It’s week 74 and even though we’re on the other side of the August bank holiday weekend, I reckon it’s all still to play for before we call time on the summer of ‘21.
• So the August bank holiday weekend represents a bit of a marker on the summer calendar, doesn’t it? It’s a wake-up call that September is approaching, hovering out there ready to drag the mood down, and that you’re entering the last chance saloon to make those magic memories, before you have to get the lunch boxes out again. Back in June, I felt optimistic enough to put together a bucket list of things I wanted to do this summer. I didn’t commit it to paper or anything, just in my head, which is just as well as I’m pretty sure I haven’t managed to do any of them. But there’s time yet, right?
• Among my vague aspirations were to take a boat trip and enjoy the wildlife activity on our coast that people travel great distances for; to go on a night time kayak, and perhaps fit in a beach yoga class or two. At dawn. After a three-day juice fast (that was always a bit optimistic I suppose). I also hoped I’d discover a breathtaking new cove and I imagined that my unfiltered Instagram post on the beauty spot would go viral (although I hadn’t fully decided if I’d actually go public with my ‘find’ or not. Let me refer you to last week’s column on beach parking). And I definitely wanted to give paddle boarding a try (for at least long enough for someone to get a decent photo of me).
• I also wanted to host a sophisticated but not show-offy supper, something light, made from my vegetable patch (so a pea risotto then as everything else pretty much fell into the ‘failed to thrive’ category); to reconnect with friends I hadn’t seen all year (preferably without kids) and to eat in a Michelin restaurant that is not too far from home and that I’ve never been to.
• Oh yes, I also wanted a city break; but within easy reach, so a night in Cork. That’s what us country folk call the city. So far, so reasonable, I think you’d agree.
• Yup. So we’re just on the other side of the bank holiday weekend and so far the only moving vessel I’ve been on, on water, has been that little bridge at the crazy golf course in Smuggler’s Cove, Rosscarbery. At least no one fell in, which was a bonus I suppose. If you were in the group ahead or behind me I apologise for being quite the fish wife, but the under-6s in my care that day were just not playing … ball. It’s a great old spot all the same, though.
• I haven’t yet managed a reservation at my Michelin either. It turns out I’m not the only one with the same ambition. But … I have discovered the simple pleasures of frying sausages on the beach for appreciative diners, so famished after spending hours in the sea they’d probably have devoured rocks. And that kind of doubled up as a beach yoga session, too, as I had to adopt lots of inventive poses to avoid getting spattered. A double hit!
• I have also got to meet lots of friends over the past few weeks. Turns out when you live in West Cork, you don’t have to ask people twice if they want to visit. Have the good towels out all the time just in case, and a fruit cake in the tin, as you know not the day, or the hour you’ll get a call from someone who is ‘just 10 minutes away.’ Most of my visitors came with kids, other people’s kids, dogs, parents and various mengageries in tow, but sure the more the merrier. And who cares if no one actually managed a full conversation, the noise and the mess was all lovely.
• I haven’t quite managed to secure the night away yet, but that’s mainly my own fault as I’ve been bitten bad by the camping bug. Admittedly, we’re still in granny’s garden ... but still. The moment I thought I had been hoping for all summer came last week when the five-year-old declared she had enough of the air beds and could we sleep inside instead. I was gutted! The discomfort of camping is what it’s all about, you wear it like a badge of honour. And without sounding too Brady Bunch, I’ve had some of my best laughs of the season while playing Snakes and Ladders for the first time in decades on a rickety deckchair before bedtime outside the tent (while trying to resist the urge to nudge the counters on a bit, when no one was looking, to keep things moving along). I reckon I’m going to stick with canvas for a bit longer.
• Of course I have to mention our marvellous Olympians whose incredible performances will carry us well beyond the summer months. What a gang. Without sounding conceited, I had a PB of my own with a ‘hole in one’ at crazy golf. Naturally I’m now thinking of taking up golf (or rowing. What? I’ve always been very open about how impressionable I am). Anyway, our brilliant young sports people have given me courage and I reckon it’s all still to play for, so I’ve us booked in for a trip around the Fastnet next week, and if you see me doing a downward dog at a beach near you, just be polite enough to look the other way. We’ll surely knock another few weeks of fun out of it before we need to start thinking about pulling out the lunch boxes and covering the books.