Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Great Cough Across Ireland

My favorite picture from the trip - taken from a golf course in Killarney

Well, I’m back from Ireland – a great trip despite being sick THE ENTIRE TIME and despite my conflicted feelings about doing a bus tour. My friend D. probably deserves sainthood for sharing a hotel room with me. I tell you what, it was INFURIATING to have not been sick in over a year and wind up getting a terrible cold right before my first major vacation in a decade. And as much as I tried to put on a smiley face and enjoy the trip anyway, there's just only so much you can do when you are tanked up on Sudafed. *sigh*

First things first: the Brattleboro hats I made came in quite handy, particularly at the Cliffs of Moher where the wind was whipping quite fiercely. My friend also wore the hand warmers I made her, and I wished I had made some for myself.

I had grand plans to visit a yarn shop in Dublin but it turned out the day we were there was a bank holiday and the shop was closed (as were many others in the city). After getting lost on the Trinity College campus we were forced to eat croissants with real butter and drink tea at a café (this one, as it happens). Hardly a tragedy, I assure you. In fact, one of the best things about Ireland was that there was always real butter (I didn’t see one pat of margarine the entire trip) and the default beverage was tea. This was a good thing as the Diet Coke tasted really weird over there. Not nearly as carbonated, for one thing, and for another it was labeled “contains vegetable extracts”, as if it were V-8. It makes me wonder what on earth is in my American Diet Coke – I probably don’t want to know. Also on the plus side: I am normally not a beer drinker but I found it to be much better when consumed on Irish soil…especially when served by cute bartenders with sparkly blue eyes (even if he did refuse to sing along with the rest of my tour group…which, really, one can hardly blame him for, especially after one guy loudly proclaimed that the US should annex Ireland as the 51st state).

But I digress. As we traversed the country to the western coast, we did make a few stops at touristy gift shops, a few of which had a tiny bit of Aran yarn for sale. Aran yarn – at least, the stuff I saw – is pretty hardy stuff; frankly, I can’t imagine hand-knitting much with it. It’s very dense and heavy, and not exactly soft. There were thousands of beautiful sweaters for sale across the country knit with the stuff, but alas I didn’t buy one. The exchange rate was pretty bad, and I had my heart set on buying a wool blanket, so I passed up the sweaters. We did find one yarn shop in Killarney, which was nice but filled to the brim with Noro and Debbie Bliss – all stuff I can easily buy at home. I felt like I had to buy SOMETHING, though, and found some Louisa Harding merino/silk blend yarn that was very reasonably priced. But I had been really hoping to find some in-country spun sock yarn. Next time, I guess.

Adjusting to the time change going over was fairly easy, though there was much coffee/tea ingested to keep us going. However, re-entry to my “real” life was hard, mainly due to the time difference and a very needy cat that was not impressed with my absence (my sister looked after her, but it was clearly not enough company for the cat). But now I’m all adjusted and oddly content. I was perfectly happy to trot off to work yesterday, and thankfully there were no dire emergencies to contend with once I got there. The train was late, as per usual, but there’s nothing I can do about that. And alas, my apartment is still a wreck, but it’s nice to have my fabric, yarn, and the cat once again keeping me company. Apparently, home is where your stash is.

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