As I said, I had done some research (mainly on Tripadvisor) before we got to Cork and I had a few places on my ‘To visit’ list. One of these places was a pub called The Sextant and it looked like it did a damn fine breakfast. It was only a short walk from our hotel and opened at 10am so we had a lovely long lie, a refreshing shower, donned our togs and headed out. The pub had just opened and the waitresses/barmaids were still setting up. However, they were very welcoming and made sure we were attended to. The menu was simple but covered every breakfast angle as you could have 2 eggs on toast cooked whatever way you wanted, you could also add bacon, sausage, black or white pudding to that. Or if you were feeling healthy there was porridge and honey, granola with compote & yoghurt or just some coffee or tea & toast.
I chose scrambled egg on toast with coffee and OH had his poached. The coffee was brilliant and the only downside was that I had finished mine before my breakfast arrived. Mind you it gave me the excuse to order another ;p As we devoured our eggs and toast we watched on as the bar filled up. One by one, men of differing ages and attire, came in and took a high stool next to one another at the corner of the bar. They were all greeted by name and asked how things were. I think there were maybe about 6 in their Breakfast Club – well there was on that particular Tuesday morning. As they entered they would look over towards us, nod in acknowledgment and take their seats. Then, after a set amount of time, they would order their eggs. I recognised this must change every day as the waitress didn’t have them ready for them but knew exactly what everyone took in their tea or coffee. What was really sweet was that one of them asked for 2 boiled eggs but by the time their order arrived there was another addition to the bar who also wanted boiled eggs. Instead of allowing his fellow breakfast club member to wait for his order he readily gave over one of his and even allowed him to share his soldiers!
Breakfast over, I went to pay the bill at the other end of the bar. The waitress obviously recognised that I wasn’t local and was chatty about our visit to Cork. I told her about our trip and how I had happened upon The Sextant through TripAdvisor. Next door in the bar I could hear an echoey murmur. TripAdvisor. What. They found it on tripadvisor. Really, Yeah. Wow.
Blarney Castle isn’t far from Cork and kissing the Blarney Stone has been on my Things To Do list for a long time so off we drove to gain the gift of eloquence. Blarney isn’t a hard place to find and there was plenty parking when we arrived. It was a showery day so we were hoping the rain would stay off to allow as a lengthy visit to the castle. It’s €12.00 per adult to get in to the entire grounds. And trust me when I say it’s important to see the whole grounds and not just the castle and stone. There are lots of interesting walks which allow you to see fairy glades, a witches’ stone, a druids cave, waterfalls, wishing steps, dungeons and a poison garden to name just a few of the mythical sounding sights.
As it was still relatively early and the grounds were quiet we decided to visit the castle first just in case it suddenly got busy. Now I already knew that kissing the actual stone was a bit scary but no-one warned me of the spiral stairs you have to go up to get to the stone! Climbing this ancient staircase is not for the faint hearted. I’m not good with spiral staircases at the best of times but this one (to me) was treacherous! As the stairs got narrower and narrower, I got scareder and scareder (yes I know that’s not grammatically correct but more scared doesn’t scan as well and I was even more scared than that ;p) At one point I was clinging on to the wall and pulling myself up by my fingernails – it was either that or going on all fours. Honestly, if you’re not good with spiral staircases or you’re partial to excess pie eating this is not a visit you need to make! At the top my legs were like jelly but my reward was some amazing views.
We made our way round towards the stone and with no-one in front of me it was immediately my turn to kiss the stone. Just in case you don’t know anything about Blarney Castle there is a stone located in part of the wall below the battlements and if you kiss it, myth and legend dictates you will receive the gift of eloquence and never be lost for words again. It used to be that you had to be lowered by your ankles over the battlements to kiss the stone but they’re a bit more cautious nowadays so you lie backwards on the walkway, lean back as far as you can go holding on to 2 iron railings and kiss the stone. Thankfully there is a man there to help – I say help, what I really mean is he’s there to hold on to you so you can’t fall through the gaps and career towards a hideous death. Ok, maybe that isn’t quite the case but it doesn’t stop you thinking it!
I clung on, I leant back, I was told to go lower, I went lower and I KISSED THE STONE!
Obviously, my main thought on the way up was how the hell am I going to get back down again? With hindsight, I wasn’t thinking straight (and who can blame me!?) because I failed to notice that no-one was coming down. Thankfully and much to my relief, I discovered there was another way down and it was far easier. The following morning my legs were achy. I reckon the whole time I was in the castle my legs were tense!