Switching from red wine to what???…

A white house on the road to Roundstone with two historic buildings on the grounds.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”  
“Ireland has been used as a location for several famous films including Star Wars, The Princess Bride, Braveheart, and Harry Potter.”

We’re back from Clifden and grocery shopping. Everything has been packed away into the two tiny refrigerators and vegetable drawers. We have to be especially careful not to purchase food that must be frozen.
Ruins of the shore of a bygone era.
The tiny freezer in the small refrigerator in the laundry room barely has room for a thing. Our ice cubes and trays occupy 40% of the total space, the remaining left for what is hopefully enough to get us through one week until we shop again.
With over 90 minutes of driving time to head to Clifden and back, the closest supermarket, we don’t care to make the trip more than once a week. We’ve already scoured the village for sightseeing opportunities and have exhausted our options. 
Once we were settled here and I was off all pain medications, once again, we put our usual “happy hour” on the agenda. My goal has been to consume no more than 177 ml, equivalent to two 3 oz. Glasses of red wine on the days we imbibe. Its been a relatively easy goal to achieve and maintain.
These dilapidated farm buildings represent a period of strife in Ireland when many left the country due to the potato famine.
We prepare dinner and don’t drink alcohol for the remainder of the evening. We spend one-hour chatting and sipping our chosen adult beverage, and afterward, I switch to Pellegrino Sparkling Springwater (no alcohol) while Tom returns to his usual iced tea. This works for us.  
We don’t imbibe so much that it impacts our health, well-being, and quality of sleep. Once we’re on the cruise, with drinks included based on our priority in the Crown & Anchor Society, I will continue this regiment while Tom may have a final drink with or after dinner.
Here in Ireland, it’s been difficult for me to find a red wine that I not only like but is also affordable at a price I’m willing to pay. To my taste, the average cost of a moderately good red wine, preferably a cabernet sauvignon or merlot, is at least Euro 12, US $13.50 plus tax.
A pair of Connemara ponies are not only white but also varying colors.
This same quality of wine in South Africa, the home of many great vineyards, was at Euro 2.67, US $3.00. Even the finest imported wines in South Africa were rarely over Euro 8.89, US $10.
Several weeks ago, there was a sale on six bottles of wines at the SuperValu market. (There isn’t an actual liquor store within a half-day drive). It was priced at Euro 30, US $33.75 for the half dozen bottles.  
I’d seen these same wines from Chile at SuperValu priced at Euro 12, US $13.50 each but hadn’t purchased any. But, for the excellent price and few other affordable options, we bought six bottles of red.  
It’s not as if I’m a wine connoisseur. I’m not. I hadn’t had any alcoholic drinks or wine for over 20 years and only started drinking wine a few years ago on cruise ships, finding my taste buds weren’t as picky or refined as they’d been in the 80s.  
Another photo of the village of Roundstone, population 214.
Still, four bottles of the red wines sit on the counter in the laundry room. I can’t get it down, and nor am I going to force myself to drink something I don’t like.  After doing a little research, I decided that I needed to find something more suitable for me while we were here in Ireland.
I prefer a lower alcohol beverage since my tolerance is relatively low. I found a couple of low alcohol options online…Ketel One Botanicals and Smirnoff Vodka Infusions, each with 25% less alcohol and infused with flavorful botanicals.
SuperValu doesn’t carry the Ketel One brand, but they easily had the Smirnoff brands and flavors. We purchased two of the smaller than usual bottles in two flavors. It is suggested that sparkling water or other clear non-sugary mixers be added with ice. 
Black and white cow.
The low alcohol content appeals to me because no sugar is added, and the carb count is zero. Each bottle was priced at Euro 13.60, US $15.30. Each serving is equivalent to a shot glass, and each bottle should last me for quite some time. Each bottle contains 750 ml, 25 ounces, the same amount in a bottle of wine.  
This beverage will last me twice as long as a bottle of wine, and if the taste is good, making the change while here will be worthwhile. Traveling the world doesn’t mean we’ll always be able to get familiar products at prices we’ve become accustomed to. But, it certainly inspires us to try something new and different.
Tonight we’ll toast to all of you!  Have a fantastic Friday!
Photo from one year ago today, July 12, 2018:
We laughed so hard when we saw this baby baboon grabbing its mom’s hair to hold on while sitting in this unlikely pose. For more details, please click here.

Cleaning…It’s a beastly thing to do!…

Beautiful horse…

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”

“The potato famine was exacerbated by the actions (and inactions) of the British government at the time, leading some to suggest that the famine was essentially
a form of genocide exacted on the Irish.”

We were spoiled during our 15 months in Africa. Whether we were traveling to Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, or living in Marloth Park, we didn’t have much to do when it came to cleaning.  

Our entire cleaning consisted of Tom’s doing dishes while I washed the countertops and stovetop after preparing a meal. I don’t recall ever making the bed in those 15 months. Of course, during the last three months in Marloth Park, I didn’t do a thing.

