Halfway through our trip to Scotland, on June 11, the World Cup of Football (Soccer to us unenlightened folk) will kick off. I’m sure that we will be exposed to the mania that is Football in the UK, particularly since the England vs. USA match is on Saturday the 12th. We will be on the Isle Of Skye that night and if history tells us anything it’s that we may well end up watching on the telly with some locals. Could be interesting. The last time we were in the UK, Ireland in ’03, there was another World Championship that we got caught up in.

Snooker.

Our first night in country, in Galway, we stumbled into a mildly hip restaurant/bar for dinner.  We were jet-lagged, suffering from sensory overload and ready for a relaxing dinner/drink.  Our server (a nice girl from the States) seated us in the rear room which, due to the early hour, was mostly empty but for ourselves.  Facing us was a television tuned to a snooker match.  Now, we had no idea of the rules or what they were doing shooting pool with strangely colored (or coloured, as it were) balls, so we asked her if she could explain the rules. Being from the US she didn’t have a clue, but she called in the manager to help us out.  He was very kind and gave us a 20 minute class in Snooker 101. He also explained that there was an Irish man, Ken Doherty that had a good chance of going all the way.

For the rest of our trip, in B&B’s and bars across SW Ireland we watched snooker. We actually started appreciating the nuances of the game, although to even explain the rules of the game now, 7 years later, would involve a trip to Wikipedia. One night in Killarney we staggered into our room for a rest before going out, turned on the TV and started watching the final…a match between the Irish guy (who, in very exciting fashion had made it this far) and a guy from Wales (Mark Williams). We never did go out that night.  The match was fun, but Mr. Doherty came up short in the end and Wales took it.

Now, tracking the Snooker World Championship was the last thing we expected to be doing on our honeymoon. But, really, isn’t the unplanned what quality travel is all about? Turning right into the unknown and discovering a several thousand year old ruin. Taking a shortcut that, after 45 minutes, brings you out 2 miles from where you started. Stopping for a drink and ending up chatting with Fiddler & Doogie, 2 obviously ex-IRA types (you can’t make this stuff up). At least we think they were “ex”. You can’t, and shouldn’t, plan for this stuff. It just happens. And it’s the stuff you remember years later like it’s yesterday.

I wonder what we’ll remember from Scotland?

Adare, County Limerick, Ireland, 2003

BTW: The girl above was tormenting her older siblings & friends by randomly rolling the balls across the table when no one was looking. Kids are pretty much the same wherever you go.

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