Ireland day 0054. Sunday 21 November 2021- Blessington

Ireland day 0054. Sunday 21 November 2021- Blessington
Today’s summary Caught the early train to Dublin then the no 65 bus south to Blessington.  Short walk round the Glen Ding woods with Dublin Walking Club then on for a quick look at Russborough House where we met an unexpected visitor.  Lift back to Dublin then DART home
Today’s weather Bright and sunny, much cooler than recently.   About 7C
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Today’s overview location
(the red cross in a circle shows where Val and I are at the moment)
Close-up location
(Click button below to download a GPX of the walk today):

Every day in Ireland seems bring fresh surprises, and today was no different.

The main event of the day was a walk with the Dublin Walking Club from the Wicklow village of Blessington.   Because we don’t have a car at the moment (there’s still no news on the Yaris by the way so I am beginning to lose hope), I had to work out how to get there by public transport.   Fortunately, although it’s deep in Wicklow on the far side of Dublin, even on a Sunday morning the transport connections – a train to Connolly station then the no 65 bus – are quite good.   The unfortunate aspect of the journey was that the return time was uncertain so Val wouldn’t be able to guarantee getting back in time for work.   So I was despatched on my own while Val enjoyed a peaceful morning and a stroll on the beach.

Despite the early start – and I really am not good at early starts – the journey was easy.  Relaxing even, and I enjoyed the views from the train and the upper deck of the bus as I trundled along, and particularly the brisk refreshing mid-point dash across Dublin from railway station to bus stop.   Perhaps the best bit of the journey was the unexpected vegan café which I discovered in Blessington and which I had time to enjoy properly as the bus timetables meant I arrived an hour early.   It was run by a slightly eccentric lady from Colorado who served me a large oatmeal cappuccino when I had asked for a small black tea but hey, they are are pretty similar after all.   I also took out a small mortgage and treated myself to what the Coloradian insisted was a feta cheese and spinach turnover, but which turned out to be a rhubarb and cold custard pastry.   So an unorthodox breakfast, but a lovely café and full of good cheer to start the day.

I met up with the group, and we headed a short way into the countryside to start the walk around the delightful autumn beechwoods at Glen Ding wood.   In many ways, the woodlands were reminiscent of the Chiltern hills in Buckinghamshire, which I am more familiar with.   Beautiful beech trees at the autumnal best, shot through with bright low angle morning sunshine.   It turned out that the walk leaders had overestimated how long the walk would take, so that meant we had plenty of time to inspect the abundant fungi littering the forest floor.   Once you got your eye in, you realised they were practically everywhere.  I think the generally mild and humid weather must suit them.   A couple of examples are attached to the blog – the one at the top is a weird-looking black-brown fungus which I couldn’t identify (it might be a waxcap) but which definitely didn’t look edible to me.

As we finished early, there was plenty of daylight left so we headed on to pay a quick visit to nearish-by Russborough House.   This is another fine Palladian mansion, very much like Castletown House which we visited a few weeks ago although this one isn’t in the care of the OPW so you have to pay to get in.   We had a quick canter round the grounds, and while we were walking, one of our Group introduced me to a Chinese lady who we met out with her daughter and mother in the park’s playground.   I assumed she was a friend, as she seemed to be well known to most of our group – perhaps an occasional member?   So we chatted amicably enough about the weather, and the burgeoning fungi, then moved on.

Once we were out of earshot, my walking companions revealed than none of them had ever actually met her before, but she was in fact Hazel Chu – Chair of the Green Party in Ireland, a Dublin Councillor and until a few weeks ago, Lord Mayor of Dublin.   She was also the first Chinese-ethnic origin person to become mayor of any capital city in Europe and is currently writing a book on women in politics for HarperCollins.   Quite a surprising encounter, in fact.

As the sun was beginning to set and it was getting quite cold, we forewent the Russborough café and I cadged a lift to the Dun Laoghaire DART station.  After a brief wait on the darkening platform, I caught the train, sped back to the flat and immediately started researching the edible fungi of Ireland.   If these blogs suddenly stop, you can surmise that my efforts in this direction may have not have been entirely successful.

PS Before you ask – and I did check – Ms Chu was Lord Mayor, not Lady Mayoress, as in Ireland, no gender distinction for the title has been defined


Today’s photos (click to enlarge)

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Setting full moon in Malahide this morning.   A red-eye start to catch the early train to Dublin this morning.. ..then a quick flit across the Liffey to catch the no 65 to Blessington
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A swift and efficient journey on the bus to Blessington – with great views from the upper deck!   The main square this morning, meeting point for the start of the walk Buses only go every 2 hours so I arrived an hour early.   But just time to find this wonderful café and enjoy a blissful cappuccino and pastry for breakfast.   Sublime start to the day!
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Setting out in the bright Autumn sunshine for the short, chilly, loop walk round the Glen Ding woods, on the outskirts of Blessington

Photo: Dublin Walking Club

These exciting looking fungi are apparently common puffballs but they are also known more colloquially as wolf’s farts.   Either way they manage to look both fascinatingly delicious and repellent at the same time
Russborough House – a fine example of a Palladian mansion, very much in the same style as Castletown house in County Kildare, though about 25 years younger (built 1741-55 for Joseph Leeson, the son of a brewer who became a politician and later a peer).   Curiously it is said to be the “widest” house in Ireland – an odd dimension for house comparison, but there you go


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