Our Irish Adventure…..the middle & the end…..

We wake up still broken and feeling hungover without having had anything to drink.  Our bodies paying the price for our epic 14 hour adventure yesterday.

Aingel makes us another fab breakfast and we hug her and say goodbye to her like an old friend and head into Galway for coffee.  I have once again done my research for a good coffee but it is a bit of a fail.  We walk through Galway city and comment on how cool and busy it is, and we jump in the car ready for our next stop – Donegal.

As we drive through the countryside of Galway, it has a beautiful, ruggedness about it.  We stop to walk around, the earth is spongy under our feet and there are spring lambs everywhere – how delicious! I mean, cute.  As we drive into Mayo, another Irish speaking town, the green returns and the landscape changes once again.   We drive through a town called Cong, a tidy little village with a river running along the side, and the usual suspects – book shop, cafes, chipper and a pub.

The drive up to Donegal is amazing, more incredible scenery, more getting out to ohhh and ahhh and take photos, more talking about how lucky we are to see this – and of course, the weather is on our side once again and there isn’t a cloud in the sky.   Smug AF.

We arrive at our Air B&B and after driving around in circles, getting wrong directions and information from the owners, and an initial terrifying moment where it looked as though we had actually been booked into a hostel, we finally got our key to our apartment, which had beautiful water views – and not a backpacker in sight, thankfully.

We have dinner in a town called Aradarra  at a place the Nisbett Arms Hotel with Tony’s nephew Noely and his wife Fiona, who live up in this part of the beautiful country.  Lucky ducks.    We eat a brilliant meal, Tony has a steak, and I have chicken.  Tony’s steak was amazing, he lets me taste it and I get food envy because even though my chicken was delicious, he has clearly won dinner so we vow to come back tomorrow so I can get my head down into the one that got away.  We eat, drink and laugh a lot over dinner, and I quickly forget that I am a new to the gang, they are so friendly and familiar which makes me soon forget about my plan to be on my best behaviour and I drink many wines, because you know, I’m even more hilarious and adorable when I drink.  We go to a fantastic pub afterwards that plays Irish music and I drink more wines that I don’t need, we stumble out and get a cheese burger that I don’t need, from a street van and we head home with sore cheeks from laughing, and I love Noely and Fiona, and I love Tony, and I love Ireland, and I love wine.  Hiccup. Sleep.

Day 11

I wake up feeling every single one of those wines that I sunk last night.  Owch.  Tony gets word from Noely and Fiona that they kept drinking a whopping 3 hours after we left and I instantly feel disappointed in myself. I have let myself go in my later years. I used to be the queen of this shit. In my hey-day I would have been there til the end and started the party again today.  Not so.  Instead, it’s Panadol, an ugly head and a fair bit of moaning from me up until we decide to set out to find “The Pod” a gorgeous little coffee van that we found on Instagram that sets up at the top of a beautiful big cliff in Donegal with a bullshit view and the promise of amazing coffee.  If ever I wished anything to be true, it was today.

We were not disappointed, the coffee was incredible and the view was even better.  This moment – this coffee and this view are literally worth every single watery, shit coffee we have had since we arrived.

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We sit there drinking our coffee and taking it all in, we are little later to get moving than usual today because we are hung-over, old and slow, but over coffee, Tony says “do you want to do the Giant’s Causeway today?”….now nothing really is lining up for this to happen – it’s late morning, we are drinking coffee with hangovers, and the Giant’s Causeway is hours away, we haven’t packed or planned anything, and we don’t really know any details … so naturally we both say “why not?” and jump in the car and head off.  This is classic Jaynie & Tony behaviour, and it has worked a treat for us every step of this holiday, so we are sticking with this unplanned holiday behaviour strategy.

On the drive, we pass a field of rapeseed flowers – those bright yellow highlighter flowers that I had vowed to run through before the end of the trip, so we stop to get among it.  It is so so beautiful.  Bright, yellow, happy flowers literally everywhere and it is literally impossible not to smile.  We walk around in them, we take selfies and I tick it off my Ireland bucket list.

It is a little weird driving into Northern Ireland, especially when Vodafone sends us text messages welcoming us to the UK. We talk about how this part of the country part of the UK, which seems weird, a little sad and makes absolutely no sense to me why one chunk of a country belongs to another.  We talk about the history behind it, and the unrest that filled the country for so many years.  As soon as we cross the border we immediately notice subtle changes in road signs and surrounds which now have a UK flavour.

We arrive at The Giants Causeway which lies at the foot of the basalt cliffs along the sea coast on the edge of the Antrim plateau. It is made up of some 40,000 massive black basalt columns sticking out of the sea and is freaking ridiculous.  There is a beautiful walk along and throughout the rocks and the whole thing is crazy beautiful.  Seriously – hexagonal rocks, some creating staircases that you would swear were man-made.  Nothing makes sense – it is nature at its most ridiculous.

Today is hot, like short-sleeve kind of hot and even though we’re right along the coastline, the only wind I can feel is Tony’s.

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After the Giant’s Causeway, we drive to the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge which had a view that almost didn’t seem like it could belong to Ireland.  We could have been in the Mediterranean or the Whitsundays with the incredible blue turquoise colour of the crystal clear ocean around us.   The walk down the rope bridge is picturesque, and I think this is probably the most beautiful part of this country (Ireland, to be clear) that I have seen so far – and is most certainly the best cure for a hangover because I feel brand new.

At the end the beautiful walk down, and connected to the cliffs by a rope bridge across the Atlantic Ocean is Carrick-a-Rede Island (home to a single building – a fisherman’s cottage).  Suspended almost 100 ft (30 m) above sea level, the rope bridge was first erected by salmon fisherman 350 years ago.  And yes, I am as impressed as you that I just used the word ‘erected’ in a grown up sentence, even though I was smirking as I typed it.

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The view is so clear that we can actually see Scotland in the distance. Scotland! For real. We walk across the bridge, and are annoyingly smug because once again there are hardly any tourists here and we practically have the place to ourselves.  Golden I tell ya! We. Are. Golden.

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After the bridge, we wander down the other side, there is a big open area where some big fight scene from Game of Thrones was filmed, neither of us have ever seen any episodes, of the show but we are pretty sure it’s a big deal.  The track ends but we keep going and climb along the rocks, where we find sea caves.  There is a beautiful marble sheen within the huge bolders that sit on the edge, just sitting inside them like raisins in a muffin – although prettier.  And less delicious.

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We hang out there for a while on our own, exploring and climbing rocks and while I pretend to be coordinated, I secretly can’t believe that I haven’t injured myself so far on this trip.

We head home and we drive past another incredible view so we stop for a better look! Excitement overwhelms me, and I do a cartwheel … landing in poison ivy on my other foot.  Don’t. Even.

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I had shoes on this time, and the bitch got me on the teeny tiny piece of exposed skin between my shoes and my jeans.  Tony of course finds it hilarious, as I limp to the car frantically scratching my skin and swearing.  You’ll keep Storey, you’ll keep.

Beautiful Ireland lays yet out another golden sunset on the way home.  Pink skies, with sheep and windmills in the distance and we realise once again this holiday is just Ridick!

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We stop at the restaurant we went to last night, and I get the steak that I had been obsessing about … and it was everything I had dreamed it would be.  I wash it down with potato, and we go back to our little apartment, for minstrels and debriefing and bed.

DAY 12

We wake, and are excited that we now know a fantastic place for coffee and a view, which are pretty much my two favourite things in the world….except for my children, obviously. And Tony.  And my family and friends.  And puppies.

Anyway, we head to the Pod, and it is every bit as awesome as it was yesterday.

We head off for our first adventure for the day – Ards Forrest Trail Walk which comes highly recommended by Noely.  There are a number of trail walks to choose from, a few 3km, 3.5km walks and a Red Trail walk which is 13km, which of course we decide to do.  We park at the gate and can’t find the $5 Euro in change to get through the boom gate (we find $3.20) – so we park at the front and have to walk to the main car park to get started…which adds a nice 2km each way to our walk.   That’s 17km for anyone playing at home.   Lucky the day is beautiful, as is the scenery and the company so we don’t care where we are walking or how far it is.

There are parts of the walk that looks like we are literally in the middle of an Enchanted Story children’s book, beautiful tall Forest trees, green, green everything, and heaps of those old Oak trees that look like they should have eyes and a mouth and will speak to me in a slow, deep – yet friendly voice.  The whole place feels like a Fairytale and it gets more beautiful with every step we take…it’s the forest and the woods and then, it’s a freaking beach!  Yep, white sandy beach, with the bluest clearest water, and it literally kills me that it’s so clear and blue, and I can’t dive into it.  Well, I could, but I’d freeze. And, well, my hair.

Note to Australia – first these people have kids with cuter voices than ours, now they are knocking at the doors of our beaches….lift your game Australia, before you know it, they will have a better version of Holden Utes and VB!

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After we finish the walk, including the trek back to the car, we decide to drive out to check out Mount Errigal, the highest mountain in Donegal, and an epic climb that we are thinking of doing tomorrow.  Tony has done it before once with Noely, and says it is really grueling but worth it for the view at the top.  I’ll be the judge of that.

It’s 3.30pm, and we haven’t eaten all day, we have no water, and we’ve just done a 17km walk….and I’m not sure how it happened, but our excitement in the carpark got the better of us and in our wisdom, we decide “why put off to tomorrow what we can do today” and we take off up the mountain.

15 minutes later I have some pretty fierce internal swearing going on in my head, mostly directed at Tony for bringing me here. It is really rocky terrain, first muddy as we trudge through the bog, then as we climb over a surface that is purely loose rocks where it feels like we have roller-skates on, sliding on every vertical step.  We take 60 second breaks every 20 metres or so because it is so steep that we are breathless.   I am not sure if it’s because the mountain is hard, or because I’ve eaten and drank my fitness away since we arrived, but it’s hard.

I swear my way to the very top, and it is worth every single step.  We are breathless for a different reason – it is fucking beautiful up here.  3000 feet of pure beauty.  We are in the middle of nowhere, there is nobody here but us and it is so far beyond amazing that I am out of words to describe the view, and the moment.

We sit down, literally feeling on top of the world, looking around at the 360 degree view of beautiful Donegal.

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Here it is.  This is it.  This is my favourite moment so far.

It is one of those times that I start using words like ‘magical’ and sound like a bit of a wanker.

We are so high up that a rescue chopper goes PAST us – at eye level.  I secretly wish that they’d throw me a ladder and fly me down as I’m defeated after that epic climb up, but surely down is easier than up right?  Wrong.

We start to make our way down the mountain and panic sets in as I realise that roller-skating on rocks DOWN a mountain is even harder than roller-skating up on them.  With every step on the way down, our feet slip on the loose rocks, and my whole body hurts from tensing everything to protect myself from falling.

