Ode to the Irish Bus Driver

Note: I posted this on my travel blog in October 2019 – and thought my Random Thoughts followers might enjoy it. Don’t laugh too hard at the poetry 🙂

In Australia, roads are big! They’re long and wide. In some places, they’re extra wide where they used to be mining towns and needed the room for vehicles (horse and cart) to pass each other and for turning.

Even if you get off the highway and on to a secondary road, you really have nothing to complain about – size wise anyway. Condition and maintenance of is a different story.

In the 1970s when a child, we lived in Port Hedland, Western Australia for a few years. Often at Christmas, we’d all jump in the car (6 of us) and travel down to Perth. The road was gravel (not yet bituminised) and basically one long, straight, 1632km (1014mi) stretch. With wide open vistas. No fences or walls. Occasionally trees.

An unusual memory I have is of driving along this endless highway, in the summer sun, and coming across tiny patches of rain. Just above you for a very short spell. And then back into the sunshine.

Some years, for a change I guess, we’d go more inland via Tom Price or Marble Bar. I guess it broke up that straight line. Marble Bar has the reputation of being one of the hottest towns in Australia (I just read something that said ‘during summer, it’s quite normal for it to be the hottest town on earth). That’s extreme! 😀 We’d visit a pool there, among gorges, with Jasper banks. (Note: I’ve also read that it was first thought to be marble, and so the town was called Marble Bar, but it has since been proved to be jasper; a highly coloured cryptocrystalline variety of quartz).

Roads in Ireland, however, are narrow and winding and often slippery, with blind bends. Hindered by hedges, stone walls and ditches; by livestock and walkers and bicyclists and farm machinery, buses or trucks.

Sure, there are highways now in Ireland, just like in Australia. But for the sake of the drama, I’m not talking about them! 🙂

‘Have Leapcard, can travel!’ has been my mantra while in Ireland. In London, you have the Oyster card, Melbourne the Myki or in Perth the SmartRider (or in The Fifth Element New York, you have the Mooltipass!). This pass has me riding the buses like a local, everywhere I go. And then there are the tour companies, like Galway Touring Co, which I used this week to visit the Burren, the Cliffs of Moher and Doolin.

I have to salute the Irish Bus Driver. Before they have to even deal with the weather, or roadworks, they have to deal with the roads – and that can be a nightmare. This comes from a confident Australian driver who still closes my eyes if a road train is coming toward me! (Note: A road train is truck rig (prime mover) with two or more trailers attached). (Double note: It’s more a narrowing of eyes. Please don’t tell the police that I close my eyes!).

Now, I’m no poet, but below is my heartfelt tribute to the Irish Bus Driver.

Whether driving Bus Eireann through cramped city streets

or out in the country, with tractors and sheep

or high in the cockpit of a deluxe touring coach

the Irish Bus Driver is better than  most

Behind the wheel of behometh beast

a wily character upon his seat

his wits about him every day

exuding humour, come what may

The roads are narrow, winding, steep

obstacles lurk and idiots beep

the Irish Bus Driver breathes slowly, deeply

and protects his passengers, anger not creeping

He has the patience of a saint

keeps temper even, when things ain’t

conditions worsen, eyes are burning

good music plays, DJ grooving

With nerves of steel, he makes no fuss

he charms the women on the bus

reaches a hand to help the weary

has knowledge to share and is rarely dreary

His driving day is very long

from Dublin to Galway, detour by Cong

he says to his clients “meet back here by 3”

the next stop serves the sweetest tea

Of course, there’s always one who’s late

the driver must smile, and never berate

he gets points for highest of driving skills

and also, for zero ‘recorded’ kills

At the end of the day, on roads not for bussing

he gets us home safely, tired but smiling

“Thank you!” we call to our Irish Bus Driver

who continues alone. Back same time tomorrow.

As I said, not a poet! But hope you enjoyed that tribute

I’ve had only a couple of complaints about the buses in Ireland in six weeks. Both times, the bus was late or didn’t turn up. And of course it was raining.

But on the whole, the service is excellent, they are mainly on time. And the Irish Bus Driver has only always been friendly and engaging.

