| 14.5°C Dublin

The ice starts to thaw but the west remains frozen out

THURSDAY According to Met Eireann, a new ice age is on its way. Some of the temperatures being reported here are lower than those I experienced in Antarctica two years ago. It was minus 21 in the Scottish Highlands. There is a serious wind chill across the flatlands of Kildare. I thought I saw a penguin at the back of Reeves' castle.

FRIDAY Aer Lingus are ending their Gatwick adventure -- or are they? Intriguingly, Cork services, three times a day, are to run from Gatwick to Cork rather than the other way around. It is easy to see what is going on here: sub-contracted pilots are cheaper than the home-grown variety. That also means a new battle on the London route between Michael O'Leary and Christophe Mueller for the route to the real capital. Interesting to see how that pans out.

The pubs in Dublin are quiet because of the snow. Minone and Hilda from the Netherlands are impressed with the music scene in Temple Bar where the Gravelpoets are giving it socks.

SATURDAY Heather the West Highland terrier turns back mid walk. Daisy the Labrador and I are both disappointed but we are taller and the snow is not up to our chins.

SUNDAY Ireland's ice age has apparently been postponed until whenever the Gulf Stream gets turned back as resolutely as the Golf Stream was by those over-priced green fees. My drive to Galway is relatively ice free, and it is fast -- because Ballinasloe has officially been abolished by order of the minister and the NRA. Nobody foresaw how important roads are for tourism. The west will get more tourists when it becomes more accessible from the east, not when the Government spends more money subsidising western airports. Better roads bring prosperity along their entire length. They found that in America 50 years ago.

MONDAY Las Vegas comes to town. In Vegas they are expecting a big 2010 with shows and shopping, including a new Cirque du Soleil Elvis show. Better yet, hotel prices are close to €90, down 30pc on last year. The question that remains over air fares. Will they creep back up now capacity has been slashed? Not by the look of the Aer Lingus website -- €190 one way to JFK.

TUESDAY JAL is the latest airline to run into trouble. There is speculation that there will be more airline failures in 2010. Paddy Power's odds singled out Monarch, which is definitely unfair. There are other airlines ahead of Monarch in the queue.

WEDNESDAY On the road to Belfast and the Europa Hotel, that fine old warrior where, in the days when it was bombed on a fortnightly basis, the manager used to ask whether you wanted windows with glass or windows with boards. There are ostentatious new rivals all over Belfast, notably the Merchant, with its OTT pinks and trinkets, but the Europa still has the street cred.


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