Notes from Puzzle Palace

Wednesday, June 29, 2022


 24 June
Cobh, Cork, Dublin

That’s a lot of places for one day isn’t it?  We were supposed to dock in Waterford, but like most of this magical mystery tour, we didn’t.  There was a bit of weather and we were unable to weigh anchor and unload the tenders so we ended up in Cobh instead.  

Here we waited until around 10:45 for immigration to come on board and stamp our passports.  We then headed out to catch the train to Cork.  Why Cork you ask?  Well, because it’s a stop in Eurorails.  No, we are on our way to Dublin to visit another puzzler over the weekend and that is where we have to catch the train.  

Before we left we had a bit of breakfast.  I had the strangest bread ever.  

The train ride across the country was lovely.  Our friend wanted to come down to pick us up, but it is a 3 hour drive for him and we just wouldn’t hear of it.  Besides, I love train rides.  If the US had passenger trains for the long haul runs, I would gladly take them but Americans are too tied into their cars.  Perhaps with the rising cost of gasoline that will change. 

We arrived in Dublin around 3 and were picked up by our friend James Kerley.  We went rushing over and gave out some long overdue hugs.  Our first stop was Cogs Brain Store.  I had heard of this place many years ago and was looking forward to going.  Sadly, I only left with 1 puzzle and 3 books.  We next went to a shop called Works where I purchased a couple more puzzles.  

When we arrived, we headed to the B&B where we were to stay, but sadly the owner wasn’t home.  No problem.  We headed to Jim’s house and met his partner Kathy and once again, hugs were passed out. It’s been even longer since we saw Jim as he had a few health issues over the years and was unable to attend our annual puzzle party for quite some time. This made the visit even more special to us.

While George and Karen sat and caught up, Jim took me around and showed me his puzzle collection!  What a great collection it is too.  He has a rather large puzzle room on the top floor, a nice little workshop out back and some wonderful puzzle cabinets in the main room.  As in our own home, everywhere you turn you see puzzles. My kind of people. 

After a few hours we went down to the local steak house and had a wonderful meal along with a bit too much wine. 

The day was short but sweet.  That evening we returned to the B&B to fall quickly asleep.  

25 June

Malehide, Dublin

When we awoke, I read an email from friends on the ship.  It turned out that there was "Weather" again and they didn't lay anchor.  Funny, The other Oceania ship that was in port that day was able to anchor.  I'm glad we booked two nights at the hotel and got off.  It would have been a shame to miss seeing our friend.

We went down to breakfast and had a nice big fry up and juice.  Jim picked us up around 10:00 and we headed back to Dublin to look at a few book stores.  I managed to find a few more books and a couple of puzzles that we didn’t have.  I’d say it was a good stop.  While there I took a few photos of the local area and the Gay Pride parade that was going on.  There was so much support for these people. It is something we back home could learn from.  Equality and inclusion.  

We then went back to his house for some more puzzling.  Karen had a few cousins visiting for a number of concerts that were going on and they bought Jim a new puzzle.  I’d not had a chance to play with this kind before and enjoyed assembling it (sorry Jim). As I enjoyed this puzzle, Jim brought me out about 10 more to look at.  I was afraid to disassemble them because of how hard the one I did was. 

George showed him a couple of puzzles that he brought along and they had quite the discussion about puzzles and life in general as we sat and puzzled.  Around 2 I said we needed to head to lunch so we took a walk down town to the local pub.  Here we joined up with the two cousins and had some good pub food and 2 of the darkest, foamiest Guinness beers I’ve ever had. It tasted so much better than the bottled stuff we get back home.  

After we finished lunch we went back to his place to puzzle and chat away the rest of the afternoon. Along the walk we saw a few Fairy's that tickled me and a lovely rose garden.  

We left for dinner around 7 and went to a nice seafood dinner.  Sadly, on the way into the parking lot, we hit a sea gull.  Now I only write this, not to catch flack about killing a bird, but to shame the foolish family who threw Cheetos out of their window for the birds.  There are signs all over saying don’t feed the birds, and if one must, do it away from traffic.  This was a senseless and preventable death of a beautiful animal.  

After the dinner we returned to our B&B for a long overdue nap.  

26 June


This morning we awoke, had two internet connections, and had a nice breakfast. At 10:30 or so our friend picked us up.  We thanked the owner of the B&B and got on our way to Belfast.  Initially we were going to go into town and have lunch, but then Jim decided to take us on the scenic route.  This was wonderful.  I got to see many of the divided farm plots and the stone walls thrilled me.  As we went through the country, the painted lines on the road change from yellow to white as you enter Northern Ireland.  Other than that, there is no indication that we have changed "countries".  

I simply love the old buildings that we saw along the drive.  Some of these were used as warning towers when invaders were spotted. 

He took us past a hotel that has special meaning to him and I can see why.  It is simply beautiful.  Perhaps one day George and I will go back and stay there.

We stopped off just outside of town to get me some more milk (it’s a good thing we did, the bottle I bought in London was curdled even though it didn’t expire for another 4 days.)   We then went into Belfast and boy was that a puzzle.  

Along the way we saw a number of interesting sights, one of which was a parade. I won't go into the politics of this, but the marchers were protestants. 

We knew which dock we had to be at, but not which port!  There is a North and South, and the ship didn’t give me that information. After driving in circles for a while I worked it out and we were back on track.  Until…..My beautiful lover spotted a sign and told Jim to turn off NOW!!! Big mistake.  Back in circles we went.  I must admit that I told George to just SHUT UP! because you can’t see all the signs from the back seat :) In hindsight, it was rather funny, but at the time I could sense George's panic rising.

Problem solved.  I pulled out my handy google map and plugged in the port.  Back on track.  This was wonderful.  We had eyes on the ship.  Eyes on the ship!  And then we lost her again. Comedy of errors here.  No, we hadn’t gotten lost, it was just blocked by a series of godowns.  Perfect. Around 4 pm we were there.  And wouldn’t you know it, just as we pull in it started pissing down.  We had planned on going for lunch, but with this mess, and the fact that none of us were hungry, we just said our goodbyes and hoped that we see each other again soon.  As always, it wasn’t a long enough visit. 

All in all, I enjoyed our stay in Ireland, and I tell you, that Jim is one crazy nutter. I highly advise going out to see him if you are in the neighborhood.  And as for puzzles, well I can tell you, Ireland is a vast desert. Don’t go expecting much.  It just didn’t happen.

On to 4 sea days and then St. Johns, Newfoundland. Until next time, Happy Puzzling and Smooth Sailing.