Days like these
Our plans for the journey to Tralee today looked rather similar to the first set of signposts we came across as we left Galway. We planned to drive through/around The Burren, take a look at the Cliffs of Moher and make our way towards the ferry across the Shannon to Tarbert and Tralee.
We were travelling through a more rural landscape than we’d come across so far and very much liked the small thatch cottages here and there. They might be pretty basic for real life but made perfect backdrops for daydreaming about a simple Irish country lifestyle.
We soon arrived n the harbour of Ballyvaughan, pleased to find a quiet spot in which to stop the car and take a breath. It had begun to stutter and stall a little, a couple of warning lights had flashed and my hero was beginning to feel anxious about the possibility of it breaking down in the middle of some tourist traffic. Here, Mary and I could hop out and take a stroll in the fresh air, leaving the men to make phone calls and see what could be done.
Yes, it was tempting to push the blooming thing over the cliff. It’s a no-frills VW Sharan without so much as a place to plug in an ipod and it has not endeared itself to us at all so far, being bumpy and rather cramped for just four adults and their luggage.
Just along from where we parked was a small blue tower marked “bicycle maintenance”. It warranted a closer look.
The thoughtful people of Ballyvaughan had provided a repair kit for passing cyclists. Sadly, it wasn’t any use for stuttering VW Sharans, but the range of spanners, wrenches, screwdrivers and so on would surely be appreciated by many. As I stood taking the photo, a Spanish couple passed by and joined me in marvelling at the facility. Remarkable!
Meanwhile the men were getting through to the rental car company and sorting it all out.
Because really, on days like these we can’t even begin to feel anything but joy. I mean, this is labelled the “Wild Atlantic Way”.
The sea was like a millpond. The reflections as if they were in a lake, not the Atlantic Ocean.
How lucky are we to see West Ireland in these conditions? Whilst the weather warnings were being issued for England, we were basking in sunshine with hardly a breath of wind.
Having sorted out an appointment with a mechanic in Tralee later, we continued south, doing our best to snap glorious views as we went.
We’d earmarked the Burren Smokehouse as worth a visit, thinking that perhaps we’d find some tasty things for today’s picnic lunch there. Oh yes, a little bit of tasting was enough to make us want one of everything! We left armed with a couple of different smoked salmon packs, some great dark and tasty bread, a few home made cookies and a couple of bars of chocolate. A feast, no less.
But before lunch, we had one more call to make at the Cliffs of Moher. We’d read that although the Guinness Storehouse is currently the #1 visitor attraction in the country, before long this more natural feature is likely to overtake it. Unsurprisingly then, we were far from alone on the path to the coast.
Who cares, though? There was room for everyone to see and more than enough sunshine, fresh air and blue sky to go around.
OK, so occasionally I had to wait to take my picture. But I didn’t mind at all.
Life. Is. Good.
The Aran Islands were actually really clear across there, but in my photograph they seem to have disappeared. You’ll just have to believe me that they glistened in the sunshine.
We resisted the temptation to go further along the pathway up onto the cliffs, dreaming instead of the salmon and our picnic lunch.
After a couple of false starts, we found the ideal place. No, not on the dangerous cliff edge! Neither did we settle for the picnic area near the harbour where the odour was not of the seaweed drying in the sunshine, but of the sewage which burst from a pipe sometime yesterday, according to the priest who was parked in his car next to ours!
Instead, we found a grassy spot high above the busy beach of Lehinch and can only describe the smoked salmon picnic as one of the tastiest lunches imaginable.
Suitably fortified, it was an easy drive over the Shannon ferry to Tarbert and on to Tralee. Whilst Mary and I settled into our cosy hotel, the men took the car to the repair shop and returned an hour and 70 Euros later.
This evening, watching the news of flash floods in Kent, downpours in other parts of the United Kingdom, we are thankful for blue skies and sunny days in which to see this most beautiful of landscapes.
Not only that, but the weather forecast for the weekend looks promising too.