Ireland day 0080. Friday 17 December 2021- Rogerstown

Ireland day 0080. Friday 17 December 2021- Rogerstown
Today’s summary Took the train one stop across the causeway to Donabate.   Tried to walk up to the Rogerstown estuary but access was closed off.   Returned via Carrs Mill and the fabulous An bacus beag bakery.   Val to work in evening.
Today’s weather Dry but overcast all day.   No wind.   Appx 10C
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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 today’s walk):
Donabate Rogerstown loop

Today marks a bit of a step into the unknown.   The longest continuous blog I have ever written before this one was when I recorded the 79 days of a long walk I did in 2014 (   So from now on, I am in uncharted territory.   I do hope I can keep it up for a bit longer, and that people will keep on reading it.   Anyway I do know the blog will have at least one visitor- which will be me when I am 108 and sitting in my bath-chair, trying to recall exactly why I on earth came to the emerald isle all those years ago.

But back to the present.   As Val is still working (though tonight is her last night for a while), we are still a little short of time but we decided to get a bit more organised today, and to try and make slightly better use of the short midwinter daylight hours.

Our destination was Donabate – which we have visited a couple of times before, either on the way to the beach, or when we were going to Newbridge House.   Donabate is frustratingly close to Malahide, but because the proposed greenway adjacent to the railway embankment across the lagoon hasn’t been built yet, there is no quick way to get there without taking the train.   So, once we had successfully transported ourselves to the north of the lagoon, our aim was to explore a different part of the Donabate area, and also to get a feel for what one of Malahide’s nearest neighbours was actually like.

Malahide is fortunate in that the coast alongside the Broadmeadow estuary – both to the west, towards Swords, and east towards Portmarnock, has been provided with a decent path and good access from the town.   Donabate is in some ways a carbon copy of Malahide, in that it is situated on a sandy peninsula with a shallow lagoon, spanned by the railway, to the north.   In this case, it’s the Rogerstown estuary and I had thought – rather naively as it turned out – that there might be similar access to the shoreline from the town.

This was not the case.   Although there is a track marked on the map leading right to the shore directly from Donabate, like so much of Ireland, you quickly encounter wire fences, thick hedges and frightening signage which blocks your progress.   I suppose we got within 100m of the shore but to go any further would have been impossible.   By way of a minor compensation, where the track met the fence barring further progress north, it had been extended due east into a cleared field with a ruined tower situated in the middle.   It turns out that the ruin is actually that of an old windmill – Carr’s Mill – and the field is in the process of being landscaped into a public park (a bit like the one at Robswall, but on a smaller scale).   So perhaps Donabate isn’t quite as badly off for public amenities as I initially thought.

Returning in a loop back towards the station, we passed through a huge new housing estate, full of smart looking identikit houses on the outskirts of the town.   Lots of small towns that we have visited on Ireland’s east coast seem to have sprouted these estates – presumably in response to Dublin’s housing crisis and the concomitant rapid influx of wealth making these properties affordable.   It’s just a bit of a shame that so many historical buildings – many of enormous charm and architectural quality – have been abandoned to crumble in the countryside.   Collateral damage, seemingly, in this headlong dash for modernity.

By this stage I think it’s fair to say we were a little underwhelmed by Donabate.   But then suddenly, at the end of an unassuming row of 1960s shops, we came across “An bacus beag” – the Small Bakery.   This turned out to be a wonderful find – I suppose to use fashionable language you would call it “artisan”, and it specialises in making a whole variety of delicious looking breads and pastries, all produced on-site.   There were vats of sourdough fermenting away at the back of the shop, and to boot, coffee and locally made Christmas decorations were on sale (you can see one that we bought – the bunting in the banner image at the top – Nollaig Shona means “Happy Christmas” in Irish).   It’s run by two brothers.   Brother 1 works an unbelievable 8pm – 11am shift, four nights a week, baking all the bread by hand, and Brother 2 works all day selling in the shop.   I have no idea where they get the energy to keep going but they are obviously doing pretty well because by the time we got there around 2pm, most of the stock was already sold.

Having enjoyed an unscheduled pause for hot chocolate, croissants and strawberry turnovers, we returned to the station and got the train for the short hop across the estuary to Malahide.

But I can’t finish blog without first updating readers on the concluding chapter in the pumpkin saga.   Yesterday was only part 1 – which involved carving the massive vegetable into narrow slices and roasting them in olive oil for an hour an a half.   The oven wasn’t big enough to fit them all in, so I had to do them in two “goes” – taking three hours in the process.   Then this evening, for part 2 I had to make something to put on the slices to make them edible – because pumpkin flesh on its own is about as tasty as watered down potato.   So I was presented with a recipe for Malai Kari sauce by Val, and told to get on with it as she headed off to work.

I’m pleased to report that I managed to find most of the ingredients in the local SupaValue – including odd sounding things (to me) like passata and coconut milk.   After more hours of chopping, stirring and boiling, you can see the end result in the image at the bottom.   But you will have to wait until tomorrow to get the final verdict on edibility, as I was under strict orders not to eat it until Val got back.   I do hope the wait will be worth it.   By this time tomorrow, though, we should know.


Today’s photos (click to enlarge)

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Donabate high street, just outside the station.   I think I would summarise it as “pleasant enough but a bit unremarkabe” Striking crimson clover, Trifolium incarnatum.   There was a wide border of wild flowers – many still in bloom – alongside one of the fields leading to the estuary.   Probably, it – and many others we have seen like it – may be the result of a subsidy scheme aimed at encouraging pollinating insects.   Whatever the origin, it added a very welcome splash of December colour.
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Ruins of Carr’s Mill – an old windmill on a slight hilltop between Donabate and the Rogerstown estuary.   The surrounding field is in the process of being turned into a public park to serve as an amenity for the nearby new (and huge) Rahillion estate but at the moment there are yet more scary signs inviting you to keep out or risk prosecution.   We didn’t see the signs until we were on the way out. Evidently the temptation to deface prominent buildings was just great 278 years ago as it is today
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A rather charming scooter park in the local primary school An bacus beag (“The small bakery”) tucked in at the end of an unassuming shopping centre.  So good, it made the whole trip to Donabate worthwhile
Pumpkin preparation part 2.   On the left is the roast pumpkin slices I prepared earlier (well that is a quarter of it – the rest is still in the fridge) and on the right is the malai kari sauce I made tonight.   The rather droopy looking coriander in the middle is supposed to decorate the top but I am hoping it will look a bit more appetising to eat after an evening in water.   Sadly it was all the supermarket had left this evening.
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