We were lucky to have two of the finest and most reliable cleaners in Marloth Park, Zef and Vusi, under the management of our dear friends and property managers, Louise and Danie.  

A boggy area at low tide.

Most weeks, Zef and Vusi worked for seven days and were off only on weekends during a holiday. We still took care of the above cooking-related clean-up when they were off on a Saturday and Sunday, knowing they’d be there on Monday.  

During those days, admittedly, we didn’t bother to make the bed other than to pull up the fluffy duvet and fluff the pillows. If we made a mess or spilled something, of course, we cleaned it up. 

Tom and I are very tidy in our day-to-day lives. We neither leave clothes or bath towels on the floor, papers collecting throughout the house, or glasses and dishes sitting on tabletops.  

We don’t leave dishes in the kitchen sink. They’re either washed or, if available (as it is here), placed into the dishwasher. In Marloth, many renters left their dirty dishes for the cleaners.  

We distracted the white calf along the road to our driveway.

We didn’t leave dishes for them other than after an occasional dinner party when we needed the help.  Here in Connemara, when the lovely cleaner Ann arrives once a week, it’s about changing the bedding, dusting, vacuuming, and washing floors and cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms.

When Ann became ill a few weeks ago and could not clean, we were on our own.  She’d offered to send someone she knew, but we decided to wait until she felt well and could return. As it’s turned out, we’ll have been without her help for a total of three weeks.  

It appears she won’t be returning until July 25th, after which we’ll only have one more week we’ll need her. We leave on August 8th to head to Dublin to spend one night in a hotel before flying to Amsterdam the following day. As of today, that’s four weeks away.

As we approach the small village of Roundstone…

We won’t have her clean on Thursday, our normal cleaning day, since the property owner was responsible for the cleaning last week. We’ve been paying Euro 60, US $68 for the four hours of work each week.

Very seldom does a property owner provide a cleaning service unless the cost is low for the country, and the tradition is that holiday rentals include a cleaning staff, daily or weekly.

While in Belize; Kenya; South Africa; Morocco; Trinity Beach, Australia; Fiji;

Bali; countless hotels and cruises; cleaning staff was included. All the remaining locations required we pay for a cleaner, ranging from a low of Euro 27, US $30 to a high of Euro 60, US $68, here in Ireland.

Subsequently, today, without Ann able to clean, once again, we’re on our own.  This morning for the first time in so long, I can’t remember, I changed the linen on the beds in the master bedroom. 

Roundstone, Ireland.

We’ve slept in separate beds during our time here in Ireland to avoid any possible injury to my healing legs. This has been the only time we’ve slept in separate beds, but since they were right next to one another, it didn’t seem that odd. We wouldn’t have slept in different rooms if there weren’t the two beds in the master bedroom.

Tom had offered to make the beds, but I took on the challenge myself. Certainly, enough time has passed I wouldn’t cause myself any injury in taking on the task.

It was undoubtedly challenging, mainly since I had trouble bending over, especially with the two beds low to the floor. But, I got through it and felt a degree of satisfaction in accomplishing this otherwise simple task.

Today is laundry day which is usually every two or three days. With our limited wardrobes and wearing the same warmer clothes in the chilly weather, we can’t avoid doing laundry frequently.

Ruins are left in place with respect for ancestors and history.

After breakfast of bacon and eggs (my three doctors said I could continue with my low-carb way of eating), I cleaned the entire kitchen and dusted tables in the living room. Soon, Tom will vacuum the whole house while I clean the bathrooms. At that point, well, be good for another week except for daily tidying and cleaning.

Tomorrow, we’ll go sightseeing and grocery shopping. For now, I’ve decided only to cook easy meals; some form of protein, a few cooked vegetables, and a salad. This week I prepared a complicated and time-consuming low-carb chicken casserole requiring standing on my feet for a few hours. I’m not ready for that yet.

Now, I must get back to the laundry and hang the clothes on the indoor clothes-drying rack. As cool as it is, it may take two days for the heavier items to dry.  (There isn’t a dryer or outdoor clothesline here).  By the end of the day, everything in the house will be clean, and we can settle back into our comfortable ordinary lives.

Be well!

Photo from one year ago today, July 11, 2018:
This female kudu has a heart-shaped marking on her neck. When she became a regular, we named her “Cupid.”  For more photos, please click here.

A visit to Roundstone, Ireland…

As we drove into the small town of Roundstone, with a population of 214, we were impressed by the design of the colorful properties on the main road.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“Ireland and the UK share a chequered history. In 1801, Great Britain
annexed the Kingdom of Ireland under the Act of Union; in 1921, the Anglo-Irish
Treaty established the Irish Free State, an independent dominion of the British
crown partitioned from Northern Ireland; and in 1949, the Republic of Ireland
became fully independent from the UK.”

