Sunday, 26 August 2001

Hot off the press, I have a room! Out of the dosshouse and into my own pad in Drimnagh Dublin 12. I am sure the guys will be devestated to see me go after 3 months on their floor.

I move in next Saturday. I will let you know all the details then. Fingers crossed I find some temp work to pay the bills.

The room is really big and overlooks the garden (there was a cat in the yard!). It has its own kitchenette too so I can live the life of a hermit if I want! I will be sharing with 2 aussies and a spaniard (I have only met one of them though).

Looks like I am staying in Dublin


Friday, 24 August 2001

Donald, Where's Your Trousers


Let the wind blow high, let the wind blow low
Through the streets in me kilt I'll go
All the lassies say hello
Donald, where's your trousers?

I just got in from the Isle of Skye
I'm not very big and I'm awfully shy
All the lassies shout "oo aye"
"Donald where's your trousers?"


A lady took me to a ball,
And it was slippery in the hall
I was a-feared that I might fall
'Cause I had me on no trousers


I went down to London town
To have a little fun on the underground
All the lassies said as I went down
Donald, where's your trousers?


They'd like to wed me everyone
Just let them catch me if they can
You canna put the brakes on a highland man
Who doesn't like wearing trousers.


Well I caught a cold and me nose was raw
I had no handkerchief at all
So I hiked up my kilt and I gave it a blow,
Now you can't do that with trousers.


To wear the kilt is my delight,
It isn't wrong, I know it's right.
The highlanders would get afright
If they saw me in trousers.


(Sorry this post is a bit of an epic but this is as much my travel log as for you guys so I want to put down everything)

I have just got back from a week and a half in the UK, mostly in Scotland. After enjoying the Tir Na Nog trip around Ireland we decided to do a similar tour around the Highlands with Haggis. We also managed, purely by accident, to be in Edinburgh for the festival. We saw some fantastic fringe acts including an Irish comedian called Jason Byrnes, I have never laughed so hard in my life! Also saw Hamlet the Musical, Best of Scottish comedy, the Marquez Brothers, the Diary of Adrian Mole and a really crap comedy, Radiowaves. And they were just the acts we paid to see, there where hundreds of buskers and interesting people on the streets. I am going to devote a week to the festival next year if I get the chance.

Alicia, Sue and I spent 6 days on a bus with a bunch of mainly antipodeans with a few Japanese, Americans, Chinese and even an Isreali. Throw in Jimmy, an ex royal scot football hooligan bus driver on his first ever tour and a long suffering guide, Smiley Dave, and you have the HAGGIS TOUR OF THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS.

Day 1: We headed out of Edinburgh north to Stirling and the Wallace Monument. We walked up the mountain get a wonderful view of genuine Scottish highland mist – a view that became quite common over the next 6 days. Here we also had the pleasure of seeing the worst statue in Scotland – a life size likeness of Mel Gibson!

We travelled on through the Trossachs area, where Rob Roy once hung out, and on to Rannoch Moore – the scenery was absolutely spectacular with massive green hills and steep cliffs scattered with waterfalls – amazing. Of course a trip to the highlands is not complete without rain and lots of it. Our enthusiastic guide Dave encouraged everyone off the bus for a “wee walk” in Glencoe. We donned our waterproofs and headed for the Hidden Glen to see a waterfall. I think by the end of it there was actually more water in my boots and jeans than in the waterfall!

Stayed the night in Oban and got to know some of the people on the bus better with some drinking games and a bit of a boogie in the bar at the hostel.

Day 2: With my shoes still wet from the day before and the rain still falling we headed for Braveheart country. The movie was filmed near Glen Nevis under the tallest mountain in the UK, Ben Nevis. We stopped for morning tea and re-enacted the highland charge scene from the movie complete with the bearing of asses! (well some people did anyway) In the afternoon we drove through Glen Shiel and the 5 sisters of Kinteal. Had a tour of Eilen Donnan castle (where highlander was filmed).

We then headed over the bridge to the island of Skye. Jimmy the bus driver actually helped build this bridge – actually by the sounds of it Jimmy has done everything from guard Edinburgh castle to deep sea oilrig diving.

Day 3: We spent today touring around Skye. The weather changes so quickly up there that you never know what you will see. We spent part of the day in driving rain, turning into mist and then it cleared up in the afternoon before raining in the evening! We managed to see a lot in the short bursts of no rain or mist though.

