In 1961, I went on holiday with my parents to the Isle of Man. I was 10. It was very exciting, driving up to Lancashire, taking the car on the ferry. There was lots to do in the Isle of Man; one thing a lot of people did was to fly to Dublin on a day trip, which is what we decided to do. This was not my first trip on a plane but I do remember that the flight was very noisy, and bumpy, and the plane was very small but it was an adventure. After that, my parents went to Ireland several years running, staying in different regions (without me). They loved Ireland, both north and south; they took loads of 16mm cine films of green fields, with a shaky hand and swinging the camera in wide sweeps so that you were almost dazed and dizzy watching it. They certainly knew how to ‘entertain’ friends and family with cine films. I still have them all; I must get them transferred to a DVD!!
Many years after my parents died, I often thought that I’d like to go to Ireland to find what they loved so much about it – beautiful countryside, friendly people, lots of history, good food; probably Guinness was also a factor. In 2002, when Liz and I were planning a holiday I suggested Eire; it probably wasn’t my most inspired suggestion. Neither of us had been (except for my day-jaunt 40 years previously), seemed like a good idea. We decided to stay in a cottage near Skibbereen, sailing from Pembroke to Rosslare. I remember the journey from Rosslare to Skibbereen being very long. However, what Liz remembers is the most awful sailing, that had been delayed by several hours because of the appalling weather and how she spent the whole journey lying down on a bench after she had been sick several times. She was not alone, almost all the other passengers did the same. Me? No. I wasn’t sea-sick and I sat and read, wanting a bacon sandwich but knowing that the sight of food may start off another round of sickness. The journey was long; I was keen to chat or play Scrabble and Liz was keen to lie and groan for 7 hours. As soon as she was off the ferry, Liz was fine but of course we arrived very late and it was too far to drive on long, winding, unlit roads to get to Skibbereen. That first night we stayed in a strange motel in the middle of nowhere; there was a sense of Norman Bates about it. We got up early the next morning and started the holiday-proper. Not the best start to the holiday but I don’t remember my parents talking about bad sailings. I wonder if they flew from Heathrow and hired a car? I’ll never know.
I thought Eire was a strange place. There was lots that I loved about the holiday – the cottage, the garden, the view over the fields to the sea in the distance, the peace and quiet, the rows of brightly coloured terraced houses along village streets, scary cyclists, roads with virtually no traffic, quirkey shops. But because we went in October, all the ‘tourist attractions’ were closed for the season as were many shops and restaurants. There were no nice tea rooms, selling delicious scones and a pot of loose leaf tea. The cottage was cute with an open fire and an endless supply of logs. However, the custodians of the cottage were a ‘strange’ couple who regularly turned up at the door and just said “So?” And when we said we were fine they nodded and went away again. One thing we did find was a shop selling thick, woollen jumpers; they were being sold off at very cheap prices because it was the end of the season. Those jumpers served us well over many years. Of course, with many other shops closed, there was little access to tea towels. This was the only one I found which could vaguely have connection with Ireland.
I would never say that that holiday in Eire was one of my favourites but I did enjoy it and we learnt from it – the main lesson being, never cross the Irish Sea by boat if you want company – fly is my advice.
Today, didn’t get off to the best of starts so I was delighted to have the opportunity to Blog about this tea towel: A Selection of Murphy’s Laws. It put the world in some kind of perspective. I dedicate this blog to Liz and Lyn, for whom today would not be considered one of their best days. Murphy’s Laws is an adage that is typically stated as “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”. From this brilliant, pure linen tea towel (complete with several tea stains) there are two very pertinent ‘variations’ of Murphy’s Law which Lyn and Liz have to hold on to. The first is “If you think everything seems to be going well, you obviously don’t understand the situation” and the second is “The light at the end of the tunnel is the headlamp of an oncoming train”. Richard Dawkins of Oxford University says that scientifically Murphy’s Law cannot apply because the Laws require that inanimate objects have desires of their own, which cannot be true; that means a bad day like today isn’t significant in the scheme of things, things can get better.
September 2016: Another trip through the airing cupboard has revealed that I have a second tea towel concerning Murphy’s laws; I thought it was appropriate to insert it into this Blog. You can never have too many tea towels about Murphy’s Laws!!
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