Monday, September 23, 2013

Goodwood - the Good, the Wet and the Ugly.

Our next adventure was the Goodwood Revival on Sep 13 & 14.  

Warning:  this is mostly about cars and racing.  And Fred said I had to add a bunch of pictures. :-)

The Revival is a celebration of races that took place at the Goodwood Motor Circuit from the fifties to the sixties.  It's a party where you think you've been transported back in time.  All of the cars, the service vehicles inside the track, and the clothing of many of the spectators are from that era.  

Even the mechanics wear vintage clothing:

For the Revival, we flew from Dublin to Gatwick Airport and then drove our rental car to Bognor Regis, where we were staying, about 50 miles.  We drove through 35 roundabouts!!!

Bognor Regis is a small beach town on the southern coast and about nine miles from the Goodwood Motor Circuit where the Goodwood Revival is held.  This is the closest we've ever stayed to Goodwood.  (Unfortunately, the blue sky you see below was from Monday after the races.)

The Goodwood Motor Circuit is a road course built on an old airport. It's the perfect place for the Revival.  All the vehicles inside the confines of the track have to be period vehicles.  So, the tow vehicles, the food trucks and the people haulers are all vintage.  Vintage airplanes take off from and land on the infield during the event (though not usually while racing is going on) and fly low overhead.

We met up with our friends Jaime and Whitney from Alexandria, who were fully into the costume mode.  Here's a picture of Jaime in all his glory:

And Fred with Jaime and Whitney, who had just had her hair done. (I took this with Jaime's iPhone--thanks to Jaime for sending it to me!)

Between the races, the people and the air show, we never know where to look when we're at Goodwood.   Below, part of the airshow--a P-51 Mustang and a British Spitfire.

On Friday, the highlight was watching the Minis qualify in the St Mary's Trophy for "Saloons of the type that raced between 1960 and 1966." (Saloon is British for Sedan.) They are grouped together regardless of size, engine displacement or class.  Note the Ford Galaxie, the Cortina and the Alfa in the pic below. It was a damp track that was made for the Minis.  (Why is it Ford Galaxie and not Galaxy?)

Unfortunately, by the end of the day it started raining rather hard, and for safety reasons, the scheduled 90-minute final race was called after an hour.  

Though not soon enough for this 1951 HW Alta-Jaguar (3.4L), which hit the wall right in front of where we were watching.  Note the lack of roll bar.  Modern roll bars are not required.  As far as we know, the driver was a bit stunned but otherwise OK.

Even though the race ended early, it was dark (and still raining) as we walked to our car.  

And walked.  And walked.  Even though, in the morning, we had carefully noted the row number where our car was parked, we exited the track into a different lot entirely and could not find the car!  After much walking and asking for help while getting wetter and wetter, we finally saw the headlights flash in the distance when we tried the key remote.  Note to Goodwood: have the row number start with the letter name of the lot.  Note to ourselves: pay more attention.

On Saturday, it was still damp but not as rainy as the day before.  The racing was fantastic.  

The St Mary's Trophy, where the Minis race, was fabulous, but I think the highlight for Fred was to see twenty-six Ford GT40s race together.  The start of that race, shown below:

A fun moment was being waved into the private paddock area by one of the paddock officials after Fred asked if he couldn't turn his back for a second. LOL, it worked!  We got some awesome pictures.

There was a lot of red paint everywhere.  Maseratis...


A green Ferrari in the midst of all that red?  Say it ain't so!

GT40 after GT40.  Fred was swooning.

C-Types.  I was swooning...

This one won its race.

As at any race circuit, the work goes on between races.

British F1 World Champion Jim Clark's Lotus-Climax 21.  Fred saw him race in this car at Watkins Glen in 1961, in the first Formula One race Fred ever saw.  The tribute to Jim Clark at Goodwood was fantastic.  Clark co-holds the Goodwood course record, set in 1965, in a Lotus-Climax 25 (with Jackie Stewart in a BRM).

We had a great time both days watching the cars at the first turn and enjoying our picnic lunch.  Below, the obligatory photo of Fred eating.

