Last night Steph invited me out with her friend Patrick to a local pub for “just one drink.” I didn’t get back to the hostel until after 1 am. I’m still amused by tourists who want to go to an “authentic” Irish pub. We went to a pub filled with locals (Steph and Patrick knew everyone). I don’t remember quite what music was played. “Like a Virgin” stands out in my mind though. Patrick and I lost Steph in the crowd for a while. Patrick has left his job as a chef in Newcastle to go to one of the ‘Stans for the next month as a chef before moving to Australia.
I think I went to five castles today (Strangfold, Kilcleif, Ardglas, and Dundrum included); all but the first I could wander about only the outside as they were locked up tight. All were the 15th century tower castles, thousands of which are scattered around Ireland. I’ve spent a lot of time studying them, so I find even exploring only the outside interesting.
My energy levels are starting to go up. My average speed was probably 3 kph faster than recent days, and the hills didn’t bother me as much. I bought a new saddle for the bicycle a few months ago, and have been breaking it in. I’d intended to swap it back out, but forgot. The past few days have been a pain in the … I tweaked some of the seat adjustments this morning, and whether the slow day yesterday or the adjustments, things were much better, also making the day more pleasant. I’d look at my odometer to find I’d gone farther than expected.
The forecast for tomorrow is dire, with heavy rains and 30 mph winds starting tonight. I’ve had spectacular weather so far, so it had to catch up with me eventually. 100 km today would have taken me to Belfast. Because of the number of castles along the way, I chose a shorter day. I knew there was a campground at the halfway point to Belfast, although I couldn’t confirm if they had space, so I’d also identified another one 10 km down the road as an alternate, and worst case I could just push through Belfast. It’s Sunday, and the ferry to the Isle of Man doesn’t run until Wednesday anyway.
It all worked out as planned. Josh at Reception at the campground at the Castle Ward estate was super friendly and found me a spot. The camp warden (Gordon) has checked in with me a couple of times to make sure I’m OK, and even offered to store my bicycle in the office overnight to keep it dry. Given the impending weather, I asked if he has any leftover stakes, and he rummaged some up so I can deploy the extra guy lines on my tent. I also turned the tent to have the door face away from the winds. Let’s hope that’s enough.
I plan to stay here tomorrow and explore this National Heritage site that was also the set for season 1 of Game of Thrones.
A fellow camper has come by a couple of times/to check on me and made sure I knew that if I needed anything (like tools) to come by his tent and he’d help me out. Robert works for Allstate, and suggested several things for me to do tomorrow as I wait out the weather.
While I remembered that the road signs (and weather forecasts) are all in miles, it’s still depressing how slow it makes things seem.