TRAVEL with pat and lew

dinner with Una

Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 2, 2007

One of the really great pleasures of our retirement travel plan, which we hope will continue to expand, is that we have made great new friendships in many wonderful places.

We bought our apartment in Collioure from Una (see finding our perfect apartment ), but it’s been a year since we’ve seen her. As soon as arrangements were set for our home exchange in Dublin, Pat corresponded with Una and she invited us to dinner.

Her friend Con will pick us up at 7:30. We decide to wait outside at 7:25, so he won’t have to find a parking spot, but he’s already there when we emerge, and we’re immediately immersed in his great Irish smile and manner.

I, of course, head for the front right door, the passenger door in the U.S., but the driver’s door throughout most of the present and former British empire. Everyone smiles, and I sheepishly retreat to the other side.

Una’s house is on the outskirts of Dublin, and what a magnificent property it is, the house set in the midst of lush quiet grounds. There’s a large kitchen, formal sitting rooms, and a delightful veranda, where we settle down to eat.

Una’s friend Mary, who was with her when we first met in Collioure, is here as well. The conversation is non-stop, intelligent, and full of laughter. Rosé, white and red wines complement rack of lamb, fruit, cheese, and salad. The evening is cool and the sky is filled with stars. Life is good.

Una is a great reader with an eclectic collection of books in her wood-paneled library. We’ve read many of the same authors. She invites me to choose a book to take with me, and I pick Enduring Love by Ian McEwan, a famous Irish author I have not read.

Coincidences. The following January, at the Key West Literary Seminar, I meet Mr. McEwan and tell him how riveted I was by the opening scenes of Enduring Love, which describe a horrible accident in a helium balloon.

Una tells me how much she enjoyed my novel, The Heretic, but how fearful she was, before she read it, that she wouldn’t like it, since she thought the DaVinci Code was awful.

“How did Dan Brown ever get published?” she asks.

I guess 40 million copies pretty much answers that question. Whatever its flaws, it tells a story that captivated the world. I should write such an awful novel.

A little more wine and a lot more glorious conversation, and Una calls a taxi for us. What a wonderful first 24 hours in Dublin. 

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