The highlight was the walk at the Quiraing – massive cliffs at the north tip of the island. We walked along a narrow muddy path at the base over waterfalls and past grazing sheep perched on the steep hillside and Scottish thistles. Today we also got a close up glimpse of the famous highland hairy coooooooo (Dave insists there are 9 o’s), a breed of cow with a long thick woolly coat – amazing looking animals and very photogenic, I will put some pictures in the gallery shortly.

On the way back to the hostel we saw Kilt Rock and dunked our faces in a stream that makes you forever young. It seems the Scottish are just as superstitious as the Irish and believe that the wee people inhabit underground caves on the isle of Skye causing all kinds of havoc to the human inhabitants of the island.

Went back to the hostel that night and watched Rob Roy.

Day 4: Visited yet another film location – plockton, the town where Hamish Macbeth is filmed. The best thing about this town was the herd of hairy cooos sitting on the lochs beach! Saw some waterfalls and more great scenery but by far the highlight of the day was getting to stay in a real castle for the night!

Carbisdale castle was built for Lady Sutherland, the 2nd wife of Lord Sutherland who owned the neighbouring land. It is thought that the 2nd lady Sutherland might well have had something to do with the death (by poisoning) of the 1st lady S. When the lord died and she was left everything the sons contested the will and a compromise was made that she get the money the sons get the land. In spite, she built the castle overlooking the land, just of the border. On her death the castle was bought by a Dutch diplomat who bequeathed it to the Scottish YHA on the instruction that it would be left intact (none of the valuable contents where to be removed) to encourage honesty and provide a place for youth from around the world to meet in peace. So it was that we had the privilege to stay in a real life castle complete with 4000-year-old Egyptian tapestries and priceless renaissance art.

We weren’t alone though, we shared the castle with 3 known ghosts that have been seen for a hundred years roaming the corridors. The most scary is the Nanny who apparently appears solid and walks the same route from the tower to the nursery. If you get in her way she will walk straight through you. There is also apparently a child in the nursery who is mischievous and moves things around. There is even an incident of people being rained on during the night. Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately) we didn’t see anything. Had a good night drinking in one of the massive sitting rooms though.

Day 5: From a haunted castle to a bloody burial ground at Collodon battlefield. We heard the story of the last battle fought on UK soil. The English army pushing the tired underfed Jakobites led by Bonnie Prince Charlie halfway up the country where they were slaughtered with no mercy. Even women and children who came to collect the wounded where slain. After this battle a policy, much like the ones used to destroy the Irish culture was introduced, banning Gallic and the wearing of the kilt. Scotland still hasn’t recovered.

Travelled onwards towards Lock Ness via Clava Cairnes and Inverness. I tried hard to spot the monster but all I could see where a few backpackers doing impersonations on the beach. Gave the very touristy town a miss, driving past the plastic models of Nessy swamped with tourists. We headed on instead to see Plodda falls and then on to Fort Augusta for the night.

Before heading to the hostel we went to a display of traditional highland living. We were greeted by a little man in the complete highland costume and a distinct Belgium accent! He proved to know his stuff though and showed us the living conditions, weapons and clothing of the highlanders as it was before it was annihilated by the English. One of the girls from the bus got dressed in authentic kilt.

Being our final night everyone was ready for a big one. The hostel had its own cosy bar and later in the night a band. After the band finished and the bar closed the bar manager came out with his guitar and we all sang until the wee hours. Drew, our resident genuine southerner (from Mississippi) turned out to be quite a lyricist as he made up songs about the trip. The highlight was the moving if rather rowdy rendition of “Donald, Where’s Your Troosers” (I have included the lyrics at the end).

Day 6: Lots of weary faces on the bus today, as we headed back to Edinburgh. Saw another waterfall and went to a whiskey factory and tasted some single malt whiskey – I am not convinced.

We had one more day in Edinburgh and then headed to London where I caught up with Katie and Jackie and Leanne. Stayed in Lieths place in Notting Hill – very nice! Went to a club on Saturday night called Farenhite which was quite fun, at least I can say I have experienced the London club scene. I am more convinced than ever that I don't really want to live in London though, the place is crazy - people work way to hard and party just as hard to make up for it - I couldn't keep up the pace for too long. To top it off I got my London cold - I have been to London twice now and been terribly ill both times! I was glad to be back in laid back Dublin.

Got back to Dublin just in time for my birthday. Thanks to everyone who sent birthday wishes. We went out to a pub called Sosume and had a pretty good night.

As Murphy’s Law would dictate (Murphy pretty much runs the joint over here) I didn’t get the job as I was in Scotland during the 2nd round interviews. I think you have to leave the country to get any attention from agents as the agents that I have been hassling for months are finally starting to call me. Maybe things are looking up – not getting to optimistic though. Spent today registering with temping agencies so I will be out of L and K's as soon as I get a job - I promise guys!


