That's David, Paul, and Chryss and the Santa Barbara city flag, at Blakes of the Hollow Pub in Enniskillen.Yep, it's really named after William Blake, but nope, not that one--
Catherine Blake, grandmother of the current owner, named it for her son William when she bought the spot, already open for 50 years, in 1929.History, I tells you.
Here they met with and read with the Fermanagh Writers Group, doing their round robin thing for a bit, then letting the group do a round robin or two, too. So we got to hear quite a range, from finely crafted light verse to much heavier political prose poems and all sort of things in-between. One of their readers managed to work in a different instrument (flute, fiddle) each time he took his turn. Not surprisingly, a pub helps blur that line between music and poetry a bit. Our agenda put it plainly, but this phrase actually means quite much: "compensation: fellowship with Irish poets." Indeed.
Here's a different view of the place we got to stay for two nights (such a luxury on this whirlwind adventure), as you would see it from the dock on the River Erne. Those little gable windows were ours.
Having an actual place to stay with a kitchen meant we packed in some groceries and simply had great bread and even better butter for breakfast, as we knew this day, like most, would more than likely become a rolling feast.
So for lunch we ate at the Stables Tearoom at Florence Court (see Toured). I also offer up Stables Tearoom as a particularly UK kind of oxymoron. For what's basically a cafeteria in a historic site, the food was pretty tasty, as perhaps the photos suggest here, balsamic drizzle abounds across our two very different salads, but there's good ingredients at the dishes' roots, which there better be as you can buy produce from the estate's garden at the gift shop. As the spot was home to generations of Earls of Enniskillen, we had to eat cake, too.
Cafe Merlot, the restaurant tucked under Blakes of the Hollow, as we figured we couldn't get lost on the way to the reading then. (Plus, it seems easy for Irish dinners to stretch, so the less time it took to get from dinner to reading the better, we learned.) It's a quite opulent space, arched brick ceilings, marble floors--not exactly what you'd expect to come across at pub-bottom.
And then the food started with plating like this, that evening's antipasti platter, as they billed it. What you see top to bottom is a perfect little prawn, a mushroom tarragon bisque you instantly wanted as your whole meal, and a delightful smoked salmon.
Once again we had a very pleasant, chatty, aiming-to-please manager/owner(?) giving us advice on drink. Oddly, given they're under the pub, they only have Guinness and Heineken on tap, and of course given the name we probably should have had wine, but there is no Irish wine, is there. So because his wife is German, and he said for a long time you could only get this beer in Germany so he was proud to have it, he suggested this.
Inish Mac Saint Fermanagh Beer, a bit more heartier ale than the lager, made at a brewery right on the Lower Lough Erne. A bit of a 'tweener beer, a pale with some Belgian notes, like, perhaps, a saison without the strength of its convictions. Solid enough.
Chryss and I drove the 8 miles out of Enniskillen to explore the grounds of Florence Court, a countryside estate that's part of the National Trust. Just like the Hearsts figured out owning Hearst Castle would hurts-so-bad their finances, so left the mansion to California ("but we'll keep the land for grazing and vines, thank you very much"), the landed wealthy in Ireland and England know when to give up their ancestral homes. That does mean the current creatures who live there seem quite at peace. Just ask the birds and the beefs.
Ardhowen, not that we had time to indulge. But we did get a better look up the river to where a rail bridge clearly once ran.