The kids are back in school. Hurrah! Normality has been restored and parents are breathing secret sighs of relief. It's been a very long summer. It's nice to be back in a routine again.
My son is starting creche and I am all excited. I cannot wait to wander around town without a buggy, without constantly looking for changing rooms in shopping centres and without having a little terror trying to pop unwanted items off the supermarket aisle into my basket, or demanding to have a go on the Bob The Builder machine beside the escalator.
There will be no tears when I drop my son off to his new environment. Well, not on my part anyway. To be honest, I've been feeling sorry for him recently as he doesn't have anybody his own age to play with, and there's a limit to how excited I can become about Peppa Pig or Fireman Sam while I'm also trying to work and keep the house in order.
We didn't have a foreign summer holiday this year. We didn't have one last summer either. In fact, our most recent foreign holiday was over a year and a half ago. But I don't have any regrets about not leaving Ireland. I enjoyed this summer immensely. The weather suited me and I never go anywhere without my sunglasses and my umbrella.
You see, I have pale skin with freckles and although I love being warm, I can't bear to sizzle in the heat. I abhor mosquitos, cockroaches and anything that crawls up walls. I have travelled the world but I find the climate at home the most agreeable. At least I can swim in the sea here.
In Australia, I was afraid to swim because of the sharks and dangerous jellyfish, and I was terrified of snakes in the grass. When I was in Florida I couldn't bear the sand that burned my feet, and in Singapore I thought I would go crazy with the humidity. When we were in Morocco (our last foreign holiday), our apartment was within hearing distance of a particularly noisy nightclub, rendering it impossible to sleep before 3am. I also remember being in the Canaries one year and listening to car alarms being set off throughout the night, constantly being woken by car doors slamming, and then the maids knocking on the door at an ungodly hour to clean the room.
This year we stayed at home. I wasn't bitten by a horrible insect, I didn't get sunburnt and the food agreed with me (I grew most of it in my garden). Not having to endure air conditioning in my room, I slept very well and it didn't cost me any money.
Last week was Heritage Week in Ireland. I took full advantage of it, going to Farmleigh House, visiting the Deeds Office in Dublin's Henrietta Street, the fascinating Drimnagh Castle (if you haven't been, go), and enjoyed the many free garden parties in the public parks. However, as all good things must end, the party is now over and the schools are open. But I am already looking forward to next summer which will be spent in Ireland, of course.
Cheesy as it sounds, there really is no place like home.