Looking across to the snow capped alpine mountains seen from the back seat of a motorcycle

Home Travel StoriesSouthern Ireland 2015

Dublin And Chillin'

By Ren Withnell

Leaving a day in hand in case of disasters is a good idea and that extra time leaves me feeling a little more relaxed and a little more confident on my journey. But as with all things there is a downside. I'm now awake at 0530 just south of Wicklow and I have the mighty distance of 30 miles to cover today. I've agreed to be at my friend's place in Dublin at tea time so whatever I do today I'll need to stretch it out somewhat. I suspect boredom may be an issue.

First thing - shower. Damn these pay showers. I like to linger in the shower, scrubbing and washing, rinsing and relaxing. The coin slot here only gives me 4 minutes which is neither use nor ornament to anyone with long hair. Contrary to the signage I rebelliously wash my hair in the sink. 4 minutes, pffft, I hardly have time to rinse myself. 

As I start to decamp the rain comes. Great. Just what I need. I'll be packing a wet tent and wet gear and I'll be wet all day. I guess I'm in a bad mood this morning and there's no reason for it at all. In fact the rain is so light it's hardly an issue and this is Ireland so what should I expect anyhow. I've not done so badly weather-wise on this trip, I was expecting and ready for a lot worse. 

Ren's wet bike outside a wet tent at the campsite near Wicklow

Finally and grumpily I'm on the road and passing through Wicklow heading north. Slowly. The rain stops and my mood changes from humbug to like whatever. When I reach Greystones I start to feel the weight of the city pressing upon me. This isn't Dublin but I know from my maps that from here on in there'll be little greenery, just more and more people rammed into less and less space. Aaaaahh, space. Does Ireland have space? The parts I've seen have space and the sensation of being able to breathe freely. It's a different kind of space though, Irish space is not empty like the Scottish Highlands or Spanish Plains. Irish space has people in it but the people are relaxed, friendly and life seems that little slower. 

Not in the city though. Cars do battle for lanes, buses and trucks grind through and pedestrians in suits and skirts eat on the go while talking on mobile phones. With having too much time I labour through to Dun Loaghaire to see the ferry terminal. Yep, there it is. Fine, whatever. I pull into a supermarket and grab a sandwich. Yep it's chicken and bacon. Fine, whatever. I stop and rest on a bench overlooking the port of Dublin with it's odd pair of chimneys. Fine, whatever. I get lost on housing estates and industrial parks. Fine, whatever. It's a city. I'm sure it's a mighty fine city and someone will love it. I'm sure there's an amazing nightlife and a fabulous culture. For me though it's all beyond comprehension amidst the tower blocks and crammed streets. I hate cities.

A row of houses with a block of flats in the background. Just an everday view in Dublin
If I didn't tell you this was Dublin, it could be any street in any town. 

Finally and mercifully it's almost time to go to my friend's place. It takes many more referrals to my map app to zero in once more to the apartment and I am inevitably early. I settle in next to the bike on the car park and lose at chess once more on my tablet. Focus Ren, concentrate. I know if I think rather than rush I can beat this damn digital genius. Nope, no I can't. I'm too impatient for chess. I'll stick with solitaire, at least that's just luck not skill. A car slowly drives by and the lady driver waves at me with a smile. Ireland is about the people, not the place. 

Talking to SM when I arrived in Ireland was a pleasure. This time round it's a delight as he's no longer distracted by the responsibilities of parenthood. 

It's not often I can relax in a conversation. Talking to people usually involves complexities that tax my brain. For example - so he knows this friend's girlfriend, can I trust him not to tell her what he said the other day? This guy's my boss, while I don't want to show off I don't want to appear stupidly unemployable do I? It's expected that I swear with this circle of friends but not when this lad's wife is with us. And so on and so on. Weighing these social nuances doesn't come easily to me, it's not natural. Tinkering with motorcycles is natural, programming a database system is natural. People, now they're much more complicated.

Taking to SM though is an awful lot less complicated. He's not involved, he doesn't know Mr X or Miss Y and he has no preconceptions to jade his point of view. Not only that but he is interested and informed on a variety of subjects and sympathetic to many points of view. We cover subjects from musical tastes through to socialist politics. We reminisce about our youth and mourn our mistakes. We dissect modern educational methods and ponder the future. My only frustration is there are so many topics we keep on getting caught in random tangents and there is just not enough time to explore them all. Much like when I'm travelling.

I am also aware that time has passed us by and with a very early start we ought to be getting some sleep. It takes a great deal of self discipline to close our engrossing conversation and climb into bed. Time. Time is the most precious thing we have.   

Prologue Ren's getting a plan together for a trip to Ireland. What can he expect and is he too tight to prepare his bike properly?
Cruising To Holyhead It's a slow ride into the headwinds as Ren heads off to the port of Holyhead on his overloaded CBF 125.
A Ferry And A Friend - Dublin The ferry to Ireland is fine but Dublin brings confusion. The rest of the day is spent catching up with an old friend filled with philosophy.
Across Ireland To Adare After a great breakfast Ren starts out across Ireland in search of what makes this place unique
The Dingle Peninsula Is the Wild Atlantic Way as wild as it's name suggests? As Ren reaches the West of Ireland will he find what makes this place special and unique?
Kerry's Ring And Skibbereen Will the famous Ring Of Kerry live up to the hype? Has Ren spotted the real Father Jack? Will the Germans ever get their Motorrad fixed? Oooooh the excitement is killing me.
The Southern Coastline Ireland's southern coastline provides a mix of beauty and disadvantage along with sunshine and rain. There's also a small ferry as long as he doesn't get lost again.
East Coast Session With time to spare Ren is meandering around the South Eastern coast of Ireland and thinking too much. He also finds a Session...sort of.
Dublin And Chillin' On his last day in Ireland Ren has time to spare and yet there's never enough time. Time is the most precious thing we have.
Holy Men To Holyhead Upon his return to Holyhead Ren is joined by a group of fellow bikers on a mission from God. This gets Ren thinking about life, the universe and everything. 42.
Epilogue - Southern Ireland 2015 Ren sums up his thoughts on Ireland. He's also coming to terms with the fact that the way he travels may no longer be right for him. Is this the end of Bikes And Travels?!

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