Wednesday 15 August 2012

Silverwoods Invasion

This year's Family Holiday is a change from the narrow boating of previous years for three very good reasons - 1) we're in a different country now, 2) we are in a different situation money-wise and 3) all the rivers and canals and locks we used for the last few years have been out of use for most of this year with too much water and flooding. Instead, the 6 Silverwoods plus a guest, best friend of Em-J, John the Bass Player (not her real name!) plus their 2 dogs, Maxwell and Lily and the one remaining pup, Goldie descend on us for a week.

The little ones, R (4) and M (6) have been obsessing about the chance to camp and live in a tent for weeks, so Mr and Mrs S bring the tent. We here, having survived months of on/off rain, are not 100% convinced of this as a plan and think they will be pitching it in a swamp, but, amazingly, as they confirm arrangements on Monday 6th the sun comes out and we get a week of scorcher, blue skies and hot hot hot. Talk about bringing the weather with you. We are able to erect the tent in the dry, on a dry bit of grass and R and M plus Mr and Mrs S get to spent at least that night under canvas.

The hot weather brings out the flying ants and a whole gang of them are attracted to the pale blue of the tent awning. Poor M is convinced they will eat him alive in his sleep and takes some persuading that they will be gone by night fall. Thankfully they are and he goes to bed easily enough. The teenage girls (Em-J, J-M and "John") take over the caravan as their den and sleeping pod, plus venue for Midnight Feasts and tuck parties. It's a no-go area for the boys and the little ones except for occasional deliveries of cocoa and, in Mr S's case a chance to creep over there and frighten them into squealing hysterics with torch-under-the-chin and funny voices.

This holiday is brilliant for me because I get to play for a week with my big mates Lily and Maxwell and it's great for Towser who gets to run, romp, fight and wrestle all week with his sister Goldie (pup of the orange collar colour). Lily and Max do not get total free rein because they are not quite trustworthy with the rabbits, hens, kittens and the lane outside, but they are free or supervised on the lead enough to enjoy their stay.

For the humans there are games on the front lawn with badminton set up, occasional volleyball and chasing games that Mrs S recalls from her youth - "What's the Time, Mr Wolf", "Mother, May I?" and "Blind Man's Buff" plus a lot of sitting around on the front terrace recovering in the heat, getting sunburnt.

There are outings so that we dogs actually get a walk, with leads on (!) We all go on a 'Bog Walk' (a Nature Trail through a turf cutting bog) down by Lough O'Flynn, just south of our own village (Lough Glynn). There's a trip to the National Museum of Country Life at Turlough near Castlebar, Co. Mayo where Dad loves being able to see 'live' the stuff described in the book he's just finished reading (FSL Lyons, "Ireland Since the Famine"), he loves the currachs and coracles and he loves the photos of raised bed and 'lazy-bed' agriculture which is what we're now up to out on the allotment.

Finally there is a trip to a petting zoo in Kilimagh, Co. Mayo. Here the kids buy grain to feed to a variety of hens, ducks, sheep, pigmy goats, llamas, pigs, ponies and (via a bucket because they bite) rheas. We find out that horses can have blue eyes and we all enjoy a well stocked reptile house with turtles, lizards, snakes, a skink, chameleon, dragons, and (you couldn't pick this one up) a tarantula. There are even swings and slides for the little ones and a nice hatchery bit where we can see tiny new-hatched chicks and ducklings. There are bunnies and guinea pigs.

All in all a brilliant week in lovely weather. A good holiday, if not quite as satisfying as Narrow Boating. Ah well.

No comments: