Gone fishin'. Well, the motoring equivalent anyway.
It's been pretty quiet here on the blog between one thing and another. One being Gombeen Nation's attempt to go all multimedia, the other being that we live in a mad country and maybe the easiest thing is to just accept it? Course of least resistance and all that? Or should that be "curse"?
One good thing I have always said about Dublin - perhaps the only thing - is that it is easy to get the hell out of the place. Aeons and aeons ago, I discovered that on my old Vespa PX scooter. Back in the 80s you might see maybe two or three cars all the way from the Pine Forest to Laragh. It's busier now, especially at the weekends, but during the week - especially outside summer - it is still pretty quiet. Much of the time you will have the road to yourself.
Back in the 80s, there was one bizarre occurrence when I saw a posse of Garda motorcyclists emerging out of the wilderness towards me. Motor insurance was incredibly expensive then, of course, and I'm not sure if mine was, erm, up-to-date at the time. (Let me point out that all this was 30 years ago, officer).
To put insurance costs for two-wheelers in 80s Ireland in perspective, consider the following. My scooter cost me about £700 (Punts). A year's insurance (third-party only) cost £503. I was on about £80 a week... before tax. A lot of young people took their chances.
Anyway, I got a bit of a fright to be honest, but thankfully they were more interested in trying to look like "CHiPS" to be bothered with a passing young mod on a scooter who was also trying to learn his trade.
Just a couple of short years after that, I headed off to London, got a job, and bought a brand-new Kawasaki GT 750. The insurance was £193 for third party fire-and-theft. And I was suddenly on £10,000. One thing I did miss, however, was being able to get away from it all - you nearly had to take the motorbike up to Scotland for that.
So, as I've said before, the Military Road is a great place for getting away from it even today. Its a good place to drive/motorcycle/cycle too, as you can see what is coming for miles on the undulating roads that wind like asphalt ribbons through the brooding hills. Poetic, eh? Or bullshitty - there's a subtle difference.
Getting away to the Wicklow hills is a great way of blowing the soot of the city from your soul. The only downside is the bumps, which seem to be more in number every visit. The road was, of course, constructed by the British military under the guidance of Charles Cornwallis between 1800-1809, atop blanket bog, so I suppose it is not the best environment for longevity.
According to Michael Fewer's "The Wicklow Military Road", the road was constructed by first excavating, then "laying down a bed of timber logs, on top of which layers of stones were compacted, and the surface finished in gravel". Fewer cites a local sheep farmer who saw the road opened up some years ago to a depth of 4 metres, and observed that its base was filled with tightly packed bundles of rushes. It seemed to work though.
You would think that if Cornwallis and Co. managed such a feat of engineering in the early 19th century, it wouldn't be beyond Wicklow County Council to fill in a few potholes. But...
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