Saturday, January 21, 2023

The British Isles Part 3 Finale

The Republic Of Ireland

Ireland. What a place. So much optimism and wit but always a sad ending. These people know they've suffered, and they’ve smile thru it. Their humor carries them. Ireland is fueled on dreams, tragedy and peat fired hearths (peat smells like a cross between an electrical fire and how every fishing trip begins: digging for worms). They’ve spent lifetimes clawing at the soil that the English kings of old yanked from them, and when they couldn’t steal it away, they tried to starve them out. It’s an old land with regal peasants and a buoyancy that can’t be drowned. Try to keep me away. I’ll always go back. 

The Wild Atlantic Way

This majestic drive along the entire western coast of Ireland runs for 2,500 KM and varies from absolutely stunning to starkly violent. The sea is always trying to destroy and makes a dramatic showing of it. We couldn’t possibly have driven every bit of it so we didn’t even try but we covered a lot and we can always return. 

Twas an easy stroll home after a hard night at the pub

Those wee windy towns on the coast reward those passing through with unique pubs that feel as friendly as your grannies living room and look about the same.  

Met a Galway girl – but she was from The Ukraine:

"Trouble in transit. Got through the roadblock. We blended in with the crowd.

We got computers. We're tapping phone lines. I know that that ain't allowed" 

- Life During Wartime -

The Irish are so dedicated to drinking that they get panicked if their current beer drops below 50% and they order a second to wait on deck. I did some nervous drinking myself after listening to her stories. A night with Olena and perspective becomes a little more focused. Lordy - do we have it good.

Your 14 seconds of dead castle Irish zen

The Leak

Came home from the pub to find a fast-paced drip coming right out of the middle sunroof. Goddammit. I bragged about being leak free. Awoke the next morning ready to deal with the leak only to find out my leisure battery was dead. When it rains it pours. It was a busy day. I bought a new battery and installed it. Dumped the black water toilet (we have to do this every 3 days. The most disgusting thing you can imagine) found a place to park for the night with power. That's not easy now that most campgrounds closed November 1. Woke up at 6:30 to check the weather. Now’s my chance! I’ve got a dry break in the Irish wet. I suited up in my hostile weather suit and climbed up on the roof with my emergency "can be applied wet sealant". Got the job done and I'm now waiting for the rain. See.... Just like living on a boat! 

I need you to know #VanLife isn’t all sunsets on beaches with sand castles and pina coladas. The umbrellas aren't in our drinks. They are real and we need them over our heads

November In Ireland

I embrace science and I've run the experiments. Our duvet clad comforter begins to lose the fight for heat retention at 40° F. It's at this temperature value that the Seal Pup of Love moves from the column of thermal liability to thermal asset. Said differently, "the girl runs hot". In the summer months it's difficult to even hold hands because she suffers from a medical condition that's clinical referred to as "child paws", due to them being sticky hot and wet. We have to use the tropical grip in which only our pinkies are intertwined. Life comes with its own set of challenges when a woman is a smoking hot stack pack rated at 30,000 BTU. Croatia in June, and families mistakenly ask the waiter if they can be seated further from the kitchen, when in reality it's just the Cocoa Bear flaring like a super nova.... But lord does she shine in November in Ireland!

We completed our lap around Ireland and made landfall back in Scotland. It was a quick drive back to England.

The Lake District

“As leaves pour down, Splash autumn on gardens, As colder nights harden, Their moonlit delights” – The Lightning Seeds -

Beautiful, and approaching pristine in its cold fall colors, we drove the scenic roads and collected mud in the tread of our shoes while hiking the streams.


I came to see my old friend Fraser Mummery with whom I used to work at the “chippy” back in Edinburgh all those years ago. We stood next to each other for long hours in our white doctor smocks serving fried everything. The grease so thick it hung like a mist in the air. 

The 2nd reason I was there was for my yearly bloodwork and physical. I laughed out loud when reading the British recommendation regarding limiting your alcohol consumption to less than 14 units per week. That’s 2 drinks a day every day and that’s coming from the health officials. Cardiovascular diseases affect over 7 million people in the UK, and are responsible for more than 1 in 4 deaths. Makes you think twice about that deep fried Mars bar and the can of soda. 

Aleja asked, “why do you think they have so many defibrillators in the UK?” Obvious... 

Not a phone booth. Look closer


We met Max and Jolene when we swapped phones at a waterfall in Croatia to take pictures of each other. The typical, “Want me to take that so you can get in there with your family?” He returned the favor and a couple days later he saw the photo he had taken on Instagram. We’d been in touch ever since and met up in their hometown as we were coming south. It was a nice cultural experience to watch the US vs. England World Cup match in a small-town men’s club with fair drink prices and loads of friendly comradery. I’ve been an Anglophile for decades and would go to sea with the Brits any day. They are jovial, full of pluck, and mostly correct upstanding citizens. I will always have real estate in my heart for the English hamlets and her people. 

