Archive for October 29th, 2007

Day 4 – No fear of falling

To finish off last night.

There was a brief jacuzzi. Though it was just me and Sparky wearing swimming caps (one of those swimming pools) and while it was indeed bubble-tastic it had a bit of a municipal swimming pool feel to it.

We ended the night in the local chinese served by someone we came to affectionately know as smiler. It wasn’t her fault, it just took her a while to warm to us, and a few rounds of ‘hum an appropriate tune when she comes past’. Sparks led with smile like you mean it and I followed with cheer up sleepy jean.

As always it turned out she was a lovely wee lady, who by the end of the meal was asking us where we were from and what we were doing in Clifden. In an even more random set of circumstamces she also had a second job cleaning in the hotel we were staying when we met her the next morning.

We cleared out of Clifden quick smart, the weather still being half reasonable. We had a lovely drive, hugging the coast round to Galway. Made all the better for some random jazz and some early Pete Wilson stuff Jonny had sequestered about his ipod. Journeys are all the more memorable for a cohesive album than just the ipod on random.

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My lasting memory of Connemara is rocks. Lots and lost of rocks. As if the staple crop were not library-5435.jpgpotatoes but stones. Sewn in spring as pebbles and nurtured with copious amounts of wind and pissy weather until they’re ready to harvest in late autumn, fully matured into Ireland’s finest rocks. Plucked from their native dirt and transported a yard and a half to the middle of their current field to take part in a whole new wall of loosely aligned rocks to further subdivide their birth place.

The fields didn’t even have sheep in them. Sheep will eat any type of chlorophyll containing substance but simply draw the line at having to digest and metabolise rocks.

Back to Galway. We ended up in a Jury’s Inn by lunchtime. Getting a much larger room than last night for a third of the price. Most impressed. Right on the Spanish Arch too.

library-5455.jpgTo fill the afternoon we headed to the south side of the bay, through Lisdoonvarna (the home of Europe’s biggest singles/dating event – man I wish we’d got a photo outside that sign) to the cliffs of Moher.

The cliffs are an impressive set of sheer drops overlooking the barren Arran (do you like what I’ve done there…) islands. I didn’t know they even existed till about two years ago.

They charge a modest 8 euro for the parking priviledge and then you’re free to explore and let your small children run wild beside a 300 foot drop. To be fair they have put up a fairly substantial barrier and keep you well back from the edge.

Until you reach the limits of state owned land there’s nothing but a rather large sign telling you inlibrary-5474.jpg three languages (English, French, German and astoundingly not Irish) not to pass go and not to collect 200 as this here land is private land and careful now you just might die.

This advice was thankfully being dutifully ignored in at least 10 different languages (including Irish this time) as one and all hopped the fence to climb a narrow mud path skirting the cliffs to see whether the grass is indeed always greener on the other side.

The wind was fierce to say the least and there was always the awkward question of etiquette when allowing someone coming the other direction to pass. Do you keep your nerves intact by forcing them to pass on the cliff side or risk a hasty death in order to get a smile and a thank you out of the pretty girl comng towards you. After my performance today, I’m pretty sure I’ll be around for a while yet…

On the way back we had one more box to tick (such a hypocrite…). Sparks and the Office had found directions to the house used in Father Ted last year and had done a brief road trip to Galway (and ended up sleeping in the car) last year and got a great photo outside the most famous parochial house in the world.

library-5480.jpgI’d managed to find the same directions, with such helpful hints as turn right at the red phone box. To be honest if Sparks hadn’t already been there we would have turned back, the road becoming more like that corridor in Alice in wonderland that becomes narrower and smaller the further you go along it.

Yet after 5 minutes up an upmarked road (which had been suspiciously recently resurfaced) where the trees and bushes almost met in the middle, the road opened out to reveal a rock strewn ridge in the background with the famous house in the foreground. The toyota corolla parked outside didn’t really fit and the statue of our lady was missing but otherwise you were right there in Ted land.

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Round off the evening with a simply fantastic meal in an Italian restaurant just down the street (from the hotel not Ted‘s house), with lost of pasta type things I couldn’t even pronounce. I had raw beef for starters. Winner.

And so now I’ve abandoned the boys with their Potters (numbers 6 and 7) and sit in the bar on my own on my second run through In Rainbows quietly judging the punters around me. Maybe I could be back in NZ after all.

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