Currabinny to Kilkenny: 8th August
Waking to a Currabinny sunrise makes my heart jump in my chest. Even after four and a half hours sleep. John, Dave and I were joined by Mairead as we sleepily packed the bikes and the trailer (The Bob) and trundled out the door around 7.20am.
Matching sunglasses on (thank you JD) we were ready to go.
I was still laughing at the boys unnecessarily sleeping in a tent last night as I struggled up the hill and across the gravel to take the all-important selfie outside number seven. I also soaked up the view of the pier, a gratuitous luxury as I’m sure I could draw the entire view from memory.
We rolled along the Currabinny road joking about the potential amenities of the passage west ferry (cafes and reclining seats, a complimentary drink with your ticket). However, the 90-second car ferry flew by and we were in Cobh and off on the beginning of an adventure.
I soon hit strike one with Dave (he gives me three strikes on each meeting) when I missed a turning on a roundabout and we took the thundering N25 for 5km to Middleton instead. Navigation was removed from my control at precisely 8.23am. Our accidental stop in Middleton offered a quick peak at John’s fourth and most recent restaurant acquisition as well as a coffee and pastry. We continued on a small but well-paved road (only stopping briefly to collect the ‘Bob’ flag, which had flown off in the wind) before we stopped for a banana and reconsidered Dave’s rucksack design. We continued along the river Blackwater and through the town of Cappoquin where a woman was heard to be screaming ‘I know who you are’ at a small crowd of mischievous teenagers scattering around a corner. Not the moment to be having a relaxing picnic perhaps. We continued. We avoided taking an off-road section of the route in favour of a road surface to keep the Bob upright. This didn’t prevent a puncture for John, but the boys’ “20 years combined experience of adventure cycling” meant that the puncture was efficiently repaired and we made it to Clonmel for lunch. We struck gold with a friendly overstaffed café, which served us a delicious soup starter, steak sandwiches, dessert and coffee. As our eyes were slowly shutting in the warmth of the café, Dave rightly suggested that someone was going to have to shoe horn us back onto the bikes.
Luckily, our will power kicked in and after a bit of bike maintenance we ate up 35km of road. We were then only 17km from Kilkenny. These last few kilometres disappeared in what felt like seconds and we arrived in Kilkenny.
After dropping over to Kilkenny castle for an arrival photo, we headed up to Dave’s grandma’s house. Mrs Murphy, a 97-year-old, vibrant lady who was accompanied by Dave’s loving and welcoming mother, Kitty. After a shower, we were treated to a curry made by Kitty. We wandered through Kilkenny town, looking for the Ramen look alike, before deciding that a dessert in restaurant is what we desired.
After a delicious Death by Chocolate at the restaurant, we paid a visit to the Hole-in-the-Wall, a small pub that Dave suggested. We were greeted by the bar maid, Ruth, who was happily spaced out and unsure of what ale was available. The proprietor of the pub, Dr Michael Conway (a doctor at Kilkenny hospital), seemed equally unsure but they rummaged around until a couple of dusty ales appeared. Michael was a catalyst of conversation and a centre of intrigue and knowledge. The space was too small for the punters to hold separate conversations, so we were all engaged in the conversations guided by Michael. The topics ebbed and flowed from Oxford University, to the John Radcliffe (where Michael used to work), to my cycle trip to Sydney, to the history of the phrase the ‘rebels’ when referring to people from Cork. As the conversations continued, Michael was rooting around an odds and ends drawer looking to fix the fire alarm battery that had been beeping intermittently. John suggested a four-digit code (which he had, inevitably, invented on the spot) and convinced the three other punters he had coded the fire alarm system in all buildings of this age. After a few unsuccessful tries of this fabricated code, Michael continued on his search for some unknown solution in drawers of unknown objects. Reluctantly we left, as our eyes were shutting and we had another day of cycling ahead of us.
Kilkenny to Dublin: 9th August
Waking up at 6.30am was made somewhat cheerier by a gentle fist punch from John in the bed opposite and a fierce leg shake from Dave to ensure I was definitely awake. A breakfast of granola and tea set us up and we were gone by 7.20am.