I fall 3 times on the way down, and am once again, thankful for Ireland and its endless offerings of potato, for padding out my booty and making for a softer landing with each fall.

We finally reach the car and within about 20 minutes, the day catches up to us – the trail walk, the epic 3 hour mountain climb, oh and no food – our bodies hurt.  We head straight into town and find a chinese restaurant, and order – CHICKEN BALLS AND CURRY SAUCE, and just like that we are saved.  We head home to inhale it, with some minstrel chasers and wash it down with cans of coke.  Athletes.

We go to bed and sleep in the most hard core way we’ve ever slept.

Day 13 

We wake feeling like we have been punched in our sleep thanks to post-mountain-climbing pain that hurts so bad that my pain has pain.  These fitness people have a lot to answer for.  Seriously – potato would never make me feel this bad.  It really makes you think.

It’s our final day in Donegal, which is devastating because we love it so much, and have had some of our most special moments here, and it’s just so damn pretty that we don’t want to leave.  We remind ourselves that all is not lost and that even though the walls are closing in on this trip we still have a week of fun waiting for us in Dublin.

We go to the Pod and say goodbye to the woman who has kept us alive for the past 3 days, we get our coffee and take in the view one more time.  We do a drive through Glenties where Noely and Fiona live before we head off, we call by to check out Fiona’s Barber shop, a cool little pad called “The Barber Club” which is as gorgeous as it is genius – A Barber shop tucked away next to a pub, which is effectively her waiting room and she buzzes the pub when she’s ready for her next client.  The woman is a bloody genius.  I can’t help but consider doing this to make my millions in Australia, but am reminded by a really bad home-hair cut that I did on Fletcher as a 4 year old, and even I can see the holes in my grand plan.

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As we drive around, Tony mentions that he never seen the most Northern point of Ireland and it’s somewhere he has always wanted to go, so naturally we decide to go there “on the way home to Dublin” except it is not on the way at all.  It doesn’t matter, we have no clock, nowhere to be, nobody to answer to and life is pretty good at this point, we can do what we want.

I decide it will be a great idea to paint my nails on the way in the car, and put my hand out the window to dry them…which of course, at 110km immediately put a wind smudge on them and I realise it may be one of my dumbest ideas ever, right up there with purchasing nail polish without purchasing remover.  They look shit.

We pass a town with a giant sign that says “welcome to Muff” – we laugh and spend about 30 minutes making jokes about Muff town.

We arrive at Malin Head, Ireland’s most northern point, and with its dramatic cliffs and dark blue water smashing up against the cliff face, it was worth the detour.   We sit at the top of the cliff and watch it all happening around us.  We talk about our trip, and our favourite parts so far, we talk about how beautiful this country is, and how lucky we are to have this time together just cruising around exploring it.  We are gripping this holiday so tight that our knuckles are white.

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We drive to Ballyhillin Beach and get out and walk along the beach.  Now I haven’t mentioned anything  in this blog about my rock collection yet, because I’ve been trying to work out a way to do it without making me sound weird, but I now realize that it is impossible:  soooo somewhere along the way during this trip, I started picking up rocks at special places and putting them into my pocket, as a memento (or free souvenir) . Long story short, I have about 3 kilos worth of rocks now from every place we’ve been to along our travels and I have basically become a crazy rock lady, always on the hunt for the perfect rock . Anyway, Tony – always supportive of all of my freaky shit, helps me find the perfect rock at the beach and we get back on the road to Dublin.

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Tony stops to get me some prawn skips and minstrels, without me even whinging about needing them – he just does it because he knows it makes for a happier Jaynie – that’s love right there folks.  It also makes for an easier drive for him when I’m too busy eating and can’t sing or talk shit, and also I’m fairly sure that the car is powered by me chewing at this point.

As we drive, I swig laxatives from the bottle that I keep in the glove box, which Tony affectionately calls my ‘crap juice’ – I send photos of myself sculling it to my girls back home, who message me their fond memories of my constipation from our NYC trip.  Fun times.

We arrive back into Dublin, and we stop in to see Fran and Noel (Tony’s sister and brother in law) and we tell them about our travels, show them photos and stay for a while chatting to them before we head home to Tony’s parent’s house.  We’re excited to be home when we get there, I’ve missed chatting to his mum and dad, they are really clever, funny people who have an endless archive of interesting stories that I have become addicted to.   They have missed the company too and are pleased to have us back making noise in their home again.   I just love them.

Day 14 

We get up early and head down to Clontarf for a coffee, then we drive down to Howth for a walk, it is freezing and windy and sea gulls are letting themselves been blown across the sky over the water.  By the way, the Sea Gulls here are taking the same steroids that the Irish bees are – they are bloody enormous and look more like spray painted crows.

We spend the day with Tony’s parents and it’s lovely – perhaps one of my favourite days.  Pottering at home, it’s lovely in the garden with his dad as he builds his amazing bird houses, going to the shops with Tony’s mum, talking, laughing, making endless cups of tea and really loving a ‘nothing day’ that is anything but nothing.

We treat ourselves to an afternoon nap and wake with sheet creases on our cheeks.   We decide to go out for some drinks and we head out to Malahide, a really cool little town not far from Tony’s parent’s house.  First up, we go to a place Gibbeys, which has cool décor and an even cooler vibe, we have a few pints and laughs.  We move to the next pub, and meet a lovely Irish couple and we stay for some more drinks and a few laughs.  Tony tells me about his old haunt, a grotty old place called the Goblett, where he would go when he was 18 and where all the messiest nights happened (we all have one of those places), he had some great stories about it and I decide I want him to take me so that I can have the full Ireland experience!  He laughs, and we head off to the Goblett!  He was right, it is pretty festy in here, but it is a People Watcher’s delight and I literally cannot get enough of my surrounds.  My brain may actually explode tonight.   You know things are pretty grim when I am the poshest person in the room!  Seriously, I am Dutchess Kate among this crowd.

We sink pint after pint for hours, telling stories, playing games and laughing so hard that our faces hurt.  We are as pissed as fools.  I would attach a photo of this night, but there simply aren’t enough filters in the world for that to happen.  Think red eyes, sloppy heads and harsh lighting.

Tony tells me that after he would stagger out of the Goblett as a gangly teenager, he’d go down the road and get Chicken Balls and curry sauce and devour them when he got home.  So in the interest of not taking any shortcuts in this authentic experience,  we head off to put our order in, we stagger home and inhale them in about 5 seconds, and while I’m elbows deep in balls, it’s safe to say that Dutchess Kate has left the building.

We fall into bed after what has been one of the funniest nights of our trip!

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Day 15

We wake with hangovers, and breath that smells like armpit after a long walk on a 40 degree day.

Tony asks if I want to try black pudding but I make an educated guess that a dirty hangover may not be the best day to try a blood sausage for the first time.  I play it safe and eat toast while he cooks up fry up.

We head to Clontarf for coffee and a treat from the Butlers Pantry, and I tell Tony that I think I want a lemon meringue but they are pretty big, without hesitation he says “you can do it, you have a big mouth”.   I don’t think anyone has ever believed in me the way that he does.  It’s really quite beautiful.

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He was right. I nailed it.

We decided to head out to New Grange in County Mead, when we park, we see the most enormous crow (what is it with this country and giant birds?)…Tony suspects it may be a small child in a crow’s suit.

We see Slane castle and are heading to an old ruins of an Abbey, we take a wrong turn and end up way off track but it looks pretty so we park the car, and start to wander into a forest-like park.  It’s beautiful, we climb over fences, under barriers and over about 5 no trespassing signs, it was around this time Tony mentions how farmers used to shoot off their guns to scare trespassers.  I immediately lose my excitement about our unplanned adventure and wish we were in the safety of a tourist-filled Abbey.

It’s beautiful here.  There is not a soul around and we clearly are not meant to be in here, which makes it even more fun – once I forget about the fear of being shot.  We come to a “secret garden” which has a freaking maze made from giant hedges, and it’s mind-blowing.  We go into the maze and follow it into to the middle where a giant beautiful oak tree awaited us.  This story sounds so made up, and I can admit how ridiculous it is that our days just seem to get better when things don’t go to plan.

On the way back, we get to take in the amazing countryside – green, green, green!    We stop at the old Mellifont Abbey and it is really is incredible to walk around something steeped in such rich history, wondering what happened here, and what it was like all those hundreds of years ago.   It is just so cool that there is so much of this history still here in this beautiful country that you can touch and feel.

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We stop at McDonald’s on the way home, because we’ve seen so many cows in this country, we’re keen to try us some Irish beef, oh and because we are McHungover.

We head home for a power nap, because we have to back up tonight for a night out with Tony’s friends.

As I blow dry my hair and try to make my face look presentable, I kick myself for having a Category 4 hungover on the day that I am to meet about 15 of Tony’s friends in one hit.  This is the story of my life.  Ask any of my friends; you can bet your house that I will always ruin myself before something important.  So I’m hungover.  I feel 50 years old. I’m ugly, my eyes are actually itchy and my brain is so tired that I appear have no words for intelligent conversation, and off we go.

Even with a hangover, we have a brilliant night.  Tony’s friends are amazing, and they all make me feel so welcome.  They are friendly and funny, which made it easy on my somewhat fuzzy social skills, which slowly come back to me after a few beers and a potent Mojito!  There were lots of laughs and it was so much fun I didn’t want it to end; and it’s so lovely to see Tony with his mates. He is happy, and I’m happy.   We get home about 3am and I’m proud of us for backing up!

Day 16 

We woke slow, feeling 2 hangovers ganging up on us.  We head out for coffee and breaky in Clontarf.  It is 18 degrees today and everyone in Ireland is losing their minds – people are coming out in droves in singlets and shorts.  They don’t waste a minute of sunshine here, because they are worried it might not come back.  We sure take this sunshine business for granted in Australia.

We go to St Anne’s Park, which has become such a special place for us here.  We’ve come on quiet, cold mornings, we have come at sunrise, we have come for brisk walks and slow wanders – but here, on an 18 degree day, it is a completely different place.  There are people literally everywhere! It’s like Disneyland without the rides.

It is picture perfect.  Birds are singing and 2 ducks nearby start doing it in the lake, right in front of us.  It did not look consensual to me, but I overlook it because I am not familiar with animal law.

We sit on the grass and watch a Hurling game, a traditional Irish sport, and get this – it is the fastest game on grass and most skillful game in the world. Legit! I did not even make that up.

It is also one of the oldest with its traditions set in the mists of ancient Irish history. It is a stick and ball game, played by teams of 15, oh yeah and it is AWESOME to watch.   The mother in me worries about them getting hit with balls and bats, but the athlete in me (cough), appreciates how skillful and fit these guys are!

