Jun 232011
Umbrella with raindrops

Image via Wikipedia

Summer in West Cork tends to follow a familiar pattern – occasional brief periods of glorious sunshine when you really wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world, but for the most part soggy, wet dull… and bloody cold!

There’s a song that could easily be the West Cork summer anthem. Its pretty much perpetually stuck in my head from the end of May until mid-September. As soon as the familiar scattered showers of spring elongate into the protracted solid periods of unrelenting rain that are the hallmark of a West Cork Summer, it’s there.

I guess I should at least be thankful that the song is bearable.

Here Comes The Rain Again by The Eurythmics–could this be the ideal West Cork summer anthem.

I LOVE living and working in West Cork… and feel very privileged to do so… but please, please, please can we have a little bit of sustained sunshine, and some slightly warmer evenings. Lighting the fire at the end of June because you’ve got frostbite in your extremities is frankly no fun at all!

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Sep 022009
birds of the night

Image by Adam Foster | Codefor via Flickr

Column for 26/08

It’s getting darker noticeably earlier in the evenings again.

This is proper dark — not the "light obscured by banks of horrible black cloud" that has been the hallmark of a summer that simply never happened. We had one week of nice weather towards the end of June, and then the heavens opened. I know Ireland’s famous for being green, but this summer has been ridiculous.

No wonder the travel agents are seeing a surge in business. It’s enough to make anyone want to hop on a plane.

But back to the darkness…. it’s getting properly dark much earlier. Yet another reminder that we’re running out of summer with just the occasional glimpse of sunshine.

Perched out beyond the western edge of the time zone we tend to enjoy a little bit more light than our neighbours to the east (when the clouds don’t obscure it, that is). In midsummer I can be outside at 11pm and there’s still a glow in the sky to the west. It’s not light, but it’s not quite dark either — more of an elongated twilight. But despite a daylight extension courtesy of our peripheral geography, the nights are definitely starting to draw in.

Like everything else that life throws up this presents yet another dilemma for parents. With the school term literally around the corner, do you start to re-establish school-time routine and get the kids to bed earlier, or do you let them stay up later to wring every ounce of potential out of the rapidly evaporating holidays?

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Sep 022009

Column from 19/08/09

An Cúinne Harbour, Sherkin Island

Image via Wikipedia

House martins whirl and swoop overhead, making the most of a brief spell of sunshine to feed themselves up before the long journey ahead. They’re gathering now in large numbers, preparing for a migration that will take them across Europe to sub-Saharan Africa for the winter. After the summer we’ve had I wish I could join them.

Soon the swallows will follow suit, the hedgehogs will intensify their hedgerow foraging before settling down to hibernate, squirrels will horde caches of food, blackberries will ripen…. It can all mean only one thing: summer is already drawing to a close.

But nature isn’t the only thing telling us that things are about to change. Parents the length and breadth of the nation will have noticed other signs. As the new school term approaches the kids start getting restless, realising that their long weeks of freedom are coming to an end. It affects parents too: conscious that there’s not much of the holidays left, we rush to cram in all the things we’ve been putting off over the summer break.

Last week, for example, we found ourselves on Sherkin Island putting up the tent in weather that was, let’s face it, marginal at best. It was certainly a far-cry from camping nirvana, but we’d promised the girls, and after letting much of the summer slip by waiting for a break in the weather we suddenly realised that time was running out. We panicked, packed and headed for Baltimore.

Sitting on the ferry watching tendrils of mist settling over Sherkin, I couldn’t help wondering what on earth we were playing at.

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Aug 112009

So there I was on a remote West Cork headland, chucking a line into the water on the off-chance of picking up a couple of passing mackerel. On the nearby pebbly beach the rest of the family were waiting eagerly for the barbecue to heat up.

View Great spots in West Cork in a larger map

Showing an insensitive, but I have to admit well founded lack of faith in my fishing prowess, our friends had brought along some fresh mackerel, just in case. We’d also packed a supply of emergency sausages, so we wouldn’t go hungry.

The fish weren’t biting, so I decided to switch the mackerel lures for a spinner and try my luck at that. As I turned I saw two people looking out to sea, obviously scouting the location for some reason.

One of them asked if I’d caught anything… which was fair enough. The other asked “Is your name Calvin?”

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