The Velocast

The Velocast is a podcast about the world of professional cycling.

The show is hosted by John Galloway and Scott O’Raw with regular contributions from Cillian Kelly. It is a generally fairly lighthearted look at the world of procycling, the hosts are jovial and humorous for the most part although they manage to consistently strike the right sombre serious note when required.

All three men are united by a genuine burning passion for the sport and this shines through in the work. They attempt and succeed in bringing their passion through a polished and well run podcast. There are lots of podcasts out there where the host is knowledgable and passionate but the production values are so poor that it makes it intolerable to listen to. Not so with the Velocast.

I have been listening since before they made a decision to go from a free to air show to a subscription feed. It’s now what both John and Scott do full-time and this shows through in the quality of the product we get.

The regular features of the show are the weekly show, all year round which is a summary and discussion of the previous weeks events. During the grand tours there are daily shows discussing the days racing and previewing the following days race. There is also a preview and a wrap up show for each of the grand tours. In addition there are extremely in-depth previews and reviews of each of the monuments. John and Scott will tell you that their best work is the daily shows but I dare to disagree and I believe their best work is done in the spring around the cobbled classics and I think that’s because of John’s love of Paris-Roubaix. I am probably biased because it is far and away my favourite race of the year and I find myself in early January wondering if I can get a weather forecast for northern France in April.

The third musketeer is Cillian Kelly who is a follower of cycling and writes periodically for a variety of online publications as well as his own blog and more recently featuring on GCN no less. Cillian is the main provider of content for “This week in cycling history” which is a look back and a chat about two or three events in cycling history, often contrasted against events in the current peloton. Generally John acts as the foil for this podcast with much of the discussion over to Cillian who seems to carry around with him a fat suitcase full of fascinating facts and obscure details that he manages to breathe life into. His interest in the history of the sport is infectious. Any cyclist who scratches the surface of the sport generally gets interested in the history and will know the tales about the 400 kilometer stages in the early Tours de France and mending forks with bellows in the local blacksmiths. Cillian takes this discussion to another level bringing up things that you might vaguely be aware of but putting such context and detail around them that you are given a whole new view of whatever the event is. The research he does is superb and he genuinely puts real effort into ensuring what he is presenting is both accurate and interesting.

If the above wasn’t enough there are sporadic book shows, which take the format of an interview between Cillian and the author of the book. These are a good guide to a book and more importantly a good reference point for what you might want your better half to give you for Christmas/Birthday/whatever. Cillian has a knack for getting into the writing process with the author to understand what drove the author to write the book and what the process was for actually producing the book which leads to interesting conversations about people met and interviewed, obstacles overcome and a nice insight into what its like to write for a living and then within that to write for a niche like cycling aficionados.

When things go calm in the winter the lads bring in special guests to cover cycle cross as well as discussing the various rider moves and the machinations at the UCI as the politics takes over for the winter. If I was to make a minor criticism it would be that the shows in the winter understandably change in their content and nature. Its hard, what are you going to talk about on a cycling podcast when there’s no cycling happening. Don’t get me wrong, the shows are still good and will keep you up to date with whatever is going on, but obviously there’s no racing to dissect to the content will invariably be different.

Both John and Scott are extremely helpful if there are any issues. Twice in the course of the many years I have been listening I have had to email them to sort out an issue with my feed (both times my fault) and they were extremly supportive and quick to respond. They genuinely value their customers (not in a corporate Vodafone bullcrap kind of way) and are keen to assist subscribers who migth be having an issue with a feed or a technical issue of somekind.

The Velocast represents great value at around £60 for the year if you buy the early bird or there is a pay monthly option which will be a little more expensive. At just over £1 a week though, for frankly more content that you can listen to in peak season, all of it high quality, you really can’t argue that its anything but extraordinary value for money. I can’t think of any means of entertaining yourself for so little on a cost-per-hour basis.

