Me vs. The Irish Weather

So, the last few days I’ve been feeling pretty smug. Belfast has been, if not always sunny, then at least dry. This morning I was composing a post in my head that went along the lines of, ‘Today was another perfect day in Belfast. Is the myth of Irish rain and Irish bad weather just a ploy to keep the masses of tourists away? If so, in the light of the recession, will the Irish Tourist Board begin to reveal the real Irish weather and inundate the world with brochures of leprechauns in speedos, sunning themselves on white, sandy beaches and sharing a pint of Guinness as they shield their eyes from the burning Irish sun?’
But, today, Ireland showed me what it can do.
What it can really feckin’ do, alright?
It did start off as a lovely day, it must be acknowledged. There was sun coming through only very small clouds as we set out from Belfast to do the Giant’s Causeway Tour. This tour took us along ‘one of the top 5 best scenic roads in the world’ (according to who? what are the other top 5? Our bus driver, Stephen, didn’t enlighten us). It was pretty gorgeous. It was pretty scenic. Magnificent green glens, rolling down towards the ocean, depositing great big mossy rocks into the water all in an effort to look good and authentically ‘Oirish’ for the tourists (as the older American gentleman from my tour said, ‘It sure looks like Ireland, doesn’t it?’ Well… Yes.) Apparently the road is a nightmare with coaches in summer, but weren’t we lucky, we were visiting in winter? It seemed very lucky until we got out at our first stop, Carnlough, which happened to be where Winston Churchill had his summer house. It was clear why he had chosen this as a spot for his summer house. The sky was grey, and the wind felt like it was slapping us about the warm, exposed, fleshy bits with knives made of ice and then re-frozen in ice. But, I found it exhilarating and bracing. I ran around thinking, ‘Ha ha! Icy wind, you will not get the better of me! I am made of tougher stuff! I’m not one of those weakling Aussies who only like to laze about the beach! I will enjoy myself in spite of you!’ And I Bloody. Well. Did. Jenny – 1, Irish weather – 0.
When we got out at the rope bridge (Carrick-a-Rede), a flimsy little bridge of rope and wood over a 23m drop and 20m chasm, I laughed in the face of the increasing wind. Millions of fishermen and tourists had climbed this bridge before me – I would not be daunted! I would conquer the rope bridge! Ha ha! And, apart from a little girlish squealing, I did that too. Jenny – 2, Irish weather – 0. So far, so good.
By the time we had gotten to the Giant’s Causeway, however, the wind had picked up a fury and a pace that I had never experienced before (not having been in Cairns in the last few days…). We were told that we could either walk for 20 minutes or get a bus down to the Giant’s Causeway for a pound each way. Normally a penny-pincher and a sucker for torture/exercise, I was going to walk, but as soon as I got off the coach tour, the Irish wind nearly whipped me off my feet and blew me all the way back to Scotland, where I would have had to wait for another ferry in Stranraer again. And, though, it had worked out so well the last time, I decided to take the bus down, rather than risk the return journey to the Scottish coast. Hell, I went crazy, I bought a return ticket.
At the Giant’s Causeway the Irish weather battered us for 45 minutes straight. It grabbed our hair and froze our hands so we couldn’t even bend the fingers anymore. It tried desperately to push us into the sea and drown us in the massive waves or, failing that, bash our heads against the huge, sharp rocks, or at least, push us down, onto our knees in the mud and the gravel and the grime. The Causeway itself was kind of cool, but not nearly as impressive as the might and power of the furious Irish weather. ‘This is my coastline!’ It seemed to roar, ‘Mine! And you’ve got no place being on it! Now, feck off!’
After three-quarters of an hour, I went to wait for the bus. It didn’t arrive. This meant a 20 minute hike up the cliff face, where, if you stuck your arms out form your body too far, or boldly ventured to look up to, like, you know, see where you were going, you essentially became a rudder for the wind, which would then try to twist and turn you in every-which-way direction, but mainly towards a hideous, rock-smashing, cliff-falling death on the shore below. I did end up soaked to the bone, and close to losing a few fingers to frostbite, but I didn’t die a horrible, bone-crunching agonising death, which I know was the result the Irish weather was secretly hoping for, so Jenny – 3, Irish weather – 0.
I’m not sure what happened to the bus. I checked the last departure time and made sure I was at the departure point several minutes before the bus was due, but I still somehow missed it. Maybe, the National Trust had seen fit not to send it. ‘Let’s toughen those weak tourists up, a little.’ Is perhaps what they thought. Or maybe, ‘Let’s go to the pub early and use the extra bus money we scored off those silly tourists to buy more Guinness.’ Jenny – 0, The National Trust – 1.
Though, I suppose I shouldn’t begrudge them the extra pound. After all, I come from a glorious, sunshiney, happy, warm country which is getting rich off China, whereas they live on a rain-drenched, wind-swept, miserable rock in the middle of the Irish Sea, in the grips of a recession and whose main culinary pleasure is the potato. Jenny – a million billion gazillion, Ireland – 0.
Anyways, I’m off to enjoy a Magners Cider. I always thought cider was something only to be enjoyed in the summer time, as a refreshingly cool drink after a day at the beach, or whilst swinging your feet languidly over a balcony in dappled afternoon sunlight. Turns out it works out just as well, and is strangely warming, after you have been traipsing about in the wind and rain and 6 degree weather all day. Magners Cider – the drink for all occasions (and no, this blog is not sponsored by Magners Cider. But, if any Magners reps are currently reading this and would like to sponsor my Irish adventure, I am more than happy to go into negotiations. Please be in contact)

Photo: Me and the Irish Weather get acquainted. It may look like the weather is winning, but, I assure you that I am the true victor in this battle of giants. After all, I’m now inside my warm hostel with a lovely Magners and all the weather can do is howl outside my bedroom window. Jenny – 4, Irish Weather – 0. Suck on that, Irish Weather.


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