Saturday, October 1, 2011
Static - for a while
This morning, for the first time since, almost three weeks ago, I was on the ferry to Venice, I am feeling sufficiently relaxed to essay a blog post. Since my landfall at Venice I have been more or less continually moving. This had not been my intention but, in my case at least, the circumstances of travel have been mind altering. I had not expected the drive across Italy into France to be as easy as it happened to be. Arriving in France early in the evening of my first day of travel towards Ireland encouraged me to abandon my original plan, to move gently north and west, in favour of a new plan; to reach my chosen objective, Ireland, as soon as possible.
Shortly after emerging from the Mont Blanc tunnel I turned of the main road and booked into the delightful Aiguille du Midi at Les Bossons near Chamonix. Delightful in every respect but accordingly expensive, providing further encouragement to hurry on.
On the outskirts of Laon, a mediaeval town I have long wished to explore, I booked into an adequate if utilitarian hotel, equally expensive as the Aiguille du Midi but considerably less delightful. I would have liked to stay at Laon for a while and may, one day, make a dedicated visit but this time I had resolved, with some regret, to press on.
Only four days after leaving home, at about two o’clock on 16th September, I drove out of the shuttle train into the bright and sunny Eurotunnel terminal at Folkestone. Shortly after I was enjoying, in an old haunt of mine, the Rose and Crown at Elham, a delicious pint of Kentish ale.
Since the idea of making Ireland my ultimate destination first entered my head, I had intended to visit en-route my sister in Scotland, a diversion made easy for me by having family and friends living at strategic distances along the way. An so it was that I broke my journey north at Canterbury, Boston and Glossop.
After spending four pleasant days with my sister I took a two hour catamaran ferry trip from Troon to Larne.
Ireland surprised me. I had expected it to be little different from Scotland, it is not, after all, so far away but it felt very different. Heading for the Giant’s Causeway I drove north along a beautiful coast road that snaked between the sea on my right and a patchwork of small, neat fields on the rolling hills on my left. Near Bushmills I booked into Islandcorr Farm B&B, which should have been an ideal base from which to write, sketch, paint and dream but, tired and disinterested, I did none of these things. I did however get some much needed exercise. During the morning of what was reported to be the warmest day of the summer I walked north along the lower coast path at the Giant’s causeway to the point at which it has been closed. In the afternoon I walked the whole of White Park beach, a huge stretch of tide washed sand on a part of which cattle were contentedly loitering; something I had never seen before.
From Antrim I headed, on a dreary and sometimes wet day, west and south through Derry, Donegal and Leitrim to Sligo where I loitered to pay my respects to Yeats. From Sligo I drove on through Mayo and Galway arriving in the early evening of 29th September at the Burren, County Clare where I have taken for a while a small, very basic, but adequate cottage.
Needing adequate ‘gear’, a waterproof coat and hat, and a means internet connection here I spent my first full day at Ennis, Clare’s largest town where I found everything I needed.
Ennis, in common with every town I have driven through in the Free State, is a wonderfully colourful collection of small independent shops and bars.
This is not much of a post and is certainly not the kind of post I hope to be making while away on my search for whatever it is for which I am looking but I wanted to have it out of the way; to clear the way perhaps for the kind of introspective posts I had come here to Ireland in part to essay to make.