The Atlantic is a bit choppy. Occasionally we encounter someone walking a dog. One woman’s dog is pretty small, and we’re a little worried about it being off leash. On the other hand, it seems like were it on the lead it would turn into a dog-kite.
Mutton Island is an off-shore sewage treatment plant. Apparently it’s considered a romantic place and people propose to one another here. Today, the water is constantly breaking over the path and road.
As we progress, the wind increases. We’re getting absolutely battered - it’s in our face, and with the longer, stronger gusts we can properly lean into it. These guys have some success kite surfing, though it looks like very hard work trying to control the thing.
Foolishly I’d put my hat back on, and the wind turned it into an eye-free balaclava repeatedly. The Velcro which is meant to keep my bag closed lost its hundredth battle of the day. I mean holy shit, it’s ludicrous.
Back up on the pavement, I’m successfully insisting that we press on. There’s one more thing I want to see, up in the distance, that’s legit tourism. Our faces continue to be battered with wind and occasionally seawater, to the point where licking my lips tastes salty.
We’re aiming for the Blackrock diving platform, a place where people go jump into the Atlantic, especially on New Year’s Day. I’ve seen a few photos, it looks quite cool, but no way will anyone be doing so today.
Oh yes they are.
Oh yes they are!
I forget how many we saw do it. Maybe 5? And all the others just went down the stairs into the sea for a swim. It looks like the most invigorating and exhilarating thing on earth and I am super jealous. Not that I’ve ever been a strong enough swimmer to cope with even being in water like this. Shit though, I am so fucking happy we’ve walked 8000 steps into constant 60mph headwinds to witness this madness.
Once it seems obvious that no-one else is going to dive, Helen shouts “RIGHT, THAT’S ENOUGH, I NEED A PINT”. I don’t object. Walking back towards Salthill is, obviously, a considerably faster affair. I reckon if I started a 5km from this point I would absolutely MURDER my personal best.
Anyway. Salthill. The actual amusement arcade we had walked past but which looked very shut, it was actually open from this angle - but screw it, I’ve less appetite for an out-of-season seafront fruit machine than I do for a pint of ale in a brewery. Hello, Oslo.
It’s a big place. At the front there’s loads of tables with families eating, then there’s the long bar, then out back is a huge hall with a giant TV showing live football (without the sound), a pool table, and loads of seating. Even further back is a covered smoking area with comfy seats, no-one else in it, and a door to a distillery. Brewery AND distillery? That’s very cool.
At rest, we can relax. Helen’s strawberry sour is reportedly delicious, though I fucking hated my sip. My pale ale is OK, nothing special. After we’re done with these we move back inside and sit near the pool table. I move onto a dark beer recommended by the staff, and then get some change for the pool table, €2 a pop. We play two games, and it finishes one-all; Helen wins the second game courtesy of me going in-off when potting the fucking black, bloody hell.
Originally our plan had been “be in Salthill for sunset”, but there’s actually no drinking venue with a suitable view. So instead, being about 5.30pm or so with sunset at 6.15pm, we figure we’ll walk back while it’s still light.
Helen starts with spring rolls, while I have this mushroom and cashew pate with extra mushrooms. It’s very nice, and doesn’t have a pate consistency at all.
Between this and the main comes a bread basket, and the bread is amazing.
For main we both opt for the chicken and ham croquettes. They’re a little dry, and I’ve made the mistake of pouring the nondescript sauce over the outside rather the contents. Also there are literally no vegetables apart from the mash. It’s nice, but could be nicer.
Dessert is a plate of random sweet things. Banana custard, some mini cake with seaweed and seaweed sauce, and ice cream in a red ... sugar thing. Plus some random tiny bits of fruit.