Friday, September 30, 2011


Stuart is an English poet his wife Lesley a 'retired'teacher of dance. I stayed with them in Chipping Sodbury, a beautiful English town near Bristol. Their idea of being retired is they now have time to help their community. As well as being a prize winning poet Stuart is an official starter for athletics. He was on duty for the Bristol Half Marathon when I was there. He and Lesley are very much involved with encouraging athletics. Lesley is one of those unassuming, but enormously capable people who make everything easier for other people. I saw her welcoming some shy newcomers to the Yate Athletic Club, making them feel welcome, without appearing to make any effort. It's a rare gift.
Thanks to the3m I have seen Bath, Bristol. the Forest of Dean, the Saracen's Head on the river Wye and Tintern Abbey. This picture was taken at an arboretum near where they live, planted two centuries ago and now a breathtaking place of forested walks.(The name escapes me and my notes are in my suitcase. I shall get back to it).

And they have a beautiful garden, full of interesting flowers and plants, in particular a David Austen scented rambler named 'Jude the Obscure' the perfume is wonderful.

Next time anyone makes comments about 'Poms' I shall think of Stuart and Lesley, or Jim Bennet who gives enormous amounts of time to the Poetry Kit website and its attendant magazines, Poetry Kite and Caught in the Net, Angela Keaton, experimental poet who drops everything to show me around Liverpool, and dozens of other wonderful people who made my latest journey memorable.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Sorry, no photographs, I am using the computer at the |bris Hotel Liverpool and can't browse my photos.
However. liverpool is still my favourite English city. Chipping Sodbury is my favourite English town but liverpool is quirky and its architecture imaginative.
And of course the people, though different from Irish people are helpful and friendly. I HAVE WORKED OUT HOW TO CATCH THE TRAIN FROM lime street to MANCHESTER Airport next Sunday. so the last part of my four montgh 'Escape the winter and the World cup' is beginning.
I shall post my photos when I GET HOM


Saturday, September 17, 2011


After my 4 a.m. adventure, (it turned out they were not even hostel residents) I moved for one luxurious night to a single room in the Arlington Hotel on the bank of the Liffey For an extra 30 euros I could dine in dim Victorian light and watch Irish dance and listen to Irish folk music. The three young Dutchmen in the picture were my table companions, over for the weekend. The dinner was excellent, and the dancing exuberant, especially when the dancers got three diners to join them on stage in an Irish square dance. The Folk music was great, traditional toe tapping fun.
Next day I returned to Abraham Hostel on Lower Gardener Street, Less aggressive plumbing and better breakfast than that available at citihostel, and because I agreed to share an eight bed dorm much cheaper. When people start ranting about "To-days's Youth (as they have been doing since Adam was a teenager) I want to tell them about the girls I shared my last days in Dublin with. Two French 2 German a Spaniard, a Brazialian and a couple of Irish. They were Trinity College students hunting for accomodation and helped each other search. In the dormitory they were quiet, courteous, and along with the other young people I met on this tour, made me feel very confident about the future of this world.
Friday, I had booked a seat on the bus to the airport, and found I was the only passenger on the minibus. The driver was from Bulgaria,conversed in English and was very helpful with my luggage.
I landed in Bristol and followed the arrows from plane to baggage claim. Incredibly, my case made its entrance through the curtain on to the carousel like a veteran actor. I followed the pointers to customs and then thought,'I'm not an EU citizen and I haven't been through Immigration,' so I asked an airport policeman.
"That's all right,'she said and I walked out of the airport to greet Stuart, (the sort of friend every one should have) who took me to his home in Chipping Sodbury where I was cossetted by Stu and his wonderful wife, Lesley, for the next five days during which I visited Bristol, Bath, a Saturday market, The Forest of Dene, an arboretum and Tintern Abbey. Whew!
More about this later, and more about out Poetry Kit evenings. Nxt Sunday I fly out of Manchester and come home. That is if nobody questions me about being in England without an entry stamp in my passport.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


