One of the side effects of living in South West Scotland is that we become the only people in the world who consider a weekend in October in Ireland to be a reasonable sunshine break. I apologise for my unannounced silence, but we headed off early on Friday morning to Wicklow to attend a wedding in a lighthouse and I hadn’t quite got my act together and left a couple of posts to keep you going in my absence (this is nothing to do with entertaining you lot, you realise, and all to do with keeping my stats up). We left home in sheeting sideways rain and arrived in Ireland to bright sunshine which persisted for the whole weekend with the exception of the actual day of the wedding. This was, to my cousin’s horror, a goretex wedding complete with a bracing walk around the headland after the ceremony and the guests came in a mixture of finery and sensible rainwear. I’m pleased to report that the jacket performed brilliantly although as I hadn’t brought waterproof trousers – and don’t laugh, some members of my family come prepared for absolutely everything – the rest of me still got pretty soaked.
We stayed an extra day to do a bit of sightseeing in Dublin and meet Belgian Waffle for a meal in the evening. If you believe the UK papers, Ireland is an economic basket case whose only remaining function in the world order is to make us feel a bit better about ourselves (while the population of Ireland seemed to be glued to the Ryder cup all weekend – not for the golf so much as for the spectacle of somewhere with even more rain than they get. I imagine the offices of the Welsh Tourist Board are rather glum today while Bord Fáilte rub their hands with glee) but nobody seems to have told the Dubliners this and the only visible sign of the downturn there was a rather disturbing number of rough sleepers and beggars among the massed shoppers and revellers in the streets.
We stumbled across the Smithfield Horse Fair – as the other half put it, basically hoodies doing doughnuts, but on horseback instead of in hot hatches. I feel that part of me ought to have been horrified at the whole thing but in the October sunshine it felt like mostly harmless fun and something real (‘a little bit too authentic’ as Ms Waffle put it) in a world of tarted up ‘heritage’, especially when you come across it unexpectedly. After that we just wandered, sat in a couple of pubs (Irish ones, where three old men in caps say ‘howareya’ as you come in and goodbye as you leave, rather than ‘Irish’ ones which are have signs with leprechauns on them announcing that they offer ‘craic’) and stockpiled vitamin D for the winter. I wanted a go on a Dublin Bike but in the end the other half and common sense prevailed. It’s much easier to navigate yourself around a city you don’t know well on two feet rather than two wheels especially as Dublin traffic takes no prisoners and even on foot we found we’d rather lost our city legs. Also my cousin’s description of gormless tourists on Dublin Bikes – who have added to the safety of Dublin’s streets because they can be relied upon to do absolutely anything unexpected anywhere, keeping drivers on their toes – rather haunted me. Once more I fail as a bike blogger…
The meal was great fun and if you want to know how it went I can’t add anything to what Belgian Waffle has written as she’s captured it so accurately herself. I did fail the true Irish test of being able to immediately discover that one of my Dublin relatives’ next-door neighbour’s aunt’s piano teacher was best friends with her mother’s butcher’s sister but that’s probably only because we didn’t delve too deeply into the matter. Given enough time I’m sure such a connection can and will be drawn.
Getting back – via ferry and three trains – went unexpectedly smoothly. We pulled into Lockerbie on time where, the conductor announced, ‘you won’t be surprised to hear that it is raining.’ And, indeed, we weren’t.
*In the interest of strict accuracy I should say that in fact I really don’t because a) lighthouses while very beautiful and romantic, by their nature tend to be in rather bleak and windy locations and b) I’m already married to the other half. Although were he to become a lighthouse keeper I would go and keep him company, obviously. Just so that’s clear.