SWB embarks on a road trip


“Right, come here til you see this.” LSB has been Googling away to himself, and for once he’s not looking at expensive running watches. We’re drowning in Garmins here. “There’s a yoga retreat in Carlingford this weekend, and I think you should go.” Usually, when there’s any mention of Carlingford, I’m thinking of Ghan House and gourmet meals and wine aplenty. I’m not contemplating abstinence and downward dogs. But a bit of time away and enlightenment sounds good, maybe even essential.  I’ve been a bit glum since coming back from the holiday, consumed with apocalyptic dread. Now listen, I know. Let’s get someone from Barbuda on the line and they’ll have something to say about me feeling morose. “You’re feeling low you say? YOU’RE FEELING LOW? We’ve no fecking island left! Not a pot to piss in! So tell me again what your first world problem is?”


That’s the thing though about a dose of the blues; you feel shite for feeling shite, hence it’s a vicious circle. I’ve woken up every morning feeling like someone has put a brick on my chest. It’s been hard to shift. I’ve cut the booze consumption and been running and yoga-ing and attending some arty events. This has gone some way in taking me out of the mire that is my state of mind right now. I have many wonderful friends who thole my neuroses and tolerate my company. My brother has just returned from a long sojourn in Taiwan and the children are happy and excited to see him. The world just seems such a sad and dangerous place that I can’t help but be edgy and neurotic. I know how senseless it is to waste time worrying about things beyond my control, but my mood is bleak and I’m much sourer than usual. No wonder LSB Is looking rid of me…


I booked a place on the course and off I set. It was a lovely trip, listening to Radio Four on quiet roads until I reached Newry where there was a 4 mile tail back. I ended up taking to the back roads. The narrow lanes were clogged with lorries far too big for them. They were a metaphor for my head. My poor overworked neurons knew how those country roads felt. There was reversing and stalling and improbable maneuvering.


When I finally reached Newry every road in and out was so snarled and congested I started wondering if I’d missed something. Had Hurricane Irma re-directed here and was everyone legging it? And if so WHY HAD NO ONE TOLD ME? I breathed deeply. Nearly there now…


In another act of gross stupidity I neglected to print the exact address so I ended up harassing the owner of the petrol station in Omeath. He was lovely. He drew me a map and when he noticed my inability to tell left from right he said, “Look at your watch, that’ll help you. No, the other hand. That’s your LEFT hand.” He and three men discussed the location “It’s huge, you can’t fucking miss it….oh, sorry love,” (they must have thought I looked posh, or easily offended). They gathered outside to watch me leave and ensure I took the correct road. I feared they might ring some Belfast institutions to see if they were missing any inmates. I reached the top of the mountain and I still could n’t see where I was supposed to be, so I stopped and looked imploringly at a sheep farmer going about his business. His herd eyed me quizzically. “I’m a bit stressed,” I explained, unnecessarily, since I looked a frazzled mess. “And lost too.” “It’s grand” he said. “You’re on the right road, you just need to back up a bit and stop when you see the electric gate.” The penny dropped, I knew exactly where to go, I’d just zoomed past it the first time round. The farmer was still shaking his head and saying “The stress, the stress, it’ll kill us all, I’m telling you” when I drove off. I managed to calm myself down and found Eagle’s Rock Retreat within 3 minutes. Boy, was I ready for some yoga.


If you’re thinking of getting lost, I recommend Omeath; they’re a great bunch of lads.

(More on the retreat itself to follow).

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