Was knackered when I got back from dinner. It was about 11.30 pm. But of course, I couldn’t sleep. Finally, crashed out, only to wake up at 3 am and toss and turn unable to sleep.

At 5 am, woke up and Skyped with the kids. Was soo hungry that at 6.30 decided to wander around. Wondered if the English Market might be open and I could get something to eat. Unfortunately, it wasn’t and neither were the convenience stores or the McDonald’s I could stop. While wandering spotted this huge bird (a heron?) just standing about on the street. I clicked a photo and the butcher type loading his truck nearby laughed.

Waiting for the convenience store, I noticed an Internet cafe that was open and that might have food. I needed to print my itinerary and boarding pass, so I entered. Only after I had paid for the use of a computer (for an hour!) I realised that I couldn’t check in so early, and I probably should have just asked the conference organiser to help me print out my itinerary (later, I realised that I could have printed at the airport. It’s not like Bombay airport where they ask you for a printout to enter.) Instead, I chatted with MinCat which I could have done from my room only, wrote blog posts, and finally got a print-out on the best quality paper I’ve seen in a long time.

By then it was 8 am so headed back to the English market, where the bakery was just opening. Though the breads were still not on display, the friendly (this word is now becoming redundant in this country) girl at the counter moved things to show me what I could buy. I got one of the best chocolate croissants I’ve eaten in a long time and a croissant, which I wolfed down, and then washed down with tea when I got back to my room 15 minutes later.

Was knackered by then, but had to get ready for my presentation. Murphy’s law – the hot water in the shower wouldn’t come on (had just told the girls the day before how I appreciated the really hot shower) and I had to bathe gasping and jogging in the cubicle. Oh well, at least it warmed me up. I told the lady at the reception and she said I was the second person to bring it to her notice and she’d check.

Made it to the conference venue in good time. Well, I was the second person there and was beginning to think noone would show up after the festivities the night before. People had been drinking hard with dinner which I refrained from because my tummy was already not functioning well out of sleep deprivation and nerves. I had been pleased my talk was scheduled in the morning because more people tend to be awake then, but I realised first session in the morning of the second day might not be best time.

Funny thing about my presentation, the other girl who was supposed to be in my panel just didn’t show up. I had kept a lookout for her since the start and hadn’t met her, and then on the morning of the panel, I asked the organisers and one of them was sure she had met her, but basically, she didn’t show. That’s been one of my nightmares, the alarm going and hitting the snooze button and missing my own presentation. I also worried about her – what if she was lying in a ditch somewhere? Noone else seemed overly concerned though.

I didn’t get as many questions as I would have liked, though I did get one challenging my thesis, which I actually appreciated. I know I’m walking a fine line, so it’s helpful to get a sense of what people are thinking and to be forced to elaborate and justify. And the conversation after convinced me that one of the ideas I’ve been planning to go with is worthwhile.

By day 2, we had established our clique of sorts. I felt enough loyalty to the Japanese and Spanish girls to go to their presentation over the other one I really wanted to. I did not ask difficult question to Japanese girl during presentation, but after over drinks. I had mentioned my intense desire to go to Irish pub and we did. The pub (in blue), home to the charming bartender

It was such a cliche of the Irish pub.The bartender was drunk and chatty and flirty. He asked us where we were from, what we were doing, making jokes at the other guys around the bar. In the end, I chickened out of Guiness and plumbed for a whiskey. This got a whistle, but really Jameson’s is very smooth. It went down like mango juice. By now we were comfortable with each other, and I was with the four most down-to-earth of the group, so we just chatted up a mix of academia and nonsense. Then we went to gallery for official drinks and talked up a storm. I had to pull myself away and get home.

Stopped to buy a sandwich for dinner and croissants for breakfast and met the Spanish girl. We hugged goodbye and then after walking a bit there was panting behind me and the Scottish girl had caught up with me out of breath. I felt nice that she had hurried to catch up with me and say goodbye. We’ve all promised to stay in touch, and I’ve already on FB with one, but I don’t know how far it will go.Nice while it lasted I guess.

Slept well that night and woke up rested so I guess it really was the nerves. Or maybe I’m only entitled to sleep every alternate day. Had a leisurely breakfast of croissants and tea, bathed, packed, and pottered around delaying my inevitable departure. On checkout, the sweet lady was fascinated by what I informed her was my “wrap dress”. She insisted on me turning around so she could check the maker of the dress and read G200 as Gucci. I hastily informed her that she should be able to find this design anywhere. We said warm goodbyes and then I got cab to the train station. The cabbie was chatty and told me all about the Shandon bells which I did not visit. At the station, got another sandwich (I basically sandwiched myself the entire trip) and sat down to check in. Noticed professor types from conference and was tempted to be groupie-like and pay darshan but they were involved in conversation and I had nothing stellar to say so I went to the loo instead.

In the train, bag lady elderly lady with lots of bags got in and sat opposite me. She took out some bookmarks with a prayer on them and started telling the girl opposite me how she is selling them in aid of some blind children. It was all very vague. The girl gave her three euros and then she turned to me. “I rather not” I said weakly but she wouldn’t take no for an answer. Finally, gave her the money to shut her up. Which is what the other girl must have done too, only earlier. I figured that the Irish had been so damn nice to me, this was the toll I would have to pay, and all things considered it came cheap. That was the end of my Cork adventure. I wanted to nap on the train but of course didn’t. Instead I gazed out at the countryside, which this time around seemed prettier.