Trish, Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

Irish countryside

Waiting on the Waiters

It has happened again! I’m out for a meal on my own and the wait staff check with everyone else in the restaurant. Are you okay? Do you need anything else? And they don’t visit me!

Why is that, I keep wondering? Is it my resting bitch face? Am I giving out a vibe? I don’t mean to.

Perhaps it is because I’m reading a book. Head down, clearly engrossed, not looking around. Maybe that’s the message they’re reading. She’s obviously happy enough. She’s engaged in her own pleasure. And if she wanted something, we’d soon know.

I am reading, but I’m also observing.

The older couple near me. How he keeps offering menu choices to his wife, but she isn’t interested in any of them. She wants fish, but not the cod. Too fishy!

The younger South African couple who make many comments ‘under their breath’ about:

a) the size of their meal (too big)

b) the tea strainer not working (leaves in their tea).

Asking the waitress:

a) for a better strainer

b) for another serviette; and

c) to take away their food.

The man who has brought his grandson into the pub, sits at the bar and orders sandwiches and water. School must be out early.

A fellow on his own, drinking beers and watching sports TV.

And the ladies nearby who could be a bookclub. They’re winding up, but talking books as they depart. Makes me think to mention to the TLC (Treasured Ladies Club) about making one Saturday a month a book meeting.

While I pause reading to write these observations on my phone, the waitress has asked a new patron how she can help, but still not looked over to me 😀

Recently, I brunched with two friends, one of whom was annoyed at how often the staff bothered us, while we were conversing! The restaurant wasn’t busy, so perhaps the staff just had time on their hands. But they can’t win, can they? 😀

Oh, here we go. A very lovely Irish lad has offered to wrap up my leftovers, no bother. “Thank you,” say I. “And I’ll have a cappuccino to take away, please.”

P.S. When clearing plates for the older couple I mentioned above, their waitress threw out the standard “Hope you enjoyed the food?” Cod lady wasn’t happy. Her plate was almost completely empty, but something was just not nice.

The waitress (and her husband) were embarrassed. I was not surprised!

BEST PLACES TO EAT IN GALWAY – FOOD + SERVICE

  • Marmalade Bakery (Best Coffee). Also make and sell their own bread, sweet and savoury cakes and scones.
  • Cupan Tae (Great Tea). Huge and interesting range of teas. Also serve brunch and afternoon tea.  I love their courgette cake and coffee and walnut cake.
  • Black Cat, Salthill (Tapas). Good food and atmosphere, great service.
  • Dough Bros (Pizza). Delicious thin crust pizzas with unusual toppings, excellent service and good atmosphere. Won many awards.
  • Gourmet Tart Co (Lunch salads/wraps). Also do delicious biscuits and quick meals.
  • Petit Delice (Patisserie). French cakes and pastries. Also really nice baguette/sandwich bar.
  • Gourmet Food Co, Salthill (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner). Very popular. All meals large and excellent. Make a great cocktail special too!
  • An Pucan (Gastro Pub). All round casually excellent. Very busy. Very attentive staff. Excellent food. Loved their Jameson Black Barrel BBQ Sauce with Cashel Blue Cheese Dip.OTE: If you enjoy my Random Thoughts, you may also enjoy my travel stories – Trish’s Place for Travel.

Walking Etiquette

Is there such a thing? I’m thinking urban, city-street walking. At the moment specifically tourist cities, where there is a co-mingling of cultural differences and counter-movement of expectation when encountering fellow walkers of the street.

What the hell are you talking about Trish, you may well be thinking 🙂 ?

Look, from my perspective as an Australian, we drive on the left hand side of the road. Therefore, it makes logical sense (to me) that we walk on the left-hand side of the footpath. And so people walking toward me are to my right hand side. No?

At home that is what I assume. And I get cranky when I’m walking along, perhaps in my own thoughts, and I have to pull out of them because some moron is coming toward me on the left. And we have to play, who gives way to whom. I shouldn’t even have to worry about it. My radar is on, of course, to deal with obstacles. People coming out of the shops, for example. They can’t see ahead and it is therefore acceptable that I’m also keeping an eye out. Although, I have to say, that the number of people who practically fall out of shops without any seeming sense of self-preservation is amazing!

