AS heat wave Lucifer swept across Europe, we were contending with a different deity as Poseidon took aim at the Kerry coast for our week long break.
The forecast was looking good, (no weather/flood/storm warnings) and the south west of the country was visible in some of the RTE weather forecasts on the telly.
Stoically I looked forward to a nostalgic holiday, redolent of summers past, eating sandwiches and salt and vinegar crisps in the car with the Whirlwind Princess and The Little Fella and going to the Aquadome pool in my native Tralee. (OK, I was gutted it wasn't going to be a week of beach days in The Kingdom), but there would be much fun to be had, oh yes. The first day was a bonus, an in lieu day for a bank holiday I had worked and I was going to savour every second of it, so the children were gingerly dropped off in creche and I suddenly found myself with time on my hands. It was a curious state to be in, and I went through a gamut of emotions feeling guilty for not doing anything, before slapping myself in the face realising that it is perfectly alright not to have lists of tasks to work through all the time.
The only thing I wanted to achieve was to look at bicycles with a view to buying one and so I drove to Wexford, rain pelting the car. The downpour was apocalyptic and threw everyone into bad form. The shiny bicycles did manage to cheer me up and conscious of my poor time keeping the previous week I returned to New Ross in plenty of time, having chilled out in a cafe with a good book and coffee.
We broke the journey to Kerry with a stop-off at Fota Wildlife Park, where having paid €37 to go in, the rain returned with a vengeance, but in keeping with our topsy turvy summer, the sun quickly broke through the clouds and we enjoyed a great afternoon among a Noah's Ark of animals: the lion cubs proving a particular hit.
We landed in my native Tralee and passed workmen putting up The Dome for the Roses. The town looked great and over the coming days I resisted the temptation to tear off across the county on a bucket list ticking exercise of must see destinations. Instead, we spent our time together in the company of friends, many of whom have children the same age as mine, and with relations.
The mantra for the week was relaxation and we repeated it daily. The only exception being a trip to south Kerry to visit cousins in Cahersiveen, a hidden gem of a town on the Iveragh Peninsula, close to Valentia Island, Skellig Michael - made famous recently by the arrival of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and the Star Wars crew. We didn't bother with the €75 trip to the spectacular Skellig Michael - instead opting for the €5 charge to climb the mountain on Valentia, with its breathtaking views and ascent! Returning to a festival in Cahersiveen that evening in the town where my father and his siblings grew up, a town I always love to visit, was a highlight of the trip.
As we dined in my cousin's restaurant, Camo's, a place run by his parents before him, whose cafe I visited since I was a nipper, the children munching on food prepared in the same kitchen, a sense of familial continuity and kinship was the icing on the cake on a great week. The drive home in the rain two days later and customary stop at McDonald's in Dungarvan was made tolerable by the company, while Spraoi street festival in Waterford capped what was a brilliant staycation break in rainy Ireland.