Drivin' me bonkers
We have discovered exactly why the Irish are such bad drivers. The system of licensing is ridiculous. They can get their L plates by sitting a simple theory test. They do not need any formal lessons and after the first year they can drive with L plates unaccompanied by a licensed driver. Each year they can just keep renewing their L's without having to actually sit for a test. So potentially they can stay on their L plates their entire life without ever having a lesson or test. The testing procedure is just as ludicrous - it needs to be booked a full year in advance as there is such a shortage of qualified testing officers. A few years ago, there was such a backlog of people waiting for tests that the licensing authority decided to clear it up by sending out all the licenses in the mail - so potentially there are 1000's of Irish drivers on the roads with full licenses who have never even driven a car.
Quite apart from being the worst drivers, the Irish are also the worst parkers, or should I say the most inconsiderate parkers. They completely and utterly ignore the white line spacing and will happily take up two spaces through pure and utter laziness, even when they know that many cars are waiting to park. The one that really gets up my nose is the arrogant people who park in disabled zones when they have no right to. This is not just the Irish - this one is universal.
We left Fermoy a little later than expected and drove solidly for three hours through fairly heavy traffic and major road works to reach Dublin. Mandy, our Hospitality Club hostess, had given us very precise instructions but unfortunately as our petrol situation became dire, we had to pull off the motorway in search of a service station. We were running on fumes when we finally found one, filled up and then back tracked to the motorway. By the time we reached Mandy's I could barley move and was grateful for the proffered cup of tea and pain killers. Mandy is a delightful, typically generous Irish lady who worked as a librarian at Trinity University. We spent the next few hours chatting about favourite authors and books.
Later in the evening, Naomi rang to ask when we would be arriving back in Canterbury. I told her that our plan was to get the ferry on Monday morning, spend two days driving across England visiting Oxford and Windsor on the way, and arriving at her place sometime on Wednesday. She then informed me that she was leaving for Germany on Tuesday morning and would be gone for a full week (by which time we would be in New York) so if we wanted to see her again before another 10 years had passed, then we had to get to Canterbury by Monday evening. Apart from the uninviting prospect of driving straight through for 7-9 hours, the only other alternative would be to leave the car at Dublin and fly to Gatwick.