24 August 2005

A HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL DAY; AND FROM DOOLIN TO DONEGAL, BEING PART 3 OF OUR IRISH TRAVELS

it's been a while. i don't know who is reading this anyway. i guess mum and dad, and tina from italy said she'd popped in. and louis. and maybe a couple of others...? if you're here, please leave us a message! we like contact!

ok... yesterday was a 'highly successful day'. it went like this. dan went to a dentist appointment in muswell hill at 9am. while he had his teeth cleaned and his mouth x-rayed, i enjoyed The Best Breakfast (so far) in England. it was at a restaurant/bakery thing called Sable D'or, and the breakfast consisted of scrambled free-range eggs on organic rye toast, a lettucy salad thing, grilled tomato and mushrooms, and the nicest cappucino i've had in london. it was so tasty. trust me - not amazing by melbourne standards, but compared to all other breakfasts i've had... wow! we went for a little walk in the warm sunshine through the park surrounding alexander palace, came home, armed ourselves with a plastic container, then went out into hertfordshire (little berkhampsted, near essendon), to go for another walk and... PICK BLACKBERRIES!!! i have been waiting to to that for oh, at least a year and a half!!! it was lovely, lovely, lovely. except for the bit where i reached out my hand to pick some juicy looking berries and surprised a snake basking in the bush less than a foot away from aforementioned berries. needless to say (being australian and from the country) i leaped back by about a metre, dragging dan (who didn't see the snake, as it was probably more scared than us and squiggled out of there) with me. we identified it on the net last night as a female grass snake (see http://www.onewildworld.co.uk/reptiles/natrixnatrix.htm and look at how cute it is when it feigns death!) which is not venomous at all - unlike the snake closest in appearance to it in S/E victoria, the brown snake, one of the most venomous snakes in australia!!!... so after a lovely afternoon, we headed back with loads of blackberries, and i did what MUST be done with blackberries - made blackberry shortcake (thanks for sending the recipe, mum!). we went to dan toman's for dinner, where we were fed delicious food and a vast quantity of red wine (flashbacks to shannanigans in northern ireland, which you shall hear about at a later date), came home, ate shortcake... mmm. great day.

TUES09AUG: THE BURREN: got to listen to the emer mayock cd on the way to the burren visitors centre - pleased with purchase. at the centre we grabbed a map of the area with a bit of info on local sights, history etc. the burren (boireann) is an amazing place - alien landscape. when the people of ireland first discovered agriculture (several thousands of years ago), they did what a lot of cultures and societies have done: began to clear the forests for pasture. without the protection of big trees, and with grazing animals preventing any vegetation to grow, the topsoil eroded completely away, leaving what we see today: hills of rock. rock rock rock. it is weird, and beautiful, and amazing (especially to think that the area was once thick oak forest), and was cool for me to see while reading Jared Diamond's 'Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive' which deals with these issues. we first went to Poulnabrone, a famous megalithic tomb - there are a lot of tombs in the area, but this it the best preserved and most accesible of this particular type... thus loads of tourists. we decided to best get a feel for the place, we'd take one of the walks marked on our map and get away for civilisation. and boy did we manage that. ireland doesn't have rights of way in the same way as england - only the bigger trails are waymarked. you can however, enter private property so long as you don't disturb livestock or damage anything (i think). our walk took us into a farm, which involved climbing over a few gates and fences (eep! dad, we checked to see if anyone was home, but if people lock a gate and you have access rights, then you have to climb over it! we didn't damage anything...) we ended up making our way more by the hills and contours marked on the map than by any of the fences, because the map in this department was completely innaccurate! we luncheoned at the very ruinous remains of a stone ringfort (a circle int he rocks) beside a cairn, feeling we'd stepped back in time - 60 years? 600 years? 6000?... interestingly this is the only place in ireland (europe?) where both arctic and mediterranian flora grow side by side. then we approximated our way back to the road. it's really hard to walk when you can't tell if you're stepping on a moss-covered stone or a canopy over a foot-and-a-half deep crevice... on the way home, we stopped at Gregan's Castle Hotel for afternoon tea. it was excellent! they had croquet set up on the lawn, we got the full treatment with fresh checked tablecloths and napkins, scones with delicious handmade jam and cream, served on white china along with a pot of tea (with a silver strainer!)... bliss! that night we listened to some more trad music (fiddle, banjo, bodhran) at MacDermotts, before lying on the car bonnet, staring at the stars for at least half an hour (they were very speccy - it was so clear, and we could see the milky way properly. no southern cross, though). what a brilliant day!

