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A destination gives me back my drive

I had a big breakthrough this week, of the metaphorical not the physical kind. I had been finding it difficult to get out in the car, mainly because the thought of driving up and down a monotonous speed-ramped road bored me silly. To motivate myself I needed a destination.

So, after persuading my dad to accompany me, I drove. Through traffic lights, narrow roads and main ones, roundabouts, intersections and T-junctions (I even reversed around a corner) until I reached my goal, feeling immensely proud of my small but significant achievement.

It was only when I pulled in that I realised that, in my nervousness, I had forgotten to put on my seatbelt.

The journey back was also a success, bar one traffic-light stall and an impatient driver beeping her horn -- but I kept my cool and calmly restarted the car. Up until now, being a driver before my 30th seemed a mountain too steep to climb but, with less than three weeks to go, I might scale it yet.

That 10-minute drive was enough for one day so the Scot took the wheel for our journey to Dalkey. My niece, Tianna, turned seven this week and part of her birthday present was a day out during her mid-term holiday.

According to my trusty Lonely Planet, Dalkey has several castles so I thought this might be a good historical excursion. When I told her this she squealed excitedly, asking if a princess still lived there and if we would see her bedroom.

Goat Castle is now Dalkey Castle and Heritage centre which features a small gift shop, an early Christian church and graveyard, a writers' gallery and scale, Victorian transport models. However, the best aspect is the Living History tour, featuring costumed characters from Deilg Inis Living History Theatre Company, portraying Dalkey's Viking and medieval past.

Because it is off-season, there was just one character, the Medieval Cook, who was brilliantly entertaining and had the children completely absorbed. Tianna loved the whole experience; her only gripe being that there was not a real medieval feast. Luckily, we were able to satisfy her with a modern-day ice-cream!