So, I’m in Galway (still) and as I say, a multicultural collection of trans-Pacific, trans-Atlantic, trans-Irish Sea via English Channel – with a range of different psyches. Especially when it comes to what is acceptable regarding manners, politeness, and sense of social etiquette in relation to where you now find yourself.

Add in very narrow, one-at-a-time pathways. Add in the couples who just cannot let go of each other long enough to navigate with respect and thoughtfulness the changed situation. Add in a general lack of foresight. Add in general bullheadishness – I will not give way, I will not give in, I was here first, I’m in a hurry, I’m oblivious and walking slowly; or walking fast – and it seems chaotic.

I did overhear someone in a group ask the question of their guide. What’s the rule for walking? Which side of the pavement? The guide laughed and said there wasn’t really any rule.

But let’s take Shop Street, Galway City, middle of summer tourist season, way too many people in the street. We’ll orient ourselves down from Eyre Square, which is the default landmark reference in town. We walk down Williamgate Street, on to William Street, which leads on to Shop Street, then on to High Street, further on to Quay Street which then ends at Spanish Parade.

The crowds move all which way and whatever! I walk into this mass of bodies and if there was a clear understanding of walking-the-street etiquette, it could be an easy and relaxed stroll.

The streets are cobbled – obstacle one. The streets meander – obstacle two. People pop unexpectedly out of shops, restaurants and pubs – obstacle three. People walking in groups, want to stay together. Middle-aged, elderly or poorly couples want to hold on to each other for safety. Suddenly, it is raining and there are now puddles, actually (most likely) the street is now flooded. Galway is a Medieval city. Bad tempers rule, thoughtfulness recedes. Obstacles four, five, six, seven and eight.

And I personally have seriously reduced vision in the right eye, so I’m almost oblivious to everything and everybody on that side. It also means my depth perception is ineffective and therefore I have eyes on the ground, in general. I wear glasses and (as all glasses wearing people appreciate) we could use wipers when it is raining, and so my head is down even more to protect my face. Therefore, I’m not as effective at watching where everybody else is in relation to myself. Obstacle nine!

Obstacle 10 is a lack of general consensus.

Seriously, if there was consensus that ‘when in Ireland’ we all walk to the left-hand side, because that’s the side of the road we drive on, then the risk of inconveniencing others, of causing a collision or an injury, would be mitigated. And of course, we’d then carry that awareness into other countries, based on their road rules.

Movement in the street would be easier and everyone could relax more with a consistent message.

See, I tell myself; it is a logical conclusion to have a walking etiquette built around accepted local road conventions. Now can I convince everybody around me?

Yes, I know. I think too much. Enjoy the holiday Trish 😀

Continue reading

Galway Street Music AKA Buskers 2019

Busking is what I’m talking aboot!

I’ll begin with a contemporary, bleeding obviously famous ex-Galway busker – AKA Ed Sheeran! Now, I didn’t know until I’d been in Galway a while, but apparently Ed busked in the streets of Galway before fame found him. And Galway (seems) to claim him as their own. And of course, he’s reciprocated with his song Galway Girl and by filming his famous video here – even if he used a Dublin Girl, Saoirse Ronan, in the clip.

I’ve paused to listen to many buskers while in Galway and have been blown away by the quality and youth of some musician buskers. Children, and I’m not talking teenagers or young adults, but children. Two or three of them, most likely siblings, I’d say. You know how siblings have a special complementary sound in their tone and harmony? Well, it seems obvious to me 🙂 But these kids are not only singers. They’re playing multiple instruments, with skill and passion. It is amazing and what a great training ground for them.

Not only do they get performance practice, they get to experience some adversity too! I’d guess at a few – weather, getting to their spot, rejection (no coins) elation (crowd loves them), weather, internal issues (having a bad day,, one of them doesn’t want to play, got colds, mum and dad are over it) weather, hecklers (hopefully not too many of those for the children) and even, red tape.