Ed Rating: 9/10

Regular readers will know that nothing gets 10/10 because nothings perfect, so 9/10 is as good as it gets. The Velocast is an excellent addition to your life if you have even a passing interest in procycling. If you’re just getting into it, it will bring on your knowledge leaps and bounds. If you’re a long-term follower of cycling it will bring in-depth quality analysis and knowledge that you won’t get elsewhere and will bring you new perpectives on the sport that it is so complex, it surprises you every time you think you have just started to get your arms around it.

Spiderman

Spiderman is a video game on the Sony Playstation 4.

In the game you control your friendly neighbourhood Spiderman as you swing round the streets of Manhattan fighting crime and evil doers of all shapes and sizes.

The storyline is what you might expect for games of this nature, fighting a series of progressively harder bosses which are mostly back loaded towards the end of the game before a final showdown with the main boss. Its a superhero game so the plotline is going to be predictable, but it doesn’t detract from the enjoyment.

Spiderman is an immensely fun game to play. Its hard for me to express just how much fun it is simply to swing from building to building. You can easily pass an hour or more doing not very much other than swinging around the beautifully rendered Manhattan Skyline. If you pause to admire the view you will appreciate the immense detail that has been put in. See screenshot above, featuring the Statue of Liberty in the distance.

The main story line is linear but there are enough side missions to keep you entertained for hours, and they are interesting enough and engrossing enough to hold your attention so you actually do them all unlike some other games I could mention *cough*Assasins Creed*cough*.

The controls are easy and intuitive and swinging from street to street is very natural. The combat is not overly complex but it is a step above button bashing. You can mash the square button at the start of the game and it will get you along but as the fights get more complex and the enemies better and more numerous you will need to improve your skills to survive.

At various points you will play as other characters and while the MJ character is worthwhile and I can see the point to her in the context of the story. The mission in Grand Central Station where Spiderman and MJ act as a tag team was a particularly memorable fun use of a playable side character.  In juxtaposition to this, the Miles character feels like he’s there for no reason other than to be setup for a key role in the next game, and his playable missions seem a bit extraneous to the whole thing.

If I was to make a minor criticism I would say that some of the cut scenes are too long and don’t really add anything. The only other critique I would have is that the world is quite small. You’re limited to the island of Manhattan. Its packed full of detail and it makes a lot of sense from a design point of view because you have to draw the line somewhere. Getting access to all of New York would be impossible, the game would never come out of design, and whats there is rammed with beautiful glorious detail, you can’t help but feeling that a bigger world would have been nice.

EdRating: 9/10

Spiderman will keep you going for hours. You’ll be thinking about it when you should be focused on other things. You’ll be staying up later than you should on a school night to play it. It will leave you wanting for more and personally I can’t wait for the sequel whenever it comes.

Another Bloody IPA

Another Bloody IPA is a beer brewed by the Cotton Ball brewing company in Mayfield in Cork. It retails at €2.99 but its hard enough to find. I am only aware of one stockist in Scariff in Co. Clare, whence this sample was obtained from on the recommendation of a friend.

This is a relatively light flavoured IPA, its hop forward but not excessively so. The hops are there and turned up, but not to the point where they dominate. There is a floral taste which fades to a honey/toffee flavour. The aroma is very light, you have to stick your nose right into the glass to get it, but whats there is pleasant and vaguely fruity.

The label tells us that it is blended with Munich Hops, Biscuit and zest of Blood Orange. Personally I could detect a fruity, citrus flavour but it’s very mild. That’s not a criticism, this is a well blended beer, subtle, present and very easy to drink. Be wary though, it packs a punch at 6%.

The artwork on the lable is well presented, the red being a nod presumably to its Cork birthplace and the blood orange used in the brewing. It continues into the beer which is a light brown, faintly red colour. There is very little head as is normal with an IPA, and whilst it is fizzy when first poured this quickly dissipates as the beer calms in the glass.

