Category Archives: Travel

Things I don’t know whether to be ashamed or proud of

1. *New Entry* Knowing all the words to the Les Miserables soundtrack

If I told you that me and my friend Libby used to act out Les Miserables with her teddy bear collection, would you judge me? Yes? Ok then, that never happened.

What if cool dudes like Jason Segal and Paul Rudd had obviously done the same thing when they were nippers?

That would make it cooler, right?

2. *New Entry* Planning to go to the Astronomy Ireland Star-B-Q

Meat and stargazing. What more could you want? I can only imagine the gathering of poindexters that are going to be in that field in Wicklow when the Astronomy Ireland Star-B-Q comes around in September, but this year, instead of secretly wishing I was going, I AM GOING. I am going to wear my ‘Nerdosaurus’ t-shirt and I am going to eat hot dogs and identify Ursa Major*.

* I now finally realise why my friend Rossa calls me Liz Lemon. Blerg.

3. Knowing all the words to We Didn’t Start the Fire: At a wedding I was at recently, the groom got up on stage after having a few ales and performed his party piece: singing all the words to Billy Joel’s historical masterpiece We Didn’t Start the Fire. I looked furtively around the room to see if people were in awe or in stitches, as I am never quite sure if this particular skill is an acceptable one to admit to. All together now… “Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray…”

Also, lest we forget:

(Also, while I’m admitting things, I may as well also admit to knowing all the words to Billy Joel’s Scenes from an Italian Restaurant AND The Pianoman. I spent a summer on Long Island once. It rubbed off on me. And before you start scoffing at Billy Joel, just remember that he’s responsible for Always a Woman to Me, and if you don’t like that song, then you have no soul).

4. Once meeting Irish president Patrick Hillary (but thinking he was the guy who had climbed Mount Everest): It was Mosney, it was the eighties, I was young. I had obviously just learned about Edmund Hillary and his pal Tenzing Norgay the sherpa in school, so when someone introduced me to an important looking man with the surname ‘Hillary’, I assumed that he was the mountain climbing man. God knows how long I smugged around for, saying I had met the conqueror of Everest. I should also point out that I was in Mosney for some kind of choir-related community games fiasco. I wasn’t even there for something cool, like hurdles or long jump.

5. Playing the part of Oliver in my school musical: I am a girl. Oliver was a boy. And yet I’m told I was very convincing. Hmph.

6. Teaching myself how to swim: Considering how much I love to be in water and how going to the beach is, for me, not about lazing around trying to change colour, but rather getting battered by waves, you would think that I would be an excellent swimmer. Alas, I am not. Even though I taught myself how to swim and  certainly am not going to drown anytime soon, I still don’t know how to do it properly and can’t do that suave breathing-to-the-side thing that people are so good at.

7. Going on holidays on my own: In October 2007 I needed to take a break, urgently. So I booked a last minute trip to New York, on my own. I went to a Yankees game on my own. I went to two Broadway shows on my own. I was in bed in my lovely hotel room by 11pm each night. I went to Harlem to find the house where they made The Royal Tenenbaums. I was the envy of the world… or the pity?

8. Knowing all the words to It’s The End of the World As We Know It: Okay so this isn’t quite as embarrassing (or enviable? Who knows?) as number one, but it’s not far off it.

9. Going nudist camping: Does actively agreeing to go and parade around in your pelt while putting up tents and going snorkeling mean you’re hopelessly brave, or hopelessly insufferable? It was actually one of the finest experiences of my life. I’m not quite sure if that had anything to do with the lack of clothes, but you’re never going to be sure if peoples’ reactions are going to fill you with pride or shame when you admit to letting it all hang out with the ageing Germans.



Dentists, dogs and dancing: My 40 by 40

In no particular order, here are forty things I think I’d like to do by the time I’m forty. Obviously I would like some of them to happen much sooner than that (in fact, I’m considering many of them resolutions for 2012), but some will just have to wait. I’m already a little bit panicked about the dentist commitment, and due to a recent dose of the blues will be striving particularly hard for number 10, but here goes….

