August 24, 2003

A week in Ireland

On our way between Bandon and Clonakilty to meet my sister we passed a shiney steel sculptural replica of a Model-T Ford at the side of the road. It was a tribute to Henry Ford who apparently 'came from' near that site. The project was a 'millenium project' and obviously newly built. There was a Ford flag flying. What can I say but yuck. My uncle nigel when discussing this object of car glorification did mention to me that Ford was a big Nazi supporter... So at least people know something.

We cycled in Ireland from the cork airport to meet my sister. We had a road map of all of ireland so there wasn't really enough detail but it was ok, we got there. We tried a less busy route and that was really good. There are no shoulders on the roads in Ireland 99% of the time and the cars drive the curves pretty fast. Also you are confused being on the left. So really it is stressful on any busy road. Ireland is not investing much in bicycles sadly. It is a fairly low density country and the development patterns are totally focused around the car. There are some trains here but much less than England or most European Countries. Apparently the EU is giving money for more roadway construction to 'develop' Ireland. The Irish program is the National Development Program or the 'NDP' which is funny (for people who know BC politics) to see as a prominent acronym all over the place.

On our way between Bandon and Clonakilty to meet my sister we passed a shiney steel sculptural replica of a Model-T Ford at the side of the road. It was a tribute to Henry Ford who apparently 'came from' near that site. The project was a 'millenium project' and obviously newly built. There was a Ford flag flying. What can I say but yuck. My uncle nigel when discussing this object of car glorification did mention to me that Ford was a big Nazi supporter... So at least people know something.

We met my sister in Clon. in the centre of town next to a statue of Micheal Collins (a central Irish patriot) and a abandoned stone church converted to a post office. It was great to see my sister who has been in Tanzania all year. We sat in a small grassy park in the centre of town. She gave us presents of clothes she had made for us in Africa. We talked for a while then had late lunch at a cafeteria style restaurant (common here) in a hotel. Then we rode our bikes with Naomi back to the farm to see my family. These family are related to me by being descended from my grandmother's sister, Hariet. Her sons Nigel and Keith split the farm and live and work there. We first met Claire, nigel's wife, and her 4 children: Aaron (12) Rosien (11? the only girl) Steven (8?) and Keiran (5). They are all very friendly and intelligent children and were very keen to meet us. The next day we went down to meet Keith's family and Caroline (his wife) and kids were there but not him, he is often busy and out. Keith's Children are Luke (14, only boy) Rebecca 12?, Sarah and Jessica both 9 not identical twins. The twins were born more than 2 months early and had trouble surviving because they were born so prematurely. They are both very healthy and energetic now (very energetic!) though i think they are slightly short for their age (I think, I don't really know such things very well)

During our 8 days with the family we camped out in the back yard at Nigel's house. Grandmother Hariet also lives in their house and so it is very full so we opted to sleep outside rather than make the kids share a room. It was very nice sleeping outside as it was warm weather and very fresh air and lovely and green. They live right in the country. They have a stone circle and a 2000 year old tomb located on their property which they are very unamazed by, these things are much more common there. during the week we did a lot of things but they kind of blur together. We went to the beach a lot which was really spectacular. Only a 15 minute cycle away, the water is really salty and it's the open ocean so big waves. The water is very clear and there is a lot of seaweed but it seems so clean I could imagine eating it (I've thought about eating raw seaweed since I like sushi rolls a lot, i didn't eat any there but I imagine it would be OK) Also we milked the cows. They have 48 cows and they milt them every morning and evening. They work really hard. They have to gather the cows from the feild every time. It is a lot of work. Putting the sucking machine on the cows nipples was kind of fun but it was difficult as they might kick you and I'm sure the novelty wears off. We stayed up talking late into the night a lot, Nigel will talk your ear off if given the opportunity. one night Ida and Linda and Pearl and Harvey (my other relations, harvey is the brother of my grandma, pearl the wife, linda a kid, ida their direct cousin) came over and we had cake and told dirty jokes and laughed a lot. We played with the children a lot, that was fun but exhausting. We made dinner once for the family, burritos made with kidney beans as the 'meat' which they all really liked a lot and had never had before. Hariet drove us to visit and see things and we ate with her at cafeteria style restaurants which had meat and potatoes type food. We cycled to see a rowing competition (regatta) that Caroline was involved with in Glandore. We saw a competition of the handlers of cattle at cattle shows that keith put on for the simmental (breed of cows) society. Luke was in it and won 2nd prize. Keith has a lot of cattle and breeds them for sale. They are sold as breeding bulls and cows for meat farmers, they are studs that meat farmers use to breed their own stock, so they aren't sold as meat. Luke was raising a calf that the mother cow had died from birth. He fed the calf milk by hand, milk from nigel and claire. Both Keith and Nigel have second jobs and can't earn a full living to support their 4 kid families with only farming. They work a lot. One time we went up with keith to help his sick cow named Emperess (1994) who had mastitis. Emperess couldn't stand up. However Keith gave her food and care and drugs and she was recovering well and walking again at the time we left. I set up email address's for my little cousins Steven (stevenvic @ ziplip.com) and Aaron (tigerclaw @ ziplip.com), you can email them if you want to say hi.

