Monday, May 02, 2011

It was touch and go till Saturday morning whether I’d make the trip to Dublin to convalesce with my long-time friend Jenny. I knew I couldn’t have a kinder carer, so took the chance: after all it’s only a short flight, what could go wrong....
Well for a start, the woman at Aer Lingus check-in decided my tiny bag was too big for carry-on, and I had to pay £17 fine despite the fact it was way too small for the hold, as obviously noted by the baggage handlers since it failed to emerge with the larger cases on the carousel at Dublin. Aer Lingus desk was deserted but there was a phone on which I became embroiled in a MontyPythonesque exchange with a voice which insisted I must be outside the Spa and at my plaintive insistence I was still in Arrivals, decided it had no idea where I was. It put me on musak-hold for a while, returning to announce I was in Terminal 1, as though of all the places the flight from Bristol might arrive who’d have thought it would choose that one! The voice then became efficient and took details, and eventually I bundled out of the airport, bagless, into the late afternoon sun and climbed into a taxi. I related my woes to the big Nigerian driver as we cruised towards Howth. ‘They will bring it to you.’ he told me in a very deep voice I found immensely reassuring.
And sure enough, after a lovely evening of catchup & supper with Jenny, I got a text to say my bag was being prepared for delivery.
Next morning as hours passed and the sunshine beckoned ever more insistently, I phoned Aer Lingus to query their optimism. ‘I’m only here for the weekend, we had plans for today,’ I said, coming over all plaintive again. ‘Ah sure, but you know what they’re like,’ said a soothing voice as if I were whining over the non-appearance of lions at nature reserve.
So what with Aer Lingus charging me £17.00 to lose my bag, not bothering to return it till over 12 hours after they found it, plus providing the unique flight experience when I struggled with a coughing fit of a stewardess solicitously asking if I’d prefer to pay €2.50 or £2.00 for a glass of water, and you can see why my overall impression of this airline is not good. Easyjet next time.
The bag arrived at last and off we went to Howth Demesne, where Deer Park Golf course replaces the classic landscaped gardens of the Gaisford-St Lawrence family. It’s a lovely view anyway, right down to Malahide, and out across Dublin Bay. We walked among the wild rhododendrons and saw the Neolithic portal tomb and the masses of wild garlic - the curse of Gráinne Ní Mháille, 16th Century Pirate Queen, who fell out with the Baron. When she called at his castle he ignored the ancient Brehon law of Ireland giving hungry travellers the right to claim sustenance and barred his castle against her. In retaliation she captured his little boy and held him hostage until the family agreed to set an extra plate at the supper table every night in case she would ever pass that way again. And the promise is honoured to this day. ‘God be with the old days’ says Jenny.
Then after broth and bread & cheese, we walk on Howth Head, thick with the egg-yolk yellow and coconut smell of the gorse, looking out over the sea to Ireland’s Eye. Lots of talking, good food, and sunshine: perfect recuperation.

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