When I left Merrion Square on the 12th July, I believed my volunteering adventure was finished for a little while, but I guess I was wrong!
This is a follow up to the blog I wrote about a month ago, you can read it here.
When I signed up to volunteer for the Laya Healthcare City Spectacular, I didn’t sign up for Cork as well, because I didn’t think I could afford it. But, on the day after the Dublin City Spec, I was emailed by Aoife and asked if I wanted to come on a tour of Dublin and the Guinness Storehouse, and also if I wanted to come to Cork for the next City Spectacular, with transport & accommodation provided by Laya.
I said yes straight away to the tour, but needed some time to decide about Cork. I honestly felt incredibly honoured, that I had made such a positive impact on Aoife, that she felt she needed me for Cork. 1 day later at the tour I told Aoife and the rest of the guys that I would be joining them to Cork.
On Thursday I find myself on a bus from Dublin to Cork, filled with the Street Performers, the Volunteers, and some of the organisers from Laya. It was definitely one of the most interesting road trips I have ever been a part of. 2 of the performers tried playing Ping Pong (or Table Tennis) across the bus, the balloon artists never stopped creating, and some weird photos were taken by the break dancers. Also, it was a goof opportunity to actually get to know the performers.
In Cork we arrived at our Accommodation in Victoria Lodge, checked in, found our rooms and dropped off our stuff. I found out that I would be sharing a 4 bed apartment with Sophie (a volunteer), Victor Rubilar soccer freestyler and Mikael the Robotman. We didn’t stay there for long, as Aoife was off to meet the Cork volunteers at a pub, and we tagged along.
It was a long walk to Sober Lane, and we even took a wrong turn, but we made it after about 40 mins. It was Fiesta night in the pub, so we all got sombreros, cheap Coronas and there was even a free candy floss machine (I don’t get it either). We ate, drank and were merry! That night I was introduced to Cards against Humanity, a very fun, but very adult card game, that I have played many times since! On the way home, we spotted a haunted (looking) house, found 40 euro on the street and used our sombreros as protection from the rain.
Friday was a bit of a lazy day, most of the volunteers ate breakfast together in Shane’s kitchen, I cooked up eggs, sausages & rashers for everyone and we all had a good chat. Later on, we decided to check out the park where the City Spec was gonna be taking place, it was lovely, but 1 third of the park was closed for construction. We wandered the park, took pictures, played with some dogs, and had a lovely spot of cake at the Cafe. That night we were given a budget of 35 euro from Laya, and were to feed ourselves with it. We ended up cooking 3 pizzas, 24 drumsticks and 2 large chicken & bacon casseroles that ended up feeding more than the dozen people they were supposed to! We had planned on watching a movie that night, but technical difficulties got in the way, so we just drank and chatted until around midnight and then we were off to bed , as we all had 2 long days ahead of us.
Myself & Sophie headed own early, as I knew things would be stressful for Aoife, and just sitting around is boring. That day, I was fairly busy, I helped putting up bunting around the Super Troopers area, made sure all of the different areas had enough water, as it got to be a very hot weekend, delivered floor mats to the Discover NI stand (and got some fairy wings, swords & foam fingers for my troubles), myself & Aoife did some litter picking to keep the place clean & nice for the festival goers. Later, we repeated the Sandwich fairies and delivered much needed joy & snacks to the volunteers around the festival.
We took some time to check out the the acts at the festival while we headed around with our sandwich deliveries. We checked out Mama Lou, Space Cowboy & Mario Queen of the Circus.
Later that day the park reached capacity and there were large queues of upset people waiting to get in to all of the fun. I was sent out by Aoife to explain the situation to people, keep them happy & calm, and to give them information & programmes about the festival so they could see the wait was worth it! It was a little stressful, but a good experience. I ended the day at the festival as they all seemed to end, wheeling great big rubbish bins out to the entrance, so they could be emptied before it started all over again on Sunday.
That night we were all invited to a party in the City Centre, but after the day we’d had, and the day we knew was ahead of us, we decided a quiet night back at the lodge was a better idea. So, on the way back we stopped in to Tesco, bought some goodies and settled into a viewing of Zoolander, by the time it was over most of us were falling asleep, so our beds beckoned!
The next day was a very nice day for the Laya Healthcare City Spectacular, after all it was a Sunday, and the weather was divine, no clouds, no wind and about 20 degrees, it was the perfect combination for a day at the park. The weather was so nice, I started a rolled up sleeves trend and I got a little sunburnt on my arms. I started the day how I finished the last, moving bins. Sunday was fairly hectic, I was literally going the whole day, but I still had a lot of fun working with Christina & Aoife at the volunteer tent as well as everyone else! I was so busy that day I barely even took any pics. We reached capacity even earlier on the Sunday, and I was put back on crowd duty. This time, we use the back gate as an exit only, so my role was to direct everyone to the entrance, and to keep people informed and calm, because there was a 2 hour wait at one stage.
The end of the second day was a little strange,as the whole experience had been such an amazing adventure, and it was all over, at least until next year 😉 We packed up the tents, put away the bins – again! and said goodbye to Fitzgerald park, but the day was not over, after all the working hard, we had to start to party hard!!!
We headed back to Sober Lane, which was jam packed, we had the wonderful experience of changing in the toilets, ’cause we headed straight from the festival, and it had been a long, hot, hard day. We had a few drinks, I got mine for free, because a guy’s name and a girl’s name is chosen everyday for a free pint, and the barmaid had a bad memory. After getting some food we moved on, we tried a nearby pub, but that was a bust, and we eventually ended up in Crane Lane. We danced to good music, partied with the street performers, had a few drinks and just unwound from the days behind us. An impromptu dance off erupted between a local and one of the breakdancers.
The last day in Cork was really subdued, everyone one was exhausted and a little hungover after the weekend and the previous night’s festivities, we all just got comfortable on the bus and let the countryside of Ireland fly past us, I watched some TV on my phone & reminisced on the adventures of the past 2 weeks. In Dublin, we all said goodbye, hugged and then myself & Laura went for some Burritos & Blues.
The adventure may be over, but the journey had just begun!