Cork beckons. It's a mile and a half walk down into Blarney itself to catch the bus into Cork, and the 30 minute journey is just €2.70 single. No, I've probably ranted about UK and, in particular Hampshire exorbitant bus fares too many times in this blog. Let's not go there.
Cork's a weird city. It's got a lot of big shops and a lot of good, local, smaller ones, so an excellent place if shopping is your thing. But for tourism? The #1 attraction in TripAdvisor et al is the Victorian English Market - a fairly small and to our eyes non-descript food market. Next! Well we could wander across the bridge to the Butter Museum but even with our weird and wonderful eclectic choices in museums one dedicated to the area's production of butter seems a bridge too far.
What about fabric shops? Liz needs some quilting fabric for our holiday quilt. Google tells us Vibes & Scribes is the place and, woohoo, it's just around the corner. Hmm, it's a bookshop. A good bookshop grant you, but Monty Python's shop had more cheese than this does fabric. Ah, the man explains that there's another shop not too far away. Actually there's even another V&S, a second hand bookshop, between them.
Vibes and Scribes is huge, 3 floors, ground: fabric and millinery, first: art and crafts, lower: wool. Perhaps I need to nip back to the bookshop to get something to read - this could take a long time. It does! Still we exit with stuff purchased from each floor and even I am responsible for a couple of the purchases.
We need to sit now, and didn't we pass a large brewpub? Ok, we've been in Ireland for 6 weeks now and my single, #1 recommendation for a craft beer pub is Rising Sons in Cork. Let's deal with the negatives, like all craft beer beers in Ireland it is expensive, over €5 a pint, it's a sports bar and there are TVs and large screens around, although they are muted. There is muzack, but it is fairly low volume and excellent 60s/70s rock and folk. Now the plus side, the beer is excellent. Their stout Mi Daza is probably our favourite Irish stout (so much so Liz wouldn't even try anything else there). They have an excellent Belgian Style Wheat, a smokey porter that looks so light in body compared to the stout but is even more complex and a great Irish Red. And those are just the few I tasted (I was on halves). Actually not quite true I asked the barman for a taste of the sour wheat. Drink those gooseberries without puckering I challenge you! It was indeed sour. But then the barman dolloped in a generous helping of rapberry syrup and it was transformed to a delightful summer refreshing drink. Impressive. Oh and the beers were served with much less gas than many we've had. Not proper draught beer but the closest we've got.
Food is pizza, thin crust, choose your sauce, choose 2 ingredients and give the man €12. Doesn't seem a bad deal, but wait, there's a free pint with every pizza. Now that does make it a good deal, especially when the pizza is actually very good and the toppings generous.
Rising Sons, Cork. Recommended
You might guess that we spent an even longer time in the pub than the fabric shop - it required an effort. Time to go back to the van. Cast your mind back to the second sentence of today's entry It's a mile and a half walk down into Blarney itself. The operative word being down. It's the same distance back but this time all uphill. We were well puffed when we reached the van but 17,000+ steps for today. It's got to be doing us good.