Naturally there’s a back story to do with an American Civil War veteran who returned to Cork and opened a pub which is still in business today. All these craft beers seem to need a back story to build the allure, personally I don’t get it, I believe the beer should stand on its own merits as I have said here before. That being said, this is one of the better back stories and while I’ve made no attempt to verify it, it seems like its one of the more believable ones.

Edrating: 7/10

It’s hard to fault this beer, while it’s not what you’d call spectacular, it is very drinkable. Definitely something I would pick up again if I come across it, but not something that I would make a special trip for.

Bangkok

Bangkok is the capital city of Thailand. I recently spent a number of days there as part of a family holiday. It is over 600 square miles in size and is home to north of 8 million people.

Bangkok is a heaving metropolis that has everything you would expect of a large regional business centre. The first thing you’ll notice is the proliferation of skyscrapers, including the very cool MahaNakhon that reminded me of the half-finished death star from the Star Wars movies. The presence of sky scrapers of this size and quantity makes Bangkok feel, superficially at least, like any other major metropolis you would find in the US or Europe.

The traffic in Bangkok is pretty chronic, so driving is not something I would recommend. Where possible use the BTS which is very efficient, clean, cheap, and air-conditioned to the point where a Polar Bear would be looking for a duffel coat if he had to go three stops on it. It’s a welcome respite from the heat, in a city that feels considerably hotter than any of the other places I visited in Thailand.

If the BTS doesn’t go where you need to be (and that’s a lot of places in Bangkok) then a taxi is your next best option. Whilst the traffic can be chronic, if you avoid the peak hours and plan your day so you’re going in a sensible sequence rather than crisscrossing the city, you can do it. Taxis are cheap, very cheap, by European standards. A ride from the airport to where we were staying which took an hour and twenty minutes cost me around six euro’s. Be aware that the taxi drivers by and large speak no English, so have where you’re going written on your phone, or on a piece of paper in Thai, that you can show to him.

Tuk-tuks are available everywhere and will work for shorter journeys but get uncomfortable after a while and you’re exposed to the elements so if its rainy season, you’re gonna get soaked. There are busses which we didn’t use because we didn’t need to. They look like they are from the 70’s and judging by the depressed faces of everyone on them and all the windows being open, I’m gonna say they aren’t airconditioned so make your own choice.

In terms of what to see and do in Bangkok there is literally an endless list. I’m going to break the stuff we did into two categories, “shopping” and “everything else”. I’ll start with the everything else category.

The Jim Thompson house is a the home of an american who is credited with getting the silk trade up and running in Thailand. He disappeared into a jungle and never came back, but his house has been preserved. The tour doesn’t take long, you’ll have it covered in less than 90 minutes and its a nice introduction to Thailand and to Bangkok and a means to dip your toe into the culture fountain if you’ve just arrived. This is definitely a good first day activity to help you ease over the jet-lag and get your feet moving after a long flight.

The Snake Farm is another attraction that is worth a visit. It’s quite cheap and they have a good collection of snakes. The farm exists to make anti-venom, snakes are a problem in Thailand in all areas and there are a wide range of venomous ones that can cause serious issues including death if you get tagged and don’t have medical assistance nearby. The farm is run by the red cross and uses tourists to supplement its income. Do try to catch the show, it’s very entertaining. Bear in mind that its only open till about lunchtime and the show runs earlier than that, around 11 o’clock.

The Summer Palace is outside the city, about an hours drive. Its worth the trip built when we visited there was a lot of construction and restoration/maintainance going on. A new king is going to be crowned in Thailand in 2019 and I imagine they are sprucing the place up in advance of that. The gardens make for a lovely walk.

The other item to see on the outskirts of the city is Wat Mahathat which is the old capital of Thailand. It was destroyed by the Burmans when they came through and they knocked the heads off all of the statues of the Buddha, I guess they wanted to say there was a new religion in town. The ruins are impressive, again, bring your walking shoes, there’s a bit to see. The most impressive thing is the Buddha head which has had the roots of a tree grow around it, it’s very cool.

