Sunday 19 November 2017

Summer memories are made of this

Monday: The Duchess of Cambridge may have entered the early stages of labour this morning but that information took a back seat to the news that many of the fields of Ireland had been sprinkled with rain overnight. On the streets, reactions to the news of the weather breaking were mixed. Some of us had become acclimatised to a blazing sun overhead, while others longed for a return to the overcast way of how it used to be.

I had an interesting chat with an old pal at the weekend and we both agreed that while we welcome the sunshine, we prefer sitting under the shade of a tree as the rest of the world basks in it.

To date, we have had a summer that we should never forget. It was badly need too, as a reminder to us all about what a fantastic country we have and that it really was only a handful of bad eggs that messed it up for the rest of us. But the sunshine allowed us to forget about all that for a while.

For a month we lived like people do in other, warmer, countries. For a month we ditched wearing the pyjamas in the bed. For a month, we understood the attraction of togas and figs. For a month we actually wanted to eat salads. For a month, we woke up with a smile.

I felt relieved that I had fitted in my second trip to the beach during the summer of 2013 on Saturday, in case the sunshine was taken away. And I was glad to see that throughout the years that preceded and succeeded the Celtic Tiger, when it comes to the carry-on at Irish beaches nothing much has changed. I saw that the Irish, in general, are not a vain race. Men and women that would normally never dream of removing an item of clothing in public become liberated as soon as they near the coast, with the ripples of the sea eclipsed by the ripples on most of the bodies that are dipping in it, and no one seems to care.

I also noticed that the woman in the ice-cream van was having a nightmare. The ice-cream making machine had sprung a leak and there was a mountain of sweetness piled around her feet. Still, driven by an intent to make hay while the sun shines, she stuck around. And as the young lad, younger lad and I approached she asked if we 'really' wanted to try her produce, even though the machine was acting up. It was a silly question; at that stage we'd have licked ice-cream from a farmer's old wellie. Four 99s draped in red syrup and with a chocolate flake sticking out – that's an Irish summer right there.

I also learned that chivalry is not dead. We parked up and ordered burgers and chips on the way home, and we discovered a flat tyre. As the woman that makes the burgers tore strips off a customer for talking about her down the pub (much to our hilarity) I got to work, only to find that the nut spanner was the wrong size.

I looked at the good woman and she tittered that the guy who had sold her the car a few months back must have got his spanner sizes mixed up. A couple spotted our distress and came to the rescue. Thankfully, the man parked next to us had a spanner big enough for the job.

Then we found a temporary tyre hanging underneath the car boot; a tyre that looked more suitable to carrying a scooter rather than a well-fed family of four. We drove home, at a snail's pace, as car after car overtook us. All we could do was laugh. With our faces red, our legs exhausted and happy memories of an Irish summer ingrained in our minds.

Enniscorthy Guardian

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