Dot took me to a castle for lunch! Really. This is Blackrock Castle:
In addition to looking Really Cool (if you ordered an Irish Castle from Central Casting, this is what you'd get), it has a really nice restaurant that proudly proclaims the local and sometimes organic nature of its food. This is also where I had to come clean and admit that I don't put milk in my tea! Shock, amazement. But I did drink the milk, just not in the tea. It was probably local organic Irish milk, and you wouldn't want to waste that.
The other thing that Blackrock Castle has to recommend itself is an observatory and a little space museum. The space museum wasn't expensive, and we were kind of ready for some indoor entertainment, so in we went. There are a couple of bays where you can see these short movies about how the solar system was formed and how planets and moons are made, and they have bean bags to sit on! You can also play around with magnets, and there's this interactive thing where you can send a message INTO SPACE! You pick a star that has planets, and the display explains to you very carefully that, on the off chance that there's life on these planets, it may be Very Different from us -- the aliens may not even have eyes! -- but still, you are invited to send them a note.
Well. Faced with this warning, what do you say? We two, educated grownups, with several university degrees between us, at least one of us a responsible, productive member of society (the other is a disreputable graduate student), decided on the perfect missive to express our diplomatic greetings to far-off alien races who might be searching the skies, desperate to discover whether they are alone in the universe:
"Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side. Obviously."
Forty-three years from now, that message will arrive on an alien world. We hope that, forty-three years after that, Earth's SETI outfit will receive a message beamed back from the depths of space, saying simply: "Ha ha."
Having achieved this diplomatic coup, it was time to explore further domains. We headed off for the burbs, cackling wildly.
And here it is, folks! You thought Blackrock Castle was impressive? You ain't seen nuthin' yet. Here is the real Tower of Power:
A woman's library is her castle. Inside, I had the VIP tour of The Realm:
Seriously, this is a lovely place. It's mostly open-plan, very welcoming, with a separate but not segregated children's area. There are places for activities, places for newspaper reading, places for research, and a good-sized collection that's laid out attractively and accessibly. It's a Nice Place To Be, which is really one of the best things about a good public library.
Following this highlight, we bought a copy of The Hobbit (which is to say, Dot bought it while I stood around looking at all the different kinds of Irish candy) and took it back to Dot's house. Dot's house is lovely and cozy, and the living room and kitchen are both really good places to have cups of tea and a visit. Also, Dot makes really good cookies. We visited for a bit, and then decamped to the living room to watch The Hobbit, which is lots of fun to do on a rainy afternoon in Cork with a friend.
Afterwards, we went to a Local Pub where Dot sweet-talked the waitress into letting us order hamburgers and a pint of cider for me (mmmm, cider on tap, mmmmmmmmmmmm). After dinner, she brought me back to the hostel, and we decided that we really must do this again sometime, a few years from now, the next time we're both on the same land mass once again.
Sight-seeing in the morning, space silliness at lunch, and then an afternoon of library, tea, cookies, hobbits, and visiting, followed by dinner at the pub. Is there a better way to visit Cork? Survey says: No.
Well, Dot had to get up the next morning and go to work, and I was off to Dublin. You'll hear about that adventure as soon as I get the photos loaded . . .