We drank coffee this morning at Donald Street’s house in Glandore. He lives in a beautiful little place up a back street only half a block away from the harbor. We more or less invited ourselves over yesterday, when we accidentally ran into him on the street not five minutes after we’d come ashore. Since running out of propane we’ve gone without our morning coffee, and on hearing this, he said there was plenty of it available if we wanted to stop by.
We found him in the small annex, a sun-room of sorts off the side of the house. Strewn about the apartment were just about every sailing magazine in print, current and back issues alike, and photos of his iconic yawl Iolaire and various J-class yachts on the walls. The centerpiece of sorts was the original tiller from Iolaire, built in 1905, that had split in half somewhere in her history and replaced. Street’s son glued it back together and now, freshly varnished, it hangs on the wall in Glandore. The place was unassuming, slightly disheveled and utterly charming. The coffee was strong.
We only stayed for half an hour or so. Street, at 81, was heading off at half past ten to race a ‘Dragon,’ and his particular boat, Gypsy, was nearly as old as he. At 79, he says it doesn’t quite compete with the latest and greatest from Kinsale, but he assured me that the competition at the back of the fleet is fierce. In parting, he gave us a signed copy of a cruising guide to the south and west coasts of Ireland.
Since Clint left, Mia and I have been enjoying the only few days of a proper honeymoon we’ve had since leaving Annapolis. We haven’t been alone on the boat since sailing to Newport, and that trip was so busy with boat projects, planning and generally being nervous about the crossing that we didn’t have time for really exploring ashore. In Nova Scotia, it was more of the same. We did get to see some of Lunenburg and Baddeck, but the adventuring was always clouded by a vague sense of uneasiness I had about the coming trip. By St. Pierre, the boat was nearly ready, but my mental state was in no mind for exploration, and I barely made it beyond the yacht club docks, going only as far as the grocery store on the hill for cheese and wine.
With the crossing behind us, we’re making up for it now. Crookhaven was a perfect place to make landfall, and we became regulars at O’Sullivan’s. Here in Glandore, we’ve gone further afield, and been a bit more extravagant in spending money. Last night we ate dinner at the Marine Hotel, on the waterfront – I had an 8oz. steak, Mia a 15” homemade pizza – and we didn’t return to the boat until 10:30 in the evening.
After coffee this morning, we hiked up the steep hill behind Street’s house. The road was paved, one-lane, and lined either side with ancient stone walls covered in ivy. The forest was thick to our right, while on the left were several quaint houses and B&Bs, all with lovely stone entrances and gravel driveways. Further up the hill, which seemed endless to our untrained legs, blackberry bushes were blooming on both sides, and the berry hunting began. They weren’t quite ripe at first, but near the top of the hill where the trees opened up and the sun shined through, we found more berries than we could ever imagine eating, and we ate as much as we dared. There was a bit of a contest for the fruit with the bees, but I think in the end Mia and I won out. Our tongues were purple and our bellies full by the end of our mile-long hike along the road, which by then had flattened out to reveal fairy-tale scenery in the hillsides and farmland beyond. Cows grazed on either side of the road, and several isolated houses were visible tucked away in glades of trees here and there in the valleys. The sun was shining, and I rolled my jeans up for the warmth of the air.
We’d planned on enjoying the ‘carvery lunch’ at the Marine Hotel today, after noticing the sign last night outside. The money the swim girls gave us for a fancy dinner we decided to stretch, and managed to make two meals out of it. We returned to the hotel at around 1 o’clock to find the buffet set up with roast lamb, pork and beef, and grilled chicken and salmon, with taters, carrots and veggies, plus local brown soda bread. We indulged despite our bellies full of berries, and had a two-hour lunch while we watched sports on TV.
At first we thought we were watching rugby, but it soon became apparent that it was something else altogether. The ball was round, for starters. I asked an older couple at the adjacent table, and he said it was Gaelic football, akin to Aussie Rules, but with a round ball and a rectangular field. It’s like rugby in that the teams beat each other up quite well, and you can carry the ball. But you apparently have to dribble off your feet when running downfield, and can score by kicking it into a soccer-style goal, or drop-kicking it over the goal and between two posts, like an NFL field goal, only at full-speed. The play does not stop. The game we watched was the under-18 league. Just as we finished our meal, the big match of the day came on, the professional league match between Dublin and Donegal. The fans were riotous, and I was very much inclined to stay and watch.
Instead, we wandered back up the hill looking for cell phone reception to call Ullis and plan for her arrival tomorrow. We walked up another steep paved road behind the Hayes Pub (where I’m sat now), and managed to get reception at the top of the hill. Ullis never answered, but it was worth the walk for the view. Before us to the south was an incredibly view of the harbor entrance and the mooring field (with our boat visible on the outside). To the north stood more rolling hills and countryside. I asked a local woman sitting on her porch if the road looped back into town. She said it did, and that I could take one of two forks, each of which returned to the town via opposite sides, and made for about 30 minutes walks. Mia and I plan on returning tomorrow morning before our departure and running the loops. We have to choose our runs wisely, as it’s no use running right after a shower, as we never know when the next one will come. We decided it’s okay to run before a sailing passage, as we usually get dirty under way anyway. Tomorrow there should be showers available at the Royal Cork Yacht Club, our destination and meeting place with Ullis, and also the oldest yacht club in the world. It’s about forty miles from Glandore, so if we get away by noon we should make it before dark.