Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Back to the west coast

Stopped into Mullingar for an hour to say hello to Stella at her bookshop. Talked about my remaining travel plans in Ireland, and some general book & dog stuff. She presented me with another book by an Irish author, Colm McCann, fictionalising the early life of Rudolf Nureyev. I got to see Nureyev during his sad farewell tour. The formerly vibrant dancer, now quite ill, presented his version of the faun to Debussy's prelude, but the afternoon had long passed into dusk.

I didn't have far to drive that day, just 90 minutes or so to Sligo town, but as the drizzle continued to pick up on my journey, there was no real advantage to my stopping in Longford or Carrick-on-Shannon along the way. I got into Sligo townaround lunch-time, and spent an unsuccessful hour or so looking for a loo and lunch. The drizzle was now squalls of rain, punctuated briefly by sun, so we made a sorry pair scurrying through the narrow streets.

[Statue of W.B. Yeats]

The one more-or-less public toilet for the town was on an upper level of a new shopping centre where I'd parked. When I arrived, there was a very long line, and a little later this was replaced by Out of Order signs. The town map's only indication of a WC was on the map legend, so I realised that I was just going to have to head for the countryside. Just before I reached this point, I swung into a large retail park and asked at one store for directions to their loo. They apologised and said that there was one in the back of another store in the centre and that was it. I was beginning to think that Sligo was derived from "to go to the loo on the sly".

One search completed, I now embarked on the quest for my B&B. The owner's website had a very high-level map, and complicated instructions referring to number of roundabouts, traffic lights and petrol stations of various types passed. Whenever I've been provided these in the past, they've preceded a decade of furious roundabout and traffic light building that the direction-giver has been oblivous to. This was again the case, with the changing of hands of all petrol stations involved thrown in. So it was, that after 90 minutes of criss-crossing the town, I finally happened on my destination more or less by accident.

The B&B seemed to be populated by a number of women, all of whom directed me to the one who had the most difficulty walking. Her manner of speech was similarly stilted, and I got the feeling that - despite references to other guests - I was in fact the only one for some time. Although it was still earlyish (around 5pm) on one of the longest days of the year, I retired to the room, and had a very long sleep.

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