Friday, 30 May 2008

Road Rant

Ireland - Day 9

We had a late start to the day since I had to spend time online and on the phone to sort out tickets to the American Football match at Wembley in October. I don't think I've ever planned anything five months in advance (except, maybe, for this trip) and it feels strange, yet oddly thrilling. I must try it again sometime.

Once I had finally managed to get it all sorted, we had to clear out of the campsite in record time. We were heading South West, which meant using the roads again. Tracey has something to say on the subject...

Roads and Yellow Houses

I know the state of the roads has already come up but it deserves at least another mention.

These are the worst roads I have encountered since being on a rubbly track in Crete which led to a remote yoga retreat next to a beach and had the decency not to claim to be a road. It certainly didn’t have the audacity to have a name or a number, like ooh, N71 for example.

Driving on these roads is a strain, on our nerves and probably on the hitch on our trailer. I keep wondering what condition our crockery will be in when we arrive. Today our kitchen towel had completely unrolled itself.

There are holes and bumps and along the nearside edges there are no edges, there is more of an unpredictable serrated effect. There is often a sort of gully roughly where your nearside wheels go, which seems to be quite simply a collapsing of the tarmac into an insufficient foundation. The surface is a grey-coloured patchwork of uneven repairs, except for one area today which had been skimmed with fresh tarmac whilst leaving the undulations in place beneath.

I have seen cars on the opposite side bouncing up and down towards us like a pimped set of boy-racer wheels only to realise that they are a perfectly un-pimped family car simply surfing the asphalt waves.

We enjoyed a beautifully smooth, probably new stretch in the village of Leap, but it was all too brief. I’d go back just for the soothing smoothness but I would ruin our suspension on the way there.

Something I am appreciating along the way is the boldly painted houses, shops and bars. The more conservative choice which we’ve seen everywhere so far is somewhere between the yellowy vanilla ice cream of my childhood (not the modern posh stuff which is subtly off-white with tiny specks of vanilla seeds) and packet custard. The more eye-catching buildings have been deep, deep blue with even deeper blue window frames, or terracotta, or emerald green, or the sunniest of bright yellows, or PURPLE!!! It’s so strong and cheerful and fun and I love it.


If you thought Skibbereen were a race of tall, bipedal aliens intent on the destruction of mankind and whose arch enemy is Dr. Who, then, like me, you'd be wrong. Skibbereen claims to be the "Shopping Capital" of West Cork. I'll let you know about that one, but the chips are rubbish.

On another note, in celebration of the fact that we've had better phone and internet access in the past week than we did during two and a half months in South West England, I've uploaded some photos to the website from the trip so far. If anybody would like to know more about any of them, comment here or drop us a line via the Profile page.

Enjoy the views.



Rich Luhr said...

Let's hope the good Internet access continues. It has been great to read about your travels since you emerged from the "Internet dark zone", and I'm looking forward to more. For those of us on the other side of the pond, your travels via Airstream seem as exotic as a mission to Mars sometimes. Keep 'em coming!

Pete said...


Thanks for the encouragement. It's great to know that there is somebody out there (apart from our Mums & Dads) who reads this stuff!

Mmm, Mars, now there's a destination....

Anonymous said...

I don't remember the roads being as bad when I 'did' Ireland on my Triumph motorbike about 10 years ago. Maybe that's because it never stopped raining and I never went over 35mph getting sprayed by fume-spewing tour buses.

I went to see Michael and Anthony today. Left Brussels at 7am, travelled by train to Oxenholme, spent the day at Tebay, and am now on the train back to home in Susses, eta midnight.

You guys are inspiring. Maybe more than you think. If I end up blowing the mortgage on a 532 you are in SO much trouble when I eventually catch up with you!


Pete said...

Just think how long the journey would have taken on Irish roads!

And as for the 532, go on, you know you want one...

(now I just need to negotiate a "finder's fee with Michael...)