Aghh. That first deep breath. The suck in of freedom. The exhale of space and landscape and horizon. Booked a year in advance. Months of planning. Weeks of lists. Days of shopping, packing, sorting. Hours of driving – screaming baby, disgruntled daughters. Late arrival, sleepless night. But then. The first early morning walk on a vast deserted beach as the sun says hello to the sky and the water laps the shore like a child licking ice-cream off her lips. The horizon so wide, so distant, it feels unworldly. A different world certainly from the cement claustraphobia of the city. I feel like I’m in the Great Escape – albeit without the motorbike. And Steve McQueen…. more’s the pity.
I have travelled the world, and nothing, and nowhere compares to the wonderful wild, ravishingly rugged, energetic expanse of Donegal on the west coast of Ireland.
We’ve been here 4 days and explored 5 beaches, catching crabs, fish, shrimpy like creatures, and some rather unidentifyable jelly monstrousity. The girls have run, jumped, rolled along beaches, down sand dunes, clamberd over rocks, swum naked in the sea (yes! In Donegal. At 8.30 in the morning!). I’ve always maintained the sign of a good day is a bruised knee and dirty clothes. The girls are obviously having a ball. They have fallen so many times they look blue, drawn blood and we’ve even had a resident tick lodge itself in Daisy’s hip. She refused to have it removed, called it Tessa Tick and talked to it for a day and a half until it eventually fell off satiated with blood. Fortunately the next pet – a curly caterpillar lasted a bit longer and slept on Daisy’s pillow for a night.
I’m here for a month with the girls, and hubby is up at weekends. Despite the fact it feels like I brought the entire contents of the house – the change mat, the apple slicer (don’t ask, Daisy eats about 5 apples a day so this is essential equipment for my sanity), the food mixer, and 25 packets of gluten-free pasta (only to discover the local shop stocks more gluten-free food than our supermarket in Dublin!). But my 13 lists and near mental breakdown did not compute ‘wellies’. In Donegal. That’s like a fish & chip shop not having salt. That’s like somebody not liking chocolate. It’s just not right. I’m surprised they let us over the border, wellies being part of the national dress up here. Still, in line with my new attitute to life – the wronger it is – the better it is – who cares? Wet feet can dry.
Ruby has experienced her first taste of sand – literally. She’s at that irritating, sorry – delightful, 9 month old stage of crawling everywhere, eating everything and listening to no-one. She’s eating sand like no tomorrow, but hey. Isn’t that every child’s rite of passage? So I’m going to be all wrong again and not worry about it. I’m going to suck in that freedom and exhale that space and landscape and horisons. I’m going to feel the sun and the rain on my face in equal measure – it is Donegal after all. That’s the plan. Once hubby goes and I’m on my own with 2 girls and a baby on a wet and windy beach for a month I may be back to tell a different story. We’ll have to wait and see…..