We lay on the grass looking up at the sunshine and we wish this holiday would never end, and we talk about how we somehow surprisingly don’t miss our real lives just yet and how we wish we could stretch this indulgent, special trip out just a little longer.  Like another 6 months or so.

We go home and get ready to go for lunch at the Millennium Bar in Swords with all the family.  It’s bloody massive – nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, kids everywhere – it is a Storey fest, and it is a beautiful, happy chaos that is easy to fall in love with.  I eat meat and potatoes hoping it will cure my hangover, when it doesn’t I just drink pints instead.  We eat, we drink, we talk and it feels so lovely, easy and normal, and I feel so grateful that Tony’s family have opened up their arms and absorbed me into their family.

We go home full of beer, meat and potatoes.   We are tired but with only 5 days left, we want to milk every drop of Ireland that we can before it’s over.  We decide to do a night drive into the city. It is beautiful under the lights, and is still pumping with atmosphere, music and people.  We walk around and point at everything! We go into the Long Hall, a lovely old little whisky bar in the streets of the Dublin and have a pint each before we drive home.

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We are tired, happy, and a tad hung-over from last night so we figure that it’s not overkill to get chicken balls and curry sauce… again.

DAY 17

Feeling human again, we get up early and go out for breakfast and head into the city and walk around.  We meet Tony’s friend Paul for lunch in Merrion Square, and we all talk and eat sandwiches in the sun.   Another beautiful day means that the park is full of Dubliner’s laying on the grass soaking up the sunshine.

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We say goodbye to Paul and we wander around after lunch, and Tony takes me into Christchurch Cathedral, a huge, beautiful church in the middle of the city, as we walk in – a choir of about 30 people are singing and the acoustics, along with the sheer beauty of the inside of this building is overwhelming.  I almost cry again.  It is just beautiful.   We wander around the inside of the cathedral taking in the history and the beauty of its structure.  The choir finishing singing, and it’s so quiet inside that it is almost eerie.  The only sounds are our shoes hitting the ancient shiny tiles beneath our feet.  That is until, being as graceful as ever, I trip and leap forward about a meter before catching myself one second before a full face plant.  I make enough noise for people to look over.  Or perhaps the noise was Tony’s laughing.  Hard to tell.

We leave and head to the Guinness Brewery.  It’s huge!  I hadn’t anticipated it would be so enormous.  We walk around on a self-guided tour, checking out the giant vats and all the love that goes into making Guinness.  It was really interesting and the building itself is industrial and cool.

The last stop on the tour is the Sky Bar which is a bar surrounded by glass and a 360 degree view of Dublin city.  It’s so light inside I have to wear my sunglasses, acutely aware that I look like a tosser but my old eyes can’t handle the glare, so I basically stand there like a much cheaper version of a Kardashian. We get a pint of Guinness each and stand in the bar looking out over Dublin and pointing out all of the things that we have seen.   It’s bloody beautiful, not the Guinness but the view sure is.  The Guinness is a little like drinking a loaf of bread.

We keep wandering around the city and we walk back into Grafton Street for dinner, and drive home.   On the way back we go to Dollymount beach, the sun is still out and it’s 8.30pm, it is such a beautiful night and there are people everywhere.  We walk down to the water and breathe it all in, these moments – this trip just keeps on giving.

We go home for TV and talks with Tony’s folks before bed, which is the best part of every day for me.  More stories, more laughs and usually some fantastic commentary over a variety of TV shows, it’s like the live version of Gogglebox and it is brilliant.

Day 18 

We get up and head back into the city, we do breakfast and a great coffee with Tony’s friend Ken – who I have a bit of a weird crush on – he’s really awesome, and kind of looks like he could be my brother. OK, that brother/crush thing sounds weird, and gross.  Anyway, point is – he is tops and I love him, in a totally non-weird way.  He works in the financial district, so the awesome café that we go to is in a place call Docklands and it is like a completely different part of Dublin, it’s new and surrounded by cool new buildings and architecture but there’s history there too.  Dublin is just full of surprises.  As much as we love the old buildings and history soaked part of the city, Tony and I decide that this new, trendy part of the city is for us, and when we win lotto, this is where we will buy our waterfront apartment.   We say goodbye to Ken and we around for a bit afterwards inhaling Dublin town, we wander past U2 ‘s studio, which is an unassuming garage door with graffiti from fans all over it.

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As we get in the car and start to drive home we get a text from Ken asking if we are still around in the city for some cocktails, we instantly wish we were – so we decide to come back on Thursday as that seems to be a perfect way to say goodbye to this city we love.  We drive back for a late lunch with Tony’s parents; we chill for a bit, we take his Mum to the shops. Now this woman is 84 and walks to the shops each day, walks to the hairdressers when she needs a blow-dry – she’s pushing her little trolley and motoring around the streets like a boss.  She has a sharp comeback line ready to go at any moment and the woman can still rock a red lipstick, let me tell you.  I love her.

In the afternoon, we head back down to Kilkenny to see Dee and Dave, and I have mixed emotions – I’m beyond excited to see them again, but I’m sick with dread about saying goodbye, for real this time.

We have the greatest night with them; it is the easiest fun for all of us. Champagne flows (like a tidal wave) and I catch it all with my giant gob.  Dave makes cocktails, because I mustn’t have been loud and obnoxious enough already.  We eat more delicious food prepared by the hostess with the most-ess.  We play “Speak Out” where you wear the ugly mouth-guards and try to speak, which is even harder when your speech is challenged by alcohol consumption. We laugh a lot, and we realize at 2.30am that we should have probably called it a night around midnight.   Pissed.  Ugly.  Again.

Day 19 

Surprise, Surprise – we wake up ugly.  I literally have a head like a foot.

We are hungover like dogs. I never really understood that saying, but I’m guessing now it may have something to do with how hairy my teeth are.

We say a sad goodbye to Dee and Dave, and my heart sinks and I desperately wish I had her in my life every day like this – in the flesh, rather than texts and Skype.   She is everything.    Tony’s heart breaks as his bromance with Dave comes to an end, I console him as we drive away.

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We go into town and walk around Kilkenny one more time.  It is definitely one of our favourite places, it’s such a cool city, exploding with the perfect blend of history and trendy shit.

We buy our boys fidget spinners from a teeny shop that reeked of the worst B.O we have ever encountered.  You could almost see it.  We literally held out breath for the entire transaction.  I don’t know why this is blog worthy, perhaps because it is the closest to death that we have ever been, so it therefore deserves a mention.

We drive over to Wexford to see Tony’s friend Miley and his family. His wife puts me to shame as she dishes a delicious fresh apple pie from the oven, and I’m reminded of what a shit host I am, and would be unwrapping a half open packet of Digestive biscuits for guests and thinking that I’m Martha Stewart.  Miley’s daughter is possibly the cutest kid alive – at 3 years old, with Shirley Temple curls and her adorable Irish accent, she can pretty much have whatever she likes.  She takes a liking to me and asks me to go outside to play on the swings with her and see her animals …she had me at swings and I’m out pushing her on repeat listening to her voice never wanting her to be quiet (first time ever for children).  Cutest ever.

After we say our goodbyes, we drive over to Kilmore Quay as Tony had never been there and wanted to see.  We get pies for lunch and sit together by the sea and eat them.  We wander along the pier, and search for a rock for my collection.

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Afterwards, we drive into Wexford and look up the street that my great grandmother grew up in.  It was a weird and wonderful feeling of loveliness knowing that somewhere down the line, us Moloney’s started somewhere as beautiful as this.

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We head home tired after another long day (and hangover).   We sit up talking to Tony’s brother Andrew and his parents and finally, we sleep.

Day 20 

We wake up and come down to hang out with Tony’s mum and dad and have tea and toast. It’s a shit feeling knowing that we’re going home tomorrow.  Tony’s mum is sad, and every now and then says how much she will miss us.  It makes me sad.  I hug her just about every time that I walk past her today.

In the interest of milking the last day of our holiday, we go for lunch and passion fruit Mojitos at the Marker Hotel in our favourite part of Dublin, with Ken, Paul and another friend of Tony’s – Cyril, a lovely French man (whose girlfriend I fell in love with at our night out).   I am sitting in the sunshine, surrounded by lovely men, and sinking Mojitos.   Life is good for Jaynie.

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I’m so happy that Tony got to see his mates again, and I love listening to their banter and seeing Tony’s happy head.

We go to Marks Models, an old model shop in the city that Tony used to go to as a 10 year old and stare at the model airplanes that he couldn’t afford.  The shop smells old and Tony says nothing in it has changed as he wanders around reminiscing.   He buys a model airplane and I think about how cool this moment is, that he’s back here, as a grown man, embracing the little boy inside him (who is never far away) and buying something he always wanted.  It’s a nice rare moment seeing him do something for himself, and I love him a little bit more as he walks excitedly up the stairs with his new toy.

We go off for chocolate, coffee and people watching.  It is sad saying goodbye to Dublin, it weirdly feels like home. This trip has been so special, and we don’t want to let it go just yet.

We head back home and Tony’s niece, Louise, and her kids came to say goodbye to us.   Louise has 6 children, all ridiculously gorgeous and annoyingly well behaved.  She is like some sort of mum-god, who is totally nailing this shit and putting us all to shame, well me anyway. I quietly hope that she writes a book so that I can figure out how this parenting gig works once and for all.  We sit with them all, talking and playing with the kids for a while. Louise cries when it’s time to say goodbye to Tony, and my heart breaks for them both.   I hug her goodbye, she tells me that said she has never seen Tony so happy and that he’s like a totally different person.   My heart is full.  He has brought the same happiness to my world.

At night, we decide to go for a drive through the city in the rain.  It’s the first time I’ve seen it rain properly since I arrived as we’ve been blessed with sunshine every day.  I’m happy that it’s raining because I like how everything looks different to how I’ve already seen it.  We drive up to Howth and park the car and sit and watch the city lights in the distance, we talk, and we head home for bed – sad that it’s the last time we’ll tuck ourselves into our bed in Ireland (until next time).

Day 21 

It’s our last day in Ireland and we are determined to jam as much into this day as physically possible.

We head off to St Anne’s park nice and early to go for a walk. This place is just magic at any time of day, and every single time we have been here we have discovered different parts of it that we hadn’t seen before.  Today we found a huge flying fox, which I try out and Tony flings me up and down the wire.

We wander over to Clontarf afterwards for Breakfast, we are a little flat at the thought of going home. I quietly feel heartbreak for Tony about having to leave his family, and I think for a moment how hard it must be for him to live so far away from them.  And how hard it would be for them to live without a Tony Storey in their day to day world.

We drive into city for some last minute gifts.  That, and because the jersey that I bought Nate still has the bloody security tag on it, so I need to take it back to have it removed. God knows I don’t need any more attention at the airport as I try to smuggle my rock collection through customs.

