Autumn 1 – trees (Brussels and Dublin) – and Inis, an Irish game

heads bank pub Dublin 1018.JPG(Bank pub, College Green, Dublin)

I’m going to be travelling a bit in Europe in the next few weeks, and I thought about doing some more blogging. Autumn seems like something to look into. My Non-travelling companion laughed. The most autumnal thing about autumn is the leaves, she said, and you can’t tell the difference between red, brown and green. Even yellow you can only tell on a good day.

(It’s true. I like being colourblind, most of the time, but I suspect that at this time of year I’m missing something.)

As a fallback, then, I’m going to look not at the leaves but at the trees, see how particular types of tree differ as the weeks go by and from one place to another.

On Wednesday (10 October), though, looking out of the bus window on the way to Brussels airport for a work trip to Dublin, I realised that I am not much better at trees than at colours.

tree bus Schuman-airport 1018.JPG

What’s this, for example?

We must have passed more than thirty types of tree during the forty minute journey. I only recognised two of them:

plane trees bus Schuman-airport 1018 3.JPG

plane trees (in the picture) and silver birch.

So I’m going to look out for those two – and also for oak trees, horse chestnuts (though I think I will only recognise them by their conkers) and hollyhocks.

horse chestnut tree over our garden 1018.JPG(This horse chestnut stands over our garden. My Non-travelling companion says it is losing its leaves early because it is sick.)

Hollyhock rue cornet 1018.JPG(This hollyhock, in a street near where I work in Brussels, pleased me by still having flowers.)

On the bus from the airport into Dublin on Wednesday night it was dark.

palm trees Dublin 1018.JPG

When I got off in the city centre I could only see palm trees.

plane tree Dublin 1018 2.JPG

On Thursday morning, though, there were plane trees along the canalised banks of the Liffey. They seemed less far on, in losing their leaves, than those I’d seen in Brussels.

Then on the bus back to the airport I saw silver birch outside flats on Dorset Street Upper…

silver birch Dublin 1018.JPG… and my first oak trees, out near Dublin City University.

oak tree Dublin 1018.JPG

By now, I suspect you are thinking, is  he really going to spend the whole autumn rabbiting on about foliage?

Have no fear!

I’m also going to try and play, in each place I go to, a board game set in that place. Easy start in Ireland. The best game shop in Dublin, according to Boardgamegeek, was right opposite the conference hotel. I bought a good-looking game called Inis, set in the Celtic mists of time, and played it at the airport and again when I got home.


Some things in Dublin reminded me of Britain. For example, when cars turned from a main road into a side road they acted as if they had priority over pedestrians crossing the side road. On the bus back to the airport we crossed a canal with a narrowboat-sized lock.

Other things seemed more American. A sign in a shop window said 50c rather than €0,50. A sign in the conference hotel showed the way to the rest rooms.

And some seemed neither. Widespread, easy-click availability of the internet. The Irish language appearing first on street signs.

A final harbinger of autumn in Dublin was the first Halloween display I’ve seen this year in Europe:

Halloween temple bar Dublin 1018.JPG

(But what about this, in a supermarket in Seattle in August. August!):

Halloween in August Safeway Seattle 818.JPG


Published by

Paul Hodson

Head of Unit "EnergyEfficiency" at European Commission, Directorate-General for Energy

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