Ring of Kerry

Ring of Kerry
Between Killarney and Kenmare

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ahhh Malaysia.

After about 16 hours in transit from Dublin to Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, I am in the Pan Pacific Hotel at Kuala Lumpur Airport. I usually try to stop overnight to break the trip as I rarely sleep on flights and need to at least lie down for a few hours to try to make the whole schlepp bearable. (My daughter hates it when I use the word schlepp – but I love it – feels good to say, you know what I mean.)
This hotel is attached to the airport, so you just take a golf buggy with your luggage and wham – two minutes later – you’re checking in.
It’s lovely – has all the great accoutrements of a business class hotel – grand lobby with impossibly high ceilings, columns and potted palms. A pool, gym, sauna, room service, good air con etc etc. I intend to just stay here and get back on my plane in the morning. I got in around 3pm local time and am on a 9am flight tomorrow.
In fact, I don’t even intend to get the local currency – the ringet – my room is prepaid and I will just use my credit card for the rest.
Too bad I was so tired that I failed to get to the pool, gym or sauna and the in-room massage which looked wonderful, would have taken too much sleeping time.
So I shower, order a Nasi Lemak: coconut flavoured rice accompanied with beef rending, fried kerisi fish, fried egg, onion sambal, cucumber, anchovies, acar rampai and peanuts (RM41.00). Yum.
After two plane food meals, the dinner being Sweet and Sour fish (the fish was cubed!) and breakfast cubed fried potatoes and scrambled eggs with cheese and a remnant of a tomato – both bland and tasteless beyond belief and only sampled by me – I needed something good to bring me back some joy.
By the time I ate the food around 5.30pm, I was ready to conk out. Tried to contemplate a swim and/or massage but my body wouldn’t let me. Zzzzzzz
Woke at 2am local time. Hmmm. What to do. Pool closed. Massage not available till 9am. Bummer.
Dozed for two hours then got up and had tea, repacked bag, did full make up for final leg home. Dressed etc...now just waiting till 6am so I can head down for some fruit and yoghurt. They do great buffet brekkies in these hotels and, even though they will serve food of some description on the plane, I can feel happy that I have nourished the body before leaving for the day. Australia here I come!

Drunk Irish man in Kerry

My mum, big sister, daughter and I went on a road trip to the Dingle Peninsula. We left Galway in the morning and headed down to County Clare to see Aughenure Castle, the Burren, and the Cliffs of Moher on the way and then decided to leg it as far as we could before stopping at a B&B.
You see, it doesn’t get dark in Ireland till about 11pm in summer – even then it’s not super dark. Daylight starts 4am.
So, with Ireland’s known preponderance of B&Bs, we just thought we’d stumble across one at the right moment. About 9pm.
I was driving, sister and daughter were in the back reading and my mum was upfront with me. We were all happy (I think).
We crossed the Shannon River on the car ferry near Kilrush and that was fun. When we got off at the other side, we could have stopped there – there were quite a few B&Bs...but I felt fine – the sun was still shining – so we drove on to Listowel (Irish pron: Lis-tool).
This is a largish town in Kerry – not far from the capital Tralee. Surely there’ll be loads of great B&Bs there? Wrong. For some reason, tourism has forsaken Listowel – and while there was a largish hotel in the town centre and some rooms above several pubs, Listowel just didn’t have the nice rural B&B we were after. By this time I think it was 9.30pm.
My mum had a lonely planet with three B&Bs listed that all sounded good – two problems. The Lonely Planet was from 2006 and the phone numbers seemed incredibly short. Also, I had forgotten my Irish sim card. Doh! We tried the local phone but it wasn’t letting us through. So, my mum asked three Irish ladies as they were passing if they had heard of this place.
They were women of action...they whipped out the mobile and called the first. No, the number’s disconnected. OK, let’s try the second. They got someone, but the place is not a B&B anymore. Irish practicality to the fore – do you know of another? Yes, they do. Yes, here’s the number. Is it a good one – we are assured it is. OK. She rings the 3rd – so generous – speaks to the lady, we get directions. The three women reconfirm the directions and we’re off to Nora and Jim’s B&B. Thank you delightful Irish ladies.
Let me explain something. Nora is a lovely lady and a great cook. She immediately offers us apple pie and tea but we haven’t had dinner. So Nora offers to drive us back into town so we can eat dinner and then, afterwards, there’ll be pie.
Ah the Irish hospitality.
We head to a pub which tells us it’s only the bar menu available now (about 10pm or so). However, this menu is huge. So, we have our chowder and other bits and bobs plus our Guinness with blackcurrant cordial (my mum introduced us to this one) and are stuffed totally full at 11pm.
We’re about to head to the ATM to get come cash when a young, drunk Irish man with large ears and a broken arm comes around the corner and immediately wants a chat. This guy is drunk...staggeringly drunk.
And he’s trying to be clever and guess where we’re from. First he tries English. We’re not really interested. Then he thinks we’re German and that we just have really good English. We do not enlighten him and also we see that he’s going the way of the ATM – so we don’t want to go that way either. He makes some joke which we don’t really understand about how to pull a Kerry man – use a hurly and a soccer ball or something. This puzzles us – I know that in this part of the world to “pull” someone means to get lucky – but I don’t think my sister, mother or daughter know this – and it just sounds – well – lude.
So, eventually we extract ourselves from this big-eared fellow and go to be collected by Nora who drives us back to her B&B. Just a ten minute drive.
The views from our rooms are lovely – out over the pastures, with a great view of the cows.
Then it’s homemade pie and homemade black forest cake and tea made with fresh water from the well, which is on the brother’s farm. Accompanied by Jim’s delightful Kerry brogue and charming commentary which is hypnotic – no matter what he says.
We roll off to bed too full to function and laughing at the wildly varying experiences we’ve had with the Irish today. Did I mention it’s midnight and still not quite dark....