1 Be a choir nerd again like this gang, or this lot (UPDATE 12th March 2012: Started to get the ball rolling on this one)

2 Grow my hair long

3 Cycle everywhere like one of those deadly people that cycle everywhere

4 Visit Sarah in Arizona (UPDATE 5th January 2012: Flights are booked. UPDATE #2 6th March 2012: Made the trip in late January/early February 2012, and what a time we had)

Me and Sarah, Jack Palancing

5 Have a dog

6 Have a garden

7 Stop smoking, and stop saying it’s ok to smoke if I’m drinking wine. It’s not.

8 Visit Mexico

9 Live by my wits on a beach (maybe in Mexico?)

This would do, I s'pose

10 Be happy

11 Eat less, move more

12 Make and sell (at least five) birthday cards with the help of my trusty craft box

An early prototype

13 Do an art class

14 Read The Great War for Civilisation which I got for Christmas 2005 from my brother

A challenge

Gulp, I've had it for SIX YEARS

15 Get the tattoo I’ve always wanted, and the body I’ve wanted to put it on

16 Love myself and be loved

17 Learn (some) Spanish

No idea

18 Dance in a burlesque get up

19 Play guitar properly

20 Get top of ear pierced again and don’t let it get the better of me

21 Travel in a campervan

22 Have a baby?!? (this is highly negotiable)

"Yessss. I turned Chuck Norris into sand"

23 Keep Dad‘s memory alive

24 Write a book or a TV show (or both)

25 Give up Facebook

26 Work hard and play hard

27 Lean to cook delicious Italian and Mexican food without having to spend a day cooking it and a day cleaning up

28 Attempt to wear matching underwear

29 Snorkel at El Portus again

30 Drive across America

31 Visit the dentist every six months

32 Fork out the cash to replace gap left by broken tooth

33 Go to Glastonbury

34 Have my own home

35 Learn to swim and dive properly, not just the shambolic way I taught myself

36 Get a credit card

37 Remember god-daughter’s birthday every year and send card and present (shouldn’t be too hard, her birthday is the same as mine)

38 Stop worrying

39 Run a marathon

40 Eat five a day

(41 And finally, a little non-achievable one, but how mega would it be to be like Stevie Nicks in this video?….)

There’s a voice, keeps on calling me……

So I’m guessing, as blogging etiquette goes, I’m the child with her elbows on the table, eating mashed potatoes with her hands. I started my blog, lobbed up a few posts, and then kind of gave up. It’s true, I have been neglecting You and Me Both, Kid, but I have a reason….I’ve been on the road. Well, for a short while anyway.

I wish I had a tale about being on the road for months and months, Kerouac-ing it up and befriending vagrants and people who enjoy bongo drums and spinning fire around their heads on bits of string. But the budget this time round would only stretch to a week, and to be perfectly honest, I detest all that nonsense with bongo drums and fire on strings and ‘ohmygodIdrankabucketinthailandandthe firewasjustSOOOOOOgorgeous’. It would put years on you.

Since quitting my job to come to Spain and ‘find myself‘ I’ve been worrying that I’m not doing enough with my time; that I should be frolicking on the Whitsundays, and driving Route 66 and ohmygoddrinkingabucketinThailand. But don’t I have my whole life to do that? For now (I keep telling myself) I’m taking a break for a few months, and the most taxing part of my day is wondering if I need to go to the supermarket and what time Masterchef Australia is on at (I do have access to Sky Digital in Spain. I’m not an ANIMAL!). However it would be unacceptable to travel to a country like Spain and not do some exploring, especially seeing as my only previous experience had been Barcelona for the Sonar festival, and a week in Gran Canaria (Playa Del Finglas to be precise) with my friend Orlaith, listening to The National on the balcony and retiring to our cell-like bedroom before midnight every night.

If I was any use at all I would have bought some kind of multi-journey train ticket, practiced my ‘vino tinto por favor’ and taken off with my knapsack on my back. But, in this part of spain, as I was soon to learn, public transport is not easy to come by. Sure, there are buses, but finding out about timetables and routes is like trying to solve the riddle of the Sphinx. Once you get to Madrid or Barcelona the transport links are much better, but not in Andalucia, so I decided to rent a car, which, as I would be travelling alone, seemed to be the best option.

