Monday, July 26, 2004

Wheelie good

Hoorah.  The sun is shining, the birds are singing (actually, that bit wasn't so good - we had a colony of marauding gulls outside our office all afternoon making nasty gull noises), and I got home to find a package from Japan on our doorstep.

Yes folks, it was The Difficult Second Album.  The Cosmic Wheels rock.  The NZ ones, that is.  Unless Tom has lost all taste and design sensibility, this Cosmic Wheels  (minus the The, I note) is just a group of pretenders straight out of PG13 (my favourite song).

I'm up to track 10, and have grinned a lot.  Clever lyrics and catchy riffs abound.  My album of summer so far.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

impressions of Ireland

3 Dohertys and a Taylor.  A big green Skoda Octavia (a good family car for a family road trip).  Six days around the Emerald Isle.

The driving.
I was one of the designated drivers, but did I get to do any driving?  Nope, because the other was my dad.  Dads never let their kids drive them .  But since A always makes me drive when we hire cars (he's out of practice at the gear-clutch combo), I did appreciate my time in the back seat.  We managed to clock up close to 900 miles over the six days, on all sorts of roads.  There was a fair amount of "are we nearly there yet?", a few nasty traffic jams, a few wrong turns and a few times we were totally lost, but it always worked out in the end.  Like the time mum took us to an interesting looking blue symbol on the map, where she was sure we could get a cup of tea (more on that later).  We turned off the highway, with little clue of where we were headed.  What we found, in the end, was a gem.  A craft co-operative (lots of interesting studio/shops) with a cafe that serves the best apple pie I've ever tasted, staffed by a friendly, chatty but 50% incomprehensible waitress (very thick brogue).  She delighted in sharing the news that that day was St Swithin's Day.  If on St. Swithins Day comes the rain, for forty days it will remain.  It was raining.  And so far, so true.

The weather
I mentioned this in my last post.  It rained a fair bit - but we were in Ireland.  It does that.  How else could the Emerald Isle possibly achieve those 40 shades of green?  The sun shone too, though, and we saw dramatic, big skies.

The people
From a place and a people that is personable, locquacious, chatty and musical (even when talking about scones), we found no shortage of good craic.  People always want to know your story, and are happy to tell you theirs.  This was a delight, used as we are to slightly reserved Edinburgers.

On the other hand, it didn't take long to become totally fed up with the hoardes of Spanish schoolkids everywhere we looked.  They have to be the noisiest teenagers in the world, and it doesn't help that they travel in packs of 50, with one hapless teacher trying to keep things under control.  They have been spotted in Edinburgh too.  I think this might be Spain's revenge for the louts that descend on their country en masse from here every year.

The most famous person spotted was Mary McAleese, the Irish president and an all round nice lady.  We saw her, quite by chance, at the blessing of the boats in Howth (a fishing town close to Dublin).  Everyone in the crowd seemed to love her, and the lack of security and her general accessibility was quite remarkable.

The sights
We packed a lot into our six day trip.  A definite highlight was a visit to the Rock of Cashel - a spectacular limestone outcrop topped by medieval cathedral, church, tower & cemetery.  By itself, the rock and buildings would have been amazing, but they were really brought to life by our guide, Donna, who had a loud, lovely voice and lots of great stories.

The atmospheric Doolough Valley was a surprise delight.  We happenned upon it quite by chance, and were astonished to discover a place so still and quiet and beautiful, steeped (as much of Ireland is) in tragic history.  During the worst famine years, more than 200 starving people walked through the valley to Delphi Lodge to ask for food.  They were refused, and many perished walking back through the valley.  They are commemorated by a cross, and were remembered by Bishop Desmond Tutu, who repeated the walk in 1991. 

Galway was pretty, with great, music-filled pubs but lots of tourists too.  Cork was a mess - lots of work to do before next year, when it will be European City of Culture.  All the streets are dug up (not too dissimilar to Edinburgh, really, where they've had to tarseal the Royal Mile temporarily because the cobbles laid a year ago are all broken) - we even met a cheery chap in the pub responsible "for this feckin mess".  He seemed quite pleased with himself!  Dublin was bustling, with a great atmosphere and loads going on.

I like Ireland, and would visit again in a minute.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

almightily bad

A just made me sit through a movie he said would be really funny.  Instead, t'was cheesily bad.  Bruce Almighty.  Don't rent it.  Don't even borrow it for free. 

Today was my first day back at work after a week and a bit of tripping around Ireland and looking after maw & paw.  For those who are following their travels (I hear Kevin likes to do so with an atlas in hand) they left this morning for East Midlands, Potterhanworth and Coventry.  They like to pack things in.  Actually, if you were following their travels, this blog would not be the place to look as it's been so infrequently updated.

Being a work day (my first in a while) the sun shone all day and it was hot (for the first time in a while).  It rained a bit in Ireland.  But, to be sure, you wouldn't be in Ireland if it wasn't raining.  So the leprechauns said.  Yes, Morg, they really do say "to be sure".