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Gael force winds Prom date

Oof. My head. I felt moderately rotten on Saturday morning about 0630, though at least part of that could be blamed on how hot the hotel room is. Still, no parkrun, meaning I could happily get a bit more recreational sleep. I put on a podcast and failed to doze back off, so thought I know, I’ll watch some wrestling - which did the trick immediately.

Up at 1030, it’s pissing down and blowing a gale outside. There are sandbags against the walls and doors of the as-yet unopened businesses across the way. We shower, dress, I write half the blog, then we go downstairs for breakfast. Mercifully this doesn’t involve going outside. In the back of bar 1520 we grab an empty table - most of them are - and order one full Irish breakfast and one mini.

Good fucking lord! That’s my regular-size breakfast – I’d asked for no beans but an extra sausage, though I’m not sure where the beans would have fit anyway. I guess just all over the top. The mini breakfast isn’t very mini, and with a couple of cups of tea plus some cold drinks and, oh, just the 8(!) slices of toast, we completely run out of space on our table.

Every single item is utterly delicious. Even the butter with the bread is spectacularly nice. This might just be the greatest breakfast fry-up I’ve had in my entire life. Really fucking stuffed afterwards though. We pop outside so Helen can have a quick vape and we can gauge the weather: it’s stopped raining, and isn’t particularly cold. Back up at the room with an intention to finish writing up Friday, our room’s being cleaned so actually we just grab coats and go for a walk around town.

Also I buy a raspberry-flavoured Coke Zero, which is absolutely lovely, head and shoulders above the fucking awful cherry-with-chilli Diet Coke mistake I made in London a few days ago. Eurgh.

There are many, many, many pubs.

In our part of town, everything that isn’t a pub/restaurant is a sweater shop, pretty much. OK there’s a handful of other things - Guinness-based tourist tat, outdoor clothing, etc. We pop into a couple of places to look for a decent rain coat for me but I don’t like any of what we see. Furthermore, with the weather forecast as it is I’m campaigning for us to not spend any more time inside than is necessary. The sun’s about to come out, for, like, the only 4 hours of the weekend!

So, back to the room, to get my bag and USB brick and away we go. There’s a nice coastal walk from Galway to Salthill, a few km along the way. It’s called the Prom(enade) and at the other end there’s a brewery. It’s a bit breezy but let’s do this.

Crossing the road far quicker than on previous attempts, we wander up past the quay and, oops, this boat is pretty badly sunk. D’oh. There are warnings about water, and how not to kill swans.

A couple of times already we’d seen the Galway Tourist Train, which looks excellent but a waste of time when it’s not raining. It goes past us just as we’re about to head away from the road and along the coastal track by South Park.

The wind gets windier. We don’t quite have to shout to talk to each other, but my woolly hat is too loose to stay on. My hood fares a bit better, but not much.

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.

As we approach what seems to be Salthill, there’s a “you are here” sign that outright lies about where we are. It does show a place called “Leisureland” which I hope will be a seaside arcade with coin-push machines and the like; when we eventually reach it I’m disappointed that it’s a swimming pool and fitness centre. Bah.

Past the aquarium, past the brewery, we’re pushing on. There’s a car park because here seems to be the start of a more popular prom stretch. It’s comedically windy, continually worse and worse. There’s some shelter ahead of us and we go down the steps and cut inside for a 5 minute break to get our breath and for Helen to vape.

On the outside, from where that photo is being taken, I’m being sand blasted. It’s painful and hilarious.

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.

Except, of course... as we approach, we both think we can see a couple of people in the sea. Surely there aren’t people in the sea? There are, there are people in the sea. Well I guess the locals are pretty hardy.

As we get close enough to take a better photo, we go through the entrance into the little building and ... there are, like, 15-20 people getting changed into their swimming gear. Aged from 20s to 60s, male and female. Surely fucking not, not on a day like this?

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.

It is very nice, but facing this direction is still an exercise in being blasted with sand and salt water.

We opt not to take the same route home as out, instead taking the much more direct route avoiding the coast. With the wind at our backs we’re in Galway within about 15-20 minutes or something daft. En route we’re wondering about where to go and eat, since we’ve finally burnt off that amazing breakfast. Helen had identified a decent French place so we wander up to near Eyre Square and Petits Pois. Inspecting the menu, neither of us can spot anything on the mains menu that actually appeals, and it’s all ridiculously expensive.

So, back through the city centre, a handful of streets we’d yet to see, still nowhere leaps out. Through a couple of backstreets and across the river to the west end, we walk down a road we’d scoped out on Friday. A place called Tartare seems like a good choice, but inside they’ve no seats that we’re willing to take (we don’t want to eat perched on perilous high stools without backs, at a small round table). In the 30 seconds or so we spent in Tartare the weather turns into an absolutely torrential downpour so fuck it, we dive into Dela opposite and they can seat us.

Best of all, it’s about 6.45pm and they have an early bird three course deal for €25 if you order before 7pm. The staff are all friendly and we make our choices.

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.

When the bill comes we’ve been double charged for our second beer and glass of wine, but it’s no bother to point it out and get it recalculated.

I’ve been telling people for a while now that I’m a better day drinker than evening drinker these days, so it’s without much shame that at about 8pm we opt for an off-licence rather than loud and busy bar to finish the night. We do go past the Salt House again, just in case it’s not rammed, but it is. The off licence has 10-12 customers in it, none of whom seem to be of drinking age. Everyone is buying a 4-pack of lager, some chewing gum, and optionally some Monster. Where’s the party at, I wonder?

We’re getting a bottle of Prosecco. For some reason it’s on offer in both corked and screw top form. Naturally we go for the latter, and feel great about being given in wrapped in brown paper.

Leaving the shop, we discover exactly where the party’s at: it’s on the street corner just up the way.

When we’d briefly stopped off earlier prior to checking out Petits Pois, I’d put the TV on and caught a little bit of Celebrity Impossible, with Dr Christian wiping the floor with someone off Corrie and a bloke I’d never heard of and don’t recognise. This time, TV wants me to watch Celebrity Chase. Having watched Celebrity Catchphrase the night before I’m wondering why Irish TV is so big on celebrity variants of quiz shows.

Anyway, I’m told I’m not allowed to watch it. So I neck that cheap screw top Prosecco while finishing up the previous entry about our Friday, and then read entertaining conspiracy theories about a bitcoin exchange owner’s possibly fake death.

Created By
Darren Foreman
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