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Life is but a series of distractions

“If you snort nuts, do you still get the nutrients from it?”
This is the kind of distraction I am now faced with while trying to write to you dear reader.
I’m sure you have noticed and are most aggrieved by my absence of late. This is because I have had an avalanche of visitors bringing change and new biorhythms to my solitude.
Here’s another quip just heard (in squeaky patronising voice): “My name’s Sue. I like writing.”
“Porridge and yoghurt isn’t as good as oats and yoghurt... it’s just kind of warm and gooey.”
A little over a week ago, my daughter arrived (18). The next day, my mum and my big sister...and two days later, one of my oldest (and very dear) friends – the friendship is old, we are not – and her husband also stopped by.
Wow, some change. It was great. Party time!!! Touring time!! Road trip!! Laughing fits!! High-5s (do people still do that or am I extraordinarily daggy?)
Twas a whirlwind of social engagements. Where’s the paparazzi?
But short-lived. All but one has left (can you guess which remains?)
Only a week left of my big sojourn. However, I have merely scratched the surface with this blog and do intend to keep blogging to fill in the gaps. I am inconsistent with this...but will prevail.

On the road again

Ireland is a compact country. If you google (the term now replacing ‘look up’) distances in Ireland from place to place, you will see that it’s not very far to go from, say Galway to Dublin: 200 kilometres – and that’s almost the full width of the country.
But Irish Roads, like many of other aspects of this country, are not quite what they seem.
Roads outside of motorways are all single-lane two-way with no overtaking lanes (that’s N roads and R roads). They are also often very narrow.
The Irish, I have deduced, are very sensitive about “their land” (for good reason). They like to mark out boundaries very clearly and as my daughter observed yesterday, “There are more walls in Ireland than sheep.”
The consequence of all this clarity is that on most of the roads, there is no verge – no spare space to pull over – not a scrap of it. In fact, there will usually be a wall or a high hedge or some trees along both sides of the road – so not only can you not pull over, but often you can’t see very far ahead. The result? Many blind corners.
So, when it says on the map that it’s just 40 kilometres to the next castle, that’s not the Australian version of driving.
You would be very lucky to sit on 70 for most of the trip. Oh, and did I mention that no towns are bypassed. Speed limit in towns? 50ks.
Speed limit outside of towns – mostly 100ks! This can be translated in two ways (Apply Irish accent):
“Go on – we dare you!” or “Well, if you really must go 100, then alright then, we’ll let you. But we’d like to see how you get along with that. It’s madness altogether.”
PS: Incidentally, they still sell that product “I can’t believe it’s not butter” here. Can you believe that?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

More on Edinburgh...but I'm actually in Galway now.

