During our first week in Ireland, in September last year, we had been told Dublin gets long, sunny autumns, as recompense for summers seemingly skipped. And indeed: a protracted period of falling leaves and amber lit streets has lasted until, well, today. It seems Halloween has finally opened the door for winter to come in. On the streets, the smell of smoke from peat fire stoves pervades more than ever. We sit indoors as much as we can.
But because this weekend we have visitors from the Netherlands, we are forced to fight off the urge to huddle around the table for a game of ganzenbord or mens erger je niet. They can do that back home, where weather is worse, our visitors tell us. They want to experience the real Dublin, and they are not convinced by our argument it doesn’t get more local than a board game in a Portobello basement apartment.
And so we find ourselves cycling into Phoenix Park – where even Pat McQuaid’s bike rental is silent. We cycle up the deserted cycle path, soon turning left to wheel through the large green fields where on summer days we saw people play bicycle polo. The scattered showers have temporarily stopped, and the sun regains some of the strength it had lost. Past the Papal Cross, we stop, look back, and take these shots. We admit it: we’re happy our visitors persisted.