A visit down south to
the Republic of Ireland is no longer the big deal it used to be in the time of the Troubles-with the road blocks, frontier posts, army patrols slouching along the hedgerows rifles threatening the traffic and the military outposts all concrete, barbed wire and blackened one way glass in the pill boxes. Now it is almost impossible to tell where Norn Iron (Yu Kay) ends and the Republic begins. The road surface used to be a giveaway with the Republic side all worn and potholed; but now with the Celtic Tiger economy (and generous EU subsidies) the change to better surfaces occurs south of the Border down Dundalk way. You can only tell when you see the green phone boxes of the south, the road signs in Irish (and kilometres) and the Petrol stations with the euro prices showing that you can fill your tank at nearly half the UK cost. Of police and army checks, of pill boxes etc-not a trace and the old ‘unapproved’ roads crossing the border are all reopened and previously blocked or dynamited bridges back to their previous glory. And once you cross the border (marked today by the road sign which said '80 kph Limit' -going the other way it was a curt 60mph) you somehow seem to be in a more affluent region-better houses, nicer hotels, better cafes-how the old order changeth.
And the golf was good too if not quite up to the Royal County Down (PBUI) and the neo Fishes had no idea we had left Norn Iron so we had dry weather all day. Sorry Mr Deakin but you had sent such a foul morning to Newcastle we really had little choice.