Tall Ships Festival 2011 in Waterford, part 2

July 1, 2011

Yesterday I wondered if the spirit of discovery I felt on day one of the
Tall Ships Festival might be just a product of the excitement of a much-anticipated event finally getting under way. Now as day two draws to a close, I’m delighted to report that the spirit is still very much alive and well.

Here are the ways the Tall Ships Festival took me out of the ordinary today:

– Cycling into town dressed as a pirate first thing in the morning – definitely a first (and possibly a last).

– Strolling up the middle of the Quay mid-morning with hundreds of other “pirates”. We were supposed to be marauding, though I’m not sure we did a great job – do pirates normally chat, bask in the sunshine and carry small children on their shoulders as they maraud?

– Realising that men in their fifties and sixties have a hugely unfair advantage in the piracy imitation game – stick a bandana, an eyepatch and a billowy white shirt on them and they look so much the part, they blow everyone else out of the water (sorry, couldn’t resist…).

– Leaving a city-centre cafe without ordering when the daughter and I noticed to our total shock that the prices on the “Tall Ships Special” menu were double the normal prices. We were shocked, A – because of the bare-faced cheek of it, and B – because the city authorities had specifically requested local businesses not to put up their prices during the Festival (and most have taken heed).

– Sitting at one of the rows of trestle tables on the Quay, admiring the TS Royalist docked alongside, helping the daughter handle her foot-long hot dog while I tucked into Thai noodles, chatting to friends and neighbours passing by.

Now, like yesterday evening, the sounds of the Tall Ships Festival are resounding out across the City – tonight it’s fireworks, their banging and whizzing oddly dulled at this distance. These evening sounds are wonderful, reminding those of us tucked up at home on the outskirts of the City that the Festival is in full swing.

Now to get some sleep for (hopefully) more marauding tomorrow.


On snow, slush and socks

January 11, 2010

The year got off to a good start for curmudgeons in this part of the world, with snow and sub-zero temperatures keeping people housebound for weeks after Christmas. Today, despite a slight thaw, the omnipresent slush is ensuring that we still have plenty to grumble about.
Now for the Top Five bizarre sights of Ireland’s recent bad weather (in no particular order):
1. People shuffling along ice-bound footpaths wearing thick socks over their shoes. This shows a suspicious level of practicality and good sense by the Irish public. Sure enough, it emerged that this “snow tip” was communicated to Irish national radio by a German (who, along with the rest of his compatriots, is probably tickled pink by the chaos caused in this country by a few inches of snow).
2. People out on the footpaths at all. Ireland is a nation of car-lovers, which, coupled with disastrous public transport, makes driving something of a national pastime. Now that the ice on the roads has forced many to re-think the two-minute drive to the newsagent’s, we are seeing more of that rare breed: pedestrians!
3. Snow. The last time that Irish children were able to make snowmen and have proper snowball fights was a generation ago.
4. Dali-esque snow figures. Today’s thaw has seen snowmen and -women shed various limbs, or heads. Some of the less robust ones have imploded altogether, creating disturbing post-apocalyptic images in front gardens and public parks.
5. Drivers, obviously rendered giddy by the slight rise in temperatures, reverting to their normal driving habits – overtaking, speeding, not watching the road – despite repeated warnings in the media that slush is more hazardous than snow.