Back in the city itself, you have to visit Wat Pho, specifically to see the reclining Buddha. I could fire a load of numbers at you, its X big, Y long. None of these things will do it justice, it needs to be seen to be believed for sheer scale. It takes time just to walk from one end of it to the other. I’ve given a short few words to it here which don’t do it justice, go and see it.

The jewel in the crown, in terms of history and culture in Bangkok and probably all of Thailand, is the grand palace. The grand palace is busy, crowded, hot, teeming with life (mainly Chinese tourists) and has to be seen to be believed. The complex is massive, it will take you a few hours to get around it. Go early in the morning if you want to beat some of the crowds, but I can’t imagine it’s ever quite there. You absolutely must hire a tour guide to explain what you are going to see, it will bring the place to life in a way that walking around it unaided simply will not. There are registered guides touting for business. Our’s was brilliant, thank you Jackie, you were one of the highlights of our trip. Be aware that legs and shoulders have to be covered, that’s guys as well as ladies. There are people outside selling elephant pants if you need them but you’ll get them cheaper in the markets if you buy in advance.

In a first for Edrates, this is going to be a two parter. I’ll talk about the shopping experience in a separate blog post at a later date because otherwise this is going to turn into War & Peace.

Bangkok – Culture & general 9/10

There is an endless stream of things to see and down in Bangkok from a history and culture perspective. I have only scratched the surface. It’s not getting 10/10 because nothings perfect, but a point has to be deducted for the traffic which can be pretty infuriating. Don’t let it put you off though, Bangkok and its culture and history are worth a wait in a traffic jam to see.

Chang Mai

Chang Mai is a city in Northern Thailand. I recently spent a few nights there with my wife and eldest child as part of a 2 week trip to Thailand.

Chang Mai is easily accessible by air from Bangkok and the airfare is very cheap. Certainly it is worth the few extra € to get there in an hour rather than the overnight train from Bangkok which will inevitably cost you a chunk of your holiday either in time travelling or time recovering.

All levels of accommodation are available in the city and all of it is cheap by European standards. We booked an air bnb for three people for three nights for less than €200 in a very central location.

Chang Mai itself is best considered as a good base to explore the North of Thailand, rather than a destination in and of itself. In the city there are plenty of things to do and you will get the same array of markets and street food that you will find throughout Thailand, although Bangkok puts it in the hae’pennyplace for markets and street food.

The night market is worth a walk around for atmosphere but there is nothing particularly special about it, especially when compared to some of the larger markets in Bangkok such as Chatuchak. The food stalls are decent but not spectacular. Overall it is very touristy and the prices, while cheap compared to home, are inflated above what they are in other parts of the city.

Within the city there are a massive number of temples, so if temple gazing is your thing, you won’t be short of them in Chang Mai. You can and should visit Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, its one of the best temples in Thailand and the stairs going up to the entrance are worth the visit alone. The road up is twisty and windy and very steep in parts, but the surface is good. If you’re nervous about such things don’t get one of the Songteaw type taxi’s, get a proper cab instead. Either way, your fare will be cheap. The Songteaw’s are an experience in themselves, essentially they are a pickup truck with a roof and some primitive seats screwed onto the back.

There are spectacular views from the temple back over the city. Again, it is very touristy so don’t go expecting to get a half hour of peaceful contemplation on your re-incarnation prospects, its not going to happen.

If you really want to chill out in a temple find one of the ones that isn’t on a tourist map and just wander in. No-one will kick you out and you will find a lot more peace and plenty to look at, including large golden and jade Buddha’s and some pretty spectacular artwork on the walls. Chang Mai has so many temples, there is one on nearly every street so get off the tourist trail and take the time to wander round one of the quite and peaceful ones if you want to get a feel for what these places are supposed to be like.

Speaking of temples, do be aware that you will have to cover your shoulders and your legs to below the knee. You will also have to remove your shoes when you go into any of the buildings so flip-flops are a good idea for ease of use. Don’t be a jackass about it, it’s their culture and you’re a visitor so respect their way of doing things.

