that walking the 10,000 steps is equivalent to walking over eight km, or approximately five miles. A little over two weeks ago I gave up using a walker and had trouble easily walking across a room without holding on.


Our bodies are amazing.  They so much strive to homeostasis, described as:  “The tendency towards a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes.”  Basically, our bodies strive to be well.  We need only to pay attention to this process.

View across an inlet, a bit tilted in an effort to avoid the car’s side view mirror.

I don’t have all the answers.  I only know my own situation and it may be entirely different from others in a similar situation.  All I know is I am bound and determined to be as healthy as I can be based on the fact I still have bad arteries throughout my body, a genetic condition over which I have little control.


When we returned to the house after the tour, this late in the afternoon, I wasn’t up to preparing a detailed story about the history of Connemara, its people and its heritage.  Tomorrow is another day and after a good night’s rest, I’ll be looking forward to sharing our photos (of which we took many) and interesting history of this area.


We’ll be back tomorrow with much more…


Happy day!

  _________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, May 24, 2018:

This warthog we spotted in Kruger had tusks that were almost a full circle. For more Kruger National Park photos, please click here.

The simple life…Ireland elicits a slower pace…

This morning’s catch when John stopped by with fresh caught Atlantic salmon, a container of crabmeat and another container of prawns.  The cost for the above was Euro 25, US $27.85.  There’s enough salmon for three meals and a fourth meal with the crab and prawns on a lettuce salad.  The average cost per serving Euro 6.26, US $6.97.  We paid John the Euro 14, US $15.60, we owed him from last week’s fish.  I asked if he could bring salmon each week.  Tom doesn’t care for fish so I’ll happily enjoy every morsel.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland” 
“Northern
Ireland is governed by the United Kingdom, while the rest of Ireland is an
independent nation.”



Living in Ireland is very different from anywhere we’ve lived after over 6½ years of world travel.  The environment, the people, the chosen pace of peace, calm and good humor is present in every situation we encounter.

Today’s mist and clouds over the sea.


This is appealing.  Thank goodness we have this website requiring new photos daily and a goal to research Tom’s ancestry.  Otherwise, we’d be so content, we’d hardly go out other than to shop and dine out on occasion.


We’re far from many restaurants but now that I’m beginning to feel better, we’ll go out to dinner more often.  Since our arrival on May 12th, we’ve only dined out once.

A gate to a private drive or boat launch.


We’ve so enjoyed the wide array of fantastic food products from the SuperValu supermarket in Clifden that cooking has become such a treat.  We can now find ingredients we like to use that we never could find in the Spar Market in Komatipoort.


Now that I can cook again, we’re making a few more interesting dishes I didn’t burden Tom with when he was cooking all the meals by himself.  That’s not to say, he’s not helping.  

Many homes in the countryside have this similar look and are very old.


He’s right beside me in the kitchen doing all the “heavy lifting” including washing dishes, hauling food and pots back and forth to the laundry room where the second refrigerator and another bigger sink is located.

This morning feels like a typical Irish day.  Ann, the lovely house cleaner arrived at 9:30 am informing me that she’d lit a candle at her church for my continuing recovery.  How sweet is that?

Fishing boat in the bay.


Moments later, Eileen, the owner of this house who lives in the house next door, also stopped by.  They both possess a wealth of fascinating information about Connemara and Ireland in general.  We love their accents, warmth, easy smiles and enthusiasm.


We’d planned to head out today but it’s raining, not uncommon for Ireland.  Also, Eileen called the fish guy, John to find out if he was coming by today.  He stopped by before noon. Note the above photo and caption for further explanation.

We paid John the Euro 14, US $15.59, from last week when he’d insisted we take some fish when the package had yet to arrive containing our new debit cards leaving us with no cash (euros in Ireland).

A boat at the organic salmon station.

After the ATM cards had arrived we immediately drove to Clifden to an ATM to get enough cash to last for quite a while. Weekly, we pay Ann Euro 60, US $66.82 for three hours of housecleaning, the highest we’ve ever paid.  That’s not to say she isn’t worth it.  She does a meticulous job.  


Housekeeping wasn’t included in the rent as it was in South Africa where we had two cleaners, Zef and Vusi, each day of the week.  We’ve been spoiled.  But, knowing we have a cleaner only once a week, we’re being diligent about keeping the house tidy and organized in between Ann’s visits.


No, we don’t have a social life here yet and may not be able to make lifelong friends here as we did in Marloth Park many of whom we are staying in touch, particularly, Kathy and Don, Linda and Ken (we spoke on the phone yesterday) and Louise and Danie.


Now that I’m beginning to feel better, we’re planning on getting out more.  In the interim, this simple life is suiting us just fine.


Happy day!
                           ______________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, May 23, 2018:

This was our first sighting of a good-sized herd of cape buffalo we spotted from Marloth Park yesterday, on the banks of the Crocodile River.  There were from 24 to 30 in the herd.  For more photos, please click here.

The scenic beauty continues as we get out more and more…

At every turn the scenery is breathtaking.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland” 
“Most
Irish people believe that fairies exist. In their culture, fairies have magical
powers and bring happiness and great things to families.”

