We were going to go to Howth today, for fish and chips. Or maybe Ardgillan Castle. Or possibly Glendalough, for a picnic. But like everyone else, we woke to that same mixed sky weather we’ve been seeing all week – rain, sun, rain, sun, except with more grey than blue. Howth and Ardgillan and Glendalough all seemed suddenly less appealing. Time for a rethink. We needed somewhere with outdoors activities, food, and places to shelter from the inevitable rain. A sudden brainwave – the Tall Ships festival in Dublin’s docklands. Why hadn’t we thought of it before – the city centre is a perfect destination for these mixed-weather days.
We headed in, and made our way down to the quays. The Liffey glinted blue in the sun, stretching out to Dublin Bay. The smell of salt and vinegar chips wafted through the mingling crowds, as we made our way past the food stalls. Falafels or Bratwurst? The kids couldn’t decide, but they were giddy with excitement. We weren’t in Howth, but the day was saved.
Except it wasn’t. Because the sky that had been blue and promising just moments before, suddenly turned grey and threatening. We looked up as the first icy drops hit, then it opened, and everybody ran. We took shelter in a stall selling cheese-boards and swords (an interesting combination) for fifteen minutes long, wet minutes, then made a run for it when the downpour slowed.
What to do for food? Too wet now for street eating. We’d go to a restaurant. We ducked into a well-known pizzeria in the IFSC, and shook the drops from our hair. The kids were damp and muddy but laughing after the puddle-dash, and excited about pizza. The day was saved.
Except it wasn’t. Because service was stomach-rumblingly slow, leaving five wet customers getting crankier and hangrier, as we watched waiter after waiter walk past, none carrying our food. After forty-five long minutes trying to keep three cross kids sitting at the table, two pizzas arrived – the ones for the grown-ups. The kids looked like they were about to cry. One of them did. Eventually their food arrived too, and we tucked in with all the elegance of a litter of piglets. My pizza was stone cold, but there was no way I was sending it back – cold pizza was better than no pizza and a rained-off Falafel.
We finished and went back outside – the sun was out but it was too late and too cold to go anywhere but home. We walked up the quays, trying to placate the kids who wanted to go back to the festival. Then we came across the Jeanie Johnston famine ship.
“Can we go in?” the kids begged. It seemed like there was a small queue behind a barrier, so we joined it. Two minutes later, some more people tried to join but were turned away – the organisers were shutting down for the night. What luck – we’d got in just in time. The day was saved.
Yes. You know where this is going. The day wasn’t saved. They loved the Jeanie Johnston while we were looking around, but as soon as we were back out, they started lamenting our failed trip to the festival again (and by that, I mean they wanted a go on the merry-go-round.)
In our house, there’s only one solution when all else fails, and that’s cake. So we stopped off at Il Valentino bakery on the way home and picked up some bribes. And when we got home, finally, truly, irrevocably, the day was saved by cake. And TV. Lots of TV.