There are two other locations within the city that I can recommend. The first is the restaurant Blue Mango. It has a humble enough appearance, a sort of beach cafe vibe but the food is top-notch and very reasonably priced. For a fraction above street food prices you’ll be well fed with really good quality Thai cuisine. The Deep Fried fish is excellent as is the Massaman Curry and the Pad Thai. The Mango Sticky rice was the best I had in Thailand. It’s maybe a ten minute walk from the Tha Pae gate and is well worth the stroll. The Tha Pae gate is not a historic monument. It was rebuilt in the 80’s as a tourist attraction. The only thing worth doing there is strolling past and having a quite giggle to yourself at the people who let the rat-birds land on them.

The second location in the city I can recommend is the Lila Thai Massage. We got a one hour foot massage for 250 Bhat and we liked it so much we went back the next date for a full body massage. For 350 Bhat (€9) you can get an 90 minute full body massage that was the best we had in Thailand. The staff are former female convicts who have completed training and are then employed by the company in an effort to rehab them into normal society. The prices are a shade above some of the places around, but the quality and service is excellent as is the surrounding and the atmosphere.

In addition to the above locations there are no end of little coffee shops and restaurants you can sit and people watch over a smoothie, some very nice coffee or some excellent ice-cream.

There are many other things to do in the vicinity of Chang Mai, but the following two I can recommend from personal experience.

The first is zip-lining in the jungle around the city. We went with Flight of the Gibbon. They are a very professional outfit and the claim to have the longest zip in South East Asia at 800 meters. It’s about an hours drive outside the city. They will come and pick you up in an air-conditioned mini-bus, drive you to the location and back to your accommodation. Maximum group size is 12 but my personal advice is to book the earliest session you can in the day. We got a 6:30 pick up and ended up in a group of 5 people. This means that you get through the activity much faster and negate some of the standing around waiting you would have to do if you are in a large group. As a result you get more of your day back, measured in hours, to go do other stuff. Once the zip-lining is complete you are served lunch in the village restaurant. It’s not great to be honest, you definitely get the feeling they are mailing it in because us westerners don’t know the difference between good and bad Thai food. There is an opportunity to visit a large local waterfall which is worth doing for some great photos and do take the time to walk through the jungle and look at and smell the many amazing flowers that you will see. Life is better when you stop to smell the flowers.

The second activity is to visit the elephants. Please do your research and try to book with one of the ethical service providers. Don’t go to one of the places that lets you ride the elephants or any of the places that you can see along the road where the elephants are chained to a tree and are put to work in logging when the tourists aren’t around. We went with Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. They purport to be a rescue outfit who take elephants from the less reputable places and give them a decent standard of living. From what we saw these Elephants appear to have a great quality of life. Lots of space, plenty of food and they aren’t worked in any way, other than to stand around and let the tourists feed and photo them.

We were picked up in one of the aforementioned pick-up type vehicles and we were taken to camp two. The drive was one of the highlights of the whole trip. The Thai countryside is beautiful and you will get a taste of it as you leave the city and drive out into the jungle. The last part of the journey was on a dirt road down a steep hill, it’s a bit scary, but absolutely worth it. Just close your eyes if you’re nervous about such things once you leave the tarmac road.

I definitely recommend the full day trip. You will get to feed the elephants, spend a decent amount of time with them, give them a mud-bath and wash them off in the waterfall and stream on site. I had a great day, as did our eldest son and my wife has said repeatedly since we were there that it was one of the best days of her life.

Edrating: 8/10

The temples and the activities on the fringes of the city are amazing and there is lots to see and do. But the core of the city itself doesn’t have much to make it stand out from a lot of other cities and it feels a bit like a place that is searching for its identity. That is a mad thing to say about a city that is over 500 years old. It’s a temple heavy city in the mountains and you get the feel that if tourism didn’t exist, it would be largely populated by monks and people who make a living supporting the monks. You should definitely visit if you’re going to Thailand, and I’m glad I went. However I don’t see a scenario that would bring me back to Chang Mai now that I’ve been there once.