Wouldn’t anyone hearing angelic harmonies out of the mouths of babes stop in their tracks, amazed, dumbfounded and proud for them? Anybody with an appreciation for music – and a soul – would.

There are of course lower quality performers. They may be desperately having a go, because why? Well, I can only imagine. I’m not in their shoes. I’d assume their first impetus is earning some coin. And it would only be coin, because I’m talking about the ones who just aren’t any good. I’ve seen and heard a few older people especially and wondered “do they think they’re playing well?” In fairness, I think to myself, perhaps they used to be good. Maybe it is that their style has had its day, or it would hold up if they were part of an ensemble. Did their mothers always tell them they were brilliant? Do they know that they’re only mediocre, but stuff it; they love what they’re doing and they could use the extra coin.

Who am I to judge? And I only am judging because they’re forcing it on me by playing in the street. Everybody, anybody, should sing, play, dance like nobody’s watching. Full of joy and free of judgement. Unless you insist on sharing it with me 😀

There are some bloody brilliant ensembles and bands busking in Galway. To name two that I’ve really enjoyed are the Galway Street Club and Dead Letter Devils.

I’d describe the first as grunge, exuberant, loud, authentic, Irish and explicit. They’re on Spotify if you’re interested in looking them up. I love how their drummer uses a tea carton! I love to tap out a beat – I think I’m very good at it and keep thinking I should get drumming lessons. The musicality of banging out a beat on a wooden box blows me away. It puts a smile on my face.

Dead Letter Devils‘ Facebook page describes them as a foot stamping mix of bluegrass, swing, old timey and just a dash of folk-punk. Another loud and out there, enthusiastic band. Love it. Looks like I can only find their music by buying a CD off them on the street. But I never stay to the end to find out how much they cost. I’m also too self-conscious to sneak in and check their collection box 😀

That’s another thing I personally have trouble with – the donation. There are so many buskers and you can’t tip them all. And I haven’t necessarily heard the entire song / performance, just appreciated what I heard as I walked by. So, what’s the etiquette?

I find it easy enough if there isn’t a crowd around the performer. But for those amazing groups mentioned above, the crowd is big. And I come along, don’t know how much longer the performance will go on for, and really want to ask how much their CD is, but don’t want to a) wait or b) interrupt the performance – or c) bring attention to myself 🙂

I really hope that for these guys it is about the exposure and not (at least in this performance) about the money. Because there are a number of them in the group – seven or eight? And the money being offered has to be shared around them all. So, this is when it comes down to the opportunity to busk – the ability to gain attention and reputation, spread through word of mouth or by the serendipity of an event manager of some sort also passing by.

Last weekend I was wandering around and came upon the Galway Busker Community group in Eyre Square. Some of their members were performing, but their purpose was to entertain while bringing our attention to new by-laws about to be put through Galway Council, ‘seriously restricting’ busker rights in Galway.

Most of the contention was about lack of consultation with the busking community, and also that busking was a grassroots way for performers to be discovered. Galway Street Club shared on their Facebook page that because of the ‘platform of Shop Street in Galway, they and other performers have had the opportunity to perform across Ireland and Europe’. And that the Galway Council has seen this and ‘used their image and reputation in advertising in their bid for Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture’ (which they’ve won!).

The by-laws include such rules as – short version:

  • Crowd Size. Must immediately cease performing if public access to or from any premises is restricted, due to a crowd gathering. So, if people have stopped to enjoy their music the band would have to stop playing – because a crowd has gathered! 😛
  • Amplification, backing tracks and use of drum kits are expressly forbidden. Amplification is needed due to the background noise of busy streets, and use of drums is an integral part of most band music
  • Censorship. ‘ … act, say, do or sing anything that may cause alarm, distress or offense …’. As the band says, this means that anybody even having a bad day who takes offence can complain and the band would be fined up to 1500 euros at any time.

Now, you can see some sense in what the Galway Council is trying to achieve. And although I, like so many others, love the expressionism, musicality and pure entertainment of street buskers, if you’re in business in such a tourist-centric town, you’d feel the need to be heard.