2 Cultures Separated by a Common Language

There are hundreds of English accents but they can all be broken down into 3 categories: 1.) Nothing but “Sss” (The King’s English. The only group on the planet who can whisper and mumble at the same time) 2.) The Cockneys (difficult to understand more than 3 out of 5 words. If bulldogs could speak) 3.) Then there are the Northerners. . . .

If you stuck a needle in my tongue and filled it with Novocaine I’d sound just like a Cockney (It’s like they have a dead fish in their mouth), but now let’s move north to Leeds - So much worse! Is it really an accent, or is it a cultivated speech impediment? If you are from Northern England, you are nearly unintelligible to begin with, but when you have a tongue piercing you just further handicap yourself to the point of being non-communicative. I love them, and it is true that they are friendlier than the Southerners, but come on Northerners – don’t pierce your tongues.

Let’s review - The English invented English, the Northerners have screwed it blue, and the Americans perfected it. German is the language of evil and no one contests that. Vietnamese is the ugliest language. It will make you stick an icepick in your own ear. Arabic makes you want to buy a sympathy lozenge for the sore throat of the speaker . . . . Are we clear?


We’re going to have to go back. Even though I saw lots of pretty countryside and enjoyed the few days we were there…I have nothing yet to contribute regarding a cultural epiphany. More research is warranted. 

Sick And Driving To The Ferry

Our time was winding down. We had the ferry to France booked and airline tickets home for Xmas. The drive from Aberystwyth to Dover was one of self-imposed isolation with lots of flu meds. It was an anticlimactic ending to a wonderful lap around the British Isles. I’m fortunate to have so many British friends and I’ll always return. Now here’s where I insult you all:

Here's the deal - buy a meal, park for free behind the pub. Pay a couple quid extra and
you can plug in for 240 volt and run your space heater. Take water if you need it, leave waste if you got it. Pub culture is even better in a Moho!

“Pop down to the shops”

Scanning the main street of any UK town you would have to believe that the economy runs on tanning salons, hair stylists and dog groomers. The latter are identical skills, just practiced upon different species. Add to that fish and chip shops and I think you’ve seen the cornerstone of the British economy. I’m sure the ruling class would chortle at my reductionist notation but I’m guessing the working class might be smiling. 

Enormous privately owned castle on the Scottish border. This thing is owned by one man

The English

I rubbed elbows with the ruling class but spent the majority of my time sharing meals, drinks and general conviviality with the working class. Their drinks and eye contact are stronger, and that’s appreciated. The other difference is the biodiversity. The ruling class traded in strong genes for hemophilia. That's what you get for 1000+ years of inbreeding. The caste system remains and I’ve chosen my side. Give me a commoner any day (minus the chav).

These people ruled the world for centuries and they still can't figure out that a single tap with a mixer valve is better than this. In what bizzarro alternate universe does this make sense? "Too Cold. Too Hot. Too Cold. Too Hot." - As you jerk your hands from one side to the other

Arnica – they don’t pronounce the “r” and they think it’s the cure for bruises and will get the job done in 72 hours. Hell – bruises fix themselves in 72 hours. It’s the English equivalent of Tiger Balm. I can’t believe they’ve been so duped.

The Brits love to put the four-letter word "slow" all over the roads. And when we first got here, I was constantly slamming the brakes, but gradually it became the little boy who cried wolf just ignore them. Now I don't even see them anymore. I must drive over 30 a day. They're trying to warn you when you go into a corner, I guess. But you know what works better than the single word “slow”? - A posted speed limit with a definitive number! Slow is meaningless. What I consider slow isn't what you consider slow. Give me a number please.

The Irish

If the Irish accent didn't exist, some YouTuber would invent it since it's so pleasing on the ear. That accent goes a long way in forgiving the eye sore of an Irish girl with her 2-millimeter-thick makeup that’s 50 % built-in bronzer. It’s as startling as the glued-on eyelashes they’ve special ordered from China. None are larger. I believe they do eyelid weight training to support them. Add to that... wearing shorts in Nov, and no one is better at looking like a cheap tart than an Irish girl in a dead-end town.

I fear someone has been molesting Molly Malone
The Scottish

I’m a huge fan and Edinburgh is my favorite British city. I lived there once and I hope to live there again someday. For that reason, I’m going to hold my tongue regarding their silly accent and life shortening cuisine. Damn. I guess that slipped out. Freedom!!!

Your man on point,

One more picture of Edinburgh
Bob Friedman - The Ugly American

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