#83, Sandymount, Dublin
A walk along a coastal road is a serious challenge for anyone who wishes to do anything other than daydream. There's a reason Stephen Dedalus gets all "ineluctable modality of the visible" on our arse when he walks along Sandymount Strand in Ulysses. On a cold, sunny, windy day in January, I found myself walking through Irishtown and then continuing along until I found myself walking along the sea. It wasn't anything I planned. It just happened that way.
There are two choices you can take as you walk along the Beach Road as it winds its way into the Strand Road. You can amble close to the water or stick to side with the houses. I like to look at houses and numbers, but there's joy to be had to find yourself getting splashed by rogue tides in the middle of the winter. And so you walk with the sea to your left and the city at your back and the two towering Poolbeg chimneys behind you, wandering farther down the shore toward Booterstown and Sandycove, sea gulls crying overhead and the smell of salt in the air, the sun low in the sky and the long winter shadows lighting up the grass an unreal green.
The walkway along the water was sparsely populated. A cluster of well-heeled men and women draped in anti-recession black walked by with paper coffee cups on their lunch breaks. Women with ponytails and loping dogs passed the time. A few lone figures cut striking shadows as they gazed out pensively across the water. There was one man with white hair in dark suit and bowler hat who looked like a cross between Robyn Hitchcock and W.B. Yeats. You watched them all from a bench and looked out over the incoming tide, shivering in the wind and eating a buttery croissant you'd smuggled from the restaurant, trying to tell yourself this, against all evidence to the contrary, was some kind of summer and you had to make it last.