Category Archives: Travel

Venice is calling

As this strangest of years draws to a close, I am putting finger to keypad one more time to describe my travels in the time of pandemic. My final jaunt of the year taken before the second lockdown was imposed was to Venice as September turned to October. I will preface this post with my usual disclaimer. While traveling to, and while in Venice, I observed all physical distancing, hand hygiene and mask-wearing guidelines. I observed the fourteen-day quarantine period upon my return to Ireland – which as I have previously mentioned is not that difficult when you live alone. I kept this excursion entirely to myself again, not wanting to hear people’s criticism or judgement of my decision to travel. The only person I was placing at risk by my choice was myself, and for the sake of my sanity, I thought my decision was sound.

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Summer sojourn in London during the Plague

I live alone. I am not part of a social bubble with another person. Working from home each day, I can often go the entire week without meeting anyone in real life apart from the shop assistants in Marks and Spencer when I am on a yellow stickered luxury food items mission. These foods don’t require any effort other than to place them in the oven (and if truth be told I would never be able to assemble a scallop bake on my own). It’s been like this for most of the year. It’s been annoying and difficult while remaining reasonably manageable.

However in July I threw caution to the wind, and booked a flight to London for a three day trip. Having witnessed how toxic judgement can be towards people who choose to bend the rules to accommodate their personal situation, I kept this trip off social media at the time. I was unwilling to deal with other people’s reactions. Particularly from people who had either a garden or who lived with another human being. On my trip, I would follow the rules by washing my hands; socially distancing, wearing a mask and continuing my self-isolated life as normal when I returned. My conscience was clear, but I wasn’t going to trumpet my travel plans.
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Should I stay or should I go?

It’s now seven months since the soggy lockdown was introduced. This initial stage – pre official lockdown – was when we were all sent home, told to work from there, and to maintain physical distancing from people outside your household. As I packed up my laptop and mouse on that happy Thursday, I was expecting to be back in the office in the Wastelands by April 1st.  I wonder how that bag of apples I left in my locker is faring?

Two weeks from now it will be seven months since the hard lockdown came into force. It seems like a decade ago. Back then I had a trip to Latvia and Lithuania planned for Friday 20th March. Sensibly I postponed this trip to the distant mists of the future, to a time when we’d be back gamboling through Fairview Park, with the global pandemic but a distant memory – September. September was last month. Both countries were – at the time – on Ireland’s green lists. This meant that I’d be spared the consequence of self-isolating for two weeks upon my return to Ireland.

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Theatrical: ‘DruidGregory’ at Coole Park, Galway

I received a call from a friend a couple of days before the new lockdown for Dublin was declared; asking if I’d be interested in accompanying her to the Druid Theatre production of ‘Druid Gregory’ in the grounds of Coole Park in Gort on Sunday evening. She had acquired a pair of tickets for the sold out show. I had a very brief internal debate about the wisdom of traveling West on the weekend that the capital closed up shop once again. Considering I live alone, work from home and only meet a small handful of people at a socially distanced level on any given week, my decision was easy. I was going to the theatre for only the second time since March (in August I went to see Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Happy Prince’ by Bewley’s Café Theatre in the Irish Georgian Society building on South William Street in Dublin.

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Weekender in Kilkenny

Kilkenny castle

Last week I was suffering from cabin fever. I have been quite conscientious about getting out and about in Dublin for walks during the Plague, and at this stage I could probably become a tour guide for Dublin with little training – if tourists ever come back to Dublin that is. By last Thursday however my patience was running thin. Would I ever go anywhere again? During normal times this would be the point where I’d log on to the website of Satan’s favourite airline and book a flight on a blue and yellow airplane, to go somewhere last minute for the weekend. Obviously this was no longer possible. I decided a train trip would be a suitable alternative. My destination was to be Kilkenny.

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Travel sickness

I am sitting at my workstation, gamely pretending to work. In actual fact, I am staring out the window at the Luke Kelly statue, swearing vengeance.

Later today there will be further announcements regarding updated recommendations from NPHET (National Public Health Emergency Team. New restrictions on movement and public gatherings are expected. There has been a recent spike in corona cases (200 on Saturday – the largest daily number since early May) and outbreaks in meat-processing plants and direct provision centres (the inhuman, degrading places where Ireland places asylum seekers – often for years – while their cases are being processed). The outbreaks in the meat plants and DP centres has already led to localised lockdown in counties Kildare, Laois and Offaly. The virus is spreading in the community again. The shutters will be coming down, Action must be taken. (click link below for next page)

From a distance – The Coronavirus Diaries – day 14. The walks.

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Thursday, March 26th marks two weeks since the announcement that normal life was suspended, in an attempt to ward off the horrific consequences of the Coronavirus pandemic that have been witnessed in northern Italy. Since then, the restrictions have become tighter – now only essential businesses are allowed to remain open (although there is debate over what constitutes an ‘essential business’). Thankfully the supermarket and chemist shop are categorised thus – I do like a face to face encounter. Continue reading From a distance – The Coronavirus Diaries – day 14. The walks.

Brief encounter at Limerick Junction

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‘Brief Encounter’ – the 1945 British film directed by David Lean is often cited as one of the most romantic films of all time. Based on the play ‘Still Life’ by Noel Coward, it tells the tale of an extra-marital affair between two middle-aged people, whose relationship is played out in stolen moments at a train station. Continue reading Brief encounter at Limerick Junction

Chernobyl

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The flight to Kiev from Dublin lasted 3.5 hours, and was a typical Ryanair experience. When you are trapped in the air for that length of time they can try the hard sell at their leisure. We were greeted at the airport by Vladimir – the representative of the letting agent whose apartment in city centre Kiev we were residing for the weekend. He drove us to our abode. It was 11pm. We needed a cocktail and headed to N::B Cocktail Bar (thanks to Google maps) which has to be the loveliest bar I have ever visited. It is just off the Maidan Nezalezhjnosti (Independence Square) and is a cosy yet luxurious and refined placed with the best signature cocktails on the planet. Continue reading Chernobyl