The fans were riveted. (To the racing, not to Fred eating.)

This was our fourth Goodwood Revival, and while it was great, the event has gotten huge.  One could hardly move on the circuit grounds.  However, I still say it is the single best automotive event I've ever been to.  (I probably should stop telling people that--too many people are listening to me!) The racing is simply fantastic.  The drivers race the cars "as if they stole them" as the saying goes.  And the cars themselves--it's hard to believe some of these cars are still around, let alone out there on the track.  And the airplanes....  And the spectator clothing....  Sigh...  

If you want to go, get your tickets early and your lodging earlier.  The event sold out by mid-August this year.

Next:  Portsmouth and the Mary Rose.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Dingle Peninsula

Everyone who had gone before us to Ireland said we should see the Dingle Peninsula.  And so, we set out from our lovely B&B (see above) on a cool damp morning to follow the rainbow to the pot of gold. (Reference to Monday's lead photo.)

Dingle is one of several peninsulas on Ireland's west coast.  It, and the larger peninsula just south of it, the Ring of Kerry, are, by most reports, two of the most scenic in Ireland.  We only had time to do one, and chose the smaller of the two, the Dingle.  We heard a lot about the traffic, and the narrow roads, and the joys of meeting tour buses on the narrow roads.  Maybe because it was rainy, or late in the season, but the traffic, except right around the town of Dingle, wasn't bad.  We found parking right away.

The town of Dingle is your typical quaint, pretty combination tourist town and working fishing village.  And it was crowded.  It was hard to walk down the street.  So we decided to take a coastal walk.

I love that public footpaths in Ireland and the United Kingdom go across private property and that you never know what you might find.  

Access to these traditional footpaths must be granted and they are well marked where they meet roads, though not necessarily so well within the private property.  We were taking one of these walks in Scotland one time, with a set of directions, and fortunately, the farmer came out of his barn to direct us.  There is a walk around the Dingle Peninsula known as the Dingle Way.  The coastal walk we took is part of that and was well used and well defined.

It seemed like most of the tourists stopped at Dingle for the shopping and eating.  We did a little of each ourselves.  The crowds seeking shelter from the rain and wind made it difficult to get lunch but we found a well-run pub which, uniquely, had on its walls dollar bills and other currency signed by tourists from around the world, as well as fire department patches from around the world.  We did not leave a signed dollar bill for the wall.

We drove around the peninsula on a more or less counterclockwise route, starting along the southern side and cutting across at one point to the northern side.  Here's some of what we saw:

Also, incredibly ancient buildings.  Below, a behive hut (or clochaun).  Construction of beehives date from the 11th century...though they were also constructed as late as the 19th century.  

Fred trying to find a path less travelled, down from the Beehives.  (The path up was straight up!)

Beautiful vistas...

Narrow roads...

More vistas...

We drove across the Conor Pass, the highest pass in Ireland (1496 ft).  The roads were narrower, and the vistas more incredible, though I didn't take many pictures between looking at the view and throwing my hands up to ward off the oncoming traffic. Buses and lorries are warned to turn around before getting to the pass.   I did take this one as we neared the pass:

We were literally in the clouds...

The roads at the pass were barely wide enough for our car.  Fortunately, the opposing cars, and there were some, were canny enough to spot us well before we spotted them and use the few available pulls offs to allow us to pass.  As we got down to the valley, we found a different impediment.

It was an incredible day.  The Dingle Peninsula is more than just a scenic drive, there are working farms out there and, of course, people who live out there in support of the tourism, running B&Bs and shops as well as fisherman and all of the other business that make up a community.  We marvelled at the people who have chosen, for centuries, to live in what was a very remote and inaccessible section of Ireland and is only a little better today.  A place of singular beauty and singular challenges.

We had thought of also driving the Ring of Kerry the next day, but decided one day of narrow peninsular roads was enough and so spent the day exploring Killarney National Park, covered in Monday's post.

And then, with mixed feelings, we made our way back to Dublin, stopping for lunch in the pretty tourist town of Adare.  It has a castle, churches, a nice river walk and thatched cottages.

