Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Grouch's take the British Isles by land and by sea! Part 6

Day six saw us docked in Dublin, Ireland.  And when I say docked, there weren't any of those silly tenders to move us around.  We were docked in Dublin!

The weather was beautiful again, mild and sunny.  We didn't take any of the escorted shore excursions; instead we took a bus from the dock to a point near Trinity college.  

The Missus had one major goal: the Book of Kells.

  The youngsters were determined to spend hours at the Guinness brewery and I had hopes to visit the museum at Collins Barracks.  

Fortunately I got to the museum but with only an hour to visit it.  Too much time spent at the brewery, something I could easily and happily skipped, but everyone else loved it.

We split up at the brewery and the Missus accompanied me to the museum.  We then took a bus to within a mile of the dock, then hotfooted it to the gangplank, not long before it was pulled up.  We met the rest of our party dockside and then finished the day with martinis at the martini making demonstration.

A great day had by all!

Dublin as seen from the stern of our ship.  We're docked and ready to see the sights!

The library at Trinity college which holds a copy of every book published in the British isles since the beginning of the 19th century.  It is quite the sight to see!

The harp - the symbol of Ireland


Seen just outside the gate to Dublin castle

Dublin castle, the Missus and Young Daughter

A sand sculpture display in the courtyard

Young Son thought that this was the perfect ride for him!

Collins barracks museum.  Even the Missus found it interesting!


The skeleton of Dicky Bird, a cavalry horse who served in the Crimean war


A life ring from the Lusitania - washed up on the shore of Ireland.  I read the book "Dead Wake" about the sinking of the Lusitania on the flight over from L.A.

Great hardware in the military section of the museum

A display of one of the barracks rooms from the early 1900s

Back to the ship in time to sail!

The Missus and Young Daughter volunteer to shake some martinis and their bodies!

The Missus enjoying her martini

Chocolate covered strawberries, an at-sea gift from our travel agent.  They were as yummy as they look!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Solar panels

Our solar panels got turned on mid-day yesterday for the first time.  Today the system was generating 26kw at the sun's peak.  SoCal Edison limits the theoretical production capacity of the panel array to 80% of your average annual bill.  If we had known that, we would've run our bill up the previous year by running our A/C all summer long instead of sweltering in the house to avoid using electricity!

Update:  at 0500 this morning in the waning moonlight, the array was generating .003kw of juice.  Who knew that moonlight was that potent!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Grouch's take the British Isles by land and by sea! Part 5

 Day two on our cruise found us docking in Milford Haven, Wales.  The seaport was established as a whaling port by Yankee whalers in the mid 1800s.  When whaling died out  the port switched to commercial fishing, then to being a natural gas and crude oil port.  The latest incarnation of the seaport is as a LNG port.

The town itself is small and struggling financially.  The collapse of the commercial fishing devastated the community and while the crude oil port helped some with employment, the opportunities for young folks are just not present in large enough numbers to keep them in town.  An aging resident of Milford Haven told us that when the teens finish local school, they leave and never return.

All of that said, the town is charming and very friendly.  We were received by folk dancers, a man showing his pet owls, and a local bakery gave out free Welsh cakes.  We needed to try 3 or 4 of them to insure that they were all tasty.  They were.

We took a tour of the local museum and received a guided tour by a woman who grew up in town.  She was eloquent and well versed on local history.


Before exploring the town, we boarded a bus that took us to the walled town of Tenby and then on to the ruins of castle Carew.

Our charming tour guide who grew up speaking Welsh as his first language warned us to be back to the bus in one hour when we reached Tenby.   We needed a whole day and maybe more!  The city is surrounded by a wall and within the wall are a myriad of tiny shops and eateries.  With only an hour, we had to hustle to see and get back to the bus.


Our next stop was castle Carew which was built before the Normans arrived from, well Normandy, and conquered the Saxons who previously had moved in and taken over from the Romans. The Normans allowed the castle to remain but 'slotted' it (as our guide called it) or 'demilitarized' it (as I suggested) by cutting large windows into the walls and removing exterior battlements.  After a quick visit, again all too short, we were back on the bus and headed back to Milford Haven for a couple hours of visiting and snacking.


The weather was perfect and the temperature just right.  Our guide said that so many Welsh have red hair because they are rusting from all the rain but we experienced only sunshine.

The green grass and friendly people really tugged at us, and even though we have no Welsh in us, we felt a connection to the country.  Probably the most friendly people we encountered on the trip, which is saying a lot!

"Willpower" getting ready to dock our ship in Milford Haven

Approaching the town of Milford Haven

A trusty tender arriving for another load of eager passengers ready to visit Wales

The green countryside of Wales

A suburban home near Tenby which looks suspiciously like the homes in my tract

The wall around Tenby and the Missus ready to do some shopping

The five gates and the Grouch clan ready to see some sights

By the seashore

The beach was inviting and the water looked great but the Missus said it was time to hit the shops.  Perhaps another time.

Outside of the wall 
The tides around Great Britain are extreme.  I'd like to see the tide coming back in!

Castle Carew

Seen from one of the towers looking out

Another tower view

Taking each other's pictures!

Our ship at Milford Haven

The Welsh are a very polite group

A steel hulled antique yacht at Milford Haven

We loved Milford Haven and Wales!