It was a bank holiday weekend here. On Saturday morning, the boys spent the morning playing football and hurling in glorious sunshine. On Saturday afternoon, I took the children to Newbridge where, despite the website’s advice to the contrary, the farm was open and full of young things. The children saw chickens hatching, piglets feeding, fed baby goats themselves, patted shetland ponies and generally had an excellent time. It was a good job that we took full advantage of the sunshine on Saturday as after this the weather was unremittingly gloomy.
On Saturday night, Mr. Waffle and I went to see “Arcadia” at the Gate (voucher a birthday present from my kind sister). It’s all about maths and rather long but quite enjoyable all the same. However, we met a man Mr. Waffle knew from school and he and his wife had an 8 week old baby at home – it was their first night out and they found it rather heavy going and ran away at the interval. Never mind.
On Sunday, we went to see the Tall Ships. This was a spectacular success for us last year but this year, it was not to be. It poured rain with particular intensity and fervour. The Princess was pretty cheerful but even a cup of tea and juice on a Dutch boat could not cheer up her brothers. They trailed along miserably muttering rebelliously about the rain.
When we got home, we all had to strip to our underwear and we huddled in front of the television watching Sponge Bob and making pathetic sniffing noises. I understand from the weather forecast that Dublin was alone in receiving a biblical soaking and the rest of the country basked in sunshine. I wish we had gone to the attempt to bring together the largest number of twins in Ireland in Carrickmacross instead.
Nothing daunted, today I prodded my reluctant troops out of the house and we went to Newgrange where it also poured rain. It all passed off peacefully enough initially. We had lunch in the visitor centre, we saw a DVD, we wandered round the interpretative centre.
Then we went to Knowth and it poured. It was dull. The guide was cross with us as the children climbed on the mounds (a misunderstanding on our part, you are only allowed to climb on one mound – the one with a path).
” Top of Knowth
We were not helped by the fact that there were no other children on the tour. The other tourists were very kind, saintly, elderly people (Canadians, Mr. Waffle thinks) who seemed to have a far higher tolerance for small children than the site guides. I suppose it wasn’t their job to worry about Ireland’s neolithic culture being destroyed by the under 8s and this made them more carefree.
The bus back from Knowth to the visitor centre (only 5 minutes, mercifully) was particularly hideous as two of my three children wanted to sit beside me (Michael didn’t care) and only one of them could. The Princess wept bitter tears. Then, on the next bus to Newgrange, she sat beside me and Daniel cried very loudly. Newgrange, however, was quite good value. It was short. The guide spoke in terms the Princess could understand and she was fascinated and, best of all, given the weather, it was underground.
They did an exciting simulation of the winter solistice – they turned off all the lights and then when it was pitch black, they shone a light down the passage. Obviously, not as exciting as the winter sun illuminating the chamber but not bad all the same and we all enjoyed it. Our standards had been suitably lowered by our drenching at Knowth.
So maybe not a fantastic day but, you know, very worthy. To my intense delight when I asked the children what they liked best about the day, they didn’t say “the crisps we got after lunch” but the moment when they stood under the mound in Newgrange in the pitch dark.