An Irish Interval in My Midlife Gap Year – Part 2: 8 – 12 October 2015

Thursday 8 October I’m enjoying another quiet day in the Irish countryside. I’m writing emails to friends I might visit in the States, while chatting and hanging out with my friend and host, Cornelia, as she does stuff around the house. We Skype our mutual friend Jim – who we find fireside on an Australian spring evening with a glass of red wine in his hand. He waxes on about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up the book by Marie Kondo which his daughter has given him. We ask him to show us around his place to see the results …

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An Irish Interval in My Midlife Gap Year – Part 1: 3 – 7 October 2015

It’s my 132nd travelling day and I awake in Dublin. Saturday 3 October 2015 Dublin is overcast and cool this morning. I wake at 8 am and have breakfast. When I booked the Adelphi Guesthouse, I thought the breakfast was included but when I checked in last night found that the providers of my tiny €99 room with a shared bath, in a place which bills itself as a B&B, charge extra for breakfast. My look of disappointment led to the receptionist throwing it in for free. If you present yourself as a bed & breakfast, which they do, then charging …

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BERLIN! And a flight to Ireland (30 September to 2 October 2015)

We rejoin our story on day 129 of my mid-life gap year. Wednesday 30 September 2015 I wake in Berlin to diffuse autumn sunshine and breakfast in the sparse kitchen before reorganising my gear in preparation for putting my bicycle in storage and slimming down to just a carry-on bag for the next leg of my journey. With those chores done I set out for lunch and bit of exploration. Hummus & Friends proves too inviting to pass by and, oh my God, it’s so good. The hummus is creamy with just the right amount of tang – I could …

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Leaving Ireland with Melancholy and Hope

Dark blue sea meets kohl-smudge horizon in the very last light of day, a buoy light and low clouds.

17 – 22 August 2015 (Days 84 – 89 of my Midlife Gapyear) Monday 17 August 11:30 am – Flanders Cross And just like that, time is fleeting. The Kilkenny Arts Festival is finished and all my new acquaintances have begun to fade away. I returned to Kilkenny via Dublin sharing a festival courtesy car with American author Jane Smiley and her husband Jack. They were both lovely. We talked about Australia. (Jane wondered why the people of Adelaide think so little of their city. “They live there even when the festivals are over,” I said). Not surprisingly, for an Iowa …

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In Northern Ireland the Troubles Still Bubble Beneath the Peace

13 – 15 August 2015 (Days 81 – 83) Thursday 13 August 4pm, Connect Hostel, Derry Small cities, I should only visit small cities. It’s 4pm, I’ve done the lot and feel I’ve given everything it’s due. It’s been a gorgeous and sunny day. I started things off revisiting the Guildhall – where President Clinton spoke in 1995, a trip I worked and wrote of in my last blog post. Derry isn’t as much changed as I’d expected. It still has a working class, slightly hard-done-by air but with more tourists and tourism-related businesses. There are new cultural institutions and …

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Heading North to Stroke City: Wednesday 12 August 2015 (Day 80)

3:50 pm – Train to Derry Jim asked about my quest – if I had one, which I mostly don’t. That is what leaves me often asking: “What am I doing here?” “Why am I doing this? Is is just the seeing? The doing? The meeting of people?” Maybe. Maybe that’s all there is to it – to all this endless movement. He spoke of his quest around trad music and Irish culture. I said that while, likewise, I have an interest in thinking more about the Jewish stuff that, by and large, there’s no where I can go and …

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In Ireland They Offer Chips with Your Chinese Food: Tuesday 11 August 2015 (Day 79)

9:10 pm: A Chinese Restaurant, Kilkenny I may regret this but I’m so hungry. I’ve ordered sweet and sour chicken – it’s like battered and fried balls of chicken in the usual flouro sauce. It’s Ireland: I had the choice of rice or chips. Being here, in Kilkenny, is becoming normal. I run into familiar people on the street. I know my way around town really well. After a couple of months on the road, of being someplace new every day, every hour, this is nice – this being of a place and part of a community. I slept in …

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Poetry, Light, Ice Cream and Friendship on a Beaut Irish Summer Day: Monday 10 August 2015 (Day 78)

11:20 am – The Gourmet Store Café, Kilkenny We are finally getting a run of sunny and warm days. Cornelia says this sort of day is exactly what one hopes for when thinking of an Irish summer’s day. 7:30 pm – Zuni Café I’m feeling like a local. I know where everything is and I run into people I know on the street. At the café this morning Hazel, Cornelia’s right-hand gal, passed by with Robert Pinsky. He’s just arrived from Boston and they were looking for an Irish SIM card for him but said they’d come back for coffee. …

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Shifting Attitude, Celebrating Art at the Arts Festival: Saturday 8 August 2015 (Day 76)

Saturday 8 August, 6:30 pm – Langston House Hotel (Kilkenny) Attitude. It’s really a bit about attitude. I’m here. Doing this. Be here. Do this. I’ll sort the rest as it comes. I’ve made decisions which, now made, are as they will be. I’ll be in Ireland until 22 August. Deal with it. Enjoy it. So, I’ve had a pretty full day with the festival. I helped Cornelia with this and that before completing a 3 ½ hour shift at Cleary Connolly’s Meta-Perceptual Helmets – which was actually quite good. I met the artists. They are former architects. The project is …

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Be Here Now, Be Here Now, Repeat: Friday 7 August 2015 (Day 75)

Kilkenny and County Carlow: What am I thinking? Why am I here? I feel like the trip has come off the rails a little bit and that I’m stuck in Kilkenny-ish. The ish being stuck-ish. I feel like maybe I’m spending more time in Ireland than I need to. Though it is pleasant and relatively cheap and filling non-Schengen time. And I’m making decisions and having realisations. I’ve  gotten an hour’s work done today and otherwise just been … in a town I was bored with after the first hour a week ago. I feel I’ve made mistakes that have …

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