Monday, 16 November 2009

Irish Tour - day two

I’m writing this in a very nice B&B in Limerick. It’s right at the end of day two. After yesterday’s slow start in Galway, we finally caught the coach down to Doolin. Once we got onto some of the smaller roads I was reminded of how bad they can be in Ireland – I tried reading but it wasn’t easy to keep the book still.

The bumpiness of the journey was probably made worse by the driver’s eagerness to park up in time for the match (final score: Ireland 0, France 1). We arrived in Doolin about 30 minutes ahead of schedule. Not bad for what should’ve been a two hour journey.

Anyway, the Aille River Hostel was very warm and welcoming. As we have a week of B&Bs ahead of us, we thought a hostel would be a good idea. And it was. We went for a quick drink at McGann’s Pub and then went back to our room and opened a bottle of wine.

They did a nice eggs and soda bread breakfast for just €2 each. They also hired bikes – but these turned out to be a little worse for wear. We set off pedalling for the Cliffs of Moher and soon realised our gears were knackered. The minute you changed down to go uphill, the gears clanked and grinded and slipped around. I felt a bit worried whether we’d make it to where we wanted to go, and if we did, whether we’d make it back. As it turned out (and because I’d hate to create a false sense of drama and suspense) the biking trip turned out okay.

The Cliffs of Moher were great. Thanks to several childhood holidays in Cornwall, I’ve seen my fair share of coastal cliffs. Moher’s are indeed impressive but I found it hard to capture them at their best. At around midday, the light from the sun shines at a tricky angle and almost makes a silhouette of the cliffs. I noticed that all the most striking photographs in the new visitor centre were taken later in the day when the sun has moved round a bit.

We continued south on the rickety bikes, stopped at one of the few shops round there to buy Berit Carmesin a thank you present. Then we headed north again back to Doolin, the hostel and our luggage. At 4pm, we had to be out in time for the bus to Limerick.

It’s over two hours to Limerick by coach. It seemed a good idea to work on the PowerPoint presentation I’d agreed with Cork University. Because of timetable difficulties, the Q&A at Cork will not directly follow a screening. Apparently, the screening took place last week sometime. Remembering what my university lectures were like, I was conscious that students can have short memories and questions from the audience may need prompting. For this reason, I offered to do a PowerPoint as a reminder – but it’s been a busy old time and I’m running out of opportunities before Cork on Tuesday. Unfortunately, the coach was not one.

Trying to use a laptop mouse pad, on a coach, in Ireland was beyond me. You know those bucking bronco rodeo machines? The ones that spin and twist and flick the rider on to the padded mats? It was a bit like a mild version of that.

I eventually gave up and gave the laptop to Kirstie so she could write her diary. Somehow, she managed it keep on typing all the way to Limerick. I think the fact that she was typing (rather than mouse padding) is significant and I also think the roads must’ve improved at exactly the spot I gave her the laptop. There has to be some reason why Kirstie managed what I couldn’t – that doesn’t make me look bad in some way.

Anyway, we arrived in a rainy, busy Limerick station and found Andreas Damm waiting to pick us up. Before we knew it, we were out of the city and pulling into the driveway of our B&B. Andreas had given enough time for us to check in, get showered and watch a bit of telly before being picked up by one of his colleagues. Gisola (apologies for the spelling) and Glynn picked us up, right on time and we made our way to Andreas and a lovely zwebelkuchen (onion flan type thing).

We had a lovely evening and discussed a bit of everything but all in all it’d been a long day. It was nice to get back to the B&B and get to bed.

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