What was I thinking, trying to combine holiday with a discipline like writing! It's so easy to spend the time just wandering around and breathing it all in.
On my first full day in Edinburgh - I did some writing in the morning then went to the Scotland National Gallery - this was a treat - saw some wonderful Gaugins that I had never seen before - some Bernini sculptures (in miniature) that I had seen the full version of at the Galeria Borghese in Rome! Also, an extraordinarily beautiful set of four embroidered panels done by a female Scottish artist - they were so amazing I must had stood there for 10 minutes.

I went to the shop afterwards to get the postcards but the one that I liked the best they hadn't reproduced as a postcard and also they lost something in reproduction and just weren't as stunning. Because all the texture was lost in the photographic image.

I saw a poor young boy, probably about my son's age, sitting in the rain begging. It nearly broke my heart. I felt like saying to him - get out of the rain you silly bugger. But I'm sure that was part of the plan.

I thought, if he's still there when I come back out of the gallery I'll give him some money...but he was gone - so I guess he got some donations and hiked it to a warm place. Makes you wonder.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The good word

I saw a man reading a bible in the airport departure lounge and I wondered...was that his bible or had he a filched a Gideon’s from his hotel room? He didn’t look particularly religious – meaning he wasn’t wearing a dog collar or anything (what’s with that anyway?). But it certainly stood out for me.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Please pay attention as we demonstrate the safety features of this aircraft

Does anyone NOT know how to fasten your seatbelt? The airlines think so. However, those in that minority group would certainly be travelling with someone who DOES know how to fasten a seatbelt and will make sure that theirs is fastened. Possible worst case scenarios: A kidnapper flying with his kidnapee – a child – does not care enough about his victim to fasten said seatbelt. Would a hostess or steward see that the child is in imminent danger and a) fasten the seatbelt themselves or b) instruct kidnapper to fasten seatbelt? I think so. Scenario 2: Recently rescued man raised by wolves is being flown to large metropolis for a) corporate exploitation b) reprogramming c) a hot bath. Said man does not know how to fasten a seatbelt. Would the vigilant steward or stewardess whose job it is to walk the aisles prior to takeoff and landing, making sure that EVERY seatbelt is fastened miss this anomaly? Perhaps if a) the wolfman/boy is super hairy b)aggressive or c) has a jacket on his lap.

Can I ask – do we even need to wear seatbelts on flights? The only theory I would venture as to why this is so necessary is in case the plane hits an air pocket and drops suddenly. Would your seatbelt protect you from lifting up off your seat six inches (in my case) and banging your head on the stuff up there (the roof)? Tell me dear reader.

Because, in the case of car seatbelts, they are purposeful in holding you in place in the event of a collision with something where the force pushes you forwards or sideways. But, that’s not really the situation in the air is it? Although an aircraft could crash into another vehicle whilst on the ground. Help me out here....is this it? Or, is it just something that was thought necessary at the beginning of the flight era and has never really been thought through again since?

By the way...I have tried to fix things so you can comment now if you like. Give it a try. :)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Arrivaderci Roma!

Wow, that went fast! A week in Rome is like a blink – and I guess that’s a truism in more ways than one – considering the history of this place.
Walking is definitely par for the course. There are many options for getting around, but in this city, everywhere you look, every small corner of earth is covered by a monument, a great dome, an extraordinary church, an obelisk. It is, to pull out an old cliché (tautology I know), a feast for the senses. Better not to miss anything by being behind a wheel.
Of course, after all that walking you have sore feet, a tired back and are a little grimy and jostled – and that’s when you take your refuge in the enormous number of good trattoria. Take a glass of red wine (euro 2-3), a pasta, a delicious pizza or something more complex. Follow it with panna cotta or crème caramel or fresh strawberries with gelato and a nice short espresso. Pow. You’re ready to go again.
Walk for another half hour and stop for a gelato – limone e cioccolato (got that?) – my favourites.
In the morning it’s more coffee and a brioche – a pastry – donut, chocolate or jam croissant perhaps? Or a shortbread biscuit – the choices are all sweet and delicious. Setting you up for another day of walking – thank goodness – otherwise the pounds would be piling on.
Arrivaderci Roma – I had two coffees at the airport this morning as I’m off to Edinburgh and I don’t like my chances!!

