Monday, 21 April 2014

The Gougane Barra Trip April 2014

Now then Debs,
view from my room

I thought I would call on Danielle and Dee in Dublin then nip down to Gougane Barra - last there aged ten, last time we had a family holiday in a hotel, always wanted to go back. Well, I had booked the hotel before I arranged the calling-in-at-Dublin bit, and, as Robbie Burns wrote,
"The best-laid schemes o' mice and men gang aft a-gley . . . "

Standing Stones at Kealkil
In short, Debbie, GGB was 200 miles away from Dublin and not on a regular train or bus route, and cutting this long story even more, I am cycling down to Leeds Station at 5.40 a.m., train to Manchester, now flying to Cork and hiring a car for the trip west. And I don't see either D or D who were two of the three original reasons for this second Irish trip in three months.

Decide to take the coast road from Cork to GGB; this part of the country seems not over-populated, till I arrive at Bantry and the lovely Stuffed Olive café, where I add taste and texture to fuel. Arriving at the millpond calm that are the waters of Gougane Barra, get a room amazing overlooking the lake [most rooms are], and pass out.

[Next day Rick emails me to discover where I left the bike padlock key so he can liberate said bike from Leeds Station carpark.]

Carriganass Castle
Katie makes me the most wonderful pastry mozzarella and mushroom thingy; I go up to the room at 8.30 pm, and pass out again, and next I know it's morning and my skirt is all crumpled with being slept in.

I have three main childhood memories from this holiday, namely:

1. Chummed up with a girl a year older than me, called Gillian Johnstone. She came from Dublin; she and I spent our days rowing round the land, mapping it, drawing it, giving names to the inlets and bays. Sadly this map probably went in a house move purge some decades back.

2. In the evening we kids used to sit on the landing and watch the grown-ups having parties downstairs. Remember my dad singing with another man, the song was something like "A Policeman's Lot is Not a Happy One".

3. Collected bagfuls of moss, took it back to UK, and filled the bath at home with it, and all our ashtrays. Have no idea how I got this past my parents or customs.

[4.] I also remember from that holiday that we missed the Dublin boat home and took a train to Belfast, stayed overnight in a Dickensian boarding house when my mum burnt my vest using it as a lampshade in the room;  then an aeroplane back to Leeds-Bradford. My first flight, and scary! [Understatement.]

1. The hotel literature talked boats but there were none to be seen on the lake. Turns out they were hibernating. I expressed my interest in taking a turn about the lake. Tried not to look too desperate. Well, Neil was determined that I should, and finally on the last day . .  Absolutely made the trip.

2. Took some photos through the banisters from where I would have spied upon the parents.

pressed flowers from Gougane Barra 2014

3. Pressed a few wild flowers and some strands of moss; decided that Airport Security might object to bagfuls of moss, and I already lost my old Swiss army knife and a pair of scissors on way over.


On Tuesday I just hung around and went for walks; on Wednesday I took a little drive out, saw the Standing Stones at Kealkil, then on to Glengariff and ventured onto the beautiful peninsula, north of Bantry Bay. Had a cuppa and a bun at really lovely, old-fashioned café in Glengariff; both evenings spent quietly on ipad in bar drinking Murphy's and trying desperately [that is like the proverbial swan, paddling away frantically] to raise the numbers of players for the gig in Harrogate.

Katie advised me not to leave before 11a.m. on Thursday; lo and behold, Neil and pals had launched the Little Green Clinker and I was away across the lake. Nervous about getting back to airport and carhire firm on time; but needn't have worried. Not a dual carriageway in sight and we purred our way through the lovely Lee Valley.


So, three modes of travel, of which my absolute favourite was the little green boat. And when Robbie talked best laid plans, overall I most certainly didn't end up with "grief and pain for promised joy".

Come back refreshed, and, as you will see from the Harrogate gig blog coming soon, eleven players! Eleven, well ten and half, Varshika back in a sling! In steel band gigging heaven. And still very much refreshed from Gougane Barra heaven.


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