WED10AUG: DOOLIN-DONEGAL: if you are in a hostel and need to wake up early: put your alarm under your pillow, so you don't wake others. turn it off immediately. get up. do not, under any circumstances hit the fricking snooze button!!! especially not 3 times at 6am. people are likely to lynch you... we did the huge drive to donegal, with the lovely simona from slovenia joining us to sligo. it was sad to leave the cute littel hostel by the river - it felt a little like hobbiton! - but we will be back one day to see karl and emily (if she's still there). the drive was uneventful, as we stopped only once to check out a church and get petrol, and we exchanged national anthems. donegal - like a lot of towns on the wes coast - at first looks quite dull, but grows in interest and attractiveness. our hostel was about 1km out of town, run by a slightly manic woman called linda and containing the fattest laziest dog ever. in town we bought sandwiches from the incompetent bakery, and 2 cds for the car - one of them being christy moore's Iron Behind the Velvet, featuring (among others) Barry Moore. HAHAHA! Luka Bloom with hippy hair and a beard!!! that night we went to the scotchman's pub for music, where a friendly team lead by gerry (who sang quite well... and i think of him as gerry with a g, maybe imfluenced by gerry adams?!), and accompanied by mateus from germany on the whistle (he said germans are nuts about irish music?!)... a man sitting next to us found out that i sang, and dobbed me in, which was surprising... so on short order the only song i could think of was 'Sonny', which in retrospect is actually from nova scotia, i think? it was fun - nice mic. dan said it sounded good, so i'll trust him on that one... went home satisfied with a good night of music.

and that's it for today. in other news, dan is doing some work experience with BT, which eliot kindly arranged for him. we went to uly's 30th where the food was excessive and delicious, and i had flashbacks to greek and turkish restaurants in melbourne. we have both become completely obsessed with sudoku, also - an addiction starting only 3 or 4 days ago, and rapidly taking over our lives! i've also been researching for my masters/scholarship applications. we are sooooooooo looking forward to seeing esther in a week and a half, and to seeing ross and jen soonly, too.

4 comments:

  1. esther von bananapants3:18 am, August 25, 2005

    hello!!

    dont have time to read all this but thought id be the first to comment in my bad broken english type european keyboard writing! hai hai.

    see you SOOOOOOOOOOOOON chappies!!

    much love,
    E
    xxx

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  2. in which i post a comment11:24 pm, August 25, 2005

    sam here, i have been reading you're stoof, but not commenting, because i am eeeevil, and eat dead babies. smoked dead babies.
    and i've been directing the play and my head has fallen off. look, there it goes there!-------------->

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  3. Hiya penguins! I check your blogspot all the time! So often, in fact, that I'm probably here more often than you! So, you don't update the site regularly enough for my liking! How 'bout some new pics, eh? It's been exactly 71 days since I've seen your pretty penguin faces (it's already been that long!?!) and I'm afraid that I'll forget what they look like! If I don't leave a message all the time it's because Charlie is always hogging the computer...*grumbles* damned cyber-freaks... Hey! I pick Esther up from the airport TOMORROW MORNING!!! I'll try not to eat all of the Lindt chocolate she brings from Switzerland so there'll be some left when she makes her way to you guys. Not making any promises though...

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  4. alright, alright!!! we'll put some pix up now. have fun in berlin - make sure you go to the film museum for marlene shenannigans!... also, sam, why eat dead babies? 'give them to me raw and wriggling... you keep nasty chips.' and esther - see you soon! i dreamed of scotland last night!

    ReplyDelete