Non Parla Italiano

I feel crap. I want to know more Italian but it’s such a quick trip, and I did it on the spur of the moment, so I don’t have a phrasebook and I’m blundering my way through the Italian language – pillaging and borrowing – and every time I try to think of the word, either a French or German one pops in to my head instead. Grrr. Yesterday, I dropped into a charming-looking cafe in the Villa Borghese – which is a giant park at the top of Roma – near where I’m staying. I’ve been warned off walking through that park at night by my concierge, so I wanted to ask if this place did dinner. I thought if I ate there, there would be other patrons around and safer to walk back to the hotel. Bongiourno! I declare to the barista. Parla Inglese? (Do you speak English?). No. Oh. He says: Parla Italiano? No. An impasse. I smile but that doesn't work. Then he has a little spurt to me about why should I speak English, you don’t speak Italian! Anyway, I push on, asking if they open for dinner...and one of the other guys helps out and says no only lunch. So, I leave. However, I feel like shit because I really wish I did speak better Italian. However, this guy is in the service industry in the tourist trade. Rome has millions of tourists. This is a very popular place for tourists. I am here for 6 days. If I were here for longer, I would deffo learn the language – it’s a nice rhythmic one. I shed a little tear of “poor me”. Then get over myself! Maybe he was just having a bad day.

Telstra called. They want to let you know they still think you’re just a number.

In the middle of the night, the mobile rang. It was Telstra. In fact, it was quite extraordinary. A female robot from Telstra – she sounded so real. They had me fooled for a while there. But it was soon apparent because the robot it faulty – they’ve forgotten to include an all-important human trait – empathy. Here’s how our conversation went:
4am Irish Time
Ring, ring
Me: (sleepy voice) Hello?
Robot: Hello, it’s xxxx xxxxxx from Telstra, I’m calling about your bill. It’s overdue.
Me: I’m overseas, at the moment. It’s the middle of the night.
Robot: It’s in the amount of $130.
Me: Is that for the phone?
Robot: It’s for the phone and the internet recently connected. How would you like to pay for this. Can you give me your credit card details.
Me: No. I’m am not giving you my credit card details. It’s the middle of the night. I am in Ireland. You woke me.
Robot: Do you want an extension?
Me: It can’t be that overdue, I paid bills before I left in early May.
Robot: I can give you a 24-hour extension to pay.
Me: I will get my husband to pay the bill. Can you give me a bit longer?
Robot: 48 hours?
Me: Can you give me till the end of the week? I AM OVERSEAS.
Robot: OK, then.
Me: Goodbye.
Did anyone hear any empathy in there? I swear that is the conversation. Not once did she apologise for waking me up. I was so angry after that I couldn’t get back to sleep. Thanks Telstra – I will be disconnecting when I get home – no extensions.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Rome. Wonderful one day, rubbish the next.

Feeling a bit unimpressed with Rome today. It's now the end of my fourth full day. The language barrier is a problem. There are not many English speakers here - apart from around the very over-populated tourist parts. But, as soon as you get away from those, it's arrivaderci bilingual-ness, hello 'non-parla Inglese'. I shouldn't complain...after all I can't speak Italian, why should I expect them too. But, could ya just try...a little? There are a lot of tourists here in Rome - the eternal city, the cradle of civilisation.
Here's some fun I had yesterday.
Found a magnificent paticceria, couldn't wait to patronise it but soon found it had a near unworkable system for ordering, paying etc etc, if you can't speak Italian. Because, a girl wearing some sort of rustic scarf has to serve you the cakes or biscuits (a pointing arrangement if you don't know what they are called)...and there are a range of charges depending on whether you help your self, you stand to eat, you eat outside or you sit and get waited on. I'm not sure what the range of charges is...cause it was all sort of, explained to me by the one person who had a little grasp on English - in a very big shop with a very large staff. In the end, I ordered a smoothy from the counter (for which I was charged 8 euro!) and then ordered coffee etc from the table and paid extra because I couldn't be bothered trying to work the system.
However I went back for breakfast the next day. Now it was super busy..and of course no discernable queueing system. Everyone just trying to jump in there and get served.
So, I get a guy to give me a pastry on a plate. Yay, now I just need to order coffee. There are maybe 12 people waiting for coffees in a narrow little corridor with a thousand others trying to get past. Complete chaos.
OK...I'll go out and sit down and order my coffee from the waiter. Problem solved. No...for some reason - today - or is it that it's breakfast time? - there's no table service. Right.
I eat my pastry. I sit. I contemplate.
I go back inside and now I get another pastry and, this time, I am given a docket by the girl. Then I order coffee from the 2nd person and pay for the whole lot - except I didn't pay for that first pastry. But, it's so crazy that they wouldn't know their asses from their t**s. So, now we're even.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Welcome to Rome