 

Hobgoblin Traditionally Crafted Ruby Red

Hobgoblin is an ale produced by the Wychewood brewery in Oxfordshire in the UK. Hobgoblin is the first ale that I really liked. If you’re starting into ales it’s a great way to start. Of all the ales I’ve tried its one of the few I keep coming back to again and again for a reliable shot of flavour and depth that is not extreme and so can be sipped away at all evening with the last drop of the last pint tasting as good as the first drop of the first. It’s very much an everyday beer and I mean that in the best possible sense.

The flavours are just to the malt side although it’s by no means strong. Hops come through on the aftertaste but without the tangy-flower taste that you can get when the hops are too strong, or at least too strong for my taste.

The Wychewood website describes it as toffee, dry, biscuit taste with a chocolate and toffee-citrus aroma. I don’t get those to be honest, there is a solid but light top note and the base note is refreshing and satisfying but not over powering. There is the faintest hint of toasted toffee perhaps if you go looking for it but it won’t be the first thing that hits you.

It’s not overly strong for an ale at 5.2% ABV but certainly you’ll know about it if you have 4+ of them. Happily though you’ll be able to sleep it off without waking up in the next morning feeling like Michael Flatley has sneaked into your ear before having some form of demented fit in your frontal lobe rendering you unable to think or function for the next 48 hours. Ya know, like what happens when you walk past a pint of Heineken.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the nice artwork on the bottle. It does present itself well on the shelf and stands out from the crowd. The current artwork as shown above is apparently a limited edition but it’s been on shelves for a year or more now.

Hobgoblin is widely available in Ireland but is best brought in Aldi for about €2.10 a bottle. I’ve seen it priced north of €3 (Tesco, I’m looking at you) which to be honest its worth, but why pay that when you can get it for closer to the €2 mark.

Ed Rating: 9/10

The puritans among you will scoff at this score for what is a middle of the road inoffensive beer. I like it though, its unassuming, it doesn’t pretend to make a bold statement about the duality of man or other such horse manure, it doesn’t even pretend to have a deep and meaningful back story. It’s just a really nice beer that won’t poison you and won’t break the bank.

The 8th Amendment Referendum

So this is a thorny topic about which much was written in the run up and in the aftermath of the last 24 hours or so since the result became clear.

On May 25th Ireland voted by about 2 to 1 to remove the 8th amendment from the Irish Constitution. The 8th ammendment placed in the constitution the right to life of an unborn child making abortion incredibly restrictive and to all intents and purposes, impossible legally within the state.

As a general rule I am extremely socially liberal, I knocked on doors and happily voted for same-sex marriage, I am a member of the Green Party and would be left leaning in almost every respect. However this is probably the one area where I could be considered conservative.

Having studied Philosophy and later Law at University I found there to be no good conclusive argument as to the point at which human life begins. Being unable to arrive at that conclusion for myself I fall back to the precautionary principle, being that the potential harm (ie the ending of a human life) being greater than the opposite, the most ethical approach is to restrict abortion to a limited set of circumstances.

That does not translate to being happy with the situation pre the repeal vote, i.e. that women and girls in the most horrific circumstances such as being victims of rape or incest or being in the horrible position of being pregnant with a child who will not survive had to go to the UK to access termination services, or order medication over the internet, clearly not a safe proposition.

This is a position I have held for some time, long before the current debate heated up. With the announcement of the intended legislation including unrestricted access to abortion up to 12 weeks, my position probably hardened somewhat and I informed my party colleagues that I would not be taking an active part in the campaign, something I genuinely felt, and still feel, guilty about.

As the weeks rolled on and the debate intensified, it became clear that the momentum was with the repeal side. Poster’s seemed to be a 50/50 split and the national media gave as far as I could tell equal time to both sides. However the activists on the repeal side were far far better. Their stories were more personal. Their statements more impactful. Their arguments struck at the core of emotion and they owned words like sympathy, compassion, understanding and justice throughout the campaign.