We say goodbye to our beloved Dublin city and drive home to spend the rest of the day with Tony’s parents.

We need to return the hire car at 12pm so Tony drives it back and I follow him in his dad (Tommy)’s car which Tommy tells me has a sticky clutch, so I’m not filled with confidence for my first time driving on Irish roads, and with good reason;

OK, Attention Ireland, I have a little feedback….firstly – a roundabout is not a painted circle on the road, and if it is, you can expect me to drive over it.  Secondly, do any of you know what is actually going on, on your roads, because you all seem a little confused?  Thirdly, I am sorry about the red light that I went through in 2nd gear, but it just seemed easier than stalling the car in traffic.

Tony’s brother Robert, along with beautiful Fran and Noel come over to say goodbye to us, so we sit with them all and have lunch, chat a bit and then there are some more sad hugs and goodbyes.  This day sucks.

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Devastatingly, the day slips away from us, and before we know it, our suitcases are waiting out the front of the house.  It is a very teary farewell to Tony’s beautiful parents, my heart breaks for his mum as I try to imagine how to say goodbye to your child who lives on the other side of the world.   I have fallen in love with both of his parents, and I wonder how quickly we can come back to see them.  I consider that his mum is quite small and may fit into my hand luggage.  If only.

Ireland, you are so many more things than I thought you would be – you are rugged, savage, beautiful, picturesque and surprising all at the same time.

You are more beautiful than anything I’ve ever seen, you have given me the most incredible memories.  You have shown me ridiculous scenery and breathtaking sunsets.

You have given me chicken balls and curry sauce.

You have given me Tony and I will be forever grateful for that, and I score all of his wonderful family as a fantastic bonus.  You have given me a place that feels like home.   You have given me a fatter arse and a fair sized muffin top, but I forgive you because you have literally given me the time of my life.

I have fallen hard for you and I can’t wait to see you again.  Thank-you Ireland.

Photos by the talented Tony Storey

Instagram: tony.storey

More stuff here:  https://flipagram.com/f/18mBJcf9xj0

 

 

OK, so the trip and blog ends here……but on the flight from Dublin to Abu Dahbi, I thought I’d drop not 1 but 2 sleeping tablets, and I thought that I’d take it with wine, not water.  This idea was right up there with drying my finger nails out of the window of the car while travelling 100km.  I don’t remember any of the flight, I missed all the meals, and after the 9 hour flight, I slept in the transit lounge for another 3 hours while we waited for the final leg of the flight, poor Tony basically was travelling alone.  He likens it to Weekend at Bernies.  

 Next time, one tablet with water. Noted.

An adventure til the very end.

 

 

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Our Irish Adventure….Part 3

DAY 7

We are a little slower to wake up and we wonder if jet lag has hit us late or if our epic adventures are just catching up with us. We lay in bed with a map as big as our doona and make a plan for our day.

I search Trip Advisor high and low for decent coffee as I desperately need one, and so far it has been Ireland’s only disappointment.  We go to a place in town and knew we were onto a good thing as soon as we ordered; when rather than looking confused about the whole sugar thing, she takes it in her stride. It was in that moment, we know that this girl knows what she is doing.  I tell her that I’ve researched this place for the best coffee in Killarney and she smiles and nods, and I can tell she has rescued people before.  We get our coffees and I nearly leap the counter to hug her.  Just give the girl a cape and be done with it.

We walk past the greatest sweet shop ever and buy as much sugar as we can shove into our pockets.  Upon hearing my accent, the man in the shop reminisces about his trip to Australia many years ago, and how lucky we have to have ‘drive-thru bottle shops’ – the things we take for granted eh?

We head out to Blarney Castle.  It is grand and beautiful and surrounded by lovely gardens.  We walk up the stairs to the top of the castle, going in and out of all the rooms, imagining what it would have been like in the days when people lived here.

We go over to kiss the Blarney stone, which I initially thought would be me just kissing a bolder somewhere, but it’s a little bit more yoga meets extreme sport than that.   We have to lay back, in the arms of a lovely old Irish man who lowers us back and down one at a time and he guides us down to smack our lips on a spot where everyone before us has done the same including Winston Churchill. I try to think only of the ‘gift of the gab’ that I will get from kissing the stone and not the herpes and spit germs left there from people before me.


It was a really cool experience and I quietly wonder how long exactly I will need to wait until my gift will kick in.

There are opportunities for magic and to make a wish everywhere around the gardens – there’s witches stone, a wishing well and a Dolman so we chance our hand and make as many wishes as we can.  We have lunch at the Muskerry Arms pub, again Tony has soup and a sandwich and I inhale yet another huge plate of bangers and mash, with a pint.  I was born for this shit, maybe it’s my Irish roots. Thank-you Moloney’s.

If I sit really still, and be really, really quiet – I can actually hear myself getting fatter.

We drive through Cork and we stop at Kinsale, a beautiful seaside town filled to the brim with wine bars, fine dining, trendy cafes and boutiques.  It is quaint and beautiful filled with old books stores that smell of the pages, steak houses that smell of, well, steak.  The streets are lined with colourful cottage houses with different coloured doors, and little stores bursting with charm.  As we walk along the harbour, Tony tells of stories driving out with this way with his dad as a young boy of 7 or 8, through Clonikilty where his dad used to release the homing pigeons and the special memories he has of sitting in the big truck next to his dad.   It is such a special trip learning all about Tony’s childhood and seeing all of the places that he has told me about.

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The thing about this road trip is that it never feels like we are on our way somewhere, waiting to get somewhere or for the next adventure to start because out the window is such a huge part of the journey.  It is all so beautiful, we talk about Tony’s childhood, we stop at towns, we side track off course when the moment takes us, we eat chocolate Minstrels, we laugh, we sing along to the radio, we drink pints at pubs along the way, we look at castles, forts, we cartwheel (OK, that bit is just me) and we are constantly breathing in this ever changing, always beautiful view as we drive around this breathtaking countryside.

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We stop at Bantry Bay, the most southern tip of Ireland. We have dinner at a little diner, Tony opts for a chicken curry and before I know it, I am up to my elbows in lamb chops and more potatoes.  I beg Tony, for the love of god, to stop letting me eat potatoes. He needs to take some responsibility here.

On the way home, we try to take the Caha pass for the view but couldn’t figure out how to get onto it.  We drive on, and before long turn around a bend to see the most insane view and sunset in front of us as though a stage curtain had just been opened, and a sign that read “Caha Pass”.  We found it, and it sure found us.  It was so insanely distracting that we pull over and get out so that we can take it all in.  It is rugged, raw and literally takes our breath away, we can’t stop smiling – and swearing, because sometimes, ‘amazing’ or ‘magical’ doesn’t even cut it and you have to throw an F bomb in front of them to give it more feeling.

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On the drive home the Cork and Kerry Mountains are going off their tits, add to that the most dramatic of skies and lighting that seems to change the whole landscape, and I can say with certainty that Ireland is almost a bigger show off than me.

Thank you and goodnight.

DAY 8

We pack up and get ready, and we are a little sad to leave our beloved Killarney as it has been just fantastic.  There is a big annual car rally starting today so our timing couldn’t be better.   We head down to our caped coffee hero and not only does she make us another amazing coffee, but she remembers our order from yesterday and puts the sugar in without us even asking.  This chick is flying the flag for Ireland.  I try not to be weird, but I think she knows I have a coffee crush on her.

For the first time the weather is a bit on the shit side, it is icy cold and raining as we head off in our car for the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry.  We stop at Inch beach, which is one of the beaches where Mick Fanning has surfed when visiting his Irish heritage, there are some great waves through the heavy sea mist and my Scoob would love it, I just can see him with his blue lips, telling me he isn’t cold and that he will stay in for a few more sets.

We continue driving along the coast line and arrive into Dingle, a gorgeous little fishing village.  It comes with its own legendary dolphin, known to live in close contact with humans in the town.  Its name is Fungi and the story was a nice reminder to me that no matter hard life gets for me, that at least my name isn’t ‘Fungi’.   Amazingly the town is brimming with merchandise about the dolphin, and tourists actually wear shirts with “Fungi” written on them. No judgement.

There is a statue of Fungi in the town, I ride it, knowing that the ladies in the tourism office inside are rolling their eyes (“we’ve seen this before you idiot, move along”).

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We go into a sports store and I convince Tony to buy a wind-proof jacket because with this change in weather, I worry people will see his hard nipples through his Hurley hoodie (I’m always thinking of the big issues). He buys a nice jacket and a beanie and looks warm, and pretty.

We leave Dingle and head out to the remains of Dunbeg Fort which has been around since 500BC and has started to drop off into the ocean due to the erosion of the cliff.  It is a bit sad that such an ancient part of Ireland’s history will eventually just fall away into the ocean.  The icy wind is so harsh at the cliff face that it gives us a physical push, Tony quietly thankful for his new jacket, and me quietly thankful all that mash potato keeps me from blowing away.

We go back to Dingle for lunch, a lovely hot soup, chicken wings and a few pints.

We head off after lunch and just 15 mins later we are on the Conor Pass for the best views of Ireland so far, and that is saying something.  We go through Castlegregory beach and Kerry Head oohing and ahhing all the way.  There is such a vast difference in the scenery today – one minute it is rugged sea and mountains, the next it is beach and sand and moments later, green pastures which drop off into calm seas.  I’ve never seen anything like it.

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The weather keeps changing all day, always in our favour and every single time we get out of the car to sight see, eat or walk – it stops raining.  We often laugh to ourselves about us being “golden” where things just fall into place for us.  What a pair of smug, adorable arseholes.

We drive through County Limerick and take in its picture perfect views, stopping at Foynes, a sweet little town filled with big sea trawlers … and a chipper, some pubs and a funeral home – obviously.

There are more castles on the way and I feel a pang of sadness that when this trip ends, I will not live in the fairytale where I get to see castles every day.  And sheep! I don’t think I have mentioned anything about the sheep! The green paddocks and pastures are filled with sheep. Not just your regular, ugly Australian sheep. These are the cool ones with the little black faces that look like Shaun the Sheep. And don’t even get me started on the baby ones. I mean, I know I’ve eaten lamb at least 3 times since I got here, but god they are cute.

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We have dinner in Limerick city and after smashing down a few burgers, we start our drive to Galway with our jeans undone where we will spend the next 2 nights.  As we drive, we listen to a local Limerick radio station which is playing 80’s and 90’s music and we laugh and sing all the way to Galway.

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We arrive at our B&B and our host, Aingel (it’s Irish for Angela, or Angel) welcomes us into her beautiful 200 year thatch cottage home.  We have our own lovely bedroom and huge bathroom and she is so lovely that it feels a bit like we are staying with a relative, especially when she takes our washing for us as we haven’t washed since Kilkenny.  Mama.

