Before I regale you with the latest travel tale from my critically acclaimed series, I just wanted to do a shout out to blogger Housewifeinheels, who has done a Mummy Swap with yours truly as part of an amusing series she writes, wherein she lives a day in the life of a famous mummy blogger. Yes, famous ones. Like me. HAHAHAHA. Still you should read it, it's FUNNY!
OK, this instalment is entitled...
Celtic Tiger My Arse.
For my other travel tales, click here.
As I have alluded to several times, when I was 20 I went on a trip back to Ireland with my Dad aka Grandpa G, who was born and bred in Belfast, Northern Ireland. All Dad's family are still back in the Old Country, so we went to visit them and then undertook a whirlwind tour of the Emerald Isle itself, just him and me.
We did the traveling in a hired Fiat Punto. It is safe to say the driving part of the trip was rather, ah, frought. It was punctuated by my dad's intermittent outraged complaints about the state of Irish country roads, the inadequate turning circle on the Punto, the inadequate space in the driver's seat for a man of his stature, and a general vibe of getting lost at least once on every leg of the journey.
He was right about the roads though, they weren't great. At one point we were driving out of what was supposed to be the main road north out of Dublin, and we came upon a traffic jam. As we crawled along in the tiny vehicle, we soon realised that the holdup was because the road was flooded. I mean, not just a little bit flooded, but like, totally inundated by a raging river that flowed alongside it.
"Oh my God!" exclaimed Dad, wild eyed, as the car in front of him crawled into the torrent. "Fer focks sake! It's a focken river!"
I started to get a bit panicky as the tiny Punto edged closer to the water. Looking around all I could see in the way of emergency services was one police officer, knee deep in the river, and wearing a reflective jacket, vaguely waving the traffic forward into the water.
I looked to Dad for reassurance that we weren't going to be swept to our deaths.
"Celtic tiger my ARSE!" he said in disgust. "Will you look at that! All their European Development Funding and they can only put one focking guardai on when the road is focking flooded. Focking disgrace."
Suffice to say we weren't killed and the Punto survived but it was a close shave.
So the driving was a little bit stressful.
One of the trips we did was to a part of Ireland called Dingle. It's a popular summer holiday spot but of course we were heading there in the depths of winter. Sensible. We had a pretty nice trip most of the way there until it started getting dark at like 2pm or something and we still hadn't arrived at the cottage we had booked. Dad was losing his mind and I was probably weeping. Eventually we pulled over and found a phone so he could call the place . Turns out it wasn't in Dingle but somewhere else. Trouble was we were in Dingle. You feel me?
|[Source] This is Dingle. Cute, no? I don't have any photos from this part of the trip, they must be at Dad's. No matter.|
Anyway after driving round in ever decreasing circles of rage, Dad eventually found a pub in Dingle proper that we could stay in.
When we got up to our room I announced I was going down to the bar to have a drink BY MYSELF.
Dad declared that to be out of the question, over his dead body, had I seen the types down there etc. Because I was a compliant child (yes I know I was and am still actually an adult but this shit dies hard), I didn't tell him to get effed and go anyway, but threw myself sobbing in rage onto my bed while he listened in a bemused fashion and read the papers.
Cue the next scene. Morning dawned, we set off again and finally got to the cottage cabin type place we'd booked. The place was called Rossbeigh Strand. It was pretty adorable and I was bloody grateful for some SPACE. I flopped immediately on the couch and turned the TV on. Dad tried to encourage me to come with him on a bracing walk along the blustery beach but I politely declined (ie. rolled eyes, sighed, and scowled at him til he left). Off he went jauntily whistling a tune, the only man alive who thinks suitable attire for a walk on a windy beach in the Northern Hemisphere in the depths of winter is a mustard coloured parka and stubbies.
I breathed a sigh of relief and promptly fell asleep. When I woke, it was dark. I sat up and checked the time. 3 hours had elapsed and Dad was still gone! I felt a rising panic. Where was he? What should I do? Who was going to make my dinner?
Just as I was really getting worried, the door to the cottage flew open with a bang, the wind howling in, and Dad appeared in the doorway, windswept and wild eyed, with twigs stuck in his parka.
"DAD! Where have you BEEN!?" I cried.
He staggered in and collapsed on the couch to recover. Eventually he revealed to me that he'd become lost and disoriented on his deceptively harmless beach stroll. He'd apparently set off up the beach for a while, before deciding to walk through the dunes, thinking he would take a look at the beach on the other side. He trudged along for what seemed like an eternity, walking until he lost all sense of direction, with nothing but sand as far as the eye could see. At one point, lumbering over a bluff, he startled some unsuspecting sheep, who bleated furiously at him and scattered away in a panic. Undeterred, he clambered ever onwards, not knowing his arse from his elbow.
|[Source] I'm guessing Dad hadn't seen any aerial shots like this of Rossbeigh Strand before he set out for his stroll. That's a mofo of a sand dune people. No wonder he went all Burke and Wills on me.|
Eventually, with great relief, he came to the other side of the dune, and was met with what he described as a huge decaying seal or other blubbery sea creature.
As darkness descended and with the stench of the sea creature assaulting his nostrils, he had not choice but to set back out over the dune, once again losing all sense of direction. Forced to navigate by the setting sun, he wondered if he would ever be reunited with his surly and ungrateful daughter again. As luck would have it he did make it safely to the other side, and 3 hours later, returned to the aforementioned cottage where I had been snoozing, unaware of the drama unfolding just outside my door.
The rest of our stay at the beach cottage was comparatively uneventful, until we got all the way back to my Aunt's place near Belfast and Dad realised he still had the key to the cottage in his bag.
That was ok though, because when he rang the lady who owned it, she told him that he had left two pairs of trousers underneath the mattress of his bed, so they were able to do a sort of hostage style exchange via mail.
Before you ask about the trousers under the mattress, I too was a little confused as to why Dad was storing them there. Turns out he does that so he doesn't have to iron them. He's innovative, I'll give him that. Who knew?
When I finally got all the way home to Australia, I told Mum about the trouser incident, and she remarked that on a holiday to Bali in their courting days, Dad had left his trousers under the mattress in the villa there too.
So it's a pattern. Who knows how many pairs of pants he's left? He is like the Scarlet Pimpernel, only he leaves pants instead of a calling card. The Scarlet Pant-pernel.
Do you put your trousers under your mattress? Ever been lost in a sand dune? Or a desert?
No, me either.
Bon voyage my fellow travellers.
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