Well, have really stocked up on great coffee now – haven’t slept for days. Welcome to Rome.
Actually, here’s how I arrived. After my very comfortable Aer Lingus flight from Cork (including some all-important inflight shopping and Pringles*), we land at Rome Da Vinci airport and are met by immediate chaos. It seems Sunday nights are busy nights for arrivals here? Or is it just me?
I feel that I have some reasonable experience as a traveller but never have I witnessed the complete shit-fight (excuse the French) to get through immigration.
There was literally a mob of people – I would venture easily a thousand – waiting to go through immigration. There’s the EU and the non-EU (that’s us) – and no-queueing system – so just this massive great lump of people not really moving. Why? Because, half of the positions are closed. Hmmm.
So, we get into our respective blobs and, about five minutes later, while we’re corralled there clearly not moving, about another 200 people arrive.

Their blob tries to merge into our blob and the Italian tempers start to fray. Yelling ensues and much gesturing ensues...to no avail, of course. The merge is inevitable. Like water seeping into rock.

Us non-EU types are looking pretty tame, and we’re moving even slower than them because, I assume, we get asked questions at the end, such as “How long are you staying in Rome?”. “What is the purpose of your visit?” Yada yada yada.

Even so, I'm a little concerned - there are so many of us.

So, there’s a youngish, tallish, Italian-ish looking guy in front of me. I look at him closely – jeans, t-shirt , backpack, sneakers, calm...and flight centre documents. “You an Aussie?”
He turns and grins, “How’d you tell?”
Great – I’ve got my “protector”.
He doesn’t know it, but I’m sticking to him like glue till we get through this mess. He’s come from Ireland too, where he was visiting friends and now to Italy to visit family. Again – great.
Like a human slipstream I stay behind him, not too close, but just close enough to feel a bit more certain in the mass of human sprawl.
When I finally squeeze through and make it to the counter 45 minutes later, the glamorous Roman just stamps my passport and smiles. Welcome to Rome.

*I only eat Pringles on airplanes.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Coffee is crap in Ireland

I have tried nearly every coffee place in the town of Kenmare, Killarney and Cork. Coffee is crap in Ireland. Tea’s not great either.
I do not understand this. They are so close to the continent where coffee is very, very good, But on the other hand, they are also very close to the United States, where coffee is very, very bad.
It’s weird, because they have the food down so well. They do lovely seafood – chowders, mussels, plaice, fish and chips of course. I had a terrific plate of fried liver the other night with a pesto mash and some lightly steamed veg with a bit of mustardy sauce. I haven’t tried any lamb yet. Have seen to many cute ones on the side of the road!
Also, they are very big on organic food here – I couldn’t believe it when I bought organic peanut butter in the supermarket – and it was cheaper than the non-organic. That’s pretty amazing.
Although the plums I bought were from Majorca and the bananas from somewhere else tropical (naturally). The strawberries were from Ireland, but they didn’t look ripe/red enough – so I left them.
In Kenmare, they have two health food shops, and one of these is run as a co-op. They have all the lovely fresh yoghurts and flaxseed oil and hempseed oil (my favourite health food) and terrific herb teas – so that’s all grand. But the coffee is yuk.
So, I’m off to Rome for a bit. Bonjiourno supremo latte!