Naomi left Ireland on the 14th and we stayed with nigel's family until tuesday the 19th. On Tuesday we left on our bikes and rode to Old Head, near Kinsale, a touristy town near Cork. We camped on a farmers feild near the sea after we asked them and they were very friendly about it, this is how you camp in Ireland. The ride on the coast was really spectacular. The roads were generally not very busy and so it was really great.

On wednesday we rode to Kinsale and had lunch on a cliff and then collected shells on the seashore. Then we rode to Ringaskiddy where the ferry leaves from. We went to the only pub open and the kitchen was closed at 8:30 but they made us toasted ham(not for jane), cheese, and tomato sandwiches. We had a couple beers. We got talking to a juice drinking former alcoholic named Terry who travelled to Canada and the US lots and was quite interesting. We also talked to James who worked at the Pzifer factory next to the town where apparently Viagra was invented and is now produced. They both bought us beer! Irish hospitality. We camped out in a wild area right next to the Ferry Port. it was sort of a breir patch which was fine until I got up with no shoes in the middle of the night and discovered how prickley those bushes are. We got up early and made the 9:00 am (once a day) ferry sailing fine. The ferry was not very full and it was a really nice old style 'superferry'. Not like a fast Cat. You could go all over the deck and the food was not expensive and there were good seats... It was like a really nice BC ferries. That was important because it was a 10 hour journey which we enjoyed much more than the 4 hour journey from holland. It cost 49 euros for jane and 43 for me the student and 14 euros each for our bikes. There were no proper bike facilities, but it wasn't uncomfortable. ~We watched the movie chicken run for free. the stupid stenna lines ferry it cost 8 euros.

We arrived in Swansea, Wales about 7:40 after the boat did a 180 degree turn and reversed into the dock about as slowly as it possibly could (it took 45 minutes). Swansea is a lot bigger than we had anticipated, a lively university town, we went to the train station and found that trains were actually direct to London twice an hour, but the last one left half an hour ago. We decided to go to a B&B instead of camp because there was no camping possibilities nearby that we could see or hope for given how developed and big it all was. We went to the Marinasomething BnB for 43 which is supposed to be a competitive rate. (not in Canadian dollars). It was nice enough though it was small.#

This morning we got up for the BnB breakfast: beans, bacon, eggs, tomato and toast, before 8:30 when it ended. We used the internet at the BnB just for a quick time because TAO.ca wasn't working in Ireland at all, but this morning it works. Then we went out to try to find a better Internet place. We found a strange "XL family fun centre" store which had a lot of computers station in the window. However it is only for children with their parents supervising. They have also massive LEGO and other toy construction kits for kids to play with, and toys for sale, and they don't allow you to eat food inside not purchased there. They keep a detailed file on computer of each kids and have heavy video camera surveilance. It costs 1 pound to enter. We didn't go in. It was a strange mix of family theme park and corporate big brother. Anyway then we were going to go to the mall but it was 3 pounds an hour and it was also icky mall mall so we decided not to.

We caught the 11:30 train and used my mom and dad's last day on their britrail flexpass. It was actually really conveinient. They had a bike storage cargo mail type car and we sat in the car nearest which was a 'quiet' section which only meant cell phones weren't allowed in that section 8) We arrived in Paddington London at 3 and then cycled to Victoria station through Hyde Park and buckingham Palace. We took the train to East Croyden here where Marion and Pat live. This time the train was much more modern and not so busy, even though it was 4pm, should be rush hour more than last week was at 10pm. Perhaps this train was more expensive? We had a system pass so we never knew. Anyway it was altogether much better than we anticipated because of how we had heard the British Railsystem was terrible and our last experience (the week before) had been not great. We phoned Marion from the station and she directed us here.

We ate some dinner then went to the park and saw this kind of bird called a Grube (or something?) which the tiny babies ride on the mothers back swimming in the water all the time. The babies sort of wedge themselves under and between the wings and sit on the mom like a boat. It was neat-oh! Then we came home and watched a video of a film of my mom from 1952 when she was 2 years old. Now I am on the computer and have finally been catching up with the email we couldn't access for a week. I am getting kind of tired and out of it and will go to bed soon. Tommorrow (saturday) we will go into london and try to see what fun is to be had, I was looking on the internet for activist things to do and found lots and lots (try www.eroding.org.uk and www.schenews.com) We are looking forward to coming home a bit but are also sad that this thing is ending so soon. It will be nice to be stable and relax, but then school starts soon and moving and people.... It's going to be busy.

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List of how to say 'Cheers' (toast a drink) not in English:

French: Salud
German, Dutch: Pr-o-st
Hungarian: E-gays-shea-gays-re
Czech: Naz-dtrav-ee
Russian: Naz-dtrah-vey (same as above but a more deep throatey 'ay' instead of 'ee')
Gaelic (Irish): Sloin-ta
Japanese: Cum-pie

We learned all of those except the cum-pie one on this trip. I'm just writing this now randomly so i don't forget it. i don't think I'll learn any more now since they definately say 'cheers' in england.

Posted by rusl at August 24, 2003 04:18 PM
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