But ‘hello business’ – what is your main focus. That you need tourists in your city, in your street and then in your door. Well don’t these entertaining buskers help attract the tourist? Or are they just a pain in the butt with their noise, crowd pulling (interfering with access) and (potential) bawdiness.

I’ve twice been inside a retail business and had a conversation with staff about how awful a particular performer was on the day, with their comment being “yes, he’s always out there!”. So, if the businessman is also afflicted with a shite performer, then that’s a relevant point in the conversation.

I don’t know if Galway buskers have to audition before gaining a permit, whether they even have to apply for a permit. But there are areas in the world, including Australia, where this is a requirement and at least then you would expect an enjoyable standard.

I’m not a journalist and I don’t do real research for my light and observational writing. And so, I haven’t looked closely at the full detail of the by-laws. The Galway busking community cries ‘highly restrictive’.

At a glance, what I’ve seen looks sensible. There’s a balance to be found between creative license and practical reality. And if the busking community is correct, then perhaps the problem is really the lack of consultation and collaboration writing these by-laws, rather than the fact that they’ve come into being at all.

As a visitor to this medieval city, buskers add a festival element and entertainment value that seem to me, worth bottling. Galway City Council and the Galway Busking Community working together would be music to the ear of business, community and visitor alike.

Further reading

https://www.joe.ie/music/galway-music-irish-591663

#galwaystreetclub #thisisgalway.ie #galwaybuskers

Galway Street Club – image is not my own. Taken from thisisgalway.ie event page

Treasured Ladies, for comfort

I am a lone wolf! No, really, I am 🙂

I know, this is being said from the comfort and confidence of a long marriage. I’m part of team Eric and Trish, in life and work. So what’s this about a ‘lone wolf’?

Apart from the partnership of my marriage, I regularly say ‘I’m not a people person’ or ‘I don’t do people’. Lots of my friends would confirm that.

I have friendships. Carol B and I. Bobbie and I. Sally and I. Tash and I. Deb and I. Judy and I. I’m friends with the committee team I volunteer with at Vision Australia radio. Sometimes, Heather and I get coffee. There are people that I consider friends from the olden days, but we don’t hang out anymore, so I guess they’re acquaintances now. But in the day, these were strong friendships. Maire and I. Sandra and I. Sandra was there for me when it really counted.

The only bunch, group, gang of women I’ve hung out with in recent times is my Esperance friend group – Wednesday card ladies. Jan, Joy, Lorraine, Margaret, Michelle, Julie and Yvonne to name some. The connection began at Curves, which is a women’s exercise club. And through Curves, I found the card ladies. And I’ve loved card days, but I’ve honestly thought that it was really about the ‘doing’ of card playing, and not really the relationship with these ladies. But I’m thinking differently. 😀

Now as I’ve said in a previous post, while in Galway for an extended period, I thought it a good idea to find a community group of some sort. Whether that was volunteering, or a doing activity, it didn’t matter. Just a way to connect in Ireland outside of the passive interactions with shop assistants, ticket sellers, tourist operators.

Recently I had my fifth Saturday morning coffee with a beaut bunch of ladies. And I celebrated my birthday in Galway, away from home, my husband, my children. Murphy’s Law too, I had my first emotional/lonely moments this week. I changed apartments, and was disappointed with the quality and facilities of this one. Also, the location, while probably brilliant for a family on a summer beach holiday, didn’t seem to meet what I needed. It was stark and soulless. The continuing miserable weather probably wasn’t helping. And maybe it was just the right stage of the journey to experience loneliness. For a while, the novelty of the sabbatical holds sway and then at some point you realise you’re human!

Now, it’s not like I celebrate my birthday at home. It’s really another day. If I’m lucky, my husband and kids remember. I’ll get a text or phone call from the children who are all interstate. My sisters usually remember and give me a call. Mum usually calls.

I definitely haven’t had a party since my 21st. Sandra, remember my 21st? I’d had my first child exactly one week before. This was during my first marriage and my then husband Mark, a couple of friends from the Army Reserve, Sandra and her parents, and I think my then mother-in-law gathered at our apartment. I was estranged from my own family for a little while there and so this bunch of friends insisted that I had to celebrate.