We go to bed not long after we arrive after and have our night-talks where we break down the day, weigh up our best and worst, our funniest and whinge about how sore and tired we are.

DAY 9

We wake up and our host, Aingel shows us exactly why her name stands for Angel when she greets us with home-made scones, granola with some yoghurt, fruit and fresh coffee.  She even gives us some home-made bread and lovely cooked ham and cheese for packed lunches for our big day out.  Not a single slice of wonder white in sight!

We head off for what will be one of the biggest, most ridiculous days in our entire adventure! First stop, Connemara – a scenic drive which blew our freaking minds.   It’s beauty is savage with raw landscapes along the Wild Atlantic Way, with lonely valleys, black lakes, hidden beaches and seaside towns – it is completely different to anything we have seen on this trip so far.  There are rogue, huge bolders in the ocean, nothing growing in the surrounding rocky valleys – it feels like we are on the moon – except there are pubs.

On local advice given by our new mum, Aingel, we decide to include a stop off at Omey Island – which at low tide, you can walk across to.  It is just beautiful, and surreal literally walking over to an island.  We wear our sneakers across and jump across the sand aiming for the dry bits, of course, when we reach the middle, there are no dry bits and our feet are soaked.  No real problem for us because we are walking to an island, and there are cows, we are in Ireland and everything is awesome.

We walk back to our car and being the genius that I am, I hang my socks from the back window so that they can get a blow dry as we drive around.  Stay Classy.

We are driving to see the Cliffs of Moher, eating sausage rolls with no shoes on.

We eat chocolate treats in the car, we talk about how quickly we hoover packets of minstrels and talk about people who ‘save’ chocolate and who have thing I have heard about called ‘left over’ chocolate – we wonder who these people are and what their lives would be like.  I’m pretty sure that this car is powered by me chewing at this point.

We drive through little town after little town, the views are incredible with slate textures almost purple as the sunlight bounces off the rocks.   There are cobble-stone rock fences all along the road as it hugs the coast line and it seems to add to the incredible view, the boundaries to the properties are divided by the same fences and it makes everything so uniquely Ireland.

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As we arrive into a town called Carron – we have gone from being on top of the world, to below looking up at the mountains, alongside the view and now right next to it.  Then all of a sudden after the ruggedness of the coastline, we are back to green, children’s drawings, endless green paddocks patch-worked together by the same stone boundary fences that we followed along the Wild Atlantic Way.

The sunshine is mental and we constantly laugh at how the weather seems to be on our side and works in with our plans.

We drive through county Clare, and it is where not only the Moloney name historically hails from, but my great grandfather was born there, and whilst I may be more Spanish looking than Irish, I know from my love of potatoes that this place is my home.  So green and almost fake looking that Tony calls it Teletubbie land, and starts to speak like one.  It’s weirdly attractive.

Driving through Clare, with its green pastures and winding roads along the countryside that we decide to get out and bask in its beauty.  My wet shoes still in the back seat, and I think how poignant it is that I feel this earth, my heritage – between my toes. I’m deep like that.  As I go to step out of the car onto the grass Tony asks me if it feels like home, and in that very moment, my barefoot lands its first step – directly onto Poison Ivy sending pain and an uncontrollable itch to my foot. So, um, yep, welcome home.  Bloody Moloneys.  I swear and scratch my leg, almost taking skin off the bone. Tony takes photos.

Tony decides to do a quick wee on the side of the road, and I joke that a car is coming, but when he looks up in fright, there actually is one. I take a photo.

1 all Tony Storey, the score is 1 all.

We arrive at the Cliffs of Moher.

Get. Fucked.

I am sorry, but there are no other words.  It. Is. Mental.

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This place literally hits you in the face.  I cry a little bit and can’t work out why, it really takes me by surprise but for a moment it literally took my breath away. I paused.  I reminded myself to breathe. I swore. I cried. It is so difficult to actually articulate how incredible it was.

We walk the entire 4 cliffs right to the end and it takes us about an hour each way…at this point I should add, that as I had no sneakers or socks, I had to wear my knee high, 2 inch boots that were in the boot of the car – with no socks and my poison ivy rash rubbing on the inside.  I didn’t feel a thing, thanks to the distraction that is the amazing Cliffs of Moher.

We go for dinner afterwards, one of the only substandard pub meals that we’ve had, but we don’t really care – we eat, wash it down with a pint and just keep going on and on about what we saw today!  We are on cloud 9.

We head off to drive back from what has been our longest day yet … and a whopping 14 hours after leaving the house, we finally return home after the most amazing sunset yet!

Fitbit tells us we have walked 24km today.  We are broken, nothing makes sense, we fall into bed and whinge more than usual about body pain during our night talks.

Night 🙂

Our Irish Adventure…….Part 2

DAY 3

We wake up nice and early and go out for a 6km run down at Clontarf, the sun shining making it a beautiful, picturesque run and it disappears as soon as we finish, and it rains for the first time since we’ve arrived.  It was such a magical start to the day. And by the way, yes, I am aware of what a dickhead I risk sounding like when I use words like ‘magical’ but I blame Ireland, it is off it is chops on magicality (it’s a word) and it is just so frikking beautiful that I’m running out of ‘amazings’ to describe it.

 

When we get home from our run, Tony’s brother Thomas comes over, it was lovely to meet him.  He definitely has some tony-isms, and it’s easy to tell that they are brothers but he’s not as pretty as my Tony.

We head off to the city again. We go to the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript Gospel book in latin which is like, really bloody old….it is really interesting and the scribing and detail is mind blowing.  Afterwards we went into the Trinity College Library which is incredible.  It is one of those beautiful buildings where you stand with your head tilted back looking at the roof with your mouth open.   We walk up and down again and again and we can’t bring ourselves to walk out.  The smell of books fills this giant, historic and beautifully architectured building.

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Books have to be one of the best smells ever and for me are right up there with salt air, puppy breath and KFC.  The walls are lined with statues of famous Irish literary legends.  We walk past each statue head, trying to see who is the most handsome, kind of like Tinder for the 1800’s, but they were pretty ugly back in the day so no boy band material there.

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We are back walking around Dublin City, it is such a hive of atmosphere and rich in history! There is so much to see, so much music, people, pubs, food and churches on crack. I love this city.  It has everything.

We stop for lunch at a pub called O’Neill’s, and I order lamb shanks with mash, gravy and all the trimmings, and a pint, Tony mentions how I am killing it with nailing these big lunches (while he eats SOUP), and I secretly love him a little more for being proud of how much I can eat.

Tony’s Fitbit tells us we’ve clocked another daily total of 20,000 steps, my jeans tell me that I’ve clocked another 20,000 calories in mash potato and chocolate Minstrels.  After lunch we visit the GPO building which is one of Ireland’s most famous buildings.  After being destroyed by fire in the course of rebellion during the 1916 Easter Rising and was repaired years later, it is still littered in bullet holes that you can see and touch in the front pillars.

We head over to Arnotts – for jeans, not biscuits – (Arnotts is the Irish equivalent to our Myer) and I ask the shop assistant for some help as I’m confused about the sizes – she has a badge that reads “Jeans Specialist” and she looks at me deep in thought, with a frown and announces that since I’m quite “big in the hips and bum” she would start with these, and she hands me a pair of jeans that will double a sleeping bag.   I walk out from the change room, modelling them for Tony and literally hold the waste of the jeans out as though I was in the ‘after’ photo in a Weight Watcher’s ad.  We laugh our heads off and I leave the jeans behind and head for Zara – who never disappoints.

We stop at the dodgy souvenir shop and load up a basket with top quality gifts for our kids and friends – get excited Mandy Coolen, there is a “Kiss me I’m Irish” condom coming your way – You. Are. Welcome. (Quality assurance not guaranteed).  Tony buys noisy tin whistles for his boys and I quietly thank god that we don’t live together.

So I’m wandering through the bustling streets of Dublin town being adored by the man that I love, which might sound like a bit of wank, but Christ it feels good.  There is something about having nowhere to be, when life is just about selfish choices – even just for a short time, surrounded by beautiful scenery, and I just feel so grateful.

We stop for some watery shitty coffee, which I have to say Ireland has nailed right up there with its mash potatoes.  Ugh.  We take great delight in ordering our coffees each day and ask them to put a sugar in it …”one skim latte with a sugar thanks” …. And watch them lose their minds at this new concept.  They look at us like we are mad, and point over to the sugar satchels as if to say “put your own fucking sugar in”.

We go home via a really lovely restaurant and go in for some fine dining.  Except we don’t.  That’s a lie – we get chicken balls and curry sauce – again!  And I don’t even care if you judge me.  If heaven was food, it would taste like that.

We go to bed with no regrets.

Day 4

We are up early for a walk on Dollymount beach to catch the sunrise.  It is about minus 2 but so spectacular that I don’t even worry that I haven’t felt my face in about 45 minutes and that my fingers may have to be amputated. We didn’t see a single soul stupid enough to be up that early in that temperature, so it was pretty special.

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We get breaky and coffee (we put our own sugars in), pack our bags, say goodbye to Tony’s folks and we are on the road to Kilkenny to visit one of my best friends – Dee and her hubby Dave!  I am beyond excited to see them as it has been about 5 years since I saw her in the flesh, Skype is great but it makes hugging difficult.  We take the scenic route down the coast and drive through Arklow, a beautiful little fishing town and we talk in synchronised ohh’s and ahhh’s as we admire the town and its scenery.

My obsession continues with the gorse bush that bursts out all over the countryside.   The countryside along the freeway looks like a child’s drawing done with a bright green crayon.  The greenest of green grass, fences, cows, sheep, cottage houses and the sun is shining making it all a bit ridiculous. We pass castles, and it is a magical (yep, I’m still using that word) drive along the River Slaney, driving through quaint little towns along the way.  Every town has a chipper (fish & chip shop), a church (usually the biggest and most beautiful thing in every town), and a pub (or 4) …they certainly have their priorities right.  I muse to Tony about how these teeny towns all seem to have funeral parlours – perhaps something to do with clogging up arteries with mash potato, just thinking out loud.

We arrive at Dee and Dave’s and I am so happy to see her that I hug the shit out of her and break 3 of her ribs.  Tony and Dave play along and hug each other jumping up and down in the front yard as though they are old friends reunited, it beats a handshake upon meeting for the first time I guess.  Their house is amazing!  It is a renovated cottage which is the perfect balance of new style while maintaining the history of the building. It is so tastefully done, and these 2 style gurus have absolutely nailed it.  We tell them they are mad not to be listing this on Air B&B.  It is so beautiful.  The view is insane as they are smack bang in the country and look out over acres of green, beautiful scenery and we can’t believe that they get to see this every day.  We head into the town of Kilkenny in the afternoon and it fast becomes one of my favourite places of this trip!  It starts to hail as we wander through the main street and being 7 years old, we instinctively open our mouths to catch it.