4a.m. Revelers were spilling into the streets and making a huge racket.
"H ere we go again," I thought, turning over in my bottom bunk. It had taken me until after midnight to fall asleep.
The dormitory door openedA strong smell of alcohol and tobacco preceded the two shadows who slid into the dorm. TWO SHADOWS?
The girl, in dark pants and horizontally striped sweat shirt was definitely 'tired and emotional as a newt.' She leaned against her companion, so he picked her up and lifted her into the top bunk.
That's nice, I thought, he's seeing that she gets to her bed safely. I waited for the door to open and let him creep out. It didn't.
Twenty minutes later I had to get up and go to the bathroom. Carefully I stepped out of my bunk and nearly fell headlong over a pair man size jeans and size eleven sneakers discarded on the floor.
'" Well they were discrete and quiet. Good luck to them I thought and pretended to be asleep when he crept out of the top bunk and slipped out of the room.
But her next visitor was neither discrete or quiet. Maybe it was the same guy and he had gone out somewhere for a condom. What they are doing is one of my business,"I reminded myself, until our bunk started rocking and creaking. Less than a metre above my head the 'horizontal P.T.'got noisier and more vigorous. I was wondering what would happen if the welding on the top bunk gave way. But it all settled down and he crept out. A few seconds later she came down her ladder and sat on my bed, on my left leg in fact.
"Hey, I;m awake."I said quietly.
She climbed back to her upper bunk. Five times between 4.40 and 7 a.m. she crept down, went to the door, opened it, closed it and returned to her bunk.

So I decided enough was enough,I have booked a single room at a hotel where I can get some sleep.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


This photo was taken outside my favourite cafe at the junction of Harcourt St. Harcourt Rd. Victoria St and Charlemont St. The pantechnicon parked on the footpath opposite is unloading furniture into the building on the corner. The first sign of life I have seen there in two months.And it started me thinking. Traffic pours around this junction all day and all night, noisiest time is about 4a.m. when the party goers congregate under my window waiting for taxis. There are taxis, private cars of every kind, about one in ten passing vehicles is a van and very occasionally a large lorry delivering bread to the supermarkets BUT I HAVE NOT SEEN A PETROL TANKER. Nor have I seen a petrol station selling BP or CALTEX or SHELL I keep a special watch now when I go for walks or bus rides.
Any Dubliners who know why I am not seeing cars pulling in to fill up, or the big signs showing the day's petrol price please post a comment.

aMy e amil is currently refusing to send anything. I don't know why, but Stuart, if you are reading this I shall be catchinbg the 3.00 flight from Dublin to Bristol next FRiday. Mary Ivor Tollah is your cousin Ivor and Lynn who is about to embark on her firsgt trip out of the States TRAFFIC IN BRITAIN DRIVES ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THE STREET. so watch it.


and night


After two months in Dublin I am still making discoveries. The city authorities have, for some reason, changed the bus routes. 19 and 19A no longer runs down Camded Street through the city centre and into Parnell Square. So when I set out on Tuesday evening I asked the Driver,
"Do you go to the City Centre?"
he harrumphed and it was not until he turned left at the Connolly Street Bridge I realised that for him the City Centre was Trinity College, not the Spire. And the next stop was a long way down the quay, past the Halfpenny Bridge, past the Millenium Bridge.
I knew I was going to be late for Connor's lecture on writing about sex (don't ask!) but I was also going to have to walk through a part of Dublin I had not seen before.
On the way I found this pretty sculpture of a Viking Longboat. My guide book says is is by Betty Maguire and was erected after the 1079 discovery of the first Viking settlement.
I walked over the millenium pedestrian bridge. The tide was out and the Liffey was a series of puddles around flat black rocks between concrete walls with reminders of previous centuries, like steel ladders, and mooring rings long abandonned. On the other side of the river market stalls were closing up, people were hurrying along to bus stops. I walked past the General Post Office, the spire, on past Abbey Theatre, the blue steel gates of the Garden of Remembrance were locked. I haad to wait at both crossings and finally I tramped up the elegant georgian staircases at the Writers Centre to the third floor and crept in with whispered apologies.
WriConnor's examples from literature were definitely from a male point of view, and I thought he was brave even tackling the subject in only one hour. And because I was late I did not hear what he said.
It was very dark when we finished, so John hailed a taxi for me. This involves standing in the middle of the roadway and hailing approaching headlights. The driver was a cheerful Irishman called Oliver who told me about the resurgence of Camden Street from a derelict slum to the busy, interesting village it is to-day.

Settlement site. I crossed the Liffey on foot over the millenium bridg.