A mini-break to the midlands on the first week of the Easter holidays was great fun. But we were under house arrest for the second one – after antigen tests showed up the dreaded double lines!
• I NEVER had Longford on my bucket list of holiday destinations. But along with what felt like half of the country, I found myself there for a few days last week and I had a grand old time. I’d say we were among the last few Irish families to make our maiden voyage to the mecca otherwise known as Center Parcs and for what it’s worth, and in no particular order, here are some of my observations ….
• Anyone who has been to CP will know the pace there is hectic. Like really hectic. There were several balconies in our lovely lodge and on arrival I had a vision of myself sitting on any one of them of an evening, relaxing. Now, obviously I didn’t imagine myself reading a book, I’ve been on enough holidays with kids to know there’s no point even packing a book, but I figured I’d just reflect on the day, take in the lovely surroundings and perhaps spot a deer or a squirrel. Yeah, so that didn’t happen. Also, while I hadn’t actually booked the spa there I figured if the opportunity arose to check it out, I’d go for it. It didn’t. It was non-stop from check-in to check-out. Sure look it, you’d nearly need another holiday to recover!
• But that was all good. Because, unlike other family holidays I’ve been on in Ireland, there was no looking at one another and wondering ‘eh, what should we do now?’ Or trying to convince ourselves that we were having a brilliant time huddled miserably behind a wind-breaker on a beach with a gale force wind howling around us, before admitting defeat and going to the cinema. The list of activities there is endless, almost mind bogglingly so. You could be zip-lining at 10am and pottery making at 11am. Because we’re simple souls, though, we got the most fun out of trying to win a teddy bear on a claw machine. I blew the college fund on it and never got the hedgehog I was after. I’m still haunted by his cute little face and will be heading back just for another go.
• I also realised that the ath-leisure look is not as straightforward as I had thought. It turns out the casual look I rock for the school pick-ups and 88% of all other occasions in my life is a bit below-par. There was a very strong ‘leggings and beanie’ game going on while I was there. The place seemed to be split 85% Sweaty Betty and 15% Lululemon, and more or less 50/50 Golden Goose and Veja. Having said that, though, by day three it didn’t matter as we all looked equally wrecked. The chlorine was a great leveller – ruining everyone’s fake tan and giving everyone’s hair a weird orange hue. The Longford mist also created an instant frizz, and sure no one had time to pull out the straighteners what with the hectic schedule. It was all good.
• The backpack game was also very strong. In fact you could tell a lot about a person by their backpack of choice as they whizzed around on their bike. I had a Cúl Camp one and while in my mind I looked like someone from mainland Europe (probably Amsterdam), who was used to cycling everywhere, in reality I screamed: ‘Irish Mammy on tour’. I actually had a great chat in the pool one day with a random Kerry woman who lives in Cork city, all about backpacks. She had found the perfect one in a shop in Clonakilty. She told me the brand name but sure of course I’ve forgotten it. Just like I kept forgetting where I parked the bikes. Once I thought they had actually been stolen. They hadn’t. The staff were actually very nice about it.
• So yes, as it’s a no-car resort, you have to cycle everywhere. Coming from rural Ireland where you take your life in your hands cycling on local roads, it was a real treat not to have to recite the rosary as you navigated corners. Eamon Ryan would have been proud of us. Our carbon footprint for the week was much reduced as there wasn’t any tumble dryer in the lodge, either, even if drying the towels and togs on the radiators was a bit of a job, but nothing the average Irish mammy wouldn’t be able for, once you figured out the timing of the central heating.
• And of course it goes without saying that we met a few people there that we knew. That’s inevitable in a country the size of Ireland. All I could hope for was that none of them were in my vicinity as I was climbing in or out of the plastic tyres for whizzing down the slides. You had to leave your dignity at the door for those yokes. Great fun though (maybe not so much if you’d had a little drink the night before).
• Of course with the highs, had to come the lows and around every corner there was some poor parent hissing at their child: ‘That’s it. We’re going home now unless you ….’ I could only hope that my own outbursts at having to leave the claw machine behind weren’t witnessed by too many. Anyway, we’ll definitely be back – just with better backpacks. And then it was back to reality, with a load of washing and …. positive antigen tests all around. Now, I’m not saying we picked up anything in Longford (God bless my new second favourite county), because there were plenty of get-togethers afterwards with the extended family too, but however we picked it up, it made us all realise that this is actually the ‘new normal’ we have been banging on about for the last two years. We just gotta get used to it. More on that next week ....