Saturday, 8 November 2008

My Boy

Of course we all had a terrible night, with plenty of tears.

The first task of the day was to bury the boy. Alice was kind enough to stay up really late - I doubt she slept much anyway - decorating an old shoe box for him. We all wrote a little message in it and then said our goodbyes. Now he's asleep under the Magnolia tree.

Goodnight boy, rest in peace. I'll remember you always.


[Carlo (2006-2008), taken March 2008]

Friday, 7 November 2008

Carlo

I can't believe it, the boy has gone.

Jacqueline let him out earlier tonight and quite shortly afterwards there was a knock on the door. He'd been knocked over and died instantly. It wasn't even the driver who knocked, but a passer by.

I can't believe I'll never got to watch (or write about) his antics ever again. He was only 2½ and with all the leanness of youth. Absolutely full of life. Alice is devastated of course.

Back to the clients this week after the holiday to see all of their managers scurrying around. As a consultant I am very much an outsider and they are playing their cards close to their chest, but from what I can gather redundancies are in the air. And getting rid of permies is the next step beyond getting rid of consultants. All told I reckon I'll be lucky to be with them by Christmas.

As weeks go, this one has been totally shitty.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Home Again

Got back this evening, after a long journey back from Wales.

Had a pleasant enough day coming back down through Ireland, good weather, and stopped at Cahir for a visit to the castle and for lunch. Both excellent, the castle in particular only had about two other visitors so there were no pesky tourists to get in the way of my beautiful photographs! Onward down to Wexford, which was quite a nice town. Of course, we didn't get there until fourish so didn't have a great deal of time there, but pleasant nevertheless. Again, there were lots of little boutiques as opposed to the UK High Street chains. I got myself a new winter coat (a lovely, warm Regatta yachty-type thing) quite cheaply. (I broke it in today on the deck of the ferry and it was great - totally windproof.)

We spent last night at the St Helen's Hotel right by the harbourside at Rosslare. A strange hotel, it was a once-excellent building - at dinner last night we had a great view of the ferry loading up for the night corssing - however the room itself was very cold and the place could have done with a good deal of modernisation. Okay, I suppose, but dinner, bed and breakfast came to £150 so by no means a bargain. They even wowed us with the promise of some live music - after the excellent music on Friday night, we were well up for it, however the music turned out to be a Country singer. Now, as things go, Country Music ranks pretty high on my list of things to miss. So I made my excuses, returned to our (cold) room and settled down to watch Match of the Day. However, 'twas not to be. Jacqueline and Alice came back to the room shortly after and whined sufficiently about having football on the TV that I turned it off. I'd heard that Everton had actually won for a change and wanted to see the highlights, but I guess I'll have to make do with the BBC's web report.

(Actually since we got home and I now have the magic of the internet once again I have learned that they beat Bolton in midweek and are an incredible seventh! Last time I looked they were third-from-bottom - I must go on holiday more often!)

Anyway, up early for breakfast and an 8am departure. The saving grace for the hotel (apart from it having a half-decent leisure centre) was that it was only five minutes from the ferry. The weather back was beautiful, and I got some especially good photographs of the Welsh coast (at least I think I did - I can't be bothered getting them off the camera tonight). But oh, the drive from Pembroke was terrible. 2½ hours to Cardiff, where we stopped for a walk down by the bay followed by a lovely meal at the Old Orleans, then another 2½ hours home - the roads were really busy all the way. Still, back by 8:30pm and time enough to get the computer out and to catch up on everything I've missed in my sad little virtual world! (My only consolation is that Jacqueline is no better - as soon as we'd unloaded the car she had the TV on to catch up on the hours and hours of crap she's recorded during our week away.)

Ah, well, work tomorrow. Back into the routine. Not sure I can face getting up at a quarter-to-six, but the taxman calls...

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Dolphins

Yesterday proved to be the highlight of the holiday. We'd held out all week for good enough weather, and finally yesterday it arrived. In the freezing cold sunshine, we drove a massive 2½ hours out to a village called Carrigaholt, on the south side of the Loop Head peninsula in West Clare, and took a boat out into the mouth of the Shannon to go and watch the dolphins. A first for all of us, and an amazing sight. We probably saw three or four pods, maybe twenty or so animals, with the most playful swimming alongside and then under the boat. But boy, you've got to be quick to see them - of course I was fully armed with camera, and haven't downloaded the shots yet, but I suspect that most of them will show a patch of sea where a dolphin was a split-second earlier! But hey, I took something over 200 photographs so I'm sure at least one will be good.


Despite the long drive, I made sure we got to Carrigaholt in good time, so much so that we had time for lunch beforehand, and the pub, the Long Dock, was well worth a mention. Coming in from the cold to a massive open fire, my liver and bacon was delicious. This particular pub has won awards and I'd have to say that the standard was excellent, especially so for a pub out in the back of beyond. But then Carrigaholt itself really was my kind of place. This is really desolate country, where the elements for sure dictate the pace of life. If ever I achieve my ambition of becoming reclusive (damn, I forgot to buy a lottery ticket again last night!) this is the type of place I'd be. (Well, maybe southern France would be in with a shout!)

So anyway, if you're ever in the area I can highly recommend a meal at the Long Dock followed by a trip out with Dolphinwatch - but make sure you wrap up warm!

We got back into Carrigaholt just after four (now that the clocks have gone back it is getting dark really early), and we were back in Dromineer for 6:30pm. While I think on, one surprise we did get yesterday was when the woman who runs the place came over and read the meter - a massive €70, for just a week's power. If ever there was a statistic to damn electric storage heaters, (we have used the oven a little, but only these god awful heaters and the immersion over long periods) this is it. But still, we didn't come on holiday to sit in the cold, so I had to cough up.

Overcoming my shock, however, we celebrated out last night in Dromineer by taking Alice out to the local pub for a meal. They had live traditional music on, which was excellent. Alice, of course, loves anything musical and protested quite strongly when, at 10:30pm, I said that we had to come home to bed. An excellent meal once again, but way too much. Poor old hostess looked offended when she saw than none of us had managed more than half of our meals, but what could we do? We needed to save some room for pudding!
Today I'm up early, the rest of the house is still in bed, because I wanted to get this entry done. Packing, for the most part, is complete, though the woman yesterday told us that there was no hurry to get out since we were the last visitors of the year. But in any case I'd like to set off sharpish since we've tentatively said we'll go to Cahir Castle, then have a look around Wexford on our way back down to Rosslare. We've certainly seen a lot of Ireland this week and I'd love to revisit at some point. Excellent.