DIARY OF A DEMENTED HOME WORKER: West is best, but I’m hitting the road and heading north

April 11th, 2021 6:25 PM

By Emma Connolly

Honestly, I don’t give a monkeys where I go once the 5km ban is lifted, but Fota Wildlife Park is always a great option. Hopefully the animals won’t object to my dodgy hair colour!

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• FORGET The Saw Doctors and their N17, how many of us are revving our cars ready to hit the N71 on April 12th? I’m predicting bumper to bumper traffic from dawn as crowds leave the confines of West Cork for the first time since Christmas. Personally, as much as I love the cachet that comes with saying you live in West Cork, I’m sick to the back teeth of the place. What? It’s only what lots of you are thinking, if you’re being honest.

• I’ve had enough of our breathtaking beauty, breathtaking and all as it is; I’m sick of all our delicious, artisan food and I don’t want to hear another thing about the so-called laid back enviable lifestyles we all lead here (surely I can’t be the only one strung out to within an inch of my life?). Yup, now that 5km restriction zone is lifted, I’m going inland, all the way north to explore such far-flung places as Buttevant, Kanturk and that curious sounding spot called Newtwopothouse. I’ve heard wonderful things about Doneraile National Park and it’s top of my newly compiled bucket list. We’ll bring a picnic of course – honest to God (packet) ham sandwiches, a flask of tea and crisps (the non hand-cooked kind). We may even go all the way to Charleville for the sheer heck of it, buy a block of cheese and turn for home without breaking the county bounds. On the way back we’ll stop in a no-frills chippers. Something tells me there’s an Abrakebabra up that way, so better still, we’ll indulge in a garlic and mayo chip butty (I’m still undecided on the cheese). There’s probably nothing more delicious to eat, yet more guaranteed to make you feel close to death 10 minutes later. Can’t wait.

• Staying on the road, nothing sounds more exotic right now than a trip to everyone’s favourite, Fota Wildlife Park. Their little penguins will gladden the most Covid-jaded heart, and the monkeys are always entertaining, even if they look a bit fed up (bitchy resting faces, I have the same problem myself). And you know what, if we’ve time on the way home I might even take a stroll down Pana for old time’s sake, press my face against the windows of Brown Thomas and Penneys and reminisce about 2019.

• And not forgetting the delights of further into East Cork, either. On our next free day we can head to Ballycotton (more cliff walks I know, but different vistas), Cobh, Shanagarry (who knows we might see Darina?), Midleton (apparently their food scene is as good as our own, but don’t let on a bit), and Blarney Castle (no kissing the stone obviously). So many options; imagine what it will be like when we can go inter-county? We’ve already got the map out and are planning our travels. Malin Head here we come – via Longford, Cavan and Monaghan!

• Who knows when international travel will be back on the agenda (unless of course you’re headed to Dubai for some cosmetic surgery), but at least in West Cork we can still indulge in some island hopping. Who needs Crete, Corfu or Kos when you’ve gems like Cape Clear, Garinish, Dursey and Sherkin? Any word yet on who bought Horse Island last year? I’d like to send them a welcome basket of our best artisan produce (hold the garlic mayo) and extend the famous West Cork welcome (and no, not just to try and get an invite for a weekend this summer – so cynical! But that would be handy seeing as everything else decent is already booked out).

• It is hard to believe we’re so far behind the UK where some overseas travel will be allowed from mid-May. They’ve also had a major relaxing of restrictions on shops and pubs, and hairdressers – imagine! How many of you have broken rank and given into a home dye job? I’ve resisted but am definitely avoiding the mirror as even a passing glimpse of myself is horrifying me. There are three tones going on: grey, my natural colour, and the shade I pretend is my natural colour. Combined, it’s not a good look. I had it all screwed back the other day and my five-year-old told me I looked like a man. An old man, actually she said. I have to say that hurt.

• A bit like the vaccine ads on the radio. They’re actually beginning to annoy me with their suggestions that we’re way further down the line then we are with the vaccination programme. I don’t have the first clue when it comes to organising a national vaccination programme (which is why I’m not in charge of it), but it seems to be taking… ages. Having said that, there’s nothing to be gained by one cohort turning on another, or claiming they deserve to be higher up the list than someone else. We’ll all get jabbed eventually. As Supt Ted Hastings said, let’s hold our whist for now.

• So what did we all make of the government’s announcement to turn rural pubs into remote working hubs? I’ll admit I thought first it was an early April Fools to catch us off guard, but now, I want to know where to sign up. I’ve done some of my best thinking in pubs, inhaling that heady combination of beer fumes, stale smoke and toilet bleach.

• Also, what is going on with the weather? How true the saying ‘ne’er cast a clout til May is out.’ I’m a little embarrassed to say I got burned on my forehead while sitting on the patio last weekend, and the very next day I was reaching for the smallie’s vest and hat again. Nuts. Also, I hate to be the bearer of bad news (unlike George Lee), but if you’re looking for garden furniture, or BBQs etc, for when the sun returns, you can pretty much forget about it. Things have sold out in record time this year. Someone did say there was an outdoor dining set in a co-op shop in Banteer, or was it Bweeng (maybe Ballymacoda? Ballyhooly? Bartlemy?) –  I’ll suss it out on my spin North and report back.

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