Johnny D. Sheffield surprise and a mini break in Donegal

If anyone doubts that Mr Johnny Depp did recently appear onstage next to legendary guitarist Jeff Beck, I give you the proof! Apologies for poor quality pics: the truth is we were not allowed to take any photos in Sheffield City Hall (it did not stop a bloke sitting a couple of seats away filming the entire gig…):

I booked the concert in February 2020. It was re-scheduled twice and my hotel changed my reservation on both occasions. As the late May Bank Holiday was moved from Monday to Thursday, I had to book Monday off in order to come back by train…I also decided to book an extra night and meet with M. who was going to fly from Dublin…except she never did, due to unforseen circumstances. Having visited Sheffield in 2018 during my informal property hunt I kind of knew what to expect, but I felt rather let down. The locals were lovely, really friendly and the city tries to cater to its student population the best it can but the streets seemed weirdly deserted and most buildings delapidated. The gig was certainly worth it though and seeing Johnny D. put a smile on everyone’s faces (I guess all men and majority of women were on his side during his defamation trial). On Monday morning I checked out early and took the first available train back to St Pancras. I had no reservation and struggled to find a seat but it was a better option than being stuck in bleak Sheffield until lunch time.

The terraced house Airbnb me and M. booked together for Saturday night was windowless and awkwardly designed. I arrived in the morning, had a look around, had an OK lunch at a Thai place in the Market (again, exceptionally nice and polite people everywhere). By early afternoon I was checked in and holed up with a bottle of wine from Waitrose watching the new season of Stranger Things on my phone, since their telly was tiny and not at all smart. A bit of a wasted day really. On Sunday morning however I was up bright and early and I hopped on a bus to Bakewell. I was desperate for a change of scenery!

I had vague memories of rainy Bakewell from some 13 years ago and this time it was mostly sunny, breezy and therefore perfect for a morning walk. I took me 1.5 hour to the Monsal Dale Viaduct and then another 1.5 hour back. When back in town I waited 20 min to be served at a chippie (‘we are short staffed’ said a sign at the counter, while 2 young people moved at glacial pace), but the chips were soggy and the scampi were literally liquid inside 馃榾 Defrosted and then frozen again, methinks. I wonder whether it is time to revert to packed lunches and buying food in supermarkets when travelling in the UK, instead on wasting money on substandard food and service in restaurants?

I returned on Monday and only 3 days later I flew to the island of Ireland for the first time in nearly 3 years. Luckily I chose to fly with Loganair to Derry in Northern Ireland and not to the understaffed Dublin Airport, where I would have most likely had problems with flight cancellations, enormous security queues etc. After the rubbish Sheffield Airbnb (the hotel wasn’t much to write home about either), our Airbnb in Inishowen, Donegal exceeded our expectations and it was simply the best place I have ever stayed in. Our jaws literally dropped when we self-checked in. Huge, beautifully designed house with panoramic windows offering splendid views across the bay, gorgeous gardens and ponds, no neighbours near us and, perhaps most importantly, a hot tub where we spent each and every evening! The sun did not set until 22:15 and it was still fairly light for another hour or so. We had an ambitious itinerary which had to be altered to allow for more time in the jacuzzi, ha ha!

We still managed to visit Derry and it’s Bloody Sunday murals with a local guide, whose father was one of thirteen shot on that day. A valuable lesson in modern history for everyone, no matter what their political views. We had also pre-booked ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ in a local cinema. Girls made me watch the original movie the night before and I found it dated and boring, but the new film is a different beast entirely! While the plot is simple, Tom Cruise is in an incredible shape (Alexander Skarsgard in ‘The Northman’ comes second close, but then he is 15 years younger…), Jennifer Connely is still stunningly beautiful and classy at 51 years of age, but what makes this film outstanding is the incredible camera work and photography. I felt like I was there in the cockpit (god forbid, with my travel sickness). I might go and watch it again, it’s such a feast for eyes and a feel good factor is 10/10. Loved it!

‘Free’ Derry. Our guide was pretty convinced that re-united Ireland will become a reality in the foreseeable future. There was not a single British flag in sight in the city, no one mentioned #plattyjubes either.

On Sunday we headed to Slieve League cliffs for a boat trip. The cliffs, though taller than the Cliffs of Moher, didn’t appear as such but looked marvellous up close in blazing sunshine. M. bravely had a go at steering the boat (‘we were heading towards the rocks’ commented our fellow passenger). Some people jumped in the water for a quick swim. I thought I was going to throw up at some point but I was fine – not a fan of rocking boats, me 馃榾

Our trip would not be complete without Malin Head (the most northerly point of Ireland), we also stopped at a few other viewing points. Ireland’s beauty never stops to amaze me.

I am not flying again until late August. I hope by then UK airports will get their s…together. Having said that, checking my baggage in and going through security in Stansted took me less than 10 min – incredible! I am not ashamed to admit I had a tear or two in my eyes when I saw my flight on a display… It’s such an important part of my life, being able to visit new places, no matter how near of far they might be, and going back to the places I love. There is nothing better.