Friday 27 April 2018

Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside ...

Taking a stroll along the pier in Dun Laoghaire
Taking a stroll along the pier in Dun Laoghaire

Katy McGuinness

What do you do for the hour that your house is on open view? During the rest of the week there are stretches of time when there's nobody at home and you don't give it a moment's thought. But when there's a viewing - and six people and a dog have to be out of the house for an hour-and-a-half on a Saturday - there's an amount of pressure.

Viewing days start early because no matter how much preparation you do the day before, there is still plenty to be done. Beds have to be changed, cushions plumped and toothpaste splatters wiped from the sinks. The dog's bowls must be hidden lest their presence deter a prospective purchaser who doesn't like animals. And you can't have anything to eat that involves cooking, because food smells - except for freshly baked bread - are a no-no.

So by the time we're ready to leave, everyone is fractious because they've been deprived of their Saturday morning lie-in (those who had a late night are particularly grumpy) and hungry because they're missing out on their bacon and eggs.

This week two of us took Marley the dog for a walk down the west pier in Dun Laoghaire and the others went out for breakfast. Sometimes we bring the dog along for breakfast too, but it can be stressful trying to keep him away from the sausages at neighbouring tables.

At weekends the piers are busy with families and visitors taking the air before heading to Teddy's for ice-cream but, during the week, early in the morning, you see the same familiar faces day in, day out.

I've walked one or other of the piers in Dun Laoghaire on an almost daily basis since we first came to live here 25 years ago. It used to be the east pier because its smooth surface was better suited to prams and buggies. Then there were years when that seemingly innocuous stretch posed a looming threat of tragedy (yes, I am highly and irrationally risk averse), when the children insisted on bringing their bicycles and scooters, or wearing their Heelys. I still find myself with my heart in my mouth as I watch other people's children pedal along too close to the edge for comfort but I've yet to see anyone topple in.

These days I mainly walk the west pier. It's a dog thing. It offers the possibility of letting Marley off the lead so long as the dog warden in his little white van isn't around. There's a cohort of other dogs that we meet most mornings who are game for a sniff and a romp. It's a great way to start the day for both of us, Marley and me, filling our lungs with good air and watching the drama of those big skies against the backdrop of the mountains on the return leg.

I've started to fret about missing the sea and the piers when we move into the city centre. Where are we going to walk, and will Marley make new friends?

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