I planned a tentative route in my head, with a romantic idea of driving north through Spain, climbing the Pyrenees in my little Opel Corsa and ending up in the south of France, blowing the locals away with my Leaving Cert French (ou est le bibliotheque?……prenez la premier rue a gauche..etc). I knew that leaving from here in Mojacar I would be heading north along the coast, past Benidorm to Valencia. From there I planned to bypass Barcelona on my way to Banyoles, near Girona, where a friend would be spending the weekend with 50 others in a massive villa and had invited me to join them for a night or two. I then planned to cross into France at La Jonquera and stay at another friend’s parent’s apartment in Arles Sur Tech, not too far from Perpignon. I reserved a rental car and a hotel room for my first two nights in Valencia (with the help, and the grasp of Spanish, of the father of My Best Friend Who’s A Boy) and semi-planned my route.

But then , DISASTER! Within hours of each other, both the accommodation in Banyoles and the accommodation in Arles Sur Tech fell through the day before I was due to set off. I felt briefly at a loss, imagining the extra money I was going to have to spend on accommodation (I have no job to go back to remember) and wondering if I should just go to Valencia for a couple of days, rather than aimlessly heading north on my own.

Aimlessly heading north is EXACTLY what I did though. The old mantra of ‘you only live once’ came into my head, and I got the map out, pinpointed a few places I could head for, decided to pack a tent and stay on campsites to save money, and headed for Valencia……..*


*to be continued, as indicated by the dots

They’ll bring a microwave, but no clothes….

Nudie Campsite. Saturday. Around lunchtime: I’m well into the first full day of my naturist camping experience in the South of Spain. I’ve graduated from wrapping a towel or long shirt around me, to walking around with the shirt open, with nothing underneath it except my pelt. I had already had a snigger to myself at the thought of all the naked ageing Germans mincing around the supermarket in the nip with a basket, so heading in the direction of the campsite shop practically in the nip myself was a little strange.

In we swept, practically as naked as the day we were born, and stopped short. Of the four people who were in the little supermarket (a generous word for a maze of shelves selling flip-flops and stew-in-a-can side by side) including the shop assistant, were more or less fully clothed. ‘Abort, abort’ I whispered out of the corner of my mouth, and we hurriedly went about covering up our bits with the shirts and sarongs that we’d been practically dragging behind us mere moments earlier. Even though they warn you when you check in that there are NO CLOTHES ALLOWED, I guess it doesn’t apply when your bare arse might be brushing off the sliced pans.

Even though I was told on the phone, and on arrival at El Portus about the no clothes rule, I was glad to discover that nobody was going to rip the clothes from my back if I dared to cover up while on site. Although I’ve been to the naturist beach in Vera lots of times by now, I’m still only about 60 % comfortable with the whole naked thing, mostly because I wouldn’t want to look at me naked, so why would anyone else want to? But I suspect that anyone who is truly a naturist never really thinks about anyone looking at them. It’s more about the relaxation and freedom of simply not wearing clothes. While I can appreciate the absolute joy of not having to remove a swimsuit magician-style behind a towel when you emerge, arse full of sand, from the ocean, I’m still not sure I’m totally convinced. I can appreciate someone wanting to be at one with nature and really rough it, but when people are cooking in MICROWAVES and watching TELEVISION while camping in the nude….they’re hardly at one with nature.

Bottom (tee-hee) line, going starkers can be very relaxing, very handy, and produces a line-free tan, but I’m not sure if I would ever be comfortable sitting eating my dinner in the nude, or going for an evening stroll. And can you imagine a naked disco? Black eyes ahoy!

In saying all that, I was very sad to be leaving El Portus after only 2 days. It is a supremely relaxing place (with the exception of our wealthier and naked Tai Chi-loving neighbours in a nearby hired cabin, who appeared to require 45 minutes of hammering to make their dinner, and entertained themselves by playing Stairway to Heaven on a recorder. Yes, a recorder)

They also played 'The Boxer' and several verses of 'My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean' on the recorder

El Portus also boasts really clean facilities, and a small, stony, yet absolutely amazing beach, with crystal clear, super-deep water perfect for snorkeling and diving. I would return just for the beach and the simple bliss of cooking burgers on a 10 euro BBQ and eating them by torchlight….in a sweatshirt. Hey, I was a bit cold!