Ring of Kerry

Ring of Kerry
Between Killarney and Kenmare

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.