Happy to leave the glare of the Middle Eastern sun for the summer period, I appreciated the refreshing drizzle which was the backdrop to our decent onto Irish soil, or landing strip as the case may be. The damp mist, the fresh temperatures and the cool Atlantic breeze which serves to give everything that vividness of colour and realness that the sandy landscape of Abu Dhabi doesn’t have.
Like newly freed hostages, we, myself and the kids, gulped back the fresh air and took joy out of standing in the puddles which were formed between the plane stair and the door to arrivals. Leaving the airport, the fan of the car was turned up full, with the same alacrity as when in Abu Dhabi, except this time it was heat and cool air that was called for. That first day, now, six days ago was a hotbed of new fresh old experiences, the newness in every stale thing, the damp of the air, the damp of the grass under foot and the damp of the much missed Barry’s tea bag. I had conjured up a budget plan for the summer, and using all the fantastic and free outdoor facilities available and cheap supermarket wine, it was definitely achievable.
Day three saw unrest in the camp against the damp. It also saw three little noses pressed against the window pane and the first stirrings of boredom trickled into the room. There is only so many times you can roll out the order, “put on your coat and go outside but don’t come back in here with wet clothes”, impossibility I know, given that the heavens had decided to open and stay open since our return home. By day five, the weekly “Children’s Entertainment Budget” was blown on trips to shopping centers for the kids and Wally’s Hut for Mom. The final dent in the cent was when I took the drastic measure of booking them into a summer camp, a fully indoor summer camp, here, in Ireland, the home of the great outdoors, supposedly. Ironically the very reason we had left Abu Dhabi for the summer was to escape the closing walls of indoors and here we were, all housed in again. All the best made plans were flung into the ditch and washed away in the seemingly constant rainfall. Picnics, adventurous forest walks, visits to the lake, Fota Island, Roberts Cove, day trips to West Cork all faded into the background as the rain continued to pelt down on top of my plans for an ideal outdoor summer.
I had imagined that my Seran Getti sunglasses and Nine West Jesus sandals were suitable accessories for summertime but alas by day seven, I invested in a Dunnes raincoat and umbrella. Leave your glamour at the door it’s summertime in Ireland. Totting up the total spend for the week or staving hunger and boredom of for three always hungry and very bored kids, didn’t do anything to lift the mood. Fair enough you can get five pork chops for a fiver in your local supermarket and the price of fruit and vegetables has never been more competitive, but the cost to fill the car with petrol and drive it to the local supermarket is almost equivalent to chartering a small plane to Paris for the night. And let’s face it, given the choice we’d all find it hard to choose between dining on escargots and Bordeaux for the evening and feeding a family for the week. Final calculations done and the results were in. The cost of living in one’s own home in Ireland and having a reasonable quality of life, not a high quality but just enough to keep mommy sane and the sulks at bay , is right on par with the cost of the flying to Spain and hiring a self-catering apartment for the week, complete with no summer camps, no Eu. 1.60 per litre petrol, no top-up on the home heating oil and no trips to shopping centres.
So sitting and looking out the window of my Irish pad, I noted that once again I was hostage in my own home before to the sun, now to the rain. Welcome home.