The Ring of Kerry

Have I explained that the Ring of Kerry is a loop road that you drive around? It takes about 3 hours if you don’t stop...but there are ample reasons to. For a start, there are lambs and sheep on the road at frequent intervals, the road is extremely narrow and there are (for some reason which I gather is Irish) GIGANTIC tourist buses coming at you OFTEN.
But, there are also the views. This is a truly splendiferous part of Ireland and makes me wonder why I haven’t come here before now. It is gorgeous, rugged, mountainous, green, water-filled, ruined-castle-filled – all at once. It takes your breath away.
One of the reasons I neglected my blog for a bit (Mark – I got your note!) – was I took a day to drive the Ring of Kerry. The locals call this county the Kingdom of Kerry – and, of course, it was once. But also, because it was so far south and a bit tricky to get to, because of aforementioned mountains, not many people got down here. Cromwell was one who didn’t make it – although he did send his nasty generals and surveyors to divvy up the land and take it away from the locals and give it to English nobles who didn’t even live here. Makes the blood boil!
Killarney is the capital but it’s not much-liked by the locals who feel it is just geared to tourists and all a bit rubbish and cheap – I’ve heard that a couple of times.
I feel so guilty, because as I was reaching the end of my longish drive – its exhausting driving by yourself and talking to yourself and exclaiming at how beautiful it all is – TO YOURSELF! (Man is not an island). Anyway, I saw a little diversion to Beaufort and it rang a bell for some reason – so I went along past the village and saw a sign to the Gap of Dunloe. This also rang a bell, so I continued on.
As I reached, what I thought was the Gap of Dunloe, the road seemed to be blocked by horses and carts and as I tried to keep driving past them, I realised, you had to park here and get a horse and cart up to the Gap of Dunloe. So, I gestured to one of the cart drivers, “I’m just turning around.” And he’s saying “Do you want a horse and cart?” at the same time. So I’m nodding but just meaning that I’m turning around. At the same time I see the cost for the horse and cart is something like 40 euro per cart or something. So, I’ve turned around by now and thinking “I don’t want to go on a horse and cart BY MYSELF for who knows how long it takes to get up there and back.” And I can see the horse guy starting to make moves to get a horse and cart ready for me. So...I just....drove off. Hmmm. I still feel guilty – not sure why.
PS: The reason Beaufort and Gap of Dunloe rang a bell was that I when I was researching accomodation options way back I nearly settled on a B&B in Beaufort. Glad I didn't... as it was such a small place - although pretty.

There are no snakes in Ireland

Well, at least that’s the mythology. It is said that St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, banished the snakes at some point – not dissimilar to smiting I might venture.
But is it true? I mean, has anyone in Ireland – in scientific circles – every carried out an exhaustive study of the country’s fauna and declared that there are no snakes here – not even tiny ones that live in small rock crevices and nooks – similar to those lived in by the faeries – and it’s just that no-one’s ever seen one?
I’m not saying there are snakes in Ireland. I’m just saying, where’s the proof? Also, I think the St Patrick’s smiting thingy is a bit of old blarney – and there just aren’t any snakes here because of the geography of the place.
A good bit of skulduggery would be to import some snakes from somewhere, say, where they have an excess of the creatures. Any ideas, dear readers?
Roadkill postscript: I have seen dead badgers, rabbits and birds. I have seen live lambs, donkeys (burros!), goats and ponies – so cute!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Kenmare Day 1 - Old musos never die

Backtracking a bit here to Sunday 16th May - my first full day on my own in Kenmare. Did lot of reading for my new screenplay and "mapping" - which is where I draw the narrative line (1st act, 2nd act, 3rd act, plot turning points etc) - then gave up and went down to Kenmare where a band was playing on the street at 7pm.
It was a fundraiser - couldn't work out for what Bee-something - but a convoy of giant tractors came through the main town as part of the festivities. Apparently, one of them had attempted to drive backward around the Ring of Kerry that afternoon as a fundraiser. Now, I don't know if any of you are familiar with the Ring of Kerry - but it's windy (that's wine-dy) and windy too - and narrow and very blind and there are quite a few sheep on the road in parts (and Spring lambs at the moment).
I don't know how they went but I assume it was a grand success as there was much applause with the arrival of these giant tractors. (I say giant tractors because they look that way to me but to a farmer they are probably just standard size).
Anyway, it occured to me, here I am, a city girl - SYDNEY - a biggish city. And, would I take a two-month holiday in a rural town in Australia - say smaller than Orange? What do you think dear reader?