We had lunch at the Blue Door.  It was very good!

Next adventure: Goodwood.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Ireland - New Ross, Killarney and the Dingle Peninsula

You can't have a rainbow without the rain.  After a couple of sunny days in Dublin, the real Irish weather returned.  We were told that it rained almost every day in Ireland, and we can't really argue with that. But this rainbow accompanied us most of the morning as we drove from our B&B in Killarney to the Dingle Peninsula, so we couldn't really complain.

But I'm jumping ahead in the story.  

We left Dublin with no real plan, just to see where the roads took us.  

They eventually took us to New Ross in central southern Ireland.  New Ross is famous for its most famous emigrant--Patrick Kennedy, the great-grandfather of President Kennedy.  Patrick Kennedy left Ireland during the Great Famine in 1848.  The rest is, you know, history.  

President Kennedy visited the Kennedy homestead just outside New Ross in 1963. It was a very big deal then, and still is today for the town.  Pictures and banners of the President are everywhere downtown. Members of the family still own and live in the actual homestead but have opened the grounds, a few outbuildings and a very well done visitor center to the public.  The private home, below is where the President had tea with his cousin. The courtyard was filled with poiticians the press and local people who had been invited. 

We ended up staying overnight in New Ross, a nice small town on a river.  Apparently it had been a major inland port since the 12th century.  Patrick Kennedy emigrated from there in one of the saling ships known as "famine ships" and you can tour one in the harbor if you wish.  They aren't very big.  We looked at it and thought about how desperate someone would have to be to leave on a ship that small.

We decided to make Killarney our base for exploring Killarney National Park and the Dingle Peninsula.  We found a lovely historic B&B (above) literally across the street from the Park, and it came with a donkey!  What more could one ask for?  The donkey's name is Paddy.

Killarney National Park is beautiful.  That's all you really need to know.  Go there.  Leave now.

If you're a data geek, here are some factoids--it was the first national park in Ireland, created when the Muckross Estate was donated in 1932.  It's over 25,000 acres in size and, according to Wikipedia, is one of the very few places in Ireland that has been continuously covered by woodland since the end of the most recent glacial period, about 10,000 years ago. 

We loved that, from the B&B, we could just walk into the park and around one of the lakes.  There are well marked trails.  Many are used for walkers, bikers and horse carts (called "jaunting carts") but some are designated for walkers only.  The jaunting carts are quite popular, and you do have to watch where you walk.  An admittedly poor picture of a jaunting cart:

Our first walk took us to the Friory, established in 1445 and broken up by Cromwell in 1652.

Hauntingly beautiful and serene, and amazingly accessible.  We were able to climb to the second floor and would have ascended the tower if Fred's efforts to pick the lock with our room key had worked.

This incredibly ancient yew tree was planted in the courtyard.  Could it have been planted before Cromwell destroyed the Friory?  Probably not, but there are yew trees in the park that are 200 years old.

The walls of the friory stand sentinel over the cemetary, which is still in use today.

We also visited Ross Castle, a 15th century tower house.  We took the guided tour inside which has been restored in part.  The tour gave a very detailed look at life in that time period.  And went up and down a lot of very tiny spiral staircases.

A pair of rooks, a kind of crow, at the Castle.  The older one is in the foreground with the white bill.  We also saw a pair of white-tailed eagles at the lake, part of a population re-introduced in 2007.

We walked to the Torc Waterfall from the B&B only to discover that the tour buses got there first!  Bedlam!  Our serenity was seriously disturbed.  But it was an overall pleasant walk of a couple miles, round trip, greatly enhanced by the presence of toilets at the falls and by the jaunting carts going by on the footpaths.

Our last day at the park we drove to the grounds of Muckross House, built in 1843 and the basis for the original park.  The gardens are phenomenal, and worthy of a visit even if you don't want to visit the house.  Great photo ops and walking paths.  The grounds also have a visitor center and a working farm.

I'lll add a picture of Muckross House after we get home (different camera) or you can Google it.

You might have noticed I still haven't mentioned the Dingle Peninsula.  Dingle deserves its own blog that's next.