We’ve concluded that I can’t sit in the car for long periods. There’s rarely a location where we can pull over with the narrow winding roads, enabling me to get out and walk. It was easier on an airplane when I could walk up and down the aisles every hour or so.

On days like today, misty and cloudy, when we’re staying in, I get up and walk every 30 minutes rather than remain stuck in a chair for extended periods. The walking adds to my daily goals and, without a doubt, helps me feel much better.

This bay is Roundstone, referred to as Round-stone Haven as early as 1684.

Yesterday, after spending an hour in the car, I could barely walk to and then up the few steps to the little market. And yet, hours later, I felt chipper and walked usually.  

It’s the “nature of the beast.” In only six weeks, healing from four surgical procedures has taken its toll on me, the first of which was five months ago, the last only three months ago.  It could take a year before I’m entirely myself.

An old door as an entrance to a stone storage area serving the above house.

After yesterday’s walking fiasco, we started rethinking the upcoming two-day tour, August 16 and 17, 2019, from the ship to St. Petersburg, Russia. Each night, we’ll sleep on the ship, meeting up with our group of 12 or so for the next’s day’s outing.

After considerable research, we discovered the tour will require a tremendous amount of walking, often up and down steps and steep hills, often over uneven pavement. We’re scheduled to pay the deposit by tomorrow, the balance soon after that for a total cost of Euro 472, US $530 (for two).

Roundstone Harbour, mainly used for fishing.
Visiting Russia won’t require a separate visa if we’re signed up with a certified tour company and spend the night on the ship. Otherwise, we’d have to get a complicated visa which we’d prefer not to do. Here are the rules for entering Russia from this site:
  • “72-hour visa-free for international cruise ship/ferry passengers only if traveling with an organized tour and accompanied at all times by a tour operator.
  • Registration is required after seven business days.
  • American citizens may receive multiple-entry visas valid for three years.”

With these considerations, we contemplated a private tour for just the two of us.  But the cost for one day was more than for the two-day time. There are few accommodations on tours (from what we’d read from other passengers) for any disabilities.

Thus, we decided to go ahead with the two-day tour, sleeping on the ship each night as required, and I’ll do what I can. If I have to miss a few challenging venues, Tom will take photos while I’ll leisurely walk around the area checking out the shops, providing the driver states it’s safe to do so.  

We’ll figure it out. In the interim, I’ll continue to walk thousands of steps per day and climb the steep hill in front of the house, at least five times a week, a little further each day, to build my strength and stamina.

Anyway, back to Roundstone, which we visited yesterday morning, taking today’s photos and many more, which we’ll share over the next few days.
Sailboat cruising in the Roundstone Bay on a lightly windy day.
Here is information on Roundstone from this site:

“Roundstone (Irish: Cloch na Rón, meaning “seal’s rock”) is a village on the west coast of Ireland, in the Connemara region of County Galway. The town of Clifden is nearby to the north. 

The anglicized name is usually considered an error on the part of the British colonial Ordnance Survey, which translated the village name; while Cloch certainly means “stone” or “rock,” Rón means “seal,” not “round.” Still, the names Cloch na Rón and Roundstone may be independent. The bay is referred to as Round-stone Haven as early as 1684 (Roderick O’Flaherty), and the rock after which it is named stands like a marker at the entrance and is strikingly round.

Roundstone is known as a home for creativity and the arts. Some of the most influential figures in Irish Art have been painted there, including Paul Henry, Jack B. Yeats, Gerard Dillon, and Nano Reid. The Roundstone Arts Week celebrates youth and the environment on an annual basis.

Church tower on the way to Roundstone.
The local Summerfest is held in July. Traditional Irish Nights are held weekly throughout July and August and offer music, song, and dance from the Connemara area. In 1998 Sean Gorham of Inishnee, Roundstone, County Galway, was engaged in turf-cutting in Roundstone Bog “when he noticed what appeared to be a series of flat stones laid at regular intervals. Believing them to be the remains of an ancient trackway, Mr. Gorham left the stones undisturbed. Through the good offices of Martin O’Malley, Roundstone, and Michael Gibbons, Clifden, his discovery was brought to the attention of the National Museum of Ireland.”

Gorham’s find was located in the townland of Derrycunlagh. Investigation revealed that earlier turf-cutters had removed part of the trackway, but its two extant stretches determined its route. The trackway appeared to date from the Early Bronze Age, while the field wall may have been earlier.

This handsome boy approached the fence for some attention, which we gladly provided.

In an article of 2002, it was stated that “Thanks are due to the late Sean Gorham, whose keen eye and interest save the trackway from destruction and brought it to scientific attention.”

That’s it for today, folks. We’ll be back again with more photos, more stories, more planning, and more considerations for the future.

Be well.
Photo from one year ago today, July 10, 2018:
A mom waterbuck and her calf.  For more photos, please click here.