_____________________________________



The scenery from every turn in the road, let alone the views from the windows in our holiday home, are nothing short of spectacular.  This morning overcast and cloudy with rain predicted is still gorgeous as the clouds gather around the mountains known as the “Twelve Bens.”

Wildflowers are often found blooming on the side of the road especially this time of year as summer nears.

From this site:
The Twelve Bens or Twelve Pins (Irish: Na Beanna Beola; the peaks of Beola) is a mountain range of sharp-peaked quartzite summits and ridges located in the Connemara National Park in County Galway, in the west of Ireland.


Topographically, the range is partnered with the Maumturks range on the other side of the Glen Inagh valley (a Western Way route). The highest point is Benbaun at 729 meters (2,392 ft). The range is popular with hill walkers, rock climbers, and fell runners. The 15–kilometer “Glencoaghan Horseshoe” (Irish: Gleann Chóchan) is noted as providing some of the “most exhilarating mountaineering in Ireland,” and “a true classic”. A more serious undertaking is the 28–kilometer “Twelve Bens Challenge”, climbing all bens in a single day.”


The plural word for a group of sheep is flock, dove or herd.  A very large group of sheep is a band of mob.


Now, as I write here I can see the “Twelve Bens” from the house as we gaze across the Bertraghboy Bay.  On any cloudy day, we can peer out the window to see the fluffy clouds leaving trails of mist over the mountains.


Views are even more spectacular on sunny days as soon in a few of today’s photos.  We often choose to take a drive when it’s a sunny day to enhance the quality of our photos.  But, still, there remains the magic and mystery of clouds filling the skies on days of predicted rain, such as today.


An abandoned boat in part covered in vegetation creates this classic scene.

Tomorrow, when lovely Ann, our house cleaner arrives at 9:00 am, we’ll let her inside and take off to explore areas of Connemara we’ve yet to see of which there are many.  Connemara is described as follows:



From this site: “Connemara (Irish: Conamara; pronounced [ˈkʊnˠəmˠəɾˠə]) is a cultural region in County Galway, Ireland. The area has a strong association with traditional Irish culture and contains a major part of the Connacht Irish-speaking Gaeltacht, which is a key part of the identity of the region and is the largest Gaeltacht in the country.”


Rocks are seen everywhere in Ireland.  From this site:  “The geological map of Ireland displays a wide variety of rock types which have originated at different periods of geological time. The oldest rocks are metamorphic gneisses which are to be found on Inishtrahull, several miles off Malin Head in Co. Donegal, and elsewhere in the north-west. They originally formed as igneous rocks 1750-1780 million years ago.”



“One common definition of the area is that it consists of most of West Galway, that is to say, the part of the county west of Lough Corrib and Galway city, contained by Killary Harbour, Galway Bay and, the Atlantic Ocean


Some more restrictive definitions of Connemara define it as the historical territory of Conmhaícne Mara, i.e. just the far northwest of County Galway, bordering County Mayo. The name is also used to describe the Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking areas) of western County Galway, though it is argued that this too is inaccurate as some of these areas lie outside of the traditional boundary of Connemara.”



Ireland consists of many boggy areas which are prevalent here in Connemara.


There are arguments about where Connemara ends as it approaches Galway city, which is definitely not in Connemara — some argue for Barna, on the outskirts of Galway City, some for a line from Oughterard to Maam Cross, and then diagonally down to the coast, all within rural lands.

The wider area of what is today known as Connemara was previously a sovereign kingdom known as Iar Connacht, under the kingship of the Ó Flaithbertaigh, until it became part of the English-administered Kingdom of Ireland in the 16th century.”

Clouds reflecting on a lake.

The population of Connemara is 32,000. There are between 20,000–24,000 native Irish speakers in the region making it the largest Irish-speaking Gaeltacht.  The Enumeration Districts with the most Irish speakers in all of Ireland as a percentage of the population can be seen in the South Connemara area.  Most Irish speakers are of school age (5–19 years old).”



There is so much for us to learn about Ireland, the birthplace of Tom’s ancestry.  Soon, we’ll begin visiting some of the towns/counties from which they originated.


In the meanwhile, we’re so much enjoying our sunny day drives through the winding, hilly roads, occasionally encountering a one car road or bridge.  One must be extra careful driving through the area with many blind spots and farm animals standing, walking or sleeping on the road.


Today, we’ll stay in.  We’re making mozzarella-ball stuffed meatballs with a red sauce and sprinkled with parmesan cheese, along with grilled vegetables on the side.  Lately, both of us have become tired of eating side salads and are taking a break for a while, having more cooked or raw vegetables as an alternative.


We hope each of you has a peaceful and pleasant day!

                            _________________________________



Photo from one year ago today, May 22, 2018:

Although it’s impossible to conquer all of the alien plants in Marloth Park in order to protect wildlife and humans, the dedicated Marloth Park Honorary Rangers spend considerable time (their own free time) pulling out invasive plants.  In the case of “Mother of Thousands” every last bit must be pulled since it will regrow from even the most minuscule portion left behind.  It was this morning that we met friends Uschi and Evan (not in this photo) with whom we’ve since become great friends.  They are leaders in Honorary Rangers in Marloth Park.  For more details, please click here.