I’ll be darned if I’ll write anything today. It’s my birthday! I will sit around ruminating on fantastically old I am. And yet, how still very unfinished.
I didn’t plan anything much. Last time, you might remember, I took a walk in the Burren, but I’m not trying to impress anyone this year. I’d already had dinner a couple of days ago with a dear friend who couldn’t be here today, so I just met up with one of my bestest buddies and went out for a non-drink. She’s being healthy too, so she drank rice milk while I had what I’ve come to call artificial beer, or Toybräu. I tried to drink so much and so fast that it would give me a sort of simulated sensation of getting out of it, but I can’t honestly say that it worked. Then I was so busy talking I only managed four pints of the stuff. What’s happened to me? There were times when I would have had four pints – of actual beer – before breakfast.
Not good times, no. But times. Anyway, good night!
Well I suppose we had to do something a little mad for St Patrick’s Day. Quite unexpectedly, I find myself driving to Doolin – a distance several times greater than any I’d driven before. Challenging too. Corkscrew Hill – a slalom for cars. A lovely meal, somehow ending up spending the evening with a couple from Texas – him a retired Navy pilot – and almost stealing beds in an unattended hostel.
Driving backthrough Clare, the whole Burren and its stars to ourselves.
It was my birthday today, and I thought I’d spend it doing something positive and renewing. So, a walk in my favourite landscape: The Burren.
This is one area of Ireland that is made of stone instead of grass. It’s karst, also called limestone pavement (but why would you, when you could say “karst”?), a terrain where soluble stone has been washed away leaving great slabs and gaps. Or clints and grykes, to give them their rude-sounding technical names. It’s weirdly lunar.
We walked up Turlough Hill. It’s not a big mountain, but it’s beautifully layered, almost an Aztec pyramid. This is the kind of hill walking I like, because rather than a constant, merciless slope it consists of short but tough hands-on climbs interspersed with almost level ‘rests’. Nevertheless I struggled, the girlfriend bounding contemptuously ahead. I’m still way out of shape, despite the exemplary life I lead these days. But hey, I never expected I’d even live this long, so I’m way ahead on that score.
It was on the way down that I shone. It really felt like all that potential energy I’d stored going uphill was coming out. Or maybe the Burren just renews me. It was basically a matter of jumping from rock to rock, and I love that stuff.
If there was one drawback, it wasn’t a great day for photography. I did get better shots though later in the afternoon when we drove to Doolin, where karst meets sea.