We drink at the Dylan, The Tap Room and the Left Bank.  We are a bit pissed and the loud annoying laughter has kicked in by this point.  We head home to Dee’s house where they somehow manage to prepare and serve a beautiful meal without it looking like the effort, chaos and mess that it would if I were attempting to entertain at my place.  There was no mess, no pot clanging, no swearing and no ‘call a pizza’ as a back-up plan when I get too pissed to cook….it was literally like – one minute: no food; next minute: 3 course dinner is served and not a bead of Gordon Ramsay sweat between them.  Amazing and irritating all at the same time.

We sit up talking and drinking til after 1am, which for Tony and I on this trip makes us so wild that we’re one step away from piercing our genitals.  We head for the comfort of the beautiful guest room and may have dribbled on their posh pillows.

DAY 5

We wake a little dusty after an afternoon and night of boozing.  I thought I only had a few but the mirror tells a different story.  We head downstairs and Dave is cooking the mother of all hang over breakfast feasts complete with bloody Mary’s and at this point, if he wasn’t already married to Dee, I would marry him myself for the food alone!  We are in heaven, and will rate them highly on Air B&B before we check out.

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We all go for a walk in the woods opposite their house along a beautiful walking trail.  Dee and I walk ahead catching up on each other’s lives, while the boys follow behind us – falling in love with each other with every step as they discuss photography, all things technology and car racing.   It was a beautiful bro-mance to witness.

We go back to their house and the sun is out, we take picnic rugs out to their property and lay down while Dave and Tony fly drones around with tech erections.

drone

We get ready to go out and head down to town to see Kilkenny castle and the surrounding grounds and gardens, which is, well, magical.  Kilkenny is an old medieval town, steeped in history and stories.  The town itself is trendy and cool with wine bars, cool pubs, boutiques and amazing food.  I love it!

We go to a place called Riv gauche for lunch, a really cool little café bar which has an atmosphere that hits you in the face as soon as you walk in.  I order a fancy pants version of a cheese and ham toastie – with cheese sauce! Plus cheese. Oh. And cheese! Seriously. Who came up with that?  It was delicious and I inhale it in silence except a weird groaning that makes everyone a little uncomfortable.

On the way back to the car, Dave, who is an incredibly talented photographer and who carries his little Fuji camera around his chest like a man-bag, asks us to go to the top level of the car park as he’s always wanted to shoot couples up there.  Once I realised that he meant with a camera, not a loaded gun (although with my hangover he’d be doing me a favour) … we went along with it and did a little photo shoot which took about 6 minutes and involved us being inappropriate dickheads and laughing, Dave capturing them and turning them into brilliant photos.  The man is a ridiculous talent, and what an amazing memory for us to take home with us from this special place.

We head back to the house for coffee and some of Dee’s home baked treats.  Dave shows us some of his photos in a bit of a slide show, which is basically porn for Tony.  As we pack up to go, Tony leaves a parting gift of spilling coffee on their beautiful light grey couch.  We say our goodbyes and we have had such an amazing time and we realise we have to squeeze in another night with them before we head home as it was just too much fun to end it here. We head off to Killarney for the next part of our adventure.

The drive is of course, beautiful.  Beautiful scenery, beautiful Tony, all becomes a little much for hormonal Jaynie who has a little cry for no other reason that it’s pretty. I am feeling incredibly lucky to be here, for this love, for this trip, this everything.  The sky is so clear, the landscape is ridiculous, the castles, the beautiful little towns.  I am high on this shit. For real.

We pass a field that is exploding with yellow flowers and we can’t believe our eyes when we see it.  I later find out that it is a rapeseed crop and is used for making rapeseed oil for cooking but the flowers are the brightest of yellow, like a yellow highlighter and I vow to run through a field of them before I leave!

We arrive into Killarney and check into our B&B, our host, Trish is lovely but only has eyes for Tony.  She doesn’t speak to me much, unless referencing Home and Away.

All the talk of Sally Fletcher and Alf Stuart has made me tired so I call it a night.

DAY 6

We stay in bed with a giant map and plan our day.  We have breakfast downstairs and Trish pops in –  to talk to Tony.  We are off to drive around the Ring of Kerry, and nothing could really prepare us for how frigging awesome this day would be!

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We decide to detour to see the Gap of Dunloe and it was like we were on another planet.  It is vast rocky land and mountain goats walking around and in no particular hurry to get out of the way of cars.  It is breathtaking.  My gorse bush is out of control (that sounds wrong), and everything is so beautifully different that it is hard to put into words. We gasp every time we drive around a bend. We get out of the car and decide to wander around in the wilderness, remains of old houses, dirt tracks that lead to nowhere, the bumble bees are buzzing around and let me tell you, these bastards are the size of sparrows and their buzzing is so loud that they sound like buses.  We find a little café, which is literally the only piece of civilisation for miles, we sit and drink coffee, eat cupcakes (sprinkes for me, smarties for Tony) – we are in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by this beautiful place and we marvel at what the fuck is happening.

 

We continue on our journey around the Ring of Kerry, passing beautiful town after beautiful town.  We detour off to Rossbeigh beach and walk along the sand. The tide is so far out that it feels like we are at the end of the earth.  We drive on to Cahersiveen; a quaint little seaside fishing town, littered with forts and castles. It is just so beautifully bizarre to be in a country where ruins are part of the scenery.

Tony is prone to ‘papping’ me and is always taking photos of me when I am don’t realise and I have become acutely aware of the power he carries within his camera which would be full of double chin shots that he doesn’t show me.  I make a mental note to always be nice to him so that he never makes me the star of a website called ugly.com.

We stop at a lovely little town called Waterville, it is picturesque with its colourful monopoly-like houses lined up across from the beach, we skim rocks and we watch a lady throw large rocks into the water for her dog to chase.  The dog seems to enjoy it so I don’t have the heart to tell her about the invention of the tennis ball.

There are signs in some of the towns which say an Galteach – which means it is an Irish speaking town. Tony and I decide that we are going to learn to speak it,and have given ourselves a year to make it happen and we talk about how cool it will be to have conversations that our kids can’t understand.

We drive along the Wild Atlantic Way, with its rugged cliffs and mountains alongside the contrast of a blue, blue ocean from way up high. Then we reach Caherdaniel and we are suddenly level to the ocean, which gives a whole new perspective on the same incredible view.

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We stop at a little town called Sneem, the cutest town so far, colourful and warm.  We visit a huge castle in the middle of nowhere, and we climb through it in awe of how these incredible buildings are still here.   We drive off and head to another Fort and it’s the best one yet.  We walk inside a big stone ring-like barrier, and it speaks to me.  It says….”cartwheels”…. so I do.  I manage to land about 3 before my body reminds me that I’m 42 and should probably stop before I end up in traction.

We stop at Kenmare to pub for dinner, we eat another giant meal and Tony starts to overheat and hits the eject button and we leave still chewing the last mouthfuls of our food.  We go for a walk around the town before we head home, trying desperately to walk off our meals.  We see a sign advertising for Professional Actors to audition, I cast my mind back to the time that Belinda McKenzie and I were discovered in LA, and I contemplate going to the auditions but Tony reminds me that we have a pretty full schedule….. and also that I am not an actor.

We drive home, and the roads in this part of Ireland are crazy at best.  Tony is in rally driving heaven as he drives around Days of Thunder style, flying around thin, winding roads that should be a 60km but are unbelievably set at 100km – and I think I may have finally solved the mystery of why there are so many funeral parlours in this country.

Back to our B&B. Hi Trish.  Yes, Alf, Ailsa, Pippa etc etc. Good night.

 

Photo credit: Tony Storey

 

 

 

Our Irish Adventure…..

THE DEPARTURE

I say goodbye to my boys, squeezing them extra tight.   I shove clothes into a bag, and wearing my mother’s guilt like an accessory, I’m ready to go to Ireland with my love, and I still can’t believe that any of this is actually happening.

For years we talked of this trip, and in the 4 months since we booked it – not a single day of it have we planned.  We are high risk – both a little loose on detail, and a little too ‘let’s go with the flow’ to travel together without issue.  Up until a few days ago, we both thought we were leaving a day later than our itinerary.  High.  Risk.

We get an Uber to the airport, and check in for our flight.  The good news is that we are here for the right one.  Go us!  The bad news is that we attempted an upgrade but no joy. I feel it was because Tony try to didn’t sound Irish enough – because in fifth gear, that accent can make people do pretty much anything.   We vow to try again on the way home, and if not, we will steal the blankets, socks, eye masks and headphones in an attempt to even the score.

We get a burger at the airport in preparation for the cardboard food that will be served to us for the next 25 hours.  Tony goes off to buy a pen, returns with the most fancy, high tech neck pillow ever invented as he has heard many stories of my owl-like plane behaviour and complete inability to sleep on planes.  I immediately feel confident, I mean if you have the right equipment you’re half way there right?

As we take off, we both squeal in delight and kiss the shit out of each other as our excitement officially kicks in!  Ugh. Get a room!

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During the flight, Tony drinks apple juice, I drink wine (it’s part of having the right equipment to sleep).  I complain about the ridiculously long tag that Cotton On have put on my singlet top – and being “the fixer” that he is, Tony immediately offers to rip it off for me – and does – as well as a giant hole in my top.  Errr, thanks.

We talk, for hours covering all topics, soulful, deep conversations like how long some passengers stay in the toilet, and how it gives me anxiety about going when someone has been in there for too long…Tony suggests a count-down that automatically opens the toilet door at zero so that people have to move and act fast.  He is an ideas man.  We laugh hard at the visual and make a mental note to put it in the suggestions box on our way out, and also to suggest a suggestion box.

I don’t sleep on the flight, even with my posh neck-pillow. Turns out the ‘right equipment’ that I need to sleep on a plane, is a fucking bed.

We get off the plane after 14 hours at Abu Dahbi and I am unable to feel my arse.  I know it’s still there though, because it hit almost every seat on the way down the aisle exiting the plane.  We are broken and tired, and Tony has lost the will to live.  I quietly think to myself, that he might have had a better perspective had he too chosen wine over the apple juice when the drinks tray came around.  He has a mini-mantrum, saying it’s all a big mistake and fuck Ireland, let’s pull the pin and go to Hawaii.  I talk him down from the ledge with a burger from Burger King, and his cray cray slowly dissolves and we board the final flight to Dublin town.

A long but slightly easier 9-hours later, we fly into beautiful Dublin, squeezing each other’s hands with a mix of excitement about our adventure, and elation that we survived the flight. We are greeted at the airport by Tony’s lovely family, who greet us with big hugs and happy faces. I meet everyone on mass and they are so welcoming, excited and lovely that there was no time to be nervous about meeting them for the first time.

