Current Location: Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland
Most Replaced Item: Mike's towel - on his fourth: 1 smelly, 1 lost, 1 dish cloth proved too small.
Hardest Item to Replace: A new flouro pennant for the bike's flagpole.
Sometimes it's hard to beat a good generalisation and Judy came up with one the other day.
"There's something wistful about the Irish," she declared, her voice barely audible above the noise of the wind whistling round my ears as we sped along on the tandem.
I lost the next few words, then heard,"take that man back there, mowing the grass. His kids in Australia, showing no signs of coming home. He was wistful. And there are lots of other Irish like him."
"Are you sure it's wistful? What about sad, or just plain lonely?"
"No, no, it isn't sad," came back Judy's voice. We had slowed and I could hear her better.
"He was sort of accepting. He was definitely wistful.
I reflected on this and thought about the man with the mower. He had seen us coming, turned off his machine and waited on the verge making it perfectly clear he wanted a chat.
One son in Melbourne, a daughter in Brisbane. He probably thought we were flying an Ozzie flag, not a New Zealand one. Disappointed to discover we were kiwis.
"Nice cities - Brisbane and Melbourne," we told him in an effort to make him feel better. He shrugged, he knew that, he had visited both children recently.
This happened as we spent two and a half days cycling the Blackwater River, from its mouth on Ireland's southern coast near Cork to its upper reaches near Killarney.
It was a beautiful, peaceful ride and the weather was kind - or as kind as it gets in an Irish summer.
We had chosen this route after reading about it in the excellent guide book "Cycle Touring in Ireland" by Tom Cooper, who along with GPS George is our new best friend on this part of our travels.
Tom reckoned that the first day's ride was one of the best day rides in Ireland, and he really sold it to us when he referred to the route as "flat". So we cursed him when we discovered lots of twists and turns and uphill bits. We couldn't get up them in first gear - usually a sign that the slope is more than 10 degrees - and to make it even worse, a couple of the downhills were so steep we had to walk down them to avoid overheating the brakes.
That aside, it was all in a day's ride - tranquil surroundings with glimpses of the river, overgrown ruins and some fine, modern properties in the more open countryside.
On our second night we stayed at a B and B in Millstreet and Judy's generalisation about the wistful Irish looked questionable. Our hosts had two adult sons living in Australia, and they were both planning to come home to live permanently. Other young Irish were doing the same.
It was enough to send me off googling "Irish emigration". It took only a few moments to find a news story based on figures from the Central Statistics Office which said the Irish exodus declined for the first time in seven years last year (2014) - down 20%.
But in spite of that, far more Irish left than returned - 40,700 headed off abroad looking for better opportunities compared to just 11,600 who returned.
Nothing new in that, it had been happening for centuries.
Back on the bike, we neared the top of another climb and Judy had moved on.
"We have to stop," she announced. "I need a drink of water."
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