Well, this lone wolf keeps reaching out. It is an anomaly that I don’t understand. But I sent the message out to my Treasured Ladies and said “If you’d like to join me for coffee and cake on Wednesday afternoon between 2 and 4, please do. You have to leave by 4 because I’m going out that night.” 😀

Clear direction there 🙂 I am very direct, honest and forthright. It gets me into trouble. And is part of why I think I don’t do people and I particularly don’t do women. Maybe I’ve distanced myself too much from the experience of women friendships, but I’ve believed that, in general, women are annoying.

In my experience, which is mainly in the workplace, women could concentrate on doing their job more and leave their emotional baggage at the door. It would make life at work so much easier. It is difficult for me to pinpoint what it is that bothers me about encouraging friendships with women – but the emotional neediness and territorialism that I’ve experienced means I retreat from them.

I find men a lot simpler to deal with. Frustrating at times, of course, but I like their directness and (usually) lack of guile.

Now, have I lost a bunch of you, because I sound harder than you thought I was? Or because I’m not doing the solidarity with women thing? I hope not, because I’m sharing what I feel honestly and coming to a realisation that maybe I’ve been missing out. In the spirit of protecting myself.

At the same time that I’ve said all of the above, remember that my feelings and observations are subjective. I am not a confident woman. I’m afraid to open up to other women in fear that I’ll be judged and found wanting. I measure myself against these other women and find myself lacking. If I keep away from them, then I don’t have to worry. Don’t have to put myself out there and risk heartache.

Yet, I reached out to the Treasured Ladies – again. We only had a small turnout. It was spontaneous and they all have lives, some of them still work. But these so very generous ladies said yes and came to my place for coffee and cake. And it was lovely. I don’t have the words for how lovely it was.  I’m really amazed that I appreciated it so much. And you know what? They keep saying ‘thank you’ for inviting them and how they really enjoyed it. Genuinely!

This is a real eye-opener for me. Have I missed out on something special? I’m a reader and of course I’ve read a lot about women and their friendships. But it did seem that this was something that ‘other’ women did.

So, the lovely Treasured Ladies were there for me. And the following weekend, it became clear that I was there for some of these ladies. We all have stories. We all have things going on that affect us, and our interpersonal relationships. Being there for somebody to talk to, to share their concerns, to confirm that they’re not alone or crazy. To empathize with their feelings. That is something worth embracing and encouraging.

Port of Galway 2019

During August 2019, I stayed at Ce ne Mara, self serviced apartments right on the working Port of Galway, which according to the port’s website, has a ‘history dating back to the 10th century’.

Ebb and flow was continuous and very interesting, mainly cargo ships being loaded with a lot of what seemed to be silage (or at least wrapped hay bales). Corrib Fisher visited several times and is identified with ‘oil products’ on the shipping schedule I found.  The ship parked right outside my window and seemed to be offloading huge windmill components,  propeller parts. And yes, their website schedule says OT Deaal ‘type’ is ‘wind energy project’. So I guessed correctly! Coincidentally, I was on the bus out to Clifden a couple of days later and lo and behold, off in the distance, there were big arse windmills.

Irish Navy ships were also in regularly during August. I’ve seen the Samuel Beckett, George Bernard Shaw and William Butler Yeats – all named after revered Irish writers, poets – literary figures. All three ships are offshore patrol vessels, 90m in length and weighing 1,933t. I’d have loved to tour onboard, but was away the weekend they offered guided tours. Dammit!

Movement was very engaging and my imagination triggered. How long do these guys spend at sea? How often are they at home? Is Galway their home port?

My apartment had floor to ceiling windows in the living area and I pretty much left the blinds up all the time. So, at night especially, we could see each other. I kind of hope it made them feel less alone, but maybe I’m being romantic. I promise that I kept my clothes on 🙂 and assumed that they were finding comfort (if any), perhaps watching my TV and not being perverts!

