Hello. I dropped off the radar for a while there, didn’t I? The trials and tribulations have continued at Hotel H, along with a dollop of heartache caused by a stone flying into the deep, dark Pool of the Past, creating quite a few ripples. We’ve also been hit by the great ‘BT Service Outage’, resolved after five days, not by technology, but by the application of a sharp object to the router. And we’ve also been back to Ireland with Ma, but this year’s experience has been, well, different...
Sunday 25 September
Wake up in Bantry, West Cork, to an abundance of soft rain. Somewhere outside is a view, although the mist is so thick it’s hard to tell what it might be. Never mind, the view inside is interesting too, with plenty of fierce ornaments to keep us entertained. The cottage is large and well-stocked, although the initial fridge-like temperature that comes from the place not having been occupied for a couple of weeks, means we have to burn a small peat bog to stop our teeth chattering.
Monday 26 September
Tom and I are exhausted from weeks of yet uncompleted house renovations and Ma’s recovering from her brush with the dustcart. We decide that a return trip to Killarney, which we loved last year, will help in our quest for the craic. A drive through the Cork and Kerry mountains and the stunning Caha Pass affords us tantalizing glimpses of wonderful scenery through the swirling mist and drizzle. We try not to think about the heat wave that we’ve left behind in Britain. The ailing Irish economy and a poor exchange rate have taken their toll on prices. Two toasted sandwiches, a slice of cake and tea and coffee for tea in the adorable Miss Courtney’s Tea Rooms, see off the best part of €30.
Tuesday 27 September
We trudge round Glengariff, famed for its beauty, in the continuing mist and drizzle along with a coachload of bewildered Americans blinking at the eye-watering prices in the gift shops. ‘Don’t even get close,’ we hear one man say to his wife as she’s about to pick something up, ‘that’s way beyond you!’
In an optimistic drive to try to see some of the scenery towards Mizen Head, we make a new friend. An Irish Rab C Nesbitt alike is standing in the middle of the winding lane, waving in a manner that suggests there is a large obstacle in the road ahead. ‘If you’re going to Goleen,’ he says, leaning in through the window when we stop to see what the matter is, ‘I’ll take a run along with you!’. It seems that he is the large obstacle.
‘We’re going to Crookhaven,’ Tom says.
‘Sure, ‘tis on the way,’ says our friend, climbing in beside Ma.
He wears the sweet, decaying odour of Eau de Farmyard, which cheesily permeates through the car and, taking no account of our shocked faces, he warmly engages us in conversation. He is amazed to hear that we’ve been as far as Killarney. He’s heard that County Kerry is very nice, but he’s never crossed the mountains to go there. Maybe if he gets a car, he says, he’ll take a couple of days out and go for a bit of drive to explore. He’s also something of an economist, our new chum. When we remark how expensive we're finding Ireland, he passes on his conversion tip, ‘being that it’s hard for you, since you’re Touristies and that,’ . He advises us to take a fifth off the euro price (he’s not quite up-to-date) and we’ll know what it is in pounds. ‘So if it’s five euros, you take a fifth off and you get...’ some time passes here, ‘well, call it about four pounds!’ he announces triumphantly. Warming to his theme, he gives us an example. ‘Say you have an apple tart (‘eppel teyrt’), that’s four fecking euros, so just take a fifth off and there you have it!’
Oh well, it least it explains the stampede for the eppel teyrt in Supervalu last night, when the price was reduced from four fecking euros to two.
To be continued... assuming BT plays nicely.