Anyway...back to the subject of this post. I sat at the bar in one of the pubs (as you do when you don't know anyone) and fortunately sat next to two lovely old guys from Macroom - who were playing there that night in The Lounge Bar - which sounded very posh indeed. They were corkers these guys - one a drummer and the other the piano accordian. So we had a chat and they declared to the barmaid they were "going off to Australia" with me! Shortly after they went to start their set I ventured in The Lounge - thinking this will be a grand craic. Um. No.
The music was OK but I felt I had gone back in time by about 50 years - there was hardly anyone in there and most of the people were on walking sticks and frames. It was one of those rooms where everyone turns to look at you when you walk in.
The high point of my agonising 10 minutes in there were two women waltzing together - and a third woman cutting in. Are these the town lesbians or just women who love to dance and can't find an able-bodied man in the room?
Mid-way through a song I crab-walked out of there with as much nonchalance as I could muster while my insides were screaming "Get me outta here!"

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Fire's On

In an extraordinary twist of fate, the name of one of my screenplays 'Fire's On', rang true at midnight last night.
Having watched about 3 new eps of 30 Rock - lucked out there - I was preparing to go to bed. The gas fire, which I had been considering my welcome friend, developed a level of recalcitrance only seen in appliances when you're on your own. It refused to turn off. The knob just wouldn't budge and in fact fell off several times...leaving just a (pardon the pun) small hot rod jutting out - which was equally defiant.
Hmmm. Too late to go get the neighbour who I had bugged the day before when I thought I had misplaced my keys. I have no phone, so an emergency call would have to be via Australian mobile.
I searched the flat for pliers...and found a small screwdriver - which wasn't much help. Without going into the nuts and bolts of my meagre attempts to get the knob back on or to turn without burning my hands...nothing worked. The fire became the devil in the room. With sore fingers I searched for the gas point - maybe I could turn it off at source. But, again, no luck.
I had instructions from the landlord on which way to turn the master valve but not where it was...I went to bed (after removing postcards from the mantle and anything else mildly flammable) hoping I wouldn't be incinerated in the night. Did I mention this is an open gas fire with coals (I guess they're fake coals).
This morning I went and bought pliers and had another go...still not budging. I really feel like a weakling now.

I texted the owners and asked how to turn off the gas...they obliged, explaining that this sometimes happens and that once the fire has cooled down, the knob will miraculously turn again. Wish I knew that last night...or before I turned the fire on even.

Fire's Off. Did I mention it's raining and cool today?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Kenmare Day 2* - Cider is good

Kenmare, County Kerry, Republic of Ireland

Apple cider is good, particularly in the land of Guinness when you don't really like Guinness. I promise to work on this, it's not very Irish not to like it.
As an Australian with some sort of Irish heritage, I assumed I would...but no. However, here in delightful Kenmare I have found a pub which has three types of cider available and internet access - so whoo hoo - this is where I am writing my first blog from. Internet cafes are a rarity here - there are internet access points - you know those kind of smelly (boy) places where everyone's on a terminal - but not those pull out your laptop and away you go kind of places - except in expensive hotels.
Even here in Kenmare I have only found two pubs so far with wifi - but I still have quite a bit of searching to do as there could be 15 pubs in this little town. Not surprised are you.
Here they have Bulmers - the widely available Irish cider - which is quite heavy on the palette. Plus, they have Kopparberg (a Swedish cider) in an assortment of flavours. The third is Aspall - which is English and very fine. The pub is PF McCarthy's and it's a ripper. Get down here ASAP.
The other pub that has wifi seems to have some sort of hidden equation in place calculating how long you're online with how much alcohol or other goods you have consumed. As I approached the end of my pint (I am a slow drinker), the internet access dried up. As I wasn't prepared to buy another drink (I also don't drink much), I called it quits. Won't be going back there anytime soon.
By the way, wrote the first 5.5 pages of my new screenplay today.
*There is no Day 1 post yet, this was written on my 2nd full day on my own in Kenmare after my hubbie Rob went home.