So, lets start with the JOY.

Irish people sure know how to have fun................and some of them have a "smidgen" too much! We experienced joy in many places, some expected (particularly when we were with Michael and Craig), some unexpected, and I think I'll start with this. We arrived in Clifden after a very long day and checked into the wonderful B & B we had booked. We were greeted by Julia and Paddy (picture attached), a lovely couple for whom nothing was too much trouble. Their place is an eccentric blend of lovely furnishings and antiques mixed with goat horns, stuffed fish, animal skins and old paintings. They put on a marvellous breakfast and the day we were leaving (because we needed to leave very early), Paddy even put together a breakfast pack for us to have in our room! A most homely, comfortable and welcoming place to stay, right on the water.........we were sorry we couldn't hang around longer, but will certainly return at some time in the future! Anyhow, we arrived tired and thirsty and headed into town.
It was "roastin" as the Irish would say (which means it was about 20 degrees C) and so we grabbed a wine and sat outside the pub in the main square in the town, enjoying the sun (and very soon the floor show). I predicate what I'm about to say by reminding you that in Irish terms it had been a hot day, which meant that most people in town had endured a terrible thirst though out the day and so as soon as they landed at the pub they got "stuck into it", so to speak. So Phil and I were sitting at our table and a man dressed like Elvis in black leather pants, black shirt and black leather jacket with a black afro walked up to us constantly mumbling the "F" word (and I don't mean FUDGE or FRICK or even FESTOON). Phil immediately christened him "Black Elvis", because he was perfectly decked out as 1967 thin, black leathers, acoustic Elvis (as opposed to the 1970's fat, white bejewelled jumpsuited, Las Vegas Elvis). "Black Elvis walked right up to us and just stood and stared for a minute (long enough to make us feel really awkward) and then he wandered off and sat down on a bench by the road.
Before we could say a word, an old fella wandered over in suit pants and a jacket, scarf and hat. He'd obviously had a huge thirst and had been at quenching it most of the day, and still wasn't there as he had a full pint of Guinness in his hand, well it was full when he walked out of the pub, but by the time he'd sat down half of it was running down the back of a young guy who'd just got back from the surf with his mates and was hoeing into a big plate of snags and mash. The water must have been really cold as he didn't seem to notice the half a pint that had just been spilt on him, in fact he didn't seem to draw breath until the old fella sat at the next table and tried to engage him in a conversation. Now I don't blame the young surfer, because the old fella wasn't making much sense and I don't know if that's because he was speaking Irish or as a consequence of his terrible thirst or because he had very few teeth, but the young guy just looked at him and nodded and went back to his sausages.

Next thing the old fella started to talk to what I can only describe as an "invisible dog". He talked to it, he patted it and when he stood up to go and get a refill, he pulled on it's lead and took it with him. Now I've watched "Darby O'Gill and the Little People" a million times so I know the sport that the faerie folk can have with people (especially those who have had a few "sherbets"), but the invisible dog had drawn the attention of "Black Elvis" and now he was struggling up from the bench he was sitting on and staggering towards the old fella with the invisible dog. "This could be ugly" I thought.

While all of this was going on, four middle aged guys who had just knocked off work came and sat at the table next to us. They were a jolly lot! From the time they sat down they were talking and laughing and telling jokes. They were on their second round of drinks when one of them said to his extremely fair skinned, balding, red haired mate something about the fact that he was becoming progressively redder and if he wasn't careful he'd end up looking like a "suckling pig" to which they all laughed heartily and one of the four threw "Blue" a tube of sunscreen. As he went to put some on his hand, the 'stirrer' to his right gave the tube a good squeeze and half the tube of sunscreen ended up in "Blue's" hand to which they all roared laughing (including "Blue"). Not at all daunted Blue proceeded to rub his hands together and then smear about 100 mls of zinc consistency sunscreeen all over his face and head, to which they all roared laughing, including Blue who couldn't open his eyes as they were covered in sunscreen. At the same time, "Invisible dog" man had returned to his seat and was trying to light a cigarette which was shaped like an "s" bend (not from design), but quickly one of the surfers came to his rescue, lighting one of his own ciggies and handing it to him saying something in German, to which "Invisible dog" man answered in a language I still didn't understand.

Before I could look across and check on "Blue's" progress rubbing in the truckload of sunscreen (though he was obviously still persisting in trying to rub it into his pink, crispy skin as his mates were still throwing one-liners at him to which they all roared laughing, including "Blue"), Phil said, "Oh God, there's an accident waiting to happen, look at "Billy Connolly over there". I turned and followed his gaze to see a man (who looked very like Billy, but couldn't have been cause we'd seen him the day before fly fishing at Ashford Castle, or so I thought) staggering along the side of the road, one step forward, three steps back. He had obviously had a ferocious thirst as well and had done his level best to quench it, for most of the day. I got myself ready to fly off my chair if need be (the burden of being a nurse), when Billy performed a Monty Pythonesque "silly walk" and u-turned on the spot and fell against a statue of a local identity (who I'm sure wouldn't have expected his bronze effigy would be holding up a Scottish comedian look-a-like 150 years on). "Phew" Billy was safe for the time being!

Next thing I know "Blue" looks straight at me and says "Have I rubbed it all in darlin?", to which the gang all roars laughing. "Yep", I said, "It's all rubbed in, now you're all shiny". To which they all roar laughing. Invisible Dog man mumbled something to his invisible dog, patted it on the head and tried to light another cigarette. Black Elvis walked past the jolly men and said the "F" word to them five times in a row, to which they all roared laughing. I looked over towards Billy to make sure he hadn't moved, but he was gone. "Where's Billy gone?" I asked Phil. "I don't know, I didn't see him move, maybe he's gone back to Ashford Castle to do some more fishing!" and we both roared laughing!

Phil and I finished our drinks (this was our first and only drink we had there I must say, so all of the above happened in the time it took us to drink a glass of wine each). We deciding we'd had far too much excitement for one day and went to head off down the street for dinner when Blue yelled out to me, "You're beautiful darlin, beautiful! You don't deserve her" he said to Phil, and I roared laughing.

Now you may think I made this all up and that's fine, but I edited this episode, because I didn't include our encounter with skinny Dawn French, the exit of "Black Elvis", the departure of the German surfers or the return of "Billy". I will say we had a lovely dinner and were thankful on behalf of all of the characters we met at the pub that the next day was cold and rained long and hard so they all had a chance to recover from the "roastin" of the day before.

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