All but the books were from Jim! And he says my 'real' present hasn't arrived yet. Lucky me. There were 2 bars of chocolate......
The blue trays are for my desk in my new studio and the stamp kit Jim thought might be useful for my ATCs. The 2 books are blank and lined. I love the pebbles on the front of the top one.
Some stickers for fun and some quality photographic paper for printing out some of my photos, to sell or hang on the wall. Can you see my wonderful green short Wellington Boots? Aren't they delightful. K bought me 2 books on Artist Trading Cards. Unfortunately I already have them but I'll either sell them back to Amazon or do something else with them. Rachel, one of my daughters in law, painted me a wonderful picture of The Deenery. I forgot to take a photo of it in the light and will do so tomorrow. It's destined for a place on our 'snug' wall.
So, back to our day. We decided to go to The Burren and Aillwee Cave. We had never visited this cave before and had a free family ticket too. It had stopped raining when we set off and Jim made a flask to take with us. We drove through the Burren and stopped at the best viewing point. Jim said, 'lets have a coffee' and I took some photos. He called me over to the back of the car, where he had a surprise for me:
I thought he was up to something:
Look at that!! The candles didn't stay lit for long, as it was pretty windy, even in the back of the car. What a thoughtful man he is. So we sat in the back of the car, drank coffee and ate a cake each. Mmmm, they were really sickly and lovely.
I took a panorama of The Burren. It was a bit misty, but not too bad. It is a wonderful view:
I'm sorry it's small, please click on it to enlarge it to full size. We parked just in front of the very left of the photo. There is a map there explaining the names of the hills. Sadly there was also a big pile of litter someone had left.
Jim climbed over the wall opposite. There were 3 piles of rock, each with a stone sticking up!
There were a lot of scabious in flower around The Burren today.
We popped back into the car and headed off to the Aillwee Cave on the other side of The Burren. We were lucky enough to get straight on to the next tour. It was busier than we expected but I suppose everyone had thought going to a cave was the best bet on a wet Sunday!
The cave wasn't discovered until the 1970s and wasn't fully opened until the 1990s, so it's relatively new to tourists. You used to be able to walk into it but then had to turn round and go back out up the same route. Now it has been blasted right through so more of the cave is visible. At one point the lovely guide turned the lights out to show how dark it was without artificial light. You couldn't even see your hand in front of your face.
I took quite a few photos:
There are many fossils embedded in the rocks. The white 'U' in the top right hand corner of the photo is one of them.
The marks left by the water running down the cave walls
Formations against the cave wall.
stalactites forming on the cave ceiling.
Here some water was dripping down, in the photo it looks like beads.
Jim's photo is clearer than mine.
This was just along from the small waterfall.
A close up of the same view, mine this time.
Jim captured the stalactites here. Please click on the photo to see their full beauty.
A splendid stalagmite.
Stalactites, named 'the bunch of carrots'.
Towards the end of the cave is this long waterfall. It was very noise and quite impressive.
Me, inside the cave, looking a bit startled!
We had noted that there was a little cafe in the visitor centre and partook of a scone with jam and cream after our trip round the cave:
I bought a postcard for my Granddaughter Lina (I have sent her quite a few over the years), then we headed out to the car. It was pouring down by now and the views had about disappeared.
This 'tent like' structure covers the cave entrance. The rain dripped off the point.
We headed off towards home, once again driving through The Burren. We came across this road junction which has 'sign mania':
As we drove through Kilfenora, I fancied an ice cream!! Armed with some euros, I was intrigued by a 'Magnum' type ice cream in a box, called 'Temptation'. I'd never heard of it before, but here's the box:
The ice cream on a stick inside was just lying in this box!! Fascinating. And quite delicious!
We knew we would drive through Coole Park on our way and decided to go and see how high the Turlough was after all the rain. In fact it wasn't as high as we thought. In the middle of Summer, you can walk down the steps in the photo below and walk all along the edge of the water, which becomes a small river at times. Not today!
Usually the trees here are on dry land.
I was trying to capture the 'zig zag' reflection in the water.
A rather fetching red gate.
I love this tunnel of trees we walk through on the way back to the car. I didn't want any people in the photo, so Jim kept popping out then hiding behind a tree:
Coole Park is one of our favourite places, so it was appropriate that we ended our day there. This is a gorgeous and massive Plane Tree, one of many protected trees in the park.
We were back for about 7pm and Jim made one of my favourite meals, spaghetti bolognaise. What a lovely birthday it has been. I had loads of wishes on Facebook, a phone call from my son Ben in Spain and lots of emails too. Now I must go to bed. With any luck we may see a builder or two tomorrow.
Clare's main attractions are the Karst limestone formations of the Burren stretching over 100 miles across the north of the county. The Burren literally means 'a stony place' which perfectly describes the seemingly barren landscape which yields rare and delicate plants through the cracks. The fissures and cracks of the coastal burren are great for hiking as are the more challenging treks through the moon-like mountains of terraced plates.
The Burren is full of caves, but few are accessible. The Ailwee Caves is a spectacle of stalactites, sub-terranean rivers, waterfalls and reputedly, the den of the last bear in Ireland.
A Turlough, or Turlach, is a unique type of disappearing lake found mostly in limestone areas of Ireland, west of the River Shannon. The name comes from the Irish "tuar", meaning dry, with the suffix "lach", meaning a place (in an abstract sense). The "lach" suffix is often mistakenly spelled and/or thought to refer to the word "loch", the Irish for lake. They are found in Irish karst (exposed limestone) areas. The features are almost unique to Ireland although there is one example in Britain in Llandeilo.
All of the turloughs are found in limestone areas. This is because limestone is a unique rock in that it can be dissolved away by rainwater, particularly rainwater that has become acidic by picking up carbon dioxide as it passes through the soil. The cracks or joints in the rock become widened to such an extent that eventually all of the rain falling on the limestone disappears underground and the water moves through the rock openings ranging from cracks a few millimetres wide to large cave passages. The limestone is then said to be karstified. To the east of the Shannon, the limestone is often covered by great thicknesses of glacial drift deposited during the Ice Age but in many areas to the west of the Shannon where the limestone is pure and the drift cover is thin, there is no proper surface river network. In these areas, rainfall disappears underground, flows through openings in the rock and then rises at springs: large springs are found to the west of the area, flowing into Lough Corrib and Galway Bay. In winter, when the underground water level (or water table) rises, and when the underground flow rises, and when the underground flow routes to the springs are not capable of dealing with the amount of water entering them, groundwater may appear temporarily at the surface in the form of a turlough.
All information from Wikipedia.