WHEN I was a kid there was no such thing as a foreign holiday. We got a week down the country with Mammy Dunne’s relatives and that was our lot.
We’d all cram into Dad’s Renault 16, my three siblings in the back, me on my mother’s knee in the front, with ne’er a seatbelt between us and set off – Dad chainsmoking and cursing in equal measure.
There’d then be a week of sleeping on sofas, sitting on walls, getting lashed on, hanging around and generally being bored rigid. This was the way it was and we just accepted it. Man, the 80s in Ireland were grim.
Anyway, if it was good enough for me, it’s good enough for The Beast so this past week we carted him off down the country for a few days over the Easter holidays, to have a bit of a break.
We’d have some good old fashioned Irish holiday fun, make some memories, have some laughs, soak up the Vitamin D, really bond as a family, you know?
God, it was miserable.
I mean, truly miserable.
It pissed rain for the entire week, temperatures hovering around Baltic, nowhere was open, the child was sick at one stage; if you looked up ‘shit holiday’ in the dictionary there’d be a picture of our family right there, looking miserable.
On the first day it lashed rain, the wind howled until about 7pm when finally, delirious with cabin fever, we decided to go for a walk down on the beach. Delighted the child rushed off to get his sunglasses and his bucket, ready to build sandcastles.
By the time we bundled him up in a coat, hat, scarf and gloves however, the tide had come in so there was no sand. He gamely settled for collecting stones in his bucket however and we marched up and down for an hour, freezing the holes off ourselves.
Look, here we are. Smiling to hide the tears.
No matter though, we consoled ourselves, the next day would be better, we had plans to visit a seal sanctuary and the Beast was beside himself with excitement. It’d be grand. Great.
The website said they were open daily. The gate was open. The sign on the door said they were open until 5pm but alas, even though it was only 1pm when we got there, the seal sanctuary was closed.
For fuck’s SAKE.
But sure look, not to worry, it had turned into a gorgeous sunny day so we decided to go to the playground instead. Squealing, The Beast headed for the swing and swung happily delighted with himself.
Look at him there, with the happy head on him. Note the blue sky in the background?
Approximately 49 seconds after we sat him in that swing, it clouded over, like fucking Judgement Day, and started to hailstone. No, hail boulder. No, no, wait, hail SLAB. We were forced to run for cover and ended up cowering in a bush – I am honestly not making this up – in an attempt not to get soaked.
We did not succeed.
Towelling ourselves off we decided we’d treat ourselves to a pizza that evening, to warm us up after two solid days of freezing our bollixes off.
We got out of the car and strode up to the door of the pizza place. It was closed. We pulled ourselves together and walked down a little further to another pizza place. Also closed.
Panicking now, we went further down the street to a third place that while, not a pizzeria, had pizzas on the menu. And it was open! Result!
They were out of pizzas that night. Sorry about that! Nothing they could do. Before I could slash my wrists, Yer Man took the shiv off me and ordered sausages for the child and pressed the bread basket into my hand.
Ok, I was ok. It was all good. We were out, the child was happily playing with his toys while waiting for his sausages (another huge treat), there was food on the way, what could possibly go wrong? I even took a snap of Dad and Son together, to celebrate. Look!
Towards the end of his meal, The Beast gagged on a piece of food and threw up into my hand. At the table. Again, I really wish I was making this up, but I’m not. I have witnesses! Covered in puke, we left, heads held high, holding onto our sanity by a gossamer thread.
Wednesday was a new day. We had plans to go to the local pet farm. Amazingly it wasn’t raining and even more amazingly, the place was open. So in we went to frolic with the llamas and the lambs and the goats and the iddy biddy baby bunnies …
The Beast had no interest whatsoever. He barely glanced at the animals before legging it towards the sand pit and sitting there filling the same bucket over and over for a full 90 minutes.
We spent €21 to get into a pet farm, to sit on a freezing wall watching him dig in a sandpit. When we couldn’t feel the tips of our fingers anymore we went into the cafe for lunch and then miserably trailed off home.
I did get to hug a baby lamb though, so I suppose it wasn’t all bad.
On our final day we didn’t bother planning anything or attempting any of that happy family shite, we just went to a shopping centre, had lunch and bought some new books and clothes, to cheer ourselves up. When in doubt, throw money at the problem, that’s my motto. It was by FAR the best day of the holiday.
So all in all I gave The Beast a holiday exactly like my childhood holidays of yore. Ah nostalgia, it make-a the world go round. Still though, as Yer Man said as drove off out of Dodge, at least it’s a holiday we’ll never forget.