20 April 2010

Eyjafjallajökull: How's that for a post title?

It looked like a good start to the weekend. Well at least it was from where I was looking on Friday. My job required that I attended a conference over in Killenard in Co. Laois. I had been here before in the past two years and everything was pretty much as expected. Other than the Seve Ballesteros-designed golf course (Seve who?), I don’t think the place offered much else outside of the hotel.

I skipped dinner at the place and grabbed a lift off a colleague back to the Big Smoke. My birthday was on the following day so there was no chance I was going to miss celebrating my birthday with the family. Not for a game of golf anyway.

It was about an hour and a half drive from Killenard to Dublin. Not surprisingly, one of the the topics up for discussion was all the havoc caused by Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull. Volcanic ash was blamed for everything from the slight tinge in the otherwise cloudless blue sky we enjoyed on the day to cancelled holidays to increased food prices if the no-fly zone lasts any longer (seemingly 2% of the country’s imports were by air).

Anyway, the volcanic eruption remained a distant threat to me. As much as I was afraid of volcanoes, pyroclastic clouds and molten lava, the volcano in question here was actually a good 1,000 miles or so away from where I was. Other than the odd cancelled meeting and the numerous complaints from friends who had their holidays cancelled, Eyjafjallajökull was basically, out of sight, out of mind.

Until later in the day on Friday, that is. I was driving to a friend’s house on Friday evening when I couldn’t help but notice a strange cloud formation on the horizon. I mentioned this to my wife and then together, we realised that it actually wasn’t some weird cloud formation. For some reason, what we were seeing in front of us was the tall plume of smoke coming from that infamous volcano. It was like the nuclear/atomic mushroom clouds we’d be used to seeing on TV, only much more menacing . The reddish sky highlighted this even more.

The picture here was taken on my mobile so, it’s not actually the greatest. It does, however give an idea of what we saw that evening. Suddenly, 1,000 miles didn’t seem that far!

Volcanic ash and eruptions aside, I still did have a very nice and low-key birthday, thanks to the wife and kids. The home-baked cake was out of this world!

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