This week, I’m on a business trip to Cork, Ireland and Bangalore India. I’ll be spending Easter weekend in London. When I planned this trip, I didn’t realize that it was occurring over Easter, and by the time I figured it out, I couldn’t change it because God knows when I’d get the chance before the summer to take care of this agenda.

Sometimes I feel like my calendar is a big practical joke. I was supposed to be traveling less now, but since the New Year, it’s been as much as ever.

That said, aside from being away from my wife and kids, which is becoming much harder and harder to take, I enjoy visiting these spots. Ireland is a beautiful country, and the people there are among the friendliest in the world. There’s something about the Irish accent that makes even bad news sound ok. They always sound so happy. Or maybe that’s just how I hear them.

It was a bit of an adventure upon arrival. I missed my connection because it was put into my Blackberry an hour later than it actually was (I guess a DST issue). So that meant I had to wait 2 more hours for the next flight to Cork. I didn’t sleep on the flight to Heathrow from London (big mistake). I normally take a sleeping pill, but by the time I had dinner, and finished reading, there was only about 4 hours left, and I thought taking a pill for that would not serve me well upon arrival.

Anyhow, I finally got to Cork, and then confronted my first new challenge of the trip. As in the United Kingdom, in the Republic of Ireland you “drive on the left, and sit on the right”. I’ve driven that way before in the UK, but never with a manual gearbox. Well, cool, I like to drive, and I love a manual gearbox, so it should be fun. Well, I thought it was fun until I saw that they gave me a mini-van (“people carrier” for the Brits). I really had no idea where I was going, but the signs for the motorways were pretty good. Roundabouts are trivial, and highly efficient. We need more of them in Canada.

But, upon entering downtown Cork, the signage disappeared. I broke stereotype and asked a nice local chap at a red light where my hotel was. He pointed at the building right across the street. “Bloody tourist” I’m sure he thought as I signaled for my left turn. Can you do a left turn on a red in Ireland? Well, I chose not to try lest I find myself in a Limerick prison.

After a few productive days in Cork, including some quality time with a great lad named Paul, I headed back to the country of my birth. The flight was an hour and a half delayed due to an “equipment problem” (airline speak for “something broke”). I landed, and rushed to get my rental car as I had several conference calls lined up in short order.

I got the car, and the nice lady at Avis happily gave me directions to my hotel. Sadly, they were COMPLETELY WRONG. Rush hour around Heathrow ain’t the place to be scrambling to find your way. I did 2 or 3 excellent laps around Terminal 1 (I think I did set a track record on lap 2), and then found myself on the M25 south seeing farms and cement factories. Clearly, not the directions I was looking for. I popped open my Blackberry and checked the emailed directions I received from my admin. Yup, totally wrong direction. So, off I went, back towards Heathrow, and then ultimately, after bobbing and weaving my way through roundabout traffic, found my hotel.

My calls are done, and I think some good things were taken care of today. My wife will be pleased with one aspect relating to the summer that I made progress on today.

BTW, I brought my MacBook with me, as I do now whenever I travel. I just love it. Between iChat and Skype, I can always see my family when I’m on the road. I got some virtual quality time with them tonight. I even watched my son as he played a game on the computer, completely engrossed in it and ignoring me! It’s technology like this that gives this industry it’s soul to me. I can’t hug my wife and kids, but I can see them, and their smiles, and that’s pretty damn fine.

Tomorrow is Good Friday. I’m not with my family, so all I’m looking to achieve is “OK Friday”. Traffic is supposed to be horrid, so I think I’ll leave the car and take the train into London. I may catch a show, or go to a museum, or just walk around. I really love London. It’s got such a rich history. And being born in England, I feel a strange attachment to this country, even though I haven’t been a resident in well over 30 years. On Saturday, I may venture out in the car and see some sites. On my list of potential vists are:

1) Hospital of my birth
2) House I lived in before moving to Canada
3) Top Gear Race Track
4) Silverstone Race Track
5) Brands Hatch Race Track
6) Williams F1 Team HQ
7) McLaren F1 Team HQ
8) Oxford University
9) Stonehenge

Dunno where I’ll go, but I’ll keep to the left when I do it.

mJm

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