The camping and caravan park at Doolin has views that span the Barran and the coast. Of course, being anywhere on the coast, in Ireland, means you’ll be walking sideways most of the time. But the views of the waves hitting the rocks are amazing, and I can see stallegmites of rain piercing the ocean all the way down the horizon. At eight thirty of an evening the sky is fully light, just going towards dusk but not nearly there, and it seems like it will never get dark. This caravan park has showers, washing machines and a kitchen, which makes us way more happy than it should. It also has Scrabble.
The Barren is an area of mountainous coastal land that is almost pure rock. We drove today from Galway, in which we didn’t really spend as much time as we would have liked, our destination Doolin, by way of a castle Andrew wanted to see that is apparently the most picturesque in Ireland. Every castle has to have its claim to fame, and I wouldn’t call this a castle – more a tower with a stone wall, but it was an impressive four floors with views for miles. But the more impressive was the drive from the castle to Doolin, which we took the coastal road instead of the highway. This is horse country, and there are more stones here than you would have thought possible. Every fence is stone – large, white stones whose steel grey colour soon become as much a part of the landscape as the rich, lush emerald of the paddocks they defend. The walls are everywhere. The beach, though there is sand, is dense with rock from the road to the water. Closer to Doolin there are round boulders, as big as Landrovers, which look as though they have spent thousands of years travelling end over end along the bottom of the ocean, rolled round, to come and sit on the shores with their kind – like in The Never Ending story, when the stone guy calls the rocks. The hills are covered with rock, and like Aideen said this morning, look like a moonscape (but a lot hillier). When you don’t know what you’re driving past, at first, rounding the corner, you think it’s manmade – a dam, perhaps.
We will go tomorrow to the Cliffs of Mohar, and then Limerick.
It’s tomorrow morning. We slept wonderfully at our campsite, even though the wind was so ferocious that it would tip the car from side to side like it was on water. At ten o’clock, as I was tucking in to the bed in the back of the van – actually, I was tucking in to the back of the van, really, it’s not that big – to read my book, the last dregs of light were still in the sky, and I almost didn’t need the car light to read. It’s a bit offputting, and makes you go to bed a lot later, and wake up later. I don’t like that, so this morning I got up and went for a run. I set a pretty fast pace running with the wind on the first leg, but turning around I was running against the wind and uphill, and it was like having an argument with nature while being tied to a chair, a swinging light shining in my eyes. I kept running, but I think my steps were about ten centimeters long, as I would stride out almost a metre and when my second foot left the ground, the wind would take me back two feet. But I think I got a better workout, in that area, so we’ll call it square, nature. Square.
I met Ashley and her boyfriend this morning, who were from Belfast just visiting, and they were staying in a tent. I’m surprised they’re still in the same county this morning. I’m in the kitchen, having been on my jog and had my shower. Oh, the security that being able to have a shower can bring! I cannot fathom how homeless people in Ireland get on. With the recession, and so many people out of work I imagine the homeless rate has gone up significantly and I can’t imagine living here, and not in a house. The wind is a force on its own, separate from the rain but sometimes teaming up with it, and ten times stronger on the coast.
The shower costs €1. The bathrooms here are very clean, and fitted out. The walls are probably the same kind of tiles that Meg has in her new bathroom, large, cosy cream ceramic, and there are three or four cubicles and toilets, and a separate toilet house, and then the kitchen, in which gas costs €1 for half an hour, and the washing and drying room. The site cost €17. Andrew is cooking his eggs for breakfast now, and we’re considering whether or not to go on a three-hour walk along the cliffs in this weather.