Although not my highlight of the day, I must mention the Carlow Subway pit stop at 9am. Never have a seen John and Dave roar with laughter quite so much at the expense of the rather incompetent server in Subway. He had not yet turned on the coffee machine, despite being open an hour, and subsequently asked whether we wanted tea water from a machine or a boiled kettle. To add to his hospitality short fall he then presented John with three half-filled teas and a centimetre of milk in a two-litre plastic bottle. The server rethought his decision and handed over another 2-litre supermarket bought container. John and Dave, unsurprisingly, were not forgiving. We left rapidly.
We soared through well-paved quiet roads on a mission to the Wicklow Mountains mostly discussing the milk trade of Ireland. John found his energy as we neared County Wicklow and serenaded the countryside with any song that came to mind. Dave and John continued their gentle teasing, particularly as I tried to contain my excitement of arriving into Blessington for a tea and scone. We climbed the last few ascents in Wicklow before being rewarded with a view of Dublin city and a 10km descent into the capital.
After a heart warming cycle through Front Square and a photo at Trinity’s Campanile (the official Dublin arrival point), we threw our belongings and bicycles inside at Olaf Road and headed for lunch. We were joined by Dave Carter, a treat for me as I hadn’t seen him in years. He had just been supporting his brother Richard as he completed the Dublin half Iron Man.
It was a brief catch up with Dave before a mad dash to Croke Park to see my first hurling match (Waterford verses Kilkenny) where we were joined by Sarah, Owen and Sarah’s Dad.
After the match I had a great chat to Sarah’s Dad about education. I finally bid farewell to Sarah and her family and started trundling around Dublin rather spaced out until I realised I hadn’t drunk very much water at all that day. A litre and a half of water later my brain kicked in and I wandered back to Olaf Road, picking up soup and bread on the way. Dave, Emily, John and Fiona joined around 9.30pm and the general back and fourth of knowledge and intelligence between the four of them was a joy to observe. A comment from Caro ringing through my thoughts, as she said I have an ability to surround myself with kind and intelligent friends no matter where I find myself. I think I may have to agree.
A Rest Day in Dublin: 10th August
I woke up 9am in order to laze around Olaf Road, wash my clothes, organise meeting various Dublin friends and sort a bit of the UK cycle. I managed to drag myself out of my Stoneybatter comfort zone just before 1pm and headed to the Air BnB international headquarters over in the docklands.
After a tour of the hipster, happy-go-lucky offices, Finn and I tucked into the free and delicious lunch offered by the business to its employees and guests. The international office, with over 300 staff members, had to have an average age in the late 20s, with no one over the age of 35 in sight. Finn took me on a tour through a few of the freestanding chipboard meeting rooms fashioned after Air BnB locations around the world. This includes replicas of parts of an airport terminal, a sleek Tokyo meeting room and a Nintendo cube. We slumped in the Zen area with coffee barrista-ed by Finn himself before I left him to continue mitigating Air BnB safety and security breaches.
I cycled along the canal just a few dozen metres to find the knitting beauty that is Caro in the Art of Coffee. The catch up of the last year, the questions, deep chats and rolling laughter carried us rapidly through to 5.30pm where I left Caro to continue my tour to the Trinity squash courts.
My Trinity sanctuary was still as I left it: a pebble left to imperceptibly wedge open the door, no lights in the corridors and a chill in the air. However, the squash courts shortfalls don’t matter a drop when you find Elvy leaning on the open door to Court One laughing like a teenager.
After the hoped for elongated conversations and useful advice from my former squash coach, Elvy (don’t go to Syria, don’t get on a migrant boat to Australia and don’t take up smuggling cocaine) I headed to Ranelagh to have dinner with Finn, Robbie and Toni.
Dave dropped in rapidly to give his wishes and farewells. After an excellent meal and a tirade of ideas from the three boys about what I should do and where I should go (some of which were even mild sensible) I headed back to Finn’s house. Axelle and her brother Greg had just arrived home so we were able to catch up and reminisce. However, the day’s excitements rapidly took their toll and I had to be in bed before I fell asleep in the armchair.