On the no side there were the muted arguments from the Catholic Church. Does anyone under retirement age listen to them anymore? Clearly they have lost all moral authority in the wake of scandal after scandal after scandal and they may never recover, nor do they deserve to.

 

The no side completely failed to counter the arguments that they were oppressing women, infringing on women’s rights, and generally wanted to put women back into the kitchen, preferably barefoot and within handy reach of the kitchen sink. Women-hating catholic fascists the lot of them. And yes, Ronan Mullen is all of those things. But what chance did the no-side have when the likes of him and Declan Ganley (is there a more failed politician in the history of the state) are trotted out as the spokespersons?

As a “no” voter I felt extremely isolated. Where were the young professionals who wanted to make the ethical argument for the other side? Where were the calls to a higher level of debate beyond “God says its wrong” or “this proposal is too extreme”. I found myself in the very uncomfortable position of being on the same side of a debate as the Healy-Rae’s and the Mattie McGrath’s of the world.

For the first time ever I felt isolated in my social media bubble. Being a left leaning environmentalist, my twitter feed, my Facebook and indeed my real-world peer group would all be of a broadly similar mindset. Left leaning, under 40, liberal. For the first time I saw the smugness that the left is often accused of in full flight from the other side of the fence. There was an amount of gloating and rubbing it in, in the wake of the result from a great many people. Not from people I know in real life particularly, but in a big way from the noxious troll-fest that twitter can be.

I don’t feel that Ronan Mullen and the Bishops represent me in any way shape or form, and I saw no-one on the no-side that did represent those who are of a similar age and background to me.

As the final week of the referendum came around my wife told me she had changed her mind and was voting yes. Her argument being along the lines of most of what has been heard, it’s a personal choice for women to make and they need to be trusted with that. This was the point where I started to waver. As the week drew to a close I paid more attention to the issue of abortion tablets being purchased on the internet. As someone who is an avid user of the web (hello, probably the last person on earth with a blog I make no money from) it’s not quite clear to me why this wasn’t something I was more aware of earlier. I can’t tell you why it particularly resonated with me in the week leading up to the debate.

Approximately 1000 women in Ireland were taking abortion tablets on an annual basis in Ireland. Unsupervised. From unknown sources. With all the risks that come with anything you buy on the web from a less than reputable source.

And now the ethical argument opens back up again. The precautionary principle is now flipped on its head. We have the fact that abortions are happening in Ireland, whether I like it or not, whether the law likes it or not. Retaining the 8th amendment will not change that. So onus placed on protection the potential human life of the unborn slides away, because the battle is lost. Now the precautionary principle applies to the mother. The potential harm from taking sub-standard, illegal medication in an unsupervised fashion becomes the only risk and the ethical thing to do flips from trying to protect the potential human life, because you can’t, that battle is lost, to protecting the life and wellbeing of the mother.

I voted yes. I suspect that I am in a camp of hesitent/reluctant yes voters. I am still not comfortable with the prospect of abortion on demand but have come to the realisation that there is nothing I can do about and if its going to happen anyway it should be done in as safe and controlled a fashion as possible.

I must confess to being embarrassed that I did not arrive at this position earlier.  In spite of my reservations, I am glad that the law has changed. I was not happy with the status quo and I felt very uneasy putting my anti-abortion views, particularly because I’m a man, onto other people.

The Repeal side are to be commended for an amazing campaign.

There is no rating on this blog post, it’s not something that you can score. I take away from it several lessons. One being that its important to challenge yourself and your own beliefs because you never know when you might change your mind. The second being that life outside of your social media bubble is uncomfortable. The third being that we could all do with having a bit more respect for the opposite point of view to our own.

I promise that the next post won’t be so heavy. I’ll find a nice crafty ale somewhere and pontificate at length about its virtues or otherwise.