We sit at home talking to Tony’s family, including 6 children with the cutest voices and Irish accents ever heard and I feel it is my duty to warn Australian children everywhere that they are at high risk of being out-cuted, because this shit is nuts.  Seriously, small Australians, get your shit together, these kids are making fools of you.  After a few hours, we head out to pick up our hire car. As soon as we have wheels, Tony wants to cruise around showing me the sights.  We are tired, but we drive around taking it all in.  We stop at Summit Bar in Sutton and have beers and soup for lunch, listening to the lovely local Irish accents surrounding us.

We go to a place called Howth, which is only about 40 minutes out of Dublin – we walk around and it is a beautiful baptism into Ireland for me!  Beautiful yellow gorse bushes (which soon become my obsession) cover the mountains, and walking trails are accompanied by breathtaking water views.  We walk, we sit, we talk, we hug, we kiss and we feel so damn lucky to be here, and are so happy that we’re a little smug and annoying to be honest. Ugh. Get a room.

After 25 hours of flying, 2 pints and a few hours exploring, we call it a night and go to bed at 6pm – because we have become 72 years old.   Here’s hoping we wake up a little younger tomorrow.

DAY 1

We manage to sleep through the night and we feel lucky not to be wiped out by jet lag yet so we decide to make the most of it and get up at 6am and do a 5km run through Clontarf and up to   Dollymount beach which is just beautiful.   The crisp air hitting us in the face as we run against the wind.  We talk the whole way about how we can’t believe we’re here, and how lucky we are.

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We find a place called The Pantry to grab a takeaway coffee and some pastries and we head home to have breakfast with Tony’s parents, who by the way are hilarious and adorable.  Tony’s dad has me splitting my sides with his dry wit and his mum is equally as witty with some added adorable thrown in for good measure.   They are so warm and welcoming to me that I already feel like part of the furniture here, I have to remind myself that we only just met, and to hold onto any burps for now, and ease them in.

After breaky, we get ready and head into Dublin city!  We walk along Grafton Street, we wander the grounds of the incredible Trinity College (ah-may-zing).  We stop at a pub called Sinnotts for lunch and a few pints – I order bangers and mash and it is so good that I have to stop myself from laying on the plate and rubbing the gravy all over my body…. we sit next to a man who has 3 strands of hair on his head – and has combed and gelled all 3 of them down.  Just think about that for a moment, and take it in.  Yep.

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We go to Stevens Green Shopping Centre and I pay 50c to do a wee.  Effectively, I bought a wee.  I love a good bargain, and I have to admit, it’s worth it for the clean toilets although with a bladder that has been pummeled by 2 pregnancies, if I had to pay every time I needed to pee I would be working full time just to pay for my bladder habits.  We wander aimlessly, hand in hand through Stevens Green Park with tulips going off their tits!  We feed the pigeons, with them jumping onto our hands, which was great until my germophobia kicked in and I pushed them up into the air like I was releasing doves and quickly grabbed my hand sanitizer.

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We wander past a beauticians and I tell Tony I want to pop in and ask about getting my eye brows waxed as I didn’t have time to get them done before I left and I basically grew a mono on the plane.   I ask the girl at the desk if they do waxing and she tells me that “they don’t believe in it”…I wasn’t aware that it was a religion, but she goes on to explain that she is a Brow Specialist, and that she does ‘threading’ because it is soooooo much better for the brows. Her white coat suggests that she studied at the same school of medicine that the Clinique girls in Myer do.   I decide that I don’t care if they wax, thread or burn them off me – I just want one brow to become 2.  So she does the threading, and I have to say, I’m loving myself sick by the end of it, I had totally forgotten how tops I look without a mono-brow.

We walk through Temple Bar which is an uber cool area bursting with atmosphere, music , food, bars and people.  We wander into the famous Temple Bar and order a couple of pints….we are chatting and taking it all in when, all of a sudden – a midget walks in – dressed like a leprechaun!  This is legit the best moment of my life and my brain actually explodes all over the walls of the pub.

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The midget leaves, and we follow shortly after, because, well, the party is clearly over.  More walking, more shopping, more Grafton Street, more talking, more laughing, more people watching.  The streets are buzzing with people, music and atmosphere.  We see some amazing street performers in the city, a band called Stray Method who were amazing so we stay and watch them ‘busk’ as though we were at their concert, while I mouth the words to each song and secretly wish I had their poster for my bedroom wall.   Yep, I’m a creep.

We get donuts and head home.

Tony’s mum has cooked me my first Dublin Coddle for dinner, it’s an Irish dish with sausages, bacon, potatoes in a bit of a stew and let me tell you, it is good.  I realise I need more sausages, bacon and potato in my life, so this is a great start.

We fade fast again, being elderly and all that, so we go to bed just after 7pm ready for another massive day tomorrow.

DAY 2

We wake at 4am, chatting happily until we realize this could ruin us later – party’s over – back to sleep – and we wake at 6am.   That is slightly less offensive. Just.

We take an early morning walk through St Anne’s Park and it is so freaking perfect that even I can’t believe it.   I feel like I am walking literally inside a children’s story book (but with more offensive language) – there are squirrels, a fox, a beautiful sunrise, we climb trees, wander through old estate ruins, walk over  bridges and beautiful abandoned structures – there is history everywhere in Ireland, I want to drink it in.

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We find ruins of an old chapel which has been all boarded up, I get the torch on my iPhone to shine it into a gap in the boards to see what is inside….which is possibly the most stupid thing I’ve ever done.  As soon as the light hit the darkness, whatever was living in there made a noise and commotion that made me leap about 4-metres back and swallow my own heart while simultaneously shitting in my active wear! OK, not really but man it was close.  Disappointingly, it was the hardest I’ve ever heard Tony laugh, and up until this point I thought my jokes were pretty funny.

We walk all the way back to town to grab some coffee and breaky – and nothing was open until 10am.  Ireland hasn’t really jumped onto the whole going out for breakfast band wagon and much prefers a slow start to the weekend!   We head home and took Tony’s mum to the graveyard to visit her parents.  It was a really special time and I felt incredibly privileged to be there, as we looked for the grave, she told stories about them and what it was like when she grew up.  We went back home via the church she got married in and saw her childhood home, listening to more stories of what it was like in Dublin in those days and how things have changed.

We went for lunch with Tony’s parents, sister Fran and her husband Noel at The Yacht in Clontarf.  It was a lovely huge meal, lots of belly laughs and lots stories! I felt very at home and honestly like I’ve been here forever with these people that I have just met.   I love it here.   I loved seeing Tony’s happy head in his home town, it makes me feel all warm in the tummy! Actually, sorry, I just need to pee.

 

Since we have done no planning of our trip, we decide to get some plans locked in when we get home so we lay on the bed with the laptop, and book some accommodation, draw on the map and we are done. Nailed it.  We work best under pressure.

Today was such a happy day.  Happy.

Tony suggests we take a night time drive into the city, so even though at 7pm it’s waaay past our bedtime, we head into town and wander around the streets, looking at the buildings, the churches, the beautiful architecture that surrounds us.  Oh yeh and we ducked into a pub for a Guinness.  I surprised myself by not hating it.  It was a little like drinking bread, but who doesn’t love bread?

We drive home through the city lights and laugh at how every suburb/town seems to have a chipper (fish and chip shop), a funeral home, and a pub, even if it’s the only 3 things in the entire town.   We stop by Tony’s favourite Chinese shop near his house, where he used to get his feasts on the way home as a drunk 18 year old … and we order his ‘usual’ chicken balls, chips and curry sauce from an Asian restaurant owner called Anto – obviously authentic chinese.  While we wait we meet an Irish bogan (yep, they aren’t exclusively Australian) and she is wearing cowhide onsey PJ’s – in public – while she waits for her food with her daughter – called Arizona, another er, traditional Irish name.  We get the chicken balls home and take them home and eat them with Tony’s parents, and I have to say, even though none of it made sense – from the guy’s name, to the curry sauce and chips from a Chinese restaurant – it is bloody delicious and i can only imagine how good it would have tasted when inhaled after a night on the booze.

We head to bed at a whopping 10.30pm …. these kids be crazy!

 

are we out of the woods yet? are we out of the woods yet? are we out of the woods yet?

  Relationship breakdowns are a bit like shoes.  All feel different.  Some feel OK from the beginning.  Some blister for a while but after a few band aids, you are healed.  Some you can tread …

Source: are we out of the woods yet? are we out of the woods yet? are we out of the woods yet?

are we out of the woods yet? are we out of the woods yet? are we out of the woods yet?

 

Relationship breakdowns are a bit like shoes.  All feel different.  Some feel OK from the beginning.  Some blister for a while but after a few band aids, you are healed.  Some you can tread in a steaming pile of shit in and they’ll never be the same.

Personally, I’ve been scraping shit off my shoe throughout what has been a 3 year cocktail of anxiety, heartache and the ugly cry, but slowly but surely, and almost while I wasn’t looking – I’m down to a small trace of skid-mark.

So to answer your question, Taylor Swift – Yes, I’m out of the woods.

I remember waking up in those first few weeks and for the first 3 or 4 seconds of every day when I opened my eyes, life was good. Normal.  Then as my brain woke up and reminded me of the nightmare I was living, I wanted to sink inside the mattress and stay there.  I was desperate to fast forward to a time when my chest didn’t physically hurt, to the day that the sound of a text message beeping through to my phone wouldn’t send me into a cyclone of anxiety, to the day that I wasn’t completely exhausted by the constant cabaret-like ‘performance’ that I danced for my children, friends, family, colleagues in an attempt to convince that I was doing fine – that there was nothing to see here (but jazz hands).

I became obsessed with listening to stories from people who had been through it, desperate for them to give me some kind of guarantee or a date that I would one day feel like myself again, (or at the very least find out who that was), or the day that my  life wouldn’t suck arse quite so much.

The uncertainty of my life was probably the most difficult for me.  I was internally terrified about the overwhelming responsibility of caring for my children and managing their emotional state during a turbulent situation that I had no control of.  I was in the middle of a shit storm.  Terrified of being a real, actual grown up who was completely on her own And managing a home, finances as a full time working mum, juggling school drop-offs, pick-ups, cooking, cleaning and sport activities was all consuming while I tried to manage my emotional Tourette’s, often sporadically bursting into tears while doing the groceries.  I had no back-up.  No-one to bounce ideas or problems off at the end of a long day.  There was only an ‘I’ in this team. Just me, and who the fuck put me in charge?

