Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Prose - Bicycling in Ireland Part III

Getting off the train in Dublin and riding the North Circle Road through town and out to an area Mary had recommended was quite easy. We rode along the Bay area finding a cheerful B & B run by Mrs. O’Driscoll. She was a small, prissy, busy and affectionate lady that called everyone “lovey”. On our arrival she brought us sherry to our room. We stayed with her for four nights. The breakfasts were good, always the same, a poached egg and then she would bring in hot homemade bread, which I always proceeded to devour. It was easy catching the bus into town. But dealing with the big city, all the people and running out of money, started to get depressing.
Some of our best times in Dublin were our bicycle rides to the Botanical Gardens, the zoo and Phoenix Park. Another day we rode our bikes out to Howth, a small exclusive harbor town west of Dublin. A play was seen one evening at the Abbey Theatre, The Silver Dollar Boys. It was all about boys growing up in a Catholic school being taught by the Brothers.
Especially in Dublin, it was also depressing for me because there were so many children. Lots and lots of children, everywhere. At that time the Irish economy was very low. I could not help feeling anger toward the Catholic church and what they had created in Ireland by not endorsing birth control. There were no jobs for these children when they got older. They would have to leave the island to survive.
Our economy was failing also. We had to wire home for money twice. What could we say? We were spending most of our money on food, that’s the main theme when you are on a bicycle. To make matters worse, this was before we had credit cards. This was l981, we were discovering the rest of the world was operating on credit cards. We hadn’t gone there yet. It was disheartening. As we were getting quite low on funds, our only choice was to go back to England and Gatwick airport to see if we could leave three days early.
So, off we go, riding our bicycles south out of Dublin to catch the ferry at Don Laoghaire.
It was a beautiful day along the coast, helping our spirits. We have a few hours to spend in this seaside port before the ferry arrives.
After touring the sunny town, there’s time to contemplate the trip thus far. I do love this country and its beauty. And, there were times that if I heard another Irishman end a sentence on an up- note, I would scream. They all do, its just part of the accent. But it gets even higher and louder when the voice holds tones of alcohol.
The ferry ride was much more pleasant going back to England. We did attempt to sleep on the train, since we were going to be riding our bicycles through London at 4:00 A.M.
Arriving at Gatwick, hassling with the ticket agents, we discover we cannot get out until the time we had scheduled. Oh my god, three days at Gatwick airport! The best part of this horrifying news was, its probably the only airport in the world that has long velvet-like sofas. I’ve checked in every airport I’ve been in since then, I have found no long velvet sofas yet. They were just about perfect for sleeping, except of course for the noise, the loudspeaker and all that goes on in an airport. But we managed to find where the more private and quieter sofas were located throughout Gatwick. Several times we would go on long walks in the countryside away from the airport. Our bicycles were already packed up. What a way to end a trip. And neither of us gained a pound from all that eating.

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