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Saturday 23 August 2014

Five things learned on a family holiday

Published 13/08/2013 | 05:42

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We took to the road for the summer holiday this week and the following are five points that I noted after a three-night stay with the family in Bantry, west Cork.

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(5) I am turning into Clark Griswold. If ever I had aspirations to be a film star as a kid then I can't imagine Chevy Chase's 'bumbling idiot dad' from the National Lampoon series was who I wanted to grow up to resemble. However, as we crossed a particular bridge outside Youghal and I told the young lad and younger lad to stop squabbling in the back of the car and look out the window at the lovely bridge, that's who I sounded like. The good woman reminded me that they cross two bridges every day in their own town, and she seldom notices any acceleration in heartbeats. When I asked her if she thought I was turning into Clark Griswold, she fell silent. Eventually she murmured, 'Just don't start calling me Honey.' And then I saw her smirk.

(4) Parents need a holiday to recover from a holiday. We befriended a couple from the Wicklow area who had also opted to go down the 'staycation' route. On our last night, as I hobbled from the tennis court after a marathon match against the young lad, our new male friend commented how I looked more exhausted at the end of the break than when they had met me on the first night. That's what 72 hours entertaining kids with the energy levels of Duracell bunnies will do to a man. Then I excused myself, mopped my brow, and beckoned to the barman to pour me a large cold one. While the young lad did some press-ups in the lobby.

(3) Irish history rocks. It may have been by accident while we meandered our way down the back roads of west Cork, but we suddenly found ourselves at Beal na mBlath, the scene of the death of Michael Collins in August, 1922. I read with interest over the weekend that Bill O'Herlihy is to call for an alliance between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil during his oration at the annual commemoration of Collins at Beal na mBlath later this month.

On the way home we stopped off at Cobh, from where the Titanic left on its doomed voyage in April, 1912. Bantry has volumes of history too, while we also fitted in a boat trip to Garnish Island which is off Glengarriff; our three-day sojourn providing merely a snapshot for the young lad and younger lad of the history this country has to offer.

(2) Let the woman do all the packing. The good woman did the most of the packing but my contribution was as follows: one pair of dirty pyjamas; a bottle of Calpol with half a spoonful left in it; a stack of library books that the kids wouldn't get through in a year; a packet of sweets she wouldn't feed to a dog; a mobile phone minus the charger; zero tubes of toothpaste...the list goes on. Women are better packers than men. Lesson learned.

(1) Family matters. In two of the interviews I listened to over the past week, one with Fran Healy, lead singer of the Scottish band Travis, and the other with Aslan's Christy Dingam (who has suffered serious health problems) on Saturday Night with Miriam, both artists referred to family being the only thing, despite their considerable success in music, that really matters in life.

Of course there are times when family members will drive each other to the edge of despair and short breaks away with four heads squashed together in two beds in the confines of a hotel room are a great example of this. It's only when you get five minutes to yourself that you can appreciate the memories, riddled with touches of insanity as they may be.

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