on friday the 31st august, i woke up early so that i could finish packing and get to work by 8am. left work at 4pm and headed to liverpool street station where i met rishina who had my stansted express tickets. had a quick nap on the train on the way to the airport. the train is quite convenient because it terminates just under the airport, no need to lug bags very far. it was crazy busy there, lots of queues. first queue at the check-in desk. had to check in my little backpack even though it was quite small due to the one bag for handluggage rule. (my camera and lenses in one bag and clothes in another).  second queue at security point one where you have to remove your jacket, any liquids/gels, belt, keys,phone, anything metal through the x-ray machine.  third queue, remove your shoes so that it can be scanned.  Eventually got through security into the terminal and wandered around, had a beer and waited till the boarding gate opened. It is quite a walk from the terminal to the boarding gate at Stansted airport.

Chatted to some friendly Irish people that are regular commuters between Cork and London.  Flight left on time, got to see an incredible sunset above a sea of candy floss clouds.  Had a short wait at Cork International before I was greeted by Nirven (our host), Yash and Donna (who had arrived a couple hours before me).  We were completely spoiled by Nirven over the next few days.  My brain even had a holiday. I refrained from thinking much about the things that have been concerning me, my plans for the near future, the decisions that have to be made.  It was a completely relaxing week.  Thank you Nirven.

I could not bring myself to have Guiness but I managed to have a pint or two of Murphy's Irish Stout beer and share a bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey. The Old Jameson Distillery in Middleton not too far from where we were.

Cobh (Irish: An Cóbh, pronounced "cove") is a seaport on the south coast of Ireland, in County Cork. Located on the south shore of the Great Island in Cork Harbour.  Cobh or rather Queenstown at the time was the final port of call for the RMS Titanic.

Old Head of Kinsale – nearest land point to the site of the sinking of the RMS Lusitania in 1915 and is now a golf course.

In Kinsale we had awesome desserts and coffee at Jola's Restaurant which is in this beautiful stone loft style building with a café overlooking the downstairs main dining room.  We booked a table and waited 40min before they opened for dinner purely because of the decor.

Also in Kinsale, I convinced the others to help me re-live childhood memories or the fun times on the "dodgem cars" in Durban, at a small fair.  It lasted about 7 minutes but it was a lot of fun!

Some of the places we visited during our roadtrips were Limerick, Ennis, Ennistymon, Lahinch, Liscannor.  Small interesting towns with a lot of character.

It was cloudy almost all the way there.  About a half hour's drive before we reached the cliffs, the clouds parted and sun shone down brightly. It was stunning. Everything perfect, a slight breeze, beautiful setting sun, not too many tourists. We hiked off the beaten track past the official boundary sign
'Do not go beyond this point'
to get a better view.  Really a must-visit place!

The grass in Ireland is green.  It is a green that I have not seen anywhere else.  I took a lot of photos of the grass…

The cows must love it.

The landscape is very much like the Natal Midlands
and a bit of Mpumalanga as well. The climate is warm and humid.

Ireland is a beautiful country.  The people are friendly and polite. It's very chilled out. On the roads, they give you way, there's no tail gating, or hooting madly and no matter what Nirven says, the rush-hour traffic is not bad at all.  The houses have no fencing,  high walls,  burglar guards, barbed wire, or alarm systems.  It's all so open, in view and blending in with the landscape and accessible.  At least the bits that I've seen.  On the national roads once you've crossed over into a different county, there will be a road sign with the number of deaths since 2004, it was less than 60.  County Clare had 9 road deaths in 2003 and County Cork was about 30.  I didn't sense any aggression from anyone (especially compared to when I came back to London and arrived at Liverpool Street Station).  You only get what people are saying when they go on about the fact that they moved away from South Africa because of the crime when you are in a place where it does not weigh on you at all, when it is not necessary to be vigilant and cautious, where worrying about your safety does not have to be a way of life. When you don't have to wonder if your car is going to be there when you get back from the cinema or if someone is going to smash your window at a traffic light intersection or if your car is going to hi-jacked as you pull up to your front gate. Or like in my brother's case, the power trips and you go to the box to turn it on again when four guys attack you and hold a gun to your head.

Oh my gosh, i'm turning into one of those people… I love South Africa… I don't want to be thinking about all this negative stuff.  Sometimes it can't be helped, especially when the grass is looking greener on the other side.

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