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In quest of 'empty outside' tables and bicycle bells on the Blueway


The Blueway between Clonmel and Carrick-on-Suir has proven very popular for cyclists and pedestrians alike

After a week of outside dining, I can spot a free ‘outside table’ from a hundred yards away. Just like with the toilet roll, at the beginning of the pandemic, we have developed these unusual skills which are unique to pandemic living.
Meeting friends for coffee has been one of the blessings which followed the recent, limited reopening, of restaurants and hotels. Just to sit and catch up after the long lockdown – since Christmas – has gone far in boosting our morale. Arrangements are made and as we approach our rendezvous point, we hurriedly scan the horizon for free tables. If we see one, we rush towards it like a desert oasis half hoping that it is not a mirage. Up to now I’ve been lucky with my choices. I’m on an ‘outside coffee’ lucky streak.
At the time of writing, the sun is baking the town and county. Everyone is out walking, cycling, zooming along on those motorised scooters or running. I’ve taken to walking a bit of the Blueway every few days to get the old cholesterol down to an acceptable level. Our ancestors didn’t know what cholesterol was, so it didn’t bother them in anyway. We know so much these days, that everything is designed to put the fear of God into you. What does put the fear of God into me are the cyclists who cycle the Blueway, without bells. Some will at least give a little shout as they approach, others will silently arrive beside you without so much as whisper. The cyclists in question are in possession of bikes costing hundreds and hundreds of euros, gear that wouldn’t be out of place on the catwalks of Milan and they are draped with enough technology to assist in the launch of a space shuttle, yet, yet a simple bicycle bell costing around ten euros seems beyond their scope. The Blueway is used everyday by the elderly, people in wheelchairs, young children, and dog walkers. Just show some common courtesy and purchase a bell, even if it spoils the whole trendy cyclist look.
I had my first post lockdown haircut recently. As a child growing up in Clonmel a haircut was a simple, straightforward procedure, a trend which continued into my adult life and now as I approach my dotage things have become – like everything these days – complicated. Haircuts, it seems now fall under the banner of male body grooming – who knew. All, I required was a good thinning out all around, if the barber or should I say male body groomer happened to have a hedge sheers handy, they would receive no objection from me on that score. Nowadays, you must explain in intricate detail exactly what you want. It reminds me of listing off a recipe – if that makes sense. A close parallel is ordering coffee – don’t get me started. Anyhow, I managed to navigate my way through the male grooming experience, otherwise known as, having a haircut. I declined pleadings to make me look like, George Clooney or Tom Cruise, instead I went for the cheapest option – the Billy O’Riordan look.
My garden looks a little bedraggled after taking a battering during May and into early June. I along with many gardeners around the county are only now beginning to take on the job of cutting, edging and thinning. A garden is work, but the rewards are boundless in terms of the peace and tranquillity which your outside space no matter how large or small, will offer you. Now, I’ve often heard it said that the best thing to happen to gardening was cement paving. That approach is perhaps a bit extreme to say the least. Putting out a few newly filled pots, clipping a hedge or planting something offers the amateur gardener immense pleasure. A few plants here and there won’t cost the earth and they will give you a great lift when you glimpse the colours in the morning around your doorstep or patio.
In the meantime, I will continue my quest for empty “outside tables” in the restaurants around town. Along the Blueway, I’ll keep my eyes peeled for shiny new bicycle bells. Until next time.

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