And we’re back. You will recall that I spent last week in the wilds of Kerry with extended family. My very kind parents-in-law rented a house and invited us all to stay. They got a crop of 2 sons, 2 daughters-in-law and 5 grandchildren.
Saturday, July 2
The journey to Kerry was, as ever, horrendous. 3 hours to County Kerry and then a further three hours to get to Caherdaniel at the extreme end. We stopped for a picnic outside Adare having crawled through the town due to some exciting festival. The spot was considerably less idyllic than this picture might make you think as cars were whizzing along the main road opposite us having just broken free of Adare.
We were also somewhat delayed by the Ring of Kerry cycle – 1000s of insane people cycled round the Ring of Kerry (112 mountainous miles) that day and we met most of them on our journey. The road was windy and poor Daniel was sick (out the window – those are narrow, winding roads with no hard shoulders). All in all, we were tired people when we pulled into the holiday house that evening. Once we had been restored by tea. Grandad Waffle suggested that Mr. Waffle might like to go the pub – he was, nobly, reluctant but overborne. Mr. Waffle’s mother suggested that we walk to the beach – a suggestion which was greeted by her grandchildren with immense enthusiasm and by her daughter-in-law with none at all. However, my mother-in-law was proved right and no sooner did we get to the beach than the children threw on their togs and, oh the delight, proceeded to completely ignore us. Children are so hardy. Please observe what your correspondent wore to the beach. The item wrapped around my legs is my daughter’s jumper. You may well ask what exactly I am wearing and why a dead animal appears to be sitting on my head. I cannot say. Keep this image in your mind – this is how I looked all week, except sometimes I was wetter.
Late on Saturday night, the cousins arrived together with their parents, Mr. Waffle’s brother and his wife. Think of how I look above. You should know that my sister-in-law, who is a delightful person is, however, tall and willowy – furthermore, she is half Italian and her sister is a stylist. I’m only saying. I would post a picture of her doing yoga on the beach but the contrast would be too painful.
Sunday, July 3
Oh the delight of the cousins on seeing each other on Sunday morning – particularly the boys who are very close in age. The addition of cousins stops Daniel and Michael hitting each other for reasons I don’t fully understand but it is so welcome.
The trip to the pub quickly proved its merit. It allowed Grandad Waffle to chat to an old friend of his with a speedboat. Grandad Waffle kindly used up his credit with his friend to get us all a spin on this boat. Sunday morning saw us sitting hopefully on the pier. Michael was curiously resistant to this treat. Close questioning revealed that he believed that having driven to Kerry the previous day, we planned to get the ferry to France that morning. His plaintive bleats of “Can’t we go on the boat another day?” were explained. I suppose we big people are so odd, this was just the kind of thing we might do.
The weather was glorious. I had never been on a speed boat before and, I have to tell you, it is excellent. The children and I had a fabulous time and the Princess confided to our captain that it represented the high point of her life to date. I told her that her kind grandfather was the supplier of this treat and that, in fact, the grandparents were paying for the whole holiday. “Even the hot water?” she asked awed.
I might digress here to explain that, unlike in other countries, hot water does not come readily from Irish taps. You need to remember to turn on the immersion at least half an hour beforehand and, crucially, also to turn it off. Otherwise you will be scalded when, innocently, a couple of hours later you turn on the hot tap expecting it to be tepid at best and it is near boiling. Parents become somewhat obsessed by the immersion and particularly turning it off which not only saves everyone from death by boiling but also saves money and, possibly, stops the immersion exploding. I know a woman who, as a child, left the immersion on accidentally and realising that this was the case knew that her father would be furious. So, surreptitiously, she went to the bathroom, turned on the hot tap in the bath and poured a whole tank of hot water down the drain rather than suffering the consequences of his discovering the dreadful truth. This explanation by Irish American comedian Des Bishop, is perhaps the best way for non-Irish residents to understand the ramifications of the system.
Monday, July 4
We took the children horse riding which ours enjoyed mildly and the cousins rather more (first outing). Although Daniel seemed to be quite happy while riding, on dismounting, he complained bitterly that his horse sneezed and put him off. Given the weather, it would be hard to blame the horse. About this point, I became aware that my brother-in-law (who is immensely outdoorsy – maps, running up mountains at night, orienteering) was getting spectacularly accurate though unwelcome weather predictions from the Norwegians (www.yr.no). I offer you this, lest some day you too would welcome hour by hour predictions of rainfall levels in South Kerry. Your search is over.
The weather gave Michael an opportunity to hone his card playing skills and he defeated each of his relatives in turn at Happy Families until he could find no one to play with. Daniel meanwhile read,
His reading has been improving for ages but he really got the hang of it in Kerry – he read to his brother and cousin, he read alone, he read road signs. He loves to read. Michael still doesn’t think much of it: he’s focussing on becoming a professional poker player.
We made our annual visit to Staigue Fort which is really a most astounding structure but as I stood there in the damp July weather, I did think that our ancestors must have had a pretty miserable time.
More tomorrow. Possibly a little less dull, possibly not.