Sunday 4 November 2018

GO FAR QUICKLY AND CREEP BACK!


It’s that utterly soul-destroying moment when you’ve far to go, yet find yourself stuck behind a car that brakes as each car passes on the other side of the road.

I learned to drive in London and find the roads of the west of Ireland a doddle, so I’ve little reason to road rage. Oh, except for those drivers who take three years to turn right into their own driveway: they do it to me every time.

This slamming on the brakes whenever a car passes stuff is only acceptable from overseas drivers, who’ve never seen Irish roads. This guy in front of me in his silver hatchback is evidently a tourist, but he's also a Dub, who's only now found reason to venture west of the Shannon.

“It’s a bloody main road!” I scream out loud alone, safe in my private metal shell. “There’s bloody white lines for gods sake. Think this is narrow, idiot? Oh hooooooo hoh! Just wait!”

Purposefully ignoring the way all us other drivers are not at all dead, or intent on driving into each others’ cars, yer man admirably concentrates on keeping his two kids and wife alive as long as possible.

If this was America he could get nicked. Slow driving is incredibly dangerous and recognised as a crime over there.

Yeh but I’ll get there and all is good. 

Slow down Adley.

The day before last weekend’s Bank Holiday I packed Blue Bag and catapulted myself far away.

That was the essence of my cunning plan. Go as far as you can as quickly as you can and then creep closer to Galway.

Another kingdom, my friend Angel’s home in Kerry offers me sanctuary, peace and serenity, tea and talk.

Inbetween long comfortable silences, borne by years of friendship, I’m ranting and he’s listening.

That’s the way it is today.
More tea?

Angel may not see it any more as he has lived here for years, but outside my friend’s windows I look down from high clifftop to the mighty Atlantic, as it slams into defiant black rocks below.

Straight ahead from our perch my eyes blur into Kerry’s magical coastal swirls, spikes and isles.

I love falling asleep in his mobile. It’s a different kind of silence to the one I enjoy at home. My silence is the wind playing violin on my home’s rooftop or the smash of hailstones crashing onto my bedroom windows.

Natural phenomena do not affect my slumber. I’lI sleep through all of that - in truth I love it!-  but if there’s the slightest artificial sound, a motorbike somewhere in the townland, alpha male kicks in and I’m awake.

Laying on Angel’s fold-out spare bed I revel in the sound of rain on the roof, a troupe of metallic pigmies tap dancing on my head. The waves crashing on the rocks below soothe me and I’m off away for a good eight hours.

Next morning I drive past a place in Dingle called ‘Dolphin Booking Office’.
Is that the place where dolphins go to book a swim with humans?

Round the seemingly endless bends from Dingle to Tralee, where jaw-dropping views remain unseen as it’s eyes on the road territory, if you want to avoid the approaching oblivious coaches.

Then north to Tarbert for a pub, to read the paper and relax, anonymous in public.
That night I spend in splendid isolation at Castle View House on Carrig Island.




Friendly and attentive, Patricia and Garrett Dee run this charming gentle B&B, and with no pubs nearby and no licence to sell alcohol, it’s not for everybody. 

Tonight it’s exactly what I want: peace and quiet.
Nobody wants or needs me.



Outside my bedroom window there is a castle.
Time to stare at the river and sky for a few hours.
                                
Hallelujah.

Over dinner Garrett talks gently of a lifetime’s work spent hosting. He is such an amiable man. If I had to host tourists for that long, well, let’s just say that’s why he runs the place and I’m his guest.

Tonight peace.
Tomorrow north for Bank Holiday by the sea in Kilkee.

First though a gloriously sunny Saturday to pass, challenged only by a freezing your bits off northerly gale.

Just before Loop Head I stop and fortify myself with excellent coffee and scrummy blackberry and apple pie in Kilbaha Gallery. Garrett had recommended the place.
 

You listen to the locals.
That’s the way it works.


 The sign in the café loo says "Smile! You're in West Clare!" and I do because I love West Clare. People are as their stone. I feel most at home with the granite people of Yorkshire and Connemara. If they offer you a handshake or a barstool you're worth it; you've earned it.


The gentle limestone souls of Clare with their easy smiles are so different. They feel to me today as welcome as they are welcoming.

When passing cars on the backroads of Clare, the single finger raised from the steering wheel in greeting will not suffice. Here only the fully-lifted open palm, accompanied by beaming smile will do.

By nature I'm a bit of a minimalist, happy to acknowledge another's existence by looking across and lifting a fingertip. I love this intensely human rural Irish behaviour, but it causes me no end of strife in London, where it takes me 48 hours to stop scaring the locals.




















Loop Head Lighthouse is absolutely splendid. Steve the guide has no end of information - really, no end! - and then, out on the top platform, pinned back by the gale, I gaze out to the pancake cliffs and Loop Head itself.



The Bay View in Kilkee lives up to its name, giving this space cadet the perfect room: a tiny bay window with a chair, one way looking out to the beach and crashing waves, the other to distant sheep-terraced green hills 

Just what this scribbler needs while life is in chaotic flux: friendship, solitude and tonight, if I feel up to it, a wee smidgeon of craic in Kilkee, ready for home tomorrow.

©Charlie Adley
04.11.2018

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