Saturday, August 18
My saintly parents-in-law regularly take a house in west Kerry to which their children and grandchildren are invited. Veterans of the long drive after their holidays in France, the children were very good on the 6 hour journey. We broke the journey for a cup of tea at my parents’ house in Cork which was, surprisingly, not very much out of our way. The best route for the journey from Dublin to SW Kerry continues to be a hotly debated topic.
Sunday, August 19
We had the fastest mass of the year in Caherdaniel coming in at just under 20 minutes. The church was packed confirming my view that the greater the number of the faithful the shorter the mass. We strolled down to the beach which though damp was greeted with enthusiasm by the children who all rolled up their trousers and waded into the sea. Inevitably, they all got soaked, but they were cheerful.
Later in the day we paid the inevitable visit to Staigue fort where it was, as ever, cold and damp. We got chatting to a Scottish couple with two small children who were exploring the damp fort also. Why, if you were Scottish would you choose to holiday in west Kerry? Madness.
Mr. Waffle’s uncle and aunt and a grandchild – a 10 year old boy, R, – were also staying nearby and we went to visit. R had an x-box. The boys nearly died of happiness. The Princess, her grandmother and I went to explore slightly twee but yet appealing ceramics. The Princess and I bought some Christmas tree decorations. The potter was next door in her workshop and she was lovely and very patiently answered the Princess’s many questions on her work.
And then, that evening, the first cousins arrived from Dublin. Oh joy.
Monday, August 20
It was a beautiful day. This was surprising. This summer in Ireland has been pretty awful and West Kerry is notoriously wet even in a good year. We went to the beach. I swam, the children swam. It was bracing. After a bit, I took the small ones back to the house (the boys and their two cousins). They went haring along and I panted after carrying various bits of gear. While holding the hand of a small child walking on a wall, I stepped in a big dollop of dog poo while wearing my very flat, very open sandals. The result was as might be expected and I asked them all to stop while I took off my shoe and tried to remove poo from my foot, the sole of my sandals and, particularly appealing this, the inside of the straps. They got tired of waiting and I found myself sprinting up the road after them clutching my shoe and laden down with various bags, not my finest moment.
The afternoon was to bring relief in the form of pirate camp. This was a sea sport camp for children aged 4-8 that my brother-in-law had spotted on the internet. We were delighted. We all felt that being together would make for greater enjoyment for the cousins and we could all relax in our various ways (reading the paper with a cup of tea or running up mountains or whatever). I took myself to the tea rooms in Caherdaniel a new and very welcome addition to the village. All was rosy. Upon collection, the children were less happy with the arrangement. “Pirate camp is boring,” said Michael. Oh dear. And 3 more afternoons to go. Sigh.
Tuesday, August 21
Another beautiful day dawned. We held our breath.
The Princess and I drove in to Kenmare which is full of things tourists like; it’s pretty, it has a bookshop, a tea room, several nice cafes, an antiques shop, a shop full of expensive pretty useless things and so on. We had a terrific time patrolling the town. We also achieved our objective of getting birthday presents for cousin R. On our way there we dropped my father-in-law in Sneem from whence he ran back to Caherdaniel. For fun.
When we got back after lunch we poured the unwilling pirates (Daniel stoic, Michael and his cousin requiring a combination of bribes and threats) into their wetsuits and took them to camp. We spent all the time they were at camp having a restorative cup of tea. Pirate camp was more successful as they had gone exploring rock pools with Captain Vinnie. Even Michael, grudgingly, conceded that this was quite good. He maintained his position, however, on the general undesirability of pirate camp.
The Princess was briefly, to her intense joy, adopted by a small dog. It followed us to the beach where one woman said loudly and pointedly, “There’s that dog that bit Amy.” I have to say that the dog was lovely with us and didn’t seem at all yappy. I said, “That’s not actually our dog.” But as the dog was at that point enthusiastically fetching sticks for the Princess I felt that this was not particularly credible. The dog’s owner turned out to be the woman who had rented the house to us who was unperturbed by her dog’s wanderings.
That evening all the children went to R’s house for his party and had a sleepover under the supervision of his saintly grandparents. The rest of us promptly went for dinner in the pub.
Wednesday, August 22
Another nice day. Quite astounding.
I took the four smaller children to visit an open farm. The farm itself was perfectly acceptable (and a very welcome addition to the frankly slender local tourist offerings) and the people who ran it were extremely kind but the children were not in the mood to be pleased. No sooner had we arrived than they all needed to go to the toilet – always welcome news to the adult in the party. They were all feeling somewhat tired from the excitement of the previous evening and they showed it: they broke the door to the fairy tree by over-enthusiastic hammering; the pigs were smelly; the digging was boring and all in all nothing was any good and could they please go home. Oh dear.
After lunch it was again time to pour the boys into their wetsuits for pirate camp. Michael’s reluctance reached fever pitch and when we got there he pointed in a pained fashion to the sign on the wall which read “Sea Sports”. “I don’t like sea and I don’t like sports,” he said bitterly, “when will you find me a summer camp, I actually like?” His brother continued unenthusiastic but resigned. Sharper than a serpent’s tooth etc.
Did I mention that Mr. Waffle got ticks while climbing the hills earlier in the week with herself and young R? I thought that you might like to know.
I think we’ll save the rest for part two now. Hang on to your hats.