We are just home from our first Staycation since the children were small and socially unacceptable. In those days we booked into crappy family-friendly hotels where the food consisted of chips with everything, the condiments were in sachets and soft play was the highlight of the day.
But you know, needs must, so we decided in the interests of health and safety to once again holiday at home this year. I naively thought a staycation with one teenager, (the other one choosing to stay at home and 'mind the house') would be much easier than dealing with screaming toddlers and kiddy temper tantrums. Yeah right?!
We headed to West Clare, a place I'd never visited before and was assured by Himself was a beautiful part of the country. He was right about that much. It is stunning - the countryside, the beaches, the little thatched pubs and the people - all of it was breath-taking.
What I hadn't taken into account was the fact we were going during a global pandemic, so despite the natural beauty which surrounded us, the whole experience was, I must admit, a little bit s***e.
People from The West are wonderfully friendly, entertaining and kind. They say things like 'let me get you a schteak knife,' and 'are you going for a schpin today?' They deliver fabulous little nuggets of wisdom and wit and never fail to make you smile.
Except now they're wearing masks and as much as you want to engage with them and have the banter, it's practically impossible. And they tried their best, they really did, but you could see beads of sweat forming on their brows from the effort it took.
And we were back to the condiments being in sachets again! Not only the condiments, but the knives and forks and napkins. The 2 metre rule is enforced everywhere, you can't get a drink at the hotel bar, there is only table service and there are hand sanitising stations all over the gaff.
This is all good, I know, and totally in the public's interest but it steals a lot of the intrinsic Irishness from a staycation. Sure if you can't go into a pub for a pint of Guinness and a bag of tayto and have the craic, what's the point of anything really?
The teenager didn't really care about any of this. All she cared about was, would there be wifi, which there was...just about. The Cliffs of Moher didn't really do it for her, nor did the beautiful beach in Lahinch or the bohemian buzz of Doolin. We have come to realise it is very hard to make a teenager happy. Fact.
Would I have preferred a holiday in the sun, with a cocktail in one hand and a book in the other? Hell yes! But I guess it all boils down to doing our bit to get this thing under control and get our lives back.
And sure look, there's always fake tan!