Of course no break-ups are the same.  But I did learn a few things along the way that stopped the ugly cry and helped me find a happier, stronger me that I am finally really proud of…

STOP

Just stop.  I would constantly let my brain run away with scenarios that may never happen and instantly tripled the stress load for myself.  So I stopped. I would wake up and consciously make a plan about this day and the problems I needed to face just on this day.  Everything else had to wait, there were new problems hitting me every day from every angle so why the rush to take them all on at once? So I broke everything down into 2 big piles of dirty laundry… “today problems” and “problems for another day”.  It was easier to focus on one day at a time.  I needed to pace myself.

THE SHOWER CRY

I initially started doing this because I was the only place I was ever on my own, with my own thoughts and I’d just break down.  No one could hear me and as my tears fell down my face and into the drain, I felt like the problems temporarily went there with them. There was something so therapeutic about it that I am a tad nostalgic about those sessions, damn you happiness, I miss the shower cry.

Seriously, when the going gets tough.   Lather, rinse, cry – repeat.

KEEPING IT TIDY

Keep it tidy for your kids. Hard? Shit yes. Impossible? Nope.

I love my kids more than I dislike my ex, that focus has always been my goal.  I have really tried to stay in my own lane and not to act on what is happening around me. I melt down to my friends and plot an outrageous revenge (Young & The Restless style complete with fake guns and long pauses), but to my kids I try to be brave and positive.

Of course there has been a few moments of madness over time where I’ve said something I instantly regretted. It is a situation that is rife with high pressure and high emotions that spins wildly out of control at times, and I’m human so yeh, the plan isn’t always perfectly executed. But I do know that I have put those kids before my own heartache at every turn and to be honest I am pretty proud of the fact I have never told my children that their father can be, well, you know…a bit of an ick-day, ead-hay …if you know what I mean.

UNDERWATER VENT

Dive in a pool – stay underwater and throw all of the F’s and C’s that you need to at whoever you need throw them at, as loud as you need to throw them.

Mag. Fucking. Nificent.

Note: do NOT do this in a bathtub. People can hear you.

DITCH THE BRIDGIT JONES TRACKIES

It was the worst I ever felt, and because life hates me – “life” decided I wouldn’t be one of those women who lost weight with the anxiety.  I would instead be the woman who, while at her lowest , would get to stack on the kgs from eating her emotions, and by emotions I mean burgers.  My ever growing muffin top, coupled with my swollen eyes from shower crying…made me feel even worse but every day even if I was only doing the groceries or a school pick up, I would make an effort to put on something nice, slap on some make-up, do my hair and leave the house feeling determined to fake it til I made it.  I always felt way better than I did in my depression clothes, even with the overhang.

DISCO

The death of my relationship was also the birth of the lounge room disco.  Every 2 months or so, my girl tribe would come over and we would drink wine and dance to 80’s and 90’s beats in my lounge room, complete with a dress up box. Don’t judge me – I could temporarily find my happiness dancing with my friends to George Michael wearing a fake moustache and kangaroo tail.  These nights have given me some of the greatest laughs and the greatest hangovers of my life and were so much better than therapy.

Your disco really does need you, and you need your disco.

CAR FIGHTING

Whenever I was in the car on my own, I would literally have conversations – out loud – with my ex and say all of the things that I had ever dreamed of saying.  I was more articulate than I would ever be in the real world that existed outside the Rav4.  It was so good to win an argument against someone that in real life, I never would.  I really owned that shit in the car and would tear him a new one… I was all “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH” and sure, if you had parked next to me at the lights, you would have thought I was a little cray cray, and, well, you would have a point.

 

 

The best part about tough times and hard changes, is what you are forced to learn about yourself. It is like holding a mirror up to yourself at times where you really see what you’re made of.   I was forced to put on my big girl panties and just get on with it and in the process, I learnt to be a bit kinder to myself.

I learnt that doing my best and failing sometimes is enough. It has to be. I learnt that if I had a particularly bad day of parenting fails and felt completely overwhelmed with this single parenting bullshit, I could simply wake up tomorrow and have another go at it.

I learnt that I’m a really good person and I’m doing the best that I can. I try to be a good human and not cause anyone pain.   I try to laugh a lot – especially at myself, not hard when I’m so gifted at being a total dickhead.

I learnt that I’m not defined by any situation or part of my story.  I write the story and I decide on the ending.

I learnt that I don’t really need anyone to look after me.  I’ve got this.  I’m just fine, and if I’m not today, then I will be tomorrow.

Doing it on my own isn’t easy, I feel it most days, but I’m incredibly proud of the independence that I worked so hard to get and accept.  I’m grateful for the great support network that I have around me and I’m proud of sheer volume of the stuff I get through every day, while mostly only feeling grateful about the things that I have instead of worrying about the things that I don’t.

I love these kids more than anything on the planet, they will always be my priority and my most delicious, littlest friends.  We somehow found a new, happy normal in among all of the tears and chaos. Go us!

Just ‘getting on with it’ isn’t always easy, I appear to have unwillingly signed up for a life sentence of ambush attacks.  The problem with someone knowing you for a long time is that they know all of your weaknesses and how to hurt you the most.  For any mother, and especially for me, my children are my Achilles heel.   Still, after an intense 3 years of training, I’ve become somewhat of a ninja and try to predict, flip and dodge these random attacks as they come along – and if not, then I limp for a while until I’m OK again.

I’ve decided that the shit part of my life is over now. I’m tired of it. I’m moving on and leaving it, and all of its drama behind me.  I look ahead and I’m excited about my next chapter.

I now know what I deserve and I won’t accept anything less than that.  Each baby step that I take back into the world of relationships has been terrifying and I’m sometimes reminded that perhaps there’s more of a hangover from this epic breakdown than I’d like to admit but I’m stepping through these landmines like a boss and throwing my heart into the ring because now there is someone who is worth it, because have become the queen of dusting myself off, because not all men are ick-day ead-hays, and well, because I deserve to be happy.

And if it all ends in tears again – I’ll disco.

 

 

 

So This is 40!

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I’m about to get smacked in the face by a milestone.  Forty. The big 4.0,  Four. Zero.  Yep, no matter how many different ways you say it, it doesn’t sound like 28.

I thought I would be panicked.  That very real, frantic panic that you feel when you are in a change room and you get stuck in a dress that you can’t get out of without ripping it Hulk style from your hot, sweaty body.

When I was young and awesome, 40 seemed old – old like losing a few teeth and smelling of moth balls old.  But here I am, so close to clocking up my 4th decade of life and incredible wisdom and yet I still have all of my coffee stained teeth, I don’t think moth balls exist anymore (which is a good thing as they always looked dangerously similar to a Kool mint to me) and I don’t feel a teeny bit different than I did when I was 20.  I mean sure, cartwheels are harder to do and a night on the town is rare and takes 4 days to recover from but ultimately, I’m the same little know-it-all that I was at 20.  Although now, I realize I don’t in fact know it all and instead, spend most of my days basking in my own cluelessness (and inventing words, like cluelessness).

I miss the fearlessness of my youth, the blind ignorance and bullet proof attitude to life.  Things start to get a little scarier when you grow up and have children.  It crept up on me.  One minute I was 20 and on the back of a stranger’s motorbike in Bali and then next I was 31 and checking my baby’s temperature for the 75th time in an hour.

The best part of 40, without doubt, is giving less fucks.  There is a whole new level of awesome that comes with letting go of worrying about what people think of you.

At 40 – I know who my people are.  I don’t have the time, energy or enough fucks for people who aren’t the real deal.  I have picked my ‘tribe’ and I pour all of my time, energy and love into them and by doing that, I have made my own happy place – and it’s frigging awesome in here, seriously, sit down and pour yourself a drink.

Of course, if I’m honest there are things that I wish I could change …I’d make some slight amendments to my life, my bank account, my job and the battle that I’m losing with gravity but ultimately I am starting to see that it’s the imperfections in my world that make it fun, albeit not all the time – but I am only too aware how lucky I am to be here – in this life.  I want to cram as much fun and noise in as I can while I am here.  I’m not here to sit on the sidelines.   Life as me is pretty damn good and what doesn’t make me happy, I will change – and what I can’t change, I will whinge endlessly about over wines with my girlfriends.

I’m not where I thought I would be.  I really thought by 40 that I’d have my shit together or at the very least be less of a dickhead.  The picture I had painted in my mind looks very different to my reality.  Where I am now was never the plan and I have to admit when my train went off the tracks, I had some real trouble accepting the change in direction, but I get it now.  Lots of tears, a handful of c-bombs, too many ‘why me’s?’ and 2 years of me auto piloting and bluffing my way through each day has ended with me now looking down the barrel of 40 into a new world of ‘anything I want it to be’ with a shitload of pride in myself for getting up after a TKO and, apart from doing the ‘ugly cry’ in public a few times, my dignity has remained mostly in-tact.

It’s true that the knock downs are what change us, grow us and well, give us our balls.  I always thought I was relatively gutsy but seriously, now, when push comes to shove, I know now that my scrotum is one to be reckoned with.

I’m not afraid of you 40 … in fact, I think you might just be my most amazing decade yet.

I still love a party. I still don’t do things in halves.  I still wake up with a hangover, stories that I need to piece together with my friends and occasional facial grazing.  I realize now that I was expecting something to change when I reached a certain age, but it’s been changing all along – and it gets better every year.  I also realize that getting older is different to growing up, and as such I now know that the latter is as likely to happen to me as me waking up pretty after a night out.   As I get older I laugh louder, love deeper, dance harder and sing more off key than I ever thought possible – seriously there are some notes that I hit that only dogs can hear.

I’m still cool people, I’m still cool.  I’m just usually really, really tired so my coolness comes in short, sharp, quality bursts so don’t blink or you’ll miss it.

I am incredibly grateful for my life, my friends, and my family, but ultimately there are no words to describe how grateful I am that there was no internet and phone cameras when I was doing my hardest partying.   I’ve never been happier not to be 20 something!

Here’s to getting older!

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Kids In The East

So stoked to have landed a writing gig where I am free to write in my own style, my own way and share my words! If you are a parent in Sydney this mag will be your new bible of things to do with kids.  If you are from anywhere else, you’ll still be able to dig through for clever, useful articles ….and well, of course my column which might make you smile!

Check it out here:

Bare Blog!

My poor lonely little ole Blog – sitting here friendless with no new posts!

I promise it’s not due to me being lazy, I’ve been writing my stumpy little fingers off!

I have my very own little column at http://www.kidsintheeast.com.au where once a month you can read my words about parenting – I promise there are no tips, but can guarantee that my tales of epic parenting fails will make you feel like a better parent – purely by comparison. You’re welcome.

You can download the free ipad app too – just search for Kids In The East. So download it today.

Right now.

I’ll wait.

Do’t be fooled by the title either, you can download it even if you’re not actually a kid in the east! You can be a male-gigilo living in the west, north or south and you can STILL read it. Seriously. It’s THAT versatile.

I promise to breathe some life into this lonely space soon!

Clear!