Two posts in one day! I think this actually gets me up to 6 posts for November and its not even the end of the month, which must be some kind of record for the London blog. Poor ol’ London blog, suffering from a general blog-tiredness on my behalf. Its not because I love you less than the Ireland blog, I swear.
Ironically, however, this is a post about returning to Ireland and not actually about London. But, don’t read too much into that fact, London blog. I love both places equally. Really. Truly. In fact, I unthinkingly called London ‘home’ when I was in Ireland, insulting my very good Irish friend who was insisting that I was actually in the process of ‘returning home’ to Ireland and not taking a holiday from my home, as I had suggested.
Anywho, back to Ireland. I had two days off in a row last week from work and I thought I would take the opportunity to flit back over the Irish Sea to visit some friends and also pick up a few last bags that various friends had been storing for me. It has actually been 4 – 5 months that I have been abusing their kindness in this way, so I thought it was fair enough that I come back for my things.
I left fairly early on Thursday morning from Stansted Airport. It was fairly foggy on the ground, but we were soon up above the clouds and despite my usual moments of complete and utter panic when the plane would lurch or seemingly free-fall for a few seconds, or when I convinced myself the engines of my particular plane actually sounded like a lawnmower (I mean, that’s not good, is it? Surely you need an engine bigger than the ones you find on a lawnmower to keep you up in the air? Yes?) I thought I would be landing at 10:20am as scheduled.
But, Cork Airport had other plans.
See, the airport is actually built in a bit of a valley, which, according to my first Irish host father, is kind of like a fly-trap but for fog. If there is fog anywhere in Cork, its going to be hundred times worse where the airport is. And, even if its sunny everywhere else in Cork, the airport may still be cloaked in the thickest of pea soups, as if it was actually generating the fog itself. A week or so after I arrived in Bandon last year, an airplane crashed at Cork airport because of fog. And the very first time I even went to the airport, it was so surrounded by fog that I couldn’t even see the building until we actually pulled up next to it.
So, though it was lovely and sunny up in the sky where the plane was last Thursday morning, Cork Airport was completely hidden by the thickest and greyest of fogs. We ended up circling the airport for an hour and twenty minutes, during which time we weren’t allowed to use the toilet or any electronic goods in case the fog suddenly cleared and we had to make an immediate landing (that didn’t stop the woman next to me texting people on her mobile, however. She seemed to think that if she kept the phone up her sleeve, no-one would know what she was doing. She was also praying under her breath and I couldn’t help wanting to point out that if she was so worried about dying in a horrible, fiery crash, she should possibly take all recommended precautions and SWITCH OFF THE BLOODY PHONE). Of course, I was in a complicated twist of emotions, going out of my mind with boredom and frustration whilst we circled above the clouds, and then every time we dived down into the fog and I saw how thick it was, I’d panic and attempt to psychically contact the drivers with messages of caution and questions of whether or not they were absolutely certain they could really land the plane in such conditions and to please think of all the people in the plane who would really like to live just a little bit longer, thanks ever so much. We finally got down, just as I was thinking that they might end up diverting the flight to another airport, effectively turning my flying visit to Ireland into two days of constant travel and no friends.
As soon as I was on the ground, things picked up. My good friend was there to meet me at the airport, which I hadn’t expected, as I’d missed her message before I’d gotten on the plane. We headed into Cork had a much needed sandwich (egg mayo and cheese at O’Briens – so many Irish memories) before heading to the FAS building, where my friend was running art workshops with some of the Creative Connections crew for the afternoon. I tagged along and ended up helping with the workshops, which was so lovely and so weird all at once. It was so strangely familiar and comfortable and I felt like I slotted right back in to the group and the work, even though I’d been away for four months and had been in a completely different country only that morning. I helped to make many giant ’80’s themed props (giant Rubix Cube, giant Pacmen, giant cassette tape), which looked unbelievably cool at the end of the afternoon and was such a pleasant (and random) thing to spend a few hours doing. When practical, crafty things like that work well, I don’t think there’s anything more therapeutic or calming. Certainly beats the TV.
It was a full ‘Creative Connections’ day with workshops in the afternoon, a meeting in the evening, dinner and then drinks that night with some (or all) of the crew. I’m not the only one who has moved on. We’ve lost one of the women back to her home of South Africa a few weeks after I left and one of the other women is now in France on her next project. Still, some of the women are still trying to keep things going in Cork (in whatever form that takes) and I’m hoping to stay involved as much as I can (in whatever form that takes). Its really sad and also odd to think that in all likelihood I’ll never be able to go back and settle there again, despite feeling so comfortable and at home there. It did also make me realise that whilst things have been easier in London, I’m still not established here in the way that I was by the time I left Ireland. Its not surprising, of course, feeling at home in a place takes time and I’ve only been in London 4 months so far. But, it was interesting contrasting the feelings I have in the two places. I’m hoping to head back again soon and some of the women might come and visit me in London. The most exciting thing that we’ve decided, however, is that we’re all going to go to Amsterdam in April (look at those lovely capital A’s, you can tell its meant to be), which is probably going to be the best thing ever ever ever. Because I love Amsterdam and I love these women and it is going to be SO MUCH FUN. We are going to hire bicycles and buy materials at the awesome Amsterdam material market and eat amazing cakes and shop in the incredible vintage stores and I cannot cannot wait.
Friday was another busy day of appointments with various friends, until I left on the bus for Dublin that afternoon. That evening was a lovely (and boozy) dinner with my old housemate and her friend, during which we planned many road trips to Cornwall and maybe even the USA (where I am I going to get the money or the time off work for all these amazing sounding trips??? A fair question that I choose not to answer at this particular time). The next morning it was another early (but not as early start) in order to get back to London for work that afternoon. After many stresses involving fitting bags into each other and some last minute throwing out of clothes and junk (how did I get so much STUFF??) a taxi ride to the airport that I wasn’t sure I had enough euros for and a grumpy Dublin Airport lady who made me wait many a minute to check-in even though it was almost at the point when they were going to close check-in for my flight, I made it home with enough time to even have some lunch and TV time before heading off to work.
All in all, it was quite the lovely, delightful and easy jaunt, so I’m hopeful there will be more visits in the new year when work allows.