Both me and H decided on 3 of our favourite things to do in Dublin, that we wanted to do before we left. Here’s our lists – mine involving radically less drinking and horse-riding than it might have done if I wasn’t pregnant!
1) To take our neighbour’s dog for a walk out to the Poolbeg Lighthouse. I love the long stretch of the pier into the sea and the great views you get looking back at Dublin. (Unfortunately I totally messed this up by having no car keys on my last day in Dublin and the neurotic mutt is too scared of the city traffic to walk down to Sandymount!)
2) To see a art house movie at the IFI and 3) go for dinner at the Porthouse with H; a delicious Portugese tapas bar with an excellent port menu. (a date?! What planet was I on? We had to pack up our lives and move in about 11 days flat! Sounds like a lot of time? It wasn’t…)
1) A last hike from Glendalough to Glenmalure – a beautiful stretch of the Wicklow Way which we’ve walked together many times and camped along too!
2) Sunday lunch at his mum’s house in Wicklow with all the family.
3) Lunch with me at Roly’s Bistro, Ballsbridge (because I’ve always whined about somehow failing to ‘make it’ in Dublin having lived there for 14 years and never having eaten there! Sadly, we didn’t get round to this either so the mysteries await..)
So of these 6 great things to do in Dublin – we only actually achieved 1 and 2 on H’s list. Ah well..
There were 14 of us round H’s mum’s long wooden table at home in Ashford Wicklow, a lovely chaotic family scene, involving 7 adults and 7 kids, mostly boys (plus two unborn bumps under the table) and not quite enough chairs to go round which lent an aspect of musical chairs to the proceedings. H’s mum had cooked beautiful Wicklow lamb, baked ham, brussel sprouts and roast potatoes, an amazing spread of food which she always lays on seeming like she’s hardly done anything. H and I were trying not to feel too sad, thinking how we’ll both miss this hugely, as the boys wriggled and pulled each others’ noses.. Explaining to the boys about living in Jamaica, who rightly think we’ll be living on the set of Pirates of the Caribbean; about the humming birds, and beaches and forests – but not wanting to spoil the picture by mentioning the grinding poverty there, the gun crime and ghettos….
Glenmalure to Glendalough
Foolishly I believed google maps and drove the route as directed from Ashford to Glenmalure to meet H and his mate. See this map? DON’T go this way! Unless you are on horse!
As the road got increasingly bad, I had no idea whether or not it would be worse to continue or turn back, so feeling a bit ridiculous and a lot like a tourist after 14 years of living in Ireland – I just carried on! I drove my 20 year old Citroen through some totally unmade roads, a couple of fields and across a small river round the back of Clara Vale – that I waded across first to see how deep it is, before gunning up ‘the boat’ (my car’s nickname, but one given more for the vagueness of the steering rather than its aquatic abilities) then driving through it as fast as I could! Considering I was due to sell the car the next day for the bargain sum of €275 – I decided there wasn’t a lot to lose…
Anyway, I eventually made Glenmalure, met up with the boys. We left my car, and drove in theirs over to Glendalough to start the walk from there. By the time we got going it was already 1.30pm – which for a four hour hike in the winter is a fairly mad time to start, let alone with a 7 month pregnant belly on board, but we were determined so off we went.
We were rewarded with an unseasonably warm, beautiful afternoon walk with lovely long views of Lugnaquilla to our right as you come over the pass down to Glenmalure. One of those walks that fills your eyes, lungs and soul – I was pretty much gulping Wicklow into me, hating the prospect of saying goodbye to all this. That long lingering afternoon light, the muted colours, the way the forests look ‘fuzzy’ from a distance like you’ve un-tuned the TV, the sense of freedom. And the safety! From what little I know of Jamaica, you have to be careful all the time everywhere you go, and it’s not safe to go hiking at all without a guide. But in Wicklow, you could ramble pretty much in any direction for miles and miles, and camp where you like, having the place to yourself and being sure that the only other people you are going to meet out walking are other hikers. Weirdly, the only group we did actually meet on this walk was Lisa Hannigan out enjoying the sunshine with some friends! In Wicklow, nothing is going to bite, sting or shoot you – in fact the worse that might happened (and has happened to me obviously) is that you could fall up to your armpits into a bog hole. Very unpleasant, and embarrassing.
The last hour of our walk was in twilight, which even in the Irish winter gives you enough light to see by, well after the sun has gone down.My tummy was beginning to feel a bit ‘tweaky’ on the way down the mountain, so I was taking it very slowly, and teasing the boys about them having to be my birth attendants if it all kicked off right there – we had zero mobile phone coverage the whole way! Luckily it didn’t come to that!
We arrived into the Glenmalure Lodge for a well-deserved hearty supper and few drinks, then drove home to Ashford. Slept pretty soundly that night!