The Ireland Series: You’re Driving, Now What?

Today’s blog is going to be short, perhaps the shortest I’ve written. Mainly because it is an addendum to the last post about my foray on the roads of Ireland.

Therefore, I give you the top ten things to know about driving in Ireland (as an American):

10. Be brave. You can do it and it isn’t as difficult as your mind tells you. Yes, it’s driving on the other side of the street, but your brain is an amazing thing — It adjusts quickly. Keep the center line to the driver’s side and you’re golden. Oh, and check out what some of the more funky traffic signs might mean. It’s helpful.

9. Be patient with your terrified passengers. Some fear the bushes and small stone walls that whip alarmingly close to, and sometimes brush, their windows. They may emit a high-pitched squeak with unease. Some don’t trust a GPS and will bring a 15 year old map (I’m being kind) to challenge the authenticity of this “questionable” technology… despite newer roads having been built since the map was published (See Research Assistant #1). Again, be patient. Fun fact: Grasping the steering wheel in a death grip helps you bite your tongue.

8. Tourist buses are out to kill you. I mentioned this in my previous post, but it warrants a second warning. They aren’t messing around and you are a little bug they will squash from the side going 60 miles per hour.

7. I have it on good authority when said buses pass each other these severely narrow roads, they courteously slow their roll and all the inhabitants wave to one another mere inches from each other’s faces, separated by only 2 panes of glass, as they pass. I think it’s mutual appreciation that they have discovered they unexpectedly will live to see another day.

6. The rental cars are magic. When you stop, whether at a stop sign or yielding at a roundabout, the engine stops. Panic that you’ve stalled your car will leap into your chest. Fear not. Shift your foot to the gas petal, it will start back up on its own. No worries, you did not break your rental. They just like to give you the whole Harry Potter experience.

5. Car rental companies that tell you your flat is covered if you buy the extra insurance are lying. *cough* Sixt *cough* Don’t use them.

4. So many roundabouts! Roundabouts that lead into roundabouts that lead into more roundabouts. That’s “rotaries” for many of you here in the U.S.. And if you’re on your way to the Dublin airport, there are stop lights at the roundabouts. Figure that one out. Isn’t the purpose of roundabouts NOT to require stop lights?

3. There is such a thing as “Ireland time” and that force is strong in these ones. Don’t drive like a maniac and risk your life to be on time. They won’t. The good news is, no one cares. It’s refreshing once you get use to it.

2. You will drive past the happiest cows in the world enjoying the absolute best views. Seriously, all other cows would be jealous, or perhaps just pissed off, if they knew. These cows live on cliffs overlooking the Atlantic to the jealousy of all human tourists, hindered only by meager fences (no electricity involved). From what I saw, they have no intention of crossing these suggestions of obstruction. Although it does make me wonder if a cow has accidentally stepped off a cliff, something I never pondered before driving on the Wild Atlantic Way.

1. There is no better way to see Ireland than on your own, exploring little known roads that take your fancy, turning down seaside country lanes on a whim. I’m not one to keep a tight schedule when traveling, preferring to see what the universe puts in my path for me to discover. If you’re like me, or are not and wish to cultivate that side of yourself, Ireland is a safe place to do that. Let the roads lead you… Just make sure you’ve hired from an honest car rental company.

 

 

*Header image credit Nic Freeman

*Cows on Cliffs of Moher photo credit Andrea @ Irishlandscapes.ie

Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone!

I leave in two weeks on a research trip to Ireland. During the last six months — yes, SIX — since my last blog post, I have devoted all writing time to my novel, both writing scenes and researching newly significant moments in history my work-in-progress has led me to. No, I didn’t abandon you, dear readers. Sitting down to write a blog post, rather than giving my book the full attention it deserves would have been irresponsible with a research trip looming on the horizon. Every attempt at dividing my time also rose feelings of guilt, so I gave myself a hall pass and devoted my time where it was most needed.

I’ve reached a point, as of yesterday, in which I know I should postpone writing additional scenes of importance, structured within my outline, until I’ve gone to Belfast and County Clare and gathered the mandatory current and historical data necessary to move forward. You know what that means? I get to be with you!

Let’s talk about getting out of your comfort zone.

Part of a research trip is putting myself out there, in my case to strangers in another country — well, technically two countries, but let’s not get all political — in hopes that they will be willing to spend part of their valuable time helping me, a stranger to them. How can they determine my commitment to this project? I don’t have a string of novels behind my name, nor a huge online platform for them to check me out. I don’t tweet, post, or instagram as much someone who is developing their brand should. I’m not even sure I have a brand.

So, who am I, a fledgling writer, to email professionals in their field abroad and say “This is me, here’s what I’m doing. Can you please help?” Let me tell you, it’s scary as fuck.

But I do it anyway.

You may or may not be a writer, but we all have areas of our life in which you can either stick with what you have done, know, and feel comfortable with, or you can choose to reach out your hand and grab a new opportunity by your shaking, trepidatious fist. You may have begun to reach, thought twice, and either froze or retracted. Don’t.

When faced with that moment, a knot heavy in your stomach and fear niggling at your conscience, allow your spirit to tighten your gut, strengthen your perseverance, and push you out of your comfort zone. It will be frightening, but on the other side of that, overshadowing that feeling and coming before acceptance or refusal can dare attempt materialization, is sheer exhilaration.

Because you did it, and that is significant.

Freedom from the bonds of your own mental trappings sends energy through your body, and you may face rejection or failure, but you’ve done the deed and now live in new territory. There is no going back. Secure your footing atop this burgeoning podium and allow what you’ve put into action swirl around you, pieces falling into new places of opportunity that did not exist until you created it.

You are amazing, so, go do it!

 

 

Image by Francesco Gallarotti