Monday, 6 August 2001

For everyone hanging out for Sligo photos they are finally up on my new website. The site still needs a bit of work, I just haven't found the time in my hectic unemployed lifestyle to finish it.

Only news since my last blog was that Dublin are still in with a chance in the footy! The game itself was in Tipperary so we went to a friends place for beers BBQ and footy. A brilliant day! .Dublin are playing to get into the All Ireland Championships. They came from way behind to draw the game with Kerry and the game will be replayed next week. I am in the process of getting the pictures up there so bear with me.


Saturday, 4 August 2001

The intrepid travellers are just back from a trip around Sligo and Donegal on the west coast of Ireland. We headed over with L and K to help celebrate Chucks (an Australian guy Lester met in a hostel in Dublin 7 months ago) big 3 0. Chuck opted for the quiet life away from Dublin and lives in a little beachside town called Strandhill. Strandhill is georgous, especially when mother nature turns on the sun like she did while we were there. Chucks house is 3 doors down from the pub and 4 doors down from the beach. From the backyard you can see two mountains. Check out the pictures at

On the Saturday we set off to prove that it is possible to go swimming in Ireland, and it wasn't that bad, once your body had become numb that is! Exposing our now pasty white bodies to the world was a little scary though, I guess we blended in well with the rest of the bathers.

After the swim we headed into Sligo town for supplies for the big BBQ we had that night. In the carpark of Tescos was a 'knacker van' as Chuck so elequently put it housing Madam Lee, the 7th daughter of the 7th daughter who could fortell the future. Experience junkies that we are, Sue and I paid our money to hear our fortunes. You will all be pleased to hear that I will be successfull, happy, find love and marraige and have 3 kids. I will also be staying in Ireland for a while and finding a nice house to live does she do it!

Back to Strandhill for our celtic seaweed baths. A little less traumatic and more private than the Turkish variety, the seaweed bath consisted of a sauna followed by laying in a tub full of warm water and slimey soaked seaweed...very relaxing and my rhumatism has all but cleared up!

To celebrate Chucks birthday we cooked up a storm on the BBQ that night. The men had insisted that it was to be a non-ponce BBQ but it ended up getting very poncy with Steak, kebabs, sausages and even capsicum (OK that was my doing and the men didn't eat it!) After dinner we had a game of shuttle-cock and a bit of a sing along with Kieran on the guitar.

On Sunday morning we witnessed the inaugural flight of Chuck's newly constructed remote control aeroplane. And in the afternoon we climbed the local mountain Knocknerea to fly a remote control glider. The view from the top was amazing and it was so peacefull. Back in Strandhill, had a few beers in the glorious sunshine by the beach listening to a local band...can't get much better than that.

Left for Donegal the next day. Donegal is one of the most remote counties in Ireland, a haven for trad music and Irish culture enthusiasts who go out of the way to experience real Ireland. Donegal town is tiny, more like a very small village than a town. It rained all day so we didn't see much not that there was much to see. The next day we headed for Glencolmkille. Mile after mile of boggy green hills scattered with black faced sheep and small villages boasting little more than a general store and 2 or 3 pubs. We stayed in a hostel overlooking the water called Dooeys. It was run by an old lady called Mary who is like everyones grandma.

Taking advantage of the good weather we ran to catch the bus back to Carrick down the road to see Slieve League, the highest sea cliffs in Europe. We had no idea what we were in for - a local had told us it was 2 miles down the road but about 6 miles up a massive mountain we thought we would never make it! Totally unprepared for a walk in unsuitable cloths (luckily I had my boots on) and carrying everything but the kitchen sink (I didn't empty my daypack of things like the guidebook and my walkman and diary) we finally made it to the top to see the most magnificent view, and it was such a clear view that you could see all the way back to Sligo and the mountain that we had climbed 2 days before. 5 hours after we left Carrick we made it back and read on the back of a postcard 'Those who wish to explore Slieve League and other nerby cliffs must be prepared for hard climbing'! If only we had seen that earlier!

The next day we were too sore to do anything much so sat around admiring the view. Went out for some diddly diddly that night. I love the way that the whole town comes out, even on a wednesday night to socialise and have a few beers.

Back in Dublin now and back to the job hunting. Latest news is that I have an interview with a company called GSM - if I get the job Kieran will be my boss! We have booked tickets to Scotland for next Thursday (only £17 - bargain!) so stay tuned for more travel news - if I never find a job over here at least I can say that I traveled around a lot while I was here.


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