Monday, September 7, 2009

Birthday Sunday 6th (although it's 7th now)

This morning the weather was awful, windy and raining, so we lazed in bed. I made a cup of tea, then Jim fetched my presents and I opened them in bed. Here is my 'haul':

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:
Caught you!!

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.


The Burren

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.

Aillwee Cave

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.[1] 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[2].

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.


Anonymous said...

Your day sounds wonderful. You certainly have a very thoughtful husband. Thank you for sharing the pictures of the cave etc. How very interesting and unique. I really enjoyed reading about the different places you visited. You look absolutely radiant in the photo with your cake and coffee!! Best wishes for the year ahead. Can't wait for your addition to be complete.

Jason said...

Looks a good trip, and cake and scones, marvellous.

Looks like our bits didnt get there in time, hope they arrive today. x

Heather said...

What a lovely birthday you had, and what a treasure Jim is. Love your goodies - I have the bottom ATC book - and your new wellies are great. The photos of the caves and park are beautiful and I love the stone wall that Jim found - it looks so ancient - I wonder how long it has been there.

Leatherdykeuk said...

What a splendid day you had!

Carol said...

Ooohhh it sounds like you had a wonderful day!!

Happy Birthday

C x

Lisa at Greenbow said...

What a treasure trove of gifts. You certainly had a good time for your celebration. I love the photo of the tunnel of trees. It looks so inviting there. Cheers.

DK Leather said...

Fabulous day :-) and such brilliant pictures! I snaffled the one of you in the back of the Doblo... brilliant and well done Jim, clever thoughtful husband x

If you post the books back to me, promise to send you something better! :-) xxx

DK Leather said...

ooh and I forgot to mention;

1. I LOVE the sign mania pic!!
2. the photos in the cave look like gold, really beautiful :-)

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Happy Birthday!

Those green patterned wellies look lovely! What a great day out - the cave photos are amazing and golden, must be a wonderful place to visit.

steven said...

what a spectacular post!!! i love the photos of the burren especially never having been there. it looks like a place i would love to walk in. i love days like this where there's so much to see and do, treats and gifts along the way and of course the company of someone you love!!! have a lovely day!! steven

soulbrush said...

firstly happy happy boifday friend. and many many more, you look so lovely here and so young too. that tunnel of trees is spectacular. your man really spoils you.

jinksy said...

Many Happy Returns of Sunday! Looks like a great day...

BT said...

Thank you everyone for your lovely comments. Jim likes them especially!! I have replied to everyone by email.

Bea said...

How wonderful! And, such a lot of facinating information. I will have to come back and read it all again. I lost tract of things when you showed us your cake and then the ice cream bar. You can't combine important information with food and expect me to stay focused.
LOVE LOVE LOVE the trees down the road. Beautiful.

Stampmaiden said...

ooo girl, you have got one good man and a romantic. How sweet of him to have that bd surprise in the back of the car! You look so happy and rightly so. And look at those great bd gifts! WOW! Love the wellies! Oh and as usual, your photos are fantastic. I swear I thought I saw a fossilized thumb poppin' out of the cave's wall. LOL!!! Really, go back and look!
I'm so happy that you had a wonderful day. You deserve it!

Mim said...

what a lovely day and happy birthday to you!

Cris, Artist in Oregon said...

Oh Bless him he remembered the chocolate.:)) the best part although I see a cool book on trading cards and those rubber boots look fab. They are rubber arent they? I want a fun pair of rubber boots for the rain. Some cool pix and fun here.