I'm in a little town in the west of Ireland called Clonakilty about to meet folk music legend Roy Harper. Fiona has been arranging several of his songs for a live gig at the Royal Festival Hall, but isn't in London for any of the rehearsals, so I'm stepping in as musical director. Roy lives in Ireland, so we've come over to go through some of the music and hang out with a legend! His previous musical collaborator of many years standing was the genius, David Bedford who sadly died last month. We have extraordinarily large shoes to fill.
The magnificent thing about this part of Ireland is that it has very few chains. I've not seen a Macdonald's since we arrived, or, for that matter, a Costa, a Subway or a Starbucks.
Unfortunately, it's bucketed it down from the moment we arrived sometime after shit o'clock this morning. We wanted to take a stroll around Cork this morning, but were repeatedly battered back into our hire car.
We had a lovely drive around the city, however, and were particularly intrigued by the rows of multi-coloured, single-storey terraced houses. Not even 2 up 2 down, just 2 down! Who on earth would have lived in them originally? In fact, who on earth would live there now?
We ate breakfast in a charming little cafe which had a sign on its door "welcoming our LGBT customers..." I rewarded her tolerant views by ordering almost everything on the menu!
We drove to The Old Head of Kinsale, which was the windiest, most rugged place in the world! Fiona's Texan husband had visited it whilst touring Ireland a few years ago, and suggested we take a look. At one point I was nearly blown off the edge of a cliff, but it was absolutely worth it for the view!
Weirdly, autumn is already over in this part of Ireland. The trees are all entirely bare, which feels very strange; a strangeness compounded by the fact that many of the coastal roads are lined with palm trees! I guess this part of the world is wet and windy, but never hugely cold.
As we travel around, we're having discussions about the places that this country reminds us of. Parts of it feel very Germanic, whilst other bits seem very British, specifically Welsh. But there is also something very other-worldly about the place, which we're both rather loving!
350 years ago, Pepys spent the day in the office. He heard the troubling news that his friend Sir Robert Slingsby was ill with "this new disease, an ague and fever." Worrying news.