I’ve observed that many of the boats kept their engines going 24/7, perhaps for power? There was a constant humming and slight vibration. I did think it would affect my sleep, but funnily enough I mainly noticed when it wasn’t there. Those nights it was too quiet to sleep 🙂 One of the larger ships, the OT Deaal, kept me awake because of its lights. The bridge area was quite high and floodlit and these lights came straight into my bedroom and were just too bright. I ended up moving into the lounge, pulling down the blinds and sleeping on the sofa!

I don’t know what it is, but I love watching boat activity in ports and plane activity at airports. At Albury, where I live usually, until very recently you could sit out on a bench in the sun and watch the coming and going of planes. However, they’ve now extended the terminal building and so that’s stopped. And I’ve noticed that the availability of viewing platforms at many airports is discontinued. Must be part of our security conscious culture now.

Anyway, humans seem to take pleasure in proximity to water, whether that is dams, brooks/creeks, rivers or oceans. There is something magical about being near water. Soothing, food for the soul. Lift your face and feel the breeze, the sea spray, breathe in the moisture, listen to the crashing of waves, hear the squawking of seabirds, see them lift and soar. Walk along jetties, wharfs. Wander out to the seashore, beaches, rocks – go fishing.

People have clearly been attracted to the movement at this port, in my observation. They stop and look. Taking photos, smiling and pointing.

So far in September there have been a couple of cruise ships in, although they must be too big for the port as the passengers were shuttled in via tenders.

I’ve moved on now from the docks of Galway Port and onto Salthill. I’ll miss that little oasis, but you know it will keep on going without me. Since the 10th century? And hopefully, well into the future.

NOTE: If you enjoy my Trish’s Place for Travel, you may also enjoy my blog Random Thoughts with Trish.

Interesting Port of Galway stories (if interested).

https://www.thejournal.ie/galway-port-expansion-delay-3-3563580-Aug2017/

https://theportofgalway.ie/history-of-the-port-of-galway/

https://theportofgalway.ie/

Ode to the Irish Bus Driver

In Australia, roads are big! They’re long and wide. In some places, they’re extra wide where they used to be mining towns and needed the room for vehicles (horse and cart) to pass each other and for turning.

Even if you get off the highway and on to a secondary road, you really have nothing to complain about – size wise anyway. Condition and maintenance of is a different story.

In the 1970s when a child, we lived in Port Hedland, Western Australia for a few years. Often at Christmas, we’d all jump in the car (6 of us) and travel down to Perth. The road was gravel (not yet bituminised) and basically one long, straight, 1632 km (1014 mi) stretch. With wide open vistas. No fences or walls. Occasionally trees.

An unusual memory I have is of driving along this endless highway, in the summer sun, and coming across tiny patches of rain. Just above you for a very short spell. And then back into the sunshine.

Some years, for a change I guess, we’d go more inland via Tom Price or Marble Bar. I guess it broke up that straight line. Marble Bar has the reputation of being one of the hottest towns in Australia (I just read something that said ‘during summer, it’s quite normal for it to be the hottest town on earth). That’s extreme! 😀 We’d visit a pool there, among gorges, with Jasper banks. (Note: I’ve also read that it was first thought to be marble, and so the town was called Marble Bar, but it has since been proved to be jasper; a highly coloured cryptocrystalline variety of quartz).

Roads in Ireland, however, are narrow and winding and often slippery, with blind bends. Hindered by hedges, stone walls and ditches; by livestock and walkers and bicyclists and farm machinery, buses or trucks.

Sure, there are highways now in Ireland, just like in Australia. But for the sake of the drama, I’m not talking about them! 🙂

‘Have Leap Card, can travel!’ has been my mantra while in Ireland. In London, you have the Oyster card, Melbourne the Myki or in Perth the SmartRider (or in The Fifth Element New York, you have the Mooltipass!). This pass has me riding the buses like a local, everywhere I go. And then there are the tour companies, like Galway Touring Co, which I used this week to visit the Burren, the Cliffs of Moher and Doolin.

I have to salute the Irish Bus Driver. Before they have to even deal with the weather, or roadworks, they have to deal with the roads – and that can be a nightmare. This comes from a confident Australian driver who still closes my eyes if a road train is coming toward me! (Note: A road train is truck rig (prime mover) with two or more trailers attached). (Double note: It’s more a narrowing of eyes. Please don’t tell the police that I close my eyes!).

