South Dublin, Ireland
Last night I’d checked the route and printed Linda’s barcode, so we were ready for parkrun first thing. The hotel was only 25 minutes away via the M25-sorry, M50-so we were there with time to follow the tourist directions, have a warm up and meet Joe and Jacqs. The directions took us to the far end of the park to the start/finish line, but it’s only a short jog from there, and there are underused toilets on the way as a reward. I like a reward, and I’ll take what I can get. The run was scenic, one small anticlockwise loop of the initial field then a gently twisting course through tree-shaded paths before a final clockwise loop to finish. I raced those ahead for as long as i could keep accelerating and managed to isolate myself in sixth after a mile or so, which helped make my splits ugly, but I was reasonably happy. Linda was just behind; “two for two,” as she put it, though I doubt I will stay ahead if we race again. Afterwards Jacqs’ kids and parents joined us all on the grass and we chilled out under a cloudless sky. My ankle had been fine, I forgot all about it, with only a small twinge to remind me I’d gone over on it the night before.
Linda and I left after 11 to find a pub. I’d not cased one out but figured it wouldn’t be long before we spotted one from the road and so it turned out, as we listened to the end of he first half before hopping out, with perfect timing to miss the Australian try at the end of the half but also to catch the whole of the second. Whoever wrote the script did a great job. Nervy close win, series nearly in their hands before a close loss, looking to have it won at 19-3 before having to, as they say, go out and win it again from 19-16. Boy how they won it. 41-16, running tries in for fun in a burst from 20 or so minutes to go, making it comfortable.
That was the last thing we could do together. Linda had a flight at 4.15 she could probably switch to, not wanting to hang around for her originally scheduled 10/7 flight after I’d gone, so we packed and headed in comfortable thought filled silence to the airport.
Goodbye. At least for now.
I found myself at a loose end. My original plan involved finding a Sunday paper, but I didn’t spot one at my first spot. I realised why later, glad I hadn’t looked too hard. The airport is north of Dublin, and I headed out ignoring the motorways, figuring that would take me to the coast. It did, along with most of Dublin; at the first stop, near Baldyhole (or something) there were Garda managing the parking, and I thought it was going to be a nightmare. Just up the road, though, was a lay-by with space and I pulled over with a book and Lidl lunch. The views were spectacular. Again. And I could see, round the coast, the reason for the parking mayhem further along; more sandy beaches. My pebbly beach did me fine, and I snoozed before heading off, my engine waking up the gent who’d decided to snooze in the lay by rather than walk down to the beach. At least I hadn’t left the car in gear and made it a permanent snooze.
Conscious of the need to pay the motorway toll from the day before by 8.00 I rolled on aimlessly, ending in the next town. At Howth I managed to pay my toll charges then wandered. The small pretty seaside town was thronging on a sunny day but the cafe culture is only partially successful-all the patrons of two restaurants that lose the sun in the early evening were wrapped up in blankets against the sea air.
The town is on its own peninsula, and has a two pronged harbour sweeping out to sea. Once I’d explored there and taken in Ireland’s Eye, a short distance out to sea, I turned inland which, in a burst of greediness which has surely led karma to create the sights of, say, Slough, has its own views, with great hills and a tree lined horizon, with cyclists coming in both directions to take on whatever challenges the peninsula offers. Spotting a ruin up on the hill I climbed, towards ‘historic Howth’, where a lane of pubs and shops turns into a tiny lane that seems tiny and quaint when closed in, then offers dramatic views of The Eye where the view opens up. As the sun disappeared I browsed my suddenly empty boot-somehow I filled it on my own then after a few days had room for Linda’s pack but now the latter’s absence left a hole. I found that I had finished all my real books without realising so was on I the kindle and fish and chips, killing the hours before the ferry.
Wales awaits, as I make my own Lions tour.