Pete Lancaster, Judith Greaves, Dave Brindle, Philip Sargent, Mike Thomas, John Hibbert, Jem Drummond, Andy Dolby, Steve Crawley, Steve Roberts, Gail Smith, Dave Flatt, Simon Kellet and Doug Florence met at Fishguard at about 0210 Saturday morning. This was the result of an organisational epic which had taken most of the previous week to arrange and involved cars from all over the country. Ten hours later at Doolin, County Clare, we discovered that Dave B. had booked fourteen of us into a cottage for seven (plus baby) and Steve R. entered into some circumspect negotiation with the owner before we all turned up. We were to be allowed 'about ten' people, but we knew that he knew that we knew that we were going to fit in a few more.
During the week an estimated 300 to 350 pints of Guinness were drunk at O'Connor's in Doolin.
The next Saturday we drove back East to Wexford where we stopped off for a couple of quick ones at The Wren's Nest and took off for Rosslare and the ferry. Since we were less zonked on the return, instead of crashing immediately some of us got to see the generally Noisier and Smellier Parts of the ship with a tour of the engines and generators given by the Irish Engineer. Some also climbed the funnel and photos were taken. Back in Wales a thick fog hampered a rapid return but all got home safely: Gail's car's Flatt-adjusted timing and Philip's car's rewired exhaust notwithstanding.
At this point my attention is drawn to the fact that I may have omitted something in this account. Could it be the Grand Bonfire and Brindle's Dead Dog Barbecue on Doolin Beach on Friday night ? Perhaps I have passed over the relaxing cliff walks, castle visits, seashore strolls and Ballyvaughn picnics on Wednesday, or the playing in the breakers on Thursday afternoon in various states of undress: partial, complete, or, in Simon's case, fully clothed.
The gloriously sunny and warm weather of nearly all the week was superb and we were gently woken in the mornings by the gentle strumming of Dave B.'s or Simon's fingers on Gail's squeeze-box (the latter noise being invariably followed by the unmistakeable sound of a Chemical Engineer's fingers being threaded through the lace-holes of his own boots). Doug's mandolin gave John and Steve C. much amusement and the less said about Dave B's penny whistle the better. Anyway, I have it now and I am looking for interesting suggestions of what to do with it to whom.
Meals prepared by Doug the Chef, ably assisted by whoever was not fast enough to absent themselves from the kitchen in time, are memorable for their exquisite flavours and textures, but also mostly for their bulk: some evenings it was all we could do just to look at our pints of Guinness, a shameful thing in Eire.
A comfortable lunch on Paddy's at the Roadside Inn, Lisdoonvarna, starlit walks to the cottage from Gus O'Connor's are fond memories. A truly Excellent Trip in every way.