‘Today we’ll cycle down to the village, pick up some crab sandwiches for a picnic, have coffee with Julie and a look around the house she’s renovating, take a cliff walk, go kayaking (throw a towel and your swimmers over there with the wet suits and I’ll put them in the car), have a dip in the sea and then go to quiz night’, said my generous hostess Annabel. ‘Oh – and dinner! What would you like to do? We can either eat at home – I can stop off at the fish shop and get some Sea Bass – or we could go out – they do great seafood chowder at The Strand? And, we’ll need to drop in at the art view tonight too at some point’.
Later the next day, pushing the one man kayak down the slipway into the water, I turned to Annabel: ‘It looks a bit choppy out there, do you think we’ll be okay – I really don’t want to capsize? Also, is this going to fit the two of us: where am I to put my butt?!’ ‘Oh yes, of course we will, just perch on that humped bit and I’ll sit up here on the back. We’re just going to row over there to Wexford – Hookhead more specifically’. I could just about make out the land mass in the distance. ‘Really??!!’ I exclaimed. ‘No!’ she laughed.
We rowed to a cove to see the young Terns. ‘Aren’t they gorgeous? Sometimes I come here and just close my eyes and listen to them’. I did the same and all we could hear were their cries to one another and the water gently lapping the side of our vessel. To the main beach – we jumped in – wetsuits, swimmers and all. It was freezing, strange and exhilarating at the same time. Several attempts to get back into our kayak later, much to the onlookers’ amusement, we headed back to the harbour.
Boundaries pushed and the To-do list ticked off, the last morning found me enjoying conversation with teenagers: ‘So what happens in sailing lessons today?’ I asked a quiet pair over the breakfast table. ‘It’s Fun Day’ said William staring down into his bowl of cereal, in a tone that suggested he wouldn’t be donning a Hawaiian shirt or ‘pimping up’ his boat for anyone. ‘Next year’ he went on, ‘I’ll be a fully qualified instructor though’. ‘Oh, great. So that means you’ll get to call the shots – no more Fun Days on a Friday!’ I said. He smiled; a downward turn of his mouth but a smile nonetheless. Anna looked up – a testament to sensible thought and latent glamour: ‘It always rains on Fun Day’ she added with a shrug of her shoulders.
I biked down to the Bay Cafe and sat outside with a cappuccino. Mellow chats surrounded me, and the sun shone down from a blue sky above – almost matched by the colour of the sea in front. The sun. In Ireland. By the sea. Heaven.