On landing at Dublin airport, we overheard two small boys talking excitedly:
“Are we in Ireland yet?” asked one
“No, we’re getting a car in Dublin then driving to Ireland” replied the other! Ah bless their little cotton socks!
So Ireland isn’t hugely different from England except of course for the Irish accent, the higher incidence of ginger haired people, and the quite conservative Catholic outlook on life.
We stayed with some friends who very kindly put up with our intrusion and I have to say ‘intrusion’ because, until this weekend, we hadn’t realised quite how tidy and orderly they were.
Their cleanliness went far beyond the realms of just good housekeeping… there wasn’t a speck of dust in sight, not a thing out of place, not a single sign of habitation! It was like one of those posh shops which make you feel uncomfortable for touching the clothes they’re trying to sell you because they’re too neatly folded and stacked. In fact, if we hadn’t known any better, we might have thought we’d walked into a show home when we arrived.
Whilst we were very grateful for the accommodation we certainly felt like hideous lumps of messy chaos in such clinical orderliness. The worst part was using the kitchen. The pressure of making breakfast or helping to prepare dinner was extremely stressful.
We were terrified of making a splash or a spill, or defiling the pure black work top with food of any sort. Basically any type of cooking related activity was almost as nerve wracking as disarming an unexploded mine. My heart skipped a beat, and I broke out in a cold sweat if the used t-bag I was carrying to the bin, dripped onto the large, cream floor tiles. L (as my other half will now be known) reckoned it was sterile enough to conduct open heart surgery – I think I’d have to agree.
Crumbs were wiped up (with a pristine cloth) before they had a chance to roll off your piece of toast, bounce from counter to the floor and shimmy into a gap between the fridge and the cupboard where the likes of old onion peel or a dried lentil might hide in a normal kitchen! It would be far easier to eat out at night or just not eat at all in order to keep the kitchen clean and the stress levels down.
But despite this, we were fed, the bed was comfortable, we had clean, fresh towels, nice company and there were no noisy youths shouting on the street during the night (like we have at home). We even converted the bedroom into our own little haven of clutter and mess!
Over the week, we only did a couple of the typically touristy things like visit Neolithic Tombs, the Guinness Brewery, and Temple Bar. We’d been sauntering around Temple Bar for sometime before I said to L ‘so where’s this bar?’ thinking we were going to a famous Irish pub. Durrrrh! – incase you don’t know Temple bar is just a trendy part of Dublin!
We managed two mammoth walks (Ok! mammoth for me). One was a lovely 10km hike along the coastal path between two small towns and the other was a fantastic 9km hike along the hills overlooking a grand lake (Glendalough). We had a very steep climb to the top but it was worth the view and I couldn’t help bursting into a rendition of ‘The Sound of Music’ when we reached the top.
The scenery was reminiscent of the Yorkshire Dales crossed with the Lake District – quite beautiful when it wasn’t shrouded in black rain clouds! I was of course very enthusiastic about photographing the herds of deer and the wild goats whilst L trudged behind holding the lenses and pointing out potential compositions.
All in all it was a good trip and I’m sure there’s much more to explore… perhaps on our return!