Now, I’m no poet, but below is my heartfelt tribute to the Irish Bus Driver.

Whether driving Bus Eireann through cramped city streets

or out in the country, with tractors and sheep

or high in the cockpit of a deluxe touring coach

the Irish Bus Driver is better than  most

Behind the wheel of behemoth beast

a wily character upon his seat

his wits about him every day

exuding humour, come what may

The roads are narrow, winding, steep

obstacles lurk and idiots beep

the Irish Bus Driver breathes slowly, deeply

and protects his passengers, anger not creeping

He has the patience of a saint

keeps temper even, when things ain’t

conditions worsen, eyes are burning

good music plays, DJ grooving

With nerves of steel, he makes no fuss

he charms the women on the bus

reaches a hand to help the weary

has knowledge to share and is rarely dreary

His driving day is very long

from Dublin to Galway, detour by Cong

he says to his clients “meet back here by 3”

the next stop serves the sweetest tea

Of course, there’s always one who’s late

the driver must smile, and never berate

he gets points for highest of driving skills

and also, for zero ‘recorded’ kills

At the end of the day, on roads not for bussing

he gets us home safely, tired but smiling

“Thank you!” we call to our Irish Bus Driver

who continues alone. Back same time tomorrow.

As I said, not a poet! But hope you enjoyed that tribute

I’ve had only a couple of complaints about the buses in Ireland in six weeks. Both times, the bus was late or didn’t turn up. And of course it was raining.

But on the whole, the service is excellent, they are mainly on time. And the Irish Bus Driver has only always been friendly and engaging.

GALWAY GAL 2019

There’s this thing in Australia called Long Service Leave. Typically at about 10 years, your employer lets you take 3 months paid leave.

I don’t get long service leave, because although I’ve been working with my husband for 20+ years, I haven’t been paid for that entire time, so technically I’m not an employee of 10 years standing.

But since my gorgeous husband (team Eric and Trish) work hard we’ve been able a couple of times now, to take extended leave. The last time was 2013 when we were based in Spain for 3 months, and added the Greek Islands and Morocco with a side trip to the UK and Ireland.

So, 2019. After one week in Dublin to catch up with some cousins and aunties, I moved into Galway. As I write I’m 2 weeks today into Galway. I spent a lot of that two weeks worrying about justifying the cost involved and should I be achieving something during this break. Specifically, something that is measurable, visible and productive.

The answer is NO! According to me and my husband, that is. Others may have a different opinion.

Because I’m effectively a tourist in Galway, there’s the risk that I’ll only get to do and be a tourist. Tourist tours, into a site via the entrance and out via the gift shop 🙂 Only engaging with the people of Galway as a customer. Another woman who has bought a Claddagh ring this year (I have bought one). 

So I was thinking, how can I find a community group where I could do some sort of volunteering, or at the very least engage in conversation with people about more than the weather, the colour or flavour choices in the shops, or what I want to eat for dinner.

I visited the library and looked for a community notice board. And unbelievably, I found a flyer for the Treasured Ladies Club. This is just an opportunity for women to meet over coffee with the potential to meet up with company for various days out during the year. And they have been so welcoming in the two visits I’ve had with them.

These lovely ladies are generally older than me, and mainly retired. Not all though. A lot of them have travelled. One of the ladies still working is a Project Manager who has been everywhere! Some of them have visited Australia, some of them have grown children living in Australia. Some of them have even been to Perth (my home town) which I found unusual because most people say they’ve been to Melbourne and Sydney, but not Perth.

Just in this last 2 weeks, someone is in Greece, someone is in France and somebody is going to France next week. So this is is a group of people with something to bring to the table, to add to the conversation, with open minds.

How lovely!

As a lady of middle-age, born in Dublin but having spent all of her adult life in Australia, this is an opportunity to just ‘be’ in Ireland. I want to listen to the Irish speak, watch their news, deal with their weather, explore their surrounds and engage with as many as I can.

I remain a shy introvert. But therein lies the challenge for me. Reaching out.

Talk soon.